Lemon Essential Oil = Refresh and Reload

Lemon - gorgeous simplicity

Lemon – gorgeous simplicity

One of my first stories on this blog was about lemons –  The Loveliness of Lemons!.

Lemons truly are delightful and I categorize the essential oil from the rind as an oil of happiness. Sparkly, zingy, zesty, fresh, clarifying and clean, lemon essential oil is a must-have oil for the aromatherapy enthusiast.

I use lemon oil frequently when treating clients as I find it’s a great addition to a body blend for sore muscles. When I was studying, I remember my teacher telling me a therapist she knew used lemon juice with oil for sore muscles and had great results. Not sure if I could do that (you’d smell like a salad after the massage), but the essential oil is definitely the go.

Aw -  a baby lemon!

Aw – a baby lemon!

From my earlier article:

Lemon essential oil is an uplifting oil with a sweet innocence about it, but don’t be fooled – it has a solid place in modern aromatherapy.

Some aromatherapists and scientific data claim lemon oil is good for:

  • stimulating the action of white blood cells
  • killing bacteria in the gut
  • soothing and lessening varicose veins
  • tonifying the circulatory system and aiding high blood pressure
  • helping the body shed excess fluids
  • decreasing cellulite
  • improving concentration
  • easing rheumatic pain & gout pain
  • stopping the flow of blood with cuts and abrasions

…… and the list continues.

Mum's lemon tree with the washing hanging on it

Mum’s lemon tree with the washing hanging on it

Lemon essential oil is inexpensive and accessible and has a scent that is also easy to inhale. Within the chemical constituents and energy of the drops of lemon oil, lay the coded information of lightness and happiness. I often say the words “refresh and reload” in my mind when I get the bottle of lemon oil out, and it does just that!

* Feeling tired and uninspired? Lemon oil.

* Need a new perspective on life? Lemon oil.

* Want some more joy? Lemon oil.

*Just like clicking on the “reload” icon in your web browser, lemon essential oil can give you a clean slate to start from.

Lemon blossoms - I wonder why they aren't made into an essential oil like Neroli?

Lemon blossoms – I wonder why they aren’t made into an essential oil like Neroli?

* Add some drops of lemon oil to your water when cleaning surfaces in the house or completely brighten your home with lemon essential oil in the bucket of water for mopping the floors. When cooking with lemons I always keep the rind to rub over the kitchen benches at night to combat bacteria.

Lemons are a fruit of old and have origins in Asia – from Burma and India through to China.

They entered Europe near southern Italy no later than the 1st century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. They were later introduced to Persia and then to Iraq and Egypt around 700 AD. The lemon was first recorded in literature in a 10th-century Arabic treatise on farming, and was also used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens.[1][2] It was distributed widely throughout the Arab world and the Mediterranean region between 1000 and 1150. Wikipedia

So a big hooray for lemons, and lemon essential oil. They have survived for this long because they are wonderful! Stay tuned for my next article 10 Recipes with Lemon Essential Oil.

 

copyright suzanne

 

 

 

Embrace Basil Essential Oil and Free Your Mind

Flowering basil - beautiful!

Flowering basil – beautiful!

Basil, Ocimum basilicum, is part of the Lamiacae family and the genus Ocimum. This family of plants also holds many herbs including mint, rosemary, lavender, patchouli and many more. The most common basil essential oil is sometimes referred to as sweet basil as there are a couple of chemotypes that are used to make essential oils.

Sweet basil is a linalool type. Linalool is one of the main ingredients of lavender, so this basil with have a softer scent and be more soothing and calming.

I have a basil essential oil that is a chavicol chemotype (methyl chavicol), which is slightly spicier and more camphorous in scent. I would use this with a client in a treatment blend if I wanted a warmer more stimulating blend. I would use the linalool type for a more relaxing blend, and I tend to use the sweet basil more often.

The stunning basil leaf makes a wonderful essential oil

The stunning basil leaf makes a wonderful essential oil

Basil takes its name from the latin ’Basileum’ meaning royal.  It is also considered a holy plant of India used in Ayurveda and dedicated to Vishnu and Krishna. This Indian basil is a different plant and is called tulsi, Ocimum tenuiflorumi. One of my suppliers now offers this as an organic essential oil but I haven’t smelt it yet so I’ll have to get back to you on that. There are some great tulsi teas on the market – they don’t taste like the sweet basil, just a soft lovely herb.

Sharp and spicy (yet sweet), basil helps clear the head and open the mind. It is referred to in aromatherapy as a “cepahilc” oil, which means pertaining to the head. It is a very powerful clearing oil, particularly effective when used in a vapouriser as an inhalation, or even when you are cooking! Making a fresh basil pesto is enough to make you feel refreshed and alive – especially when you use a mortar and pestle.

Basil is alluring - even to bees!

Basil is alluring – even to bees!

