Lavender vs. Lavandin vs. Spike Lavender Essential Oil: What’s the difference?

Revered for their fragrance, lavender plants have been used to make potpourri for centuries. Perfumers use the plant’s essential oils to make colognes and other personal care products. The evergreen shrub also has a long-standing role in aromatherapy. Ever since French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse successfully used lavender to treat his injured hand in the early 1900s, lavender essential oils have been extensively analyzed for their many benefits. Over the years, essential oil derivatives have been extracted from lavender, lavandin and spike lavender. Although the plants from which the oils are made all belong to the same botanical family lamiacae, the three plants are in fact distinct species. As a result, their essential oils possess different properties.

Lavender essential oil (true lavender)
Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis
Along with its botanical name Lavandula angustifolia, lavender essential oil may also be referred to as L. officinalis. The essential oil has a fresh, sweet, herbaceous, floral aroma.

Traditional lavender is high in linalool and linalyl acetate. These two naturally occurring chemicals are known for their many therapeutic properties that include supporting the immune system, healing the skin and reducing inflammation. In addition to inhibiting bacteria, lavender essential oils improve acne by regulating the secretion of sebum. Lavender’s antiseptic properties may also help to ward off a variety of illnesses. Lavender has also been shown to improve blood circulation and digestion.

Renowned for its sedative and calming effects, the essential oil also relieves headaches. Because it induces sleep, lavender oil is a commonly recommended natural remedy for insomnia. Numerous studies show that lavender’s ability to alleviate sleep issues is comparable to some modern medicines. The essential oil has a well-researched effect on the autonomic nervous system and can be used to reduce problems like anxiety, depression and restlessness.
lavandin essential oil
Lavandula x intermedia
The health benefits of lavandin essential oil are attributed to its antiseptic, antidepressant and analgesic properties. With the botanical name lavandula x intermedia, the essential oil has expectorant attributes as well as nervous system and wound healing benefits. While lavandin’s aroma and medicinal properties are similar to traditional lavender, they are more intense and sharp because the plant is a hybrid between true lavender and spike lavender. The main active agents within lavandin include linalool and linalyl acetate along with camphor, 1-8 cineole, and borneol.

Lavandin essential oil helps protect wounds from becoming infected and speeds up the healing process while reducing pain and inflammation. It is particularly effective in reducing joint and muscle pain. Lavandin helps to reduce the scars and marks caused by acne and wounds. It also lessens the appearance of stretch marks. The essential oil is used to treat headache pain associated with a cold, the flu or a fever. As an expectorant, lavandin lessens coughs along with phlegm that may be present in the lungs and respiratory tract. It can provide relief from congestion and bronchitis.

Its antidepressant effect help boosts self-esteem, hope and confidence while warding off feelings of depression and anxiety.

Lavandin essential oil may interact with some drugs as well as inhibit blood clotting. If you have bleeding disorders or take anticoagulants you should use caution with Lavandin.
Spike Lavender Essential Oil
Lavandula latifolia
Known by the botanical name lavandula latifolia, spike lavender is distinguished from other lavender species by its higher concentrations of camphor and 1-8 cineole. It is also a coarser plant. The term latifolia is Latin for broad leaf. The essential oil features large amount of oxides, which produce antiviral, decongestant and mucolytic properties as well as immune stimulating and overall stimulant characteristics. This essential oil in this species does not contain as much alcohol as is present in true lavender. As a result, it has slightly lower antifungal and antibacterial properties. Rather than the soft floral aroma of traditional lavender, spike lavender is more camphoraceous. It can be applied topically or added to a bath, diffuser or mist sprayer.

The stronger camphor content enables spike lavender to be used to help clear congestion, relieve coughs and promote easier breathing. It may ease symptoms associated with asthma, bronchitis and throat infections. Because of its high concentration of linalool, spike lavender lessens stress and reduces headaches as well as other minor pains like abdominal cramps. While lavender supports stillness, rest and sleep, spike lavender enhances calm, focus and mental alertness, which helps ward off depression. The essential oil’s antiseptic properties soothe and heal cuts, burns and scarred skin while eliminating dandruff and ringworm.

Spike lavender should be used more sparingly than traditional lavender. While it is generally safe, pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid spike lavender. The oil should be diluted before it is applied topically. The camphor in Spike Lavender means it can be mildly neurotoxic.


If you have ever considered using aromatherapy or introducing lavender essential oil to your current regimen, this guide will help you to decide which formula is right for you. While the oils can generally be used interchangeably, understanding the differences between the products will enable you to select the one best suited for your exact needs.


Aromatherapy in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders

Lavender Spike Oil: Lovelier Than True Lavender?

Lavender benefits and side effects: Health, oil, properties, and uses

Keville & Green, Aromatherapy: A complete guide to the healing art (2009)

Purchon & Cantele, The complete aromatherapy and essential oils handbook for everyday wellness (2014)

Tisserand, Essential Oil Safety, 2nd ed. (2014)


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