Aromatic Plants for Broom Making

Posted on: October 9th, 2017 by
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Aromatic Plants were Used for Broom Making in Medieval Times

Aromatic Plants were Used for Broom Making in Medieval Times

Aromatic plants were used in a variety of ways in Medieval Europe, and were used in broom making, as strewing herbs, in love spells, and as healing potions. As the “season” of witches and Halloween is almost upon us, over the next three weeks I will be looking more closely at these topics and how many of the aromatic plants we use today were popularized by witches and healers in Medieval times. Today’s article focuses on a tradition that is almost lost in today’s modern world: Broom making.

Types of Plants for Different Broom Uses

Brooms were common in Medieval Europe; their association with witches gave them a dubious notoriety but in fact brooms had many uses in every day life. Just as many herbs and plants were used for medicinal purposes, some aromatic plant species were also traditionally used to craft brooms.

According to a research report, Plants Traditionally Used to Make Brooms in Several European Countries, on the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine website, different types of plants were used for brooms, depending on how the broom was going to be used. Local folk nomenclature classified brooms as soft, hard, big or small and were named for their main use. Examples include yard broom and house broom.

Plants from the Ericaceae, Fabaceae and Betulaceae botanical families were used for yard brooms whereas plants from the Asteraceae, Lamiaceae, Apiaceae, Poaceae and Liliaceae botanical families were used for house brooms. House brooms were soft brooms whereas yard brooms were hard brooms.

Aromatic Plants for Broom Making

Brooms made from aromatic plants were popular for cleaning ovens and stoves because they helped to eliminate any odors. Aromatic plants that were used for broom making include fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), myrtle (Myrtus communis), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) and wild tobacco (Nicotiana glauca).

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a member of the Apiaceae plant family and it is an ancient herb which was believed to ward off evil spirits. On a practical note, the oil extracted from this plant is antiseptic and antimicrobial.

Myrtle (Myrtus communis) is a member of the Myrtaceae plant family and also possesses antiseptic and astringent properties. The essential oil is used for many respiratory and immune issues.

Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a member of the Lauraceae plant family and is also an ancient herb which was used by the Greeks and the Romans as a crown of victory in sporting events and battle. The essential oil has antiseptic aand antibacterial properties.

Aromatic Plants as Strewing Herbs

In addition to making brooms from aromatic plants, aromatic plants were also used as strewing herbs in Medieval times. Strewing herbs were scattered on the floor after the floor was swept. The purpose of strewing herbs was to release fragrant and astringent aromas when people walked on them. Some aromatic herbs were also used as insecticides and disinfectants in this way.

Popular aromatic strewing herbs and plants included sage (Salvia officinalis), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), rose (Rosa spp.), sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana), and chamomile. Such herbs and plants were scattered on the floor of homes and in monasteries, a far healthier option than the aroma of synthetic sprays which popularize the market today.

Trees and Witches’ Brooms

Brooms and their association with witches were prevalent during Medieval times; people did not always understand the complexity of plants and perhaps the notorious association with witches and their brooms was in part due to a certain disease that attacked specific tree species. According to a report, Witches’ Brooms on Trees, on the Iowa State University website, a tightly formed cluster of twigs that manifest on various woody plant species and conifers such as pine, maple and willow that occur due to environmental stresses, genetic mutations and other unknown factors, are commonly called witches’ brooms, as they resemble the shape and look of a traditional broom. Witches were often blamed in Medieval times for unexplainable occurrences such as this. Witches’ broom formations were ideal as broom making material too.

Learn More About Using Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about aromatic plants, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

References:

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Aromatherapy Blends for Managing Fibromyalgia

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by
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Aromatherapy Blends for Fibromyalgia Pain

Aromatherapy Blends for Fibromyalgia Pain

This week’s post comes from the heart, as it is based on my personal experience. Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a condition that many (predominately women) “live” with, but for which there is “no cure.” Each case of fibromyalgia is different, and symptoms vary from sufferer to sufferer; what works for one person (change in diet, exercise etc) may not work for another. So, this post is written as an educational post only, based on my own experiences, but in the hope that some of these blends may help a fellow sufferer. However, it is important that you assess your own individual circumstances and speak to your healthcare provider before implementing any of the suggestions mentioned below.

Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Two of the most common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are chronic pain and fatigue; not just any type of fatigue, as in “sleep for a couple of hours and you’ll feel better,” but an exhaustion that is not relieved by rest or any amount of sleep. There are also all sorts of other symptoms that fibromyalgia sufferers experience, ranging from IBS, UTI infections, and haemorrhoids, to extreme sensitivity to temperature changes, ranging from very hot to very cold. You may also experience dry skin patches, the emergence of red and itchy rashes out-of-the-blue and, if like me you are also at risk of lupus (or have lupus), you maybe taking medication that supresses your immune system (beacause my immune system is hyper-active and is, basically, off the charts). Consequently, this makes you more at risk of infection and disease if you get a cut on your finger or are exposed to cold and flu.

Again, this is my personal experience, and other fibromyalgia sufferers may experience the same or different symptoms. I mention these symptoms as the aromatherapy blends which follow address these particular symptoms.

Pain Relief Aromatherapy Blend for Fibromyalgia

One of my most beneficial aromatherapy blends for managing the pain associated with fibromyalgia, along with prescribed medication, is this simple blend:

  • 1 oz apricot (Prunus armenica) oil

  • 4 drops Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) essential oil

  • 1 drop frankincense (Boswellia carteri) essential oil

  • 1 drop lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

Combine all of the ingredients together in a suitable bottle and apply to the area of pain as needed (for external use on the skin only).

Aromatherapy Blends to Cool and Heal in Managing Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia sufferers sometimes experience “hot flashes,” or an intense feeling of heat (right down to the joints). Although the application of an ice pack may help to alleviate some of the heat, I find that a cold compress with peppermint (Mentha x piperita) hydrosol often helps. Apply to the back of the neck for “hot flashes” or to the area which feel “hot” to you. Alternatively, spray a small amount of peppermint hydrosol to the back of the neck.

Hydrosols can also be used to heal and protect if you get a small cut on your hand. Spray a small amount of a hydrosol, such as helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolia), onto a cotton pad and wipe gently over the cut to promote healing and to prevent scarring. Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) hydrosol can also be used as an anti-bacterial agent.

Aromatherapy Blend to Manage Haemorrhoids in Fibromyalgia

Haemorrhoids are painful, whatever the cause. The following blend is intended for external use only:

  • 2 oz unscented white lotion base*

  • 4 drops cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) essential oil

  • 8 drops juniper (Juniperus communis) essential oil

  • 6 drops frankincense (Boswellia carteri) essential oil

* a gel can also be used in place of the white lotion base. Both of these bases are “cooling” and are preferable to an oil base.

Cautions: Avoid use in pregnancy and/or with kidney disease.

Combine all of the ingredients together in a suitable bottle and apply to the area of the haemorrhoids as needed (for external use on the skin only).

Aromatherapy Blend for Insomnia in Fibromyalgia

Insomnia is another problem for fibromyalgia sufferers. This simple sleep spray may help you to fall asleep more easily:

  • 2 oz distilled water

  • 10 drops valerian (Valeriana officinalis) essential oil

  • 15 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

Combine all of the ingredients together in a spray bottle and spray lightly on your pillow before going to sleep at night.

Learn More About Using Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn how to use essential oils for specific conditions such as fibromyalgia, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

References:

  • The recommendations and views expressed in this article are based on the author’s personal experience of fibromyalgia and a 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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Aromatic Blends with Safflower Oil

Posted on: September 25th, 2017 by
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Aromatic Blends with Safflower Oil

Aromatic Blends with Safflower Oil

In the final post of the trilogy on safflower, I am finishing up with two aromatic blends which incorporate safflower oil. Safflower may not be an oil that you will generally have in your aromatherapy carrier oil toolbox, but it is one which is worth considering if you are either looking to combine another oil with one such as sunflower oil, or indeed replace an oil high in linoleic acid – such as pumpkin seed, rosehip seed, and evening primrose oil.

