5 different Eucalyptus essential oils, benefits and uses

There are many varieties of eucalyptus oil

There are many varieties of eucalyptus oil. This is E. citriodors

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Eucalyptus oil is a misleading label, because there are in fact several different kinds of eucalyptus essential oil extracted from various species of eucalyptus tree.

The five types you are most likely to come across are the Blue Gum, the Broad Leaved Peppermint, the Narrow Leaved Peppermint, the Lemon Scented Eucalyptus and the Lemon Scented Ironbark. Any of these (and others) may be sold labeled simply eucalyptus oil. This is unfortunate, as the different types don’t all have the same properties.

Some properties are common to all four types of eucalyptus essential oil. All are antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, expectorant and can be used to treat congestion (catarrh), coughs, colds, flu and other viral infections, aches and pains, rheumatism, cuts and wounds.

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.

Blue Gum Eucalyptus is extracted from Eucalyptus globulus, one of the tallest trees in the world. There is a tree in Tasmania recorded at 90.7m (or more than 297 feet) in height! Like all eucalyptus, these trees are native to Australia, although most of the cultivation for commercial use is in Spain and Portugal.

Additional properties listed for Blue Gum are as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, deodorant, insect repellent, soothing agent and vermifuge used to treat asthma, blisters, burns, catarrh, chicken pox, cystitis, debility, headaches, herpes, insect bites, leucorrhea, lice, measles, neuralgia, poor circulation, sinusitis, skin infections, sore throats and external ulcers.

I offer Eucalyptus (blue gum) essential oil and organic Eucalyptus (blue gum) essential oil in my online shop.

Broad Leaved Peppermint Eucalyptus is an extract of Eucalyptus dives and is sometimes referred to as dives eucalyptus. The tree is much smaller than the blue gum and most cultivated trees are produced in South Africa.

It is no longer generally used medicinally except by veterinarians. However, it can be used for broadly the same uses as blue gum.

Lemon Scented Eucalyptus is an extract of Corymbia citriodora (formerly called Eucalyptus citriodora), which reaches the same sort of height as the narrow leaved peppermint. Cultivated trees are mainly grown in China and Brazil.

In addition to the properties common to all four, it is bactericidal, insecticidal, an insect repellent and is used to treat asthma, athlete’s foot, candida, chicken pox, dandruff, fevers, fungal infections, herpes, infectious diseases, laryngitis, skin infections, sore throats and specifically to treat Staphylococcus aureus (“Staph“).

I offer Eucalyptus citriodora (Lemon-scented) Essential Oil in my online shop.

Narrow Leaved Peppermint Eucalyptus is extracted from Eucalyptus radiata, which is tall (up to 5om), but doesn’t reach the same heights as the blue gum. This was the tree from which eucalyptus oil was first extracted by Joseph Bosisto in 1854, though it is less frequently used nowadays.

In addition to the common properties listed earlier, it is anti-infectious, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antispasmodic and can be used to treat bronchitis, fever, herpes, nervous exhaustion, poor circulation, sinusitis and sore throats. It’s also listed in at least one place to treat whooping cough but it must be stressed that in this case it should only be used as an addition to orthodox medical treatment, as this is a serious disease which requires immediate medical attention. Narrow leaved peppermint is also said to be supportive and uplifting and can be used as a concentration aid, to improve mental clarity and promote a positive outlook.

I offer Eucalyptus radiata (narrow-leaved peppermint) essential oil and organic Eucalyptus radiata (narrow-leaved peppermint) essential oil in my online shop.

Lemon-Scented Ironbark Eucalyptus essential oil comes from Eucalyptus staigeriana. It is uplifting to both mind and body, a natural immune system booster. Use in blends to boost the immune system, for wounds, abscesses, burns, external ulcers, veruccas (plantar warts), insect bites and for muscle, nerve and joint pain. Use in a burner or diffuser to gain the benefit of its uplifting, antidepressant and stress-relieving qualities. It is safe for use with children.

