Essential oils from Scarborough Fair: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, benefits and uses

Clockwise from 12 o'clock: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Clockwise from 12 o’clock: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

The essential oils I’m covering today, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, are often associated with the folk song “Scarborough Fair” popularized in the sixties by Simon and Garfunkel. Other people may think of them as kitchen herbs, but they have come down to us as common herbs because they were grown for use not just in cooking, but also medicinally.

Unfortunately, although all four of these herbs are safe enough when used as herbal remedies or in cooking, it is a different matter when we consider their essential oils. Sage essential oil and parsley herb essential oil are toxic and should not be used under any circumstances, and both common thyme* (including sweet thyme, white and red thyme) and parsley seed essential oils should only be used under the direction of a professional aromatherapist. Clary sage, Spanish sage, rosemary and lemon thyme essential oils are safe enough for home use.
*…apart from using thyme oil in a treatment for cooties/head lice. Just a few drops added to any carrier oil (almond oil, grapeseed oil or similar is fine), massaged into the hair and left on for 20 minutes or so, then wash out. I offer thyme essential oil in my online shop for just this purpose.

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.

Clary sageClary sage essential oil
Clary sage oil is extracted by steam distillation from the flowering tops and leaves of Salvia sclarea. You may also find it called just clary essential oil.

Do not drive or take alcohol within 48 hours of using clary sage essential oil.

Mix with a carrier oil at standard dilution (1 drop essential oil to each 2ml of carrier oil) for massage or add up to 4 drops to a hot bath. Not suitable for use during pregnancy or for children under 6 years.

Clary essential oil is anticonvulsive, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal, deodorant, sedative and tonic, useful for skin and hair conditions including acne, boils, dandruff, hair loss, inflamed skin, oily skin and hair, external ulcers and wrinkles; respiratory and other infections: asthma, eye inflammation, muscular aches, throat infections, whooping cough and digestive disorders including colic, cramp, dyspepsia and flatulence (“gas” or “wind”). It also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac for both sexes, as it works to balance the hormones, and is used to treat frigidity, impotence, labour pains, painful periods, missing periods and vaginal discharge. Finally, it’s also used for addiction, claustrophobia, depression, exhaustion, hypertension, insomnia, negativity, nervous tension, OCD, overwork, PMT, recurring dreams and stress related conditions.

I offer clary sage essential oil and organic clary sage essential oil in my online shop.

Spanish sageSpanish sage essential oil
Spanish sage oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves of Salvia lavandulifolia. The bulk of production is used commercially as a flavoring, so you may have difficulty getting hold of it.

Mix with a carrier oil at standard dilution (1 drop essential oil to each 2ml of carrier oil) for massage or add up to 4 drops to a hot bath. Not suitable for use during pregnancy or for children under 6 years.

Spanish sage is antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, deodorant, expectorant and tonic and is used for skin care: acne, dry skin, greasy skin, as a moisturizer, and to treat shaving rash; for respiratory disorders including bronchitis, catarrh, dry cough, laryngitis and sore throat; for diarrhea, cystitis and nausea. It’s also used in cases of depression, insomnia, nervous tension and stress related conditions.

RosemaryRosemary essential oil
The best quality rosemary oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowering tops of Rosmarinus officinalis. A lower quality essential oil is produced in Spain by steam distillation of the whole plant.

Mix with a carrier oil at standard dilution (1 drop essential oil to each 2ml of carrier oil) and massage into the skin – but don’t use it on inflamed areas – or add up to 4 drops to a hot bath. Not suitable for use during pregnancy, for children under 6 years, or by anyone suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) or epilepsy.

Rosemary essential oil is antiseptic, calming, energizing, penetrating and stimulating and is useful for circulatory problems including chilblains, hypotension (low blood pressure), migraine and varicose veins; menstrual problems including painful periods; respiratory disorders and other infections including asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, sneezing, vaginal discharge and whooping cough. It’s also used to treat hair conditions: baldness (as a hair growth stimulant), alopecia, dandruff, greasy hair and seborrhea and as a general scalp stimulant; as a skin conditioner and to treat acne, dermatitis and eczema and a sports rub and muscle relaxant, useful for ligament strain, muscular aches and strained tendons, also for arteriosclerosis, gout, neuralgia, osteoarthritis pain and RSI. It is a mental stimulant, improves mental clarity and is helpful in cases of bad memory, exhaustion, disorientation, hangover, headache, indecisiveness, lethargy, Monday morning feeling and stress related conditions. Finally, it is an insect repellant and can be used to treat scabies.

I offer rosemary essential oil and organic rosemary essential oil, as well as various other rosemary products, in my online shop.

Lemon thymeLemon thyme essential oil
Lemon thyme oil is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops of Thymus citriodorus. It is not readily available, but all its uses can be duplicated by other essential oils. It is safe for use on the skin and for children.

Lemon thyme oil should not be used on the skin undiluted, but mixed with a suitable carrier at a dilution of no more than 5% by volume (which is 1 drop essential oil to each millilitre of carrier oil). Alternatively, add a few drops to your bath water.

