Peppermint Essential Oil

There are several different varieties of mint: peppermint and spearmint are the two that are used in aromatherapy. Peppermint is a perennial herb, a cultivated hybrid grown all over the world. It is easy to grow and spreads rapidly from underground runners. Some gardeners find this aspect of an otherwise useful herb rather irritating. The peppermint plant is bushy, growing to approximately 3 feet (0.9 meters) in height, has soft, fragrant green leaves and small, white flowers. Peppermint belongs to the plant family Lamiaceae (Labiatae). Peppermint is grown commercially for production of its essential oils in several countries, including England, France, Italy and Russia. Peppermint is one of the oils for which an organic option is easily available. (peppermint oil)

Peppermint has a long history of use in herbal medicine. There is evidence that the herb was used by the ancient Egyptians, and in various countries it has been used as a treatment for various complaints, including indigestion, colic and flatulence, nausea (in particular during pregnancy), headaches and sore throats. The herb is often drunk in an infusion, as peppermint tea.

Essential Oil

Essential oil of peppermint is produced by the process of steam distillation. The herb is harvested while in flower and the leaves, stems and flowers are used in the process. Peppermint oil is pale greenish-yellow and has a strong, fresh minty smell. Essential oil of peppermint is widely used as a flavoring ingredient in the food and drinks industries and by the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries as a flavoring and/or fragrance in toothpastes, soaps, mouthwashes, bath products, perfumes and colognes.

Peppermint oil has various therapeutic uses and can be used to treat disorders of the respiratory system and the digestive tract as well as musculo-skeletal pain, in addition to being a valuable oil to use in skin care.

The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the oil can benefit muscular pain and neuralgia, particularly when used in massage. Peppermint oil will also help to stimulate the circulation.

The anti-inflammatory properties of peppermint oil can also help to ease the irritation of pruritis when used in bathing. Peppermint oil is astringent and will be of particular benefit to oily skins. It is, however, irritating to some sensitive skins and should be used in dilution of no more than 1 per cent in a massage blend. Three drops are quite sufficient for bathing.

As a digestive aid, essential oil of peppermint works effectively in massage to stimulate a sluggish digestion, to relieve dyspepsia and nausea and also to ease stomach cramps and colic.

Used in steam inhalation, peppermint oil has a marked anticatarrhal and expectorant action and can do much to relieve colds and bronchitis. In a mouthwash, it can deodorize bad breath.

Peppermint oil refreshes the mind as well as the body and will help to lift the spirits, give courage and focus and clear muddled thoughts.

Suitable methods of use

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

Precautions

Nontoxic and generally nonirritant if used in appropriate dilution. A small chance of sensitization in some individuals. Warning: Avoid during pregnancy. Do not swallow mouthwash.

Scots Pine Essential Oil

Pinus sylvestris, more commonly known as Scots pine, is a tall evergreen native to Britain where it was long ago the main species in the Great Forest of Caledon, covering much of Scotland. Now the Scots pine is grown worldwide and is cultivated commercially in several countries, including Austria, the countries of Scandinavia and the United States. Scots pine belongs to the family Pinaceae. There are other varieties of pine that are cultivated for their oils, for example long- leaf pine and dwarf pine, but Scots pine is the one most commonly used in aromatherapy.

In herbal medicine, young pine shoots were used in bathing to treat several complaints, including rheumatism, poor circulation, skin problems and nervous fatigue. They were also used in steam inhalation for a variety of respiratory disorders. Pine was much appreciated for its insecticidal properties and was used around the house to repel parasites.

Essential Oil

The essential oil is obtained from the needles of the tree by the process of dry distillation. It is colorless generally but can be tinged with yellow. The oil has a strong, clean, balsamic smell. The fragrance of pine oil makes it a strong favorite in the production of many soaps and other bath products. It is also used extensively as an ingredient in household cleaning products and disinfectants as well as in insect repellents.

Therapeutically, oil of pine is versatile and quite a safe oil for home use. Its effects are refreshing and stimulating. It is particularly useful in the treatment of many respiratory ailments, such as bronchitis, influenza, coughs, colds and also asthma. It is an effective expectorant and is also antiseptic, antiviral and bactericidal. It can be used to treat respiratory tract infections either by massage or in inhalation. Steam inhalation is particularly beneficial as the steam helps to loosen excess mucus in the airways and unblock the sinuses.

