A colourless – pale yellow essential oils is steam distilled from the flowering tops. The yield of oil is often affected by the weather. Plant material cut on dry, sunny days has a better yield than plant material cut on wet, overcast days. The timing of the harvest is also critical because as the flowers approach full bloom, the percentage of the various different essential oil components changes particularly the amount of linalyl acetate. On average it appears to take about 45 minutes – 1 hour to distill lavender with an essential oil yield of 0.7 – 0.9%. Although this can vary depending on where the Lavender is grown and distilled.
Psychologically lavender is well known for it relaxing, sedating properties. It has traditionally been used for a variety of nervous or psychological ailments including anger, depression, insomnia, hysteria, migraines, mood swings, nervous tension and shock.
On the physiological level it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, balancing and calming properties and its use could be considered for burns, colds, coughs, headaches, insect bites, muscle aches and pains and skin irritations (dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis).
Contraindications: Non-toxic and non-irritating on the skin it can be safely used with babies and children. It is suggested that it be avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Ernest Guenther, The Essential Oils, Vol. III, Krieger Publishing, Malabar, Florida 1974
John Kerr, Essential Oil Profile Lavenders, Aromatherapy Today, Vol 8, December 1998
Beverley Hawkins Aromatherapy 101 Course 2000