Happy New Year

Pentacle: 5 pointed symbol

I’m sharing the symbol of the Pentacle today which has many different uses as a symbol throughout history. It has no single meaning: it represents perfection in mathematics, the human body, words, and was also used in religious ritual and magic. I like the Greek meaning that it represents the five elements are believed to make up the physical body: earth (matter), air (breath), fire (energy), water (fluids) and aether (the psyche or soul). 

It’s at times such as this we turn to our past and our roots, look to our ancestors for symbols, meanings and interpretations that helped them, and how they can help us understand and get through difficult times.

It’s been a very difficult year for many people so I just want to wish everyone a prosperous and peaceful new year.

I look forward to blogging about oils in January 2021 and invite you to my practice based in the beautiful town of Richmond, North Yorkshire for some well deserved healing, rest and relaxation. More details to follow.

A lovely Christmas Blend

There are so many oils out there which would make up the perfect Christmas blend: Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Orange and Pine would be a lovely combination.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is powerful and uplifting, it’s musty, sweet sharp aroma was used in love potions; Clove (Syzgium aromantium) is antiviral, bactericidal, used in traditional medicine for toothache and is said to prevent the spread of contagious diseases such as the plague!!!! It is still used in modern pharmaceuticals because of the naturally occurring presence of eugenol (click here for more information); Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) traditionally used for stomach disorders could be the right scent to help digest a heavy meal; Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) – or alternatively you can use Bitter orange, Petitgrain, Neroli or Bergamot all from the same plant family (Rutaceae) again aids digestion but is also warming and carminative; Pine (Pinus sylvestris) I have already blogged about here can help reproduce the healing environment of a pine forest., perfect for a post Christmas relax.

Use all 5 (1 drop of each in a diffuser) or a combination of 2 or 3 (use either Clove or Cinnamon as they are both stimulating oils combined with 1 or 2 others) to create a perfect festive environment. Merry Christmas to all.

I have some exciting news in 2021 as I will be offering Aromatherapy treatments including massage at Helen McQue Acupuncture Clinic, Richmond, North Yorkshire from the 20th January (all being well). Check out the wonderful clinic here: www.mcqueacupuncture.co.uk If I don’t see you face to face, please contact me via my blog, Facebook or Instagram and I can offer Aromatherapy advice online for any symptoms or if you are looking for a particular oil or blend. I can advice on which oils to buy and which suppliers, dilution and how to administer. So, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!

Bathe in forest Pine

I’m starting Advent with the festive healing scent of Pine (Pinus sylvestris), or Scots Pine as it is known, which has a fresh, woody, resinous – somewhat harsh – aroma. The oil is extracted from the needles of this diamond shaped tree, making it a Christmas tree favourite. It is also the national tree of Scotland.

Like most essential oils, Pine has medicinal qualities. It is rich in monoterpenes making it an excellent expectorant, both anti-viral and bactericidal, therefore good for respiratory congestion such as asthma and bronchitis. It can also have a clearing effect for the common cold. It has wound-healing properties for inflamed skin such as eczema and is an anti-inflammatory for muscular aches and pains, and arthritis. Put 1-2 drops in a burner at this time of year to clear the air and get you into festive mood.

The scent will remind you being in a pine forest because it is the evaporation of the essential oils from the pine needles that creates the scent when you are in a forest environment. For those who are spending more time indoors, when you burn this oil, it will create that space – a healing space – where you can imagine yourself taking a slow, mindful walk through a pine forest and you can experience the sensory power of a forest bath.     

Do not use in pregnancy. It is a very stimulation oil so not recommended for high blood pressure or those with sensitive skin. Consult a doctor or qualified aromatherapist if you have any concerns.

Sleep and The Body Coach

I love this guest blog post about sleep found on the Body Coach:  https://www.thebodycoach.com/…/sleep-and-mental-health-1231….

Essential oils can also aid sleep as they have calming and mood enhancing effects, and can easily be introduced as part of a sleep routine whether you add your favourite oils to a diffuser in your bedroom before sleep, or a warm evening bath with oils, or simply a few drops onto your pillow at night.