Pine oil is valuable in the treatment of urinary tract infections, particularly when used in baths or sitz baths. Its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties combat infection while the patient’s spirits are soothed by the refreshing fragrance.

Hot compresses of pine and massage with essential oils both work well to relieve the aches and pains of disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism and gout. Pine oil also benefits poor circulation. It is a good oil to use in the treatment of post-illness fatigue or exhaustion brought on by stress, replacing tension with relaxation and fatigue with refreshment.

Pine oil used in a room spray, vaporizer or diffuser will disinfect the air, creating a fresh and healthy atmosphere.

Suitable methods of use

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

Precautions

Pine oil is generally safe to use. It is nontoxic and generally nonirritant, provided that it is used in dilutions of less than 2 per cent. A small minority of people may become sensitized. Avoid using pine on people who already have allergic skin conditions. Warning: Some therapists recommend that you avoid using essential oil of pine during the first three months of pregnancy.

Cabbage Rose Essential Oil

There are two main varieties of rose that are used for the production of essential oil for aromatherapy. Rosa centifolia, or cabbage rose, and Rosa damascena, damask rose. Cabbage rose, also known as French rose, rose de mai or rose maroc, is believed to have come originally from Persia but is now cultivated commercially, mostly in Morocco and France. The plant is approximately 8 feet (2.4 meters) in height and produces a mass of fragrant pink blooms. Damask rose, also known as Turkish rose and rose otto, is thought to be indigenous to China but is now cultivated mainly in Bulgaria and France for its oil. It is a smaller plant, which also produces abundant pink blooms. Of the two varieties, cabbage-rose oil is more widely available for aromatherapy use. Rose otto can be prohibitively expensive.

Roses were widely used medicinally in ancient times in the East for a variety of ailments, which included fever, skin problems, digestive and circulatory problems. They were also valued for their aphrodisiac properties. Symbolically, the rose signifies love and has done so for many hundreds of years. Rose hips are still valued highly for their nutritional value: they are particularly high in vitamin C.

Essential Oil

Steam distillation of rose petals is sometimes used to produce essential oil of rose, and for many years the principal method of extraction favored by the perfume industry was enfleurage. Essential oil of rose is extremely expensive, however, and an alternative is the absolute. First, a concrete is obtained through solvent extraction of the rose petals and then, once the solvent has been removed, the absolute is separated from the concrete using alcohol.

The essential oils of both cabbage rose and damask rose are yellow in color, while the absolutes are deeper in hue, being orange-red. The absolute is almost solid at room temperature, becoming liquid when the bottle is held and gently warmed in the hand. Both essential oil and absolute have a rich, deep, sweet floral smell. Beware of imitations: synthetic copies of rose oil abound and it is also quite frequently adulterated before being sold.

Rose oil is extensively used in the perfume industry. Being an ingredient of more than a third of the fragrances. It is also used in the manufacture of toiletries and cosmetics and sometimes as a flavoring agent. Rose water – a by-product of the steam distillation process – is used in cookery and for cosmetic purposes.

Rose oil is a pleasant and safe oil to use in aromatherapy and is suitable for a variety of uses. It is expensive, but its strength ensures that one or two drops added to a blend will transform it. Cabbage-rose oil and damask-rose oil have similar properties and effects.

Rose oil relaxes and strengthens, imparting a feeling of calm and well being. It is beneficial to use in times of stress and will bring relief to many stress-related conditions, soothing frustration and irritability and lifting the spirits. It can be used to good effect on children and is enjoyed by most people in massage blends or in bathing. Rose oil is also delightful to blend with other essential oils in a vaporizer.

In the treatment of gynecological problems, rose oil can be particularly beneficial. It is useful in the treatment of premenstrual tension and in menopausal difficulties such as heavy menstrual bleeding. Its effects are balancing, and it can also help to regulate infrequent or scanty menstruation. Like jasmine, rose oil has aphrodisiac qualities and can benefit both sexes by increasing libido.

Rose oil can also benefit the respiratory system and can be used to treat coughs and allergy-related respiratory complaints.

The effects of rose oil on the digestive system are detoxifying, anti-inflammatory and strengthening. It can be used to treat constipation and nausea and is also thought to have a tonic effect on the liver and gall bladder.

