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The Base Formula Blog

The information provided on the Base Formula blog is for personal information and interest only. It is not intended to offer professional medical advice or treatment for any condition. We recommend that you consult your GP or nurse if you have any health concerns whatsoever. Our advice has been provided on the basis that there are no known contra-indications to treatment. If you have any health problems or are taking any medication you should seek advice from your healthcare provider prior to using aromatherapy. We would also advise that you make an appointment with a local aromatherapist who will be able to take a full case history and offer you tailored treatment advice. Please note that Base Formula accepts no liability for misuse of essential oils or other products or for any reliance on the information provided within.

Please visit our website for more details on using essential oils safely and effectively.

Chondrus crispus

Chondrus crispus (seaweed)

Have you had the opportunity to try the marvellous Aloe Vera, Elderflower & Seaweed Eye Gel from the clever folk at Base Formula? If not, I would certainly recommend a cheeky purchase or two! As one would expect the product is both reasonably priced, of excellent quality and lovely to use.

Reviewing some of the active ingredients within the gel, I note that Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) is an excellent anti-ageing component found in many beauty ranges and one of the main ingredients within this product. As we age, we may become concerned about the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity around our eyes. Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated. Elderflower (Sambucus nigra), another active ingredient within the eye gel, is particularly suitable for dry and sensitive skin types and has been used for centuries in skincare. Traditionally, Elderflower has been used for softening and lightening the skin. Seaweed (Chondrus Crispus) plays an important role in hydrating and firming and is reputed to help reduce puffiness around the eye. There are other beautiful extracts within the gel including common Sea Lavender (Limonium vulgare), useful for hydrating the skin, and Thyme (Thymus serpyllum), noted for its’ excellent anti-oxidant properties. This product is extremely versatile, as it may be used as a weekly masque or as a daily treatment under moisturiser or foundation or simply used alone. For those of you who are concerned about the ageing process, especially around the eyes, this Aloe Vera, Elderflower & Seaweed Hydrating Gel Eye Gel is definitely for you, although as a note of caution always spot test first if you have sensitive skin.

For those of you who are plagued by the unsightly appearance of cellulite, Base Formula’s Aloe Vera & Seaweed Hydrating Gel may be just what you are looking for! Seaweed (Chondrus Crispus) is commonly used in anti-cellulite skincare products and is reputed to aid circulation and possess detoxifying properties. This gel may be your preferred choice in reducing cellulite especially when used in combination with daily body brushing, exercise and, of course, good nutrition. What makes this popular gel so special is its versatility, as not only can it be used in body treatments, but it is also a useful addition to your facial regime too. Used in masques and cleansers, this gel is suitable for all skin types but especially dry and mature skin. Again, Seaweed is an important active ingredient because of its hydrating and firming properties, particularly beneficial to those of us of a certain age! It also contains an array of vitamins (A, B1, B12, C, D, E & K), amino acids and skin nurturing mineral salts which are all readily absorbed in to the skin to work their magic. The Aloe Vera plays an important role too due to its anti-ageing properties. This gel, although, useful as a gentle cleanser and face mask, can also be used for ultra-hydrating after sun care, so a good one to pop into your suitcase as the holiday season approaches. Aloe Vera and Seaweed are both important therapeutic botanically active ingredients in their own right, but when blended together create a strong synergistic product that is solution focused, simple to use and extremely affordable.

Read our other blog for an anti-cellulite recipe using our Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel.

Well, that’s all from me folks! I look forward to blogging with you next month!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist


smallAloeVeraPlantNever one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I jumped at the chance to provide a review on some of the wonderful Aloe Vera Gels produced by the clever people at Base Formula. There are several great products in the Base Formula gel range, and I thought it would be helpful to review each gel, the main ingredients within the gels and then explore the various ways in which the products themselves may be used to good effect.

Part I of my review focuses on Aloe Vera & Rose Hydrating Gel, Neroli & Aloe Vera Hydrating Gel, and Tea Tree & Lavender Hydrating Gel.

Aloe Vera:

Therapeutic properties for topical use: Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antiperspirant, Bactericidal, Hydrating, Vulnerary (promotes healing of wounds and prevents tissue degeneration).

Cautions/contraindications: Aloe Vera Gel is contraindicated in cases of known allergy to plants in the Liliaceae plant family.

Additional info: The sap of the Aloe plant is a clear, mucilaginous gel. It is this gel which is used medicinally. The outer skin has essentially no value.

Neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium var. amara)

Therapeutic properties for topical use: Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Bactericidal, Deodorant.

