May Chang (Litsea cubeba)

May Chang header

Family: Lauraceae

Synonyms: Litsea citrate, tropical verbena, exotic verbena.

Aroma: Sweet, lemony, fruity.

Colour: Light yellow to yellow brown.

Plant: Small, tropical tree with fragrant lemongrass scented leaves and flowers. The small fruits that it produces are similar to peppers.

Main Growing Areas: China, Taiwan, Japan.

Major Constituents: myrcene, limonene, neral, geranial, nerol, linalool, linalyl acetate.

Interesting snippets: Used as fragrance in air fresheners, soaps, washing up liquids and deodorants.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Fruit by steam distillation.

Therapeutic actions: Coughs, colds, acne skin, deodorant, nausea.

Emotional and Spiritual: Uplifting and stimulating.
Robbie Zeck writes that a clear awareness of your goals enables you to stay focused and motivated. Design a life you love and start living successfully now. Dedication and discipline are the common traits of all successful people. You can be living your life this way too. May Chang changes the rhythm of the emotional heart enabling you to celebrate your dreams and wins.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

May Chang Aromatherapy insight card

STIMULATING
Stop allowing yourself to be overlooked and put that spark back into your step. If you want to get somewhere or get something in life, it is up to you to jump in and be seen and noticed. Being dynamic and excited helps you go and get what you want in life and rid you of the “poor me” and “why me” mentality.

Safety: Non-irritating, possibly sensitising, non-toxic.

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Davis P, Aromatherapy, An A-Z. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1996)
Jefferies J, Osborn. K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Smith I, May Chang. In Essence Vol.2 No.4 (2004)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

patchouli header

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Synonyms: P. patchouly, patchouli oil

Aroma: Rich, sweet, herbaceous, aromatic, spicy and woody balsamic. Patchouli gets better with age.

Colour: Deep orange red

Patchouli flowerPlant: Evergreen herb with large fragrant leaves and hairy square stems that grows to a metre tall. On axillary and terminal stems flower spikes of clusters of tiny white to purple flowers form. As these fade fine brown seeds form in small capsules like tiny knots on the spikes.

Main Growing Areas: Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, India, Mauritius, East and West Indies, Paraguay, Vietnam

Major Constituents: patchouli alcohol, alpha and beta patchoulene may contribute to anti-itching properties of the oil, beta-caryophyllene – anti-inflammatory, beta-elemene – antitumour

Interesting snippets: In the 18th and 19th centuries Chinese traders travelling to the Middle East used patchouli to treat carpets and fabrics to prevent moths laying their eggs in the cloth and fungal deterioration.

In the 1960’s hippies used patchouli to cover the smell of burnt cannabis.

During the Vietnam War, American soldiers used patchouli to mask the smell of the graves of enemy soldiers killed in combat.

Dried patchouli leaves were placed amongst the folds of Indian cashmere shawls in Victorian times to protect them from moths.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Dried fermented leaves by steam distillation.

Therapeutic actions: nausea, headaches, colds, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, haemorrhoids, cracked sore skin, eczema, psoriasis, tinea, acne, impetigo, herpes

Emotional and Spiritual: depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, nervousness

Patricia Davis writes that patchouli is especially valuable for dreamers and people who tend to neglect or feel detached from their physical bodies. Patchouli helps to ground and integrate energy and keep us in touch with our physical selves.

Robbie Zeck writes that the rich, musty, wood scent of Patchouli awakens within the soul a deep yearning for the comforting presence of peace, bringing Spiritual insights to all realms.
Patchouli’s slow peacefulness brings about a state of mind and wholehearted feeling where unification occurs with the soul on all levels.

Gabriel Mojay writes that patchouli is good for those who, due to excessive mental activity and nervous strain, feel ‘out of touch’ with their body and their sensuality.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Patchouli Insight card

UNITY
Feeling trapped in one of many areas of your life and feeling like those areas are not working together? Patchouli unites all levels of your existence, allowing you to focus and bring heart and head to work together, rising above self-imposed barriers and enjoying all that life presents. Patchouli awakens a sense of peace that reaches into all areas of your life. Don’t get ruffled and caught in the false ego. Stay self-assured, and realize your real strength lies in being you.

