Tag Archives: respiratory

MAY CHANG

Time for a profile again; this is a wonderful, versatile oil with a lovely scent. It’s attractive to most people and one of those scents that is always appreciated when it comes to scenting spaces.

May Chang, Litsea (Litsea cubeba). Synonyms: tropical verbena, yunnan verveine. These names are a bit misleading, since it is not at all related to Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla). It belongs to the same family as the rosewood and cinnamon tree. Litsea is a small tropical tree with lemony-scented leaves and flowers. It produces little fruits shaped like peppers which gives the name cubeba. The tree is native to Asia, especially China where it is often planted as a wind breaker. China is the main producer, but it is also cultivated  in Taiwan and Japan. The oil was introduced to the West as late as in the mid-fifties.

The oil is steam-distilled from the fruits, the yield is high – the fruits contain 3-5% essential oil. On Java, Indonesia, small quantities of oil is distilled from the leaves, though it is considered inferior since there is less citral in it. (I would love to get my hands on some of that oil, since, in aromatherapy, we are not looking at isolation but rather wholeness, it would have different therapeutic properties ) The main component of the fruit-oil is citral, up to 85%. The scent of Litsea is sweet-lemony, fresh and fruity. It is reminiscent of lemongrass but lighter and sweeter without the sharpness and tenacity of lemongrass.

The major use of the oil is for the isolation of citral which is used for flavor and fragrance. The chemical industry uses it as a raw material for the synthesis of vitamin A and also converts it into a violet-like scent. International standards set the minimum citral-content at 74% for Litsea, the same as for Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and both these oils are described in trade terms as “75 percent”.

Traditional uses in China are: indigestion, lower back pain, chills, headaches and travel sickness.

Essential oil of Litsea cubeba is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, carminative, sedative and calming. It is also used as an insect-repellent, though I find Citronella (Cymbogogon nardus) to be more efficient.

USES:

  • SKIN: Its antimicrobial properties make it excellent for oily skin and acne. It is astringent and gently cooling on the skin and makes a good tonic.
  • RESPIRATORY: Tonic. Has been used as a broncho-dilator and may be helpful with bronchitis and asthma. (In the case of asthma, I believe part of its usefulness is the calming and relaxing effect of the oil.)
  • HEART: Tonic to the heart; much research is being done in China on disease-prevention and cure of heart-problems. Recent research has shown Litsea’s ability to reduce arrhythmias in comparison with propranolol, a beta-blocker, antihypertensive and anti-angina drug. (Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1991 Aug;11(8):509-12.) Personal note: This ability might be of great help in stress-relief, especially when stress causes irregular heart-beat.
  • DIGESTIVE: Flatulence, indigestion and poor appetite.
  • NERVOUS SYSTEM: Calming and antidepressant. Useful for nervousness and depression as the oil is softly uplifting and strengthening (tonic). Use it together with Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) and/or Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) for sleeping disorders. This blend is deeply relaxing.

More: As a sanitary air-freshener when there is disease. Brilliant to use during those months of the year when colds and flu’s set in.

Personal experience: I have found Litsea to be one of the few oils that most everybody likes. I have used it successfully on clients with racing heart-problems from stress and for people suffering from anorexia.

Litsea can cause sensitisation in some individuals. Do not use neat on skin.

 

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CYPRESS

For the past week or so this oil has been popping up so now you will have its profile:

Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is a tall evergreen tree with slender branches and a conical shape. It carries small flowers and round cones or nuts. It has a long history of medicinal use and is native to the eastern mediterranean area where it grows wild. Most cultivation is done in France, Spain and Morocco. It has given its name to the island of Cyprus.

The name sempervirens means ever green – eternal life – and the tree is often planted in cemeteries. The Egyptians and Romans dedicated the tree to the gods of death and afterlife as it was believed to help the transition of the soul, and coffins were manufactured from the wood. Legend has it that the cross of Christ was made of cypress.

Medicinally it was used by ancient civilizations as a purifying incense, and still is in Tibet. It was known to benefit the urinary system, being warming and drying in nature. The Chinese use the nuts as a nutritious food to help the liver.