Cautions/contraindications: Non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing, non-photo-toxic.

Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

Therapeutic properties for topical use: Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Balancing, Antiviral, Bactericidal, Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Cicatrisant (promotes healing through formation of scar tissue).

Cautions/contraindications: Animal studies suggest that lavender used in aromatherapy or by mouth may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Drowsiness caused by some seizure medicines may also be increased. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery. Lavender may also increase the risk of bleeding when taken with other drugs that increase the risk of bleeding.

Rose essential oil (Rosa centifolia)

Therapeutic properties for topical use: Antiseptic, Antiviral, Astringent, Bactericidal, Cicatrisant (see above).

Cautions/contraindications: Non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing.

Tea Tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Therapeutic properties for topical use: Anti-infectious, Antiseptic, Antiviral, Bactericidal, Expectorant, Fungicide, Insecticide.

Cautions/contraindications: Possibly sensitising to some individuals.

Methods of use (topical application only)

Neroli & Aloe Vera Hydrating Gel:

Face: Suitable for use as a facial mask on sensitive and dehydrated skin (an excellent skin rejuvenator).
Body: Can help to hydrate and deodorise the skin. Can be incorporated into the ‘wrap’ part of a spa body treatment.

Tea Tree & Lavender Hydrating Gel:

Face: Suitable for use as a facial mask for oily and dehydrated skin (fantastic for acne-prone skin).
Body: May be applied to specific areas to help soothe inflamed skin, or incorporated into a body wrap treatment.

Aloe Vera & Rose Hydrating Gel:

Face: Suitable for use as a facial mask for mature and dehydrated skin (Brilliant anti-ageing product)
Body: May be applied to nourish and soothe the skin, or used as part of a spa body wrap treatment.

The Aloe Vera leaf itself is said to contain more than 200 compounds and whilst it should be acknowledged that the scientific evidence itself is limited with regard to the health benefits of this amazing plant, it has been used extensively in herbal medicine for many years, with many extolling its anti-inflammatory and calming properties. It is not surprising, therefore, that the experts at Base Formula would want to harness the natural power of Aloe Vera and combine it with other natural botanicals such as Neroli, Lavender, Rose and Tea Tree. The beautiful aromas of the pure essential oils within the products give each of them a pleasing sense of individuality and really are delightful to use. I particularly enjoyed using the Rose and Aloe Vera Gel, my skin feeling nourished and moisturized after application. Being in the age group that has skin care concerns other than acne, I haven’t used the Tea Tree & Lavender Gel on my face, but look forward to seeing how effective it is in treating any minor skin irritations that may occur over the summer months. I am also really looking forward to using Aloe Vera & Seaweed Hydrating Gel, and Aloe Vera, Elderflower & Seaweed Eye Gel and sharing the results with you in Part II. Hopefully, the skin around my eyes will look noticeably different!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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cellulite skin on her legsFinally summer is with us and we can start to peel off those layers and enjoy the sunshine! If you are feeling a little lack-lustre and not so happy with what you see in the mirror though, read on!

In the winter time, the cold weather and the dark nights can make us feel a little more sluggish, lethargic and less interested in exercise and fresh, clean food. In the lovely light, long summer days however, there are more opportunities to go for that extra walk or bike ride and we tend to feel more inclined to eating fresh food. So if you still feel a bit lethargic after the winter months, your waistline is a little more ample than you would like and your thighs are showing signs of cellulite/congestion, our Summer detox and anti-cellulite action plan could be just what you’re looking for to get your mind and body back in shape!

