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Therapeutic Properties

Hawthorn and Cardiovascular Health: An Herbal Monograph

If I were to ask you which herb is most effective for supporting the health of the cardiovascular system, most of you would immediately think of Hawthorn. This strong, yet gentle, protective plant is one of my long-term herbal buddies. Our February issue of AromaCulture Magazine is centered around the theme of herbs and essential oils that support the cardiovascular system, so covering Hawthorn this week is quite timely.

Many species of Hawthorn grow native here in the United States, while others have been introduced from Europe and other temperate regions. The shrubs/trees vary in height by species and their leaf shapes also vary quite a bit. They are members of the Rose family and boast the signature 5-petaled white flowers that are typical of plants in this family. In the past, it was thought that there could have been up to 1000 different Hawthorn species. I’ve seen people claim anywhere between 100 to 300 recently, but as of my last count, there are at least 350-410 accepted species (I counted around 420, but some are accepted only with a low confidence level, so my number is conservative).

Hawthorn is slow growing, but easy to cultivate if you choose a plant that does well in your area’s growing conditions. It can tolerate many soil conditions, but prefers nice, rich soil. Growing from seed is especially slow-going as the seeds can take up to a year (or even more) to germinate. Scarification, stratification, and fermentation have all been utilized to process seeds and to try to hasten germination. Two of my Hawthorn plants (the first ones I ever purchased) are still fairly young and were purchased as seedlings, but I was recently able to find a couple of more mature trees (7-8' tall for only $7 each!) at a native plant nursery and I'm excited to see how well they do this year. Hawthorns hybridize readily and older plants will happily produce little saplings that can be potted up and gifted to friends and family or spread throughout the garden. Berries can be harvested in the fall when they're ripe and flowers and leaves can be gathered in the spring. (Leave plenty of flowers behind if you want berries, though.)

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Traditional Uses and Preparations

Most herbalists today use the flower, leaves, twigs and berries medicinally, but native peoples also used the bark, sap, and the root of the Hawthorn for various medicinal purposes. A tea made from the twigs was used by native peoples to relieve pain in the side and to improve bladder function. The roots were decocted and used for general weakness, diarrhea (Hawthorn is astringent), and other complaints. A berry decoction was used as a laxative and for stomach issues. Hawthorn leaves were used as a poultice to reduce swelling. In most areas, Hawthorn was considered to be a good tonic herb that was useful for sickness and overall health.

Many native tribes would gather Hawthorn berries, dry them, and then mash them and dry them in discs to form crackers or cookies that could be eaten during the winter months when food was scarce. These cakes could also be rehydrated and used to make sauces. Other tribes would grind the Hawthorn berries and make bread with them (click here for my hawthorn berry pumpkin bread recipe) and still other peoples would chew the inner bark like gum.

Hawthorn trees are also known for their long thorns which have historically been used as sewing needles, pins, and fish hooks and for their use in medicine bag making.

In western herbalism, Hawthorn has traditionally been used to improve circulation and keep fluids and energy moving efficiently through the body. Its reputation for its beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system is long-standing. It has been extensively tested in clinical trials and studies and is commonly taken in tincture, tea, and capsule form, and is often included in jellies, jams and other food recipes as well.

Therapeutic Effects

Hawthorn has been found to be a gentle cardiotonic herb with anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent, calming, diuretic and antioxidant properties. It helps to balance blood pressure, tone and strengthen the heart, and improve circulation so the heart can function more efficiently. (See the test results section for references.) Many herbalists have reported success with using Hawthorn to regulate heartbeat, balance cholesterol levels, and improve overall heart health when taken over time.

Energetically, Hawthorn helps us to feel calmer, more uplifted and happier in spirit. It has an affinity for helping us with the pain of deep loss or feelings of grief or sadness. When we start to turn inward to try to protect ourselves from having our hearts hurt, Hawthorn helps us to keep our hearts open and love energy flowing.

Because it is so effective at keeping both physical and emotional energy moving, Hawthorn is also useful in cases where there is stagnation in the digestive system and its historical use indicates that it has been commonly used for this purpose. Where there is damage in the connective tissues, Hawthorn can help assist with collagen production and repair of the damaged tissues.

Hawthorn is often paired with Rose, Hibiscus, Linden and/or Yarrow in traditional preparations and is commonly used in combination with other relaxing nervine herbs.

Constituents

Hawthorn’s constituents include antioxidants, vitamins B and C, saponins, tannins, bioflavonoids and procyanidins, among others.

Test Results

For Dogs

Hawthorn berry powder can be sprinkled into your pup’s food to help prevent and support heart issues and to support the cardiovascular system and circulation in general. Breeds that are especially prone to heart issues may benefit from a consistent addition of Hawthorn to their diets. Jon and I want to train Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as therapy and service dogs someday when we have our land and they can sometimes be prone to heart issues, so Hawthorn is one herb that we'll definitely be including in their diets regularly. Fresh berries (de-seeded) can also be used as pup treats when they’re in season and if your pup usually eats dry kibble, you can use a bit of Hawthorn tea to moisten it. (Just make sure it cools before giving it to them.)

Safety Considerations

Hawthorn is a nourishing, tonic herb, so best results will be seen when taken consistently over time. It is gentle enough that it can usually be taken with medications, but please do check with your doctor prior to adding Hawthorn to your repertoire if you are on any kind of heart medication.

Hawthorn is indicated for almost every kind of heart-related condition or ailment.

The hydrosol

Hawthorn hydrosol has been traditionally taken internally when physical or emotional healing of the heart is needed. It is rarely found nowadays unless you happen to know someone who distills it or you are able to distill it yourself, but there are a select few artisan distillers who still produce it. I’ll be distilling my own later on this year and will let you know how it goes.

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Resources

Is Hawthorn a part of your daily repertoire? If not, have you ever tried it?

Much love,
Erin


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Turmeric's Therapeutic Effects

Turmeric (Curcuma longa, C. domestica) is an herb with a reputation. Even people who don’t use herbs for anything beyond flavoring their favorite dishes often know that Turmeric can be used to help reduce chronic inflammation, relieve pain, and help to improve overall health and well-being. I have one friend who is very involved with western medicine and loves to use Turmeric for her gut health, and another who uses it alongside her normal medications to help reduce the severity of painful symptoms related to her chronic medical condition. Turmeric is a user-friendly food herb that people easily recognize. It’s also immensely valuable in the apothecary.

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Turmeric is an invigorating, warming herb that contains a wide variety of constituents, including the well-known curcumin, yields an essential oil that contains turmerone and zingiberene, among other constituents, and also contains sugars, protein, bitters, resins, and even vitamins A, B, C, E and K, flavonoids, and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. The rhizome is the part of the plant that is most often used in cooking and in the apothecary. I grew Turmeric in my garden this year and it grew happily alongside my Ginger plants throughout our warmer months.