Studies have shown that essential oils work because we inhale the aromatic molecules via our olfactory system (found in our nasal septum) releasing neurons into our limbic system, the part of our brain that deals with emotion, memory, motivation, and pleasure. We have no conscious control here and so the scent of essential oils can have a profound influence on us, affecting our behaviour. Indeed, prolonged use of oils can create new pathways, new memories and therefore new patterns of behaviour such as enhanced mood, relaxation, calm….sleep.

A lovely combination of oils could be Sweet orange, Lavender and Ylang ylang in your diffuser (2 drops of each).

Another combination could be Bergamot, Chamomile, Vetiver.

Or just use a favourite oil on your pillow at night, such as Lavender, Geranium, or Lemongrass.


Try just one drop of one the oils onto your pillow (reverse side) every night for a week and see if it makes a difference. I know it will.

Aroma masks!

A great video for those who want to enhance their face mask using essential oils. Oils I would recommend which support the respiratory system and breathing would be Eucalyptus oils (Citradora, Smithii, Globulus) for a camphor like aroma. Also, citrus oils such as Lemon (Citrus limon) or Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) for a fresh sharp aroma. Or try Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) or Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) for a floral aroma. Do not use in pregnancy, keep away from eyes, do not use on children.

How Aromatherapy can help rehabilitate survivors from Corvid-19

This interview from Science Weekly about Corvid-19 discusses how scientists and health professionals are trying to understand the virus and how best to treat it for those who have survived but are still experiencing chronic symptoms such as coughs, colds, muscle pain, lung, heart and kidney issues, and general exhaustion. What has become clear in these very uncertain times is that the virus is diverse and affects different people in different ways. Understanding how to treat the virus is understanding the variety of symptoms people are experiencing, and the effects it has, or has had, upon our bodies and minds.

Last week NHS England launched a “revolutionary on-demand recovery service” which offers rehabilitation treatments for those who have had Covid-19 but still have problems with breathing, muscular pain, coughs, as well as experiencing mental health problems or other complications. As an Aromatherapist listening to this, I believe that some of the symptoms of Corvid-19 – and the focus here is on chronic (long term) – can be treated using Complementary Therapies such as massage, aromatherapy, reflexology as well as physiotherapy and bio-medicine.

Symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, coughs, physical and mental exhaustion, low immunity are treatable using aromatherapy and aromatherapy massage. Indeed, promoting well-being, helping with stress relief and creating an environment for relaxation are very much at the heart of all Complementary Therapies, and although the focus for health professionals treating patients who’ve had Covid-19 may be specific parts of the body such as lungs, kidneys, heart, blood; working on the idea of also treating the whole person, which is a holistic approach, will also help treat specific areas. The reason I say this is because essential oils are multifaceted.

What does this mean exactly? Well, if a client approached me and said they were tired, run down and had a constant cold, one oil I would recommended using is a citrus oil such as Lemon (Citrus limon). Lemon is known to help boost the immune system so is excellent for symptoms of flu and colds such as catarrh, fever, congestion. It can also be used to treat asthma and bronchitis. This is because Lemon has chemical properties that are antiviral, bactericidal – good for fighting infections. However, Lemon is also good for stimulating the circulatory system, it can lower high blood pressure, slow external bleeding such as nosebleeds; it is detoxifying and a diuretic. Furthermore, it has a positive effect upon the nervous system; it is calming, clarifying, uplifting. I would recommend it for skin problems such as acne, oily skin, boils and warts. It’s fungicidal so can treat thrush. It is anti-inflammatory and therefore good in a massage for musculoskeletal pain. All in all, Lemon is a great tonic for both the mind and body.

Therefore, essential oils contain many different and diverse chemical components with many different indicators and when used for one particular treatment, they also help other symptoms too. Sometimes those symptoms may not be outlined by the client in consultation. But as most symptoms are interrelated, treatment for one, is treatment for all. For example, a client may not be sleeping due to stress at work and they may also have sore neck and shoulders due to working at a computer for long periods. After consultation they may opt for an aromatherapy massage after which they report feeling more relaxed which results in them sleeping better; because they sleep better they are less tired have more energy for exercise, spending time doing something they enjoy; they may be more rested so are eating better as they have more energy to home-cook, and generally, they report feeling better all-round in terms of health and well-being. Understanding which part of the treatment ‘worked’ could be impossible, but one thing this is for sure, the client reports feeling less congested, well rested and generally ‘better’.

My proposal would be for NHS England to embrace Complementary Therapies for treating the long term effects of Covid-19 and become part of the package of care for those suffering with chronic symptoms.