Body Beautiful Action Plan

  • I know we keep saying it but make sure you are drinking 1 1/2 litres of water daily – increase to 2 1/2 litres if your exercise levels are high and the weather is hot. Add squeezed fresh lemon juice for a detoxifying boost.
  • Herb teas count towards your water intake but normal coffee and tea don’t! Remember if cellulite is an issue, fennel, ginger, nettle and lemon are all elements that can help stimulate the detoxification process. Fennel is an effective natural diuretic so if your system is congested, it will help you excrete the toxins which might be adding to the cellulite effect in your legs.
  • Clean eating. Remember to increase your proteins and your green leafy vegetables and decrease refined food and dairy produce whilst cleansing your system. Protein should mainly be in the form of fish and chicken with red meat once a week maximum. If weight loss is important, you may find cutting out wheat-based, gluten-high food as well as dairy produce a help.
  • Never miss meals! Little and often is the key. Try eggs or fish with spinach or green salad first thing in the morning or a ‘green juice’ made from half a lime and large handful of spinach, half an avocado, 2 apples, a stick of celery and half a cucumber. Nuts and seeds with a little dried fruit as a snack followed by fresh soup for lunch, high in green seasonal veg and some protein such as fish or chicken whizzed up with a little baked sweet potato to give you slow release energy for the afternoon. Evening meals should be high in veg with a little carbohydrate and preferably no meat. Try tray baked vegetables with a few pine nuts with goats or feta cheese and a green salad. Delicious, satisfying and easy on the digestion.
  • Remember to avoid trans-fats (margarine, cheap cakes and biscuits, and cooking with olive oil and other oils that are not resistant to high heats). Try cooking with coconut oil (solid at room temperature). It is highly nutritious, tolerates high heat well and will not congest your system.
  • If you crave sweet foods, you may well be mildly hypoglycaemic. Find a glycemic index table which will be far more useful to you than calorie counting. All foods and drinks are scored from 1-100 with those releasing energy slowly scoring the lowest and the foods releasing energy the quickest scoring the highest. The lower the GI number the better. Foods such as green vegetables, garlic, peppers, aubergines, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes are all low GI foods. Mashed potatoes, chips, cornflakes and pre-cooked white rice are some of the highest, with beer at the top with a score of 100! It is very important to avoid synthetic, artificial sweeteners which will increase your sugar cravings and add chemicals to your body that it can’t tolerate and that can cause all sorts of toxicity and side effects that we are still not fully recognising or understanding. If your blood sugar level seems to be low and you are craving sweet things you may also be deficient in chromium.
  • Food for thought, Dr Wendy Denning and Vicky Edgson from their book ‘The Diet Doctors’ remind us that “one of the most challenging burdens for the liver is breaking down the large number of chemicals produced by stress”. As the liver is such an important organ when it comes to detoxifying, gradually reducing and then stopping alcohol consumption for a few weeks along with caffeine drinks is one of the easiest ways to give your liver a little TLC. If you help your liver you will certainly help give your metabolism a boost and increase your body’s ability to detoxify itself. Your liver loves a diet rich in fibre and low in saturated fats (i.e. animal fats and dairy foods). Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, peas, tomatoes and oily fish are the sorts of foods your liver would chose. It would avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine. If you have dark circles under your eyes, have had a poor diet and suffer from bloating, mood swings, fatigue and have coated or puffy sides to your tongue with hormonal irregularities, these are signs of liver congestion, so supplementation may also help. Try taking Milk Thistle, an good quality essential fatty acid (take fat to lose fat) and a BioCare Multivitamin Complex.
  • Exercise is one of the keys to increasing your body’s ability to detoxify itself, as well as burning fat and building muscle tone. It is important to consider your lifestyle though when choosing which form of exercise will be most appropriate for you. If you’re sitting down all day at work, try hard to get out, even for a 20 minute walk, without a bag, swinging your arms and legs and walking at a brisk pace. If you are significantly overweight, swimming with a steam or sauna session regularly will help stimulate your metabolism and provide a form of exercise that will gradually build up your fitness levels without straining any joints or muscle groups. If your metabolic rate is high and weight isn’t an issue but cellulite is, then some sessions of exercise that are more focused around relaxation will probably be for you – these options would include tai chi, pilates and qigong.
  • Get enough sleep. Sounds simple but if you’re constantly over tired this will increase the stress factor and the likelihood of you reaching for artificial stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol – both enemies of clean living. Most of us need between 7 and 8 hours to function effectively, efficiently and happily.