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I feel a sense of peace in all areas of my life.

Contemplations for the Soul:

Patchouli CFTS

Is your mind on a continual loop making you unable to think clearly due to worry?
Have you imposed limits on what you think you can achieve?
Do you feel you have to be someone else to achieve your goals?
Do you long for peace in your life?
Realize that worry will not improve the situation and will banish peace from your life.
Try grounding yourself by going outside and putting your bare feet on the ground.
Breathe slowly in and out until you feel calmer then look at what action you can take to reduce your worry.
Know that you can be yourself and still achieve your goals.
Peace be with you.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Davis P, Subtle Aromatherapy. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1992)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Jefferies J, Patchouli Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.39 (2007)
Jefferies J, Osborn K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

 

Caring For The Carer

caring for the carer

There are many men and women who are full time carers. They may be looking after someone who is physically or mentally ill. The person being cared for maybe a child or adult and is usually a family member.

There can be many challenges in looking after another but many rewards as well. The trick to remaining healthy so you can continue as an effective carer is to make time for yourself and ask for support when you need it.

I will talk about some of the physical and emotional challenges you may face and how to deal with them.

PHYSICAL CHALLENGES

Muscular Aches and Pains
Helping the person you are caring for with everyday tasks like getting in and out of bed, going to the toilet, showering, dressing and sitting in a wheelchair can all take their toil in back, neck, shoulder, arm and leg pain if not done correctly.

Carer

Learning correct manual handling techniques and the use of mechanical lifters can help prevent injury.

Massage can help relieve aching muscles. Investing in a monthly massage can help by relieving the physical pain and giving you time for yourself. If you are unable to book a massage you can make the following blend yourself and massage the affected muscles.

relaxing aroma massage

Relief for Aching Muscles
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) 3 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops, rosemary 1 drop in 10mls cold pressed  vegetable oil.

Aches and pains
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) 5 drops, peppermint (Mentha piperita) 5 drops, ginger (Zingiber officinale) 5 drops in 30 mls of cold pressed vegetable oil.

Headaches
The stress and worry that can come from always being on the alert to the needs of another can lead to tension headaches. Indian head massage is an easy and effective way to lessen the build-up of stress and tension headaches. Massaging the area with an essential oil massage blend is also effective.

Woman with Headache

Tension Headache Be Gone
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 2 drops, peppermint (Mentha piperita) 1 drop in 10mls  cold pressed vegetable oil. Massage neck, shoulders and temples with the blend. You can then massage the scalp without the blend if you wish.

Physical exhaustion
Driving to doctors and other appointments, lack of sleep, shopping and preparing special foods, making sure medications are taken on time and the other myriad of things that must be done when caring for another can all take their time and lead to physical exhaustion.

It is really important that you make time for yourself throughout your busy day. Do something just for you even if it is only for 10, 15 or 20 minutes. This could include going for a short walk around the block or garden, listening to your favourite music, having a massage, drinking a cup of tea or coffee in your garden really slowly and enjoying it, reading a few pages or chapter of a book or newspaper. If you are feeling physically exhausted the following blend along with getting some sleep may help.

listening to music

Wake up and Go
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) 2 drops, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) 2 drops, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) 2 drops in a diffuser.

Lethargy blend
Blend rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) 2 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 2 drops and peppermint (Mentha piperita) 1 drop in a burner or vaporiser.

Sleep
It can sometimes be hard to get to sleep or stay asleep when caring for another. They may need you during the night or you may be physically exhausted but still find it difficult to sleep. Stress and worry is another reason for sleeping difficulties. It is important that you get enough sleep so you can stay resilient and able to cope with caring for another.

Some tips to help you get to sleep.

  • Try drinking a warm glass of milk or a cup of chamomile tea an hour or two before bed time.
  • Visualization – Imagine a very relaxing scene. Make sure you involve all your senses.
  • Have a warm bath with 3 drops of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and 2 drops of geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil in a half cup of full fat milk added to the bath. Play relaxing music to further relax you.
  • A chest massage using 3 drops of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and 2 drops of geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential in 10mls of cold pressed vegetable oil.
  • Place a few drops of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) or other relaxing essential oil on a tissue and leave near your pillow so you can breathe in the aroma.