Therapeutic Properties

Turmeric boasts a wide variety of therapeutic effects, including the following: analgesic, antibacterial, anticarcinogenic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, blood moving, carminative, cholagogue, emmenagogue, hemostatic, hepatoprotective and vulnerary. As you can see, it’s quite a versatile herb.

For the Digestive System

Turmeric’s doctrine of signatures accurately points to its value as a liver supportive and liver protective herb. One veterinarian who uses Turmeric in his practice says that Turmeric stimulates the flow of bile and can increase its output by as much as 100% whilst also increasing its solubility.(1) Turmeric is commonly indicated for a wide variety of liver ailments as well as gastrointestinal issues and a plethora of other digestive complaints. It supports the digestive process, helps us to better absorb and use the nutrients in our food and helps improve gut flora. Its carminative effect is valuable for alleviating gas and associated  discomfort as well.

For the Respiratory System

While many may not think of Turmeric as the first herb to turn to when dealing with a respiratory issue, it is an excellent immune supportive, antiviral(2,3) herb to use when facing a cough or cold and flu symptoms. It is one of the ingredients in the famous Fire Cider remedy. Golden Milk, which features Turmeric as its main herbal ingredient is another traditional remedy that is often taken when the first sign of symptoms appears. Taking Turmeric in a formula that also includes black or white pepper is thought to increase its overall effectiveness.

Turmeric's Other Talents

Turmeric is also used to support the health of cardiovascular system, reduce anxiety levels
(especially in people who tend toward a cold constitution), support healthy menstruation, and is used in a variety of skin care applications. Its antifungal properties are employed in formulas meant to address skin issues such as athlete’s foot, eczema, psoriasis and ringworm and its anti-inflammatory properties are sometimes considered when formulating daily-use skin care products. Topical use blends that are used to help aid recovery after injury or trauma also make use of Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Blends that are formulated for topical use on wounds, insect bites and stings and scrapes and bruises often include Turmeric as an ingredient.

Rosemary Gladstar says that Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effect is accomplished by sensitizing the body’s cortisol receptor sites and speaks of studies that have revealed Turmeric as being stronger acting than hydrocortisone without its harmful side effects.(6)

Its cardiovascular effects include improved circulation and cholesterol levels, anticoagulant properties and protection against heart disease.

Turmeric's Test Results

One trial showed that Turmeric improves the memory of people who had early signs of prediabetes and Alzheimer’s.(5)

Multiple studies have found that Turmeric (and curcumin) has an anti-cancer effect, inducing apoptosis in cancer cells and helping to protect the body’s healthy cells. Pancreatic cancer,(7) head and neck cancers,(8) ovarian cancer,(9) breast cancer,(10,11,12,13,14,15) colon cancer,(16,17) prostate cancer,(18,19) skin cancer(20) and esophageal cancer(21) have all been examined in these studies.

One study found that the anti-inflammatory properties of Turmeric compare with the anti-inflammatory effects of hydrocortisone acetate and phenylbutazone (an NSAID drug used in the treatment of animals).(4)

Turmeric’s herbal extract was found to be as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee arthritis.(23)

When combined with white pepper, Turmeric was found to be able to decrease inflammation.(24)

The essential oil shows promise as a mosquito repellent, especially in combination with a few other essential oils.(25)

Curcuma oil protected mice with hepatic injury from inflammatory and oxidative stress and inhibited hepatoma cell growth in vivo and in vitro.(26) Turmeric’s extract inhibits gastric acid secretion by blocking H(2) histamine receptors.(2)7 It also inhibits entry of all hepatitis C virus genotypes from entering liver cells.(28)
Turmeric’s antiviral effects have been demonstrated in studies involving Zika(29) and other viruses, HIV,(30) and the Herpes simplex virus,(31) among others.

Turmeric also shows promise for use in a number of eye conditions.(32)

Applications and Uses

I love incorporating Turmeric into my skin care routine. I use the hydrosol as a facial toner and I often include the powdered herb in an exfoliating face powder recipe with powdered Rose petals. I also like to combine it with a bit of honey, Turmeric hydrosol, and clay to make a face mask that can be painted onto the skin and left for a few minutes (don’t let it dry out) before rinsing off.

Turmeric is famously used as an herbal dye that produces a vibrant yellow color. It’s no secret that Turmeric likes to stain everything it touches! Because it is so effective at sharing its color with everything around it, it’s often employed as a substitute for saffron in dishes where that brilliant color is desired. It makes fried rice and stir fry dishes beautifully colorful and can make for a fun addition to bread making.

When used for its flavor, Turmeric is perhaps the most noticeable ingredient in curry spice blends. Curried peas and curried roasted cauliflower are favorites in our home. I also love to include a bit of it when making fermented veggies!

Turmeric can be brewed alone as a tea, but is more effective when a bit of black or white pepper is added to the brew. It’s especially tasty when prepared as Golden Milk with a few more pungent, warming spices and bit of honey. I also like to include it in smoothies or use the fresh juice combined with the juice of carrots and lemon in the mornings.

The leaves of the Turmeric plant are used to wrap and steam-cook fish. The rhizome is beautiful in soups and is one of the ingredients in Fire Cider, a traditional herbal remedy. The powdered herb can be used to season grilled meats and add color to a variety of dishes, including potato salad (yum!).

Turmeric is most effective when used steadily over time, so try incorporating it into a variety of dishes to discover how you like it best.

Turmeric for Dogs

Turmeric is also a useful herb to use when caring for animals, especially dogs. It can be sprinkled into their food to assist with / help prevent liver, digestive and cardiovascular ailments. It can also be used topically (infused into a carrier oil or Aloe or used as a hydrosol) for wounds, eczema, and other skin-related issues.

One of my pup’s favorite treats is a scrambled egg cooked with a pinch of Turmeric powder sprinkled into it. I’ll sometimes add Turmeric to her food when I’m cooking up the rice that I include in some of her meals. It turns the rice a brilliant yellow color and adds a bit of flavor as well.

Growing Turmeric

Growing Turmeric in the garden is so easy and so enjoyable. The plants are happy growing next to my Ginger and Plantain and I can’t believe how vibrant Turmeric is when I use it just after digging it up. There’s something special about using an herb therapeutically when it was a living plant just a few moments ago.

Growing: Turmeric can be grown outdoors in partial shade or partial sun during the warmer months and potted up and brought indoors to go dormant for the cooler months (if your growing zone is below 7 or 8; otherwise it can overwinter outdoors in areas where you ground doesn’t freeze). It prefers a moist soil and a humid environment, but I’ve heard reports that it will even grow in dry soil. To plant it, lay the rhizome flat on top of the soil and top-sprinkle with a bit more soil (bits of the rhizome should still be visible). Don’t bury it completely or it could rot. The plant is very easy to grow; I highly recommend planting some in your own garden, greenhouse or sunroom.