  • Excretion. As a guide if you are drinking the right amount your urine would be clear or straw coloured and you should be having a bowel movement two to three times a day following meals. Constipation is one of the fastest ways of increasing congestion and toxicity in the system. If your digestion is a little slow, try eating two to three pieces of liquorice daily and increase the roughage in your diet by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Remember cellulite effects women almost exclusively as it’s closely related to hormonal imbalance. If you suffer from pre-menstrual tension and period problems as well as cellulite, hormonal issues are one of the most likely causes of your cellulite. Aromatherapy massage combined perhaps with regular lymphatic drainage massage (using the vodder technique) over a period of months can help with hormone regulation and detoxification when combined with good clean nutrition and regular exercise. The physical action of the massage can also help to stimulate the breakdown of the fatty cells that cause the dimpled, orange peel effect. Try the following blend with detoxifying essential oils: 25ml Grapeseed Oil, 2.5ml Argan Oil, 2.5ml Macadamia Nut Oil, 6 drops Geranium, 3 Rosemary, 3 Juniperberry and 3 Grapefruit.
  • Exfoliation. Whatever your shape, if your skin is shining, your complexion clear and your demeanour happy and positive, life can be good!! If you have cellulite, and/or your skin condition is poor – particularly if it’s pimply and a little dry – sloughing off the dead skin cells and unblocking any clogged pores can really help to boost the condition of the skin and encourage the regeneration of healthy new skin cells. The circular, massaging motion when you exfoliate will also help to boost the circulation and over time may help to break down fatty deposits. Try our new mild and gentle, light-textured Bamboo Exfoliating Gel base which is ideal for daily use. Add in a selection of detoxifying essential oils to boost its effect. A great combination is: 100ml of Exfoliating Gel, 20 drops Geranium, 10 Grapefruit, 10 Fennel and 5 Lemon.
  • If you’d prefer to make your own scrub with 100% natural ingredients then you could also try the following recipe Super Smooth Detoxifying Body Scrub recipe which can be used twice a week: 1tsp honey, 1tsp plain live yoghurt, 2 tbsp pinhead oatmeal, ½ tsp salt, 1 tbsp French Green Clay, 1 tsp Macadamia Nut Oil, Rose Hydrolat to mix to a paste, 3 drops each of Grapefruit, Juniperberry and Geranium oil. Mix well together, and massage in in circular motions to wet skin, leave on for a few minutes, before rinsing off.
  • Use hot and cold water. When you get in the shower in order to stimulate your circulation and your lymphatic flow, wash first and then alternate the water temperature between hot and cold. Notice how pink your skin is when you get out of the shower – this is a sign that your blood flow has come up to the surface, which can be a real help!
  • If you enjoy a good soak – and you have a few aches and pains, make Dead Sea Salt part of your Detox routine. The minerals in the salts will help to ease any discomfort whilst encouraging your body to release toxins. Take a generous cup of Dead Sea Salt and add to your bath (or foot bath). Then take 15ml of Moisturising Bath Milk and add 5 drops each of Lavender, Geranium and Fennel. Add to the water and mix well. Don’t have the bath too hot as this can increase inflammation, which can in turn worsen the appearance of cellulite.
  • Post bath/shower Detox Balm: Give your skin a moisture boost whilst encouraging your body to release excess congestion and toxins. Take 100ml Organic Moisturising Lotion and add 5 ml Argan Oil, 5ml Macadamia Nut Oil, 15 drops each of Geranium and Grapefruit, 10 drops Fennel and 5 Spearmint. Shake well and use after your bath or shower. Substitute the Spearmint for Roman Chamomile if you are using last thing at night.
  • Take time to relax and de-stress as this is just as important as exercise, massage and clean eating for consistent results. When you are stressed, no matter how well you eat, the high levels of adrenaline and cortisol in your bloodstream give your body instructions to store fat (particularly around your middle). Blood is also diverted away from the skin when you are stressed, which consequently impacts on the circulation and flow of nutrients to the skin. If your stress levels are high book a massage or try regular relaxation sessions, just as if you were booking in any other appointment in your diary. Take time out, slow down your breathing (also helps to boost lymphatic flow), relax by the side of the pool after swimming, or have a relaxing bath with essential oils. Even a foot bath whilst reading quietly counts! Try combining 15ml Bath Milk, 2 drops of Neroli, 8 Lavender and 5 Grapefruit. Switch off the phone, the TV and the computer, down tools and enjoy some valuable down time!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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macadamia nutMacadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) Nut Oil is another of the nut base oils which is extremely rich in the essential fatty acids that are vital for healthy skin. It contains 5% saturated fats, 60% oleic acid – Omega 9, 2% Linoleic Acid – Omega 6, and 2% alpha linolenic acid, Omega 3. For cooking – it is seen to be healthier than olive oil because it has a very high smoke point. It is also nutritionally useful because it is rich in the full range of essential fatty acids (EFAs) listed above.

