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Essential Oils

Hyssop Essential Oil

Hyssop is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae (Lahiatae). It is indigenous to Mediterranean countries but now grows freely throughout Europe, in Russia and in the United States of America. It is cultivated for oil production in France, Italy, Spain, Hungary and the Balkan countries. (Hyssop oil)

The plant is bushy and is a perennial. It grows to a height of approximately 5 feet (1.5 meters). It has small pointed leaves and flowers that vary in color from pink, through violet to blue.

The herb has been used for many years in traditional herbal medicine, mainly for digestive ailments or problems of a respiratory nature, in particular coughs and bronchitis.

Essential Oil

The essential oil of hyssop is obtained from the leaves and flowers of the plant by the process of steam distillation. The oil is colorless or pale greenish yellow and has a fragrance that is fresh and spicy. It is used for this fragrance in the production of soaps and other toiletries and also in the production of perfume. Hyssop oil is also employed in the manufacture of some food and drink products as a flavoring agent.

Therapeutically, hyssop has several possible applications, but it also has a certain amount of toxicity so should be used with care. Seek the advice of a trained therapist before using it at home. Hyssop oil is sedative in effect and can be used to treat anxiety, nervous tension and stress, either in bathing or in massage.

Hyssop is particularly beneficial in the treatment of respiratory ailments. It is antiseptic, antiviral and bactericidal and will help combat colds, influenza, bronchitis, asthma and sore throats. It also has expectorant properties that will help in the treatment of catarrh. It is antispasmodic so will soothe persistent irritating coughs.

Hyssop is an emmenagogue so can be used to treat amenorrhoea (absence of periods). Because of these properties it is unsuitable for use during pregnancy.

Hyssop can be used to regulate high or low blood pressure. Those who suffer from either problem should, however, seek qualified advice as it is important to find the cause in order to determine what treatment is appropriate.

In massage or in bathing, hyssop can also bring relief from flatulence and colic.

Hyssop can be used in skin care to soothe dermatitis and eczema.

Essential oil of hyssop should be used with care as it has a degree of toxicity.

Precautions

Warning: Not to be used during pregnancy. Has a degree of toxicity – use in strict moderation. Not to be used by epileptics. Not recommended for home use unless on the advice of a trained therapist.

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Essential Oils

Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit is one of the citrus fruits that has a sharper, almost bitter taste. It is grown in the United States, Caribbean countries, Spain and also in Israel. It is larger than the orange or lemon and generally has a yellow skin. Pink grapefruit, less common but equally good, has a pink tinge to the skin and pink flesh. The taste of a grapefruit is such that it feels as if it is beneficial to the health, and it is. The sharp, fresh taste feels cleansing on the palate and wakes up the senses at the start of a day. Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C and is recommended as part of a detoxifying diet.

Essential Oil

Essential oil of grapefruit is obtained from the skin and rind of the fruit by expression (machine pressing). The oil has a pleasant, fresh and sharp smell, much like the fruit, and is used by the cosmetic industry in many bath products, shampoos, soaps, etc.

The effects of grapefruit oil are primarily cooling, cleansing and detoxifying. A few drops of grapefruit oil in the bath act as a wonderful boost to flagging spirits. The bather will emerge feeling clean, fresh and new. In massage it can be used to help combat cellulite. Grape¬ fruit is a valuable detoxifying agent and acts on the liver and kidneys to help the body to eliminate waste and toxins. It will play a useful part in any detoxifying regime, and some people recommend it as an aid to the process of drug withdrawal.

Grapefruit oil also helps in the digestive process, and gentle abdominal massage will help to relieve a sluggish digestion or constipation.

Used in inhalation or in vaporizers, grapefruit oil combines well with many others in a harmonious blend.

In skin preparations, the actions of grapefruit oil are cleansing and astringent, making it ideal for the treatment of excessive oiliness. It has a similar effect in hair treatments.

