Skin: wound healing and homeostasis. How can essential oils help?

One of the ways essential oils enter our body is through skin absorption. In this blog post I am going to talk about how essential oils can help with tissue damage and healing with reference to the chemicals within oils which can relieve pain and inflammation.

When skin becomes damaged, the inflammation process occurs to try to retain homeostasis in the body. Homeostasis means regulation and balance. We can help the body/skin heal by supporting homeostasis using essential oils as they can support the natural healing process which in turn can help reducing unsightly scarring.

A good way to understand how the body retains homeostasis is to think of how we control body temperature. A healthy body temperature is 37 degrees centigrade and this is regulated through our hypothalamus (located in our brain). If we get too hot, signals are sent to our sweat glands to cools us down; if we get too cold, signals are sent to our muscles to contract and shiver, retaining warmth.

These communication processes can occur to regulate other situations like skin damage. The body repairs the skin by replacing keratinocytes (skin cells found in the epidermis). Keratinocytes protect soft tissue as well as preserving us against infection. In addition to this, our skin has many sensory receptors too which respond and interact with the environment and communication to and from the brain. When the skin is healing it is trying to retain homeostasis – balance – through effective communication as well as reducing pain and inflammation. Evidence suggests that the molecules found in essentials can help homeostasis, ensuring effective healing by supporting cell regeneration, reducing inflammation and taking the skin back to its natural state.

Oils rich in Limonene, Alcohols, Pinene, Thymol, Bornel and Terpineol all have wound healing actions. Here are some symptoms and oils to help with skin damage, retain homeostasis and enable healing:

Acne: Bergamot, Lemon, Thyme, Tea tree, Lavender, Rosemary, Cedarwood, Sandalwood

Burns: Eucalyptus globulous, Tea tree, Chamomile, Geranium, Patchouli

Eczema: Bergamot, Thyme, Chamomile, Lavender, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Patchouli

Stretch marks: Lemon, Mandarin, Tea tree, Chamomile, Vetiver, Frankinscense

Check with a qualified Aromatherapist before use in terms of allergies and dilution.

Energising Lime

I woke up today and the house felt stuffy. I had a feeling for Lime (Citrus aurantifolia). This is an oil I have just recently discovered and I love its sharp, tangy, sweet, fruity aroma. Lime belongs to the Rutaceae family alongside oils such as Lemon, Grapefruit and Orange. They contain Limonene which gives them their distinctive flavour. Lime is good for relieving musculoskeletal tension, it aids digestion such as cramps and spasms. It also supports the circulatory system as it is bactericidal and antiviral. And, it promotes a sense of well-being, helping with anxiety and stress. Citrus fruits are grown in sunny climates so these oils help lift our spirits. It blends well with oils such as Sandalwood, Ginger, Lemongrass, Frankincense and Patchouli. But today I’ve put 2 drops in my oil burner along with a drop of Sweet Orange, a drop of Lemon and one drop of Eucalyptus globulus (odour eater) to freshen up my space and give me some well needed energy.

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!

The power of scent

Ah, the sweet scent of rain! One of the fastest ways to get essential oils into your body is through inhalation: the sense of smell. When the essential oil molecules travel up our nose, they send a message to our brain and nerves, this response is then passed into the bloodstream and respiratory system. Our nose contains olfactory cells which are connected to the Limbic system – the area of our brain which deals with memory, emotions and instincts. This is why the sense smell is so profound and effective as it can trigger a memory, which in turn can trigger many different emotions. Aromatherapy aims to create positive memories using the power of smell, to send our brain positive messages, to create positive emotions and help us relax. Relaxation is a stress buster promoting good physical and mental health thus enabling a stronger immune system. If you are in a relaxed state, you can deal with life in a positive way. So today, make sure you go outside and take a deep breath…..

Bergamot and balance

This week I’m recommending Bergamot (Citrus bergamia). This oil has a mildly spicy, fresh citrus aroma and is found in Earl Grey tea. It is a wonderful balancing oil, helping reduce feelings of anger, frustration and agitation, calming the nervous system and balancing our emotions. Due to presence of alcohol naturally occurring within the fruit, it has anti-fungal and antiviral properties which will help combat symptoms of colds and flu. Use it neat on a cold sore by adding one drop on a cotton but making sure you put it directly onto the affected area. To help relax and create a feeling of calm, you can also add Bergamot to a warm bath, combined with Lavender and Chamomile (2 drops of each). Bergamot is phototoxic therefore avoid sun for at least 24 hours after use. It is not recommended for people with fair skin or lots of large moles.