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!

The healing ‘tears’ of Frankincense

Why is Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) significant and given as a gift to Jesus in recognition of his Divinity? The reason is that in ancient times Frankincense was just as expensive as gold in terms of weight and is mentioned 22 times in the Bible.

Yet Frankincense is also rich in terms of its healing and therapeutic qualities. The essential oil comes from the dried and distilled resin of the Boswellia tree, grown in Somalia, Ethiopia, the Red Sea and Lebanon. It is extracted by tapping the bark, where the sticky resin exudes and forms ‘tears’ that harden. These ‘tears’ naturally protect the tree from infection and repairs damage and disease and we use it in the same way, to protect and repair our bodies and minds.

Traditionally Frankincense was used as incense in churches and for meditation. It is a balancing oil, calming and sedative, slowing the pace of, and deepening, the breath making it a comforting oil when stressed and anxious. However, it can also be energising as according to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, Frankincense heightened his senses and awareness, enabling him to prophesise. Culpepper suggested it helped with depression and poor memory, helping strengthen the nervous system. It has a lemony, warm woody aroma which can sometimes be spicy and musky making Frankincense a dynamic oil – both relaxing and stimulating. When Frankincense is burned it produces phenol which is highly antiseptic, historically believed to banish evil spirits from sick rooms. Being rich in monoterpenes it helps clear mucus and catarrh making it expectorant so good for asthma, coughs, bronchitis and laryngitis – perfect for these winter months where our immune systems are low and susceptible.

Frankincense is also a lovely oil for the skin, particularly mature skin, balancing oily skin, it is anti-inflammatory, healing scars, wounds and sores – similar to how the resin ‘tears’ repair damage to wounds of the tree, we can use the oil to repair damage to human skin. It blends beautifully with Myrrh but also any citrus oil such as Bergamot, orange, lemon, and floral oils like Rose, Geranium, Lavender and Jasmine.

This is an oil gifted by kings given to a future king – if you believe in the Christmas story yet it’s healing, meditative power is far reaching both historically and cross culturally making it a magical oil producing perfect harmony, balance and calm.

Avoid in pregnancy, unsuitable for children and those who are taking immunosuppressant medication.

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.

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.  

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…..

What is Aromatherapy?

What is Aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is the controlled use and application of natural plant essences called essential oils. These oils are extracted from different parts of the plant, for example, Geranium uses the flowers, Frankincense – the resin, Mandarin – the peel. The oils are absorbed into our blood stream through the skin or by inhalation. The plants and their oils have complex chemical structures, sometimes thought of as the *life force*, which interacts with the chemistry of the human body: pharmacologically, physiologically, and psychologically. We don’t know exactly how this chemistry works fully but we know the oils have therapeutic properties and can produce a healing effect. For example, Lemon (Citrus limon) contains limonene which is antiviral and bactericidal, cleansing and stimulating the immune system, lowering blood pressure and reducing pain and inflammation.