Basil essential oil is used for mental and physical fatigue and its anti-spasmodic properties make it ideal for treating menstrual problems and digestive disorders too.

* Sinus congestion, asthma and bronchitis are all soothed by basil.

* Fever can be treated effectively with basil.

* In the middle ages it was prescribed for melancholy and depression

So when you are feeling like you need some energy try basil oil for a quick pick-me-up. I’ll follow up with some recipes in the next article, but in the meantime buy a fresh bunch of basil instead of flowers and make sure you inhale the fragrance deeply. Get cooking with some basil and when you do, crush up a leaf in your fingers and allow the cooling fragrance to open your mind!

copyright suzanne

 

 

 

Natural, Scented and Flavoured Christmassy Things to Make

Oranges and cloves a classic Christmas goodie - pic via jessicalozanointeriors.blogspot.com

Oranges and cloves is a  classic Christmas goodie – pic via jessicalozanointeriors.blogspot.com

Christmas is not always cold! It’s hot in many countries so here’s a list of “cold Chrustmas” and “warm Christmas” things to make.

Hot and Cold Christmas

1. Hey I love the cloves-in-the-orange decoration! It’s an old classic and works for both a southern and northern Christmas. If you’re in a hot Christmas climate this works really well if you hang your orange in a window so the stinking hot southern sun acts as a vapouriser for the cloves and orange rind – instant aromatherapy! If you’re having a cold Christmas hang them near a fire or a heater for a similar effect.

Method: get an orange and stick lots of cloves in the rind. The more cloves the better!

2. Use some the whole spices as a decoration on your Christmas tree – nutmeg (use fine jewelry wire to tie them on), star anise, cinnamon sticks and cassia sticks. Or layer them all in a slim vase for decoration.

Star Anise pic via es.wikipedia.org

Star Anise pic via es.wikipedia.org

Hot Christmas

1. For a summer Christmas try using fresh herbs in a vase instead of flowers – you may also be more inclined to use them in your cooking if they are out on display. Corriander and mint are cooling herbs – isn’t nature marvelous?

Gorgeous herbs in vases pic via lornaslist.com

Gorgeous herbs in vases pic via lornaslist.com

2. For a refreshing, hydrating drink try cold sparkling mineral water, a pinch of sea salt, a piece of lemon and a good splash of rosewater or even orange blossom water. It tastes wonderful!

Add a splash of rosewater to a gin and tonic too – yum! Rose oil and rose water help the body deal with heat – have you ever had a rosewater lassi in India? Why not try and make a rosewater lassi yourself?

Rosewater lassi - pic via ayurvedicwellnesscentre.com.au

Rosewater lassi – pic via ayurvedicwellnesscentre.com.au

Cold Christmas

1. Eggnog – I never really got into it but, not only are you having a nutritious and warming drink, you are also having an aromatherapy treatment at the same time with all those lovely spices! Your house will smell fantastic when you make this traditional drink.

Eggnog - a warming drink best with all the great spices! pic via www.localnomad.com

Eggnog – a warming drink best with all the great spices! pic via http://www.localnomad.com

2. Mulled Wine – same as above. Spices and fruit rinds in wine – doesn’t get much better than that! All the essential oils will infuse into the wine to give you a scented home and a lovely beverage.

Mulled wine - pic via winemonger.com

Mulled wine – pic via winemonger.com

Both these drinks are traditional winter drinks that have been around for a long time. They are cold tonics for the body and all those lovely spices and foods combine to act like medicine. Remember our medicine today is a far cry from the original medicines from centuries ago that were all natural substances!

So this Christmas wherever you are remember to gather all your natural herbs and spices, and flowers, and use them in your cooking so you are creating a culinary AND scented extravaganza!

Aromatherapy doesn’t have to be difficult – scented delights are all around you!

Essential Oils from Herbs are Spectacular!

oh lovely peppermint!

oh lovely peppermint!

The Lamiacae family of plants groups together lots of great herbs we know and use frequently. It used to be called the Labiatae family (and sometimes still is), but I’m glad we’ve upgraded the name!

You may never have guessed it but these plants, that make wonderful aromatic oils, belong together:

Basil

Clary Sage

Hyssop

Lavender

Melissa (lemon balm)

Marjoram

Oregano

Peppermint

Patchouli

Sage

Spearmint

Thyme

So when you smell lavender, even though the flowering tops are used in the distillation process (as well as other parts of the plant), it really is a herb. Try smelling hints of marjoram in the oil and it can give you a very different opinion of it.

thyme

thyme

Thyme and oregano also have those marjoram notes too, even though they are very strong oils and less user-friendly than marjoram in massage and skincare.

Hyssop has a spicy scent, and once again very herbaceous. It smells similar to sage, lavender and marjoram.

Basil is quite distinct, but two or three seconds into a good long whiff, you will also detect hints of the other herbs.

