Essential oils can work for cramping muscles…stomach cramps, muscle cramps, restless leg cramps.
In case studies, I have found that certain essential oils can help alleviate every day cramping that can make life miserable. A combination helped alleviate a client of stomach cramping associated with IBS, while another combination helped with menstrual cramps. I had a client who had issues with restless leg syndrome. A carefully blended combination of oils had her sleeping well for the first time in months.
How does that work?
Some oils are powerful antispasmodics such as Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), and clary sage (Salvia sclarea). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is also a smooth muscle relaxant with properties to alleviate nausea and diarrhea. The chemical components involved here are linalyl acetate, d-limonene, and a-zingiberene.
There are many oils to choose from that have antispasmodic properties. When working with clients, be sure to use oils that they like the aroma of, and would work for their particular history. The importance here is in the Client Intake form and subsequent consultation. Check out my shop page for the forms needed to start you on the path to wellness.
How many people in the United States go to the doctor for back pain?
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
A 2012 NIH study shows that 11% of Americans had pain every day with 17% reporting severe levels of pain. Forward to 2016, where a CDC published article shows that 20% of adults in the United States has chronic pain.
Back pain is a common reason that adults go to the doctor. Most of the time, that back pain gets better, especially when it is not related to an injury.
How is pain usually treated by a physician?
The American College of Physicians guidelines for back pain generally recommend over-the-counter pain medication or an NSAID such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. NSAIDS relieve pain by preventing COX enzymes from working. COX-2 inhibitors like celecoxib or Celebrex block COX-2 enzymes. Some doctors prescribe prescription pain relievers. Many people do not see a doctor for acute back pain unless it is injury specific, treating with rest and ice.
Can essential oils with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and
pain-blocking therapeutic properties help my back pain?
If you study the data sheets of essential oils look for analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive properties. These data sheets are available from sellers of essential oils. There is a long list of essential oils that have pain modulating properties and numerous chemical components.
Oils that are high in the chemical components a-pinene, linalool (linalool) and menthol have analgesic properties. Also oils that are high in camphene, b-myrcene, and b-pinene have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties. There are many other oils that have these therapeutic properties, but I am just listing a few here.
What are some of the therapeutic components and how can they help?
Let’s look at menthol and menthone which bring us to peppermint essential oil.
Peppermint(Mentha x peperita) is known for its cooling and pain-relieving properties because of these components. It is in many over-the-counter remedies such as Icy hot, most BenGay products and Biofreeze. Like these products, your own DIY products are for localized areas and for short term use. Robert Tisserand states that a maximum dermal use of up to 5% is safe. (2nd Edition Essential Oil Safety, Tisserand Young, 2014).
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has the chemical components of linalool @ 27% and linalyl acetate @ 46%. Research shows that an eight-session manual acupressure with lavender oil (3% lavender oil; used as the massage lubricant) over a three-week period in patients with nonspecific subacute neck pain (32 patients) or low back pain (61 patients) significantly alleviated the neck and back pain and improved movements of the cervical and lumbar spine. Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM, 2013, 681304. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/681304
In a 2017 study, Lavender angustifolia showed a reduction in pain of patient’s post-surgery for colorectal cancer. Using an inhalation of 1% lavender or 1% linalyl acetate, the study showed significant reduction to pain versus the control group. So Hyun Yu, Geun Hee Seol, “Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Oil and Its Active Constituent Linalyl Acetate Alleviate Pain and Urinary Residual Sense after Colorectal Cancer Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial”, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2017, Article ID 3954181, 7 pages, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3954181
And finally, the other chemical component that has analgesic properties is a-pinene. A-pinene of significant percentage, let’s say above 30% is found in pines @ around 40% for most, cypress @ 51%, juniper berry @ 36%; frankincense @ 45%. Again, it is important to check the GC/MS reports for your individual oils.
Studies of mice and frankincense oil (Boswellia carteri) revealed higher anti-inflammatory and anti-analgesic effects, compared to mice administered with water extracts. Relatively more clinical studies have been found in scientific literature considering α- and β-pinene-containing plants than essential oils.
To date, most of the investigations have not studied the bioavailability of α-pinene and β-pinene in the human body, though these terpenes have antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic properties. Although several in vivo, and more recently, few clinical studies have assessed the pinenes biological effects, further efforts are needed to deepen knowledge in this field. Salehi, B., Upadhyay, S., Erdogan Orhan, I., Kumar Jugran, A., L D Jayaweera, S., A Dias, D., Sharopov, F., Taheri, Y., Martins, N., Baghalpour, N., Cho, W. C., & Sharifi-Rad, J. (2019). Therapeutic Potential of α- and β-Pinene: A Miracle Gift of Nature. Biomolecules, 9(11), 738. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9110738
If alleviating pain the natural way is for you, look into a consultation that offers you the personal attention you require! I provide custom-made blends that work harmoniously with your body to enhance your well-being.
Anosmia by definition is the loss or impairment of the sense of smell.
Statistics state that 86% of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 reported problems with their sense of smell. For them, improvement has been slow, taking upwards of 60 days for 75-85% to regain that sense. For 5% of those, some have not regained a sense of smell in 6 months, if ever. That is where smell training comes in.
What is smell training for loss of smell?
