Five Popular Herb Essential Oils

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by
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Herbs as Essential Oils: Photo Credit, Fotolia

Herbs as Essential Oils: Photo Credit, Fotolia

Herbs are a popular plant to grow in the garden, whether you just have a sunny window ledge or a large yard. However, aside from their use for culinary dishes and teas, some herbs are also used as an essential oil. Here’s a quick look at five popular herb essential oils. Remember that plants have different uses as a herb (the whole plant part used) and as an essential oil (extracted from part of the plant).

Basil Essential Oil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a small, annual herb with dark-green, ovate leaves and pink-white flowers. It is very aromatic. The flowering herb is steam distilled to produce an essential oil. Basil essential oil has a fresh, spicy, balsamic aroma. In the spring and summer months, it is particularly useful both as an insect repellent and for insect bites. In the fall and winter months, basil essential oil can be used for colds, flu, fever, infections, and coughs. Year round, use basil essential oil for muscle pain, rheumatism, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Cautions: Do not use basil essential oil in pregnancy. It may also cause skin sensitivity in some people.

Fennel Essential Oil

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a slightly larger perennial herb (growing up to six feet in height). It has distinct feathery leaves and umbels of yellow flowers. Fennel is very similar in appearance to dill (Anethum graveolens). Cultivated sweet fennel is the favored species for essential oil extraction, in comparison to bitter fennel (which is more toxic as an essential oil).

Fennel essential oil is steam distilled from the crushed seeds and it has a sweet, anise-like aroma. Use fennel essential oil for mature skin, oily skin, constipation, amenorrhea, rheumatism, nausea, flatulence, the menopause, and bruises.

Cautions: Do not use in pregnancy or in epilepsy. Use in moderation.

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a small perennial herb that can become bushy. It has dark-green, ovate leaves and pink-purple flowers. It is an ancient plant and a common species to be found in herb gardens.

Oregano produces a steam distilled essential oil from the flowering parts of the herb. It has a warm, spicy, herbaceous aroma. As an essential oil, it is often avoided in aromatherapy use because of its potential as a skin irritant. However, the essential oil is described as analgesic, antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, expectorant, and a stimulant and could be used to help a number of problems that present these conditions.

Cautions: Do not use during pregnancy. It can cause dermal and skin toxicity and irritation. Use in low dilution. Not recommended for the beginner to aromatherapy.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a perennial herb that grows to about three feet in height. There are various species of peppermint but the plant is usually recognizable by its strong minty aroma.

Peppermint essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering herb and has a highly penetrating, camphoraceous, minty aroma. Use peppermint essential oil for acne, dermatitis, muscle pain, asthma, bronchitis, nausea, flatulence, colds, flu, fever, stress, mental tiredness, and fainting.

Cautions: Use in moderation. Possible skin sensitivity with some people. Do not use in pregnancy. Do not use with, or in the vicinity of, babies and children under the age of five years.

Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is often found in the herb garden as a companion to other plants. It is a small plant with purple or white flowers and aromatic leaves. Thyme is unique in that it can produce several chemotypes of thyme essential oil from essentially the same plant – depending upon growing location and environmental factors.

In addition, thyme leaves and flowering tops are steam distilled to first produce a “red” thyme oil, and then re-distilled to produce “white” thyme oil. Red thyme essential oil is warm, powerful, and spicy in aroma whereas white thyme oil is sweet, mild, and green in aroma. Use thyme essential oil for acne, dermatitis, eczema, insect bites, arthritis, muscle pain, gout, rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, flatulence, colds, flu, infections, insomnia, and stress.

Cautions: Do not use with high blood pressure. Possible skin sensitivity with some people. Choose white thyme essential oil for more gentle use.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

Learn more about essential oils, such as those described in this post, with one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses; visit the courses home page to learn more!

References:

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

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

  • 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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Essential Oils for Yoga and Meditation

Posted on: April 13th, 2015 by
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Essential Oils for Yoga: Photo Credit, istockphoto

Essential Oils for Yoga: Photo Credit, istockphoto

Certain essential oils can be used both in yoga and for meditation practice in an attempt to calm both the mind and the body, in addition to focusing your thoughts. This practice is not a “new” invention; many scents have been used for centuries, in the form of incense and oils, by various civilizations and religions for prayer and meditation time. Here’s a closer look at how you can use essential oils in your modern day practice of yoga and meditation.

