Himalayan Cedarwood – Cedrus deodora

The shaggy Christmas tree type of Cedrus deodora - pic via plants.plantcrazy.ca

The shaggy Christmas tree type of Cedrus deodora – pic via plants.plantcrazy.ca

While I was searching for some good pics of Himalayan cedarwood I came across a few species variations, but they all look gorgeous – especially the one above which looks like the perfect Christmas tree to me. This cedarwood comes from the Pinacae family and the genus Cedrus (like Atlas and Lebanon cedars but not Virginian cedar which is actually a juniper).

The essential oil of Himalayan cedarwood is steam distilled from the wood, however I can’t find any evidence to support the notion that the needles are also used. I would have thought some twigs and leaves would also be used in the distillation process, but at any rate it’s a bloody gorgeous oil. It has an almost creamy, spicy, woody scent which seems much more rounded than Cedar Atlas and has roots in Ayurvedic medicine and spirituality on the sub-continent of India. Traditionally in India, the forests of Cedrus deodora have been regarded as sacred places, maybe even where one could reach a clearer connection with Shiva. In one of my Ayurvedic Aromatherapy books, the author Farida Irani claims the wood is offered to Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Both these Gods are part of the Hindu religion.

It’s also the national tree of Pakistan.

In both Ayurveda and traditional aromatherapy this cedarwood is indicated to treat –

* respiratory tract infections, particularly the lungs as it is a drying oil

* urinary tract disorders

* fluid retention

* oily and acne skin.


Up close and personal with Himalayan cedarwood - pic via www.arbolesyarbustos.com

Up close and personal with Himalayan cedarwood – pic via http://www.arbolesyarbustos.com

As with many essential oils Himalayan Cedarwood is used to treat anxiety and stress related conditions and isn’t it interesting that many essential oils are used for the same thing.


By smelling an essential oil your brain responds almost immediately to the stimulus and starts to bring about change. This change could be anything from a change in emotion, a stimulus to the hormone producing centres in the brain and/or a shift in consciousness. These moments can start to breakdown resistance to the flow of life and therefore be interpreted as lessening stress. The outcome will be stronger the more you like the scent of the oil, and the more you are willing to release negativity.


One type of Himalayan cedrawood - pic via loneelder.7thcrow.com

One type of Himalayan cedrawood – pic via loneelder.7thcrow.com

Enhanced connection to spirit is often a claim when using essential oils and I wholeheartedly agree with this surmise. Essential oils are little drops of coded information, on which the future of the universe rides. Delve into a scented paradise and try to disprove me; you won’t be able to as you continue to expand exponentially!

Stay tuned for 10 Recipes with Cedrus deodora!

copyright suzanne



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




Sage – An Essential Oil of Wisdom and Abundance

Sage is a herb from the Lamiacae family and the genus Salvia. Its soft, furry leaves pack a powerful punch when it is steam distilled into an essential oil. I did touch on the herb oils in this earlier article “Essential Oils from Herbs are Spectacular!”, but they are so important in Aromatherapy I thought I must elaborate!


Interestingly this is also the name we give to someone who is wise, shares wisdom and perhaps weaves some magic too. A sage would be someone we hold in great esteem and who holds the wisdom of the universe in their healing hands. So does the essential oil of sage also contain these properties within its molecules?

Yes! Of course. I’ve always used sage as an oil of abundance and as the perfect treatment for a sore throat, sage encourages us to speak truthfully and wisely and opens the throat chakra. When we speak kindly and feel compassion we are able to feel the abundant intelligence of the universe move within us.

Sage -  illustration from Köhler's Medizinal Pflanzen

Sage – illustration from Köhler’s Medizinal Pflanzen

Sage is one of the ancient herbs that has been used for healing for centuries and the Romans named it salvia after “salvare” meaning to heal. According to Patricia Davis the Latin name also indicates the word “salvation” as this plant was seen to save people from disease. During the centuries since then, sage has mainly been used in women’s health to normalise menses and as a stimulant for childbirth.

