Lavendula officianalis is grown in Southern France and is one of the most healing and expensive of the lavender plants. This is because by being distilled in the higher elevations at lower boiling points the ester content is stronger-- ester being a chemical found in the essential oil of lavender that promotes the calming, relaxing and soothing effects on the body. More common is ‘Lavandin grosse’ grown on the lower slopes with less ester content which makes it more affordable, but not as therapeutic. Lavender comes from the Latin lavare which means to wash, and certainly it is one of the most cleansing of essential oils, both physically, emotionally and spiritually.

On a physical level, lavender is antiseptic, antitoxic, antispasmodic, sedative and antibacterial. Best known for relieving headaches and migraines, lavender can be gently rubbed directly on the temples or a cool compress soaked in lavender water can be applied to the brow or forehead. In massage, it is wonderful in soothing overworked, tense muscles, as it clears out the acidic buildup and relieves the aching, burning feeling. With arthritis, lavender helps to remove and cleanse acids from inflamed joints and cool the surrounding area. Because it relaxes and calms the mind, it is a great help when pressured or overwhelmed by responsibility. If you feel your shoulders creeping up around your ears from tension, then lavender is the perfect oil to use to de-stress. Bathing in lavender or burning it in an aromalamp can set up a blissful, euphoric atmosphere, allowing the stress to just melt away. Panic attacks, irrational fears, anxiety, depression and aggression are greatly eased with this essential oil, which can also help with insomnia as it is a great carminative and sedative. Insomnia is relieved by placing a few drops of lavender on a tissue by the pillow at night or by putting drops in an oil burner before retiring. Hypertension, nervous tension, PMS and other stress-related conditions all call for lavender's assistance.

Lavender is also good for skin complaints because of its anti-bacterial properties and can be applied directly onto the skin for problems such as acne, sunburn, eczema, dandruff and open wounds. By encouraging white blood cell formation and keeping down infection, lavender can assist in forming healthy scar-free tissue. And its soothing effects aid in reducing the energetic trauma in the affected area. Lavender is good for most skin problems-- the essential oil is great for control of acne and can be applied directly onto the spots 2 to 3 times a day. Also useful for sunburn, dry skin and dandruff, lavender oil can be added to shampoos, skin creams and compresses. Applied directly to a burn, it can instantly reduce the pain and prevent blistering. By strengthening the blood, this oil can also stimulate the immune system, allowing for quicker recovery from illness and more resilience against infection.

Because it is the least toxic of all the essential oils, lavender can be used in a child’s bath before bedtime to help calm and quiet a fractious baby. 5 to 8 drops in the water will soothe and balance out emotions allowing the mind to release any aggression or anxiety and be at peace with the self. It is brilliant for panic attacks or any fear that raises blood pressure and can help nervous heart disorders. Good for people with high blood pressure or heart palpitations because of worry, stress and nervousness, lavender can bring balance to the emotions and peace to the mind.

Lavender is known for its antiseptic properties because it is high in linalool, a chemical known for its antibacterial effect on the body. Lavender can stimulate the immune system and aids in respiratory and sinus complaints. I have treated bronchitis with a lavender/tea tree combination and found it helped in decongesting the lungs and releasing the cough spasms. Respiratory conditions such as asthma, throat infections, coughs and catarrh have been eased with lavender steam inhalations or with gargling (tea tree added to this gargle is even more effective). Digestive disorders like abdominal cramps, colic and flatulence can be soothed by massaging lavender onto the belly in a clockwise direction, or by bathing in a warm calming bath of lavender in the water. Because lavender is one of the least toxic oils it can be used with children, and a mild solution of lavender in a baby's bath can quiet and placate a fractious, upset baby.

I love using lavender in massage oil combinations because it is so great for relief of muscle tension. Its cleansing properties encourage the acids to be released from the muscle tissue into the blood where the toxins can then be eliminated by the lymphatic system. As said before, it is also good for arthritis because of its ability to cleanse acids around the stiff inflamed joints. On a more spiritual level, lavender is wonderful for burning during meditation practices as it helps calm the mind allowing focus on the void. I have read that it is associated with the planet mercury and resonates on the musical key of A. Lavender vibrates in the 6th chakra, that of the third eye or pituitary and is associated with the color indigo.

When I was young, I would always associate the smell of lavender with my grandmother because she would line her drawers with the dried flowers and all her clothes faintly smelled of lavender when she walked by. My grandmother was a calm, nurturing woman who always was warm and loving. I guess the lavender really had an effect on her!

And now that I am grown and have spent so much time in the south of France, my limbic moments are of warm afternoons where fields of lavender scent the entire countryside and fill the air with peace and contentment.

To listen to a meditation on lavender, "click here":