Clary Sage is a very heady oil and quite different to Sage – but you can almost smell a little hyssop in there.

patchouli - looks a bit like mint

patchouli – looks a bit like mint

Patchouli is another oil that tends to stand out in this group as it has very individual notes. The earthiness however, connects a little bit to the sages, and even thyme.

melissa - can you see the similarity in the leaves of all these herbs?

melissa – can you see the similarity in the leaves of all these herbs?

Melissa is a premium oil and is the only lemon scented herb of the group. It is a lot more subtle than other lemon scented oils like lemongrass, may chang and lemon scented tea tree. I would definitely consider it to be quite special and very talented.

The mints are very different and spearmint often gets a bad wrap because of its use in toothpaste and gums. Some people find it hard to relate to as an essential oil but I love it in mists and use it in skincare too. It’s great to use when peppermint is too strong for an oil blend for the body, and when you want a herb that’s sweet and light.

This lovely Lamiacae family deserves our praise and thanks for serving us for thousands of years. And now we have the beautiful aromatic oils they provide, yay for us!

We live in a scented paradise!

Hydrosols vs Floral Waters – What’s the Diff?

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Hydrosols vs Floral Waters – What’s the Diff?

A lovely selection of rosewater

A lovely selection of rosewater

Recently one of my wholesale suppliers sent an email lamenting about the short shelf life of hydrosols and how difficult it is to maintain great standards for their customers.

I would have to agree. I absolutely love hydrosols but their scent doesn’t last long and it’s always disappointing when you open up a bulk container to find it has “turned”. The scent goes a bit dull and brownish and it simply isn’t right. So what’s the difference between hydrosols and floral waters?

Hydrosols

Hydrosols are the water left over from the steam and water distillation of a plant or flower. They contain many water-soluble constituents from the plant and therefore have a different make-up to the essential oil they come from. Hydrosols also have the beautiful scent of the plant, but at a more softer, rounder level. They contain minerals, cellulose and aromatic compounds. According to Wikipedia they “contain essential oil compounds as well as organic acids..…. and will include many of the water-soluble plant pigments and flavonoids.”

Hydrosols will be harder to find in a retail environment, mostly everything will be a floral water- either the essential oil infused into the water, or the plant boiled or infused in water. If you can buy a true hydrosol its definitely worth a try.

Hydrosols can be used in skin care and as a therapuetic treatment. I remember taking a weekend class with an Indian Ayurvedic doctor and rosewater was used for an eye bath to soothe the infection and used when any kind of heat or inflammation was present. Rose water has been used in Ayurveda as a treatment for centuries and is also used by woman in their skin care regimes.

If it’s a real hydrosol it can be amazing when its fresh. If it’s not a real hydrosol it could be a floral water.

Floral Waters

The most well-known would be rose-water, orange blossom (neroli) water and pine (kewra) water. Check out this article for some fabulous Oregon scented alcohols.

Pine water (essence)

Pine water (essence)

A simple hand made rose water sneakily holistichealthherbalist.com

A simple hand made rose water – pic sneakily holistichealthherbalist.com

Hydrosols could be called floral waters (because they are), but this usually refers to a water that has been scented with essential oils. The best floral waters use a process that breaks essential oils into tiny droplets and forces them into de-ionised water. In this process no extra chemicals are used and the scent is true to the essential oil. The scent will also last longer and floral waters can still be used for everything that a hydrosol is used for.

If you go into a middle eastern or Indian shop and find a bottle of rose-water, for example, it probably wont be a hydrosol. It will be a floral water made in another way. That’s not to say they aren’t fabulous but always check the label to find if there are any chemical preservatives or nasty ingredients.

You can use your stunning floral water in these ways:

  • Misting your face before moisturising to soften and hydrate
  • Misting your body after the sun
  • Use in place of a facial toner for a more gentle clarifying and cooling treatment
  • particularly lovely for misting kids to help cool them down
  • add to a cocktail for a delicious scented drink
  • add a splash to a glass of water
  • use in cooking with sweets and salad dressings

I’m sure you can think of many more so don’t hesitate to use hydrosols and floral waters in your daily regime.

copyright suzanne

Macadamia Oil – the scent of CAKE!

Macadamia integrifolia

Macadamia integrifolia

I’ve just been on holidays in the Northern Rivers district of NSW, which claims hundreds of kilometres of beautiful beaches, rainforests, waterfalls, divine weather, great food, tea plantations, a huge tea tree plantation used to produce fantastic Australian Tea Tree oil  and lots of Macadamia farms. MMMMMMMMM….. macadamias. The Macadamia trees are native to Australian rainforests and were “discovered” by white botanists in the mid 1800’s. They come from the Proteacae family, the genus name “macadamia” being coined by a German botanist after his colleague John Macadam. According to Wikipedia this tree may also go by the common names “macadamia, macadamia nut, Queensland nut, bush nut, maroochi nut, queen of nuts and bauple nut; Indigenous Australian names include gyndl, jindilli, and boombera”. I’ve just read an article also claiming local Aborigines from this area call the tree “kindal kindal”.