Daily Skincare for Dry Skin with Safflower Oil

As discussed in the first post of this trilogy, safflower oil is recommended for use with dry skin and, if you’ve not had much success with regular skincare oils recommended for this condition, consider the use of safflower oil combined with the more affordable sunflower oil. Add appropriate essential oils such as lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) to enhance this blend. More information on essential oils for different skincare types is included in my book Authentic Aromatherapy.

For Adult Use Only.

You will need:

  • 1 part safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) oil

  • 3 parts sunflower (Helanthius annuus) oil

For example: For 1 oz of oil, you would combine 1/4 oz of safflower oil with 3/4 oz of sunflower oil.

Essential Oils:

  • 1.5 % lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

  • 0.5 % geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

For example: For 1 oz of base oil, you would add 8 drops of lavender essential oil and 4 drops of geranium essential oil for a total of 12 drops (2% dilution rate).

Instructions for Use:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a suitable bottle. I suggest a PET bottle with a flip cap if storing in the bathroom.

  • To apply: Add a small amount to hands and massage over body as needed up to a maximum of three times a day.

Luxury Blend of Skincare Oils with Linoleic Acid

If dry skin is a real problem for you, you may want to treat your skin to a luxury blend of some of the best carrier oils which are high in linoleic acid. I would not add essential oils to this blend, although if you would like to add some for the aroma, you can do so. Just follow the recommended guidelines or consult a certified aromatherapist.

You will need:

For example: For 1 oz of oil, you would mix together 1/4 oz of each oil.

Instructions for Use:

  • Combine all of the ingredients together in a suitable bottle. A PET bottle with a flip cap, or a glass bottle with a glass dropper for use are both acceptable.

  • To apply: Massage a small amount of the blend over the the skin. Use sparingly as these oils are both expensive and rich in their action.

Learn More About Using Carrier Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn how to use carrier oils further, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

References:

  • The recommendations expressed in this article are based on the author’s 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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Safflower in the Aromatic Garden

Posted on: September 18th, 2017 by
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The rosette-like bud of Safflower: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

The rosette-like bud of Safflower: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Last week’s post looked at an introduction to safflower oil and how it is used in aromatherapy practice. In the second post of the current trilogy, we are taking a quick look at how safflower is useful in the aromatic garden. Safflower was a new plant to me in Georgie’s Garden this year, but I found it to be easy to grow and it produced some beautiful orange blooms.

Description of Safflower as a Plant

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), like borage, doesn’t actually have an aroma. However, it is used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy and it does have medicinal uses in herbal medicine. It is not a tall plant and, when planted next to taller plants like sunflower (which I did this year in the aromatic garden), you may miss it. Therefore, I would advise planting it in a mix of smaller herbal plants such as oregano, basil, and mint.

Its unique feature is its orange, thistle-like flowers, which emerge from a rosette shaped bud. Plant a few safflower plants together for the full, visual effect. The flowers do not last long and the seeds form about four weeks after flowering has ended.1 Seeds contain about 30 to 45% of oil1, which is extracted via cold expression to produce safflower oil.

I would advise getting “up close and personal” with safflower to truly appreciate its botanical features, as part of an aromatic garden. A botanical profile of safflower was discussed in the first post of this series.

How to Grow Safflower

Safflower is an annual plant, meaning that it will bloom once and it will need to be replanted the following year. If you let it go to seed, like any plant, there is the possibility it will grow again from the new seeds produced, although conditions would have to be right for it to grow successfully. I would advise sowing new seeds in the spring, after the average last frost for your area, to produce plants in the places that you wish them to grow.

Safflower is traditionally considered an oilseed crop, but it is also used as a cover crop by farmers (and gardeners) for the benefits listed below.

