Ravensara and Ravintsara essential oils, benefits and uses

Cinnamomum camphora trees in Madagascar produce ravintsara essential oil

Cinnamomum camphora trees in Madagascar produce ravintsara essential oil

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

There are a number of potential sources of confusion in the aromatherapy pharmocopeia, but one that really stands out as an ongoing problem is the distinction between ravensara and ravintsara.

At first glance, you would most likely assume that ravintsara is just an alternative spelling for ravensara, or vice versa. It’s obvious from some of the information online about these two oils that this assumption has resulted in the wrong descriptions of uses in certain places, so there’s no need to be ashamed if you’re one of those that has fallen into this trap. I freely admit that I originally believed the same thing. But it’s not true.

As with all essential oils, neither ravensara essential oil nor ravintsara essential 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.

I’ve always advised that anyone using essential oils or herbs for medicinal purposes should pay more attention to the scientific or Latin name than to the English one. Different places have common names for particular herbs and plants that may be used for a completely different species elsewhere. Oils are extracted from these plants, and it’s not surprising of they end up being labeled with the common name local to the place where the oil was extracted. This case is just one example of the difficulties that can arise when the common, rather than the scientific name is used for identification.

So let’s try and clear this up.

Ravensara

A botanical illustration from 1829

Ravensara essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaf of Cryptocarya agathophylla (syn. Agathophyllum aromaticum, Ravensara aromatica and R. anisata). It is also sometimes called clove nutmeg oil. Another essential oil, Havozo, is extracted from the bark of the same plant.

Ravensara essential oil is not often used, as most of the oil bearing this English name is in fact ravintsara. However, Nature’s Gift recommends it for treating shingles, herpes and other viral infections, either topically or in a diffuser. It is often used with calophyllum for external use.

I offer Ravensara essential oil in my online shop.

Ravintsara essential oil is an extract of Cinnamomum camphora– but only from trees grown in Madagascar. The scientific name on the label must say “Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8-cineole” to indicate it is the correct extract. If you find a Cinnamomum camphora oil which does not have “ct. 1,8-cineole” on the label, then it is some type of Camphor or Ho oil, which is toxic and not to be used under any circumstances.

Ravintsara is best used to ease breathing in asthmacoughs (including whooping cough), colds and other respiratory problems.


Rose essential oils, benefits and uses

This beautiful damask rose is Quatre Saisons

This beautiful damask rose is Quatre Saisons

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Rose oil comes in two main types, rose absolute and rose otto. They are both used for the same purposes.

Because rose essential oils are costly, you may find that they are offered diluted. These are usable, but they will not keep for any length of time. If you are likely to use them up in 6 months, by all means buy the diluted variety, otherwise bite the bullet, buy the undiluted, and look on it as an investment.

You should take especial care to ensure that the rose oil you buy (or the rose oil content of a blend) is 100% pure, because there are very many cheaper products which smell like rose oil, but have more association with the factory than the garden. Additives and substitutes intended to bulk up or replace rose essential oil while maintaining a high scent impact may be actively dangerous in oils intended for therapeutic use.

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.

Rose essential oil is not the same as rose geranium oil, though both are attributed to Venus in the tables of correspondences used for centuries, before what we now consider conventional medicine arrived.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, rose otto is the more expensive of the two. sometimes called attar of roses, it has been used since ancient times. It is usually extracted by steam distillation from Rosa damascena, the Damask Rose (occasionally Rosa centifolia, sometimes called Rose Maroc) and is a pale yellow or olive green oil with a very rich, spicy floral scent. 100% pure rose otto will keep for as long as you need it, provided you keep it in a cool dark place. There are reports of rose otto produced in the 1940s which is still good.

Rose otto is the best type of rose essential oil for aromatherapy, though because of the cost, some people use rose absolute instead. On the other hand, rose otto is extremely heady, and you will probably find that you need to use much less in a blend than is normal with other essential oils.

Rose absolute is extracted by solvent extraction. This yields a reddish orange or olive green oil with a lighter floral scent, more like you would instinctively expect from a rose oil. It is much more viscous than rose otto and solidifies at quite high temperatures, so much so that you may need to warm it in your hands before use.

You might come across two other rose oils, rose leaf absolute, which is used purely for flavor and fragrance, and rosehip oil, a carrier oil effective in treating burns, scars and wrinkles, and promotes tissue regeneration. Rosehip oil has recently become popular after Kate Middleton revealed she uses it for her stretch marks. I offer rosehip oil in my online shop.

Both rose otto and rose absolute are used for the same purposes.

Uses of rose essential oil

Rose oil is often said to be mainly used in skin care, but I’ll give you the list and you can decide:

Skin care: ageing skin, broken capillaries, cold sores, combination skin, dry skin, eczema, elasticity, herpes, mature skin, rejuvenation, sensitive skin, thread-veined skin, toning, wrinkles.