Here are some oils combinations and how you can use them to address particular symptoms relating to Covid-19:

Coughs: Thyme, Peppermint and Cedarwood

Sinusitis: Lemon, Tea tree and Lavender

Catarrh/mucous: Lemon, Lavender and Ginger

1 drop of each in an oil burner (or 2 drops of each in a diffuser), or 1 drop of each on your pillow at night. Make sure you turn the pillow over so the oils do not touch the skin.

2 drops of each in a warm bath before bed. Mix with some bath salts or carrier oil such as sunflower or grapeseed.  

Muscular problems and tension: Grapefruit, Black pepper, Benzoin

2 drops of each in 15 ml of carrier oil (Grapeseed, Sunflower, Coconut) and massage into tired muscles.

2 drops of each in a warm bath before bed. Mix with some bath salts or carrier oil such as sunflower or grapeseed.  

Emotional exhaustion: Bergamot, Lavender, Sandalwood

2 drops of each in a warm bath before bed. Mix with some bath salts or carrier oil such as sunflower or grapeseed.  

Fatigue: Basil, Sweet orange, Rosemary

Add 3 drops of each into a rollerball mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or sunflower oil. Use as often as you need to.

Insomnia: Bergamot, Chamomile, Sandalwood

1 drop of each on your pillow before bed

2 drops of each in a warm bath before bed. Mix with some bath salts or carrier oil such as sunflower or grapeseed.  

Safety: do not use direct onto the skin, do not ingest, keep away from children, store bought oils in a cool dark place, buy from a reputable supplier (ATA approved), check with a qualified aromatherapist or your GP before treatment if you have any health issues or have questions or concerns.

Synergism

Sweet orange

Synergy. What does it mean? Essential oil blending is all about creating synergy – getting the oils to work together whether it is aromatically, therapeutically, or philosophically. Jennifer Peace Rhind (2016) writes that “synergistic blending is at the very heart of aromatherapy practice.” Put simply, creating an oil combination which does its job. Essential oils contain active ingredients so when we add 2 or more oils together, the outcome can be different to when the oils are applied singly. There is a growing body of evidence to support the therapeutic benefits of synergy. For example, a recent study explored the impact of antimicrobial blends – oil blends that kill bacteria and fungus. The study focused on combinations with Lavender, for example Lavender with Cypress, with May chang, with Cinnamon, and with Sweet orange. Interestingly, Sweet orange has poor antimicrobial activity but when combined with Lavender it had positive benefits for respiratory infections. Therefore, combining these oils in a diffuser could be helpful for those suffering from tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, certain types of influenza, or the common cold. Add 1 drop of Lavender, 1 drop of Sweet orange to a oil burner, or 3 of each in a diffuser. Alternatively, add up to 4 drops of each in a warm bath. Activate those healing chemicals and feel the benefit of synergism.

Happy Summer Solstice!

The lily is ‘the flower of light’.

For the lily to blossom, it must grow through muddy waters. It grows up towards the light and then opens like a heart. Out of this struggle is exceptional beauty and, in Eastern philosophy, the flowering of human potential and consciousness. Here is a lily in my pond. Still a bud but ready to bloom. Happy Summer Solstice to all.

Aromatherapy Awareness Week

Some essential oils are classified as hypertensive (stimulating) or hypotensive (relaxing) and therefore when absorbed into the body can affect our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. For example, Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) is a hypertensive oil. It has a clean, refreshing, camphoraceous aroma containing oxides which stimulate the nervous, digestive and reproductive system. It is cephalic which means it’s good for your head; it stimulates memory, helpful for mental fatigue, headaches and lethargy. One drop in your palm (rub together and breathe in) before an exam can be clarifying. It is not recommended for those with high blood pressure. On flip side, Ylang ylang (Canaga odorata) – a sweet, heavy oil, is hypotensive. Containing sesquiterpenes it is calming, balancing and relaxing. It regulates the flow of adrenaline therefore reduces blood pressure. If you are feeling stressed, frustrated, angry or panicky, 1-2 drops of this oil in an oil burner or on your pillow at night will smooth and balance your hormones. These oils go beautifully together. Combine 1 drop of each in a burner and get the best of both worlds. Happy Aromatherapy Awareness Week!