Vanilla Essential Oil

Vanilla essential oil benefits and uses

Vanilla Essential Oil

Vanilla essential oil is extracted from fermented pods of the vanilla orchid vine

There are three types of vanilla essential oil*, which are:

  • extracted from Vanilla planifolia, sometimes labelled Bourbon vanilla,
  • extracted from V. pompona, sometimes labelled West Indies vanilla, and
  • extracted from V. tahitensis (which is not often used, due to the low vanillin content), sometimes called Tahitian vanilla.

You may also come across an oil called Mexican vanilla, which is also extracted from V. planifolia like Bourbon vanilla, but unfortunately is often adulterated with oil from the tonka bean (which contains coumarin, a dangerous substance which can cause damage to the liver amongst other things), so anything with the label Mexican vanilla is best avoided.

Vanilla is a vine in the Orchid family. All three types of vanilla plant are closely related, and production of the vanilla pods from which the oil is derived requires careful attention, involving fermentation for 6 months in order to develop the actual vanilla flavour/fragrance.

How vanilla essential oil is produced

Though you may see pages which purport to tell you how to make your own vanilla essential oil, what you actually get by following the instructions is not essential oil but more like some of the cheap (fake) vanilla essential oils on the market. Technically it is an infusion or maceration, not an essential oil.

*In fact, although there is a vanilla resinoid (produced by solvent extraction from cured vanilla beans), what is sold by reputable aromatherapy suppliers as “essential oil” is either the absolute (which requires further extraction from the resinoid) or a diluted absolute. Given that vanilla itself is the second most expensive spice (after saffron), the absolute is far too expensive for most of us to consider, which is why it’s normally sold diluted. However, although not technically an essential oil, that’s what most people call it so from here on that is how I will be referring to it in this post.

Due to its high price and the length and complexity of its production, vanilla essential oil is one of those oils that are often counterfeit. This sham vanilla oil might be an oil infusion, or some vanilla extract diluted in a carrier oil, or even a completely synthetic oil – which may smell ok, but will not have any of the healing properties of the genuine article and might be actively dangerous. So if you see vanilla oil that seems inexpensive – or you find it on the shelves of a pound shop or grocery store, you can pretty much assume that it’s fake.

Properties of Vanilla Essential Oil

Vanilla oil is antibiotic, anticarcinogenic (particularly for prostate and colon cancers), antidepressant, antifungal (active against Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans), anti-nausea, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, balsamic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, mood enhancing, mosquito repellent, relaxant, a sedative and tranquiliser.

Uses of Vanilla Essential Oil

Because of its property as an emmenagogue, vanilla oil is not suitable for use by pregnant women in the first trimester, and therefore cannot be used for morning sickness.

If using the absolute for massage etc., dilute in a suitable carrier oil at a rate of 5 drops to each 10ml of carrier. You may prefer to use this dilution for oil burners as well.

For use in the bath, mix 3-4 drops of the oil with a little milk to form an emulsion and stir in to the water once the bath is ready. Please be careful when using essential oils in the bath, and bear in mind when getting in and out that it will make the area more slippery than usual.

Vanilla can be used for massage to fight depression, ease stress, calm the mind and increase libido. It’s also helpful for relieving muscle and joint pain, cramped muscles or cramps associated with menstruation, to reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. It can be used direct on acne, eczema, itching, burns, cuts and inflamed skin to soothe, promote healthy skin, to reduce cellulite and also on the scalp to encourage hair growth. It’s also beneficial for regulating menstruation.

It can be used in a burner, electric diffuser or in the bath for stress, nervous tension, insomnia, coughs and other respiratory problems. It is said to encourage sweet dreams if used in the bedroom, as well as having a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Diffused vanilla oil is a mosquito repellent, which makes it very helpful in bedrooms in countries where mosquitoes are a problem. To avoid the danger of fire while you sleep, you could use an electric diffuser or put the oils onto a cloth which is laid over a radiator instead of using a candle-based oil burner.