Eucalyptus oils should always be mixed with a carrier before using them on the skin. They can also be used in an essential oil diffuser, a steam inhalation, or a few drops can be added to a bath after it has been filled. Never take eucalyptus oils internally except as part of a prescribed medication.

Eucalyptus oil deserves a place in every home, and the choice of variety is up to you. Blue gum is the most frequently offered, but you may want to choose one of the others if available from your supplier, for the additional properties which it confers.


Southernwood health benefits: wakes you up and perks you up as well

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Southernwood is often grown as an ornamental

Southernwood is often grown as an ornamental

Southernwood, Artemisia abrotanum (syn. Artemisia procera), is also sometimes known as appleringie, boy’s love, European sage, garderobe, garden sagebrush, lad’s love, lemon plant, lover’s plant, maid’s ruin, old man, oldman wormwood, our Lord’s wood, slovenwood or Southern wormwood. It’s a close relative of wormwood and sage brush, but is not related to sage.

The names lad’s love, lover’s plant, maid’s ruin, and possibly old man all refer to the belief that it increases virility, a belief that goes back as far as Ancient Greece where they used to put it under the mattress to increase lust. Garderobe refers to its function as an insect repellent possibly used as a moth proofer. It’s called lemon plant because of its use for lemon flavoring. If you know the origin of appleringie, our Lord’s wood or slovenwood, please let me know.

Southernwood is a herb of cultivation and is not found in the wild. It is a deciduous shrub which reaches a height of around 4 feet (1.2m). It’s not fussy about soil – even poor soil is fine so long as it is well drained – and will tolerate drought. It will not grow in full shade.

Southernwood is not suitable for use during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester (when you may not even be aware that you are pregnant), so if you are trying for a baby do not use this herb.

Southernwood is not much used nowadays except in Germany, which is a surprise, as it has many uses. However, it should not be taken over an extended period or in large doses, because it is after all a member of the wormwood family (which has a reputation for toxicity).

To make a standard infusion add 500ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) of boiling water to 30g (1 ounce) of dried or 3 handfuls of fresh leaves. Allow to stand for between 15 minutes and 4 hours then strain off the herb and discard.

To make a poultice, mix chopped fresh or dried leaves with some hot water to moisten, wrap in a fine bandage and apply to the area to be treated, refreshing in the hot water (which should be kept hot) as required.

Taken internally, southernwood is particularly useful for disorders affecting the digestive system. Not only does it remove obstructions and function as a mild laxative, but it stimulates the production of bile and improves liver function. It also destroys intestinal worms. It also stimulates the uterus and encourages menstruation, while on the male side of the equation it has a reputation stretching back thousands of years as a protection against impotence. All these benefits probably account for its recommendation as a good general tonic.

Externally, a poultice is used in Germany for frostbite, skin conditions, splinters and wounds. A standard infusion can be used as a hair rinse to treat dandruff and as an insect repellent if applied to the skin. Adding the leaves to the bath is used to counter sleepiness. Finally, it is reputed to stimulate hair growth, once used by young men in Southern Europe to encourage beard growth by rubbing the leaves on their faces.

I almost forgot to mention that southernwood is also an antiseptic.

As with all herbs grown for medicinal use, southernwood should be grown organically to avoid corruption of its essential constituents. To find out more about growing organic Southernwood visit the Gardenzone.


Hemp agrimony health benefits: insect repellent safe for animal use

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Hemp agrimony is attractive to wildlife

Hemp agrimony is attractive to wildlife

Hemp agrimony, Eupatorium cannabinum, is sometimes spelled with a hyphen between the two words: hemp-agrimony. It’s also occasionally called sweet-smelling trefoil or water maudlin. The words “hemp” in the common name and “cannabinum” in the Latin name probably refers to the leaf form, which is “palmately lobed” (botany-speak for roughly hand shaped), individual leaflets forming the “fingers”, like cannabis leaves. Hemp agrimony is not related to marijuana (also sometimes called hemp).

