Planting Rosemary in Your Aromatherapy Garden

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by
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Rosemary: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Rosemary: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Here in Arizona, after some considerable rain, the sun returned – and, with it, the blooming of the spring flowers and trees. So, I thought it was finally time to get out and plant the rosemary bush that I had left sitting in its container for longer than I intended. If you are thinking of adding some aromatherapy plants to your garden, here’s a closer look at adding rosemary.

Rosemary in History

Rosemary is one of the ancient herbs that has been around as a food and medicinal source for centuries. It also has associations with magic and it was believed to be capable of repelling evil spirits in Medieval Europe. In addition, it was one of several herbs to be used for protection against the Black Plague.

Botanical Profile of Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) starts off as a small herb that can grow quite profusely, given the right climate; it can grow into a six foot shrub. In Arizona, I have seen it spring up in people’s gardens without much care and attention, in addition to adorning the entrance way to many local businesses.

It usually flowers in the spring, but I have noticed it flowering as early as January in Arizona, given the milder climate. The flowers are pale-blue in color and grow alongside spiky, needle-shaped leaves. You can smell the natural aroma by rubbing a small piece of the plant between your fingers. It is drought-tolerant (good for long, hot, Arizona summers) and some cultivars can stand minimal frost (such as here in Sedona).

Benefits of Planting Rosemary

If you buy your rosemary plant at the local garden center, you will probably be buying a rosemary cultivar suitable for your area. However, many places do not label with botanical names and will label a plant simply as “rosemary.” It is assumed that most rosemary plants are grown for ornamental use in gardens.

As an essential oil, rosemary is available in several chemotypes; these include ct. camphor, ct. cineole, and ct. verbenone. Rosemary essential oil is used for various purposes. If you are growing rosemary in your garden, consider its ability to stimulate memory, lift mood, and improve mental fatigue, as you take a walk through your garden! It may also help with conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, and colds.

Rosemary plants also attract bees. Bees are fast losing many of their natural habits, so just planting a rosemary bush will provide a means of forage for them. Bees also like many other aromatic plants – such as lavender, sage, mint, oregano, and honeysuckle. They are also attracted to sunflowers.

Learn More About Aromatherapy Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you are a regular reader of Sedona Aromatherapie, you will no doubt know that the botany of the source of essential oils is important to me! If you would like to learn more about a particular plant species, consider one of the specialist aromatherapy subject courses, available in the Sedona Aromatherapie home study program. To learn more, visit the courses home page!

References:

  • Falsetto, Sharon, 2014, Authentic Aromatherapy, US: Skyhorse Publishing

  • Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2012, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone

  • Queen of the Sun website, Ten Things You Can Do to Help Bees, accessed March 23, 2015

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, aromatherapy published author, approved aromatherapy education provider, aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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The Difference Between Allspice and West Indian Bay Essential Oils

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by
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Allspice or West Indian Bay? Photo Credit: Fotolia

Allspice or West Indian Bay? Photo Credit: Fotolia

Spice essential oils such as ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are common to many people, due to their use in several culinary dishes. However, there are also some less common “spice” essential oils that can become confusing. Here’s a quick look at two closely-related “spice” essential oils – Allspice and West Indian Bay.

Allspice or West Indian Bay

Allspice (Pimenta officinalis) is also known as pimento berry, Pimenta dioica, pimenta, and pimento. West Indian bay (Pimenta racemosa) is also known as bay (West Indies), bayberry (not to be confused with the North American bayberry), bay, and the bay rum tree.

Both species belong to the Myrtaceae plant family and are indigenous to the Caribbean. Today, they are both cultivated in various other countries, too. Both essential oils are high in eugenol content and should be used with care and moderation.

Botanical Profile of Allspice

Allspice is a medium-sized evergreen tree that has long, green, glossy leaves and kidney-shaped seeds. The seeds are green in color, ripening to black. The tree doesn’t produce the seeds until its third year of life. It also produces creamy-white flowers.

Allspice is a popular ingredient in Caribbean cuisine.

Botanical Profile of West Indian Bay

West Indian Bay is a similar-sized evergreen tree, with similar-looking leaves. It also produces white flowers and mature, black fruits.

West Indian Bay is most famous for its use as an essential oil for making rum-fragranced body products, such as soap. The oil produced by the tree is essentially rum – but it is too toxic to drink in its concentrated form.

Allspice Essential Oil

Allspice essential oil has a warm, spicy-balsamic aroma (berry oil). Note that an essential oil can also be produced from the leaves of the tree; this essential oil is more sweet and powerful in aroma.

Allspice essential oil can be used in aromatherapy practice for arthritis, stress, depression, bronchitis, indigestion, nausea, rheumatism, and fatigue.

West Indian Bay Essential Oil

West Indian Bay essential oil is distilled from the leaves of the tree and is both fresh and spicy, and sweet and balsamic in aroma.

West Indian Bay essential oil can be used in aromatherapy practice for colds, flu, muscle pain, rheumatism, poor circulation, and as a hair rinse for lifeless hair.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses. To learn more, visit the courses home page.