Suitable methods of use

Precautions

Warning: Mildly photo-toxic so avoid exposure to the sun after treatment. Dilute well.

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Essential Oils

Ginger Essential Oil

Ginger is native to Asia but is now grown widely throughout the tropics. The Caribbean countries, where the plant has been grown for some four hundred years, depended on ginger as an important part of the spice trade. The ginger plant is a perennial herb with a tuberous rhizome, and this is the part of the plant that is used. The ginger flower is white or yellow and very showy. The spice turmeric, familiar to all those who are acquainted with Indian cookery, comes from another rhizome, Curcuma longa, which belongs to the same plant family, Zingiberaceae. An essential oil is also obtained from turmeric but it is an irritant and not safe for home use. (ginger oil)

Ginger has a long history of use both as a spice and as a herbal remedy, in particular for ailments of a digestive nature. Its effects are stimulative and carminative, so relieving flatulence. Crystallized stem ginger is used in the manufacture of sweets and preserves. Ginger-based remedies can be used as a remedy for both travel sickness and the morning sickness of early pregnancy.

Essential Oil

Essential oil of ginger is obtained from the root, which has been previously dried and ground, by the process of steam distillation. It is pale yellow to amber in color and has a spicy, sweet and pungent smell.

Ginger oil is used as a fragrance ingredient in some perfumes and is widely utilized in the food and drinks industry as a flavoring.

In aromatherapy, ginger can be used to help a variety of problems. The oil is warming and toning and can boost flagging spirits and strengthen resolve. When used in massage, ginger is particularly beneficial in the treatment of musculo-skeletal aches and pains that are more severe in cold, damp weather. It also helps to stimulate sluggish circulation and will work well on cold extremities. A foot-bath with ginger oil can be very soothing.

Ginger oil can irritate the mucous membranes, however, and for this reason it is not recommended for use in full immersion baths. Ginger oil, like the root of the plant, can be used to benefit the digestive system. It can be used to relieve nausea in the first three months of pregnancy and also travel-sickness. Inhalation from a handkerchief onto which one or two drops of ginger oil have been placed will bring relief. Ginger oil will stimulate a sluggish digestive system and will relieve associated flatulence. Use in massage blends or inhale for this purpose.

Ginger oil can also benefit the respiratory system, particularly if used in steam inhalation. It is an effective expectorant and so helps to clear the throat and nasal passages of excess mucus. It also does much to soothe an irritating cough and is thought to strengthen the body’s immunity to the coughs and colds that winter brings. The oil will also help to reduce fever by encouraging sweating, which allows the body to cool down.

Ginger oil is an aphrodisiac.

Suitable methods of use

  • Compresses
  • Foot-baths (full immersion baths not recommended because of possible mucous membrane irritation)
  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Vaporizer/diffuser.

Precautions

Ginger is nontoxic and non-sensitizing. It should be used with care as it can irritate mucous membranes but is suitable for use on the skin in appropriate dilution.

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Essential Oils

Geranium Essential Oil

Pelargonium graveolens, a member of the family Geraniaceae, originally comes from South Africa. It is also known as rose geranium and is grown now in countries as diverse as France, Egypt, North Africa and Russia. It is an attractive plant to look at and, like all members of the plant family to which it belongs, a pleasure to see in flower. The leaves are highly aromatic and give off a distinctive smell when brushed against or rubbed between the fingers. Varieties of geranium have been used since ancient times in the herbal medicine of different countries.

Essential Oil

Geranium oil has been an important asset to the perfume industry ever since it was first distilled in France in the early eighteenth century. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves and stems of the plant, which are harvested just before flowering begins, when the scent of the plant is strongest. The oil is green in color and smells fresh and rosy.

The properties of geranium oil are varied, but in the main it is an oil that is highly valued for its balancing, regulating qualities. It can be used in massage, bathing, or inhalation (either directly, in steam inhalation, or in a room vaporizer) and has the advantage of being generally nontoxic and non irritant.