On the website: www.Abscent.org a UK organization that has awesome information on loss of smell. I highly recommend visiting and learning about this training. Joining is free, donations are accepted.
I decided to post this after I came across companies selling a set of inhalers for $22.00 on the internet. The proper use of inhalers is not the same technique used for smell training. I highly recommend Abscent.org.
According to Abscent.org, the traditional oils to use for smell training are: Lemon, clove, rose and eucalyptus.
Keep your smell training jars somewhere convenient so that you remember to use them twice daily. A good place is by your bed. This way you will remember to use them right after you wake up and then just before you go to sleep.
Dilution of essential oils is sometimes tricky, what size bottle, jar or tin are we using? Did we double or halve the recipe?
Most of the time, that is an easy equation to figure out: 5-6 drops per 30 ml of carrier. That should be the end of my blog…but it is not.
What about the oils that we must use in low dilution? Say a .07%? How do we figure that out? I do not want to make 30 ml of anything, just a 10 ml rollerball…. how much essential oil is that? Or a 5 ml bottle—I use those a lot.
Uses for essential oils are in the chart below, note the dilution rate for specific issues.
Well, lesson learned. I recently was going through all my essential oils.
I have accumulated a lot from the aromatherapy certification program I had enrolled in. There was a supply list of all the oils to buy for the course, so I did!
After all, who does not want to get involved in the course and use the oils, smell the oils, make the blends, inhalers, and lotions? All this brings me to the dating of the batches. When you buy the oil that is not the date when it expires, when it expires is the distillation date.
Some of my oils were 2 years old when I bought them! One oil, fennel, was 3 years old!
No offense, but I have expired sweet marjoram, fennel, laurel leaf and only 4 months to use the orange oil. The orange oil is a favorite, but cleaning with fennel? Laurel leaf? Don’t think so…. ☹
The chart below shows the distillation date which is important. It tells you when the essential oil expires.
My example of short-dated essential oils
What if I don’t know when my oils expire? How do I tell how long they are good?
I did find out from the seller of my oils that most oils are distilled once a year–some even less. I guess that is the case and point with Anise or the fennel oil. The list below helps judge, but beware that your bought date could be years earlier.
1-2 years Most citrus oils; orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit.
3-4 years Conifer oils; pines, firs, spruces. Bergamot, black pepper, Citronella, cypress,
eucalyptus, laurel leaf, juniper berry, geranium.
5-8 years Lavender, rose, carrot seed, helichrysum, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood.
I hope my mistakes help someone else. I listened to a NAHA webinar from Penny Price a while back.
she said: “Your box should have no more than 30 oils, learn to use them!”
Before clicking the BUY NOW button, check the DISTILLATION DATE!
It will save you aggravation. What I am going to do with an outdated fennel and laurel leaf oil are beyond me. I thought that I had 2 years left on these oils. In fact, I thought I had 2 or three years left to use all these oils. I am posting this as a precaution. It is so important that we safely and sustainably use essential oils. I feel that I have wasted precious product. This year my sweet marjoram and nutmeg will expire in July. The orange oil will expire in September, with only 4 months of dating. I think the company ought to put a disclaimer on the page that has short, dated oils.
In the last post on Eucalyptus, https://justessentialstoday.com/what-to-know-about-eucalyptus-essential-oil/, I wanted to keep talking about 1,8-cineole because there is so much to learn! Realizing that the blog would be a ramble down a rabbit-hole, I decided to make this a part 2. The chemical component in most eucalyptus is 1,8-cineole. But it is also in Rosemary, Ravintsara and cardamom, so let’s learn more about these Oxides.
The percentage of high 1,8-cineole rich oils.
Helichrysum ct. Gymnocephalum 59%
Hyssop ct. 1,8-cineole 56%
Niaouli ct. 1,8-cineole 54%
Laurel leaf 46%
Myrtle (red) 31%
Spike lavender 29%
There is significant 1,8-cineole content in all the oils listed above, if there are safety concerns with this component it is good know. Always research oils before blending.
In future blogs, I will go into more of the individual oils listed above. For now, I just want to focus on the chemical components.
Helichrysum gymnocephalum is a 1,8-cineole rich oil at 59%. This percentage is almost as high as the percentage in radiata.
Uses for cineole-rich oxides other than a cold.
Cardamom is an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. It is best used for digestion, but can be irritating to the skin and mucus membranes. Use at a dilution of 1% or less in blends.
Spike lavender has many therapeutic benefits: Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal as well as being a decongestant and expectorant. This oil is also high in linalool at 45%.
Ravintsara is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
Rosemary is also many of the above, plus a CNS stimulant for memory and alertness. Rosemary is rich in a-pinene at 12% and camphor at 11% which enhances its therapeutic benefits.
So, the point is—if 1,8-cineole is a problem for you, there is more than Eucalyptus to research and be concerned about.
Safety is always the first concern when working with essential oils.
The chemotype Globulus ( Common name- blue gum) is probably the best known and is a native of Australia. Most species are in the Oxide chemical family with 1,8-cineole being the most prominent component. These oils are good for clearing the head when experiencing a sinus issue. The oil is a stimulant and works to perk one up when tired.
The species of globulus, smithii and radiata have the highest percentage of 1,8-cineole.