I offer Vanilla Essential Oil in my online shop.


Essential Oils Safety Quick Reference

Essential Oil Safety Quick Reference

This is just a quick post to announce my new Essential Oils Safety Quick Reference, which you can download for free!

This is essential information for anyone considering using essential oils for whatever purpose you have in mind.

Eighteen pages of safety information about essential oils. Don’t start using essential oils without referring to this safety reference first.

Download it here.


Aromatherapy is an art as well as a science

Introduction to Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is an art as well as a science

Aromatherapy is an art as well as a science

“A sound mind in a sound body” (Latin: Mens sana in corpore sano) is a quotation from the writings of Juvenal dating back to the first century AD and speaks of the harmony and relationship of mind to body and vice versa.

A person’s state of mind isn’t only about thoughts and emotions but affects physical condition and function. This concept forms the whole basis of alternative medicine, (often called “holistic medicine” because it relates to the whole person, not just the physical) including aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that makes use of fragrant plant materials called essential oils, along with other aromatic compounds. The purpose of this therapy is to positively affect a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function or physical health leading to an improved level of wellness. This occurs partly due to the influence of aroma on the brain, particularly in the limbic system via the olfactory system, and partly through direct pharmacological effects by absorption. To benefit from this, a simple guide to aromatherapy should be followed.

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy for their therapeutic effects in many conditions such as for fungal skin irritations, lowering of cholesterol and blood sugar level, thinning the blood and so much more.

Although some medical authorities doubt the effectiveness of essential oils in alleviating medical conditions, the effects of aromatherapy are well known to be beneficial by many others. This is the reason why more and more people are gaining an interest in aromatherapy.

Learning aromatherapy starts with how it’s done

There are many methods including aerial diffusion, direct inhalation, and topical applications by various means.

  • Aerial diffusion can be used for environmental fragrancing, aerial disinfection, to aid respiratory disorders and as a mood changer.
  • Direct inhalation is mainly used to promote respiratory relief via respiratory disinfection, decongestion and expectoration.
  • Topical application methods include general massage, baths, compresses and poultices, and the preparation of blends, creams and ointments for therapeutic skin care.

Aromatherapy materials

You’ve probably heard of essential oils, but there are other materials which can be employed in aromatherapy. The essential oil is just the most well known, though other substances known as absolutes and concretes as well as some gums and resins which are also used. All these are extracted from plants via steam distillation, expression or solvent extraction.

It’s important when buying essential oil to use a reputable supplier and to check that what you are buying is 100% pure essential oil (or whatever type of product you are purchasing).

Carrier oils are used to dilute neat essential oils for topical use, and there are quite a number to choose from, though the most popular, probably, are sweet almond oil, light olive oil (particularly for skin and hair care blends), grapeseed oil (cheap and cheerful, but short-lived) and sunflower seed oil (better for aromatherapy than for frying, as you don’t get trans fats with aromatherapy). There are also carrier additives for various purposes.

Undiluted oils are sometimes used for direct inhalation or added to bath water, while blended ones are used for topical purposes eg. on the skin.

Things to be aware of

Although it’s not something everyone is aware of, essential oils are “not just a pretty smell”, but are medicinally active, and so you need to follow a few basic precautions:

  1. Most importantly, essential oils should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.
  2. Bear in mind that the term “essential oil” has been misappropriated by certain suppliers (dating back to the old hippy era, when the term was synonymous with “perfume oil” in many people’s minds). So take care to look for a reputable supplier such as my shop which sells only 100% pure essential oils and blends, unadulterated with chemicals and other things. Blends are sold for your convenience, and in the case of the most expensive oils make them more affordable.
  3. Remember that most essential oils should not be used on the skin without diluting them first with a suitable carrier oil. You need a mixing bottle, to which you add the carrier oil first, and then the correct number of drops of essential oil to make a safe and useful blend of the oil/s you are using. There are a few oils that can be used neat, but even in these cases, it’s best to do a patch test first, to check that you don’t get a bad reaction.
  4. Check out the properties, recommendations and contra-indications before using any essential oil. Some are safe for pregnant women to use, but most are not. Some should not be used on children below a certain age or by people suffering from certain conditions or using certain medication. And St John’s Wort and most citrus oils are phototoxic, so should not be used on skin which will be exposed to the sun or tanning equipment in the following 48 hours. You need to know these things before you use it.
  5. Don’t buy more of any particular oil than you can use within a year (for some oils, only 6 months), either of essential oils or carrier oils. You may well find that a good sniff of your purchase more than a year later is less pleasant than you expected. The only solution at this point is to throw them away, so it’s best to buy what you need and no more.