This nutrient rich base oil has a sweet, slightly nutty, fruity aroma. It is light, non-greasy and easily absorbed by the skin, and is often used in the cosmetic industry, particularly in lip balms and glosses and in baby-care products, as it has a very low oral toxicity level.

In addition to its high EFA content it also contains Palmitoleic Acid and Palmitic Acid. Palmitoleic Acid occurs naturally in our skin when we are young but decreases with age – using this oil for dry and mature skin can therefore help to boost moisture content, improve suppleness and reduce fine lines. Palmitic Acid is believed to promote a glowing complexion even for the most damaged of skin. The oil is also loaded with Vitamin E and high levels of antioxidants which help to prevent free radical damage. It is this key element as well as the other factors which indicates that the oil is particularly useful for skin that is damaged, or showing various signs of ageing.  It is also great as a hair conditioner as it’s got a very high absorption rate – helping to enrich dry hair and increase manageability.

Tip: We recommend diluting it with another carrier oil at 5-20% depending on skin type.

Ways to use Macadamia Nut Oil

Hair Oil for Dry/Brittle Hair:

Mix 10ml Macadamia, 10ml Argan Oil, 2 drops Patchouli essential oil, 4 Ylang Ylang and 4 Geranium. Shake well. Pour a small amount in your hand (it’s a very rich mixture), massage thoroughly into your hair after it has been washed, concentrating on the hair shaft and ends and avoiding the roots. Brush well to ensure the oil reaches as much of the hair shaft as possible. Your hair will then feel shiny, manageable and less tangly.

Facial Treatment Oil For Dry/Sun damaged/Mature Skin:

This is a rich, once a week treatment oil to feed your skin cells deeply with a highly nourishing blend of base and essential oils.
Mix 20ml Apricot Kernel Oil, 5ml Argan Oil and 5ml Macadamia, 2 drops Rose essential oil, 2 Neroli, 2 Benzoin, 2 German Chamomile and 6 Lavender. Shake well before use, then remove make-up and splash face with warm water. Massage a few mls of this blend into your face – remembering the forehead and neck area. Relax for 20 minutes then wipe off any residual oil that has not been absorbed. Finally splash the face with warm and then cold water.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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grapefruitGrapefruit (Citrus x paradisi)  is a versatile essential oil with a wonderfully refreshing citrus, green scent. The oil is yellow to orange/green in colour and is normally expressed from the peel of the ripe grapefruit – although some companies do steam distill the oil too. The cold-pressed (expressed) oil is the highest quality but it does oxidise fairly rapidly. The essential oil has 5 key properties:

  1. Grapefruit oil is useful for the nervous system for different expressions of stress and anxiety. It can be used in blends for depression, tension headaches, nervous exhaustion and irritable bowel syndrome.
  2. For the muscular skeletal system it helps ease stiffness and aches and pains by stimulating the release of lactic acid from the muscles – that can build up during exercise. It can be particularly useful for athletes and dancers when under pressure, training for particular competitions, who need to maintain levels of fitness and muscular tone, and can be prone to aches and pains.
  3. For the digestive system it is a gentle digestive aid and tonic, with a reputation for helping to reduce the appetite and assisting with weight loss programmes.
  4. When the immune system is weak Grapefruit can be combined with other oils such as Bergamot, Geranium and Neroli, to boost the emotions and boost the immune response – it is particularly useful if stress and fatigue have resulted in coughs, colds, flu or nervous exhaustion.
  5. The oil is also a powerful diuretic and stimulant of the lymphatic and circulatory systems - helping the body to rid itself of toxins and excess fluid. It is therefore useful for cellulite and cellulitis and any condition where toxins are not being eliminated effectively.

Ways to use Grapefruit Essential Oil

Tension Headaches

Try massaging the pulse points and back of the neck with this refreshing, uplifting and relaxing combination: 20ml Grapeseed Oil, 2 drops Neroli essential oil, 4 Grapefruit and 4 Lavender.

DIY Lymphatic Drainage

For lymphatic drainage massage I always recommend the extremely gentle Vodder technique. You can also use the following oil blend to boost the benefits of the massage itself: 25ml Grapeseed Oil, 5ml Argan Oil, 6 drops Grapefruit, 6 Geranium and 3 Fennel. Use 3 times a week to assist the body’s natural elimination of toxins, increase vitality and boost the immune system.

Inhalation to lift the spirits

Whilst we often consider using inhalation primarily to ease congestion or help fight infection – we often miss using it to lift our mood and ease emotional tension. Remember that a steam inhalation is the quickest way to breathe the oils into our blood stream – and that warmth is also relaxing! Try 5 drops of Grapefruit, 3 Frankincense and 2 Jasmine.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Summer First AidWhether flying off to exotic destinations, having a staycation, or simply spending time with family and friends, a ‘natural’ aromatherapy first aid kit can help to deal with some of those minor niggles and complaints which can occur during the summer months. Here are some of my favourite oils to have on hand:-

Travel sickness is a common problem that affects many travellers. The NHS state that this condition is: “thought to occur when there is a conflict between what your eyes see and what your inner ears, which help with balance, sense. Your brain receives a jumble of contrasting information, which is thought to bring on the symptoms of motion sickness.”