Percentage of 1,8-cineole
1,8-cineole content of eucalyptus chemotypes
The popular therapeutic benefits of these oils are for cold and flu relief: relief of congestion and as an expectorant.
Eucalyptus macarthurii ( Common name-Wooly-butt gum) has 44% of the chemical component geranyl acetate. This component has analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal and choleretic modulating properties. What does that mean? This oil is good for blends other than for a cold. A muscle rub blend, foot cream, and as a digestion blend.
Other chemotypes of eucalyptus such as
Eucalyptus citriodora also called Lemon-scented gum, has no 1,8-cineole component. The citriodora chemotype has 66-86% of the chemical component citronellal. This oil is an aldehyde, used as a bug repellent, for its anti-inflammatory modulating affect, and to calm. Eucalyptus dives (Common name-Blue peppermint gum) is great for moving mucus; use as a chest rub (diluted) or a steam.
Other uses for Eucalyptus dives is to treat tired feet in a relaxing foot bath after a long day on your feet. The refreshing scent is also good for cleaning the house. Eucalyptus dives can help even and tone the skin, especially for those prone to blemishes.
Melbourne pharmacist, Joseph Bosisto established a distillery in 1854 to gather the oil of E. radiata. He exhibited his oil at seventeen exhibitions between 1854 and 1891.
Pearson, Michael. “The Good Oil: Eucalyptus Oil Distilleries in Australia”, Australian Historical Archaeology, 11, 1993.
Eucalyptus is for more than just cold and flu season,
and the lack of 1,8-cineole in the dives chemotype makes it great to use in households with younger children. Blend with lavender, cedarwood or orange for a blend to promote relaxation (lavender), clear breathing (cedarwood) or lift spirits (orange).
Use in an inhaler or diffuser following safety guidelines-
Remember the eucalyptus chemotypes that are high in 1,8-cineole can suppress the Central Nervous System (CNS), and may impair breathing. Be safe in usage for children under 10 and those with asthma.
There are some oil blends that are better than others for children.
I have asthmatics in my family, so Eucalyptus globulus is one oil that I use a substitute for often. In the beginning of my training as a certified aromatherapist that I discovered that my daughter gets a tight chest from smelling the eucalyptus oil. Any time I am using an oil that has any 1,8-cineole, I have her smell the cap from slight distance to see if it causes her to tighten in the chest.
I learned this method from Andrea Butje at Aromahead Institute. The Aromahead approach is not to use oils high in 1,8-cineole on children under 5 and used with caution on children between ages 5-10.
It’s easy to substitute oils for Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus).
For children under 5 years old, with Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) or (Cedrus atlantica).
Oils that are easy to use for children–
Cedarwood(Cedrus atlantica) I currently have this version of cedarwood in my box. It is good for respiratory inhalers for children and asthmatic adults.
Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) This oil smells like an orange peel! Of course kids love it, it’s uplifting and makes everyone smile. Using sweet orange oil is great because it has no phototoxic issues like other citrus. I covered that in the Fun in the Sun blog-check it out: https://justessentialstoday.com/fun-in-the-sun-with-essential-oils
Orange-Rose skin cream for children
1 oz. (28 grams) unscented body cream
4 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) oil
1 drop Rose Absolute (Rose damascene)
Add drop by drop to cream, blending after each addition.
Blend well. At a 1% dilution, this is a great smelling body cream.
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is almost everyone’s favorite go-to oil. There are other lavenders and lavandins; Spike lavender (Lavendula latifolia) has 13% camphor—has a more herbal aroma than Lavender. It is an easy inhaler to use for alleviating headaches, promoting sleep and relaxation.
A few other safety tips for children:
Remember to only use 7-8 drops of oil in an inhaler, taking care with all the Eucalyptus oils.
To be safe, substitute cedarwoods instead. For a dermal product, always remember to test the area,
Have you thought about essential oil use and your diabetic medication? Should you worry? Let’s see..
Ignorance or disregard of basic essential oil safety information can be one of the most dangerous mistakes to make with essential oils. Essential oils can react with your medications and supplements. They can cause adverse reactions when used in excess. They can react differently in children, the elderly, and those with weakened immunity. It is imperative to educate yourself on the cautions and contraindications surrounding essential oils.
What do the studies say?
In the “Second Edition of Essential Oil Safety”, Tisserand Young, 2014; most safety concerns for drug interactions are through oral administration. Inhalation and diffusion guidelines for safety should always be followed, and the same for the proper dilution for dermal application. The research studies below are for oral administration.
Abies balsamea, has been shown to potentially inhibit certain metabolic pathways in the liver, which could potentially limit the effectiveness of some diabetes medication.
(Tam, T.W., Liu, R., Arnason, J.T., Krantis, A., Staines, W.A., Haddad, P.S., et al. (2011). Cree antidiabetic plant extracts display mechanism-based inactivation of CYP3A4. Can J Physiol Pharmacol., 89(1):13-23. https://doi: 10.1139/y10-104
Is there good news?
Lemon peel essential oil exhibited higher antidiabetic and antihypertensive activities compared to orange peels. Findings suggest that these essential oils are potential antidiabetic and antihypertensive agents. (Oboh, G., Olasehinde, T. A., & Ademosun, A. O. (2017). Inhibition of enzymes linked to type-2 diabetes and hypertension by essential oils from peels of orange and lemon. International Journal of Food Properties, 20(Sup1), 594. https://doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2017.1303709)
What practical information do I follow if I use essential oils and take medications?