Rose oil is an extremely valuable oil for skin care. It is anti-inflammatory and soothing, which makes it suitable for the treatment of dry and itchy skin, and it will also help to tone a tired complexion. It is suitable for use on sensitive and ageing skin.

Rose oil also has a beneficial effect on the circulation.

It is important to point out that although rose oil is very costly, a little of this intoxicating fragrance goes a long way in a blend.

Suitable methods of use

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

Precautions

Safe to use; nontoxic, nonirritating and non-sensitizing. Warning: Use of rose oil during early pregnancy is not advisable unless under the supervision of a trained aromatherapist.

Myrtle Essential Oil

Myrtle is a large bush, growing to a height of as much as 15 feet (4.5 meters), which is native to North Africa but now growing throughout the Mediterranean area. It is an evergreen plant with shiny leaves and bright white blossom. Both leaves and flowers are fragrant. In ancient times, myrtle was sacred to the goddess Aphrodite, and it is still worn as a symbol of purity by some brides to this day. Like tea tree and eucalyptus, myrtle is a member of the plant family Myrtaceae. Myrtle oil is produced in several countries, including France, Morocco, Italy and Tunisia.

In traditional herbal medicine, myrtle has been used for respiratory and digestive disorders and also in skin care.

Essential Oil

The essential oil of myrtle is obtained by steam distillation from the twigs and leaves of the plant. It is pale yellow to orange in color and has a clean fresh smell. The oil is used in the perfume industry, particularly in the production of eau de Cologne. It is also used as a flavoring ingredient in some commercially produced savory foods.

Therapeutically, myrtle oil is used in aromatherapy for the treatment of respiratory complaints and also in skin care. Myrtle can be used to combat problem catarrh and coughing associated with this. It is also a useful treatment for sinusitis. It is bactericidal and an effective expectorant. Use in steam inhalation for best effect. The oil will also boost the immune system against colds and influenza.

In skin care, myrtle is useful for its astringent and bactericidal properties and can be used in skin preparations to treat oily skin and acne.

Myrtle has a clarifying and uplifting effect on the spirits. It can help those who are feeling low and distracted by worry.

Suitable methods of use

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

Precautions

None. Myrtle is nontoxic, non-sensitizing and nonirritant.

Myrrh Essential Oil

Myrrh is a small shrub-like tree that grows to a height of 20-30 feet (6-9 meters). Belonging to the family Burseraceae, it is indigenous to Arabia, in particular Yemen, and to parts of northeast Africa, including Somalia and Ethiopia. The tree has white flowers and aromatic leaves. The trunk exudes a yellow liquid resin that hardens into solid reddish-colored droplets. Resin collectors make incisions in the trunk of the tree to encourage it to produce larger quantities. (Myrrh oil)

Myrrh, one of the gifts that the three wise men brought from the East for the Christ child, has been used since ancient times in religious ceremonies and is an ingredient of incense. The ancient Egyptians used myrrh for embalming their dead. In herbal medicine, myrrh has a history of use as a tonic, with astringent and healing properties. It was also used as an expectorant and as a treatment for various gastric and oral problems and skin problems.

Essential Oil

Myrrh oil is obtained by steam distillation from the resin that is exuded from the tree. It is golden to amber in color and has a sweetish spicy, medicinal smell. It has strong antiseptic and healing properties. When used in the treatment of respiratory disorders, either in massage or in steam inhalation, its anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal and expectorant properties can benefit coughs, bronchitis and sore throats. It can also be used in mouthwashes and gargles to treat gingivitis, mouth ulcers and oral thrush.

The effects of myrrh oil on the digestive system are stimulating. Used in massage, myrrh can help ease flatulence and stimulate appetite. It can also be used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

In skin care, either in the bath or in lotions or compresses, myrrh can be used as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent. It works well on cracked and inflamed skin and can be used as a treatment for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. In baths it can be used for the treatment of leucorrhoea and vaginal thrush. Myrrh is also thought to benefit ageing skin.

Myrrh oil is warming and relaxing and can be useful in the treatment of stress and depression. It is also used as an aid to meditation.

Myrrh oil is used in the cosmetics industry as an ingredient in soaps, cosmetics and perfumes. The pharmaceutical industry uses it in the production of oral preparations such as toothpastes and mouthwashes. It is also used in dentistry.