A Note on Using Essential Oils for Yoga and Meditation

It is my intent, in this particular post, to discuss the use of essential oils for yoga and meditation interchangeably. I am focusing on the same aspects to address within yoga and meditation practice; that is, an attempt to slow down your racing thoughts, focus on your breathing, ground yourself, and improve your concentration level by doing so. This post is by no way intended to substitute medical advice and should be used simply as a starting point for your yoga and meditation practice. I have written it from my personal point of view and use – which may, or may not, work for you as well.

How to Use Essential Oils for Yoga and Meditation

There are a couple of ways in which you can use essential oils for yoga and meditation. The primary, and probably most effective way, is to diffuse essential oils. Depending upon your practice, and the space you have, you might want to consider one of the following ways to do this:

  • Use an aromatherapy diffuser and gently diffuse an appropriate essential oil into the atmosphere. Always ask first if you are sharing the space with others.

  • Use an aromatherapy roll-on applicator, or balm stick (as discussed in my book Authentic Aromatherapy), and apply a small amount of the blend to your pulse points before starting – such as wrists, temple, and/or forehead. The essential oils should always be diluted in an oil or balm base before applying to the skin.

  • Light a true aromatherapy candle with the essential oil blend you require and gently burn in the practice area. Again, ask first if you are sharing the space with others.

Suitable Essential Oils for Yoga and Meditation

The following essential oils have been chosen by me for yoga and meditation practice based on their perceived therapeutic properties and aroma:

  • Vetiver (Vetiveria zizaniodes) – A deep smoky, earthy aroma with calming and sedative properties.

  • Sandalwood (Santalum album) – A deep balsamic, woody aroma with sedative and anti-depressant properties. Note that Santalum album is now an endangered species and you may prefer to choose another species because of this. The aroma of each species may vary.

  • Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) – A deep, spicy, balsamic aroma with the ability to slow and deepen breathing. It has traditionally been used in meditation and prayer because of this (Lawless, 1995). Note that Boswellia carteri is now an endangered species and you may prefer to choose another species because of this. The aroma of each species may vary.

  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) – A warm, woody aroma with sedative properties.

  • Hemlock spruce (Tsuga canadensis) – A fresh, balsamic, fruity aroma “opening and elevating though grounding – excellent for yoga and meditation” (Lawless, 1995).

  • Citrus essential oils – if you want to improve your focus in your yoga and meditation practice, try combining the above essential oils with a citrus essential oil such as lemon (Citrus limon), lime (Citrus aurantifolia), or sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). These particular essential oils may help to provide clarity to your session.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

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

References:

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

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

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

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Three Aromatherapy Skincare Recipes for Men

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by
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Aromatherapy Skincare Recipes for Men: Photo Credit, Fotolia

Aromatherapy Skincare Recipes for Men: Photo Credit, Fotolia

Last week I introduced you to the idea of using essential oils for men’s skincare. In this week’s post I have provided three aromatherapy skincare recipes specifically for men’s skincare products. The recipe bases can be adapted, along with the essential oils, to suit a particular preference, but I have blended them this way specifically for the use in question. Enjoy!

Aromatherapy Beard Oil for Men

An aromatherapy skincare product which I see increasing in popularity for men is beard oil. And it’s probably one of the simplest aromatherapy products to make. Basically, it is an adaption of an aromatherapy massage oil. Just combine the carrier oil base with the essential oils and apply for smooth finish!

I have used jojoba as the base for this particular beard oil but you could use any of the carrier oils suggested in last week’s post.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)

  • 8 drops cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) essential oil

  • 6 drops lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil*

  • 4 drops sandalwood (Santalum album) essential oil

*TIP: Substitute lemongrass essential oil with another lemon-y essential oil if you prefer.

CAUTIONS: Possible skin sensitivity in some individuals.

Aromatherapy After-shave Moisturizing Balm

Men are paying more attention to their skincare these days with the use of a moisturizing product. Although this particular product is blended with the thought of applying it after a shave, it can be used on other places on the body, too.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz balm or pre-made white lotion base*

  • 10 drops spearmint (Mentha spicata) essential oil**

  • 10 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

  • 15 drops eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil

*TIP: Buy a pre-made white lotion base from a cosmetic supplier, or make your own balm base with one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses.