It is high in camphor and thujone – which has a few contra-indications including the warning not to be used in pregnancy or with epileptics, or kids. I use this oil sparingly and with great respect. Just because something is natural does not mean it is totally safe. Having said that please do your homework and use your intuition when using natural remedies.

In aromatherapy today sage is used –

* to stop milk production in lactating women

* as a diuretic

* to ease sore throats

* to ease rheumatic pain

* to help regulate periods

and sometimes to stimulate digestion and remove catarrh.

sage sticks for energetic cleansing of a space - pic via liveinart.com

Sage sticks for energetic cleansing of a space – pic via liveinart.com

Sage also gives another form of healing in the way of “sage sticks”. They are used for smoking, purging and cleansing ceremonies but are usually made from white sage (Salvia apiana) which is mostly found in north America. It does feel fantastic when you smoke a premises to renew the energy of the space!

Anyway lets check out a few recipes –

a simple hairdressing mist bottle will do the trick for your amazing essential oil mist

a simple hairdressing mist bottle will do the trick for your amazing essential oil mist

1. Personal Aura Cleansing Mist & Room Mist

In a 50ml mist bottle filled with water add 25 drops of oil

“New Start”

When you actually move into a new home or office or to renew your space –

Sage          5 drops

Orange     15 drops

Geranium   5 drops


“Begone Bad Stuff”

Get your witchy-poo magic happening –

Sage              6 drops

Lemon         12 drops

Peru Balsam  7 drops


get any cute little dish to mix your oils in

get any cute little dish to mix your oils in

2. Pure Pulse Point Perfume

In a little dish mix these oils and anoint your pulse points or chakras – 3 drops of essential oils and dilute with a few drops of carrier oil – always patch test first!

“Wise ol Owl”

Tap into the wisdom of the universe –

Sage           1 drop

Vanilla CO2  1 drop * see my article for more info on CO2 extracts What are CO2 Extracts in the World of Aromatherapy?

Lime            1 drop


“It’s a New Day”

Seize your chance to have another go –

Sage             1 drop

Cardamom    1 drop

Mandarin       1 drop




copryright SR Banks 2014





Star Anise, Aniseed and Fennel Essential Oils – What’s the Diff?

Star Anise pic via es.wikipedia.org

Star Anise pic via es.wikipedia.org

Have you ever wondered if these plants (and essential oils) are the same? The one thing they have in common is that they all have an aniseed-licorice scent about them, however they are all different plants and the essential oils are different too (if only slightly). Fennel tends to be the more used essential oil in Aromatherapy but I’m sure some therapists out there may prefer Anise.

Aniseed (or Anise)

Pimpinella anisum - pic via blog.metmuseum.org

Pimpinella anisum – pic via blog.metmuseum.org

Pimpinella anisum comes from the Umbellifrae (also called Apiacae) family, like fennel. It is very similar to fennel in its scent and has some similar molecules. The plant is also very similar to fennel too – with the flowers making “umbrels” in their innate design (hence the “Umbellifrae’ family). Fennel has more yellow flowers and aniseed flowers are white. The stories of aniseed and fennel both go back to ancient Rome and I love this quote from Botanical.com:

“Mustacae, a spiced cake of the Romans introduced at the end of a rich meal, to prevent indigestion, consisted of meal, with Anise, Cummin and other aromatics. Such a cake was sometimes brought in at the end of a marriage feast, and is, perhaps, the origin of our spiced wedding cake.”