Sleep easy blend
Add sandalwood (Santalum album) pure essential oil 1 drop, frankincense (Boswellia carterii) 1 drop and lavender  (Lavendula angustifolia) 8 drops to 10 mls cold pressed vegetable oil and massage your neck, shoulders and chest.

Lack of exercise
If you are lifting the person in and out of bed, showering, dressing and sitting them in a wheelchair and doing other physical work connected with caring you may be getting plenty of exercise.

If your caring doesn’t involve a lot of the above you may not be getting enough exercise. Exercise is important to help you maintain strength and flexibility, reduce stress, sleep well at night and keep up your energy levels.

Exercise

You don’t need to go to a gym. Walking, swimming, tai chi, yoga or gardening done 3 times a week for 30 minutes maybe all that you need to keep you healthy.

Eating Well
It may be a challenge at times to eat well but a healthy diet is essential if you are going to be able to have the energy and stamina to do all you need as a carer. Take time out occasionally to have a relaxing meal or catch up with family and friends.

Healthy diet

EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES

Stress and anxiety
Perhaps the biggest emotional challenge for the carer is dealing with the emotional feelings that can arise from caring for an extended period of time. There may be feelings of never having a moment for themselves, the idea that this will never end and they are stuck in this role for life, suggesting ways the person they are caring for can help themselves and being ignored and feeling guilty for wanting things to change.

Stress may show up as frustration, sadness, feeling unable to cope with everyday things, loss of hope, poor or no appetite, restlessness and difficulty in sleeping. Other symptoms may include tiredness, apathy, digestive problems, headaches, impatience anger and resentment.

Tips to help with stress
Difficult as it maybe accept that this is the way things are now and look for ways you can get help and support.

Ask your family and friends for support. Perhaps they can take over your role for a few hours while you take time for you. It may be so you can go to the hairdressers, have a massage, play a round of golf, see a movie, sit in the park or simply doing nothing and enjoying that feeling. It doesn’t matter how you spend the time. All that matters is that you spend it just for you so you can rejuvenate yourself.

support

Know that whatever comes your way you have the strength and ability to cope. You may need to look at another way of doing something but you will get through it.

Take care of yourself physically, eat well, make time for exercise and get a good night’s sleep.

Spend time with family and friends. If you don’t have time to do it in person, speak to them on the phone.

family support

Ask for assistance from charities, government agencies or your local council with showering and looking after some of the physical needs of the person you are looking after if appropriate.

Use essential oils in the form of massage or in a room vaporiser to help you relax. Make sure you choose pure essential oils to get the benefits.

Anxiety blend
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops, palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) 2 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 1 drop in 10mls cold pressed vegetable oil for massage or in a diffuser to vaporise.

Calm anxiety down blend
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) 3 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 5 drops, cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) 3 drops in 20 mls of cold pressed vegetable oil. Use as a body massage or to massage the solar plexus (where the rib cage makes a V-shape).

De-stress blend
Add sandalwood (Santalum album) 1 drop, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 3 drops and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) 2 drops to a vaporiser to help calm you down.

Stress relief blend
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) 3 drops, sandalwood (Santalum album) 3 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops in a vaporiser.

Uplifting blend
Blend sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) 4 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 3 drops and geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 2 drops in 20 mls of cold pressed vegetable oil. Gently massage a small amount of the blend into the back of the neck, onto the chest and over the solar plexus (where the rib cage makes a V-shape).

Fear and anger
Cedarwood atlas (Cedrus atlantica) 4 drops, sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) 3 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 3 drops in 20mls cold pressed vegetable oil or in vaporiser.

Caring for Yourself
Too often as a carer you are so busy caring for another that you neglect your own needs and health.

Once you begin caring for a parent, spouse or child the relationship between you can change. This can result in more conflict and frustration on both sides. One may feel they are being told what to do and have little say in their treatment and life. The other may feel their advice is being ignored or they are being taken for granted with little or no time for themself.

