Eucalyptus originated from Australia and Tasmania and today is cultivated in Egypt, Algeria, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, California, India and South Africa all hot dry countries. Eucalyptus is part of the Myrtaceae family along with myrtle, tea tree, niouli and cajeput.
Interestingly these trees draw large quantities of water from the ground and are therefore often plated in regions with high incidence of malaria and where ground drainage is desired.
There are more than 700 varieties of eucalyptus and over 500 produce an essential oil. The main ones used in aromatherapy in this country are eucalyptus globulus, eucalyptus smithii, eucalyptus radiate, eucalyptus stageriana.
Eucalyptus was originally used by the aborigines to treat infections and fevers.
Familiar somewhat medicinal smell. Commonly used for colds and sinus infections because of its great mucolytic and decongestant properties. Not only does it help to clear mucus and fight infection with its antibacterial properties but it is also known for improving the red blood cells’ uptake of oxygen. So it is really useful as part of a pre sport massage or even as part of a treatment to address anaemia.
Pre sports Massage Rub
100ml Carrier Oil such as Grapeseed or Sweet Almond
20 drops Eucalyptus
10 drops Rosemary
10 drops Ginger
Useful for colds (don’t do this if you are asthmatic)
Half fill a bowl with hot water. Add 1 drop of eucalyptus. Sit with a towel over your head over the bowl and a breathe in the steam and the wonderful decongesting aromas.
You can also put a bowl of hot water with 5-7 drops of eucalyptus in your bedroom about an hour before bed. Make sure the door is closed and by the time you go to bed the room will be smelling of eucalyptus. This will help you sleep: not only will it help to keep your head and nose clear but it will also help your body fight the infection.
January 6th is Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, when as well as taking our Christmas decorations down, we remember the three wise kings who followed the star of Bethlehem and delivered their very special gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus.
These three gifts have huge religious significance, but frankincense and myrrh have been used medicinally and cosmetically for thousands of years. Aromatherapists still values them today for their special qualities and I’ve a few recommendations for you, based on my own aromatherapy practice.
Frankincense Essential Oil is steam-distilled from the gum resin that oozes from incisions made in the bark of the trees –
(Boswellia carterii) – with abundant narrow leaves and white or pale-pink flowers. These grow throughout the Middle East and the oil is spicy, balsamic, green-lemon-like and peppery.
Frankincense played a role in the religious and domestic life of the Ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Hebrew, Greek and Roman civilisations. It has been perhaps the most important aromatic incense ingredient since history began. This is reflected in the fact that its English name is derived from the medieval French word franc, meaning “pure” or “free”, and the Latin incensium, “to smoke”. It was also used as a cosmetic, the charred gum was used as kohl by Egyptian women.
Oil possesses anticatarrhal and expectorant properties, useful for bronchitis and asthma, especially when associated with nervous tension: the oil is said to “Deepen the breath” and can relieve feelings of tightness in the chest. It may also be used for sinusitis and laryngitis – inhalation.
Aromatherapy benefits:visualizing, meditative to the mind.
On a mental level, can help with states of depression or feeling mentally overloaded (nervous tension or nervous exhaustion) and can help to calm the mind and aid mental clarity – probably why it has been used in religious rituals, incensors and meditation for millenia.
I love using frankincense essential oil and find it very useful for people who have a long standing congested chest as a result of an infection or asthma. I have also used it with some success as part of treatment where bereavement is an issue, but I haven’t confined the definition of bereavement to loss due to the death of someone close. A great sense of loss can be experienced if you lose your job, discover you have a life limiting illness or your children leave the family nest to set up in their own home.
In all of these instances, frankincense used as part of an aromatherapy treatment has given comfort and helped to relieve some of the sorrow of loss. It is said that frankincense helps us to close a door on a part of our lives but helps us to move on and open other doors.
Myrrh is an interesting oil, harvested and distilled in a similar manner to frankincense and is the resin of the Commiphora Myrrha tree, a small thorny bush that grows in dry stony soil, ideal for the Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea where it grows naturally.
Not only is it famous for being one of the special gifts along with gold and frankincense brought by the magi to the baby Jesus, but it was also supposedly used at his death. His body was wrapped in linen infused with a mixture of aloes and myrrh. The Ancient Egyptians used Myrrh as part of their embalming rituals and it has a wide range of applications, even today.
Like frankincense, it has both important physical and spiritual healing properties. Both oils are wonderful on their own or as part of a blend to burn as part of a meditation practice – both oils have been used for thousands of years as part of religious and spiritual traditions.
Balancing Meditation Blend
10 drops frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
10 drops mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
20 drops cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
5 drops rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora)
2 drops vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)
Add to an aromatherapy diffuser before starting your meditation practice.
Myrrh doesn’t feature highly in aromatherapy text books, but one practical use of myrrh is as part of dental hygiene: it’s an effective remedy for mouth ulcers, for example. On a personal level, I find myrrh sticky and hard to blend as part of an aromatherapy massage oil, but I have used it in a mouth wash: I dissolved 2 drops of tea tree and 1 drop of myrrh in 1 tbsp of brandy then added warm water. I swilled it round my mouth then spat it out (no, I wouldn’t swallow it, even with the brandy in!) It worked really well but was quite a carry on first thing in the morning but you could make up a batch to then add the warm water when you needed it.
I haven’t persisted with this home remedy as I prefer Citricidal, which works well for sore throats, tummy upsets and athletes feet. I have to warn you though it tastes revolting!
Have a happy, peaceful and healthy January and take some time, every day, to look after yourselves.
In our November 2012 newsletter I have mentioned using pure essential oil of ginger. This reminded me of how great a spice this is so I thought I’d do a little research and write some more about it.
Ginger, official (latin) name Zingiber Officinalis, is not a root but a rhizone (a stem which grows underground) and it is used widely in cookery and complementary medicine in many forms: raw/fresh, dried, powdered, juiced or as an essential oil. Essential oil of ginger is non-toxic and non-irritant, despite root ginger’s pungent aroma in its natural state, and smells warm and spicy, sweet and moody.
It was already used in Chinese medicine over 3,000 years ago and as well as alleviating a range of digestive and muscular conditions, is used it to promote longevity.
The essential oil can be applied topically when diluted in a base oil, or inhaled (in very small amounts), ideally via a diffuser. As an ingredient it is harmless, but please consult your doctor before taking ginger supplements internally as there are several conditions where it could be harmful, rather than helpful.
Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy includes it in her Basic Travel Kit and for travel sickness recommends applying two drops of oil to a handkerchief, to be inhaled during the journey. Alternatively one drop diluted in a little vegetable oil can be rubbed on the tummy, which would work equally well for indigestion.
In aromatherapy, essential oil of ginger is believed to suit people who are full of the ideas and plans but find it difficult to motivate themselves to take action. It promotes a sense of wellbeing and encourages the joy of achievement – amazing!
Ginger is thought to be particularly beneficial for the lower back because of its association with the kidneys. Chinese medicine has used ginger for years to warm and strengthen ‘yang’ energy of the kidneys – it is considered to be ‘hot & dry’ so helpful in treating ‘cold, damp’ conditions. Blend a few drops of essential oil of ginger with the same quantities of lavender and eucalyptus oils in a base oil – great for massaging the lower back.