Geranium oil is often used in the treatment of menstrual disorders, especially premenstrual tension with associated fluid retention, and menopausal problems such as hot flushes. Its action is soothing and calming, and it works to alleviate anxiety and jumpiness, or restlessness, without having any unwanted sedative effect. It has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and, when used in the bath, will soothe the heat of acute cystitis and can also relieve some of the discomfort of chickenpox or the pain of shingles.

The anti-inflammatory properties of geranium oil also make it a favored choice in the treatment of many skin conditions, such as eczema and acute dermatitis. It is also quite effective in the treatment of acne. Because of its balancing qualities, geranium oil can be used for the benefit of both dry and oily skins with no ill effects. In blends, geranium is one of the oils with a fragrance that blends well with many others, increasing its versatility.

Suitable methods of use

  • Bathing
  • Compresses
  • Hair care
  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Skin care
  • Vaporizer/diffuser.

Precautions

None. Geranium is generally perfectly safe to use in dilution on all but the most hypersensitive skins.

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Essential Oils

Garlic Essential Oil

Garlic, a member of the plant family Liliacea, is grown widely throughout Europe and is renowned for its antiseptic properties. The plant has been used over many centuries in different countries as a protection against evil. Garlic also has antibacterial and anti-hypertensive properties and is greatly favored as a flavoring ingredient in cookery worldwide, even if some people are intolerant of the effects that it has on the breath. There is no doubt that its consumption is beneficial to the health and if everybody ate it, the disadvantages of its smell on the breath – and in perspiration – would go unnoticed. Garlic capsules, which have all the advantages of large ‘doses’ of garlic but claim to be odor-free, are widely available in pharmacies and health food stores. Cooking with garlic and eating it, however gives much greater pleasure. (garlic oil)

Because of its particular potency there is a little experiment you can perform using garlic that shows the effects of essential oils. Choose a day when you have not eaten garlic for some time. Peel and crush a garlic clove and rub it into the skin of your feet. Wait for an hour or so and then ask someone to smell your breath -remember, the essential oil would be much more concentrated in its effect than this!

Essential Oil

Essential oil of garlic is a powerful antiseptic – possibly the most powerful among essential oils. It is unfortunate, therefore, that its overpowering smell makes its use virtually unbearable. It is just too strong and would never combine successfully with other oils. Aromatherapy is generally pleasant; the introduction of essential oil of garlic to an aromatherapist’s repertoire would make both therapist and patient quite unpopular!

Precautions

Use of garlic oil renders all who touch it offensive to others. Warning: Not suitable for use at home.

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Essential Oils

Frankincense Essential Oil

The tree from which frankincense resin is obtained grows in Somalia, China and Ethiopia. It is a member of the family Burseraceae. Frankincense was greatly valued in ancient times by the Chinese, the Romans, the Egyptians and the Arabs for its rich aroma and for its stimulant properties. It is to this day an important part of religious and ceremonial proceedings throughout the world and is used in the preparation of incense.

Essential Oil

The oil is extracted from the gum resin by the process of steam distillation. It is an ingredient in a wide variety of commercially produced perfumed products. It is clear in color, with a tinge of pale yellow. Its smell is woody, sweet and warm with a strong element of pine. It blends well with many other oils. It is both soothing and uplifting when used in a burner or vaporizer. Many people use it as an aid to meditation as it can help slow down breathing and aid concentration, and it is an invaluable weapon in the war against stress.

Frankincense makes a good addition to a steam inhalation -its anti-inflammatory properties are useful in the treatment of bronchitis and laryngitis, and it will also help troublesome coughs by soothing irritated mucous membranes and assisting expectoration.

Cosmetically, frankincense is particularly valuable. Its action is astringent, antiseptic and toning. It is popular in the treatment of ageing skin.

Frankincense is a particularly safe and comforting essential oil to use.

Suitable methods of use

  • Bathing
  • Compresses
  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Skin care
  • Vaporizer/diffuser.