Finally, be aware that essential oils may need particular precautions . For example, Find out the precautions for the oil/s you are considering and take these into account before you use them.


Sweet basil essential oil is extracted from the same herb used in Italian cooking

Sweet Basil essential oil, benefits and uses

Description

Sweet basil essential oil is extracted from the same herb used in Italian cooking

Sweet basil essential oil is extracted from the same herb used in Italian cooking


Sweet basil essential oil has a refreshing aroma similar to the herb used in Italian cooking – as it is, in fact, extracted from the same herb, when it is in flower. The botanical name is Ocimum basilicum. Be careful not to mix it up with Holy basil, Ocimum sanctum aka Tulsi.

Sweet basil is available in several chemotypes, the primary one may have the label Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool, whereas so-called exotic basil, which should be handled with caution, has the botanic name O. basilicum ct. methyl chavicol.

I offer sweet basil essential oil in my online shop.

Contra-indications and warnings

As with all essential oils, sweet basil essential oil should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.


Blending: Undiluted basil oil is likely to cause irritation if applied directly to skin. It’s important to dilute basil oil for use in massage or other topical applications with an appropriate carrier oil or other base at a rate of no more than 1 drop to each 2ml carrier before use. Bear in mind that this amount refers to the total eg. if you’re making an equal blend of basil, rosemary and peppermint, you would use a maximum of 1 drop of each to 6ml base.

May cause sensitisation. Do not use on sensitive skin. Not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women or children under 13 years of age. Consult your doctor before using basil essential oil if you are currently being treated for a chronic condition.

Therapeutic uses

Basil is a good expectorant. Use it in an oil burner or electric oil warmer for breathing disorders including COPD, bronchitis and other coughs, sinusitis, catarrh, colds and flu. Diffused basil oil is also helpful as an aid to concentration and mental clarity and for nervous conditions including anxiety, depression, insomnia and fatigue.

Use in a massage blend for rheumatism, cramps, muscle pain, gout, indigestion, flatulence (“wind” or “gas”), abdominal cramp and for migraine. It is also helpful used in this way for infections and to lower high temperatures. You can also use blended oil to treat earache.

Other Notes

Basil blends well with bergamot, clary sage, geranium, lavender, peppermint and rosemary. See note above as to proportions.


Myrtle and Lemon Myrtle essential oils, benefits and uses

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Plant photo by H. Zell - Own wor

Myrtle. Plant photo by H. Zell – Own wor

Myrtle and lemon myrtle essential oils are both generally available and sometimes confused. Myrtle essential oil comes from the Mediterranean, but lemon myrtle essential oil is from Australia.

As with all essential oils, neither myrtle nor lemon myrtle oil should be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

Myrtle (sometimes called green myrtle) essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves and twigs of Myrtus communis. A commercial culinary oil is also obtained by extraction from the berries.

The myrtle is an evergreen shrub which is native to the Mediterranean region. The colour of the essential oil varies according to where it was sourced: North African oil is a reddish brown colour and Corsican oil is a much brighter green.

Myrtle essential oil is antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, decongestant, deodorant, expectorant, nervine, sedative and a mosquito repellent.

