Aromatics Wellness Blog

Lavender vs. spike lavender oil: what’s the difference?

Your science-based guide to using lavender vs. spike lavender essential oil!

Did you know there are over 45 species of lavender? Each one is unique, with its own distinct floral aroma and therapeutic benefits. While lavender is usually associated with relaxation, some species are actually energizing. Some are great for pain relief, while others are excellent for supporting open breathing. How can all these lavenders be so different? It’s because each species has its own unique chemistry.

Let’s compare two of the most popular species:
“True” lavender: Lavandula angustifolia vs. Spike lavender: Lavandula latifolia

True lavender

“True” lavender (usually just called “lavender”) is famed for its relaxing properties.

Research shows it can profoundly calm the nervous system while also soothing physical tension, such as achy muscles and joints. Its aroma is floral, sweet, and relaxing.

Lavender oil is versatile—a true “powerhouse” oil! Along with helping you relax and sleep, lavender is especially potent in blends to repair the skin. Use it for daily skin care, or if you have acne, sun damage, mature skin, or even acutely sore, tender issues.

Lavender is also a kid-friendly oil with no known safety issues. We recommend using it with children five years or older. (New to using oils with children? Take a minute and read our blog "Essential oils and kids: what you need to know" to ensure you're blending safely) 

Use lavender oil to:

  • Relax & sleep
  • Soothe irritated skin
  • Ease daily stress
  • Comfort sore areas
  • Calm redness & acne

Spike lavender

Spike lavender is more energizing.

While it does soothe tension in muscles (like true lavender), spike lavender also perks up your mental and physical energy so you feel more alert. Its scent has crisp, energizing notes that may remind you of eucalyptus.

Spike lavender can bring more energy to your head and deepen your breath. It’s also a strong purifying oil. Use it in blends to cleanse skin, clean your home naturally, and boost immunity during cold season.

Spike lavender is too strong for babies and children under 10 years old. Pregnant women and people with asthma should use spike lavender with caution. These safety factors are due to the presence of strong components like 1,8-cineole and camphor (you’ll learn more about those below!)

Use spike lavender oil to:

  • Sharpen your mental energy
  • Ease tight muscles
  • Open your breath
  • Calm head tension
  • Boost immune strength

Latin names are here to help

When you’re buying lavender oil, pay attention to the Latin name!

For these two types of lavender, the genus is the same: “Lavandula”. The species is where they diverge. Lavender is “angustifolia” and spike lavender is “latifolia.”

Recognizing their Latin names means you’ll know which type of lavender you’re getting, and you can use the oil for its scientifically verified benefits.


Sourced for Aromatherapists
At Aromatics, every bottle of essential oil includes the Latin name on the label, as well as each oil's top 2 chemical components. We know this information is valuable when making the most therapeutically beneficial blends!

Chemistry: lavender vs. spike lavender!

Lavender and spike lavender actually have a lot in common.

They both contain the component linalool, which has been widely studied. Research shows that linalool can soothe muscles and joints, comfort irritated skin, calm redness, and deeply relax both the body and mind.

linalool

Since they both contain linalool, lavender and spike lavender are both soothing and comforting.

But they also have some impressive differences, which come from their other natural chemical components:

lavender vs spike lavender oil infographic

Spike lavender also contains camphor.

Camphor is a stimulating, sharp, penetrating ketone component!

camphor

Conclusions: lavender vs. spike lavender

When you consider that lavender contains both linalool and linalyl acetate, it makes perfect sense that it’s such an all-round soothing oil! These two components work together to make lavender world-famous for relaxation on mental, physical, and emotional levels.

Spike lavender, on the other hand, contains 1,8-cineole and camphor.

1,8-cineole is also known as “eucalyptol,” since it occurs in such high percentages in eucalyptus oil. It’s also why you might notice hints of eucalyptus in spike lavender’s aroma.

The presence of 1,8-cineole and camphor not only gives spike lavender’s aroma a fresh, crisp, penetrating note—it also balances linalool’s relaxing effects. Instead of being calming, spike lavender is brisk and energizing.

But 1,8-cineole and camphor also work hand-in-hand with linalool, because all three components can soothe muscles. That makes spike lavender an excellent choice for sports massage blends!

Shop the Lavenders

lavender oilLavender Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

A must-have essential oil for any collection! With a soft, floral, fresh aroma, lavender is gentle, yet effective enough for nurturing tender areas through a challenging recovery process. Our certified organic lavender essential oil is steam distilled from flowers grown in cascading purple fields in the Bulgarian countryside.

SHOP LAVENDER OIL

spike lavender oilSpike Lavender Oil (Lavandula latifolia)

While spike lavender oil's floral aroma resembles lavender’s, it’s more energizing, camphor-like, and herbaceous. In skincare blends, spike lavender is suited to easing acutely uncomfortable or itchy issues, as it can purify skin and calm irritation. Our certified organic spike lavender essential oil is steam distilled from rich purple blossoms harvested from fields dotting the rural Spanish landscape.

SHOP SPIKE LAVENDER OIL

Lavender oil recipes

Spike lavender oil recipes

Learn more about lavender!

Become an expert in all things lavender!

Aromahead Institute’s Lavender Essential Oil Spotlight takes you deep into the science of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). 

Taught by Aromahead’s co-founder, Andrea Butje, this 3-hour video class reveals lavender’s chemistry, therapeutic properties, safety considerations, which oils it blends well with, and more. If you’re already a fan of lavender, this is a great way to learn new sides of an old favorite. And if you’re still discovering all of lavender’s talents, this is the perfect introduction! 

CHECK OUT THE LAVENDER SPOTLIGHT!

REFERENCES

Altaei, D.T. (2012) Topical lavender oil for the treatment of recurrent apthous ulceration. American Journal of Dentistry 25, 1, 39-43.

Buchbauer, G. (1993) Biological Effects and Modes of Action of Essential Oils. International Journal of Aromatherapy 5, 1, 11-14. 

Kang, P., Han, S.H., Moon, H.K., Lee, J.-M., Kim, H.-K., Min, S.S. and Seol, G.H. (2013) Citrus bergamia Risso elevates intracellular Ca2+ in human vascular endothelial cells due to release of Ca2+ from primary intracellular stores. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Article ID 759615.

Linck, V.M., da Silva, A.L., Figueiró, M., Caramão, E.B., Moreno, P.R.H. and Elisabetsky, E. (2010) Effects of inhaled linalool in anxiety, social interaction and aggressive behaviour in mice. Phytomedicine 17, 679-683.

Moss, M. and Oliver, L. (2012) Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology 2, 3, 103-113.

Peanna, A.T., D’Aquila, P.S., Panin, F., Serra, G., Pippia, P. and Moretti, M.D. (2002) Anti-inflammatory activity of linalool and linalyl acetate constituents of essential oils. Phytomedicine 9, 721-726.

Price, S. and Price, L (2007) Aromatherapy for Health Professionals 3rd Edition. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Santos FA, Rao VS (2000) Antiinflammatory and antinociceptive effects of 1,8-cineole a terpenoid oxide present in many plant essential oils. Phytotherapy Research 14:240-244.

Woelk, H. and Schläfke, S. (2010) A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine 17, 2, 94-99.

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