Precautions

None. Non-toxic and non-irritant if used in dilution. Warning: Some therapists recommend that frankincense is avoided during early pregnancy.

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Essential Oils

Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary, symbol of remembrance, originally comes from the Mediterranean area but is now grown worldwide and is cultivated for oil production in France, Spain and Tunisia. Rosemary is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae (Labiatae). It is a relatively easy herb to grow and is popular as a flavoring ingredient in the cookery of many countries. It is also a favorite in scented gardens and herb gardens.

Planted alongside a path, where the leaves will give off their delicious fragrance every time someone brushes past the plant, rosemary is a delight to grow. The herb grows as a small bushy shrub with grey-green aromatic leaves, like needles, all along the stem. The flowers of the plant are small and pale grayish blue in color.

Rosemary has been used in herbal medicine for centuries and also had considerable religious and spiritual significance in some countries. It was believed in several cultures to give protection against evil spirits. In medieval times it was used as a fumigating agent against the plague. The herb has been used to treat respiratory, digestive, skin and nervous complaints and is still recommended as a general stimulant. Rosemary was also used as a treatment for depression and general debility. The stimulating effects of the herb on the mind and body have long been appreciated.

Essential Oil

Essential oil of rosemary can be extracted from the whole plant by steam distillation, but a better quality oil is obtained if only the young leaves and flowering tips are used. The oil is either pale yellow or colorless and has a fragrance that is strong, fresh and herbal. The fragrance of the oil does not, however, closely resemble that of the plant itself. Rosemary oil is used extensively in the perfume and cosmetics industries, in the manufacture of soaps, shampoos and other toiletries and in perfumes and colognes. It is also used in the production of many food and drink products.

The effects of essential oil of rosemary are warming, stimulating, strengthening and toning, both on the body and the mind. It is thus a good all-round tonic oil to use and has many therapeutic applications.

Rosemary has particular benefits for the circulatory system. Used in a bath or in massage it will stimulate a poor circulation and relieve the discomfort of cold extremities.

Rosemary oil can be used to good effect in bathing, massage or adding fragrance to a room to stimulate the mind, helping concentration, improving memory and relieving mental fatigue: ‘Rosemary for remembrance’. (It is interesting to note that the ancient Greeks wore sprigs or garlands of rosemary at times when they wanted to achieve this effect.)

Rosemary is a good oil to use in massage or bathing both before and after strenuous exercise. It is therefore invaluable to have in the house if there are athletes, walkers or cyclists in the family. It will help to tone the muscles and help prevent against strain before exercise. Following exercise, it will soothe aches, pains and stiffness. Rheumatism and arthritis can also be relieved by using rosemary oil, which is soothing and warming either in massage and bathing or with the use of compresses applied to the affected areas of the body.

The pain-relieving properties of essential oil of rosemary also make it useful in the treatment of headaches, and its stimulating properties help to restore concentration and revitalize the spirits, particularly when fatigue from overwork has set in.

The stimulating effects of rosemary will work for the benefit of the digestive system, and it can be used to treat flatulence, colic and an irritated colon. Abdominal massage can be particularly beneficial. Massage with rosemary oil also has a detoxifying effect on the body, stimulating lymphatic drainage.

Rosemary oil is antiseptic and antimicrobial and can be used in the treatment of colds, influenza and bronchitis. Use in steam inhalation or, for a comforting warming effect all over, in bathing or massage. It can also be used in a mouthwash to combat oral and throat infections. When used as a room fragrance, rosemary gives off a delicious aroma while at the same time disinfecting the atmosphere.

Rosemary oil is a popular oil to use in hair care. It can be applied in a massage blend rubbed into the scalp and can be used to treat hair lice and scabies. It also counteracts greasy hair, seborrhoea and dandruff and it may also be of benefit in some cases of hair loss (alopecia).

