Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is distilled from the dried crushed fruit of the vine and has a sharp, clean, spicy aroma. If I were to sum up this oil in one word it would be stimulating.
It is an oil I turn to when treating muscular-skeletal aches and pains as it is warming, a tonic for tired muscles so good to use before and after sport. It is rubefacient; when applied it reddens the skin due to the dilation of the capillaries therefore excellent for stimulating circulation and the lymphatic system. It has been used for over 4000 years in India to treat urinary and liver disorders because of it’s detoxifying nature.
It can help stimulate digestion, improving one’s appetite and aiding those with constipation. A good decongestant it helps shift catarrh brought on from colds and coughs.
It blends beautifully with citrus oils such as Lemon (Citrus limon) or Orange (Citrus sinensis), or flower oils such as Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), or a resin oil such as Frankincense (Boswellia sacra).
Due to it’s fiery nature I would avoid using it with the elderly and children, and has the potential to irritate the kidneys and sensitive skin. Avoid in pregnancy and if taking homeopathic remedies.
I was exploring the garden after the rain as is full of surprises; raindrops clinging to stems, snails galore and summer fruits gleaming, freshly washed and ready to pick. I noticed the Thyme nestled against Sage and Mint in a pot near my back door, it had flowered and it got me thinking of the essential oil – Thymus vulgaris. This oil is extracted from the flowers and leaves, and can have a powerful, medicated herbaceous odour or a soft, sweet, woody aroma depending upon which variety you use. There are many different types of Thyme – red, white, sweet, Moroccan, wild – and they have different chemical compositions. I’m focussing here on Red Thyme (Thymus vulagris thymoliferum) which is rich in PHENOL making it a powerful antiseptic and pain killer. Folk tradition sees Thyme being used by ancient Egyptians during the embalming process and in ancient Greece against infectious diseases. In fact, the Greek word Thymos means ‘to perfume’ and it has traditionally been used to preserve meat. Thyme is a good painkiller, it can be used for tooth ache, gum infections as well as musco-skeletal conditions such as arthritis and sports injuries. Thyme is also described as ‘wound healing’ and can be used for most skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, insect bites, acne and burns. Having said that, it can cause skin irritation so should be used with care and diluted properly; if you have concerns, consult a qualified Aromatherapist before use. It is a stimulating oil, it gets things moving in your body, boosting your immune system, increasing blood flow so great for poor circulation, raising your blood pressure. It is an expectorant, mucolytic, and decongestant so good to use if you have asthma, bronchitis, coughs, sore throats. Who knew such a humble herb had such a big personality! It blends beautifully with citrus oils such as Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin as well as Rosemary, Lavender, Tea tree, Marjoram, Juniper. It should not be used in pregnancy, and avoided if you have sensitive skin, low blood pressure or taking immunosuppressants.