Myrtle is traditionally considered to be sacred to Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. The oil lives up to this reputation by being helpful to relieve cases of erectile dysfunction and loss of libido, which accounts for its reputation as an aphrodisiac. It is also helpful as a beautifying oil, contracting and tightening skin. helping to diminish wrinkles. It is useful for blends for use on oily skin, open pores, and as a treatment for skin irritation and skin conditions including quite severe cases of acne. It can also be included in an ointment for haemorrhoids at a rate of 1 drop to each 5ml base.

It is an adaptogen which balances the thyroid and ovaries, and also brings the emotions into balance, relieving stress and anxiety.

Myrtle essential oil is particularly helpful in oil burners or electric diffusers for respiratory disorders especially hay fever, reducing tickly coughs at night, relieving congestion and catarrh and improving the productivity of dry coughs.

I offer myrtle essential oil in my online shop.

Lemon myrtle

Lemon myrtle

Lemon myrtle essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves of Backhousia citriodora, an evergreen tree native to Queensland, Australia which is sometimes confused with the lemon ironbark, Eucalyptus staigeriana. It has a clean lemon fragrance, being almost 98% citral.

Lemon myrtle oil is antibacterial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, germicidal, mood-enhancing, relaxing, stimulating, uplifting and an insect repellent.

Used in an oil burner or electric diffuser it helps keep colds, flu and other airborne infections at bay, reduces sinus problems and discourages creepy crawlies like moths and silverfish.

Use in blends at a maximum dilution of 1%, where it is beneficial for acne, eczema, Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV), cold sores, spots (zits) and skin infections of all kinds. It can also be used on pet bedding to deter fleas.


Essential Oil vs Fragrance Oil

essential-oils

Essential oils are safe for aromatherapy when used as described on this site

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

If you buy both fragrance oils and essential oils, be careful not to mix them up. They are quite different, and used for different purposes.

Essential oils are so called because they are the essence of the plant or other resource from which they are extracted. The essential oil gives the plant its distinctive fragrance.

Fragrance oils may or may not contain essential oil. They are usually made using chemicals to reproduce the smell of particular flowers, and used in perfume and similar products. They do not have any medicinal value, and in fact, they may contain dangerous chemicals that could cause damage to skin or other organs. Even if this is not the case, they are still not beneficial for use in aromatherapy.

As with all essential oils, none of the oils mentioned in this post (including fragrance oils) should be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

Genuine essential oils are a completely natural product. They are usually pleasantly scented, but not always. However, the ones that don’t smell that good are rarely used, for just this reason.

Essential oils contain the healing essence, or at least that part which is oil-soluble. The part which is water soluble is often available in the form of a hydrosol or flower water.

There are several different methods which can be used to extract the essential oil, but most are prepared using either steam distillation (which also produces a hydrosol as a by-product) or cold pressing the peel (mainly citrus fruit).

Solvent extraction is also sometimes used, which produces firstly a concrete by solvent extraction, which contains both the essential oil and various waxes and pigments. This concrete is further processed with ethyl alcohol to produce an absolute. This is highly fragrant, but still contains up to 3% alcohol and a small residue of wax and pigment.

Absolutes are expensive, so they are also often sold in dilute form, which are less heavily fragranced and easier to use, as well as being cheaper.

Finally, there is a new process called CO2 extraction which produces two different oils, depending on the amount of pressure used. These are select and total extractions. The select type is closest to a regular essential oil.

The medicinal uses of essential oils are due to their chemical composition, much more than their scent. There may well also be some emotional benefit from using oils with a fragrance which you enjoy, but this is not the whole story.

Don’t choose essential oils purely by their fragrance, in particular when blending, but pay attention to their known therapeutic effects. There’s little point, for example, in making a blend that contains oils that have opposite effects.

Enjoy your fragrance oils and your essential oils, but keep them for their intended purposes.

I offer a wide range of essential oils in my online shop.


4 cedarwood essential oils, benefits and uses

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

cedarwood oil sources

4 trees which are used to produce cedarwood essential oils

There are four main types of cedarwood essential oil, from two different plant families. Atlas Cedarwood and Himalayan Cedarwood are from the Pinaceae family, while Virginian Cedarwood and Texas Cedarwood are from Cupressaceae. Atlas cedarwood and Virginian cedarwood are the oils which are most frequently offered for sale.

