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.


Musk Mallow health benefits: sweetens breath and spices up your love life

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Musk mallow comes from south east Asia

Musk mallow comes from south east Asia

Musk mallow, Abelmoschus moschatus (syn. Hibiscus abelmoschus), has a huge number of other common names, including abelmosk, ambrette, annual hibiscus, bamia moschata, galu gasturi, muskdana, musk okra, muskseed, ornamental okra, rose mallow (which is also used for hollyhock), syrian mallow, target-leaved hibiscus, tropical jewel hibiscus, water mallow and yorka okra. Having this number of common names generally means that a plant has been known as a folk remedy, food source or both for a very long time. It is closely related to okra (or gumbo), and more distantly to hollyhock, rosella and marsh mallow.

A native of south east Asia, the musk mallow has been imported across the world as an ornamental, often used for summer bedding. Despite being sometimes called the annual hibiscus, it is in fact a half hardy perennial which reaches a height and spread of around 6-7′ (2m) by 3′ (1m). It’s easily propagated from seed sown in heat in spring, or semi-ripe cuttings in summer. In cooler climates such as the UK, it is best grown in large pots if you wish to overwinter it, so that it can be moved into a conservatory or frost free greenhouse in the winter months.

Most parts of musk mallow are edible. Unripe seed pods can be used as a substitute for okra, young shoots and leaves added to soups or used as a vegetable, and the seed can be used as a substitute for sesame seeds. Both the seed and the essential oil are used for flavoring, believed to be one of the ingredients used in the manufacture of Benedictine liqueur, but as the recipe is a trade secret it’s impossible to be sure.

The main part used medicinally is the seeds, which are chewed whole as a breath sweetener and to treat digestive problems including griping pain, to soothe nerves, as a diuretic and also (mainly in Egypt), an aphrodisiac. Ground to a paste and mixed to an emulsion with water, they can be used to treat wounds, or an emulsion made with milk can be used to treat itching skin.

A paste made from ground bark can also be used to treat cuts and wounds.

As with all plants grown medicinally, musk mallow should be grown organically to ensure the purity of its effective constitutents. To find out more about growing organic musk mallow visit the Gardenzone.

Aromatherapy

The essential oil has been used in aromatherapy to treat anxiety and depression, but should be used with care as it can cause photosensitivity. It can also be used topically to treat joint pain, cramp and poor circulation.

As with all essential oils, musk mallow 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.

Hollyhock health benefits: for cystitis and for sore mouth and throat

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Hollyhocks come in many colors including black

Hollyhocks come in many colors including black

The hollyhock, Alcea rosea (syn. Althaea chinensis, Althaea ficifolia and Althaea rosea), was a favorite of Victorian gardeners. The name hollyhock is derived from the Old English holy hoc – the old word hoc meaning mallow. Other names by which this plant is known include Althaea rose, malva flowers and rose mallow (a name which is also used for the related musk mallow). It is not related to the rose.

It’s believed that the hollyhock, a native of the Middle East, was introduced by returning Crusaders, which may explain how it came by the name “holy hoc”. They look great thrusting towards the sky in the flower garden, and come in very many different colors, in both single and double flowered forms.

Hollyhocks are usually treated as biennials – plants which take 2 years to reach flowering stage, although they are in fact short-lived perennials. However, if you want to be sure to have them in the garden every year, it will be best to sow 2 years in a row, after which you may well find that self seeding has occurred.

The hollyhock is a tall thin plant, and can reach a height of 8 feet (2.5m), though 6-7 feet is more usual. I like them scattered about in the middle of smaller plants as they are thin enough not to block the view of other plants behind them, but if you prefer your plantings graded by height, put them near the back.

All parts of the hollyhock are edible, though the leaves are not very palatable. Flowers, flowerbuds and peeled stems can be used in salads, and tea made from petals. The roots can be used as a starchy vegetable.

Hollyhocks are also very useful medicinally, although often overlooked in favor of the related marsh mallow, which has similar properties.  However, as this is a plant often grown just because it is so different, for ornamental purposes, it’s worth including – personally I prefer it to the true marsh mallow in the flower garden, and I expect others agree with me in this. There’s just something about a hollyhock in flower that brings a smile to one’s lips and lightens the heart, rather like enormous sunflowers – is it to do with height? Perhaps they make us feel like children again, who knows.