The Diabetes Council states that “Dry brushing, a technique of rubbing or brushing the skin gently with brushes or loofahs, is often used in conjunction with oils such as cinnamon and peppermint to improve circulation. Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and cypress are also used for this purpose.” We know from previous posts that lavender is used for improvement of mood and the ability to relax. Massage improves circulation. Essential oils can also be used for wound care; Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), German chamomile (Marticaria chamomillia), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) and Sandalwood (Santalum album) are among those oils used for this. Use a 1% dilution in a carrier for massage.
It is practical by knowing which essential oils to avoid using when taking medications, or having a particular disease state. The benefits of safely using essential oils by diffusing, inhalation and topically far outweigh the risks.
Simple for adults: 15 drops and for kids over 6: 7-8 drops.
Let’s start with adults: no medical issues. I love conifers–pines, firs and spruces because most of them smell like Christmas! Plus they are great for the upcoming cold and flu season. So with that in mind, try this inhaler:
Camphene breaks down mucus. Terpinene-4-ol is antiviral, antibacterial and antispasmodic. A-terpinene and y-terpinene are antiviral and antispasmodic. d-3-carene breaks down mucus, 1-8-cineole is an airborne antimicrobial, an antiviral, and breaks down mucus. Lastly, linalol is an airborne antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, and an immunostimulant.
The most appropriate oils to treat pre-surgical anxiety are Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and there is a variety of literature that backs that up. One of the major components of lavender EO is linalool. Clinical evidence of the relaxing efficacy of lavender EO was obtained by Braden et al. ( R. Braden, S. Reichow, andM.A.Halm, “The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients,”Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 348–355, 2009.) who enrolled 150 adult patients undergoing different types of surgery and then randomly assigned to either control (standard care), experimental (standard care plus EO lavandin, Lavandula hybrida), or sham (standard care plus jojoba oil) groups. Oils were sniffed and applied on the skin before surgery. Visual analog scales were used to assess anxiety on admission to preoperative suite and operating room transfer. It resulted in that the lavandin group showed significantly lower anxiety during operating room transfer.
Is there research about essential oils used during surgery?
It has been demonstrated that a blend of essential oils, lavender (Lavandula officinalis), roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), and neroli at a ratio of 6 : 2 : 0.5 can reduce anxiety, increase sleep, and stabilize the blood pressure of patients undergoing cardiac stent insertion. (M. Y. Cho, E. S. Min, M. H. Hur, and M. S. Lee, “Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013,Article ID 381381, 6 pages, 2013.)
Indiana University scientists reported that skin tissue treated with the chemical compound, beta-carophyllene — which is found in lavender, rosemary and ylang ylang, as well as various herbs and spices such as black pepper — showed increased cell growth and cell migration critical to wound healing.
“The way gene expression changed also suggests not only improved wound healing but also the possibility of less scar formation and a more full recovery. It’s an example that essential oils work; however, it’s not through our sense of smell.”
Indiana University. (2019, December 18). Chemical compound found in essential oils improves wound healing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 4, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191218153447.htm
So even though there is research and evidence based information, there is no essential oil salve that is a magic bullet for scar prevention. More studies need to be research concerning analgesic properties during surgery…gee, I wouldn’t want to be the guinea pig for that!
That sounds promising, right? But what about postsurgery?
The paper, cited below, suggests that nonpharmacological methods, known as complementary therapies, are safer and have fewer side effects than medications. Aromatherapy is one of the types of complementary medicine that has recently attracted the attention of many researchers. In this method, a variety of herbal oils and essential oils are used. Peppermint blocks the serotonin and dopamine receptors that are involved in nausea. The results of this study indicate the equal effectiveness of inhalation aromatherapy with 10% and 30% peppermint essential oils in reducing the severity of nausea in abdominal surgery patients. Due to the ease of use of inhalation aromatherapy, this method is recommended in patients undergoing abdominal surgery. (Ahmadi, Y., Rezaei, J., Rezaei, M., & Khatony, A. (2020). Comparison of the Effect of Inhalation Aromatherapy with 10% and 30% Peppermint Essential Oils on the Severity of Nausea in Abdominal Surgery Patients. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (ECAM), 1–7. https://doi- org.mylibrary.wilmu.edu/10.1155/2020/5897465:)
Safety concerns involving eugenol, thymol, and carvacrol documented ingestion of these oils. I do not participate in that type of aromatherapy.
I think we can all benefit from the use of essential oils like lavender and orange for anxiety before surgery. When the doctor says that it is ok to use a salve, balm or lotion on an incision, it probably wouldn’t hurt to use one with Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) in it.
I hope you enjoyed the heavy hand on the research this week, as always,
Oil and water do not mix in the bath! So how do I use essential oils?
So knowing that, essential oils cannot be dumped into the bath! Essential oils are lipophilic-meaning they are attracted to the fat in your body. Ouch! According to Robert Tisserand, of Tisserand Institute, if you want to use essential oils in the bath — or dilute them in any water, to use for things like body mists and sprays — this is the product we recommend: Solubol.(1) Solubol can be purchased from reputable essential oil sellers.