All types of cedarwood are generally safe for use in aromatherapy, but none of them should be used by pregnant women or on children under 12 years of age. As with most essential oils, they should be used diluted with a carrier oil for use on the skin. Use a rate of 5 drops essential oil to each 10ml carrier oil or other base.

Cedarwood oils blend well with essential oils from herbs and spices: aniseed, angelica, basil, bay, black pepper, cardamom, carrot seed, celery, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, coriander, dill, fennel, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary and thyme. Remember to use no more than 4 essential oils to a blend, and that the total number of drops should be the normal 5 drops to each 10ml carrier oil. eg. if you’re blending cedarwood and rosemary into 20ml carrier oil, you would use no more than 5 drops of cedarwood and 5 of rosemary (or 6 and 4, or whatever blend you prefer that adds up to 10, since there’s 20ml carrier oil).

As with all essential oils, none of the oils mentioned in this post should be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

Atlas cedarwood essential oil is also called Atlantic cedar, African cedar, Moroccan cedarwood and libanol. It’s extracted by steam distillation from the wood of Cedrus atlantica. You might also see an absolute or a concrete on sale.

Himalayan cedarwood is extracted from the leaves, twigs and branches of Cedrus deodara by steam distillation. The Himalayan cedar is also called deodar cedar and considered sacred. Because of this, the oil is sometimes used for spiritual purposes.

Atlas and Himalayan cedarwood essential oils are helpful for skin conditions like greasy skin, spots, zits, acne, eczema and dermatitis, also for fungal infections. It is also helpful for dandruff and to help prevent hair loss. Massage into affected areas to relieve arthritis pain, or over the whole body for stress and nervous tension. In an oil burner or electric diffuser, atlas cedarwood is helpful for coughs including bronchitis, catarrh abd congestion. You could also use it as a chest rub for the same purposes.

Texas cedarwood essential oil is extracted from the heartwood and shavings of a felled Juniperus ashei tree (syn. J. mexicana), also called mountain cedar, Mexican cedar and Mexican juniper. The fragrance is like a harsher variant of Virginian cedarwood.

Virginian cedarwood essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the timber waste of Juniperus virginiana, and is also known as red cedar and Bedford cedarwood.

Texas and Virginian cedarwood oils are used for the same purposes as Atlas and Himalayan cedarwood, but can also be used to treat psoriasis, added to shampoo for greasy hair and used as an insect repellent.

I offer both Atlas cedarwood essential oil and Virginian cedarwood essential oil in my online shop.


What is aromatherapy?

essential-oilsPeople sometimes ask me “What is aromatherapy?” and I answer: aromatherapy is not about making yourself or your home smell nice (though that may be a side effect), but about healing with extracts of aromatic herbs.

A quotation from the writings of Juvenal dating back to the first century AD says “A sound mind in a sound body” (Latin: Mens sana in corpore sano), referring to the harmony and relationship of mind to body and vice versa.

A person’s state of mind isn’t only about thoughts and emotions but affects physical condition and function. This concept forms the whole basis of alternative medicine, (often called “holistic medicine” because it relates to the whole person, not just the physical) including aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that makes use of fragrant plant materials called essential oils, along with other aromatic compounds. The purpose of this therapy is to positively affect a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function or physical health leading to an improved level of wellness. This occurs partly due to the influence of aroma on the brain, particularly in the limbic system via the olfactory system, and partly through direct pharmacological effects by absorption. To benefit from this, a simple guide to aromatherapy should be followed.

Please note that essential oils should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy for their therapeutic effects in many conditions such as for fungal skin irritations, lowering of cholesterol and blood sugar level, thinning the blood and so much more.

Although some medical authorities doubt the effectiveness of essential oils in alleviating medical conditions, the effects of aromatherapy are well known to be beneficial by many others. This is the reason why more and more people are gaining an interest in aromatherapy.