Hemp agrimony is a hardy perennial which reaches a height of around 5′ (1.5m) and a spread of 3′ (1m). It is attractive to wildlife, particularly bees and butterflies, and will grow in any soil, so long as it is wet, or at least moist. It will not grow in full shade. Propagation by seed is very easy, you can either sow it under cover, potting on until large enough to plant out in summer, or sow direct. It can also be propagated by dividing existing clumps in spring or fall. Divisions can be planted in their final positions immediately.

Hemp agrimony has a strong scent reminiscent of cedar when crushed. The juice extracted from the leaves can be used as an insect repellent, suitable for use on animals.

Hemp agrimony was once used extensively in herbal medicine. However, more recently the presence of some potentially cancerous pyrrolizidine alkaloids which it contains has led to it being restricted for use under professional supervision only.

You may have a suitable area to grow hemp agrimony, which is valuable because of its attractiveness, both to humans and wildlife. As it prefers wet soil, it may also be useful in places where other ornamental plants won’t grow. Plants which grow in these conditions are best grown organically, as chemicals can easily leach into the water and cause damage to other plants, creatures and even small children. To find out more about growing organic hemp agrimony, visit the Gardenzone.


French Marigold health benefits: for constipation

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

French marigolds with an attitude

French marigolds with an attitude

French marigolds, Tagetes patula (sometimes labelled Tagetes lunulata), are popular bedding plants, even though they are only half-hardy, because they will flower continuously right through until the first frost if you keep picking the dead flowers off. Being orange, the flowers make a good puja as well. They’re closely related to African (or American) marigolds, but not to English marigolds.

They’re no less important in organic vegetable gardens, because of their pest deterrent properties. French marigolds are said to kill underground pests like eelworm and nematodes, and I’ve also just found out that an extract from this plant is one of the few substances known to be toxic to cockroaches. I certainly never had any trouble with pests of any kind when I grew this plant.

Although lethal to many creepy crawlies, French marigolds are safe for humans. They have a strong scent which I find attractive, although not everybody agrees with me. Medicinally, French marigolds are used as a remedy for severe constipation, as well as indigestion and colic. Make a standard infusion from the whole plant, chopped well. Use 3-4 teaspoonfuls of fresh or 1-2 teaspoonfuls of dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey if preferred.

You can also use a cooled infusion as an eyewash for sore eyes.

Like all herbs used medicinally, it’s important that you grow your French marigolds without chemicals, so as not to drink them with your medicine. For more information about growing organic French marigolds, visit the Gardenzone.


Lemon Balm (Melissa) health benefits: for infections, fevers and insomnia

Lemon balm is safe during pregnancy

Lemon balm is safe during pregnancy

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Lemon balm is also known by a number of other names, including bee herb, sweet balm and melissa. Another name by which it is sometimes known is balm mint, but this is a misnomer, as it is not closely related to the mint genus, though it is similar in appearance. It’s also not related to basil balm (another name for basil thyme). The latin name is Melissa officinalis, the second part (‘officinalis’) indicating that it was in use as a herbal remedy at the time it was named.

One thing lemon balm does share with the mint family is its tendency to be invasive. At least this means that you are unlikely to run out if you have it in your garden! It will be happy in full sun or partial shade in most soils that are not too heavy, whether dry or moist, and can tolerate drought and frost without keeling over.

The leaves can be used to make a tasty lemon tea on their own or added to China tea, and as a lemon flavoring in cooking. They’re also used as a flavoring in the liqueurs Chartreuse and Benedictine.

Lemon balm can be used in quite large quantities without any worries, in fact recent research has found that taking 1.5g of dried leaves a day improves memory. Normally, it is used as a standard infusion, made with 3-4 teaspoonfuls of fresh or 1-2 teaspoonfuls of dried leaves and/or flowering tops to 1 cup of boiling water. Allow to infuse for about 10 minutes and strain before use hot or cold.