Flowers, collected when open, shoots, roots and seeds are all used medicinally for various purposes.

Flowers can be used to make:

a standard infusion
Add 30g of dried flowers or 3 handfuls of fresh to 600ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) boiling water, stand for 15 minutes to 4 hours, then strain.
a decoction
Add 30g of dried flowers to 600ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) cold water, bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, then strain.

Make a standard infusion of seeds using 2 tsp to 240ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz), boiling water. Stand for 15 minutes to 4 hours and strain.

Finally a poultice can be made using crushed roots or a mixture of crushed roots and flowers mixed with boiling water and wrapped in a closely woven bandage (wrung out), which is applied to the area to be treated. Keep the liquid on the heat and refresh the bandage by dipping it into the liquid and squeezing out excess liquid and reapplying.

Use a standard infusion of flowers to treat chest complaints and topically to reduce inflammations of the mouth and throat (swish the liquid around the mouth, or gargle with it, as appropriate), cystitis and gastritis. Use a decoction of flowers to treat painful periods, constipation and poor circulation.

Shoots are supposed to be helpful as a birthing aid, but how to use them I have no idea – perhaps an infusion.

A standard infusion of seeds is used as a diuretic and to reduce fevers.

The poultice is used to treat open sores and external ulcers.

As you can see, hollyhocks are a useful remedy, but as with all medicinal plants, they must be grown organically to ensure that their constituents are not corrupted or entirely eliminated by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic hollyhocks visit the Gardenzone.


Rose Geranium health benefits: for PMS and mood swings

Not to be confused with the cultivar 'Graveolens'

Not to be confused with the cultivar ‘Graveolens’

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Rose geranium, Pelargonium graveolens but possibly labeled as P. terebinthinaceum or Geranium terebinthinaceum, is also sometimes called old fashioned rose geranium or rose scent geranium. It should not be confused with the similarly named rose scented geranium (P. capitatum), though in the world of Pelargoniums, there is so much hybridization that finding a true species can sometimes be difficult.

For example, the species I’m covering here is P. graveolens, as already mentioned. However, as well as the species there is also a cultivar (cultivated variety): Pelargonium ‘Graveolens’ – also called rose geranium – which is believed to be a cross between the species P. capitatum, P. graveolens and P. radens. By the rules of nomenclature, such similar names would not be allowed, but unfortunately cultivar names seem to be a law unto themselves, which can make for confusion.

Rose geranium is closely related to the rose scented geranium and the apple geranium, and less closely to the spotted cranesbill (sometimes called wood geranium). It is not related to the rose.

Rose geranium is an evergreen shrub which reaches a height of 4 feet (120cm), although it is frost tender. It is not fussy as to soil, whether dry or moist, but will not grow in the shade. Gardeners in areas where winter is cold and frosty may prefer to grow it in pots which can be brought into a cool greenhouse, porch or conservatory for the winter so as to have leaves available for picking all year round. Like its close relative the rose scented geranium, it will fill the space where it is kept with fragrance, and the dried leaves are often used in pot pourri because of this fragrance. You can also use the leaves to flavor food, or for tea.

Although the species has a roselike scent, there are also cultivars with scents ranging from mint to citrus and even coconut and nutmeg!

Rose geranium is one of the few herbs which is safe to use in pregnancy – even in the form of essential oil. Do not use the essential oil to treat babies under a year old.

You can make a standard infusion using the whole plant or just the leaves. Use 3 handfuls of fresh leaves, chopped, or 30g (1 ounce) of dried to 570 ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) of boiling water. Allow to stand for between 15 minutes and 4 hours, then strain before use. The dose for internal use is up to 1 US cup (240 ml, 8 fl oz) per day, split into 3 doses.

The standard infusion can be used internally to treat PMS, nausea, poor circulation and also tonsillitis. It’s used externally for acne and eczema, parasites such as ringworm and lice, and for hemorrhoids (piles).

I offer a range of rose geranium products in my online shop.

As with all herbs grown for use in remedies, rose geranium must be grown organically to avoid its properties being changed or completely eliminated by the presence of foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic herbs visit the Gardenzone.

Aromatherapy

The essential oil is used topically in China to treat cervical cancer, though how it is applied is not clear. In aromatherapy, geranium oil is used to treat depression and mood swings.

As with all essential oils, rose geranium 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.