They are a gorgeous little round nut with wonderful health properties which include:

* 83% (typical value) of monounsaturated fats – the healthier fats that may help in lowering blood cholesterol. It also has the most balanced ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids of any oil.

*  significant levels of protein and all the essential amino acids

* many antioxidants including Vitamin E as tocopherols and tocotrienol, epicatechin (which is the principal antioxidant in tea), the amino acids methionine and cysteine and the mineral selenium.

* Macadamias also contain phytosterols (plant sterols) believed to lower total serum cholesterol and the undesirable low density cholesterol. I’ve just read an article where the author claims “Research from Australia’s Newcastle University has shown that a balanced diet supplemented daily with macadamias can help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Right so they are good for you ok?

But what about using macadamia oil for health and beauty externally? The reason this is on my mind is not only the fact that I I’ve seen loads of little macadamia farms, but also that I’ve been visiting my “aunty” from childhood, Wendy. Wendy is at home in palliative care being looked after by her son and daughter, their families and the district nurses and doctors. To my absolute surprise, one of the doctors actually prescribed grapefruit essential oil in macadamia oil to smooth on her legs to help prevent oedema. I was so happy when I heard this and even though I would probably use cypress and juniper oils over grapefruit (and even fennel oil), I was very happy.

So why did the doctor choose macadamia oil rather than almond oil, or sunflower oil? It’s probably because he is lives in an environment where it is a native. Great work doc!

I must say I don’t use a lot of macadamia oil for body oil blends because it is very viscous (thick) and has a distinct scent. Whenever you mix an essential oil into it, it smells like cake. Now I know that can’t be bad, but it never quite works for me. I would be inclined to use it as a hair tonic, rather than a body oil but I encourage you to have a go. I have also used the oil in cream products where it forms part of a formula but it’s not overwhelming.

Most cold pressed carrier oils have anti-oxidants and other nutrients so they are quite comparable therapeutically. I tend to use the carrier oils that have a more neutral scent and that are a little thinner in consistency. So if you have some why not try making a blend with it, and if you don’t like it you can use the oil in cooking.

sneakily borrowed from informedfarmers.com

sneakily borrowed from informedfarmers.com

Long live the macadamia!

Coconut – The Truth About the Scent

sneakily borrowed from africanhairblog.com HINT: the oil is good for hair

So do you love your coconut soap? Your coconut body moisturiser? Do you love your coconut sunscreen? How about your coconut lip balm?

There’s no doubt about it, coconut is a magic fruit. Is it a fruit? No, apparently it’s a drupe! Find out more about the drupe.

Anyway, it’s amazing. The world of nutrition and natural therapies is quickly spreading the word about coconut. The western world is a bit behind the times as Harry Belafonte, in the sixties, sang;

‘Coco got a lot of iron

make you strong like a lion”

sneakily borrowed from last.fm where you can listen to the smooth sound of Harry

“Coconut Woman” was written in 1957 by Harry Belafonte and Irving Burgle. Some say it’s not about coconut, but about cocoa (chocolate). I’m not sure about that because the song talks about “coconut water” with “rum”. I digress. Let’s get back to coconut.

Coconut water and coconut oil are the two buzz products of the drupe. I eat coconut oil by the teaspoon and it’s oily and delicious. Even though it’s classified as a saturated fat it has so many health benefits which can include;

– Helping to lower cholesterol

– Converting easily and quickly to energy so it’s not stored as fat

– Helping to  boost metabolism and immunity

– Softening hair and skin when used as a moisturiser

– Helping to lower resistance to insulin – great for type 2 diabetes

– Good for cooking as it has a high flash point so it maintains its goodness in the cooking process for longer than other oils

And now the scent! Pure coconut oil is fantastic for nurturing your hair and skin, and it has a soft, natural scent that we automatically connect to tropical islands with coconut palms waving in the wind. Unfortunately a lot of coconut scented products use an artificial fragrance to intensify the scent. Even if your product has coconut oil in it, it could also have “fragrance”. For those on the natural path, beware. I remember using Reef Oil in the 80’s as a sun tan lotion. It has a long list of ingredients, the last being fragrance, artificial of course. And this is what a lot of people think that real coconut smells like in a personal care product.

NEWSFLASH

It doesn’t.

If you are serious about simplifying your life and using as many natural items as possible then always check your “coconut” soap, or lip balm, or moisturiser to see what is listed. Chances are if it says “fragrance” it’s synthetic.

If you don’t care whether your product is natural or not then it doesn’t really matter. “Fragrance” away until your heart’s content.

Long live the coconut!