They may both worry about finances and how they will pay for doctors, medication and other bills connected with their illness and living expenses.

medication

Following the advice above about eating well, exercising regularly, getting a good night’s sleep and getting help when you need it will all help you cope with the demands placed on you by caring.

Find someone you can talk to when it all gets a bit too much. This could be a family member, friend or professional counsellor. Join a Carer Support Group in your area where you can talk over your experiences and get tips and support from others who are going through similar experiences.

Most importantly give yourself the gift of time for yourself to do the things that you love or need. One of the fears that carers have is losing themselves and forgetting who they are on a deep level. Another is putting their life on hold. By taking sometime for yourself each day you stay in touch with you and your wishes and desires. You can remain strong whatever happens as you are nourishing yourself on a deeper level emotionally and spiritually.

young-woman-on-mini-retreat

Being a carer is not easy but the challenges you overcome can strengthen your relationship with yourself and the one you are caring for.

Some carer resources in Australia

http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/
https://www.carersnsw.org.au/
http://www.carersvictoria.org.au/
http://carersqld.asn.au/
http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/benefits-and-payments/carers\
https://www.carergateway.gov.au/what-is-respite-care?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIy6OQ26qF1wIVUh9oCh0ThgL-EAAYAiAAEgKgXPD_BwE

Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

Myrtle

Family: Myrtaceae

Synonyms: Corsican pepper.

Aroma: Clear, fresh, camphoraceous, sweet, herbaceous.

Colour: Pale yellow to green.

Blue_myrtle_berriesPlant: A large bush or small tree with many tough but slender branches, a brownish red bark and small sharp pointed leaves. It has white flowers followed by small bluish black berries.

Main Growing Areas: North Africa, Mediterranean.

Major Constituents: Myrtenyl acetate, 1,8 cineole, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol.

Interesting snippets: The ancient Egyptians macerated myrtle leaves in wine to counteract fever and infection.
In Ancient Greece myrtle incense was burnt on Aphrodite’s (the goddess of love and beauty) altar.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Leaves and twigs by steam distillation.

Therapeutic actions: Coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, muscular aches and pains, arthritis, inflamed skin, bruises, psoriasis and eczema. Helpful for stress and insomnia.

Emotional and Spiritual: Uplifting, refreshing. Eases anxiety and tension and soothes feelings of anger, greed, envy and fear.

Provides protection during major life transitions and promotes harmony, love and respect.

Susanne Fischer-Rizzi writes that myrtle maybe helpful for people who have had experiences that have made them temporarily unable to see their own beauty and for those with addictions and self-destructive behaviour.

Robbie Zeck writes during dark times, when you are in pain, struggling or feeling disheartened, gentle myrtle with its air of beauty and purity brings comfort and an elemental return to the source. When you are experiencing feelings of separation, use myrtle as a reminder that we are all born connected. Walk in your own beauty and be at one with all things. May there always be beauty around you, above you, below you and within you. Know that you are the gift who shines beauty and light out to others.

Valerie Ann Worwood writes that its spirit is energetic truth, and forgiveness, giving support to the unsupported and teaching that divine love embraces all living beings

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic.

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Fischer-Rizzi S, Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Essential Oils for Radiant Health Sterling Publishing Company (1990)
Keim Loughran J, Bull R, Aromatherapy & Subtle energy techniques, Frog Books (2000)
Worwood, V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

Header image photo of myrtle by Forest & Kim Starr.

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Sweet basil header

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Synonyms: Sweet basil, true basil

Aroma: Sweet, herbaceous, refreshing

Colour: Colourless to pale yellow

Plant: An annual herb with dark green leaves and white flowers that grows to 60cm.

Main Growing Areas: France, Italy Egypt, USA, Bulgaria

Major Constituents: Linalool, 1.8 cineole, limonene, a-terpineol, methyl chavicol (estragole)

Interesting snippets: Basil is considered one of the sacred herbs of India where it is dedicated to Krishna and Vishnu.

In Ayurvedic medicine basil is combined with black pepper for malarial fever.

In Italy, basil was associated with love but in Greece it was associated with hate and misfortune and is a symbol for mourning.