In skin care, rosemary oil is particularly beneficial for oily skins that are prone to spots as it is antiseptic and astringent.

Suitable Methods of Use

  • Bathing,
  • Compresses,
  • Hair care,
  • Inhalation,
  • Massage,
  • Mouthwash,
  • Skin care,
  • Vaporizer/diffuser.

Precautions

In the correct dilution, rosemary oil is generally safe to use. Warning: Should be avoided during pregnancy. Not suitable for use by sufferers of epilepsy or high blood pressure.

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Essential Oils

Rosewood Essential Oil

Rosewood has been harvested for years without any program for replacing the trees with new plantings for making rosewood oil. This has been very damaging environmentally. Rosewood is slow- growing and resources are becoming increasingly limited. The rain forests have suffered greatly as a consequence of the felling of the trees for timber and oil. Those who have any regard for the environment will probably choose not to use this oil, in spite of its therapeutic benefits, unless given proven assurance that the oil comes from a sustainable source. Many (and most reputable) suppliers of essential oils will also refuse to sell the oil unless it meets environmentally conscious criteria.

The tree is a tropical evergreen of medium size and grows in the Amazon basin. It is a member of the family Lauraceae. The timber has been used for many years in the production of high-quality furniture and is also exported to Japan for the manufacture of chopsticks. Peru and Brazil are the largest producers of rosewood oil.

Essential Oil

The essential oil of rosewood is obtained from wood chippings by the process of steam distillation. The oil is colorless or pale yellow and has a sweet, pleasantly woody fragrance. Rosewood oil was formerly used as a source of linalol for the perfume industry, but now most linalol is synthetic. Rosewood oil is still used in the manufacture of perfumes and perfumed products and is also extensively used in the food and drinks industries.

Therapeutically, rosewood is balancing, calming, uplifting and toning. It is a sensual oil to use in massage or in a vaporizer to scent a room, and it blends well with a variety of different oils, in particular the citrus and floral oils. It can help to relieve tense headaches, soothe stress and aid concentration

Rosewood oil is antiseptic and antimicrobial, and it strengthens the body’s immune response. It can be used in massage, bathing or inhalation to help combat influenza and similar infections. It has reasonably good expectorant properties and can help to soothe dry coughs. Not only will rosewood oil help the body to fight off troublesome infections, it will also make sufferers feel better in themselves and can help combat the depressive symptoms that are often associated with a severe bout of influenza.

In skin care, essential oil of rosewood can be used for a variety of purposes. It is anti-inflammatory and will soothe dry, sore complexions. It is widely appreciated for treating ageing skins, scarring, dermatitis and eczema.

Suitable Methods of Use

Precautions

None. Rosewood oil is nontoxic, non-sensitizing and nonirritant. However, as we already mentioned in the introductory section, you should pay attention about the environmental issues when buying rosewood oil.

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Essential Oils

Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood, a member of the family Santalaceae, is native to India where it is now cultivated for commercial purposes, particularly in the southern state of Karnataka, formerly known as Mysore for making sandalwood oil. The sandalwood tree is a small evergreen, a parasite that gets nutrients from photosynthesis but draws the water and minerals that it requires from the roots of a host tree. (Mistletoe belongs to the same family.)

There has been some concern over depleting resources in recent years, but this problem is now being resolved with replanting programmes that have been initiated by the Indian government, which also regulates the quality of the oil that is produced. Another variety of sandalwood, Australian sandalwood, is also used for essential oil production but the Indian sandalwood is considered superior and is thus the one of choice.

Sandalwood has been used for its perfume for some four thousand years in the East. In powdered form it is burned as incense and it has been used as a component in the embalming process. Its ceremonial and religious uses include weddings, funerals and festivals. It was also used therapeutically in Eastern traditional medicine for fighting off disease. The wood was used for building and for ornamental carvings, in particular for temples.