To use Solubol in the bath, use a 1:4 ratio. That is for every one drop of essential oils, use 4 drops of Solubol before adding to the bath.
Then there are things people use to think they can add essential oils to the bath-milk, cornstarch, baking soda, epsom salt, witch hazel, glycerine and alcohol….
None of these workfor the bath.
Here is a brief explanation according to Robert:
Cornstarch Regular cornstarch is oil and moisture absorbent in its dry form, but it cannot “hold” the essential oil. Once it is added to bath water, any essential oil added to the water will float or cling to surfaces and skin. Baking soda Baking soda is fully water soluble but will not “hold” or disperse carrier or essential oils. The oils will float in the tub. Epsom salt or regular salt Salt is fully soluble in water and will dissolve once added to your bath. However, adding essential oils to salt and then stirring does not properly dilute or solubilizing the oils, even if the salts appear dry. Salt is not a carrier for essential oils. You can first dilute your essential oils with a vegetable oil and then add to salt to create a “wet” mixture. The salt will mostly stay incorporated with the carrier oil/essential oil, but only until added to a bath. Then, the oils will be released to float and cling to skin and surfaces.
Milk (animal or vegetable) Animal milks are an emulsion of fat in water. Nut and plant milks are created as stable emulsions of oil (fat) in water. All milks are water soluble and are not suitable carriers, dispersants or solubilizers for essential oils, again, because water and oil don’t mix. While you may be able to create a temporary emulsion between essential oils and milk, particularly in high fat content animal milk, at a molecular level there is nothing holding the drops of each liquid together except for the mechanical action of vigorous whisking. Once in the bath the essential oils float on the surface, perhaps slightly more dispersed than if undiluted oils were added, but not much. You will still have virtually undiluted essential oils coming into contact with your skin. Witch hazel Witch Hazel Distillate is all water and completely water soluble. Witch Hazel with 14% alcohol is also completely water soluble. Remember, water and oil don’t mix! The alcohol proof and percentage is too low to be an effective solubilizer for essential oils. Glycerin Glycerin is completely water soluble. Essential oils are oil soluble. Glycerin is not an appropriate carrier for essential oils because oil and water don’t mix! Alcohol At least 160 proof alcohol is necessary for proper dispersion of essential oils with 190 proof being preferable. Everclear and perfumer’s alcohol fall into this category and the purchase of both is restricted in some areas. (You cannot dissolve essential oils in vodka.) So long as you first dissolve the essential oil in the alcohol, a certain percentage of water can be added with no separation. However when added to a bath, any solution of alcohol and essential oil floats on the surface with an oil slick appearance. The alcohol rapidly evaporates, leaving the essential oil virtually undiluted to attach to your skin. Aloe vera There are several types of Aloe Vera leaf extract – Gel, Jelly, Juice and Liquid. There is also a powder that is meant to be reconstituted in water. None of these are appropriate carriers for essential oils in the bath. Aloe Vera Jelly, which has added thickeners and preservatives, may be used as an essential oil base for direct application to the skin. However, if added to the bath, the essential oils will separate and float, as with other watery bases.(2) 1,2 Robert Tisserand, Safety in the Bath,
If you use jojoba, castile soap, shampoo or shower gel, blend 5-20 drops of essential oils into
1 Tablespoon of product. Avoid peppermint or any mints, cinnamon, oregano, thyme ct. thymol, savory, or any oil that is a potential skin irritant. We’ll get into chemical families in a future blog…..phenols, aldehydes–oh my.
Use lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, rose, geranium, sandalwood, oils that are not irritating to the skin. Sign up for my FREE PDF an “Introduction to Aromatherapy”.
Can you rub it on your skin? Can you dump it in the bathtub? Take it in a capsule?
THE STOP SIGN IS THAT BIG FOR A REASON!
NOT SO FAST!
All these methods require pre-work, nothing goes anywhere straight out of the bottle. There are exceptions to that rule, which we discussed: Lavender, Helichrysum, and Tea tree oils.
In July, I posted a blog on carrier oils. Hopefully, you added one or two new ones to your shelf.
So, How do I go about using an essential oil on my skin?
DILUTIONCHART IN 1 OZ OIL
Number of drops
5-6 drops essential oil
faces, children, pregnant, compromised immune system
10-12 drops essential oil
massage oils and daily use
15-18 drops essential oil
specific injury of muscle, tendon and bone
20-24 drops essential oil
localized areas ie., Chest congestion
25-30 drops essential oil
DILUTION OF ESSENTIAL OILS IN 1 OZ (30 ML) OF CARRIER OIL
By using the chart above, for a 1% dilution in 2 oz. of carrier oil, multiply 5 or 6 drops x 2 = 10-12 drops and so on. The most common dilution is 1 or 2%. Always be safe and start with less essential oils.
I have found that 10% dilution works well to help modulate pain. I have never had to use a 25% dilution even for a severe ankle sprain or back strain. That dilution would be 25% 125-150 drops of essential oil.
The best thing to do is start on the weak side of the dilution, 1%. If that dilution is not working then blend a 2% product. Also, for a 3% dilution for a specific injury, it is important to use that product for a short duration (10-14 days), then use a 2% dilution for a more daily use. Always discontinue use if the product causes redness, rash, or burning.
