At last, I am back with a new aromatherapy post! This month, our focus will be on geranium. Many of you are probably familiar with this sweet smelling flower, and several of you may have it growing in your own gardens or flower beds. There are actually about 422 species of this flowering plant which are found all over the world, but they primarily grow in tropical climates and in the mediterranean. They come in a variety of colors and have a strong aroma similar to rose which makes them popular for people growing aromatic flower gardens. The use of geranium oil goes as far back as ancient Egypt where the oil from these flowers was used to make the skin brighter and more radiant, and it is still used as an ingredient in many skin care products today. In addition to treating skin conditions, geranium is also used to boost mood, alleviate anxiety, ease menstrual cramps, and much more. It is safe to use aromatically, topically, or to take internally (make sure that you are using food or therapeutic grade oils before ingesting). Geranium oil is generally believed to be safe to use with pregnancy, but it is best to exercise caution if you are pregnant. Let's look at some more benefits of geranium oil.
Rose is one of the more commonly known and most recognizable scents, yet it often doesn't come to mind for many people when they think of aromatherapy. Roses are a pretty universally known flower know to most as flowers of love, friendship, or sympathy. Each color has a different meaning, and there is a whole language behind them. But how can the scent of roses be beneficial?
There are actually several wonderful benefits to using rose in aromatherapy including reducing depression, stimulating digestion, promoting relaxation, boosting sex drive, and it is fantastic for your skin and hair. It is important to note that rose essential oil should not be used during pregnancy, but is safe for use during labor as a means to improve mood and create an uplifting environment in the delivery room.
Rose essential oil is often very expensive, and not always pure. Because of the high cost of production, and the amount of rose petals required to produce even a small amount, it is most common to find rose oil that is already mixed with a carrier oil. When selecting essential oils, always remember to avoid anything that says "fragrance" anywhere on the bottle, as this means it contains artificial fragrances. Some terminology you may come across with rose is rose otto, or rose absolute. Rose otto (or attar) is generally very expensive, and uses a steam distillation method. Rose absolute is derived from a solvent distillation method. Many aromatherapists feel that rose absolute is inferior, but it has been shown to have many of the same benefits, and is often a little easier for people on a budget. Luckily, although it is often already diluted in a carrier oil, it still produces a strong aroma meaning that a little bit goes a long way. You shouldn't need more than a drop or two for any given use.
This month, I would like to continue the aromatherapy series with one of my personal favorites; sandalwood. The reason I haven't written about sandalwood yet is that I was hesitating due to its low availability and high price. Sandalwood essential oil is steam distilled from the sandalwood tree. Trees used for essential oil production need to be 40-80 years old, with the oldest trees producing the most oil. The best, most beneficial variety comes from India, followed by trees found in Hawaii, and finally a variety found in Australia. Indian sandalwood is extremely expensive because the trees are nearing extinction, and the ones that are left are being illegally poached leaving fewer and fewer for legal harvesting. The Hawaiian trees are also dwindling and Hawaiian sandalwood too, is expensive and hard to come by. The Australian variety is less expensive and more readily available, but it is not as beneficial. Sandalwood is very versatile and can be used aromatically, internally, or applied topically. It is recommended that if you use it topically that it should be diffused in a carrier. Sandalwood is safe for both pregnant women and children. So what are the benefits of sandalwood?
This month, I would like to start off with the first aromatherapy post of the year. This month's topic is cedarwood. Cedarwood essential oil is steam distilled from pieces of wood from cedarwood trees which are generally found at high altitudes in colder climates.
When using cedarwood, it is important to remember that it should never be ingested. It is generally safe to diffuse or breathe in, but should be done so cautiously during pregnancy. It is also safe to apply topically, but should be applied with more caution in pregnant women and children. When applying topically, it is recommended that you dilute it in a carrier oil or in water for a spray.
Cedarwood has a very warm, woodsy smell to it that can be lovely on its own, or provide some nice warm undertones in a blend. It mixes particularly well with citrus and flower essential oils such as lemon, orange, bergamot, rose, jasmine, lavender, and more. Along with smelling nice, cedarwood has even more wonderful benefits for your health and home. Some of its most common uses include repelling insects and purifying the air, but it is also very beneficial for treating skin conditions, clearing mucus, and aiding in digestion. Let's take a look at those benefits and more in a little more depth.