Other: addiction, allergic headache/migraine, allergies, anger, antibacterial, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, anxiety, aphrodisiac, astringent, balancing, bereavement, calming, circulatory disorders, cooling, decongestant, detoxifier, digestive tonic, diuretic, emmenagogic, endocrine system, fear, grief, hangover, hay fever, heart tonic, hepatic, labor, laxative, menopause, menstrual disorders, pmt, regret, rejuvenating, relaxing, sadness, sedative, stress, tension, terror, tonic, uplifting, uterine tonic, well-being, worry about the past.

I offer a wide range of rose aromatherapy products including several different types of essential oil in my online shop.


Grapefruit, Lime and Mandarin essential oils, benefits and uses

Clockwise from 12 o'clock: Grapefruit, Mandarin, Lime

Clockwise from 12 o’clock: Grapefruit, Mandarin, Lime

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

The last three citrus essential oils are grapefruit, lime and mandarin (see picture right). There’s also red mandarin, which is used in the same ways as mandarin. I’m sure you’re familiar with grapefruits and limes from the local market. Mandarin is the name used in aromatherapy for the type of easy-peel orange you used to get only around Christmas time.

Grapefruit essential oil
This is extracted from the outer skin of Citrus x paradisi. The X means it is a hybrid – between the pomelo and the sweet orange. As both parents are sweet, the result is unexpectedly bitter, not that this has any relevance to its therapeutic value.

Grapefruit is energizing and is used mainly to treat psychological conditions such as bitterness, confusion, depression, despondency, envy, frustration, indecisiveness, jealousy, nervous exhaustion, performance stress, procrastination, worry about the past and to aid clarity of mind, but is also used for chills, colds and flu and to treat cellulitis, headaches, obesity, water retention and as a sports aid for use before exercise, and afterwards to treat stiffness and muscle fatigue.

Grapefruit essential oil is not suitable for use with children under five years old.

Phototoxic: don’t use on skin that will be exposed to the sun or tanning beds in the following 48 hours.

I offer grapefruit essential oil and organic grapefruit essential oil in my online shop.

Lime essential oil
This oil is extracted from the outer peel of unripe fruit of Citrus aurantifolia. This tropical tree is not related to the Common Lime or Linden found in many parks and alongside highways.

Lime essential oil is uplifting and energizing and is used like lemon oil: undiluted to treat boils, herpes (cold sores), warts and plantar warts (verrucas), and diluted for skin care, especially for oily skin, to tone and condition nails, and for bleaching discolored areas of skin.

Use at a 1% dilution as a massage oil to treat acne, anemia, arthritis, cellulitis and skin blemishes such as spots.

You can also use lime essential oil in a diffuser or add up to 3 drops to the bath to help clear up respiratory infections like colds and flu.

Phototoxic: don’t use on skin that will be exposed to the sun or tanning beds in the following 48 hours.

I offer lime essential oil and distilled lime essential oil in my online shop.

Mandarin and Red Mandarin essential oils
Mandarin is extracted from the outer skin of Citrus reticulata while red mandarin comes from Citrus nobilis. Both are used for the same purposes. Mandarin is also sometimes called Tangerine essential oil.

Mandarins/tangerines used to be a special treat looked forward to around Christmas each year, but are now available all year round under the name satsuma. The clementine is a variety of the same tree whose fruit has a tougher skin.

Mandarin essential oil is known as the children’s remedy in France and is useful for treating children and pregnant people with digestive disorders such as hiccups, gripes and indigestion as well as sleep difficulties and restlessness. Other uses include general skin care for oily skin, and as a treatment for acne and other blemishes, stretch marks, fluid retention and obesity.

Mandarin essential oil is generally regarded as not phototoxic. However, it’s probably wise to take some care about sun bathing or tanning beds within 48 hours of use.

I offer mandarin (tangerine) essential oil and red mandarin essential oil in my online shop.

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.

Lemon essential oil, benefits and uses

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Lemon oil is extracted from the zest of the lemon

Lemon oil is extracted from the zest of the lemon

Lemon essential oil is sometimes called cedro oil, though you should be careful if buying oil with this name, as it’s also used for a type of cedar. It is extracted from the zest of the lemon by cold pressing or steam distillation.

Like other citrus oils, lemon is photo-sensitizing, and anyone using it on exposed skin should avoid prolonged exposure to the sun or use of tanning beds for 48 hours after use.

Lemon is a good choice for inclusion in a starter kit, because it can be used neat (undiluted) without any worries. In fact, one of the main uses of lemon oil is to treat boils, herpes (cold sores), warts and plantar warts (verrucas), for which it is always applied directly to the area to be treated in undiluted form.