Essential Oil

Sandalwood oil is obtained from the heartwood of the tree, which has previously been dried and powdered, by steam distillation. It is used as a perfume and a fragrance fixative in cosmetics, aftershaves, colognes and perfumes. It is one of the essential oils that appeals equally to both sexes. This oil is a component of many varieties of incense. It also has value as a flavoring in some commercially produced food and drinks.

Sandalwood oil is safe to use in massage, bathing, skin care and inhalation. It will do much to relieve anxious feelings of depression. It has a relaxing, soothing effect on the spirits. It is cooling, quietening and calming and is often used by those who meditate. Sandalwood oil can help break the vicious circle of insomnia, wherein the sufferer has trouble sleeping, becomes anxious about not sleeping and then finds it even harder to sleep because of the anxiety. Sandalwood will induce a state of relaxation that is conducive to sounder, easier sleep.

The skin can benefit from the use of sandalwood oil as an emollient and anti-inflammatory agent on dry, cracked and tender skin. It cleanses and softens and is pleasant to apply in dilution to the face after shaving. It is also mildly astringent. Its fragrance has an almost universal appeal. Sandalwood is also valued for its aphrodisiac properties and is believed to increase sexual enjoyment, in particular for men

Used in the bath, sandalwood oil is extremely beneficial to the genitourinary system and can help in the treatment of vaginitis, leucorrhoea, cystitis and urethritis. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and can also be used to treat some sexually transmitted diseases.

Used in steam inhalation, sandalwood can help in the treatment of dry coughs and heavy, mucousy colds. It is an effective decongestant and can help to clear catarrh.

Suitable Methods of Use

Precautions

None. Sandalwood oil is nontoxic, non-sensitizing and nonirritant.

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Essential Oils

Fennel Essential Oil

Fennel is a tall, graceful member of the Umbelliferae family and, although native to Mediterranean countries, grows freely throughout Europe. The plant is widely used in cookery, where its feathery leaves and celery-like stems impart a delicious flavor to many recipes. It tastes similar to aniseed. Fennel seed is an important ingredient in Indian cookery. (Fennel oil)

As with many of the herbs that are used in cookery, fennel has a beneficial, regulatory and balancing effect on the digestive system. It is anti-flatulent, antispasmodic and gently laxative. Fennel tea is a popular digestive aid and anti-colic treatment. The herb is also thought to stimulate lactation in breastfeeding mothers.

Essential Oil

Fennel oil is extracted by steam distillation from the seeds of the plant. It is very strong in odor, and in color is clear with a slightly yellow tinge. It has bactericidal properties and is an ingredient in some toothpastes and mouthwashes, as it combats some of the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Its antibacterial, laxative and carminative properties have made it popular with the pharmaceutical industry where it is used extensively. It is also an ingredient in some perfumed products.

Used in massage, particularly over the lower abdomen and back, fennel oil will soothe a nervous indigestion or irritated bowel. Flatulence and bloating can also be helped with gentle massage. Those who have problems with micturation often find that fennel helps to produce a steadier stream of urine. Its mild diuretic action can help with excessive fluid retention. Because of its strong odor, you may well find that fennel does not make a pleasing blend with other oils, but as its use tends to be more therapeutic than sensual, there is no need to blend fennel oil with other oils. Always dilute it well as it is strong and can irritate the skin – a 1 per cent dilution is quite sufficient.

Fennel can be used in vaporizers and because of its expectorant qualities is thought to help catarrhal coughs. Fennel has an effect similar to that of the hormone estrogen -this is why it is used to stimulate lactation and increase milk production – and it is not suitable for use during pregnancy.

Suitable methods of use

  • Compresses
  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Mouthwashes
  • Vaporizer/ diffuser.

Precautions

Sweet fennel can cause sensitization and should be well diluted before use. Warning: Sweet fennel can be narcotic if used in quantity. Do not use during pregnancy. Not to be used on people suffering from epilepsy. Bitter fennel (Foeniculum vulgare van amara) should be avoided. It is stronger and more likely to cause sensitization.