Sunday, May 20, 2012

Peppermint Essential Oil

The peppermint plant has been used for thousands of years as an excellent digestive aid, but its essential oil has other uses as well. It contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and improves circulation and the respiratory system as well. One of its active ingredients is menthol which is used in many commercial products such as various cold remedies, toothpaste, and confectionery. The essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the plant and is a very pale yellow in color. It has a strong minty aroma.

As a digestive aid, peppermint has a beneficial action on the stomach, intestines, and liver due to its antispasmodic properties. It is valuable in treating colic, diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, & stomach and menstrual pain. Add 10-15 drops to one ounce of a carrier oil and massage into abdomen in a clockwise direction. You can also add a couple drops to a tissue or inhale directly from the bottle for nausea and motion sickness relief.

Studies have shown that peppermint can help prevent and treat gallstones when the essential oil is taken in an enteric-coated capsule. Studies have also shown that it can improve taste and smell when inhaled.

Its warming and stimulating properties are valuable at the onset of a cold. It induces sweating, which is a natural method of fever reduction. Add a couple drops to a bath (no more than 3) or use in a steam inhalation. The steam inhalation method is very good for treating bronchitis and hay fever. These remedies are further enhanced by combining peppermint with lavender essential oil.

 A cold compress of peppermint (especially when combined with lavender) can provide headache relief when applied to the forehead. You could also combine with a carrier oil to massage into temples. Apply at the first sign of pain for maximum effectiveness.

A peppermint essential oil steam can be used to cleanse and decongest the skin. Its antiseptic effect also helps control bacteria on the surface of the skin. This is very useful in treating acne.

Its anti-inflammatory and cooling sensation for pain relief help treat muscle soreness, bursitis, and tendonitis. Combine 10-15 drops with a carrier oil and massage into the sore area.

Peppermint is one of the three essential oils that is considered cephalic (stimulates the brain and aids clear thinking). Its energizing properties help remedy fatigue and increase concentration. It has also been used as an emergency treatment for shock due to its stimulating properties.

Vermin dislike the strong smell of peppermint. Sprinkle a few drops at entryways and along the paths of ants, mice, rats, fleas, and cockroaches as a deterrent. I just used this method yesterday when I saw that ants were hanging around the dog's food dish. I have not seen them today :)

Peppermint essential oil should be used with caution. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Never use in treatments for an infant.
  • Do not use in the evening, as it can cause wakefulness.
  • Do not use over a long period of time as the stimulant effect is cumulative and can disturb sleep patterns.
  • Do not use with other homeopathic remedies. It can antidote them. 



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree essential oil is well known for its powerful antiseptic properties. It has been used by the aborigines for centuries for that purpose. It is the base of many commercial products such as lozenges, toothpastes, creams, and lotions. It actively combats all three categories of infectious organisms: fungi, viruses, and bacteria. The essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the native Australian plant melaleuca alternifolia. It can be a very pale yellow or colorless with a strong medicinal smell.

Tea tree increases the body's ability to respond when threatened with an infection. If used at the first sign of a cold or flu, it efficiently fights the infections which reduces the severity of the illness and helps prevent secondary infection. Add a few drops to a bath or mix with a carrier oil to massage chest and neck areas. When using in a bath for a child, dilute with a carrier oil first. When used in steam inhalations, it can be effective in treating sinusitis and catarrh.

It is effective in treating certain skincare conditions. When used neat (undiluted oil directly on the skin), it is helpful in treating cold sores, chickenpox, and shingles. Dab a drop on with a Q-tip at the first burning sensation preceding the blister. Though uncommon, it can cause skin irritation in some people. It is also used in skin-washes for acne.
Tea tree is a very powerful antifungal as well. Add a few drops to flaxseed oil (rub into the scalp) to treat dandruff. It is also used in treating athlete's foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus.

The essential oil is also good as an insect repellent. Place a drop on insect stings or bites to prevent or treat infection. It also fights a number of parasites, including the mite that causes scabies and head lice. Adding a few drops to your shampoo is a good preventative measure against head lice.    



Friday, May 18, 2012

  Lavender Essential Oil

Of all the essential oils out there, I would say lavender is the most versatile. Its therapeutic properties include analgesic, antidepressant, detoxifier, antiseptic, bactericidal, fungicidal, decongestant, insect repellant, sedative, and hypotensive. Every household should have a bottle of lavender essential oil. It can be found under the names of lavandula officinalis and lavandula augustifolia and is produced from a few species of lavender plants via steam distillation. It has both a herbal and floral smell.

René-Maurice Gattefossé was working as a chemist at his family's perfume company when he burned his hand in a laboratory accident. He treated it with lavender essential oil, which led him to research essential oils in greater depth. He eventually gave us the term "aromatherapy". In WWII, Dr. Jean Valnet also used lavender essential oil to treat the burns and other injuries of French soldiers.

Lavender essential oil is helpful in bringing the body and/or mind to a state of balance. When combined with other essential oils, it increases the action of those oils as well as being enhanced itself.

It is valuable in treating colds, coughs, catarrh, sinusitis, and flu. The most effective method for treating those conditions is steam inhalation. It will soothe, decongest, attack bacteria, and aid sleep. When massaged into the temples, it can help relieve headaches as well.

In a massage oil or bath, lavender helps relieve the pain of rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, and in muscles. It also aids in lowering blood pressure.

Lavender is one of three essential oils that powerfully stimulate the growth of healthy new cells, promoting rapid healing and reducing scarring. It is one of the most valuable oils for treating acne because of its inhibiting action on the bacteria that causes skin infection. It also helps in treating eczema, sunburn, and athlete's foot.

As an insect repellent, lavender essential oil has been used for centuries. It has been used on clothes and other linens to protect from moths and other small pests. It helps ward off mosquitoes when worn as a perfume and helps keep fleas off of animals.

When feeling depressed or anxious, a few drops of lavender added to a bath can be very soothing. A drop of it on a pillowcase can help with insomnia. Also, a drop on the pajamas of a cranky, tired child can help soothe them to sleep.


What is Aromatherapy?

It is the use of essential oils through various methods for therapeutic purposes. Depending on the essential oil and how it is used, aromatherapy can help with a number of physical and emotional matters. It is suspected that aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years, but the term “aromatherapy” did not originate until 1937. René-Maurice Gattefossé first used the term “aromathérapie” in a scientific paper then later in a published book.

How Does Aromatherapy Work?

That depends on how you use the essential oil(s). The most effective method is through percutaneous (skin) absorption. In baths and in massages, the essential oils work both percutaneously and through airborne particles. Once absorbed by the skin, the essential oil's molecules are transported by capillaries and interstitial fluid to all areas of the body. In an airborne capacity (room spray or diffuser), they affect the brain through nose receptor cells and the olfaction bulb. The essential oils then get into the bloodstream by absorption through the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, and respiratory tract.