There are many ways of using herbs; fresh, dried, boiled (tisane), distilled (essential oil), in alcohol (tincture) and in vegetable oil (maceration/herbal oil). Herbs are full of active chemicals that can be drawn out in different solvents such as alcohol, vegetable oil or glycerine. A maceration or herbal oil is when vegetable oil is used (oil extraction). Some well-known macerations are easily found in the market-place, such as Arnica (Arnica montana), Marigold (Calendula officinalis) and St Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum), but there are many others. Extracting herbs in oil is a simple process that easily can be done at home.
As always, quality plays a great role in the final product; you need to use the very best herbs and vegetable oil. One of the easiest vegetable oils to find for the purpose is organic sunflower oil which is most often used. The finished herbal oil has its own specific properties and in ancient time they were used as medicines and unguents for perfumery. The macerated oils carry some color from the plant, St Johns wort is red, and have their specific therapeutic properties.
Macerations can be used in all kind of products that are fatty; creams, oils, liniments and can help with a wide variety of problems; muscular aches, sprains, cramps, depression and skin-problems. Some are anti-inflammatory and promote wound healing. Since they are active substances, use 5-30% in a blend for desired effect. In large dosages they can be slightly drying or even irritating to the skin. Macerations are excellent to use for people who are very sensitive to essential oils as they are milder in their action on the skin.
I have made many macerations through the years, trying different plants and vegetable oils. I found Jojoba oil to be excellent for flowers, now Jojoba has become so expensive it’s not really possible anymore, so I use Sunflower oil. I have used Olive oil for St Johns Wort since there is a true affinity between them. Today I find it easier to buy the macerations I use the most; arnica, calendula, hypericum, comfrey and some others. But there is one maceration I make every year for my own luxury, and that is with roses. In the early days I always used Jojoba for the roses but today I use a very fine organic cold pressed sunflower oil. It gives me a beautiful oil that I use in my facial products. The scent is rather faint and a bit greenish, the texture is absolutely wonderful. I use this in a dosage of 20% in any given product.
What is interesting about macerations is the fact that they don’t go rancid sitting in the sun. Normally sun, heat and light is the worst environment for a vegetable oil. I believe that the active substances in herbs and plants actually help to conserve the vegetable oil. Their shelf-life depends on what vegetable oil was used and how it is stored. Better to make smaller quantities so they are used up during the season and more can be made the next year. In this way you also find your favorites and you learn to “better” the process each time.
Pick your chosen herb at the right time of day and season and fill a glass jar, cover the herbs with cold-pressed organic vegetable oil, cover and set in the sun. The jar should be turned regularly and left in the sun for 2-3 weeks. When macerating flowers you need to exchange the flowers in your jar every so often, usually 1-2 times/week, depending on what flower you are using. For roses I exchange the petals every 3 days. Once the oil is saturated you strain, filter and bottle it. Store in a cool and dark place.
Posted in Aromatherapy, Flowers & Herbs, Product information, Skincare
Tagged active substances, arnica, calendula, flowers, herbal oil, herbs, hypericum, maceration, organic, plants, roses, sun, sunflower oil, vegetable oil
Immortelle or Everlasting is the popular name of the plant Helichrysum Italicum /H. augustifolium. One of the reasons for the name is that the flowers of the plant retain their color and shape after drying, making them a popular flower for long-lasting natural flower arrangements, also called eternelles. Helichrysum means Gold Sun in Greek, and the flowers do resemble small golden suns as they grow on bushy, grey-green stems. The stems are woody at the base and the plant can reach a height of 60cm or more. The flowers grow in clusters during the summer months. It grows on rocky sandy ground around the Mediterranean and is now also cultivated in the Balkans. The scent has herbaceous notes, reminiscent of warm hay, floral with a hint of honey.
The plant is steam-distilled to obtain the essential oils. Some of the best EO come from Corsica where only the flower-heads are distilled after being hand-picked. Over one ton of flower-heads is needed for about 1 liter of EO. In other places the whole plant above ground is distilled, creating a nice and useful oil but without the high and fine energy of the Corsican flower-oil.
When meditating on this oil, what came to me was this: “The healing of mortal wounds on every level.” And it is a healing oil, especially for skincare and wounds. In Grasse, France, tests were carried out in the hospital using Helichrysum Italicum for broken skin tissue. There was rapid healing with very little scarring and no redness or infection. Research shows that by multiplying the natural collagen count in skin cells, Helichrysum diminshes wrinkles. It is used to diminish bruises, heal skin-tissue, minimise scar-tissue (even old scar-tissue). It is anti-inflammatory, regulates cholesterol levels (for more info go to visit K-G Stiles), loosens mucous in the airways (inhalation). On an emotional level it can help reduce stress, is soothing and anti-depressant. On a deeper level it can help to unravel and heal emotional wounds.
