The Importance of Latin Names in Identifying an Essential Oil

Posted on: August 20th, 2009 by
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Cranesbill is not where geranium essential oil comes from
There are many species of lavender

There is often confusion between the the identification of some essential oils and their uses for therapeutic purposes in aromatherapy. The misunderstanding often arises because people often use the common english name of a plant and not the botanical latin name. The following plants are often confused:
Reading these individual articles will give you some idea of the confusion between these various plants. These common misunderstandings should remind us that when identifying an essential oil for a particular purpose, we should learn the latin name (ie the botanical name) of the plant. Not only do plants/essential oils get mistaken for other species/varieties by using english names but there are many different varieties of a plant species.
Lavender is probably one of the most well known and popular essential oils – but there are many species of lavender. Not only that, but depending on the growing season and region, the same lavender species may produce a slightly different chemical composition than the previous year. Lavender essential oils include the following varieties:
Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis - common/true lavender
Lavendula x intermedia - lavandin
Lavendula latifolia - spike lavender
Lavandula stoechas -different to the above 3 lavender varieties in that it is high in ketones and not in common usage in aromatherapy.
With the exception of Lavendula stoechas , all of these lavender plants look similar but their chemical composition varies slightly – they have common aromatherapy uses but this may not be the case with every species of plant. In addition, you often see lavender essential oils marketed as Bulgarian or French or English lavender; this gives you a clue as to which country the distilled lavender essential oil came from but you still need to check the chemical composition to make sure it is typical of -
a) other lavender essential oils
b) will work therapeutically for what you intend to use it for.
This is just an example of the complexities surrounding english and latin botanical names for plants and essential oils; there are also some essential oils which should never be used for aromatherapy purposes. That’s coming up next….


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Myrtle Essential Oil

Posted on: August 14th, 2009 by
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Myrtle Essential Oil


Myrtle Essential Oil

Myrtle Essential Oil

Myrtle was used by the ancient Greek Dioscorides and has a lot of associations with love! Most notably it was associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and legend tells that Aphrodite hid her nakedness behind a myrtle bush! Greek brides today often carry myrtle in their bridal bouquets and even Queen Victoria of England mixed myrtle in her 1840 bridal bouquet, together with snowdrops. However, for its therapeutic properties, myrtle essential oil is most used for its antiseptic power – to learn more read my latest essential oil profile – myrtle essential oil

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How to Create an Aromatherapy Spa

Posted on: August 14th, 2009 by
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Going to the spa in these economic times might be something which you give a miss – but that doesn’t mean you have to give your spa treatments a miss too! Its relatively easy to create your own aromatherapy spa, with pure essential oil blends, at home!
To learn more read How to Enjoy Spa Treatments at Home

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Do You Have Suggestions for Aromatherapy Notes?

Posted on: August 13th, 2009 by
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Is there something you are curious about? Do you want to know more about a particular essential oil? Or carrier oil? Do you want to learn more about aromatherapy in the UK? Or in the USA? Is there a new aromatherapy practice or treatment you’ve heard about and want to share?

I would love to hear anyone’s suggestions or comments on any of aromatherapy notes blog posts or what you would like to see more (or less!) of! In addition to writing aromatherapy notes, I also maintain the Sedona Aromatherapie website library, Sedona Aromatherapie’s facebook fan page and am in the process of (in the next year) adding more sister aromatherapy websites (products and articles) to the Sedona Aromatherapie family! I regularly contribute to the aromatherapy section at suite101, an online media magazine and I also tweet about Sedona Aromatherapie and other aromatherapy articles on twitter too!

Look forward to your thoughts and comments!

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How to Use Essential Oils at Home

Posted on: August 12th, 2009 by
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essential oils can be used in a number of ways at home
Essential oils are often used in spa treatments – but how do you use essential oils in your own way at home? Essential oils, when pure, are therapeutic in their powers and are used in aromatherapy to heal and treat specific problems. However, because essential oils are powerful, they should never be used neat, i.e. directly onto the skin, unless specifically directly to do so by a qualified aromatherapist, and even then, with extreme caution.
Essential oils are often used in carrier oils in aromatherapy blends. As discussed previously, carrier oils may not necessarily be an oil and may take the form of lotions, water, milk and honey too. But once you’ve mixed your appropriate essential oils in a carrier, what do you do then? Here’s some suggestions:
- use essential oils in the bath in a bubble bath base, bath oil, bath salt – or with milk or honey, very luxurious!
- use essential oils in the shower in a shower gel base
- use essential oils in a shampoo base
- to treat your hands or feet to a soak (like in a manicure or pedicure) add some essential oils to a foot or hand bath
- if you have a injury, pain or inflammation, use essential oils in a hot or cold compress, depending on the situation
- some essential oils are good for treating coughs and colds; add essential oils to a tissue, on your pillow at night time (but remember to dilute in water or you will end up with an oily mess!) or to a bowl of water and inhale deeply
- use essential oils in your everyday skin care routine – add essential oils to lotions for hands, feet, face and cleansing lotion
- are you allergic to or get headaches from commercial perfumes? Make your own perfume sprays with pure essential oils
- use essential oils in a diffuser to fragrance a room and ‘create’ a certain mood
- essential oils can also be used in cleaning products (another topic to be discussed at a later date) .
Essential oils are extremely versatile and as you can see are not just a ‘pretty smell’! All of these suggestions can easily be expanded on and I will come back to some of them in future postings. If you have any other suggestions for using essential oils at home, or I have missed something, please leave me a comment at the end of this post!

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The Extraction of Essential Oils by Hydro-Diffusion (Percolation) and Carbon Dioxide Extraction

Posted on: August 7th, 2009 by
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Photo of a Simple Homemade Still

As discussed in the post The Extraction of Essential Oils by Distillation and Expression, there are now new methods of extracting some essential oils. Both hydro-diffusion and carbon dioxide extraction are new methods, and there are some essential essential oils for sale which will be described as, for example, ‘CO 2 extracted’. Although distillation of essential oils remains the most popular and most frequently used method of extracting essential oils, it is worth mentioning the two newer methods of hydro-diffusion and carbon dioxide.

- Hydro-Diffusion Extraction (also known as percolation) – is the newer of these two extraction methods for essential oils. It is quicker than distilling an essential oil and works much like the process of a coffee percolator (hence its alternative name of percolation). As it is a fairly new procedure for extracting essential oils, it is not known yet whether essential oils obtained through hydro-diffusion extraction is of the same quality as those obtained through distillation. Additionally, not all essential oils, are suitable for hydro-diffusion.

- Carbon Dioxide Extraction – as the name suggests, carbon dioxide extraction uses carbon dioxide to extract essential oils. It is an expensive method of extracting essential oils, using both high pressure and low temperature to extract the essential oil from the plant material. It is said that carbon dioxide extraction produces an essential oil which is closer to the essential oil present in the plant (remember that the ‘essential oil’ obtained through distillation is not the same as the essential oil present in the plant; chemical components are ‘altered’ through the extraction process). Carbon dioxide extraction does not leave a trace of carbon dioxide in the resulting essential oil and essential oil suppliers are marketing these essential oils as ‘pure’; however, the essential oils obtained through carbon dioxide extraction are usually more expensive.

Personally, I have traditionally used distilled or expressed essential oils for pure aromatherapy use – until now. If research continues into the newer methods of hydro-diffusion and carbon dioxide extraction and I am convinced these essential oils are also pure, and can be bought at a reasonable price, I may consider using them in the future…

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