References:

  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Desert-Tropicals.com, West Indian Bay Tree, Bay Rum Tree, accessed March 16, 2015

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, published aromatherapy author, approved NAHA aromatherapy educator, aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor of the NAHA Journal.

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The Difference Between Ylang Ylang and Cananga Essential Oils

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by
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Ylang-Ylang and Cananga Essential Oils: Photo Credit, ISP

Ylang-Ylang and Cananga Essential Oils: Photo Credit, ISP

Plants within the same botanical plant family are often closely related; sometimes they are so closely related that it is difficult to distinguish the differences. Two plants, and subsequent essential oils, that might be confusing to beginners to aromatherapy are ylang ylang and cananga. These two plants are so closely related, both in appearance and use, that it is worth taking a closer look.

Ylang Ylang or Cananga?

Both ylang ylang and cananga are members of the Annonaceae plant family; they also both belong to the same genus – Cananga. Even their species is confusing; both are odorata species. The small distinguishing feature that separates these two very similar plants is in the addition of the words var. genuina to ylang ylang’s botanical name and the addition of var. macrophylla to cananga’s botanical name. This is simply a “lower”rank than that of a species in the botanical ranking system, and it helps to separate out the subtle differences between each plant.

Botanical Profile of Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina) is a tall, tropical tree that has trademark yellow, pink, or mauve flowers. The flowers are distinguishable because they have drooping, narrow, petals – a bit like the tentacles of a sea star. Ylang ylang also has green, glossy leaves. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the fragrant flowers.

Botanical Profile of Cananga

Cananga (Cananga odorata var. macrophylla) is a also a tall, tropical tree which produces flowers almost identical to those of ylang ylang. In fact, the two plants are so similar, and produce such similar essential oils, that you will notice some suppliers (mistakenly) selling cananga essential oil as ylang ylang essential oil.

Difference Between the Essential Oils

Ylang ylang essential oil is a more floral oil than cananga essential oil. Therefore, those that find the heady aroma of ylang ylang essential oil too much may prefer the aroma of cananga essential oil. Note that the chemical components of each oil also vary.

Therapeutic Uses for Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Ylang ylang essential oil has a number of uses including use for acne, insect bites, oily skin, irritated skin, depression, insomnia, and stress. Ylang ylang flowers are traditionally laid on the bed of newlyweds in Indonesia as they are believed to contain aphrodisiac properties. Use the essential oil in moderation as it can cause nausea and headaches.

Therapeutic Uses for Cananga Essential Oil

Cananga essential oil can be used for insect bites, skin care, anxiety, depression, and stress. Traditionally, cananga was used to treat infectious diseases, such as malaria. The essential oil may cause skin sensitization in sensitive individuals.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils and how they are used in aromatherapy, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses. Visit the courses home page to learn more!

References:

  • Aromaweb website, Cananga Essential Oil, accessed March 9, 2015

  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons

  • Tisserand, Robert, Young, Rodney, 2014, Essential Oil Safety (2nd Edition) UK: Churchill Livingstone (Elsevier)

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, approved NAHA aromatherapy educator, published aromatherapy author, aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor of the NAHA Journal.

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Three Quick and Easy Aromatherapy Recipes for Skincare

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by
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Aromatherapy Recipes for Skincare: Photo Credit, Fotolia

Aromatherapy Recipes for Skincare: Photo Credit, Fotolia

Spring is just around the corner, and it won’t be long before you will be exposing parts of your skin to the elements, after a cozy winter beneath layers of clothing! Make sure that your skin is ready for the season ahead with these three quick and easy aromatherapy recipes. Enjoy!

Spring-Ready Moisturizing Balm for Lips

Lips often need protection from the elements all year long; winter-drying winds and summer sun can cause damage to unprotected lips. Although sunscreen is always recommended for any prolonged period of exposure to the sun, this moisturizing balm can help to keep lips kissable and ready-to-go at any time!

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz beeswax

  • 0.5 oz cocoa butter

  • 0.5 oz shea butter

  • 1 oz jojoba oil

  • 60 drops of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

  • Recipe makes 20 x 0.15 oz lip balm (tubes)

Instructions for Making:

  • Melt the beeswax, cocoa butter, and shea butter in a Pyrex container on the stove, using the bain marie method

  • Add jojoba oil

  • Stir

  • Take off the heat

  • Add essential oil

  • Stir

  • Pour into lip balm tubes and allow to set before using.

More extensive instructions and information on each ingredient can be found in the Sedona Aromatherapie Basic Butters, Balms, Creams, and Lotions Course and the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy Course.

Moisturizing Cream for the Face

Your face is exposed to the weather all year long, but if you are suffering from “winter skin,” here is a quick recipe that will add a little bit of extra moisture.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz unscented cream base*

  • 7 drops geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil

  • 9 drops palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii var. martinii) essential oil

* use an unscented cream base from a reputable aromatherapy supplier – or make your own with the Sedona Aromatherapie Basic Butters, Balms, Creams, and Lotions Course and the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy Course.

  • Recipe makes 4 oz moisturizing cream: Dilution is kept very low for use on the face and those with skin sensitivities. Individual circumstances may dictate a different dilution.

