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!

Ginger Zinger!

Mmmmm! Smells so good!

In my last post I talked about oils to lift your mood and one oil that does that for me is Ginger whose Latin name – Zingiber officinale – reflects it’s zinging therapeutic properties! This pungent, warm spicy oil is perfect for this time of year and I can’t promote it enough, not just as an essential oil but as food too.

Firstly, it’s spicy fragrance gives us that well needed lift of motivation, boosting will power and clearing your mind. Feeling apathetic? A sniff of Ginger will help fight lethargy and warm your nostrils.

Second, it stimulates your circulation too, warming cold hands and feet. It is a detoxifying oil, great for colds and flu so works well in a foot bath. Add up to 8 drops in a bowl and sink your feet into spicy, warm bliss.  

Third, it helps joint pain such as arthritis, stiffness, muscular pain so wonderful in a warm, cleansing massage.

Finally, is good for your gut. It can settle your stomach but also stimulate an appetite. It’s wonderfully versatile. It can help with nausea, IBS, colic, motion sickness so works well in a rollerball for pulse points.

Our gut harbours trillions of microorganisms which play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and combatting inflammation. I always have the food – ginger – in the fridge and often grate it on stir fries, or use it to marinade tofu or fish, or add it to spicy dahl. It is full of antioxidants similar to fermented foods which can have a positive impact upon gut health from olives in brine to yogurt to wine!

A good way to get ginger into your body as well as using essential oils externally (never ingest essential oils – eating the ginger root is ok, ingesting essential oils is not recommended) is to make a ginger bug. This is fermented ginger so you have the fantastic naturally occurring goodness of ginger and then your ferment it on top to make it a super-super food!

Ginger bug can be used as a base for all sorts of recipes. Here is a recipe for Ginger bug as a base for ginger beer. Or if you haven’t time to make a ginger bug recipe, here is a recipe for ginger beer (without the bug).

So, get Gingering whether it be a foot bath, a rollerball, a deep inhale from the essential oil bottle, or a recipe to warm your bones, lift your mood and prepare you for the winter months ahead.   

Remember: do not use Ginger neat on the skin, if you’re on immuno-stimulant medication, or pregnant. Never ingest essential oils.

Stay cool….

Feeling hot and bothered? A good natural cooling agent is Peppermint (Mentha piperita) with its strong, fresh, menthol aroma. When I imagine Peppermint I think green and herbaceous, which could be because it’s from the same plant family as herbs such as Basil and Marjoram to name a few. Peppermint is a good pick me up, useful for tired minds and bodies as well as any digestive complaints such as nausea or colic. Because of it’s wonderful cooling effect, it is well suited as an inhalation or a spray. Combine 2 drops of Peppermint with 2 drops of Lemon and 2 drops of Grapefruit in your diffuser to calm and freshen up your space. Alternatively, add the same amount to between 15-30ml of water in a small spray bottle for a refreshing face or body mist. Use as often as you need and enjoy the fresh minty, tangy scent which will help you cool down. Avoid during pregnancy, keep away from eyes, use in low dilutions.

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.

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.  

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/