Basil leaves and flowersPart of Plant used / Extraction: Flowering tops by steam distillation which lasts around 1½ hours and yields an average of 1% oil.

Therapeutic actions: respiratory congestion, bronchitis, flu, muscular cramps, nausea and vomiting menstrual cramps food poisoning

Emotional and Spiritual: mental fatigue, stress, gives the mind strength and clarity, fear, sadness and depression.

Gabriel Mojay writes that basil is indicated for those in whom despondency and dejection are coupled with a heightened need for emotional support and reassurance.

Basil can be helpful when you are at a crossroads in life or going through a spiritual death. She supports you in overcoming doubt, worry and anxiety allowing you to trust in spirit and renew your zest and enthusiasm for life.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Basil Aromatherapy Insight card

SELF – EXPRESSION
Basil increases self-expression by opening the heart and mind. The herb of love is for those in life who are able to utilize their intuition and express themselves in a straightforward manner, allowing them to move from a place of fear and live a life of positivity and clarity. Speak with enthusiasm and act with integrity from your heart, and then you speak your truth. Stop worrying just for the sake of it and get on with life.

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I speak my truth with love and integrity.

Basil Fragrant Change Healing card
Contemplations for the Soul:

Basil Contemplations for the Soul cardAre you belittling and putting yourself down or are you speaking positively to and about yourself? Have you been wounded deeply by the words or actions of others?
It’s time to speak your truth with love and integrity.
You may have been hiding the truth from yourself and others because of feelings of low self-worth, low self-esteem or from fear of what others will think of you.
It’s now time to reveal your true thoughts and not say what you think they wish to hear.
This does not mean using your words to wound but simply expressing your point of view in a calm manner.
Take note also of the way you speak to and about yourself. Remember your words have power, use them wisely.

Safety: Avoid using on individuals with hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin. There is a low risk of skin sensitization. Some sources also recommend not using basil during pregnancy or on children under 2 years of age.

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Eidson D, Vibrational Aromatherapy. Revealing the essence of nature through aromatherapy’s use of essential oils. Frog Ltd, Berkley, California (2000)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Jefferies J, Osborn K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Kerr J, Basil Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.12 (1999)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014

Tamarack (Larix laricina)

Tamarack header

Family: Pinaceae

Synonyms: Eastern larch, American larch, Alaskan larch, Tamarack larch. Tamarack is thought to derive from the Native American word for tree, hackmatack.

Aroma: Fresh, airy, woody, piney.

Colour: Transparent, slightly yellow.

tamarack-trees-in-autumnPlant: A small to medium-sized, deciduous conifer with wide-spreading, shallow roots and a sparse, open, narrow, conical crown that can grow up to 25 metres. It has a straight trunk covered with bark that is thin, smooth and gray when young; thicker, rough, scaly and reddish brown when mature. The inner bark layer is reddish purple.

The Tamarack tree is the only conifer which is not evergreen. The feathery soft, light green needles turn a brilliant yellow in autumn before dropping.

Main Growing Areas: Alaska, Canada, United States.

Major Constituents: The oil is composed primarily of esters (including bornyl acetate) and monoterpenes (including pinene and limonene).

Interesting snippets: Native Americans used the tree’s roots for cordage, the wood for arrow shafts and the bark for medicinal purposes. Early white settlers used the soft needles as a pillow and mattress stuffing and the roots of large trees for ship construction.

Because of its durability and resistance to decay tamarack is used for posts, poles, mine timbers, and railroad ties.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Needles and twigs / Steam distillation

Therapeutic actions: Headache, nasal congestion, coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, colds, flu.

Emotional and Spiritual: Nervous fatigue, anxiety, clarity of thought, energizing and uplifting.

