Although now cultivated primarily in Provence, in the south of France, lavender is native to the Mediterranean. It grows in open fields and on mountain slopes, giving off an intense, spicy aroma when it blooms. The most potent medicinal form of lavender is the oil, which contains a high concentration of active ingredients. The finest oil is distilled from Lavandula officinalis, a variety of lavender that grows only at altitudes above 3,000 feet and is particularly resistant to heat and cold.
The herb's flower buds are harvested by hand at midday, when the oil content is highest; the essential oil is then extracted using steam distillation. Lavender oil has many uses: It is a powerful antiseptic containing more than 200 compounds that are active against fungi, viruses and other microbes. The oil is also valued for its ability to balance the emotions. It restores vitality in people suffering from nervous exhaustion and also has a calming effect on people who are agitated or who have trouble sleeping.
To Purify Indoor Air
Place this mixture of essential oils in a simmer pot to help freshen the air. The oils have a powerful cleansing action. The fresh scent also exerts an uplifting effect on the mind, body and spirit. Lavender combines particularly well with citrus oils.