Harvesting: Turmeric can be harvested in the fall with other fall-harvested roots, after the leaves have started to lose their color and lushness. The rhizomes can be stored in the fridge for a few months and enjoyed while fresh, but for longer storage, you’ll want to dry them.

Safety Considerations

Turmeric has the potential to exacerbate signs of excess heat in the body, so if you already tend toward a hot constitution, you’ll want to avoid overusing it. Therapeutic doses should generally be avoided when pregnant or while taking blood thinning medications, but use as a food herb in reasonable amounts is generally regarded as safe.

Essential Oil and Hydrosol

Turmeric essential oil is rich in turmerone and zingiberene, among other constituents. Its therapeutic properties include: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, cholagogue, digestive, restorative, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. It is commonly used to support healthy digestion, relieve muscular cramps, spasms and aches and pains, and to soothe skin ailments with symptoms of excess heat. It is contraindicated for small children and women who are pregnant and may irritate sensitive skin, so use it at a proper dilution and after testing it on a small area before widespread application.

The hydrosol is used topically for skin ailments and in digestive support preparations and is sometimes used internally (in cooking or otherwise) to help support healthy digestion.

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How about you? Have you made friends with Turmeric yet? What stands out to you about it?

Much love,
Erin

References

  1. Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Dog Care by Randy Kidd, D.V.M., Ph.D
  2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354216307483
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25600522
  4. http://www.mccormickscienceinstitute.com/public/msi/assets/Aggarwal_book.pdf
  5. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/23/4/581.pdf
  6. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs, a Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25071333
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22583425
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25429431
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24864107
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22772921
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140290
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23448448
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25031701
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24365254
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25238234
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24550143
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25594891
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23875250
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22080352
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22253518
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26396311
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24672232
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24260564
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25817806
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24270742
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16327153
  28. gut.bmj.com/content/63/7/1137.long
  29. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354216307483
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2608099/pdf/jnma00383-0007.pdf
  31. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042682207007982
  32. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0033-1351074

 


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How to Make Fir Needle Back Massage Serum

I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas and a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones! Today I'm sharing one of my quick recipes with you. It's a great serum that you can whip up in just a few minutes once you've got your oil infusions ready to go. One of my favorite nighttime routine recipes is a back massage cream that features Douglas Fir hydrosol as a key ingredient. It helps my back muscles let go of all of the tension they've held on to throughout the day so I can relax before bed. Once in awhile, though, I don't want to spend time in the kitchen whipping up up a batch of cream and I use this Fir needle serum instead. It smells like the forest and leaves me feeling relaxed and clear headed while melting all of those knots and tight spots right out of my back. I sleep like a baby when I use it!

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Fir needles are traditionally used for digestive and respiratory disorders as well as female complaints and skin issues, among other things. Their essential oils are generally anti-inflammatory and are excellent for opening up the airways. They help us to feel grounded, clear-headed, and relaxed so we can breathe deeply and act calmly and with good sense. I love using Fir essential oils and needles in self-care products like this one. I usually ask my husband to massage this serum into my back just before bed, but if you don't have someone to massage it into your back for you, you can give yourself a neck and shoulders massage with it or even massage it into your feet or arms instead.

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INGREDIENTS FOR MY FIR NEEDLE BACK MASSAGE SERUM RECIPE

  • 1 ounce of Fir needle-infused olive oil
  • 1 ounce of Peppermint leaf infused Jojoba oil
  • 12 drops of Siberian Fir essential oil (optional)

To start, you'll want to infuse your carrier oils with your herb. (I have a tutorial for infusing oils here.) Once your oils have been infused for the length of time you prefer, you can strain the oils and then you're ready to make this recipe. All you need to do is place 12 drops of the essential oil in a 2 ounce glass dropper bottle, then pour in the 2 ounces of herb-infused carrier oils. Shake well to incorporate, give the bottle a label so you don't forget what's in your serum (or when you made it) and then store it away from direct sunlight or heat. This product can be used daily.

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Have you ever used Fir needles or fir essential oils in your apothecary? Tell me about how you like to use them in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin


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Using Pine Therapeutically + a Couple of Recipes (How to Make Pine Pitch Salve + Pine Needle Serum)

When my husband and I first moved to the PNW, we immediately began to explore the vast wilderness areas around us so we could get to know our native plants here. One of the first things we started noticing about the trees in one particular area was that they had been drilled by woodpeckers and the resulting holes were full of gorgeous, aromatic resin. Those fragrant little pockets of sticky medicine are still one of the first things we point out to visitors who come to see us and want to know about some of our local plants. Pines are plentiful here.

Pine trees have been partnered with to support health and healing for many generations. Traditionally, they are symbols of wisdom, peace and longevity. The pitch, bark, needles, hydrosol and essential oil of many varieties of Pine are used medicinally. Note: There are a few varieties of Pine whose needles are toxic, so be sure you know how to identify the species prior to wildcrafting or ingesting needles.

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Pine Pitch

Pine pitch is sometimes referred to as resin or sap. It is often used in survival situations to start fires and in first aid situations to help keep a wound clean and protected until it can be addressed more thoroughly (another herbal bandage, so to speak). It is often melted down into carrier oil and made into Pine pitch salve or ointment, which are common first aid preparations used to address minor cuts, scrapes, and wounds. The pitch is also a drawing substance, so it can be used to help pull splinters out of the skin.

If you’ve ever collected a bit of Pine pitch, you know that it’s incredibly sticky. It’s often referred to as nature’s glue and can be used as a type of natural glue when living off the land. It’s often melted down and applied to baskets, boats and shoes to give them a waterproof coating as well.

Pine resins can be mindfully harvested and used to formulate infused oils, salves, lotions and butters that can be valuable additions to your home apothecary. Native Americans used Pine resin in poultices and salves to help draw out splinters and other toxins, seal and protect [clean] wounds, and increase circulation to injured areas of the body. It is still used in first aid applications for these same purposes today. It's not uncommon to see Pine drawing salves even in conventional stores. Pine resin possesses antibacterial and possibly even anti-inflammatory properties, but is quite warming, so it can sometimes increase irritation if the area where it is applied is already red and inflamed. Use discernment when choosing which herb is best for your case, but generally speaking, Pine resin salve can be a wonderful ally for your first aid kit.

