Historical note Lavender was used as an antiseptic in ancient Arabian, Greek and Roman medicines. Its generic name comes from the Latin lavare, to wash, and it was used as a bath additive as well as an antiseptic in the hospitals and sick rooms of ancient Persia, Greece and Rome (Blumenthal et al 2000). In the 1 7th century, Culpeper described lavender as having 'use for pains in the head following cold, cramps, convulsions, palsies and faintings' (Battaglia 1 995). Lavender was also used traditionally to scent bed linen and to protect stored clothes from moths. This was such a well-accepted practice that the phrase 'laying up in lavender' was used metaphorically to mean 'putting away in storage' (Kirk-Smith 2003). Lavender is now widely used to scent perfumes, potpourri, toiletries and cosmetics, as well as to flavour food. Lavender is commonly adulterated with related species that can vary in their constituents. Spike lavender yields more oil but is of lower quality. Lavandin is a hybrid of spike lavender and true lavender.

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