It is high in anethole which represents the highly distinctive scent, and Salvatore Battaglia reports the typical analysis as:

85% trans-anethole (a possible dermal irritant)

2.29% cis-anethole

0.94% acetoanisole

0.58% anisaldehyde

0.58% safrole

0.18% linalool

0.17% a-pinene

0.07% camphene

0.01% B-pinene

Even throughout history this seed has been used for coughs, colds, digestive disorders and it’s used for the same thing today. It is said to a better expectorant than fennel too.


fennel flower

fennel flower

Foeniculum vulgare essential oil comes from the seeds like the anise bush and as you can see they are very similar plants. One again the Romans used these seeds for digestion and the Greeks thought it a slimming herb because of its diuretic value. I definitely use fennel to release excess water and also watery emotions in my clients. I often use fennel with juniper and use this combo in clay masks for cellulite too. It seems to be a softer more nurturing oil than aniseed as it is lower in trans anethole. Here’s a typcial analysis from Salvatore Battaglia’s great book “The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy”:

64 – 69.2% trans-anethole

19 – 21.6% fenchone

3.9 – 6.5% methyl chavicol

1.8 – 3.3% a-pinene

1.2 – 1.7% limonene and 1,8 cineole

0.1 – 0.3% anisic aldehyde

0.5 – 0.8& myrcene

Fennel has slightly more uses as it can be used for cramps during menstruation and to help the flow of milk in lactating women. I use this oil energetically as a self nurturing oil as it’s warm and inviting scent can help you relax and release.

Star Anise

Star anise - pic via www.tajagroproducts.com

Star anise – pic via http://www.tajagroproducts.com

Illicium anisatum is part of the Schisandraceae family and you can see the little seeds within the star formations. Sometimes known as Japanese anise it is often mixed up with Chinese anise (Illicum verum) which is very similar. One of my suppliers offers Illicum verum var. Hooker only but I haven’t used it. In my practice I need to be able to use more commonly trialled and investigated oils and that’s why fennel is the best out of the three. Of course in perfumery it’s a different story as you would primarily selecting oils for their scent rather than therapeutic value. The closest I can find in a typical analysis is from “THE ESSENTIAL OIL OF ILLICIUM ANISATUM LINN. by W. B. Cook, A. S. Howard” and they state:

18.1% cineole

10.1% linalool

9.8% methyleugenol

6.8% α-terpenyl acetate

6.6% safrole

and a sesquiterpene hydrocarbon of unknown constitution (7.2%) and they say

“The composition of this oil differs widely from that of the commercially used star anise oil obtained from Illicium verum Hooker. The most striking difference between the two oils is found in the anethole content, which constitutes 88% of the commercial oil but only 1.2% of the oil here investigated.”

So there you go.

Basically if you are going to use an aniseed scented oil go with fennel.

copyright suzannerbanks 2013

Everlasting Essential Oil Connects us to Our Immortality

Helichrysum italicum "everlasting". pic via calphotos.berkeley.edu

Helichrysum italicum “everlasting”. pic via calphotos.berkeley.edu

Aw this cute little daisy comes from the Asteraceae family along with the chamomiles, sunlfowers, safflower, marigold, globe artichoke, echinacea and chrysanthemum among many others. Also referred to as “immortelle”, can you guess what this essential oil is good for ? Immortality and the fountain of youth spring to mind when I think of everlasting, it’s great for skin and has many other benefits.

I was very excited to get a new bottle delivered the other day. It has a sweet, honey-like aroma with undertones of spice. Sometimes called the “curry plant”, everlasting does have a complex scent, maybe with a hint of curry – but don’t let that put you off. A few drops of this beautiful oil may be all you need to electrify and bend and add depth and sweetness to the scent. You may find everlasting n a 3% blend (see my article for more info on 3% blends in jojoba) or on it’s own but it will be more expensive this way.

Helichrysum bracteatum - essential oil does not come from this Helichrysum but you may recognise this flower from your local florist

Helichrysum bracteatum – essential oil does not come from this Helichrysum but you may recognise this flower from your local florist

In aromatherapy today everlasting is used for:

– formulations in skincare to promote cell growth and act as an anti-inflammatory agent

– as a stimulant to the lymphatic system to aid lymphatic drainage and therefore allow the skin to expel toxins more efficiently

– aiding the symptoms of dermatitis and excema

– diminishing scar tissue

– healing wounds

– coughs, coughing and asthma

– according to Salvatore Battaglia (The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy) everlasting is great for liver inflammation and the organs of the gall bladder, spleen and kidneys  – all the organs helping in detoxification of the body. We can see how this relates to lymphatic drainage too.


infinity = immortality

I use everlasting energetically as a way to connect us to our immortality. The Fountain of Youth lives within us if we are able to see we are simply a manifestation of the energy of our spirits. Our souls will return to the oneness of the universe when our mortal bodies fade away. It’s seems so poetic to use the french word ‘immortelle’ for this beautiful oil, and I encourage you to use it with this thought in mind.