As a person, who suffers from travel sickness rather badly, I definitely recommend using two drops of Peppermint essential oil on a tissue, which really does, in my opinion, alleviate the discomfort of the condition. Although I personally prefer the aroma of Peppermint, Ginger (Zingiber officinale) essential oil is also reputed to be an effective alternative, and can be used in exactly the same way.

For those travelling by aircraft, earache can be a common complaint. Discomfort may be relieved by massaging around the ear area with 5ml of carrier oil and one drop each of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) essential oils.

According to Cancer Research UK, most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun, whether short or long-term, and their advice is to: “spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, wear a T shirt, hat and sunglasses and use sunscreen with at least SPF 15, with good UVA protection”. For those who do, unfortunately, experience the effects of mild sunburn, such as reddened skin and pain in the area of the burn, symptoms can, of course, be alleviated by avoiding direct sunlight, covering up and staying in the shade until the sunburn has healed. Apart from sponging the skin with lukewarm water to help cool it and drinking plenty of fluids to help rehydration, applying neat Lavender to the affected areas is said to be beneficial. An aftersun oil containing a blend of St John’s Wort, Lavender, German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla/recutica) and Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) is also reputed to be effective in helping reduce the drying effects of the sun on the skin.

Finally, for those pesky insects such as mosquitoes all the lemon scented oils, such as Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) are said to be effective insect repellents, and can be used rather effectively in oil burners.

Whatever you do and wherever you go this summer, remember…have your ‘natural’ first aid kit at hand, stay safe but, above all, have a great time!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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complementary_therapies-300x209I guess many therapists, like myself, who have been working with Aromatherapy for some time will have gained additional qualifications in therapies that we feel add huge value to our therapeutic expertise. Clients presenting with conditions outside of our current remit often inspires a desire for gaining additional tools and resources to extend our abilities to help more people.

It is vital for all of us to be aware that no single therapist can ever help everyone who comes into our clinic – and it’s extremely important to know when to refer clients on. The most regular referrals I give would be to my close colleagues who practice Osteopathy and Traditional Chinese Acupuncture. However, over the last 25 years I have found certain therapies to be a wonderful addition to my own therapeutic repertoire, helping extend the efficacy of my aromatherapy treatments hugely, both in treatment potential and enjoyment. All these therapies are complete in their own right – but elements can also be combined within the actual aromatherapy treatment to great effect when indicated.

These are my favourite additions, the first two being used within the aromatherapy treatment, the other used in conjunction with or in addition to aromatherapy when required:


This gentle and non-invasive use of subtle energy can “turbo charge” your treatment by helping to include an additional energy that the body will use as it is required. As Reiki treatment can take place with hands just above or lightly touching the body – it can be used in addition to the massage application itself to great effect. The key element – as always – is to explain the process to your client – so if your hands “go still” they will understand the reason. If it is appropriate and your client is comfortable – then the “chakra scanning” in the beginning – before the treatment progresses – will also give you a great deal of useful information. It can also help demonstrate the changes beginning to take place – if you are able to re-scan at the end of the session. If you feel changes it can be very encouraging for your client to receive this feedback.


Even a basic understanding of the key reflex points can be very useful when it comes to the foot massage part of your aromatherapy treatment. The spinal reflex is particularly clear and easy to access, and helps to demonstrate where the key areas of tension in the back are located. As we know, the areas of muscular tension are not necessarily where the pain or discomfort is felt. It may also be useful to be able to advise where your client could work on their own feet in between their sessions with you.

Applied Kinesiology (AK):

As a separate part of my treatment – not as part of the aromatherapy itself – it can sometimes be useful to identify any food allergies or intolerances – using a basic form of AK called “Touch For Health”. I have found this particularly helpful for those suffering from digestive issues such as IBS, chronic fatigue issues and those who need to loose weight.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming:

Being able to use language in a very conscious and directed way can be a huge help with any therapy. I have found NLP particularly useful; for clients suffering from anxiety, low self esteem or depression. The ways of “reframing “ the way of looking at the issues, and helping increase your clients ability to see themselves in a more empowered and positive position, is an invaluable mechanism to help encourage positive change.


Again – separate to the aromatherapy session, but as a useful adjunct – hypnotherapy can be an outstanding tool. Being able to use your vocality with knowledge and understanding is also exceptionally useful even outside the actual treatment itself. For more significant issues, where phobia, addiction or significantly low confidence and negative “internal dialogue” are causing problems, I often use 2 hour treatments – the first section being aromatherapy massage. Following on from this – the client is in a semi-trance like state anyway – so perfectly ready to progress with a hypnotherapy session.