Traditional uses of Pine Resin Infused Oil:

  • in a chest rub when feeling congested
  • in a warming salve for achy muscles, joints, and areas where increased circulation is needed
  • as a base for herbal / aromatic perfumes and colognes
  • in drawing salves, sometimes combined with activated charcoal and Plantain (great for splinters, etc.)
  • in lotions and creams for skin issues and skin care (in low dilution for skin care products), usually with Violet leaves or Comfrey leaves also infused into the oil to help soften its effect
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INGREDIENTS FOR MY PINE PITCH SALVE RECIPE

  • 2 ounces of mindfully harvested Pine resin
  • 4 ounces of organic olive oil that has been infused with Violet leaves, Plantain leaves, and Comfrey leaves
  • 1/2 ounce of organic beeswax
  • organic essential oils (optional)
    SUGGESTIONS:
    For chest rub applications - Cedarwood, Rosalina, Black Spruce or Siberian Fir
    For skin care or first aid applications - Lavender, Helichrysum, Vetiver, or Rose
    For warming, circulatory applications - Ginger, Lavender, Chamomile, or Black Pepper

To make your own Pine pitch salve, place 2 ounces of Pine pitch in a quart sized mason jar and set the jar into a saucepan of water over low heat on the stove (double boiler method). Add 4 ounces of herb infused carrier oil - I’ve used Violet leaf, Comfrey leaf and Plantain leaf infused oil as my carriers for this particular batch. It will take a little while for the pitch to melt into the carrier oil. Stir it occasionally and make sure the heat is kept very low. 1/2 ounce of beeswax melted into the mixture will help the salve to solidify once cooled. Once everything has been incorporated, strain the mixture through a coffee filter, a piece of muslin cloth, or a fine mesh sieve, pour it into a jar and let it sit until cool.

Notes

  • Preferred species of Pine for use of the resin include White Pine (P. strobus) and Pinyon Pine (P. edulis), but all of the Pines will produce usable resin. Some of them are stronger than others.
  • Mindful, respectful harvesting of resins is paramount. The tree produces resin to protect itself from infection when it has been injured or compromised. Be mindful of the size of the wound you're collecting from. Does the tree need the resin to stay there in order to protect itself in that area? Harvest elsewhere if needed. Don't harvest large pieces.
  • Pine resin is super sticky. You can use olive oil to remove it from your hands if needed. I prefer to keep a separate jar and utensils just for working with resins. You may want to adopt this practice as well.
  • Don't ever leave resins unattended while they are heating. Always use a double boiler method.
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Pine Needles

Pine needles are commonly used to make baskets and were traditionally used to stuff cushions and mattresses as well. They can be used to create a sort of soft bed on the forest floor and provide a great mulch for the garden.

In herbal medicine, they are mainly used to support the respiratory and immune systems. Coughs, congestion, sore throats, lung ailments, etc. are all situations for which Pine needles could be used. The needles are often used to make cough syrups and teas and are rich in vitamins A and C, among many other nutrients.

To make a Pine needle serum that can be used topically, infuse dried Pine needles into a lightweight carrier oil for 4 to 6 weeks, then mix that carrier oil with a skin-rejuvenating essential oil (optional) at a 0.5 to 1% dilution. This serum can be used as a facial serum and as a body or massage oil (2% dilution).

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Pine Cones

Pine cones can be used to start fires and yield seeds that we know as Pine nuts, which are a valuable wild food for humans and wildlife. Nuts can be harvested in late fall.

Pine Pollen

Pine pollen can be gathered in the spring and is a nutrient dense super-food that has long been considered a sacred medicinal by native peoples. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is rich in flavonoids and essential fatty acids, and is a potent androgen. It can be tinctured (1:5) or sprinkled into food.

Pine Hydrosol

Pine hydrosols are incredible skin tonics. I like to use them as facial toners and incorporate them into my herbal skin care regimen. I also use them when I'm making back lotions and creams for sore muscles. They're perfectly suited for that purpose and leave the formulas smelling forested and fresh.

Pine Essential Oil

Pine essential oils are mainly used to support the respiratory system and the musculoskeletal system. They have analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, circulatory and expectorant properties and smell uplifting and refreshing, like walking through a pine forest and stopping to take a few deep breaths. Energetically, Pine essential oils are balancing and help us to feel like we are grounded deep into the earth with a clear, focused mind. 

Pine’s Test Results

Pine extracts and products have been tested in various trials in recent years and are starting to become more popular as the test results continue to show promise. Here are a few noteworthy examples of Pine's test results.

Have you ever used Pine in your apothecary?

Much love,
Erin


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The Differences Between Lavender Essential Oils

This article has been excerpted from The Lavender Guide, a new book by Erin Stewart. The excerpt has been adapted for use here and was also featured in the August issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

I've never met a Lavender plant I didn't love. When they pop up in garden shops around here, they are quickly snatched up by adoring plant-tenders and whisked away to their new homes where they're lovingly planted up and made a part of the family. My German Shepherd even loves them. There was a house on our block in CA that had a large, vibrant, seemingly ever-blooming Lavender plant in the front yard and it spilled over the picket fence into the sidewalk. Every day on our walk, my pup had to stop and stick her nose into that Lavender plant and just breathe it in for a moment before we continued on our way. Every time. It's rather adorable, really. She's a smart one.


Did you know we made a film with the lavender farmers of southern Oregon? Click on the image below to watch it - it’s free! You’ll get to go behind the scenes at working lavender farms and learn directly from the farmers as they teach you how to grow, care for and distill lavender!


Lavender is a flowering shrub in the Lamiaceae (mint) family and boasts over 40 known species with an ever growing count of over 400 cultivated varieties. While it's native to areas near the Mediterranean, Lavender is now grown all over the world and the various species provide us with several different essential oils. While they are all "Lavender" essential oils, the different species (and varieties) yield essential oils with slightly differing chemical compositions that might make one more suitable for certain issues than the others. Let's focus in on some of the differences between some of the most commonly available Lavender oils.

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TRUE LAVENDER

Botanical name: Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis

The main Lavender used for therapeutic purposes in both herbalism and aromatherapy is Lavandula angustifolia. There are many cultivars of L. angustifolia, with flowers ranging in color from light purple to dark purple, white, and even pink. This Lavender is sometimes referred to as English Lavender. I have also heard some people call it French Lavender, but since that term has also been applied to Lavandin (L. x intermedia) and to L. dentata, it is best to refer to it via its botanical name, L. angustifolia, to avoid confusion.

 
 

L. angustifolia plants produce less essential oil than the hybrid Lavandin plants do. A friend who distills Lavender daily has found that 6 to 8 plants' worth of L. angustifolia flowering stalks will fill the basket of a 15 gallon copper alembic still and will yield about 70ml of essential oil per distillation.

While not considered ideal for florists and designers because of their shorter stems, the angustifolias have a sweeter, softer aroma than other Lavender varieties and are considered superior for therapeutic use. The plants themselves are much shorter and smaller than Lavandin varieties.