A standard infusion can be used internally as a tonic and to treat both viral and bacterial infection, anxiety, depression, and other nervous disorders, headache, insomnia and migraine and to regulate temperature. Use a cooled infusion externally for insect bites – and also as an insect repellent. Lemon balm is also very helpful in combating cold sores, according to research. All in all, lemon balm is a very useful addition to the herbal medicine cabinet.

I offer 400mg melissa capsules and melissa essential oil in my online shop.

Like all herbal remedies, to avoid ingesting large quantities of nasty chemicals, it’s important that lemon balm grown for medicinal use is grown organically. To find out more about growing organic lemon balm, visit the Gardenzone.

Aromatherapy

Lemon Balm/Melissa essential oil is used for cold sores (herpes), fungal infections, fatigue, depression, anxiety, trauma and shock. It may cause sensitisation or irritation and is not suitable for use during pregnancy or for children under 6 years of age.

As with all essential oils, Melissa/lemon balm 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.

Peppermint health benefits: not just for toothpaste

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Peppermint can be invasive, grow in a sunken pot

Peppermint can be invasive, grow in a sunken pot

Peppermint, Mentha x piperita officinalis, is one of the most important remedial members of the Mentha genus, although it is actually a hybrid, which explains its vigorous growth, although even true species in this group tend to be invasive. Grow it in a big pot sunk into the ground, unless you want to be battling against its attempted takeover of your garden! If you would rather just grow it in a container, make sure you keep it well watered, as otherwise it will dry out and your plant will end up looking quite scraggy. There is the benefit that it’s easier to bring the plant indoors if your winters are very cold.

In most parts, peppermint will survive the winter perfectly well, just don’t be tempted to take more than a few leaves at a time when snow is on the ground. The minty taste is strong, and can be used for peppermint tea and for flavoring sweets and other confectionery. If you don’t have any other type of mint, you could also use it for mint sauce, although spearmint is the type generally used for this.

You may be surprised to learn that this common herb can sometimes cause an allergic reaction, and it is therefore considered not suitable for children when used as a herbal remedy.

Use the whole plant (including roots, if possible), chopped fairly finely, to make a standard infusion. Allow 3-4 teaspoons of fresh or 1-2 teaspoons dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water, leave to stand for about 10 minutes and strain. A dose of 1 or 2 cups a day (no more) can be used to treat colds and flu, digestive disorders such as indigestion, intestinal cramping, gastroenteritis and gastric ulcer, and to help relieve irritable bowel syndrome. It’s also useful to treat nausea, including morning sickness. The same infusion can be used (after it has cooled) as a lotion for itching skin and burns, and as an insect repellent.

Put a handful of chopped fresh herb (or about a tablespoonful of dried) into a large bowl of boiling water for use as a steam inhalation to help relieve catarrh, sinusitis and asthma. To use this you lean over the bowl, covering your head and the bowl with a towel to keep the steam inside, and inhaling the steam.

You can make a compress with chopped fresh or dried leaves mixed into a little hot water, wrapped in gauze. Use this to treat neuralgia and rheumatism by putting it onto the affected area and holding it in place until the herbs have cooled. Refresh by dipping it into hot water, squeezing out the excess, and replace. Do this several times, until you feel that enough benefit has been obtained from it.

I offer a variety of peppermint products in my online shop.

It’s important that any herb used for herbal medicine is grown organically, so that you don’t end up giving yourself a huge dose of some chemical best left outside the body! For more information on other uses for this herb and how to grow organic peppermint, visit the Gardenzone.

Aromatherapy

Peppermint essential oil is one of the most useful essential oils. It’s also one of the safest, although it must be used diluted on the skin, as it may cause irritation. It’s used for itchy skin, acne and other skin conditions, headache, nausea, muscle pain and many other uses.

As with all essential oils, peppermint 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.