Soothing Chamomile

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

If I was going to sum up Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) in one word it would be soothing.

Distilled from the flowers it is readily available as an essential oil, and the flowers to make a lovely tea which could easily become part of your everyday self care routine.

As an oil it has an earthy, fruity, refreshing aroma with a hint of apple.

A highly respected oil, it is gentle and safe – its main constituent being Esters therefore it is gentle and safe making it good for treating the young, elderly and frail. Its soothing anti-inflammatory properties help those with allergies such as hay-fever, eczema and asthma. It’s calming nature is good for when we feel stressed, over-whelmed with worry or anger. It is a potent sedative so great for those who need rest. And it’s comforting properties can soothe premenstrual tension and painful periods as well as digestive issues such as indigestion and cholic.

Applications include adding drops to a body or face oil (blends well with Lemon, Bergamot, Geranium, Lavender, Patchouli, Neroli), or a compress to use with a hot water bottle for a churning stomach or period pain (see blends and applications here).

Another great way is to make a tea by growing Chamomile in your garden which you can dry and add to a brew. You can also buy the dry herbs or tea bags.

Make Chamomile tea.

Grow Chamomile.

Buy dried Chamomile flowers.

Chamomile is emmenagogic so do not use in pregnancy.

As the weather changes, it’s time to look after your skin

As the weather changes so does our response to it emotionally and physiologically. For some, Autumn is their favourite season, the smells, the changing colour, the drop in temperature – it’s a sensory pleasure. For others, the change signifies an ending, colder days and darker nights which can often trigger feelings of anxiety or sadness. However we feel about Autumn, the change affects our bodies and minds in different ways and in this post I’m going to talk how we can hydrate our skin which may become dryer in the colder months using what are known as Carrier Oils.

Carrier oils are made in the same way as essential oils, they are extracted from plants such as sunflower, grapeseed, olives, apricots, wheat, soya to name a few. They are not the same as the cooking oils you have in your store cupboard and these oils should not be used on your body or face. Carrier oils produced in the same way as essential oils and like essential oils they have their own therapeutic qualities enriched with vitamins, minerals and proteins. They  should only be bought from reputable suppliers.

As a therapist, I use carrier oils in massage, this helps dilute the essential oils I put in when I massage the skin, making the essential oils safe as well as creating moisture and slippage for the treatment. Often, carrier oils do not have an aroma so are perfect for blending your favourite essential oils and massaging into your skin.

Here I recommend three carrier oils to have as part of a skin care routine:

Apricot Kernel (Prunus armeniaca) is extracted from the seeds of the fruit Apricot oil and is rich in Vitamins A and E, and Omegas 3 and 9, so is very nourishing for our skin. It is good for all skin types, light and non-sticky making it a lovely oil for the face. You can buy it in 30ml bottles, with a pipette to massage into your face morning and/or nightly. It can be expensive but you will only need a few drops at a time. Apricot oil is not recommended for people with a nut allergy.

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose flower. You may have come across it as a treatment for PMT. I often use it when massaging women as it contains fatty acids which can help alleviate breast pain. Fatty acids are also used to treat inflammation and eczema. If you experience eczema, dab a small amount on the affected area, or if you have dry hands, use it as hand moisturiser. Make sure you wear gloves too as this can help alleviate dry hands! Also, if you are pre-menstrual or menopausal, massage into your abdomen after a warm bath.

Sunflower oil (Halianthus annuus) is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower. It is pale, light and non sticky, good for all skin types.   It is rich in vitamins A, B, D and E, containing Omegas making it a healing oil. It is a good oil for the body, to massage into legs, arms, and the abdomen helping rehydrate your skin. Massage just after a bath or shower, when your skin is slightly damp, this will help lock in the moisture for long lasting softness and glow.

Don’t miss my next post where I write about essential oils to lift your mood. You can add these oils to any of the carrier oils suggested and apply to your body and face.

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.