My favorite L. angustifolia cultivars include: 'Bowles Early,' 'Buena Vista,' 'Hidcote,' 'Loddon Blue,' 'Miss Katherine,' 'Opal Rain,' 'Royal Velvet,' and 'Sachet.'

The essential oil of L. angustifolia plants is rich in linalol and linalyl acetate, among many other constituents (possibly as many as 450 or more) and is considered the choice Lavender oil for use in aromatherapy. Professional aromatherapists will rarely use a Lavender oil produced from another Lavender variety, except, perhaps, for Spike Lavender (L. latifolia / spica) in cases where 1,8-Cineole and Camphor are preferred constituents for application. The different varieties of L. angustifolia produce similar, but still subtly different essential oils. ('Buena Vista' and 'Hidcote Pink' are two of my current favorites.) A discerning nose will be able to notice slight differences in aroma between the different oils, but in general, L. angustifolia essential oil is not sold with the variety name included unless it is being purchased directly from a small farm that distills their own Lavender on site. Most larger distillers, even if they grow several varieties of L. angustifolia, will co-distill the different varieties together and sell the finished product labeled simply as 'Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia' essential oil.

I have found that L. angustifolia essential oils consistently boast the following therapeutic properties (among others): analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anxiolytic, antispasmodic, carminative, cicatrisant, diuretic, emmenagogue, nervine, sedative, and uplifting. They are generally useful for any kind of skin ailment, nervous tension, anxiety, lack of restful sleep, aches, pains, and spasms, and a variety of more serious complaints [covered more thoroughly in the full chapter found in the book].

While Lavender is safe for even neat use on the skin, some clinical aromatherapists now recommend using it undiluted only for acute ailments (like a bee sting). When used regularly over time, it may be best to dilute even the friendly Lavender essential oil in a carrier.  

True Lavender essential oil is costly to produce and is often adulterated with isolated (or synthetic) linalol or linalyl acetate, synthetic Lavender oil, and even Lavandin essential oil. Know your source well to be sure you're purchasing a true, 100% L. angustifolia essential oil.

 
LAVANDULA X INTERMEDIA grosso fat spike by erin stewart-23.jpg
 

LAVANDIN

Botanical name: Lavandula x intermedia, Lavandula hybrida, Lavandula x burnati

Lavandin (L. x intermedia) is a Lavender species that is cherished by growers and distillers around the world. Lavandin plants are created when a Lavandula angustifolia and a Lavandula latifolia plant are cross-pollinated. The resulting hybrid is a much larger plant than the L. angustifolia varieties and yields a great deal more essential oil. Lavandins make beautiful garden hedges because of their impressive size and color. They bloom later in the season than L. angustifolia varieties, so adding Lavandin to your Lavender garden is an easy way to extend your blooming season.

A few of my personal favorite Lavandin varieties for the garden include, 'Fred Boutin,' 'Grosso,' 'Impress Purple,' 'Jaubert,' and 'Lullingstone Castle.'

Like the L. angustifolia essential oil varieties, Lavandin essential oil is usually offered as simply 'Lavandin - L. x intermedia' or 'Lavender - L. x intermedia' essential oil, though you may be able to find specific varieties like 'Grosso' and 'Super' labeled individually, especially if purchasing directly from a farm that distills onsite. Lavandin essential oil is not as commonly used in the aromatherapy industry, but it is produced worldwide for the fragrance industry. It is a common ingredient in soaps, laundry detergents, skin care, perfumes, and cleaning products. It's far less chemically complex than L. angustifolia essential oil and is considered to be somewhat inferior therapeutically, so not many professional aromatherapists use it. Still, the aroma is lovely - a bit sharper than an angustifolia, due to its higher Camphor and 1,8-Cineole content. Some people prefer its aroma because it's more similar to the traditional Lavender smell they're used to while others, who think they don't like the smell of Lavender until they smell a true L. angustifolia, shy away from the Lavandin scent.

Therapeutically, Lavandin essential oil is used for its antibacterial properties and to support the respiratory system. [Further therapeutic uses are covered in the full chapter in the book.]

 
LAVANDULA stoechas anouk supreme by erin stewart-23.jpg
 

LAVANDULA STOECHAS

Botanical name(s): Lavandula stoechas

L. stoechas is sometimes called Spanish Lavender, but since that term is also applied to L. dentata and L. stoechas is also called French Lavender (a term also applied to L. angustifolias and L. x intermedia varieties), it is best to just refer to it by its botanical name: L. stoechas.

L. Stoechas makes a stunning compact hedge in the garden and tends to bloom continuously beginning in late spring. My absolute favorite variety is 'Kew Red,' but I also love 'Cottage Rose,' 'Otto Quast,' and 'James Compton.'

The essential oil is not as easily found, but it can be sourced. Generally speaking, it is not well suited for use with little ones and comes with a few safety contraindications. It is rich in Camphor (even more than Spike Lavender), 1,8-Cineole, and Fenchone, and has an affinity for the respiratory system. Since it is so rich in ketones and oxides, it should be used with caution. [Further therapeutic information covered in the full chapter in the book.]

 

SPIKE LAVENDER

Botanical name(s): Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula spica, Lavandula spicata

Spike Lavender grows at a lower elevation than the L. angustifolia plants and is sometimes called Aspic. The essential oil has a sharper, more camphoraceous aroma than the essential oil from Lavandula angustifolia, with a camphor content that can vary based on where the plant was grown, sometimes reaching concentrations up to about 35%. It also contains higher amounts of 1,8-Cineole. Its aroma hints at its antiseptic qualities and smells quite medicinal. It is often utilized in respiratory support blends and is especially useful when you're feeling a bit stuffy. It can be helpful for pain and inflammation. While not nearly as calming as a True Lavender oil, it does stimulate circulation and effectively gets stagnant energy moving through the body again.

Because of the camphor content, it is recommended that this oil be avoided when pregnant.

Therapeutically, Spike Lavender essential oil is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, circulatory, and expectorant. It is sometimes used in skin care preparations and is often included in blends that support skin ailments, cramps and spasms, headaches, and minor wounds. [Covered in more detail in the full chapter of the book.]

 
LAVANDULA x christiana by erin stewart-23.jpg
 

CONCLUSION

There are many other Lavender species and varieties that are grown around the world. Our personal collection has many beautiful varieties. Some of my favorites that aren't listed in this particular article include L. multifida and L. x christiana (pictured above).

There's just something so special about Lavender. Once you've spent some time with it, you can't help but want to be around it all the time. Plant one or two varieties in your own garden. Before long, you'll probably be growing your collection too!