**Spearmint can be a powerful aroma so add more or less, depending upon your preference.

CAUTIONS: Possible skin sensitization in some individuals.

Aromatherapy After-shave Cologne

Some men may prefer the “traditional” notion of using an after-shave cologne, in comparison to a lotion. Try this recipe, as given in the Sedona Aromatherapie Natural Perfumes with Essential oils course:

  • 10 mls alcohol base*

  • 4.25 mls distilled water

  • 5 drops myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) essential oil

  • 3 drops cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) essential oil

  • 8 drops bergamot (Citrus bergamia) essential oil

*TIP: Substitute the alcohol base with a pure water or hydrosol base if you prefer, and mix together in a spray bottle. You will need to adjust quantities.

CAUTIONS: Photo-sensitive. Possible skin sensitivity in some individuals.

Learn More About Aromatherapy Skincare Products with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about making aromatherapy skincare products, take a look at the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy course program. Visit the courses home page to learn more.

References:

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

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Essential Oils for Men’s Skincare

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by
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Aromatherapy for Men's Skincare: Photo Credit, fotolia

Aromatherapy for Men's Skincare: Photo Credit, fotolia

In the past year, I have received more queries and requests for custom blends for using essential oils in men’s skincare products. Although I cannot claim to be an “expert” on men’s skincare, certain essential oils do lend themselves more to men’s skincare products than others. This post will briefly discuss some of those essential oils (and suitable bases), which will be followed up in the next post with a few aromatherapy recipes.

Types of Product Bases for Men’s Skincare

Men use a variety of skincare products such as beard oils, moisturizers, and aftershave splashes. These particular product bases can be made to accommodate essential oils. Men also need to pay attention to the type of skin that they have – oily, dry, mature, or combination. This topic is discussed briefly in my book Authentic Aromatherapy.

The aromatherapy product bases that I recommend for the men’s skincare products mentioned in this post are:

Recipes using each of these bases are covered in a following post.

Tree Essential Oils for Men’s Skincare

You often find that many skincare products for men include a “tree” aroma. Tree aromas, often balsamic in nature, are traditionally thought to be more “masculine” but there are a variety of different tree essential oils to choose from – and each has its own unique aroma and benefits.

Tree essential oils for men’s skincare products include:

  • Black spruce (Picea mariana) – warm, balsamic, pine-like aroma suitable for acne-prone skin and eczema.

  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) – Woody-balsamic aroma suitable for acne-prone skin, eczema, and dermatitis.

  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) – Woody-balsamic aroma suitable for oily skin.

  • Frankincense (Boswellia spicta) – Rich, balsamic aroma suitable for dry and mature skin.

  • Sandalwood (Santalum album) – Woody-balsamic aroma suitable for acne, dry skin, and cracked skin.

Fresh Essential Oils for Men’s Skincare

Essential oils with a “fresh” aroma are frequently added to men’s skincare products, too; these include:

  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata) – Fresh, spicy-herbaceous, strong, minty aroma suitable for acne-prone skin and dermatitis.

  • Juniper (Juniperus communis) – Fresh, woody-balsamic aroma suitable for acne-prone skin, eczema, and dermatitis.

  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Penetrating, minty, camphoraceous aroma suitable for acne-prone skin and dermatitis.

Citrus Essential Oils for Men’s Skincare

Citrus essential oils add a light top note to men’s skincare products. Citrus essential oils include lemon (Citrus limon), sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), lime (Citrus aurantifolia), and bergamot (Citrus bergamia). Note, however, that many citrus essential oils are photo-toxic and should not be used prior to going out in sunlight.

Cautions for Using Essential Oils in Men’s Skincare Products

You should be familiar with any contra-indications for using essential oils (both specific to the essential oil and in general) before adding them to skincare products. You should also be familiar with your (or the person who is going to use the product) health history to make sure that the correct dilution of essential oils is used.

For further information, consult a certified aromatherapist who has studied with an accredited provider, and who is experienced in the area.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils in skincare, 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

  • 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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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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