Instructions for Making:

  • Add the essential oils to the unscented cream base and mix together.

Summer-Ready Aromatherapy Foot Scrub

Late spring and early summer is usually the first time your feet have seen the outdoor elements for many months. Get the skin on your feet ready for exposure with this aromatherapy foot scrub!

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 oz demerara sugar

  • 0.5 oz Dead Sea salts

  • 0.5 oz Himalayan pink salts (fine grain)

  • 0.5 oz pomegranate seed oil

  • 12 drops spearmint (Mentha spicata) essential oil

  • 10 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

  • 7 drops jasmine (Jasminum officinale) essential oil

  • Recipe makes 4 oz scrub

  • Combine the sugar with the salts

  • Stir in the pomegranate seed oil

  • Add the essential oils and stir

  • Store in a water-proof container.

More extensive instructions and information on each ingredient can be found in the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy Course.

Note on Essential Oil Safety

The essential oils used in the above recipes are generally safe to use with a healthy adult. However, individual circumstances vary. In addition, consult a certified aromatherapist for use with babies and children, in pregnancy, with the elderly, and with certain health conditions BEFORE using. Do not apply essential oils undiluted to the skin in any circumstances. Check dilution rates for your specific circumstances.

These are just a few of the general guidelines associated with essential oil safety; consult a certified aromatherapist for more advice.

Learn How to Make Aromatherapy Products with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn how to make these aromatherapy products, and more, consider taking one of the home study Sedona Aromatherapie aromatherapy courses. Visit the courses home page to learn more!

References:

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, an aromatherapy business owner, a NAHA approved aromatherapy educator, published aromatherapy author, and Chief Editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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What is a Distilled Mix of Essential Oils?

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015 by
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Distilled Mix Essential Oils: Photo Credit, Fotolia

Distilled Mix Essential Oils: Photo Credit, Fotolia

As any aromatherapist knows, sourcing good quality essential oils can be difficult, given the number of essential oil suppliers. There are many different terms used, most of which are simply marketing terms. However, one term that you may come across in your search for essential oils is distilled mix. What is a distilled mix of essential oils – and are the essential oils unadulterated? Here’s a quick look at what an essential oil supplier means by this term.

Adulterated Essential Oils

An adulterated essential oil is an essential oil that has been altered from its natural state, after it has been extracted from the plant. Adulteration of an essential oil may include the introduction of an alcohol, a solvent (not to be confused with solvent extraction), a synthetic product, or a substitution of a different or cheaper oil (passed off as a more expensive essential oil).

The adulteration of an essential oil changes, or reduces, the therapeutic properties of an essential oil – and can produce unwanted side effects when used, such as irritation and nausea.

A distilled mix of essential oils is not an adulterated essential oil.

Methods of Extractions of Essential Oils

Essential oils are extracted in a number of ways, depending upon the plant species. Methods include:

  • cold expression – usually used for the extraction of citrus essential oils

  • steam distilled (and water distilled ) – the most common method of extraction for essential oils

  • carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction – a newer method of extracting essential oils from plants but growing more in popularity

  • solvent extraction – used to extract essential oils from plants that are difficult to extract, or produce little essential oil; used mainly for perfumery purposes.

Distilled Essential Oils

Extracting essential oils from some plants takes a lot of effort – with minimum results; for example, rose (Rosa x damascena) and neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara flos). For this reason, the essential oil produced is highly priced (or sometimes adulterated).

Note: rose also produces an absolute, in addition to the distilled essential oil.

Examples of Distilled Mix Essential Oils

A distilled mix of essential oils is simply a combination of two essential oils – that have been purely extracted, and not adulterated. The reasons for doing this include:

  • a greater synergy/combination of therapeutic properties of the two essential oils

  • affordability

  • different aroma.

Two of my favorite distilled mix essential oils are rose geranium and petitgrain sur fleurs.

Rose geranium is a distilled mix of rose(Rosa x damascena) essential oil and geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil. The scent of this distilled mix essential oil is reminiscent of rose, but a lighter aroma; geranium also has a rose-like aroma, making this an affordable “rose” combination, with the complimentary therapeutic properties of both essential oils.

Petitgrain sur fleurs – translated from the French language as Petitgrain over flowers – is a distilled mix of petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara fol) essential oil and neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara flos) essential oil. The scent of this distilled mix essential oil is reminiscent of neroli, but with a lighter aroma; the petitgrain essential oil in the mix confirms the citrus-y aroma. I find that this option is more affordable for clients looking for a hint of neroli but who can’t afford the high price of neroli in a blend. It also offers complimentary therapeutic properties of both essential oils. However, personally, nothing can replace the true aroma of neroli for me!

Both distilled mixes of these essential oils are flower and leaf combinations.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about essential oils and their use in aromatherapy, consider taking one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study courses. Visit the courses home page to learn more!

References:

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist with her own aromatherapy business, a published author in aromatherapy, Chief Editor for the NAHA Journal, and an approved education provider for NAHA

  • Penny Price Aromatherapy

  • Lawless, Julia, 1999, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2012, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone

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