Are you growing any Lavender in your garden? Which varieties? Let me know in the comments below. =)

Much love,
Erin

 

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Top 11 Herbs and Essential Oils for the Skin

Walking down the skincare aisle at the drugstore is sort of amusing to me. Shelves and shelves of products with pretty packaging, clinical claims, and long lists of synthetic, chemical-laden ingredients...they don't appeal to me at all anymore, but they do cause me to ponder the reasons our culture tends to so easily buy into their marketing. Before I transitioned to a chemical-free lifestyle, I tried so many different storebought products to try to force my skin into looking vibrant and glowy and clear, but none of them worked long-term and many of them even caused irritation or damage to my sensitive skin. When I started using homemade, botanical products instead of the options offered to me at the local Nordstrom, Target, or CVS, I saw such a drastic improvement in my skin (and my health) that it's hard for me to even fathom picking up a toxin-laden, though prettily packaged, product again.

Since June is Skin Healing month here at AromaCulture, I decided to reserve some blog space to talk about my favorite herbs and essential oils for the skin. All of the botanicals in this post are well suited to a wide variety of skincare and first aid applications and can be used for every skin type. They're perfect ingredients to include in your own skincare formulations. Ready to see what made my Top 11 list?

1. DANDELION

So much of the skin's health depends on what is actually happening on the inside of your body. If your liver and kidneys are not functioning well or your digestive system and circulation are a bit stagnant or your gut health is not quite where it should be, you'll start to notice changes in your skin. Acne, blackheads, irritation, inflammation, dull skin...these are all outward manifestations of an inner imbalance that needs to be addressed. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)  is one of the best herbs for this. It supports the health of the digestive organs, especially the liver (which is directly related to the health of your skin), and helps the body to purify the blood and flush out the yuck that doesn't belong. Any time I start to notice little spots popping up on my face, I know it's time to bring out the Dandelion. My skin thanks me every time.

Dandelion can be utilized for the skin via digestive bitters, herbal hand and foot baths, or through the diet. The whole plant is edible. Flowers can be added to salads, roots can be added to soups, and the greens can be cooked down with something sweet and eaten like any other edible green. (The younger leaves are better tasting than older ones.) Generally, the leaves are used as a diuretic (think stagnant issues, like cellulite) and the root is used to stimulate digestion and the production of bile, supporting the liver (and, therefore, the skin). The root can be roasted and brewed as a coffee substitute and is often included in homemade root beer formulas.

If you have a latex allergy, you will probably want to avoid Dandelion. That milky white sap that you see when you pick a Dandelion is latex.

 
 

2. BURDOCK

Burdock (Arctium lappa) is another liver-supportive herb that will indirectly improve and support the health of the skin. It works to correct the internal imbalances that manifest themselves outwardly via issues with the skin (i.e. dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, etc.) and is also valuable when used externally for scalp health, wounds, rashes, and inflamed areas. It's great at getting the lymph moving, too, so is again indicated where there is stagnation. My favorite herbal shampoo includes Burdock root as a main ingredient. It can be infused into a carrier oil and included in first aid preparations and skin care formulas or can be decocted and used as a wash. Burdock can also be taken internally as a tincture or as a food. The root is often cooked and eaten as a dish called Gobo and it can also be brewed into a tea and included in homemade root beer soda blends.

Burdock is a weedy plant, so it's extremely easy to grow yourself. Start a little patch of it (it'll do well in just about any kind of soil) and harvest the root in early fall. There are no known safety issues for Burdock.

3. CALENDULA

Ah, Calendula. Possibly the herb supreme for skincare formulas. This sunny little bloom is chock-full of flavanoids and carotenoids that help to heal the skin. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is indicated for everything from acne to wounds and helps to reduce inflammation and promote cell repair. It's one of the easiest herbs to grow in the garden and will start blooming in early spring and last until well after the first frost if you keep cutting the stems throughout the growing season. Harvest seeds in the fall or winter to save for the next year's growth.

Use Calendula for the skin by infusing the dried blooms into carrier oils for skincare formulations. It can also be brewed as a tea and used as a compress, wash, or poultice (or taken internally). The hydrosol is lovely on its own or included as an ingredient in cream formulas. The tincture can also be used in some cases, though it may be drying when used externally. Calendula also produces a lovely CO2 extract which can be incorporated into topical blends.

 
 

4. COMFREY

Comfrey (Symphytum uplandica or Symphytum officinale) seems such a happy plant to me. It contentendly pops its first little leaves out of the soil in early spring and sets right to work filling its plot with cheerful green. It may be one of the fastest growing, most resilient plants in my herb garden. Comfrey is one of those botanicals that herbalists just love. It has an incredible affinity for healing the skin and has such pronounced wound healing properties that it's earned the nickname "knitbone" because it is said to 'knit' wounded tissues back together. Rich in the skin-healing and protective component, allantoin, it's often included in first aid formulas and skin care preparations. Infuse the leaves into carrier oil or Aloe to use in blends or use an infusion / tea as a wash. Comfrey can also be utilized as a compress or poultice.

5. LAVENDER

No list of skin-healing herbs would be complete without Lavender. There are many varieties of Lavender products available on the market, but you'll want to look for Lavandula angustifolia for skin-healing purposes. The herb, essential oil, hydrosol, and infused carrier oils are all useful for skin preparations. Most folks who are even the slightest bit interested in herbs and essential oils are familiar with Lavender, so I won't expound too thoroughly on it here, but do know that it can be included in just about every herbal / aromatherapeutic product you ever make for the skin without seeming out of place. Aside from its own contribution to the therapeutic effects of the blend, it seems to marry together all of the other ingredients you choose to include to create a more potent synergy.

Lavender is another easy-to-grow herb that will do fine in well drained soils to a zone 5. In cooler areas, it can be grown in a pot and brought in during the colder months. We're growing about a dozen varieties this year and it hasn't taken me long to decide that it's my favorite herb to grow. There's nothing quite so lovely and delightful as this sweet plant!

Infuse Lavender buds into carrier oils, Aloes, and honeys. Use the tea as a wash. The herb can be used as a compress or poultice. The hydrosol is lovely on its own as a facial toner or body spray or as an ingredient in creams. The essential oil can be added to most any skin care or first aid formula.

 
 

6. ST. JOHN'S WORT

Who doesn't love this sunny little plant? The St. John's Wort used for skincare is Hypericum perforatum, which can be easily identified by the little "holes" in its leaves. When you hold a leaf up to the sunlight, you'll see little dark specks (or perforations) on it. The top 4-6" of the blooming plant is used. The plant is ready to harvest when the buds produce a reddish-purple stain on your fingers when you press them. If you don't see this stain, you're either too early or too late. Watch your patch closely when the weather starts to turn toward summery temperatures near the end of June - the perfect harvesting window is short! Some will be ready and some won't. If you're unable to gather enough in one harvesting session, check back every day or two for the next week to see if more flowers are ready to be collected.