Never use water in an attempt to flush the oil off the skin, as this may increase discomfort.
Stop using the Essential Oil and apply a carrier oil to the affected area.
Having discussed the dilution for topical skin use, in a future blog, I will discuss bath safety.
The Aromatherapy course that I participated in did not advocate the internal use of essential oils, so I will not go into that here.
As always sign up for my Introduction to Aromatherapy FREE PDF.
One time I heard a joke about someone who had a bookmark on page 2. I laughed, but some nights I feel like I can barely read one sentence before falling asleep! I am more of a wake in the middle of the night kind of girl. Whatever your sleep needs are, like herbs, there are essential oils to help with sleep. We have touched on Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) in the previous Mood blog, so let’s visit other oils here.
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) The essential oil has a deep musky aroma, along the lines of patchouli. It is not for a diffuser though, the consistency is too thick but is calming in a lotion, cream, oil-based perfume or inhaler. Use one or two drops in a blend. There are no safety concerns using this oil.
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) as an herb, excellent tea for calming. The essential oil is also calming. This is one of the “blue” oils; used mostly for modulating inflammation. The chamazulene, farnesene and bisabolols in the oil may cause some drug interactions, especially antidepressants. No safety concerns unless you are allergic to members of the daisy family (Asteraceae).
Opopanax, like Myrrh pictured, is grounding and relaxing.
How does the inhalation of essential oils work in the body? What is the science behind how and why it works?
Human behavior is influenced by smell. The smell of baking bread or rotisserie chicken in a grocery store. The floral scents of roses and lavender, the citrus of oranges, lemons and limes, the smell of conifers and pines…all these bring us memories.
Aromatherapy is about our sense of smell or olfaction. To make it simple: we breathe in the essential oils (which are molecules) our nose has cilia which transports these molecules up to our sensory nerves called the olfactory nerve. This olfactory nerve enters the skull, connects to the limbic system and the olfactory cortex.
Well, that’s great but I just want to use my diffuser!
I get a little geeky with the science–it’s so cool…lol. So let’s talk about diffusers and inhalers.
The easiest way to start with aromatherapy and essential oils is to use an inhaler.
Purchasing them is easy; your favorite essential oil supplier or Amazon sell them. They are cheap, and you can reuse them. My start with essential oils was with these 3 inhalers: one with ginger, one with lavender, and one with peppermint. I used antacids or acid reducing medications…you know that purple pill. My use of OTC medications has all but ceased except on a rare occasion, then I will use a chewable antacid. Peppermint is great for keeping alert while driving. One time I sprayed peppermint oil in my eye, but that story is for another day! The point is–we all start somewhere…and safety is important.
Inhalers have 4 parts, the wick, the tube, the cover and the cap.
To make an inhaler: place the cotton wick in a bowl. For an adult add 10-15 drops of essential oil to the bowl. (for children, use 7-8 drops of kid safe oils: lavender, sweet orange, cedarwood, etc). Move the wick around with a clean tweezers to soak up the oil. Place the wick in the tube of the inhaler-the part with the holes. Put on the cap, snapping it tightly and put the tube in the case, twisting closed. Label the inhaler: For example: Ginger for Nausea and motion sickness; Peppermint for alertness; Lavender for relaxing and many more.
I reuse my inhalers by disinfecting the inhaler parts, and use a new wick every so often. I keep them in an essential oil bag in my purse when I travel. Yay TSA!
I just made an inhaler for a nagging headache of almost equal drops (total 12) of frankincense, sweet basil and spike lavender. Surely helped ease that!
Using the diffuser is just as easy! Read the manufacturer directions on how many drops to use in the diffuser as they come in all different sizes.
The Aromahead Institute ACP course, taught to diffuse 30 minutes with the diffuser on, then 30 minutes off for safety reasons. For infants, it is recommended to diffuse and hour before having the child in the space, such as putting them to bed. Always have an escape route for your pets, remember that they might not like or be sensitive to the smells you are diffusing!
Is there any way essential oils can protect from germs when going back to school?
Is it hype?
The kids are anxious to see their friends, to have structure, to learn. Safety has been on the minds of everyone-even the kids. Like the previous Covid post, this post is going to focus on oils that can help keep us safer when going back to school.
I talked about Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Siberian Fir (Abies siberica) and how they are airborne antimicrobials. So after handwashing, mask wearing and social distancing procedures are in place what else can we do to protect our families?
Let’s add some more simple oils in our arsenal. We can use what we have and not have to keep buying different oils. Maybe you received a kit for Christmas, a birthday, Mother’s Day….what was in there? Lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, orange, peppermint and maybe frankincense oils? Look on the internet-some sets have Lemongrass, rosemary, spearmint, grapefruit, bergamot, lime, and patchouli. The list goes on and on.
There is so much you can do with a handful of oils-Penny Price stated in a NAHA Webinar that you only need to have 30 oils in your box—
Learn them. Use them.
Out of the oils I mentioned which ones are antiviral based on evidence-based research?
Orange (Citrus sinensis) – I love orange! Who doesn’t? Kids love it. Orange essential oils is not phototoxic, it is safe for use with children in blends. Orange and lemon are in the Monoterpene chemical family. We will talk more about that in a later blog.