As with all essential oils, lemon 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.

Lemon is highly regarded for skin care, particularly for oily skin, and is also used to tone and condition nails, and to bleach discolored areas of skin.

Use at a 1% dilution as a massage oil to treat acne, anemia, arthritis, cellulitis and skin blemishes such as spots.

You can also use it in a diffuser or add up to 3 drops to the bath to help clear up respiratory infections like colds and flu (a drink of lemon juice or home made lemonade would also be helpful for this, as lemons are high in vitamin C, which helps to ward off infection).

Lemon oil blends well with almost all other aromatherapy oils and is a natural disinfectant.

I offer lemon essential oil and organic lemon essential oil in my online shop.


Tea Tree Oil, benefits and uses

teatree-infographic-sm

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

History of
tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is the essential oil extracted from the Australian tea tree (or ti tree), Melaleuca alternifolia. Don’t confuse this with manuka, sometimes called the New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium), nor with the tea bush from which we get our daily cuppa (Camellia sinensis). Manuka is a member of the same family as the tea tree, but the tea bush is not.

Tea tree leaves were actually being used as a healing tea by native Australians (as well as for other remedies) even before the continent was first colonized by Europeans. With typical arrogance, this knowledge was ignored until the early 1920s, when an Australian chemist called Arthur Penfold first extracted the essential oil and discovered that it was not only a very effective way to disinfect wounds, but that it stopped fungal infections in their tracks.

Tea tree oil became a worldwide success until the start of the Second World War, when supplies were diverted for use by field hospitals and civilian use virtually ceased. By the time the war was over tea tree oil had been forgotten, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that it was rediscovered and again started to be used around the world.

More recent studies have shown that tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, that works even at fairly low dilution levels (5%). It’s even been shown to work against MRSA. Partly because of its strong fragrance, which is similar to eucalyptus, it has also become popular as a treatment for respiratory problems.

Unfortunately, recent research has found that regular use of tea tree and lavender oils in boys before puberty can lead to gynecomastia (breast enlargement) and can interfere with their sexual development [source]. The same thing can occur in adult males, but with less serious effects, since their sexual characteristics are already established. It’s therefore advisable to restrict use of the oils and products (eg. shampoo) that contain either of these oils for boys except in occasional emergency situations.
 
As with all essential oils, tea tree 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.
 

Tea tree oil uses

As you might expect, tea tree is often used on skin infections and pimples, but it is much more useful than that. Acne, which is caused by a bacteria which is resistant to many other treatments, responds well to tea tree oil ointment. Burns are another application, and because of its anti-viral properties, tea tree oil is often used undiluted for herpes/cold sores, warts and plantar warts (verrucas), all of which are caused by viruses.

Fungal infections such as ringworm (tinea), nail fungus, athlete’s foot, foot rot in animals and candida (thrush) can also be treated with tea tree oil or products based on it.

One of the most important uses from a parent’s point of view is to treat and prevent diaper rash (nappy rash). Many moms swear by it and say that it works much better than any conventional remedy they’ve tried, and carries on working, unlike some treatments.

In an emergency, tea tree oil can be used neat, but otherwise for these purposes you can use the oil diluted at 1 drop of tea tree to every 2 ml of your preferred base oil. This will avoid any problems with sensitivity to the neat oil, which is in any case quite unusual so long as you make sure to buy tea tree oil of good quality.

As a hair treatment, tea tree oil not only helps prevent dandruff but also kills cooties (head lice). For the former, tea tree oil shampoo used regularly is probably all you need, while to treat the cooties, just mix a teaspoon of tea tree oil with one of the heavier carrier oils like grape seed (cheapest) or olive oil, warm it up (I stand it on the radiator for 20 minutes or so) and then apply carefully, making sure that the entire scalp and every hair is coated. Wrap the treated head up in a towel and leave it for a couple of hours, then wash it out. You will probably need to wash it at least twice to get all the oil out, but you shouldn’t find any live critters after you’re done.

You can also use tea tree oil to treat canker sores (mouth ulcers), if you can stand the taste. Just dab the sore with a little tea tree oil on a cotton tip swab, but try not to swallow too much oil as it isn’t good for you. Alternatively, try using a mouthwash that contains tea tree oil, which is likely to be a lot less overpowering.

To treat bacterial vaginosis (BV), use a douche made from 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of tea tree oil to 2 cups (475 ml/16 fl oz) of water daily for 6 weeks.

Use tea tree oil in a diffuser, in the bath, or a few drops on the pillow or a tissue to treat colds, flu and respiratory infections.

I offer many tea tree products, from oils to ointments and more in my online shop.