Tag Archives: essential oil

SPIKENARD

Spikenard or Narde (Nardostachys jatamansi / N. grandiflora): It belongs to the Valerian family and has similar properties as its cousin Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). A flowering plant that grows to a height of about 1 meter, the rhizomes are distilled to produce the essential oil. It is native to the Himalayas; China, northern India and Nepal, mostly cultivated in Nepal and India. The best quality oil comes from Nepal. Spikenard is a slightly viscous, greenish-brown oil, darkening with age. The scent is deep and fresh, reminiscent of earth after rain, with a hint of fruity overtones.

History: Nard was (and is) used in the Indian tradition of Ayur veda. In ancient Egypt it was a luxury perfume and upon investigating the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1926, small alabaster vessels were found with a solidified, scented unguent (ointment, solid perfume) which turned out to be perfumed with spikenard and frankincense. Spikenard was also one of the ingredients in the ancient Egyptian perfume “Kyphi” that was burned at dusk to make sure the life-giving sun would return the next day. It was an important part of the Hebrew traditions where it was a component of the sacred incense, HaKetoret, wich was burned in the Jewish temple of Jerusalem. Spikenard in Hebrew is Nard and translates as Light. Most people recognize the name due to its mention in the bible (Song of Solomon, Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9). Spikenard was the oil used by Mary Magdalene to anoint the feet of Jesus at the last supper (John 12:1-10). At the time, spikenard was extremely costly and Judas Iscariot was outraged by the fact that it was used, seeing as the amount used was worth about a year’s wages for an ordinary working man. The Greek word for Spikenard means genuine and pure.

With such an illustrious history from ancient times, Spikenard is bound to tickle the imagination. Many believe that its claim to fame is due to the high cost it carried, but spikenard was not the only costly scent at the time; myrrh and  frankincense  were also extremely costly – even more so than gold. On researching the oil I find a red thread which points to the spiritual properties of the scent; Spikenard connects us to the divine.

USES:

  • SKIN: Balancing, regenerating and healing. Mature skin, psoriasis (1% blend), allergies, itching, skin-problems. Healthy skin maintenance.
  • DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: Antispasmodic and digestive: nausea, constipation, colic and cramps.
  • CIRCULATION: Harmonizes & stimulates circulation. Haemorrhoids, varicose veins. Regulates heartbeat.
  • NERVOUS SYSTEM & EMOTIONAL: Balancing, calming, grounding, harmonizing: Insomnia, migraine, stress, nervous tension, insecurity, anxiety. Deep emotional wounds. Can be of use in working through addictions, especially drugs.

Spikenard works on the solar plexus in a deeply calming manner. It is liberating and profoundly soothing. It releases emotional tension and being  at the same time grounding and opening it bring us in touch with our inner spirituality.

Personal: The word that comes to me is surrender. Spikenard brings us to a place of such peace and tranquility, enveloping us in a deep sense of safety. In this place we can allow ourselves to let go of emotional wounds, fears and insecurities. It connects us to the divinity within and lessens the stresses of the outside world. It shows us the way to heal from within. I mainly use this beautiful oil for emotional work. Its wonderful skin-care properties make it easy to incorporate as a releasing agent in the every-day life. Used as a facial oil you have the healing emotional benefits as well as excellent skin-care.

This oil resonates deeply within me. The first time I met Spikenard I was in the midst of a tremendously painful and difficult period of my life. It transported me to a place of such calm serenity, that all the difficulties fell away and I could see – for the first time –  solutions and possibilities. This moment brought me forever out of the worst trauma of my life. Till this day Spikenard is my doorway to assurance, peace and spirituality. It is probably the one oil I would always carry.

Considered a safe oil to use. As it has a ovary-stimulating action, I avoid using it during pregnancy. Spikenard is sometimes used in natural perfumery as a fixative.


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ISOLATES

In many products isolates are used for enhanced effect. Isolates are the main molecular constituents in an essential oil, such as menthol in peppermint-oil, linalool in lavender, methyl salicylate in wintergreen or limonene in lemon. This means that the main constituent in an essential oil has been isolated and removed to be used on its own. The problem is that some of these isolates can be harmful to the body as the synergy is lost.