Orange oil does not have the research to back the antiviral properties as much as the major component that is in the oil does. That is d-limonene which is at a percentage of 96% in orange oil. D-limonene activates white blood cells which are important for protecting against illness and disease.
White blood cells are also called leukocytes. Think of white blood cells as your immunity cells, always at war flowing through your bloodstream to fight viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders that threaten your health.
Ok-I am fascinated by chemistry……back to orange oil.
Common name: Sweet OrangeFamily: Rutaceae
Medicinal part used: RindAroma: Fruity, similar to orange peel.
Safety: Non-toxic, use a 1-2% dilution for bath oils or massage. Use organic oils because the oils are cold-pressed.
Notes: Safe for kids. Not photo toxic.
Lemon (Citrus limon) Is another citrus that most people recognize. The difference between orange and lemon is that lemon essential oils is photo toxic. Which means that using the oil then going outside in the sun is going to be a problem. Refer back to the Fun in the Sun blog. Keep the dilution under 2 % dilution to be safe.
The chemical components in lemon oil are also d-limonene at 65%, y-terpinene at 10%, and b-pinene at 11%. As with orange, lemon has the antiviral properties due to the d-limonene. The b-pinene also has analgesic actions and the y-terpinene.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) Not in the citrus family, but the Lamiaceae family. Love the mints! Peppermint is a monoterpenol, which is high in menthol and menthone.
Studies have shown that peppermint has antibacterial actions because of these chemical components. Peppermint is said to also have an antiviral potential, helping to stimulate immune function.
How to arm yourself with these oils? Some suggestions are:
Add a drop or two of lemon and orange oils to a room diffuser, running it at 30 minute intervals.
Add a drop or two of any of the oils above in hand soap or hand sanitizer, shaking before use to disperse the oils.
A 1% dilution of orange oil in an unscented lotion or cream smells good and is safe to use for children over 5.
Use lemon and peppermint in cleaning products for a bright, fresh smell to the room
Research and a few common oils can help protect everyone when returning to the classroom.
Trauma oil is an excellent carrier for essential oils
Let me tell you why…..
Look on the internet and you will find many vendors selling trauma oil.
What is it?How does it fit in the first aid realm?Do I have to dilute it?
Here is what trauma oil is–
Herbs used in trauma oil are: calendula, arnica, St. john’s wort. Each item has its own therapeutic properties all blended together to be excellent in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet.
Let’s talk about the different players in this oil.
Olive oil: In my previous post on carrier oils, I covered some of the therapeutic benefits of olive oil. Go back and read that post for more information. Arnica (Arnica montana) Arnica is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic herb. It is used to relieve swelling, bruises and inflammation for strains and sprains etc. Bioron founded in 1932 has arnica cream or gel. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) Calendula is an anti-inflammatory, and wound healing herb. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) What comes to mind is that this herb is popular for depression. Why is it in my trauma oil? St john’s wort can treat wounds, treat pain and modulate inflammation. It has been noted to be antiviral and antimicrobial.
Blend all these herb-infused oils together for trauma oil.
There are many websites that sell trauma oil, or you can make your own. Personally, I buy mine. Trauma oil can be used for boo-boos on young children with no essential oils added. It has a slight aroma, is mildly oily and golden in color.
I have used a blend of black pepper (Piper nigrum), Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and Spike lavender (Lavendula latifolia) for an acute ankle injury. The blend helped with the pain and swelling of a sore and swollen ankle.
Great for a medicine cabinet, backpack or travel kit!
So the infusion of arnica, calendula, st. john’s wort with essential oils like black pepper, cypress and spike lavender are a power house for helping alieve inflammation and pain.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) essential oil has been studied for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties. The main components of this oil are d-limonene and B-caryophyllene.
Using a 1% dilution in your blends will keep this spicy oil within safety guidelines.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) essential oil—another great oil for inflammation due to a-pinene.
Spike lavender (Lavendula latifolia) doesn’t smell quite like Lavender angustifolia, thanks to the camphor-like properties of this oil. The 1,8-cineole is the analgesic and anti-flammatory component of this oil. Safety concerns with epileptics, pregnant women and children are to be used here.
There are many great oils for relief of pain and swelling, best of all Trauma oil gives them all a powerful punch!
What carrier are you using for your essential oils?
For years I used jojoba–which is a wax.
Until I started studying about essential oils, I never knew there were so many carrier oils!
And–they have therapeutic benefits that help the properties of the essential oils you are using, plus there are fatty acids, and all that chemistry stuff! For instance, jojoba is not an oil, like I said earlier, but a wax.; most like your own skin. There is coconut oil, fractionated coconut oil, grapeseed, almond, apricot, olive and castor oils.
How do I pick the right one?
There are so many carrier oils, what is the difference?
Let’s talk about the easy ones to find…
Jojoba oil (Simmondsia chinensis)
Shelf life: 5 years
Feel: Absorbs well.
Aroma: Slight aroma
Characteristics: Acts as a second skin. Helpful for acne, oily skin, scalp issues.
Therapeutic properties: Has anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, antioxidant and wound healing properties.
Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
Shelf life: 2-4 years
Viscosity: Solid, melts at 76.
Characteristics: Comedogenic index of 4-fairly high to clog pores.