 The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder. pic via en.wikipedia.com

The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder c 1546  pic via en.wikipedia.com

Here a a few recipes for our sweet immortelle:

1. Nourishing Body Oil Blend

For a coat of your body use 3 teaspoons of carrier oil in a little dish and, add 7 – 8 drops of essential oil.

***** Always put the drops of essential oil into the bottle or dish first, then add the carrier oil. It gives the scents time to create a synergistic fusion.

For a 50ml bottle of oil add 25 drops and see my articles “Ratios for Blending Essential Oils – A Reminder of the Basics” and  “Aromatherapy – It’s Easy as 1 2 3”

“Sophia Loren”

Be as beautiful as this amazing lady who has said the Fountain of Youth lies in your creativity-

Everlasting 3%        12 drops

Rosewood                3 drops



Enjoy life in this moment for it will change form soon –

Everlasting 3%        9 drops

Sage                       1 drop

Pink Grapefruit         4 drops


“50 is the New 30”

Be young through the expression of your unique qualities, and youthful looking skin –

Everlasting           9 drops

Palmarosa            3 drops

Lavender             2 drops


Happy blending and remember to use your intention when you are creating your formulas. See my article about intention.

copyright suzannerbanks 2013

Fennel Oil – Licorice Love

Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel is a great oil and the plant itself has many medicinal uses. Back through history there are many references to the plant as being useful for improving eyesight, aiding digestion and also calming hunger, improving the flow of breast milk, helping to breakdown uric acid in the body and stimulating fluid loss through urinating.

Poets and herbalists have praised this wonderful plant, as did the Romans and the Greeks.

In “Paradise Lost” (a poem first published in ten books in 1667) Milton the English poet, refers the aroma of fennel:

A savoury odour blown,

Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense

Than smell of sweetest Fennel.

A 17th Century herbalist, William Cole, notes in his 1650 book “Nature’s Paradise”:

‘both the seeds, leaves and root of our Garden Fennel are much used in drinks and broths for those that are grown fat, to abate their unwieldiness and cause them to grow more gaunt and lank.’

Illustration of a Roman army

Illustration of a Roman army

It’s interesting that both these English references are around the same time which indicates that fennel was well used in the 17th century in England. But before that there are tales of Roman soldiers chewing on fennel seeds on the march when there was no time for resting, or perhaps not much food available. They also regarded it as a medicine to improve eyesight.

It is claimed that the Greeks used fennel as a slimming agent and it even appears in their mythology with Prometheus using a stalk of fennel to steal fire from the Gods.
In India you may often find these delicious little treats to aid digestion – sugar-coated fennel seeds.
sugar coated fennel seeds

sugar coated fennel seeds

Today in aromatherapy we use the essential oil of fennel which is steam distilled from the seeds in much the same way as our predecessors did. Fennel oil is used for:
* stimulating regularity of menses
* helping digestion
* acting as a diuretic for fluid retention and bloating
* stimulating flow of mother’s milk
* relieving coughs by breaking down mucous and by acting as an expectorant
fennel flower

fennel flower

I use fennel oil for all these things and also for nurturing. It is a soft, rounded sweet oil and it blends well with many others. I call it “licorice love” which describes its energetic action of softness, of self-care and sweetness.
Try these recipes:
1. Scent Your SpaceIn a traditional oil burner with a candle or a diffuser add 25 drops of oil

“Be Kind”

Fennel        10 drops

Orange       10 drops

Geranium     5 drops


“Finally A Moment to Myself!”