Synergy is when different parts together make up a whole. In most plant-matter there is a natural balance between activating and calming substances. For example essential oil of Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum): Its main molecular constituent is eugenol, up to 77%. It stimulates circulation and is anti-infectious. It is also a known skin-irritant in high doses. In proper dilution the whole essential oil is very useful for sore muscles, painful areas and as an anti-infectious agent. Clove oil is used in dentistry thanks to its anti-infectious and analgesic properties. The isolated eugenol is corrosive and toxic to the liver.

IN PRODUCTS:

  • Nutrition: Isolates are widely used as flavour-enhancers.
  • Perfumes: They are mostly made up of synthetic aromas which are cheaper and more stable. Sometimes isolates are used. (eugenol in Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent)
  • Sports-products: To warm and stimulate muscles before training and to cool and sooth aches and sprains. Most widely used isolates are menthol, camphene, methyl salicylate. It is not always clear if isolates or synthetics are used. Most of these isolates are strong skin-irritants in high doses – hence the warming / cooling effect on the skin. There have been a lot of discussion about the use of methyl salicylate, found in Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) up to 98%. (Article)
  • Skin-care: Isolates are used as perfuming-agents in many skin-care products. Sometimes, especially in natural or bioproducts, both essential oils and isolates are used. Isolates are much cheaper to use than essential oils. Here is a list of perfume-agents in a hand-cream: Citral, citronellol, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, limonene, linalool. All of these are noted to come from certified organic growers and from natural essential oils… (Check out earlier posts on natural & organic skin-care)

What is definite is that there is no way of knowing if the aromatic ingredients in a product are from natural sources (unless stated) or if they are produced synthetically…which means that there is no way to know if they will be harmful or not.

ROCK ROSE

Cistus, Labdanum (Cistus ladaniferus)

A perennial shrub up to 3 metres high which grows wild in warm sheltered places on some mountainous Mediterranean islands and in the Middle East. The leaves are lance-shaped with white furry undersides, and the flowers are yellow with purple splashes at the center. The parts used for extraction are leaves and twigs.

Cistus produces 5 products:

  1. Crude gum of Labdanum: Dried leaves and twigs are boilde in water. The gum is skimmed off the surface of the water and dried. This is used as a herbal substitute for ambergris.
  2. Resinoid of Labdanum: The crude gum is mixed with alcohol and filtered.
  3. Oil of Labdanum: Essential oil by steam-distilling the crude gum. This oil is used by aromatherapists. It is also a highly valued raw material for perfumers.
  4. Concrète & Absolute of Labdanum: The dried leaves and twigs are extracted with the help of a solvent. This is widely used in cosmetics, perfumes and soaps as a warm balsamic scent with excellent fixative properties.
  5. Oil of Labdnum: Essential oil by steam-distilling dried and fresh leaves and twigs. This is of little use for either perfumery or aromatherapy.

The oil has been used since the middle ages for infected wounds, skin ulcers, skin and soft tissue disturbances. The gum was used for catarrh and diarrhoea.

The scent is warm, deep, musky, soothing and dry. Yang.

In aromatherapy its used for:

  • Lymph drainage: When added to a massage oil for a full body massage. Or locally as warm compresses on swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Menstrual pain: In combination with Marjoram (origanum majorana) as a massage oil or warm compresses over the abdomen.
  • Skin: Mature, wrinkled skin, rough, scarred and hard skin. Use for healing of wounds and scars; with Lavender (lavandula augustifolia), Imortelle (helichrysum italicum) or Frankincense (boswellia carterii). It might be helpful for eczema, inflamed skin and psoriasis. Remember to use lower doses on sensitive/inflamed skin.
  • Respiratory: As an inhalant for coughs and bronchitis.
  • Emotionally: After shock or trauma when the emotional system is cold or empty. Also to sooth and heal past or buried memories. It fills the individual with warmth and strength.

Do not use during pregnancy.

IMORTELLE / EVERLASTING: Helichrysum Italicum

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.

PROPERTIES:

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.


THE MYSTICAL SCENT OF OUD

Oud is an oil that has fascinated me for the last 18 years. Its scent is mystical, mythical and magical, this is why I want to present this profile to you.