Safflower as a Cover Crop

Safflower has a number of great benefits for the aromatic gardener as a cover crop. A cover crop essentially protects and enriches the soil for the benefit of the next plant crop. If you aren’t harvesting this plant for its oil or seeds, consider the following benefits of safflower as a cover crop:

  • a deep taproot which breaks down hard soil, and encourages air and water movement. The taproots of safflower can also reach nutrients in the soil that other plants’ roots fail to reach.2

  • resistant to root lesion nematodes.2

  • low pest presence in the garden and attracts beneficial pollinators and insects such as lacewings and spiders.2

Permaculture with Safflower

Permaculture draws on the natural world to design a holistic “health care” system for the garden to create and sustain food and resources in harmony with its environment. A simple example is that of organic gardening.3 Safflower has a place as a permaculture worker in the garden.

Safflower is a good biomass crop4 which means that it may help to supply nitrogen to the soil, add organic matter to the soil, or help to surpress weeds in the garden. The roots of the safflower (as mentioned above) are the key to this plant’s permaculture benefits.

Safflower Benefits in Herbalism

Safflower has the following uses in herbalism, if you harvest it from your aromatic garden for this purpose:

  • promotes menstruation

  • useful for amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea

  • invigorates the blood and it is useful in many blood-related disorders.5

Consult a certified herbalist for dosage and methods of application for safflower in herbalism.

Learn More About Safflower as a Carrier Oil in Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about carrier oils such as safflower, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM home study program!

References:

  1. Purdue University website, Alternative Field Crops Manual: Safflower, accessed from: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/safflower.html

  2. Green Cover Seed website, Safflower, accessed from: https://www.greencoverseed.com/product/1074/

  3. Deep Green Permaculture website, What is Permaculture?, accessed from: https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/permaculture/

  4. Toby Hemenway website, A Permaculture Guide to Choosing Cover Crops, accessed from: http://tobyhemenway.com/1285-permaculture-cover-crops/

  5. Mdidea website, Functions and Clinical Uses of Safflower, accessed from:https://www.mdidea.com/products/new/new01503.html

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry and a UK-certified aromatherapist. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.

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An Introduction to Safflower Oil

Posted on: September 11th, 2017 by
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Safflower in Georgie's Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Safflower in Georgie's Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is not one of the most well known medicinal plants in the aromatic garden, nor is the oil one of the most popular for aromatherapy practice. However, this year I decided to grow safflower in Georgie’s Garden, here at the Sedona Aromatics School, to learn more about this plant and how it can be used in the practice of aromatherapy. Here’s part one of a new trilogy on safflower!

Profile of the Plant Safflower

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a member of the Asteraceae plant family, and therefore you should know that it is related to the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). It is an annual plant with orange to yellow flowers that almost resemble those of the thistle plant. Plant height varies between one to five foot.

It gains its common English name from “saffron flower” and its botanical name is a derivative nod to its use in dye coloring: Tinctorius.1

Safflower has traditionally been grown as an oilseed crop (particularly in the Great Plains region of the United States)2, although it has other uses as well.

Chemical Components of Safflower Oil

Safflower oil is extracted from cold expression of the seeds. Safflower produces an oil which is either high in monosaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid).2 Check with your supplier as to the chemical content of the oil you intend to purchase. Other components of safflower oil may include:

  • palmitic acid

  • stearic acid

  • palmitoleic acid

  • linolenic acid (trace).

Traditional Uses and Modern Day Use of Safflower

As mentioned above, safflower (both the flower head and the seed) was used as a plant dye for both paint and cosmetics. Safflower contains safflomin and carthamine which produces a red vegetable dye.1

The dye was also used for clothes and food.2

Safflower oil high in linoleic acid may contain upto 75% of this one component.2 It is considered the “superior” oil for aromatherapy use. It is useful for conditions such as eczema, and dry, cracked skin. Safflower oil high in oleic acid is primarily used for culinary purposes or as an industrial oil.

Safflower oil is one of the more expensive carrier oils in aromatherapy practice (although not as pricey as borage oil) but it can be combined with an oil such as sunflower to maximize the therapeutic and emollient benefits of each oil.

Learn More About Carrier Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn how to use carrier oils in aromatherapy blends, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.

