Sandalwood essential oils, benefits and uses

Santalum album is now a protected species

Santalum album is now a protected species

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Traditionally, sandalwood essential oil, also sometimes called sandalwood Mysore, is extracted from the heartwood of East Indian sandalwood trees (Santalum album). The oil is present in trees of 10 years and older, but the trees are only regarded as mature between the ages of 40 and 80 years.

The tree is a native of India and Indonesia, but unfortunately has been harvested at unsustainable levels in its natural habitat and is a protected species. However, as sandalwood oil is so popular, not just for aromatherapy, but also for Ayurvedic medicine and sacred uses, other areas have established Santalum sp. plantations, including Australia and many parts of Southeast Asia.

As with all essential oils, sandalwood 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.

Three varieties of sandalwood are now used for extracting oil, Santalum austrocaledonicum (Sandalwood Vanuatu), Santalum ellipticum (the Hawaiian sandalwood), which are both regarded as high quality, and Santalum spicatum (the Australian sandalwood), which is not. There is also another oil which is sometimes labelled Sandalwood AmyrisAmyris balsamifera, which is unrelated.

Sandalwood oil has a nutty or woody fragrance which is popular with men, even though it has sweet overtones. It is often used commercially as an ingredient in aftershave. The color of the oil ranges from pale yellow to pale gold.

Shavings of sandalwood are sometimes used as incense for calming the mind during meditation, amongst other purposes. You can also use the oil in a burner to achieve the same effect.

Sandalwood essential oil should never be used undiluted. It is not suitable for use on children under 12 years or anyone with a kidney disorder. It may reduce the ability to concentrate.

Sandalwood oil is regarded as soothing, calming and grounding. It is used in aromatherapy for anxiety, burnout, confusion, cynicism, depression, recurring dreams, exhaustion, failure, fatigue, fear, grief, insecurity, irritability, listlessness, stress, worry and to promote happiness, intuition and perseverance; for skin care, including dry eczema, blemished, scarred and sensitive skin; to treat tinnitis, sinusitis, chest and urinary tract infections, sore throat, laryngitis and as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, emollient and insect repellent. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine for itching and gastritis.

Sandalwood Amyris, or simply Amyris, has antiseptic and sedative properties. It is not suitable for use during pregnancy.

I offer sandalwood essential oil and sandalwood amyris essential oil in my online shop.

It’s always important to ensure that any oil you purchase is 100% pure essential oil, but this is even more vital with rarer oils and those which are in danger of extinction because of over-harvesting. Disreputable suppliers are often tempted to adulterate with potentially dangerous fake chemically-derived products in the name of the quick buck. Make sure that you choose a reputable supplier to be sure that you are getting what you pay for.


Peppermint essential oil, benefits and uses

Peppermint is a familiar garden herb

Peppermint is a familiar garden herb

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Peppermint is a familiar garden herb, though it may be confused with spearmint, a close relative. In aromatherapy as in herbal medicine, the two plants are treated quite distinctly.

The mints are a large family, and other members for which you may also find essential oils on sale include Cornmint, which is used mainly by the food, pharmaceutical and hygiene industries, rarely in aromatherapy; and European Pennyroyal or American Pennyroyal which are not used at all because they are toxic.

Peppermint essential oil is one of those which can be included in an aromatherapy starter kit, because although it should be treated with some caution it is reasonably safe in use. It is produced by steam distillation from the flowering herb of Mentha piperita, and excess menthol is then removed to obtain a liquid (otherwise it would be solid in form).

As with all essential oils, peppermint 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.

As stated, peppermint oil needs some care in use. Points to note when considering use of this oil are:
— not suitable for use during pregnancy
— not suitable for use on sensitive skin
— not suitable for use on children under 6 years old
— not suitable for use by anyone suffering from a heart condition
— never use undiluted, as it can cause irritation
— reduces effectiveness of homeopathic remedies; do not use in combination with homeopathy.

These precautions and contra-indications are the reason why I don’t include peppermint in my recommendations for absolute beginners. However, peppermint oil is so useful that it is worth keeping in stock, even so. It is very strong, and if it is to be used on the skin it needs to be diluted to a maximum of 1% , which is 6 drops to 30ml/1 fluid ounce of carrier oil. In a bath, add no more than 3 drops of peppermint oil (a single drop if you are using it to treat itchy skin) to avoid irritation.

Peppermint essential oil cools, restores and refreshes the body and is mentally stimulating, useful for students. As a massage blend or added to bathwater it is helpful for refreshing tired feet, and to treat acne, dermatitis, fevers, flatulence (“gas” or “wind“), indigestion, itchy skin, muscular pain, neuralgia, ringworm and scabies. As an inhalation it is useful for asthma, colds, bronchitis, tickly cough, cramp, flu, nausea, fainting, headache, mental fatigue, migraine, sinusitis and nervous stress. Inhale direct from the bottle or put one drop on a handkerchief to carry with you for nausea, travel sickness or vertigo and as a reviver for long journeys. Putting a few drops on the dashboard of your car will help you to stay alert and clear thinking.

Peppermint is an extremely useful essential oil and worthy of inclusion in any aromatherapy kit.

I offer peppermint essential oil and organic peppermint essential oil in my online shop, as well as a range or products based on peppermint.