Oud or Agarwood or Aloeswood (Aquilaria agollocha, A. malaccensis, A. crassna) is an evergreen tree native to the forests of Northeast India, Bhutan and Southeast Asia; Viet Nam, Kambodja, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea. The tree reaches a height of about 40m with a diameter of about 60cm. It bears sweetly-scented snow-white flowers. For the oil to exist, the tree needs to be infected with a fungi; Phialophora parasitica. The tree produces this oleoresin to protect itself against the fungi by saturating the heartwood. The longer time a tree is infected, the deeper and darker the oleoresin gets. This can take up to a 100 years and inevitably ends with the tree dying. By this time the heartwood is almost black, deeply saturated and scented by the oleoresin. The heartwood of an uninfected tree is light and pale-colored.

Extraction methods:

  • Water extraction: The wood is immersed in water for about 3 months, after which it is put into stills (huge burners) where it is cooked for many hours until the resin dissolves and floats to the top of the water; Indian distillation method.
  • Steam distillation of the wood-chips; Mostly used by East Asian countries.
  • CO2 extraction: When a certain amount of pressure is applied to CO2 (carbon dioxide) this gas turns into liquid. This liquid CO2 can be used as a very inert, safe, “liquid solvent.” CO2 is the gas we all breathe out of our lungs. It is also the gas that plants themselves thrive on.

Because of the immense popularity of this plant-matter for oil, perfume and incense, the trees are now endangered species  protected world-wide under the CITES-convention (http://www.cites.org/) and by laws in the different countries. Even so a large number of trees are illegally cut down to obtain this hugely expensive material.

There are many grades of Oud; First-grade (the highest quality) is one of the most expensive natural products in the world. The pricing lies around 13 000 dollars/pound of oil. (0,453kg) The oils from wild trees (illegal) catch an even higher price, more than 27 000 dollars/pound. The whole-sale price for a decent quality oil is around 1000-1400 dollars/ounce. (30ml)

In Assam, India a few families have started plantations with Aquilaria agollocha, ensuring the survival of this precious tree and its hidden gifts. Most reputed Oud-traders today, trade with plantation-grown oils and wood. Due to the success of the plantations in Assam other countries are following suit; Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and other areas in Southeast Asia.

History

Oud has a long history of use in the eastern parts of the world; Buddhist monks use ut for meditation, saying it aids in the transmutation of ignorance. Tibetan monks use it to calm the mind and spirit. Sufis use it for esoteric ceremonies and in China it is considered to have psychoactive properties. Oud has been used as incense, aromatic oil and medicine for thousands of years. It is mentioned in the Bible (under the name of Aloewood): “Nicodemus used pounded aloewood to embalm the body of Christ”. The Prophet Muhammed of Islam mentions in the Koran 1400 years ago; “Treat with Indian Oud, for it has healing for seven diseases”. In Egypt Oud was used by the Pharaos for embalming. Buddha called it the “Scent of Nirvana“.

The Scent

Complex, balsamic, deep woody fragrance. Tenacious basenote, it lingers longer than any other known scent. The scent is rare and powerful. Blended with other precious oils such as Rose (r.centifolia, r. damascena), Jasmin (jasminus officinalis), Sandalwood (santalum album), it enhances them and creates a blend which is deeply soulful.

Uses

A well-known aphrodisiac; use it as a perfume neat on the skin (I recommend a patch-test for sensitive skin) or diluted in Jojoba-oil or alcohol. The skin will release its scent over the course of 12-15 hours. (It is tested safe to use undiluted on skin.) The oil is viscous and in room-temperature it stays thick. To make it thinner, put the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

It has been used by Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic and Unani physicians in practice to treat various disease and mental illness.The list of ailments that can be helped by Oud oil is vast. I will not document it here, since considering the price and rarity of this oil, it is better used for higher purposes such as meditation and personal growth. During my research I have found that every eastern culture names Oud in treatment of the respiratory and digestive systems. This is interesting because these two systems are both deeply connected to life-force, and the most outstanding feature of Oud is its magical and mystical properties when used in meditation; It connects Heaven and Earth within us, creating balance, inner peace and enlightment.

WATER AS A MEDIUM

water-crystal GratitudeWe all know that essential oils and water do not mix, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used together. I find water to be an excellent medium since it has a really high energy and can carry the imprints of thought and memory.