Fennel        6 drops

Juniper      10 drops

Lavender    6 drops

Patchouli    3 drops


nourish your skin with oil blends

nourish your skin with oil blends

2. Nourishing Body Oil Blend

For a coat of your body use 3 teaspoons of carrier oil in a little dish and, add 7 – 8 drops of essential oil.

***** Always put the drops of essential oil into the bottle or dish first, then add the carrier oil. It gives the scents time to create a synergistic fusion.

For a 50ml bottle of oil add 25 drops and see my article “Aromatherapy – It’s Easy as 1 2 3”

“Oh The Pain”

to help relieve menstrual pain –

Fennel          3 drops

Peppermint  2 drops

Lavender      3 drops


“The Silence of Licorice”

To soften your tension and nerves –

Fennel                            2 drops

Bergamot                       3 drops

Roman Chamomile 3%  9 drops *

* see my article for more info on 3% blends in jojoba


Happy mixing and remember to use your intention when you are blending.
See my article about intention.

copyright suzannerbanks 2013

“I’ll Have a Juniper and Tonic, thanks”

juniper berries

juniper berries

“I’ll have a juniper and tonic, thanks” – I really did say this to a barman once.  I had juniper on my mind and really needed it. Obviously what I wanted was a gin and tonic, with the smooth, styling flavour of juniper berries. Gin was originally made in the Netherlands where it is called “jenever”, and was first made as a medicine in the 16th century. Looking at the historical uses of plants and oils gives us a very clear indication of what they are good for (even without the modern scientific techniques of gas chromatography, which breaks down the oils into components). Juniper was also used against cholera and typhoid in this time by herbalists and common people –  the plants were the medicine!

young unripe juniper berries

young unripe juniper berries

Juniper is an oil I often have cravings for and will spend months at a time obsessed with it. It’s a clean, crisp oil I refer to as having the “scent of sophistication”. It is a lightly scented oil produced from steam distillation of the ripe dark berries. l will use it for clients for anything from stress to lethargy.

It belongs to the Cupressaceae family which also holds Cypress, Cedarwood Virginian, Cade and Savin. Have a look at the leaves on the top pic – you can see how it would be related to a cypress tree.

sprawling juniper bush

sprawling juniper bush

Traditionally juniper is used for:

* a diuretic and detoxifier for the body eliminating excess fluid and also acidic build up in the blood

* this may then lead to help with issues such as gout and rheumatism

* and also cellulite (wouldn’t that be great) – I have never stuck with any one treatment long enough to know if anything helps with that …….

* cystitis – where a sitz bath or douche is used – be cautious when using essential oils in a douche and a very low ratio would be recommended

* oily skin

I use juniper for:

* energetic cleansing whether it be in your home or your personal aura

* to help release build up of emotions especially weepy and watery emotions

* to relieve someone of heavy self-deprecating feelings

* and generally when I feel ‘release’ is needed

energy vortex

energy vortex

Try these recipes:

unlike this lady I recommend putting the mask on all over your face!

unlike this lady I recommend putting the mask on all over your face!

1. Face Mask

For oily skin –

2 teaspoons of white clay

Juniper       2 drops

Lavender    1 drop


2. Personal Aura Cleansing Mist

To release negativity and invite sweetness and protection, in a 50ml mist bottle filled with water add –

“Ah That’s Better”

Juniper           12 drops

Orange             8 drops

Peru Balsam     5 drops


3. Body Oil

For a detox treatment, in 3 teaspoons of oil add –

“Light as a Feather”

Juniper            4 drops

Fennel             2 drops

Ginger             1 drop


4. Pure Pulse Point Perfume

In a little dish mix these oils and anoint your pulse points or chakras – 3 drops of essential oils and dilute with a few drops of carrier oil – always patch test first!

“Crisp Like Linen (that’s been ironed)”

Juniper      2 drops

Petitgrain   1 drop


I also found this :

juniper plant will keep away witches; as such it was commonly planted near front doors.
(The witch could still enter, but only if she correctly counted needles on the tree).

Love that one!

copyright suzannerbanks 2013