Aromatics International on their website describe Tamarack’s emotional and spiritual properties thus: Larch needles, before gently falling away in the fall, turn a brilliant yellow. This reminds us how Larch easily invites forgiveness and self-acceptance with a fresh start in the spring as its needles come back, soft and green. Larch withstands very cold weather and is incredibly adaptable, reminding us of a strong image and identity, qualities that are reflected in the energetic aspects of this oil. Also reflected in the properties of this oil, larch likes full sun, providing positive energy and casting a small shadow, emotionally revitalizing the dampened spirit.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic

Sources: Berkowsky B, Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils (2006)
https://www.aromatics.com/products/essential-oils/larch-tamarack
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larix_laricina

5 Sacred Essential Oils

5 sacred essential oils header

There are many essential oils but only a few that have been considered sacred. By that I mean oils or incenses that have been used in churches, mosques and temples for spiritual purposes. Some are used to bring calm to the people praying, others as an offering to the Gods so that he/she/they may hear and respond to their prayers. Others are used to put the person into a meditative state. Many are useful in our own spiritual work to purify the space and for meditative work.

The following 5 oils can be considered sacred.

Agarwood (Aquilaria agallocha)
AgarwoodAgarwood also known as Oud is very expensive whether as incense, wood, chips or essential oil. She has been burned as incense for centuries by many religious groups including Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims during prayer and meditation to help people achieve a higher level of consciousness, euphoria, calm and a deep inner peace. She was also used in Ancient Egypt to embalm bodies during the mummification process.

The oil is harvested from the resinous wood caused by a fungus infection that changes the colour of the wood from a light brown to almost black. The tree is endangered in the wild but there are now plantations growing the trees and infecting them with the fungus.

As the oil is so expensive one or two drops can be added to 10 mls of cold pressed vegetable oil and used as an anointing oil. Another way can be to add 4 drops to a personal inhaler and inhale a few times before and perhaps during your meditation session.

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
Frankincense is an oil that has been used since ancient times and is one of the gifts given to the baby Jesus by the 3 Wise Men at his birth. Rather than an essential oil it is more likely an infused oil or resin was used.

In ancient times frankincense incense was burnt to honour the Sun gods – Ra in Egypt, Apollo in Greece and Bael in Babylonia.

Frankincense resinToday frankincense incense is used during ceremonies in Christian, Islamic and other faiths to purify, venerate, bless and sanctify those participating in the mass or ceremony. As in times past frankincense incense is seen as a symbol carrying the prayers and hopes of the people to God – a link between heaven and earth.

Frankincense deepens and slows the breath inducing a state of focused contemplation and tranquillity allowing you to communicate with God, a higher wisdom or your own inner guidance. She is calming and uplifting purifying both the atmosphere and aura.

Frankincense therefore can be used to enhance your meditative practice, offer spiritual support and/or promote a spiritual awakening.

Frankincense essential oil can be used in a diffuser or as an anointing oil while the resin can be burnt as an incense.

Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Juniper berriesMany people may not think of juniper as a sacred oil but she has been used in religious and spiritual ceremonies for hundreds of years because of her cleansing and protective properties.

Juniper branches, leaves and berries were burned in ancient Sumeria and Babylon to ward off evil spirits, purify the body, mind and spirit and protect from illness.

Tibetans and Native Americans also burn juniper incense to drive off evil spirits causing illness and disease, to cleanse and purify the atmosphere and as a source of protection on a physical, spiritual and energetic level.

Juniper is a strong tree and has been seen as a symbol of of strength, fertility and longevity for centuries. Use her strength and guidance either in a diffuser, personal inhaler or anointing blend to assist you in facing personal challenges with strength, courage, wisdom and determination.

Clear the negative energies from a room after an argument or where there has been a lot of negativity by spraying or diffusing juniper. Clear your aura after visiting a shopping centre or crowded place by placing a drop or two of juniper in your palms and running them through your aura.

Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens)
Palo Santo woodPalo Santo means holy or sacred wood and was used by the Incas and Shamans to purify and cleanse the spirit from negative or stagnant energies to ensure good luck. South Americans smudge their homes to remove any negative energy.

Palo Santo is unusual in that only wood that has lain on the ground for 4 to 10 years after dying a natural death will produce a high quality essential oil. For some this is seen as a representation of death and rebirth or vitality emerging from decay. It can also be seen as bringing something to its natural conclusion so that you can begin anew.

Diffuse Palo Santo before or during meditation to calm, uplift and ground your mind, stimulate your creativity and allow your inspiration to flow. She will also aid concentration and a sense of being protected from negative influences.