Learning aromatherapy starts with how it’s done

There are many methods including aerial diffusion, direct inhalation, and topical applications by various means.

Aerial diffusion can be used for environmental fragrancing, aerial disinfection, to aid respiratory disorders and as a mood changer.
Direct inhalation is mainly used to promote respiratory relief via respiratory disinfection, decongestion and expectoration.
Topical application methods include general massage, baths, compresses and poultices, and the preparation of blends, creams and ointments for therapeutic skin care.

Aromatherapy materials

You’ve probably heard of essential oils, but there are other materials which can be employed in aromatherapy. The essential oil is just the most well known, though other substances known as absolutes and concretes as well as some gums and resins are also used. All these are extracted from plants via steam distillation, expression or solvent extraction.

It’s important when buying essential oil to use a reputable supplier and to check that what you are buying is 100% pure essential oil (or whatever type of product you are purchasing).

Carrier oils are used to dilute neat essential oils for topical use, and there are quite a number to choose from, though the most popular, probably, are sweet almond oil, light olive oil (particularly for skin and hair care blends), grapeseed oil (cheap and cheerful, but short-lived) and sunflower seed oil (better for aromatherapy than for frying, as you don’t get trans fats with aromatherapy). There are also carrier additives for various purposes.

Undiluted oils are sometimes used for direct inhalation or added to bath water, while blended ones are for topical purposes.

Things to be aware of

Like all branches of medicine, there are precautions you must take if you are starting to use essential oils for the first time.

Firstly, bear in mind that the term “essential oil” has been misappropriated by certain suppliers (dating back to the old hippy era, when the term was synonymous with “perfume oil” in many people’s minds). So take care to look for a reputable supplier who sells only 100% pure essential oils, unadulterated with chemicals and other things. Of course, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use a supplier that also sells properly described blends. These are sold for your convenience, and in the case of the most expensive oils make them more affordable.

Secondly, remember that most essential oils should not be used on the skin without diluting them first with a suitable carrier oil. You need a mixing bottle, to which you add the carrier oil first, and then the correct number of drops of essential oil to make a safe and useful blend of the oil/s you are using. There are a few oils that can be used neat, but even in these cases, it’s best to do a patch test first, to check that you don’t get a bad reaction.

Thirdly, don’t buy more than you can use within a year (for some oils, only 6 months), either of essential oils or carrier oils. You may well find that a good sniff of your purchase more than a year later is less pleasant than you expected. The only solution at this point is to throw them away, so it’s best to buy what you need and no more.

Finally, be aware that essential oils may need particular precautions . For example, most citrus oils are phototoxic, so should not be used on skin which will be exposed to the sun in the following 48 hours. Find out the precautions for the oil/s you are considering and take these into account before you use them.

I offer a wide range of essential oils and carrier oils in my online shop.


nut-carriers2

Carrier oils from nuts, Part 2

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Clockwise from 12 o'clock: kukui, macadamia, pecan, walnut

Clockwise from 12 o’clock: kukui, macadamia, pecan, walnut

In my first post, I covered nut-based carrier oils derived from sweet almond, arachis (peanut), coconut and hazelnut. Today’s post covers kukui, macadamia, pecan and walnut. All four can be used as carrier oil additives, as well as on their own.

Anyone with a nut allergy should avoid all oils derived from nuts, even if they are labelled “refined”.

Kukui nut oil

Kukui oil is quite an expensive oil which does not keep for very long, so is best bought in small quantities. It is a clear yellowish oil which is thin and non-greasy, with a light nutty aroma. It is pressed from the nuts of the candle nut tree (Aleurites moluccana), a native of Hawaii and South East Asia.

Kukui is great for skin care: it penetrates, moisturises, nourishes and soothes the skin. It is also great for burns of all kinds including sunburn, and is even used by some hospitals to treat burns from radiation therapy.

