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.

Geranium oil

Geranium oil…just writing about this beautiful oil makes me want to take a long, deep inhale of it. Geranium is grown all over Europe, Russia, Egypt, North Africa and can come in different varieties and scents; the one I’m describing here is Pelargonium graveolens.

This photograph is from my garden and is a Zonal pelargonium commonly in most garden centres and in lots of gardens as it is ideal for pots and window boxes. Folklore tells us it was used to ward of evil spirits.

It has a sweet, rose like aroma and can often be a substitute for Rose oil so check the labelling before buying (always buy using the botanical name). Traditionally, Geranium is a regarded as a healing plant and was often planted around houses to ward off evil spirits – it is interesting that we plant them now in our front gardens and pots! It’s rich in alcohols and phenols making it antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and fungicidal therefore excellent for skin conditions such as athletes foot, burns, impetigo. It is a ‘skin balancer’ helping control sebum production (secretion from skin cells) so it is good for all skin types and has cell regenerating properties therefore perfect for mature skin. I always use it in face cream for this reason and because it is carminative, soothing the nervous system, relieving stress and anxiety. It regulates hormones therefore useful for women who are feeling premenstrual, working alongside our circulatory system eliminating waste and congestion. Use it if you experience Raynaud’s disease (myself), it warms cold hands and feet. It is a relatively inexpensive oil and can be found in most health food shops or online.

Put 1-2 drops in an oil burner to lift your mood; mix 2 drops with 5ml of carrier oil to massage into your abdomen if you are feeling bloated or congested; add 4 drops of Geranium and 4 drops of Lavender into a warm bath to help you relax after a long day. I am currently working on a hand cream using this oil so watch this space! Avoid during pregnancy.

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.

A humble herb with a big personality!

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.  

Every house should have one….

Every house should have a bottle of Tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). With its distinctive, antiseptic aroma, extracted from the leaves of the tree, it can be applied neat to treat and prevent ALL infections including bacteria, viruses and fungi and, according to one study, MRSA and the treatment of flu. What is unique about Tea tree is that it can stop the spread of virulent organisms such as Staph infections which cause skin irritations like impetigo, styes, conjunctivitis and athletes foot. It can also stop the spread of Candida albican, commonly known as thrush. It can treat insect bites and verrucae. Put one drop of Tea tree onto a cotton bud and apply to the affected area. If you do not want to apply neat, mix 1 drop with 5 mls of blending cream or aloe gel and apply to the area (at least once a day). If you are suffering from athletes foot, put up to 8 drops into a bowl of warm water and bathe your feet. Make sure you thoroughly dry your feet afterwards. It will ease itching and offer welcome relief. I always have a bottle to hand, it is inexpensive and can be bought from most pharmacies and health food shops. Make sure when you purchase Tea tree, the Latin botanical name (Melaleuca alternifolia) is displayed, which will ensure that it is from the plant and is not diluted with another oil. Do not use during pregnancy, if you are taking immunosupressant medication or have sensitive skin.

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.

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!

NHS Natural Health School

“Our mission is to develop a new generation of expert complementary therapists for the future.”
It’s Aromatherapy Awareness week and today I’m recommending the NHS Natural Health School based in Harrogate where I completed my training as an Aromatherapist this year. This quote above is their mission statement and they still have places for courses starting in September including Massage, Reflexology and Aromatherapy plus a host of other courses for practising therapists.
Check out the school here: https://nhsnaturalhealthschool.co.uk/

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…..