Sandalwood (Santalum album)
sandalwood chipsSandalwood has been used for religious purposes by many different religions around the world. In India the Hindus add sticks of sandalwood to the funeral pyre to help carry the soul into the afterlife. Muslims have a similar belief and anoint their dead with sandalwood and burn censors containing sandalwood and other ingredients at their feet to carry the soul up to heaven. Ancient Egyptians also imported the wood for use in embalming and ritual burning to venerate their gods.

In India powdered sandalwood is used for making caste marks. A paste of sandalwood powder is applied to the forehead at religious ceremonies by Hindus while the oil is used to anoint sacred statues.

Sandalwood is also seen as a symbol of vitality because it repels white ants and for this reason, sandalwood was once in great demand for the construction of furniture and temples. Temple doors were often carved from sandalwood. Sandalwood is still used today to make sacred objects, carvings and statues. I remember walking into a temple devoted to Kannon (Quan Yin) in Japan a few years ago and I could still smell the sandalwood emanating from the statue that had been carved a few years before that.

Sandalwood incense sticks are used in many Hindu and Buddhist temples to promote meditation and prayer by quietening the mind and inducing a sense of peacefulness.

In Indian homes incense sticks are used to free evil spirits and welcome the gods ensuring good luck and health for the inhabitants.

The essential oil can be diffused during your meditation, prayer or spiritual practice to calm your mind, bring clarity and focus. She is both grounding and uplifting helping you to connect to the Divine.

Sandalwood links the base to the crown chakra and has a protective energy. You may also like to make a chakra anointing oil using sandalwood and other sacred oils to balance your chakras.

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Berkowsky B, Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils (2006)
Fischer-Rizzi, S, Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Essential Oils for Radiant Health Sterling Publishing Company (1990)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora)

Rosewood header

Family: Lauraceae

Synonyms: Bois De Rose, Pau Rosa.

Aroma: Warm, woody, sweet, floral.

Colour: Colourless to pale yellow.

rosewoodPlant: A slow growing evergreen tropical tree with a reddish bark and heartwood.

Main Growing Areas: Brazil.

Major Constituents: a-pinene, linalool, alpha-terpineol, 1,8 cineole, cis-linalool oxide.

Interesting snippets: Most rosewood timber goes to Japan to make chopsticks.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: The trunk wood from 30-40 year old trees is reduced to chips which are then steam distilled to produce the essential oil. 500 kg of chips produces 5 kg of essential oil.

Therapeutic actions: Dry, sensitive inflamed skin, acne, headaches accompanied by nausea.

Emotional and Spiritual: Tiredness, nervousness, stress.
Robbie Zeck writes that rosewood enables a greater receptivity to different kinds of awareness, sensory perceptions and energy streams that roam within the labyrinth of your unconscious mind. If you are feeling blocked in some area of your life, then seek interior guidance and make a request for what you need to experience in order to see the truth behind things.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Rosewood

RECEPTIVITY
Grow in life with balance by being receptive to all that is possible. Rosewood helps you to trust your sometimes-unused wise feelings, heightening perceptions and enabling you to “see past the trees”. Utilize all of your senses to help you grow. Open up and be receptive to the abundance of the universe.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic.

Sources: Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Davis, P, Aromatherapy, An A-Z. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1996)
Jefferies J, Osborn. K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Kerr, J, Rosewood Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.7 (1998)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

Elemi (Canarium luzonicum)

I first bought elemi essential oil based on her name but she has a lot of wonderful properties and is a very good oil for various skin conditions.

Family: Burseraceae

Synonyms: C commune, Manila elemi.

Aroma: Fresh, spicy, woody, balsamic.

Colour: Colourless to pale yellow.

elemiPlant: Large tropical evergreen tree that can reach up to 30 metres. It has large white or yellow flowers and produces green fruits, which in turn produce edible nuts. It exudes a pale yellowish resin when the tree sprouts leaves; the resin solidifies on contact with the air and stops flowing when the last leaf falls.

Main Growing Areas: Philippines, the Moluccas.

Major Constituents: Elemol, elemicine, alpha-phellandrene, limonene.