The essential oil comes from distilling the needles and twigs. The scent is smoky, green, woody and balsamic.

Uses:

  • Skin: Oily skin and hair. Bleeding gums. Excessive perspiration.
  • Circulation: It is decongestant and astringent and can help with cellulite, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Use it for oedema (water-retention) and poor circulation.
  • Muscles: Cramps, rheumatism, arthritis. Can help bring down swelling.
  • Respiratory: Coughs and bronchitis.
  • Helpful for menopausal problems. (Transition)
  • Nervous system: Weakness, irritation, stress, anxiety and nervous tension.
  • Emotional: As a help in transitions; It gives us stability to handle death, loss, change and separation. The deeply stabilizing emotional properties of cypress can be of help when there is insecurity and fear.

Experience: When I have gone through big changes in life I have had much use of this oil to keep me “on track”. Changes always involve fear and/or insecurities which can become debilitating unless addressed. It has helped me to stay focused and calm when I feel that I am in the middle of turbulence. The warming nature of the oil gives a feeling of safety and the stimulating properties help me to go forward.

SWINE FLU & AROMATHERAPY

So now I am finally going to address this latest hysteria. I have been watching the development and the debates with raised eyebrows, wondering what all the drama was about. I also watched two of my children having the swine flu, and I must say I don’t get the fuss. It is an influenza, that’s all. There are other flues that hit a lot harder and kill a lot more people. I am now suspected of having it – the swine-flu; I have an insistent cough, sore throat,¬† muscle-ache and tiredness. I am told that I must not see people and that I am for the coming days a pariah to society – a walking killing-machine! I have seldom felt this healthy when I was sick. I had the bird-flu some years ago – now that’s what I call sick! That was the last time I was sick, so maybe I just pick up animal-diseases? I do not believe in vaccines, and I outright refuse the N1H1 vaccine. I believe that if you live according to health, you can handle disease such as flues. Besides which, I read a report that one of the side-effects (very small % mind you, but I wouldn’t want to be that %) is irreversible respiratory muscle collapse. On top of which, the company that has created this vaccine (and markets it after a less than minimum trial period) has been granted relief from all responsibility if there are negative side-effects – no law-suits for them! Now why would this be done? I leave it to you to figure it out. Please comment if you wish.

Today I would like to share with you my aromatherapy usage during this illness. It all started with a slight tickling discomfort in my throat that I recognized as that of an infection in the brewing. I quickly started my gargle-routine with 2 dr. of Tea Tree (melaleuca alternifolia) in luke-warm water. I did this morning and night for the first day, a bit more often for the second day and realized on the third day that I had been lazy and nonchalant in my self-treatment (being busy enjoying myself instead). So the third day I increased the gurgling to every 2nd hour. I also massaged a blend of oils on my throat: Red thyme (thymus vulgaris), Benzoin (styrax benzoin), Lemon (citrus limon) and Niaouli (melaleuca viridiflora) = 6 dr of each in 20ml vegetable oil. This blend is very soothing to an infected respiratory system. During the night I would wake up from coughing (3 times during the night); then I took 1 dr of Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) straight; I put the drop on the back of my hand and lick it, washing it down with some water. This gave me wonderful, instant relief during my 12 hour sleep.

I have an aroma-fan in which I diffuse oils of; Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus), Cloves (eugenia aromatica) and Lavender (lavandula augustifolia). These oils are calming, anti-bacterial and cleansing in nature. The scent of cloves reminds me of Christmas so it does double duty as season-enhancer.

For my achy muscles I use a blend of Marjoram (origanum majorana), Black-pepper (piper nigrum) and Roman Chamomile (chamaemelum nobile) = 10 dr of each in 30ml vegetable oil. I use it in the morning and before bed at night.

As an all-round “pick-me-up” I use Orange (citrus sinensis) for the warm, light and happy feeling it induces.

I eat plenty of garlic, vegetables and fruit. I drink masses of water and herbal teas such as mint, fennel, chamomile, rose-hip and green tea. I rest a lot, read a lot, study texts I didn’t have the peace to study earlier and I use this time to focus myself on how I want to live my life. Except for this really irritating cough, I can’t say I am suffering.