Suitable methods of use

  • Bathing
  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Mouthwashes
  • Skin care
  • Vaporizer/diffuser

Precautions

Myrrh oil is nonirritant and nontoxic when used externally. Warning: Do not swallow mouthwash. Not to be used in pregnancy.

Mimosa Essential Oil

Mimosa, a member of the family Mimosaceae, is native to Australia where it is also known as Sydney black wattle. It is a relatively small tree that has sweet-smelling yellow flowers. It has now become naturalized in several other countries in Africa and Europe. The bark of the mimosa tree is used in the tanning industry. It is also valued in herbal medicine for the treatment of diarrhea amongst other things.

Essential Oil

The essential oil is obtained by solvent extraction, which produces a solid concrete and a thick liquid absolute. The absolute is yellow-gold in color and viscous. It has a woody, warm and floral scent. The properties that make mimosa beneficial for therapeutic massage are principally its soothing qualities -it has an uplifting effect on the spirits and can help those who are suffering from fear, anxiety and stress. It is mildly astringent and anti-inflammatory, and it is a valuable component in a skin-care regime, benefiting oily and sensitive skin in particular, but it is very expensive.

Mimosa is used extensively by the perfume and cosmetics industries.

Suitable methods of use

  • Bathing
  • Massage
  • Skin care
  • Vaporizer/diffuser

Precautions

None. Mimosa is non-toxic, non-sensitizing and non-irritant.

Marjoram Essential Oil

Marjoram originally comes from around the Mediterranean. It is an aromatic, bushy plant, growing approximately 2 feet (0.6 meters) high, with small white flowers, tinged with bluish grey. It belongs to the family Lamiaceae (Labiatae) and is a perennial. It is often confused with pot marjoram, which is a much hardier plant. The herb has a long history of both culinary and medicinal use. Its main medicinal use was for gastric complaints. (Marjoram Oil)

Essential Oil

The oil of sweet marjoram is obtained from the dried flower heads and leaves of the plants by steam distillation. It is yellow- gold in color and has a warm, spicy smell. It is used in the food and drinks industries and in the manufacture of scented bath products, cosmetics, perfumes and household cleaning products.

Marjoram oil has sedative properties and can help in the treatment of insomnia and tension. For those who are distraught with grief, ‘wound up’ with stress or highly emotional, marjoram can work to restore calmness of mind.

The sedative effects of marjoram mean that it is also an anaphrodisiac, that is, it reduces sexual urges.

Used in massage oil, in compresses or in baths, marjoram is valuable in the treatment of arthritis, muscular pain and swelling. It is analgesic and warming. For this reason, it can relieve dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation). Marjoram oil is also an emmenagogue so is sometimes used in the treatment of amenorrhoea (absence of menstruation) and premenstrual tension.

In massage or in steam inhalation, marjoram oil can soothe the pain of sinusitis and headaches, including migraine.

The actions of marjoram oil on the digestive system are carminative (antiflatulence) and antispasmodic.

In massage or in bathing, marjoram oil can soothe areas of bruising and relieve the pain of chilblains.

Suitable methods of use

  • Bathing
  • Compresses
  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Vaporizer/diffuser

Precautions

Although its sedative effects can be quite marked, marjoram is generally safe to use in appropriate dilution. Warning: Because of its properties as an emmenagogue, marjoram should not be used during pregnancy.

Mandarin Essential Oil

Mandarin – or tangerine or satsuma, as it is now also known as, belongs to the family Rutaceae. The tree is indigenous to China, in particular the southern parts, but has been grown in Europe and the United States of America for almost two hundred years. There are quite a few varieties of the fruit, which are grown commercially in Mediterranean countries and also in Brazil, the Middle East and the USA. Both the flowers and the fruit of the tree are fragrant. The fruit of the tree is sweet and appeals to most tastes. The name mandarin has its origins in times of old, when the fruit was a traditional gift to mandarins, high ranking officials, in China.

Essential Oil

Essential oil of mandarin is obtained by mechanical expression. It is orange/amber in color and has a pleasantly sweet citrus smell. It is widely used in the manufacture of perfumes, soaps and cosmetics and also as a flavoring agent in the food and drinks industries.