Research has found that kukui oil has skin regeneration properties, particularly helpful for damaged skin. It is also beneficial for psoriasis and eczema, and functions as a barrier against the elements of sun, wind and water, even though there’s no oily residue.

Kukui oil can be used on its own as a carrier oil or added to another carrier at a rate of about 10%. It is a useful addition to ointments and creams for the treatment of eczema and psoriasis. Because it is high in essential fatty acids it is also a good addition to body oils, particularly for mature skin.

Macadamia Nut Oil

This is a much thicker oil, enough to leave a residue when used alone. It is extracted by cold compression of macadamia nuts from Macadamia integrifolia trees, which are native to Australia.

Macadamia nut oil is a clear oil, slightly yellow in colour, and is an excellent choice for a massage oil due to its viscosity and slip.

Unlike most other carrier oils, macadamia nut oil is quite strongly scented, sweet and nutty. The fragrance is so strong that you may find that it overpowers the essential oils you blend with it, so it’s often used as an additive at a rate of about 10%, rather than on its own.

Macadamia oil is rich in palmitoleic acid (Omega-7), an oil naturally present in young skin, but which diminishes with age. This makes it useful for restoring mature skin’s natural healing ability. It is deeply penetrating because of its close similarity to natural skin oils, and very beneficial for dermatitis, eczema, burns and wounds (however, you should avoid using essential oils on wounds, even in dilution).

I offer macadamia nut carrier oil in my online shop.

Pecan Oil

Cold pressed from the pecan nut from the tree of the same name (Carya pecan), this is a medium oil with a slightly oily feel and a mild nutty aroma. It must be kept in a dark bottle and stored in a cool place to avoid rancidity.

Pecan oil can be used as an alternative to almond and grapeseed. It is almost clear in colour and is usually used for massage, alone or mixed with other oils at about 10%. When used alone, it will leave an oily residue on the skin.

You can also use pecan oil to make soap or lotion intended for dry skin.

Walnut Oil

This oil is extracted from walnuts from the English walnut, Juglans regia. It is light in colour, with a delicate texture and a rich, nutty aroma. You may wish to use it in dilution at a rate of around 10-20% to avoid overpowering the scent of your essential oils, although it’s great just on its own for body massage, soothing and refreshing, and will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Even without the addition of essential oils, walnut oil is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It also has anti-ageing and skin rejuvenation properties. These properties probably explain why walnut is often used in creams, lotions and balms for anti-ageing and general skincare. It is very gentle and safe for use even on sensitive skin and can also be used as a make-up remover and skin toner.


Poetic guide to blending essential oils

<em>Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy</em>

This is a horrible bit of doggerel, but it might help when you’re blending essential oils to remember the way the aromas blend best. If you make a blend that smells awful, you’ll just be wasting time and money, because you are very unlikely to use it.

Chamomile Roman, chamomile blue
Geranium, jasmine, lavender too
Neroli, rose and violet
These are the members of the floral set.

Palmarosa, patchouli
Sandalwood makes number three
Vetiver, ylang ylang
These oils are in the exotic clan.

Benzoin, camphor and fir needle
Frankincense, galbanum, myrrh
Add vanilla to complete the scene
Seven oils, all made from resin.

Star anise and both the bays
Black pepper, cardamom, clove
Cinnamon, coriander, ginger too
Nutmeg’s the last of the spicey crew.

Cedarwood Atlas and Virginian
Cypress and Eucalyptuses
Juniper, myrtle, rosewood and pine
Tea tree’s the final woody kind.

Angelica, basil, carrot seed
Celery, clary, fennel and dill
Rosemary, peppermint, marjoram
Thyme fills up the herbarium.

Grapefruit and lime are citrus oils.
Mandarin, lemon and orange too.
Citronella, verbena and lemongrass
Smell just close enough to pass.

Use these groups to make a blend:
Citrus and floral are good friends.
Floral and exotic make something nice.
Exotic and resin may entice.
Resin and spice can be a delight.
Spice and woody smells just right.
Woody and herbal complement.
Herb and citrus makes a lovely scent.