Interesting snippets: The ancient Egyptians used elemi resin for embalming.
Elemi has been referred to as the poor man’s frankincense as she shares many of frankincense’s properties.
She’s closely related to the trees that produce frankincense, myrrh and opopanax.

Part of Plant used /Extraction: Steam distillation of the resin.

Therapeutic actions: Helps build tissues and heal wounds, gangrene and abscesses. Respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and sinusitis especially where there is a lot of phlegm. Expectorant (helps to expel mucous from the lungs) when used in steam inhalations. Excellent for skin care especially for mature skin and is said to reduce wrinkles.

Emotional and Spiritual: She is a balancing, strengthening and centring oil. She brings the body, mind and soul into alignment. In meditation she induces a deep calm without drowsiness.
Stress that has led to exhaustion as she is both stimulating and a tonic.

Robbie Zeck writes that elemi propels you inward to look deeply into things in order to see their nature, adding a quiet touch. Elemi reflects the serenity of a soul which is shining.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising.

Sources: Davis, P, Aromatherapy, An A-Z. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1996)
Fischer-Rizzi, S, Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Essential Oils for Radiant Health Sterling Publishing Company (1990)
Smith I, Elemi. In Essence Vol.7 No.3 (2008)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

Nutmeg (Myristica fragans)

Nutmeg

Family: Myristicaceae

Synonyms: M. aromatica, Nux moschata, M. officinalis, M. amboinensis.

Aroma: Spicy, sweet, warm.

Colour: Clear pale yellow.

Nutmeg fruitPlant: An evergreen tree that produces fleshy fruit with a hard seed that contains the essential oil and a fatty oil. The red husk is dried and sold as mace. The seed is sold as a spice.

Main Growing Areas: Moluccas, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, West Indies.

Major Constituents: Alpha-pinene, terpinene-4-ol, mycristicin, sabinene, beta-pinene.

Interesting snippets: Used as a flavouring for milk puddings and custards in Victorian England because of its gentle tonic and stimulating effects.
In Malaysia nutmeg spice is used during the final weeks of pregnancy to strengthen and tone the uterine muscles.
In Indonesia nutmeg is used in a body oil to warm and invigorate the body and alleviate the symptoms of the flu.

NutmegPart of Plant used/Extraction: Steam and water distilled from the dried seed.

Therapeutic actions: Muscular aches and pains, tiredness, stomach and menstrual cramps, digestive stimulant, eases vomiting and diarrhoea.

Emotional and Spiritual: Stress, depression, invigorates and stimulates the mind, chronic fatigue, anxiety.

Robbie Zeck writes “when there is heaviness, sluggishness, a feeling of being conquered and unable to face the tasks ahead, nutmeg stokes the fire, intensifies the energy and provides hearty warmth with its glowing heat. Nutmeg rekindles the flame of your life force leaving you spiritually cleansed and physically rejuvenated.”

Aromatherapy Insight Card:
INCREASES EMOTIONAL ENERGY
Nutmeg re-kindles your fire within, igniting that lost passion for life and revitalizing your subtle body. Lift the weight off your shoulders, conquer challenges and soar through encounters that may have stopped you in the past. Warm that life back into you when you find it all “too hard”.

Nutmeg Insight card

Contemplations for the Soul:

Have you lost your passion for life, been ill recently or under constant stress?
Do you feel you have nothing more to give?
Do you feel it’s all too much and you can’t face the day ahead?
Are you feeling exhausted both mentally and physically?
It’s time to restore that inner fire.
Nurture yourself while you rebuild your strength. Reduce the stress in your life.
Take time to relax and chill.
What lights you up?
If you’re not sure remember what you loved to do when you were a child and bring that back into your life if you left it behind.
The passion is there you just have to light the embers.

Safety: Non-toxic, non- irritant, non-sensitising in low concentrations but not recommended to use on sensitive skin undiluted. Best avoided during pregnancy. May be toxic if used in high concentrations.

Sources:
Atterby, D, Nutmeg Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.43 (2008)
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Fischer-Rizzi, S, Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Essential Oils for Radiant Health Sterling Publishing Company (1990)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Jefferies J, Osborn. K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)