Thought Field Therapy:

For fast and dramatic resolution of unhelpful emotional states, TFT has been an extraordinarily effective resource to add to my therapeutic “tool kit”. Initially the first training session was taken as part of my advanced hypnotherapy training. It soon became obvious that it was to supersede all my expectations. Creating new “neural networks” in the brains processing of information – with this system – creates a pathway clear of long term anxiety and issues that so many people put up with as part of their everyday life. If GP practices were to offer this system as part of the treatments on offer for anxiety, depression, phobias and sleeping problems, it is my belief that those “needing” medication would be dramatically reduced.

The reality is that in the future our GP surgeries need to be truly integrated medical centres, offering a variety of therapies under one roof. Those therapists that have developed a useful range of therapies to work with will be perfectly placed to work alongside their orthodox medical colleagues, for the benefit of everyone. These centres are emerging, let’s hope they become common place very soon.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Fresh herbs in first aid kitEssential oils have so many amazing properties and a myriad of different benefits and applications. Visiting a professional therapist for an aromatherapy massage is one of the most enjoyable and beneficial ways of experiencing aromatherapy, however there are lots of other fantastic ways in which essential oils can help you really quickly and easily in your day to day life. Here are our Top Ten ‘fast-aid’ (first aid) essentials:-

  1. Minor burns. By far the quickest miracle worked. Always have a bottle of Lavender essential oil in the kitchen. If you burn yourself, run it under cold water immediately, dab dry, and drip one or two drops of neat Lavender straight onto the site – the immediate relief and speedy healing will amaze you. It will be less likely to scar too. Obviously all serious burns should receive proper medical attention.
  2. Headaches. Drop a few drops of neat Peppermint oil onto a tissue and inhale deeply. Drink a large glass of water too, as headaches are often related to dehydration.
  3. Difficulty in concentrating? We’ve all had occasions when we’re so busy or tired that we can’t think straight. Simply hold a bottle of Rosemary essential oil under a nostril – pressing the other nostril closed. Inhale deeply, repeat on the other side, and feel your head start to clear! This can help to stimulate your memory too.
  4. Spot rearing its head? If you want to eradicate it quickly, dab a drop of neat Tea Tree oil on the centre every morning and evening. The Tea Tree will help it dry it out and neutralise the bacteria that’s causing the blocked pore to inflame.
  5. If you have an inflamed or arthritic joint try combining 50ml of Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel with 2 drops of German Chamomile, 10 Lavender and 2 Eucalyptus. Massage in morning and evening for soothing, cooling pain relief.
  6. Athelete’s foot often arises when you go for long periods of time wearing trainers or wellies. The fungus takes hold in the damp, moist conditions, so let your feet out in the air whenever possible! Meanwhile apply this very effective and soothing treatment cream: 50ml Moisturising Cream, 1 drop Peppermint,  10 drops Tea Tree and 10 Lavender. Massage into the affected areas every morning and evening. Also remember to dry the areas between your toes really well after every bath or shower.
  7. Splinter or minor cut/thorn in the garden? If your hands were muddy when it happened, infection can quickly take hold. Wash the area thoroughly with antibacterial soap – try 100ml Liquid Soap with 10 drops Tea Tree, 10 Geranium and 5 Lemon. Then apply a drop of neat Tea Tree to the area with a cotton bud to help prevent infection.
  8. Coughing and sneezing with a cold or flu? Never forget – the fastest way of benefiting from the anti-microbial properties of essential oils is via steam inhalation. First take a bowl of steaming hot water, add 4 drops of Sandalwood, 2 Lemon, 2 Tea Tree and 1 Eucalyptus. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over your head then inhale for 5 minutes. Repeat 3 times daily. You can also vaporise these oils too.
  9. Difficulty in sleeping? Try a warm bath with 8 drops of Lavender and 2 Roman Chamonile in 10ml of your chosen bath base. Also drink Valerian or Chamomile tea before bed.
  10. Stressed/shocked/anxious? Take a few drops of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, and massage 2 drops of Neroli Light (pre-blended at 5% in Jojoba) into your temples and 2 more onto your chest to help encourage deeper breathing and relaxation. Neroli is also a supreme anti-depressant.

If you’ve found the above tips useful, you may be interested in our Home Essentials Essential Oil Gift Set which contains many of the oils mentioned above. Priced at only £10.70 (inc VAT) for 8 x 5ml oils.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Fathers-DayAre you still trying to decide what to get Dad for Father’s Day? Do you want to give him something that’s just a little bit different, something that will be useful and that will enhance his health and wellbeing at the same time? If so, why not make your own aromatherapy gifts to give him a ‘boost’ and show him you care!

