FWD 2 Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program Publishes Bulletin on English Lavender Oil Adulteration

Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program Publishes Bulletin on English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Oil Adulteration

New bulletin summarizes information on adulteration of English lavender essential oil with lower-cost essential oils, essential oil fractions, or natural or synthetic chemicals

AUSTIN, Texas (July 7, 2020) — The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP) announces the publication of a new Botanical Adulterants Prevention Bulletin (BAPB) on English lavender oil.

Oil of English lavender, also known as common lavender or lavender, is the essential oil obtained by distillation of the flowering tops of Lavandula angustifolia, a small shrub in the mint family native to the Mediterranean area that produces purple-blue flowers. The oil is widely used to help with anxiety and promote restful sleep. The safety and efficacy of preparations made with authentic English lavender oil have been documented in published clinical trials. Lavender oil also is a popular ingredient in personal care, home care, and cosmetic products.

Due to the comparatively high cost of English lavender essential oil, substitution with other, lower-cost species of Lavandula has been reported. One of the most frequently mentioned adulterants is lavandin (Lavandula × intermedia) oil, though lavandin is regarded as an acceptable substitute by some international authorities. Examples of lavender adulteration also include the undeclared addition of other essential oils, or oil fractions rich in the natural chemical compound linalool, such as rectified or acetylated ho wood oil (obtained from a linalool-rich chemotype of camphor, Cinnamomum camphora), and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) and white camphor oil fractions. Essential oil fractions are parts of the oil that can be separated from the rest by various processing steps, e.g., fractional distillation. Finally, admixture of undisclosed purified or synthetic components, such as linalool and linalyl acetate, or non-volatile diluents, appears to be quite common as well.

Stefan Gafner, PhD, chief science officer of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) and BAPP technical director, explained: “Over the course of my tenure at ABC, several lavender growers and lavender oil manufacturers have raised concerns about the presence of relatively low-cost, adulterated materials in the marketplace. We hope that this new bulletin will be a useful educational resource for everyone with interest in the quality of lavender oil.”

The bulletin was authored by Ezra Bejar, PhD, an expert in medicinal plant research, and was peer-reviewed by 25 experts with expertise in lavender oil from academia, contract analytical laboratories, consulting services, trade organizations, and the botanical and essential oil industries. The English lavender oil bulletin includes information about the production and market importance of English lavender oil, a review of the available literature on adulteration, data on adulteration frequency, and analytical approaches to detect adulterants.

Mark Blumenthal, ABC founder and executive director and director of BAPP, commented: “There has been a surge in interest in the United States and worldwide in the personal and household uses of essential oils, with lavender being one of the most popular. The existing scientific literature and BAPP’s new research indicate that a significant amount of what is sold as ‘lavender oil’ in the marketplace is adulterated with undisclosed, lower-cost ingredients. As in all cases of botanical ingredient adulteration, industrial buyers are urged to employ significant caution and robust analytical methods to determine the proper identity and authenticity of material being considered for purchase for use in finished products.”

Blumenthal noted that despite the fact that lavender essential oil has been subject to adulteration for many years, there are numerous companies that sell high quality, authentic lavender oils that meet various internationally-recognized standards for identity and purity. “As in most cases of adulteration of botanical ingredients and essential oils,” he added, “ethical and responsible sellers of authentic material find it challenging to compete in the marketplace with sellers of low-cost products containing undisclosed levels of diluted, adulterated, and/or otherwise fraudulent oil.” 

The English lavender oil bulletin is the 21st publication in the series of bulletins and the 59th peer-reviewed publication published by BAPP. As with all BAPP publications, the bulletins are freely accessible to all ABC members, registered users of the ABC website, and all members of the public on BAPP’s website (registration required).

About the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program
The ABC-AHP (American Herbal Pharmacopoeia)-NCNPR (National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi) Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program is an international consortium of nonprofit professional organizations, analytical laboratories, research centers, industry trade associations, industry members, and other parties with interest in herbs and medicinal plants. BAPP advises industry, researchers, health professionals, government agencies, the media, and the public about the various challenges related to adulterated botanical ingredients sold in international commerce. To date, more than 200 United States and international parties have financially supported or otherwise endorsed BAPP.