- Wound / bruise, try this recipe: Helichrysum italicum 2dr + Lavandula augustifolia 2dr. Apply 4 times/day for 1-2 days, then 2 times/day for 2-3 days. Then blend the EO in 5ml vegetable oil or Marigold (Calendula officinalis) infused oil and use 2 times/day until healed.
- Mature Skin: Helichrysum 2dr + Carrot (Daucus carota) 2 dr + Rose (Rosa centifolia) 2 dr in 30ml blend of following vegetable oils: Sheabutter oil (Butyrospermum parkii), Macadamia nut oil (Macadamia ternifolia) and Rosehip oil (Rosa rubiginosa), Apricot kernel oil (Prunus armeniaca). Massage into skin morning and night.
- Emotional trauma: Make a blend of Helichrysum 4 dr + Myrrh (Commiphora myrrah) 4 dr mixed in 30ml cold-pressed vegetable oil. Massage stomach and forehead each evening when going to bed. If this blend disturbs your sleep, you can exchange Myrrh for Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) which will be more balancing or Rose (Rosa Centifolia) which is more comforting.
Posted in Aromatherapy, Essential oil profiles
Tagged apricot kernel, Aromatherapy, bruises, calendula, emotion, essential oil, Essential Oil Profiles, flowers, geranium, helichrysum, jojoba, lavender, myrrh, Product information, rose, rose hip oil, scars, sheabutter, skin, trauma, wounds
The use of aromatherapy, especially in combination with massage, can be extremely helpful for individuals (all ages) suffering from any kind of handicap. As I said before, touch transgresses everything as do the essential oils. They reach into the very deepest part of a person to balance and sooth. I want to tell you about Jane, one of my clients some years ago. She was, at the time, aged 24 and suffered from hypotonic cerebral palsy (CP). She was living at home except for some holidays and her parents were wonderful and loving people, doing all they could to make her comfortable. Jane was in a wheelchair, unable to move at all which had, over the years, made her skeletal structure crooked and brittle so she had been through surgery a few times to be able to stay in the wheelchair. She had no communication-possibilities at all since she had no control over her face or body. Her respiratory system was very weak resulting in repeated bouts of pneumonia when she would have to spend time at the hospital. Her digestive system was also weak, and sometimes she wouldn’t take nutrition so then she would go to the hospital for feeding. She was also given medicine to help with the cramping.
When I saw her the first time she was strapped in her wheelchair, hands tightly clasped against her chest. She kept moving her head from side to side, gnawing her teeth. I sat with her and her mother for some time, chatting and bringing out the oils. I made a selection of oils for Jane to smell. I could see by the way she moved her head what oils were interesting to her, they made the motion of her head slow down. In this way she chose:
Orange (citrus sinensis) 14 dr, Lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus) 8 dr and Lavender (lavendula augustifolia) 10 dr. Blended in 100 ml blended vegetable oil + 50ml macerated oil of Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Together with her mother, we massaged her hands and arms, one hand each. Soon she started relaxing her fists, allowing her hands to lie open in her lap. Once the hand-massage was finished, the hand massaged by her mother stayed relaxed and open longer. I then massaged her legs, showing the mother how to enhance circulation. By this time Jane was meeting my eyes and her head was stiller. I just had this flash that she was suffering from headaches (constant gnawing of her teeth) so I asked her. Tears started rolling down her cheeks and I made an oil-blend for her face and neck which I massaged her with; feeling the tension leave her head as I massaged her scalp.
In a blend of 25 ml veg.oil blend + 5 ml of infused Teebalm (monarda fistulosa) + 3 dr of Neroli (citrus aurantium ssp amara var. pumilla).
I showed her mother and father the massage and made oils for them to use: Massage of legs, feet and stomach every morning, massage of face, head and hands 3-5 times during the day. A month later I visited again and Jane, was visibly happy to see me again. She basically stayed with the oil-blends above with small changes in the essential oils to help with circulation and relaxation. When I left Sweden I referred her to another very good aromatherapist in the area. Jane is still doing fine on the oils, her life (and that of her parents) a little bit easier. Over time her respiratory and digestive problems have lessened with a lot less traumatic days in the hospital.
Her movements are involuntary, which makes the observations very interesting, proving that massage (and) essential oils have an impact on the central nervous system.
For info on Cerebral Palsy (CP): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_palsy
Posted in Aromatherapy, Scents
Tagged Aromatherapy, calendula, cerebral palsy, cramps, essential oils, handicap, headaches, lavender, lemongrass, Massage, monarda, neroli, nervous system, orange, Scents, vegetable oil