Our Clinical Aromatherapist and Principal Tutor, Jeni Broughton, shares her ideas for therapeutic Father’s Day treats…

Relaxing Bath Soak

For every 30ml of your chosen bath base (i.e. bath milk, oil or gel) add 3 drops of Benzoin essential oil, 3 Patchouli and 4 Ginger.

Soothing Shaving Gel

For every 30ml of Aloe Vera Hydrating Gel or Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel add 3 drops of Cedarwood essential oil, 3 Patchouli and 4 drops Ho Leaf.

Aromatic After Shave Spritz

10ml alcohol, 10 drops of Benzoin, 10 Patchouli and 10 Cedarwood – shake well and top to 100ml with Distilled/De-ionized Water.

Stress Busting Pulse Point Balm

For every 10ml of Aloe Vera Gel, add 1 drop Geranium, 1 Patchouli and 1 drop Frankincense.

Hope this has inspired you to get mixing! Don’t forget to choose some nice bottles or jars and make your own ‘handmade’ labels for an extra special effect!

Jeni Broughton

Clinical Aromatherapist and Principal Tutor


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sandalwoodSandalwood (Agmark) essential oil (Santalum album) is another ancient and much-prized, resinous oil. Its use in ceremony, ritual and perfumery can be traced back 2500 years or more. This pale yellow viscous oil has an unmistakable, sweet, soft, woody, pungent aromatic scent, being completely devoid of top notes and almost entirely composed of base notes! For this reason it has vital fixative properties in many famous perfumes. Its scent is remarkably persistent – like that of Frankincense – so much so that its odour has been detectable in ointments discovered in ancient Egyptian burial tombs.

Otherwise known as “White Sandalwood” or “East Indian Sandalwood, this variety of Sandalwood is now very scarce – due to over harvesting and over exploiting the best sources – in Mysore and Madras in India. As the heartwood and roots of the trees have to be at least 30 years old before they contain any quantity of the oil, this scarcity will last for some time, thus increasing the prices and the use of lesser varieties used to adulterate the best oil.

When purchasing Sandalwood make sure that it has the Agmark Seal which guarantees the oil’s quality and purity, and that it has been produced only from mature trees that are near the end of their lives.

Sandalwood has had a traditional and vital role in Ayurvedic medicine, and recent research shows its outstanding properties may also be deployed in the treatment of pre-cancerous skin lesions, and even as a skin-cancer preventative! (Source: Baldovini et al 2011).

Sandalwood has 5 major areas of use:

Urinary: for cystitis and other urinary tract infections. Blending well with Bergamot, Lemon, Cypress and Juniper.

Respiratory: for congestive conditions, asthma and persistent coughs. Blending well with Ginger, Benzoin, Cedarwood, Ravintsara and Eucalyptus.

Nervous System: for anxiety, depression and low confidence. Blends well with Rose, Jasmine, Geranium, Bergamot, Patchouli and Orange.

Circulatory: for lymphatic congestion and weak circulation. Blends well with Cypress, Lemon, Juniper and Grapefruit.

Musculoskeletal: for muscle pain and spasm. Blends well with Lavender, Black Pepper, Ginger and Lemongrass.

It is also wonderful for skincare, helping to balance, soothe and hydrate all skin types.

Recipes using Sandalwood

Cystitis: Mix 3 tablespoons of Dead Sea Salt, 6 drops Sandalwood, 4 drops Bergamot and 4 Tea Tree. Add to the bath after the water has run. Also drink 1 litre of Chamomile tea throughout the day.

N.B. if you have a high temperature or blood in the urine, consult your G.P. immediately as cystitis can lead to serious kidney infections.

Sore throat/cough: – Mix 10ml Grapeseed Oil, 5 drops Sandalwood, 4 Lavender and 1 Eucalyptus and massage into neck throat and chest area. You can also gargle with warm water with ½ teaspoon of salt and 1 drop of Tea Tree. If the cough is persistent, try an inhalation morning and evening with 4 drops of Sandalwood, 3 Tea Tree and 2 Lemon.

Dry mature/skin: Combine 50ml of fragrance free Moisturising Cream with 6 drops of Sandalwood, 4 Frankincense, 2 Neroli and 2 Rose.

Men’s aftershave skin tonic: Combine 50ml of Orange Flower Hydrolat, 6 drops Sandalwood, 4 Juniperberry and 2 Neroli

Joannah Metcalfe

Consultant Aromatherapist


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