St. John's Wort can be infused into carrier oil (it will turn a bright, deep red color as the flowers release their medicinal properties into the oil) that can be used in both first aid and skin care blends. It's useful for external wounds, burns, cuts, bruises, areas of trauma, and inflammatory complaints and helps to speed recovery. Some folks include it in preparations for shingles or herpes. It's excellent for helping to relieve pain as well, so it's often used in massage oils for sore muscles or injuries.

Some people experience photosensitivity when using St. John's Wort, so be aware of any areas of your skin that will be exposed to direct sunlight after applying. If you experience any sort of rash or discomfort, stop using it.

7. HELICHRYSUM

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) is probably most known for its lovely, skin-healing, anti-aging essential oil. It's pricey, but oh so lovely and effective. It helps to speed recovery of wounds and is often used in first aid applications. It's also excellent in anti-aging skincare products and posh facial creams. One well-known brand uses it in their fancy hand creams and another in their makeup products.

The hydrosol is wonderful for use as a facial toner or body spray and can also be used in herbal creams. A teaspoon of it can be added to a luxurious bath (or hand or foot bath).

The herb itself can be infused into carrier oils or brewed as a tea for use as a wash. It's beneficial for a wide variety of skin ailments, including acne and eczema.

 
 

8. PLANTAIN

Plantain (Plantago spp.) is another weed-like plant that grows along the trodden path; it likes to follow human footsteps and spring up right where it is most likely to be needed. It's a skin-soothing herb that's especially great for skin irritations like bug bites and stings. Just the other day, I was planting out some new herb transplants into my garden and something decided to bite me. The swelling, itching, and burning reaction didn't seem too bad at first so I carried on with what I was doing, but within a few minutes, the bite had turned into quite a painful welt. I walked over to my bed of Plantain, picked one of the leaves, crushed it with my fingers and rubbed it over the area. I then used a fresh leaf, also crushed, to lay over the area as an herbal bandaid (it will stick on its own if you've crushed it). Within a few minutes, the itching and burning had stopped and when the leaf naturally fell off 15 or 20 minutes later, the Plantain had completed its job. I couldn't even tell where the bite had been.

 
 

Plantain can be used in a carrier oil or Aloe for first aid and skin care preparations to soothe and reduce inflammation and irritation and can also be taken internally as a tea (or used externally as a wash) for other issues.

 
 

9. ROSE

Rose (Rosa spp.) can be utilized in its every form for delightful, luxurious skin formulas. More ideas for ways to do that here and here. They contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds (which suit acne-prone skin), are rich in anti-aging properties, and are known to nourish, hydrate, and even help tone and rejuvenate the skin

Rose petals, Rose hydrosol, Rosehip seed oil, Rose flower essence, and precious Rose essential oil are all derived from this one generous plant. I like to incorporate her into every step of my own skincare routine.

Rose essential oil is also beneficial for wounds when there has been trauma. It will not only help with speeding the recovery of the skin, but will also comfort the heart and mind and work to bring stability back to the person affected.

 
 

10. CARROT SEED

Carrot Seed (Daucus carota) is available both as an essential oil and as a CO2 and an infused carrier oil. All are beneficial for the skin. It's one of those plants that's also beneficial for the liver and is helpful for releasing blocked energy, so we know it's going to be amazing for our skin! Include it in topical blends for a variety of skin ailments, including eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other inflammatory, irritated conditions. It's also useful for anti-aging skincare products and can be used in carrier oils, creams, and facial steams.

Avoid use when pregnant.

11. MARSHMALLOW

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) leaf and root are both used for skin and hair formulas (root is more commonly used, but the leaf can also be used). It's rich in flavanoids, polysaccharides, and beta-carotene and is mucilaginous, making it skin-soothing and anti-inflammatory. You can infuse the root into a carrier oil or Aloe to use in a blend or you can prepare a decoction and use it as a poultice or wash. It blends well with Chamomile tea for this purpose as well. It's effective for a variety of ailments, including eczema, burns, and wounds, and will help to moisten dry skin. Powdered root can be included in homemade baby powder blends.

12. YARROW

I couldn't choose just 11 after all! Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is so useful in the herbal first aid kit that I felt it had to be included in this list. The leaves are styptic and antiseptic and can be powdered and used in styptic powder recipes or used fresh when needed. All of the aerial parts of the plant can be used to help speed healing of wounds, burns, and other skin ailments. The foliage is light and feathery and the flowers are lovely; it's easy to grow from seed (perennial) and the pollinators love it. Look for the white or pink flowering varieties if you want to use the herb medicinally. The yellow flowering varieties are ornamental. Use the herb in hand and foot baths, washes, and compresses to help reduce inflammation and speed healing.

I've used Yarrow hydrosol as a styptic in a pinch and it seems to be just as effective as the herb itself, at least for minor cases. It can also be used as a facial toner or as an ingredient in creams. The essential oil is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. Include it in blends for your first aid kit to help with the pain and swelling associated with injury. For skin-care, it can be a useful ingredient for irritated, inflamed skin complaints.
 

WHICH HERBS AND/OR ESSENTIAL OILS WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST?
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

Much love,
Erin

Essential Oil Therapeutic Properties: Cicatrisant [Skin Healing]

Cicatrisant essential oils are some of my very favorites because they tend to be quite versatile. Cicatrisant means skin-healing, wound healing or cell regenerative. When an oil contains cicatrisant properties, we know that it will usually be gentle on the skin [when properly diluted] and useful in topical preparations. It will work on a cellular level to help repair damage to the skin and stimulate healthy new skin cell growth. Are you ready to take a deeper look at which oils are cicatrisant and how best to use them?

PHYSICALLY

On a physical level, cicatrisant oils are especially helpful when used for skin issues or surface wounds. Can you think of an example that would fall into this category? Cuts, scrapes, bruises, minor wounds, scars, rashes, acne and the like would all be issues that we could turn to a cicatrisant oil for. Many of the cicatrisant oils are also analgesic [pain relieving] and antimicrobial or antibacterial, further adding to their therapeutic effect. I like to pair my cicatrisant essential oils with carrier oils that I've infused with skin healing herbs to create a stronger, more effective healing synergy and a layer of depth that I don't achieve from a plain EO + Jojoba type blend. Calendula infused oil is one of my absolute favorite carriers for skin healing blends. I like to use it to make a Calendula salve that is a great all-purpose remedy for any kind of skin issue. I even use it as a hand lotion - it's wonderful when applied just after washing your hands. It soaks right in and leaves your hands super soft without leaving any greasiness. It also smells lovely, which is always a bonus. St. John's Wort infused oil would also be an effective carrier in blends for skin-related issues.