Bach Flower Remedies function upon these principles; the water carries the energetic imprint of the plant and this imprint is what carries the healing properties. The same thing goes for Homeopathy. Remember that only a very tiny amount of energy is needed to communicate to one cell, and all cells communicate with each-other.

2/3 of the earth is covered in water, 2/3 of our bodies are water…So water would be a connecting link between all living. Everything is magnified by water; sight, sound. We all know that water carries sound. Under water we can effortlessly hear sounds that could not be heard above water.

Take a look at the work of  Dr. Masaru Emoto:

His website is:  http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/e_ome_home.html

Dr. Masaru Emoto  freely admits that he is not a scientist and that his work is not scientifically valid – yet. But if we would only believe “scientifically valid” there would be no more questions, no more research, no more mental evolution. I think these pictures speak for themselves, and I also think people should think and believe from themselves.

ESSENTIAL OILS IN WATER:

  • Skin: Add 5 dr. of essential oils to 200ml pure spring, distilled or filtered water in a spray bottle and shake. Leave for 3 days, shaking the mix every day, and filter through a paper coffee filter. Use this as a facial spray to boost emotion and hydrate your skin.
  • Air cleanser: Add 10-20 dr. of essential oils to 200ml pure spring, distilled or filtered water in a spray-bottle and shake. Spray to cleanse the air after a fight or in a sick-room or just to freshen up. Always shake first so the drops are “mixed” with the water. Don’t spray directly on skin (could cause a rash or irritation) or surfaces (might leave stains).
  • Drink: To a 1/2 liter water-bottle add 2 drops of essential oils; lemon, orange, grape or eucalyptus. Either filter or shake the bottle before drinking. Great energy-boost and helpful to the immune-system.
  • Hydrosols (see below) are excellent for skin-care. Put in a spray-bottle and use during the day for a great pick-me-up, if the scent is too strong, dilute it with pure spring, distilled or filtered water. Can be used directly on the skin unless skin is extremely sensitive; then dilute with water.

HYDROSOLS:

When plant-matter is steam-distilled to extract the essential oil, water is used. The end result gives an essential oil and the “perfumed” water. This water has its own characteristics that are different from essential oils, tinctures or infusions. These waters contain trace-elements of the essential oil and all the water-soluble particles in the plant-matter that are light enough in weight to be carried by the steam. A hydrosol smells somewhat like the essential oil but greener. In the old days plants were distilled only for the waters that were used for medicine, cosmetic purposes, cooking and house-keeping. Rose and orange-flower waters are still widely used in traditional Eastern cooking.

droplet

AROMATHERAPY & ANIMALS cont…

Essential oilsAnimals seem to know instinctively what they need. In the wild they search that which will heal them when they are unwell. This is the basis of treating animals with essential oils; of course you need to know the oils and how to use them, but the animal always chooses the oils:

When I first meet an individual I make a connection; I touch, feel, talk and watch, and I gather what information there is. Sometimes there is only that which I can pick up from the animal. Once I have an idea of what is going on, I make a choice of oils that I offer the animal to smell. The animal is free to come and go as it pleases. By watching its reaction to the oils I know which ones to use in treatment. I never ever force the oils on an animal, it always has the choice to accept it or not.

horses on the field

In the summer of 2000 I had, on a field, 2 mares with their foals and one mother-less older foal. One night they were badly chased by unknowns who managed to catch the mother-less foal and beat her  badly.  I then put them on a smaller field closer to the house to keep them safe and under supervision. I saw the leader mare and the hurt foal eating from a bush that normally no horses touched so I looked it up; this bush contained low levels of a slightly hallucinogenic substance. These two individuals were the ones most traumatized by the attack and they were the only ones eating from the bush…getting high, I suppose, to handle the trauma.

Since then I always plant herbs in the fields; mints, sage, chamomile and others. The horses usually never eat them, so it is also a good way to keep check of the horses; if the plants are eaten, I know something is going on. This way the horses are given a chance to heal themselves of minor stuff.

In the picture is the dog of a friend, she is large and sweet and totally afraid of everything, she doesn’t even know how to play; when I tried she got so scared she ran away to hide. I used rose-oil on her to help her relax and she became calm and cuddly…just from sniffing the oil from my hand. I love my work!!!

Treatment dog