Most of us are familiar with the word frankincense as it appears in the Christmas story, but what is it? It is actually an aromatic resin derived from Boswellia trees. The bark of the tree is cut open, and resin seeps out of it, much like sap. The resin is allowed to dry and is then collected to be used as incense, in perfumes, or as an essential oil. Frankincense has a very long history of use in many cultures. Not only is it mentioned in the bible, but we see references to frankincense trade in the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt. Evidence suggests that it has been traded throughout the Arabian peninsula and Northern Africa for more than 5 millennia. There is a good reason that frankincense has enjoyed such a long history of use. Even ancient civilizations recognized its many therapeutic and healing qualities.
This month's aromatherapy post is all about clary sage. Clary sage isn't one of the more popular essential oils, and many people have never heard of it, but it has myriad benefits making it a great oil to have on hand. Clary sage is often considered to be a women's oil because a number of its benefits assist in things like hormone balance, and relieving pain associated with menstruation and childbirth.
Upon first glance, clary sage looks very similar to lavender, but it is actually a member of the salvia, or sage, family. You can tell the difference by looking at the leaves which much more closely resemble the sage leaves that you may find in smudge bundles or for cooking with. The aroma is also very different than that of a lavender flower. Clary sage is not the sweetest smelling herb, being much more bitter and earthy than the lavender that it looks similar to.
For this month's edition of the aromatherapy series, we will be talking about the uses and benefits of lemongrass. Lemongrass is a plant that you may or may not be aware of. It is very easy to grow and it has myriad benefits both in cooking and natural health. Lemongrass is in fact, a variety of grass. It enjoys warm climates and plenty of sunlight. You can easily grow lemongrass from stalks you find at the grocery store or farmer's market. Simply place the stalks in a jar with an inch or two of water and leave them there until they begin to sprout roots. Make sure to change out the water every couple of days or so. When you begin to see new leaves grow, your lemongrass is ready to be transplanted to a pot or the ground.
Lemongrass is a very popular component in many asian style dishes, but can also be used medicinally, or as a powerful cleaner. Before getting started, it is important to note that care should be exercised when using lemongrass oil when pregnant because of it's ability to stimulate blood flow. It should also always be diluted in a carrier oil before being used topically to avoid a rash.
When we think about oregano, most of us head to the spice aisle. It has strong associations with cooking, especially for Italian food. Did you know that there are actually a great number of health benefits that come from oregano? You can reap some of these benefits by using it on food, but you can also buy it in essential oil form to get even more out of it.
Aside from seasoning your food, oregano can be used to treat a number of ailments and discomforts such as skin conditions, the flu, arthritis, sinus congestion, parasites, and much more. It is important to note that oregano oil should be diluted before it is applied to the skin. Undiluted oregano oil can cause burning or irritation of the skin. Pregnant women should avoid using oregano oil. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of using oregano oil.
In this month's edition of the aromatherapy blog, we will be talking about the sweet, flowery scent of ylang ylang. Many people are familiar with the aroma of ylang ylang because it is used to make the perfume Chanel No. 5. The ylang ylang flower grows on a type of evergreen tree most commonly found in rainforests, particularly those in parts of Asia and the South Pacific.
As with any other essential oil, it is important to pay attention to the quality. Make sure that you are getting a high grade essential oil rather than a fragrance oil which has potentially harmful chemicals added to make it cheaper. Like many others, ylang ylang is best used in moderation. It can often be a somewhat overwhelming scent. Start off with a drop or two and add in small increments if you feel like you need to.
Like all of the other aromas we have talked about, aside from smelling nice, ylang ylang has a large number of health benefits. It is wonderful for the skin, and is good for treating things like high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Let's take a look at those and many more benefits of the ylang ylang flower.
This month's aromatherapy post is about eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is very commonly known and used, and you may already be aware of some of its health benefits. Eucalyptus is native to Australia and has been used by the native Aborigines for generations to treat fevers and skin irritations. It is also known for being the primary food for koala bears.
Being a very strong oil, it is best to dilute it in a carrier oil or water before applying to your skin. It is best to avoid use of the oil for pregnant women or children under the age of 2. Small amounts found in food or medications such as lozenges is fine, but skin coming into contact with the oil should be avoided. It is generally safe to diffuse or inhale the scent of eucalyptus. Let's look at a few of the more interesting health benefits of eucalyptus.
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to furthering women's health through bodywork and education, and helping women to have healthier lives and positive birth experiences.