Therapeutically, mandarin is a calming oil, soothing tension and nervous irritability. It is one of the safest oils to use in aromatherapy and is thus a suitable oil for using on children, who will enjoy the scent of a bath to which mandarin oil has been added. It can help in the treatment of hyperactivity and fretfulness in children.

Mandarin oil is also valued for the beneficial effects it has on the digestive system. Used in abdominal massage, it relieves colic, indigestion and constipation. It can be of great benefit to the elderly in this respect.

Mandarin oil is also a detoxifying agent and can help in the treatment of fluid retention.

In skin care, it is gently astringent and can benefit complexions that are prone to greasiness and/or acne.

Suitable methods of use

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

Precautions

Mandarin oil is a very safe oil to use, but as there are doubts as to whether or not it is phototoxic, exposure to the sun is not recommended in the hours immediately after using the oil on the skin.

Lime Essential Oil

Lime trees are quite small evergreens, bearing white flowers and bright green fruit. The fruits are smaller than lemons and have a distinctive bitter taste. Limes grow in several countries and are grown commercially in Florida, Mexico, Italy and the West Indies. The tree is a member of the family Rutaceae.

Lime has been used quite extensively in herbal medicine for many years and shares most of the properties of lemon.

Essential Oil

Essential oil of lime is produced by mechanical expression of the peel of the fruit. The oil is yellow/green with a strong, fresh citrus fragrance. It is used for its fragrance in the production of cosmetics, household cleaning products and perfumes. It is also used extensively by the food and drinks industries.

Therapeutically, essential oil of lime is more or less interchangeable with lemon. It is refreshing and cleansing and uplifting to the spirits. It has antiseptic properties and is astringent so can be used in the treatment of greasy and spotty skin. The bactericidal properties of the oil also make it suitable for treating skin infections such as boils.

Lime oil can also help in the treatment of respiratory complaints, such as colds and sore throats, catarrhal coughs and bronchitis.

The oil blends well with a variety of other essential oils and, used in a vaporizer or room spray, will also help to disinfect a room.

Suitable methods of use

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

Precautions

Lime oil is phototoxic. After using lime oil on the skin, avoid exposure to sunlight for 24 hours. Generally non-sensitizing, but may cause sensitization in a few individuals.

Lemongrass Essential Oil

Lemongrass is a native plant of Asia, South Africa and parts of South America. It belongs to the family Poaceae. It is a majestic perennial grass, rapidly reaching heights of over 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, and is highly aromatic. Of several varieties that are cultivated, East Indian and West Indian lemongrass are the two main kinds. Lemongrass has been used as both a culinary and medicinal herb in India and Asia. Medicinal use has been mainly for the treatment of fever and infectious disease.

The smell of lemongrass is like the smell of lemons but has a harsher quality. It is very strong and is not to everyone’s taste. In cookery, too, it is not universally popular -it has been said by some to taste like the smell of lemon-scented cleaning fluid!

Essential Oil

Essential oil of lemongrass is extracted by steam distillation from the cut grass. The oil is pale yellow in color and has an intense, lemony smell. It is used quite extensively in industry in the manufacture of various food and drink products and also in the production of household cleaners and bath and cosmetic products.

Lemongrass oil has strong antiseptic, anti-fungal and bactericidal qualities and can be used in the treatment of athlete’s foot, thrush, and feverish infections. Used in massage, its actions are warming and stimulating, and it will help to strengthen and tone weak, tired and aching muscles. It is thus useful for athletes and for those who are recovering, but still weak from periods of illness.

Lemongrass can also benefit the digestive system. Used in massage or in inhalation it can act as an appetite stimulant and soothe an irritated or inflamed colon. The antiseptic properties of the oil will help fight gastric infections.

Like lemon oil, lemongrass oil is beneficial to oily skin and can be added to a facial steam bath to help cleanse blocked pores.

The oil is an effective insect repellent and can also be used as a general-purpose deodorizer and air freshener, either in a spray or vaporizer.

Suitable methods of use

  • Inhalation
  • Massage
  • Skin care
  • Vaporizer/diffuser

Precautions

Lemongrass is non toxic but can irritate broken or sensitive skin. Use carefully and in low dilution. Warning: Some therapists recommend that essential oil of lemongrass is avoided in early pregnancy.