Therapeutic properties: Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
There are so many things in the world that can stress us both nationally and locally. How we handle that stress can be modulated with the use of essential oils. Breathe…..
So, for this blog we are touching on mood and a few essential oils.
Common oils for mood are Lavender, orange, lemon, grapefruit, patchouli, rose and vetiver. There are many more: neroli, ylang ylang, nutmeg, helichrysum, geranium, peppermint, sweet marjoram and sandalwood to name a few.
Let’s focus on a few common oils.
Most of the citrus oils are antidepressant in nature, who doesn’t love the smell of oranges, lemons and grapefruit? Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) is uplifting, calming, and sedative.
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) and lemon ( Citrus limon) essential oils are photo toxic depending on dilution, so sweet orange is a great substitute when outside. So there is no need to calculate the maximum dilution when using sweet orange oil.
See my previous blog:Fun in the Sunwith Essential Oils.
LAVENDER (Lavendula angustifolia)
Lavender is in so many health and beauty products and laundry products. Lavender is classic for helping relax before sleep thanks to the components linalool and linalyl acetate.
Diffuse a few drops of sweet orange and lavender in your room.
Rose is a wonderful floral oil, great for stabilizing mood.
ROSE ABSOLUTE (Rose damascene)
Using a Rose Hydrosol as a face or body spray is anxiety-relieving and uplifting. Close your eyes and imagine the flowers. A drop on a linen handkerchief also provides a relaxing break. Rose is very floral, so it is best to use this oil with a light touch to start.
Keep in touch for more therapeutic properties of these favorites. Happy blending, Crystal
Herbies, aromatherapists and holistic medicine users have used teas and tinctures, blends and oils to promote a better immune system. It all starts with good hygiene–sigh…
I know… let me tell you why.
A few years ago, I went to a local herbalist for a class on Prevention of cold and flu with herbs.
The very first thing for prevention was: wash your hands, keep them away from your face.
Oh, What about herbs? They are antimicrobial right?
The second thing was “Rest and be less stressed….” “and the herbs?” I thought.
We did talk about elder, ashwaghanda, garlic, and the like, but that was the start of the class.
Let’s dive in—So, how do essential oils keep us safe NOW?
Or during any cold and flu season? Can they?
A new study on “Essential Oils as Antiviral Agents, Potential of Essential Oils to Treat SARS-CoV-2 Infection: An In-Silico Investigation”, by Joyce Kelly, et all. (2020). shows essential oils as antiviral agents, and the potential of essential oils to treat the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
How cool is all that?
Tea tree is safe to diffuse add 3-4 drops to clear the air. The aroma is medicinal.
For a musty bathroom, use a spray of 3-4 drops of tea tree oil in distilled water.
SIBERIAN FIR (Abies siberica)
Smells like a Christmas tree…..use in the diffuser with or without tea tree oil to clear the air in the winter season…or now with Covid. I’m not saying that essential oils cure viruses.
As with all diffusers, check the instruction manual on how many drops to use for your own diffuser. diffuse safely around pets by providing them access to leave the room. They might not like the smell.
It is best to diffuse 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off throughout the day rather than leaving the diffuser constantly on. A diffuser with a timer is great for this.
There are many uses for both of these oils, and I wanted to touch on the anti-microbial properties.
Go to my shop page
for the download.
Orchard, A., & van Vuuren, S. (2017). Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2017, 4517971. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4517971
We are all excited to venture out to the beach, the lake, the river, the pool, heck after being cooped up in the house and still social distancing–I’d settle for sitting outside with my feet in the kiddie pool!
What about that DIY lotion I’m wearing? Is it safe in the sun? What did I put in it?
Let me find my notes…..
Which oils should I avoid? And how long?Can I useessential oils and still enjoy the sun?
Most essential oils are safe in the sun, but some are photo toxic.
Well–what does that mean?
It means that if you are in the house, in the winter and use a lotion that has certain oils in it, you have no worries. On the other hand, if you use that same type of lotion in the summer-let’s say after a shower. You decide to go out and weed the flower beds later—forgetting about the lotion. You could have a reaction to that lotion from being out in the sun.
Organic compounds called furanocoumarins react with UV-A light by being absorbed into the skin and stored and then released.
Enough about the science….so…
The following essential oils are photo toxic with the maximum dermal level.
If you are using product with levels over these amounts, it is best to avoid sun exposure for at least 12 to 18 hours after applying, unless you can cover your skin.
Bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia)
max @ .04%
2 drops per 30 ml.
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
max @ 4%
24 drops per 30 ml.
Lemon (Citrus limon)
max @ 2%
12 drops per 30 ml.
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
max @ 0.7%
4 drops per 30 ml.
Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium)
max @ 1.25%
7 drops per 30 ml.
Laurel leaf (Laurus nobilis)
max @ 2%
12 drops per 30 ml.
Maximum levels for essential oils in skincare products in the sun.
The good news is:
There are citrus oils that are not photo toxic!
Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) cold pressed
Lemon (Citrus limon) distilled
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) distilled
If you are going to use a lotion that has a citrus oil in it, make sure that you safely dilute that oil. There is no risk in using a product that has not been applied to the body or washed off the skin such as shampoo, soap or body wash.
So pack up your bags, your essential oils, and head to your favorite fun in the sun place!
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