References:

  1. Price, Len, 1999, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, UK: Riverhead Publishing

  2. Purdue University website, Alternative Field Crops Manual: Safflower, accessed from: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/safflower.html

  •  Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry and a UK-certified aromatherapist. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.
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An Aromatic Chocolate-Themed Garden

Posted on: September 4th, 2017 by
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Chocolate Sunflower for the Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

Chocolate Sunflower for the Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto All Rights Reserved

An aromatic garden encourages the flow of creativity, both in terms of scent, and in color. For example, you can create a theme of citrus, floral, fruity and – as described in this article, chocolate – which incorporates both the actual aromas that we are familiar with in aromatherapy, and the color of chocolate.

When you create an aromatic garden, it is a little bit like painting a picture and/or designing a custom perfume. As an aromatherapist, I always want to incorporate healing qualities of plants, but the garden allows me to go beyond those aromas, and notes, you find in aromatic blends. It allows me to express more creativity and, in my mind, results in greater healing. Combine color and aroma with the plants suggested in this article, and create your very own chocolate-themed (aromatic) garden!

The Original Chocolate Aroma

Chocolate is made from the extract of the cacao (Theobroma cacao) tree but it is not very likely that many of us have the ability to grow a cacao tree in our aromatic garden, unless we live in central or south America. However, it is useful to know a little bit about this plant. The cacao tree is a tropical, evergreen tree with small, yellow flowers and brown fruits (which contain the cocoa beans). Cocoa is extracted from the seeds (cocoa beans). The cocoa beans are fermented, washed, dried, hulled and roasted before cocoa butter is finally hot expressed in the form of a solid fat. The fat is brittle and it has a warm, chocolate aroma; it is used as cocoa butter in aromatherapy and bath and body products.

An absolute and CO2 extract are also made from the extract of the cacao tree.

Fragrant Chocolate Flowers for an Aromatic Garden

If you are looking primarily for a chocolate scent to waft through your aromatic garden, there are several chocolate flower species that can oblige. Some species of flowers do emit scents that resemble the fragrance of true chocolate; examples of chocolate fragrant flowers include:

  • chocolate cosmos

  • chocolate flower

  • chocolate geranium

  • chocolate soldiers columbine.

You may have to rub the leaves/flowers of the plant to release the chocolate aroma, but it is a quick and easy action, if you are craving the aroma of chocolate.

Edible Chocolate Flowers for an Aromatic Garden

There are some species of chocolate flowers that are edible, too. Some are in common usage and practice today. Others, such as the chocolate lily, have been used in ethnobotany, for centuries. Common edible chocolate flowers that also add some chocolate color to the garden include:

  • chocolate nasturtium

  • frosted chocolate viola

  • chocolate mint

  • chocolate calendula.

Add a couple of chocolate mint leaves to your tea or coffee, or add viola flowers to a dessert.

Using the Aromatic Garden for Chocolate Inspiration

I often use my aromatic garden for inspiration when creating a custom blend for a client. A five minute walk in the garden can help to stimulate ideas for a particular theme for a blend, or suggest a slightly different aroma to combine with the blend.

For example, if I was creating a chocolate blend with cacao CO2 extract, I might combine it with mint. There are different varieties of mint growing in the aromatic garden (spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, chocolate mint) which might suggest to me which direction I wanted to take that aromatic blend.

Think of your aromatic garden as an extension of your work as an aromatherapist or perfumist, and you might be surprised at what you end up creating!

Finally, don’t forget about color in the aromatic garden. There are now many versions of common species with different color palettes than those which we are used to; for example, the traditionally yellow-colored sunflower is now available in colors of bronze (chocolate) and red, a beautiful addition to a late summer garden.

Learn More About Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about aromatherapy, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program or one of the Sedona Aromatherapie aromatic garden retreats/workshops coming in 2018!

References:

  • The recommendations expressed in this article are based on the author’s 20 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry, as a UK-certified aromatherapist, as a published author in aromatherapy, as an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), as an aromatherapy business owner, as a consultant, as Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal, and as an aromatic gardener.

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