Lemon thyme essential oil is antiseptic and antibacterial, and useful for preventing insect bites becoming infected. It also works as a mosquito repellent. It is warming and relaxing, good for massage after sport and also added to bath water, used as a chest rub or in an oil diffuser during winter months, and is also recommended for asthma and other respiratory conditions.


The three chamomile essential oils, benefits and uses

All chamomiles look very similar to each other

All chamomiles look very similar to each other

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Chamomile essential oils come in three distinct types. German chamomile and Roman chamomile are those generally used in aromatherapy.

Maroc or Moroccan chamomile is also available, but this is said not to be a “true chamomile”, and has completely different properties, though they are all members of the same botanical family. If you are starting out in aromatherapy, you should probably buy either the German or Roman type.

Confusingly, both Moroccan and German chamomile are sometimes called wild chamomile, so as with remedial herbs, it’s best to check the latin name in this case and also where the label just says “chamomile”.

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.

So here’s a breakdown of the three types and their properties:

German chamomile essential oil is extracted from the flowers of Matricaria recutita (previously called Matricaria chamomilla or Chamomilla recutita). Most of the plants cultivated for extraction are grown in Hungary and eastern Europe, rather than in Germany.

It can be used for acne, allergies, arthritis, boils, burns, chilblains, dermatitis, earache, eczema, inflammation, inflammatory diseases, insomnia, menstrual problems, migraine, muscle pain, nervous tension, psoriasis, sprains, toothache and small wounds.

I offer German chamomile essential oil in my online shop.

Roman chamomile essential oil is an extract from the flowers of Chamaemelum nobile (previously called Anthemis nobilis). The plant can be found growing wild across Europe and North America, although it is native to southern and western Europe.

It is used for all the same purposes as German chamomile.

I offer Roman chamomile essential oil, Roman chamomile 5% essential oil and organic Roman chamomile essential oil in my online shop.

Moroccan chamomile essential oil is extracted from the flowering tops of Ormenis multicaulis (sometimes called Ormenis mixta or Anthemis mixta). Plants used for extraction mainly come from north west Africa and southern Spain.

It is used for amenorrhea (no periods), colic, colitis, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), headache, insomnia, irritability, liver congestion, menopause, migraine, sensitive skin, spleen congestion and sunburn.

Moroccan chamomile essential oil is not suitable for use during pregnancy or for children under 13 years of age, or by anyone trying for a baby.

As you can see, it’s not really worth buying both the German and Roman types, though you could add Moroccan chamomile essential oil if you wish to treat the conditions it is used for (if you can find a reliable source).


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.

Lavender essential oil, benefits and uses 3

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Lavandin, Lavandula x intermedia

Lavandin, Lavandula x intermedia

I’ve already discussed the different types of lavender aromatherapy oil available in my first post in this little series, and in the second post I went into the uses of lavender aromatherapy oils on the skin. This post covers other uses.

As I already said, lavender is so incredibly versatile that it really should be included in everybody’s aromatherapy kit. Great for emergencies such as burns, it’s also useful for calming and relaxing both mind, body and doubtless spirit too (though there isn’t any way of proving the last of these)! This is not just a nebulous “oh it makes me feel good” thing I’m talking about. Lavender essential oil is well known for dealing with anxiety and mood swings, as well as nervous tension.

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, none of the lavender essential 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.
 

Looking at this in more detail, it helps to relieve symptoms of fear, including apprehension, negative thoughts, panic attacks, paranoia, post traumatic stress, stage fright and worry of all kinds. Since bed wetting is often caused by underlying anxiety it’s not surprising that lavender is often used to treat this, as well.

Lavender also helps to get strong emotions under control, such as hysteria, impatience and irritability. Its general relaxation properties make it useful for treating insomnia and an aid to restful sleep, also for exhaustion and overwork; on the physical side it can also help to soothe and relax stiff, swollen and painful joints.

Migraine is a very variable condition which seems to be caused by a narrowing of the arteries in the head, though the underlying reasons are still not definite. Lavender has been shown to help in many cases, and with a condition as debilitating as this, it’s definitely worth trying, though as causes seem to differ from person to person, it’s obviously not possible to guarantee it 100%. You can either use it in an oil burner, on a handkerchief or the pillow, or dab it neat direct onto the temples.

For most of the other conditions mentioned here, you can use your lavender aromatherapy oil either in an oil burner or electric diffuser or by adding drops to your bath. For a standard oil burner, I would recommend 5-6 drops of lavender essential oil, or a similar quantity added to your bath. Don’t forget that when using essential oils in the bath, it should be added after the bath is ready to get into, as otherwise all the fragrance will have dissipated before you get the opportunity to benefit by it.

Even though in most cases described here you wouldn’t be using lavender essential oil directly on the skin, it’s still important that you obtain 100% pure essential oil, as the therapeutic properties are not delivered by the fragrance alone, but by volatile components which come along with it. To get the benefit of real lavender essential oil, you have to use real lavender essential oil, not a man-made substitute that smells similar to it.

I offer true lavender essential oil and organic true lavender essential oil in my online shop.