If you're up for a little extra study, take a look at this study that was done on the skin healing effect of Opoponax [related to Myrrh]: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26283230

ENERGETICALLY

In what ways do you think cicatrisant oils would benefit energetic or emotional issues? Think of situations in which emotional healing is needed, where there has been an emotional wound or scar. Grief and loss, hurt and betrayal, guilt, anger and jealousy could all be included in this arena. Some emotional wounds take much longer to heal than others - for example, the loss of a loved one would be a slower healing emotional wound than being hurt by an unkind word spoken by a stranger. Both situations, though, could be benefited by using oils with cicatrisant properties. One of the classic examples of a cicatrisant oil that is used in blends for emotional wounds is the employment of Rose essential oil in formulas made to support those who are going through a grieving process. A comforting, supportive oil, Rose opens up the heart to allow love and healing in while bolstering up the person who is hurting. I think of Rose as a bit of an emotional hug when life's wounds are hurting the heart. It's incredibly effective in that way. Obviously it does not magically remove the pain of losing a loved one, but it can be a gentle, helpful, supportive oil to use in such cases. Can you think of another instance in which a cicatrisant oil could be helpful for supporting emotional issues? Personally, I tend to use Sweet Marjoram, Neroli and Cypress often when addressing emotional wounds. They work especially well together for this purpose.

Here is a pin-able reference list of some of the more common oils with cicatrisant properties:

If you'd like a printable reference sheet you can keep in your aromatherapy notebook, click here. I've created a lovely one just for you!

HOMEWORK

Leave a comment below with the following:

  • either a physical or emotional issue that could fall into a category that would be benefited by using a cicatrisant oil
  • the cicatrisant essential oil you would use to bring relief and/or support
  • what kind of blend you would make to address the issue

Much love,
Erin

The information in this study was compiled for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any illness or symptom. All photos and graphics are copyright Erin Stewart. Information provided was gathered from personal experience and from 50+ books from my personal aromatic/herbal library. May not be distributed, copied, or published without express prior written permission from me.

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Essential Oil Therapeutic Properties: Analgesic

Essential oils that contain analgesic properties are those that help to relieve or numb pain. I've found in my own practice that almost every blend I make for clients has some sort of analgesic component included in it. After all, the most common reason people look to natural remedies [outside of preventive care] is to find a natural way to assist in managing whatever level of pain they're feeling, whether emotionally or physically. Let's take a look at how these oils work to help us, shall we?

PHYSICALLY

On a physical level, oils with analgesic properties can help with relieving or numbing physical pain. A muscle sprain, bug bite, or general aches and pains would all fall into this category. Can you think of some other physical issues that would be included? Recovering from an injury, an aching back, headaches, sore muscles after a tough workout... they all involve some kind of pain. Analgesic oils work to help numb that pain so we can find relief and continue to function as best we can in our situation. Take a few moments to study each of your oils with analgesic properties before choosing to include one in a blend. You'll find that some of them will be best suited for use on the skin while others will be better utilized via inhalation. Some are best suited for muscle pain while others will be indicated for nerve-related pain. Studying your oils helps you connect with them and get to know them better so you'll know which one to use and when. This extra study time will also help you become more familiar with the safety considerations, contraindications and proper dilution percentages related to each oil - some are so strong that only 1 or 2 drops should be used in an ounce of carrier oil!

ENERGETICALLY

Within the emotional or energetic spectrum, analgesic oils can be suitable for issues that involve non-physical pain. What are some of the situations that would be included in this area? An obvious one would be loss of a loved one or close friend - the grieving process involves an incredible and sometimes crippling amount of pain. Betrayal, anger, disappointment, upset, sadness, distress, shock and guilt are also emotions that can be painful to work through. Many times analgesic oils are paired with nervous system supportive oils when dealing with emotional or energetic issues. The two together can create a stronger synergy that supports the person by loosening pain and supporting the mind at the same time. Can you think of a specific instance in which an analgesic oil would be helpful on an emotional level?

Here is a pin-able reference list of some of the more common oils with analgesic properties:

If you'd like a printable reference sheet you can keep in your aromatherapy notebook, click here. I've created a lovely one just for you!

HOMEWORK

Leave a comment below with the following:

  • either a physical or emotional/energetic condition that involves some level of pain
  • the analgesic essential oil you would use to relieve it
  • what kind of blend you would make to address the issue

Talk to you soon! Much love,
Erin

The information in this study was compiled for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any illness or symptom. All photos and graphics are copyright Erin Stewart. Information provided was gathered from personal experience and from 50+ books from my personal aromatic/herbal library. May not be distributed, copied, or published without express prior written permission from me.

OTHER BLOG POSTS

Essential Oil Therapeutic Properties: Antispasmodic

Welcome to AromaCulture! Today I'm starting a new blog series all about the different therapeutic properties of essential oils. Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting a collection of intensive reference posts that you can save and look back on as you continue to grow in your own knowledge of aromatherapy. I'm kicking off the series with a study of antispasmodic oils. Ready to dive in?

Antispasmodic essential oils can be utilized to support us both energetically and physically. Physically, they are used to help relieve muscle spasms and cramps of both voluntary and involuntary muscles. Physical issues that would be considered spasmodic could include things like menstrual cramps, tight muscles after a work out or a spasmodic cough. Many of the oils in this category tend to be especially effective when used to support the particular organ or system each oil has an affinity for. For example, one oil could be specifically indicated for the reproductive system (think menstrual cramps) while another would be better suited to supporting the respiratory system. When choosing which oils to use for spasmodic conditions, take a few extra minutes to study the different oils you're considering. This little bit of extra research will help you get to know your oils better over time and it will also give you the tools you need to choose the oil(s) that will be most effective for your particular situation.

Oils with antispasmodic properties can also be useful when dealing with emotions or energetic work. Take a moment to try to think of an emotion that an antispasmodic oil could help with. Generally, the emotions that involve a feeling of squeezing, pressure, tightness, tension, or feeling cramped in the inner being are the ones that you would want to choose an antispasmodic oil for. Can you think of any? Anger, frustration and fear are a few that come to mind. Using antispasmodic oils to help release that energetic tension and get the energy flowing freely there again can be quite therapeutic when dealing with emotional support.

Here is a pin-able reference list of the most common essential oils with antispasmodic properties:

If you'd like a printable reference sheet you can keep in your aromatherapy notebook, click here. I've created a lovely one just for you!

HOMEWORK

Leave a comment below with the following:

  • either a physical or emotional/energetic spasmodic condition
  • the antispasmodic essential oil you would use to relieve it
  • what kind of blend you would make to address the issue

Talk to you soon! Much love,
Erin
 

The information in this study was compiled for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any illness or symptom. All photos and graphics are copyright Erin Stewart. Information provided was gathered from personal experience and from 50+ books from my personal aromatic/herbal library. May not be distributed, copied, or published without express prior written permission from me.

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