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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.

carrier oilsAs many of us are aware, fixed and macerated oils and waxes can be used as bases for essential oils. A fixed oil is a compound of glycerol and a fatty acid and, because of oxidation, has a tendency to go off quite quickly. These oils tend to be a yellowish colour, although there are exceptions to the rule, such as Avocado (Persea gratissima), known for its brilliant, bright green colour. Fixed oils, unlike volatile essential oils, do not evaporate. Macerated oils are vegetable oils to which plant materials have been added and include Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Carrot (Daucus carota) and many others. Oils comprising of esters, rather than triacylglycerols, are known as waxes.

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and rather than use some of the more unusual base oils, we tend to stick with those we are familiar with – Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus amygdalus) springs to mind! I think this a shame, because we have access to some fabulous oils, all of which possess their own very unique properties. In this article I want to focus on examples of those that have analgesic properties, and encourage you to consider using them, especially when preparing aromatherapy blends for muscular aches and pains, arthritic and rheumatic conditions.

Waxes:

Jojoba (Simmondsia sinensis) is a golden coloured liquid wax that is extracted from the seeds of the plant. It is a good choice for the aromatherapy kit, as it does not oxidise easily and, therefore, has a longer shelf life than fixed oils. Externally the oil can be beneficial for arthritis and rheumatism. Please note, however, that Jojoba can cause allergic reactions.

Fixed Oils:

Sesame Seed Oil (Sesamum indicum) comes from the East Indies, although it is now grown worldwide; it is an annual with flowers that are white with a hint of red, blue or yellow. The best grade oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant by cold pressing and filtering, although poorer quality oils are obtained by other methods. This oil can be combined with other carrier oils at around 25% and is noted for its beneficial effects for rheumatic conditions. It is worth noting, however, that Sesame Seed Oil may cause hypersensitivity in some people.

Macerated Oils:

Arnica (Arnica montana) grows in the European mountains. The dried flower heads can be used in a diluted tincture or compress as a healing application for sprains and bruises where the skin is unbroken. This oil is also useful for rheumatic joints, aches and pains after excessive use as in sports and other strenuous activities. Do not take internally, as it’s a powerful poison.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) grows in Britain, Europe and Asia. Externally it is an astringent and can be used for bruises, swellings, sprains and aching joints. While Comfrey has been banned in the UK in oral products, it appears to be safe when applied to unbroken skin in small amounts. It is worth noting however that poisonous chemicals present in Comfrey can pass through the skin, and can still be absorbed if your skin is broken or if large amounts are administered.

Lime Blossom Oil (Tilia europaea). The blossoms from this beautiful tree are used in the production of a tea. A small percentage of the blossom is macerated, usually with a Sunflower Oil to produce an oil which is relaxing and soothing for rheumatic pain. There are no known contra-indications to this oil although Price (1999) suggests that some experts believe it should be avoided by individuals with an existing cardiac disorder.

I hope this has article has inspired you to choose some of the more unusual carrier oils at your disposal (most of which are available from Base Formula). I would be interested to know how you get on.

Good bye for now folks and all of the very best for Christmas and the New Year!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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christmas oilsWhile working in the office I am inhaling the delightful blended aroma of one drop of Cinnamon essential oil, one drop of Nutmeg, and four drops of Sweet Orange; it smells divine! With Christmas just around the corner, this got me thinking about the wide array of essential oils that can be used over the festive period to create a Christmassy ambiance. Although subjective, there are many essential oils that can be used in the lead up to and during the Christmas season including: Mandarin, Sweet Orange, and Tangerine, all of which are, of course, citrus oils. Then there are the spicy oils, for example, Ginger and Nutmeg, and the resinous oils such as Frankincense and Myrrh.

Although it is certainly easier and quicker to purchase a synthetic room fragrance, I believe there is nothing more satisfying than creating your own 100% natural blend. Using pure and true essential oils gives you the confidence of knowing that you won’t end up with a headache or a feeling of nausea, as can sometimes happen with artificial products, and that you, family members or cherished family pets are less likely to experience sensitivity or allergic reactions to your carefully home-made blends in comparison to shop-bought products.

Of course, there are some general guidelines worth observing when making your own Christmas aromatherapy blends. For example: Cinnamon and Ginger can be overpowering and, if used in high quantities, may cause irritation to mucus membranes. Nutmeg should also be used with care because, according to some experts, it may cause hallucinations. I would suggest, therefore, only using couple of drops of these essential oils in combination with more gentle ones such as Mandarin, Sweet Orange, or Tangerine. Whilst citrus oils can also be successfully blended with Frankincense, I think this is such a beautiful oil, that it can be used on its own to provide a much needed peaceful ambiance during, what can be, a frenetic time of year.

So, how can you make the most of these aromatherapy oils over the Christmas season? Well, one of the easiest ways is to choose three essential oils and put a total of six drops into a diffuser or oil burner. If you don’t have either of these items you could consider using an old fondue dish or cotton wool buds which can then be placed on radiators throughout your home. The heat from the radiators helps to release the aromatic scent from the cotton wool buds, and they are definitely easier to use and less messy than oil burners. Another method is to sprinkle your Christmas tree, whether real or artificial, with Pine essential oil, or collect and sprinkle pine cones with this fresh smelling oil. When opening pressies there is nothing more lovely for the recipient to experience a waft of aromatic Christmassy oil; it’s a really personal touch and it just takes a moment to scent the wrapping paper with oils such as Sweet Orange or Mandarin prior to wrapping the presents.

I’ve provided below a list of my favourite oils at this time of year, which I hope you’ll find helpful.

Christine’s favourite Christmas Essential Oils

Citrus:

Coniferous:

Resinous:

Spicy:

  • Cardamon
  • Cinnamon (Use with care: severe dermal irritant and sensitiser)
  • Clove Bud (Use with care: potential skin irritant and sensitiser)
  • Ginger (May cause sensitisation in some individuals)
  • Nutmeg (Avoid in pregnancy. Use with care, can cause hallucinations)

Well, that’s me for this month – I’m off to make some more Christmassy blends!

Wishing you a joyous and peaceful Christmas and healthy, happy New Year.

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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red carrotRed Carrot is a relatively new base oil in modern day aromatherapy, but yet again we find that the ancients were way ahead of us! It was discovered by the Indians and Ancient Greeks – the word carrot coming from the Greek word “caroton”, and it was held in high esteem for its medicinal properties.

As the lovely warm red colour indicates, Red Carrot Oil is really rich in antioxidants that are so important in preventing free radical damage. It is also rich in beta carotene, vitamins A and E, and pro-vitamin A. It is known as “liquid gold” in beauty therapy circles, and has a range of properties, including its capacity to help revitalise skin that has been damaged by sun and harsh environments, that reflects poor nutrition and skin that has aged prematurely (in combination with a change in diet). It can be added to creams and lotions, used in face masks and facial oils, and is also prized for its sun protection factors.

Note: due to the deep colour of this oil it may discolour the skin if used undiluted. We recommend diluting it with another carrier oil such as Sweet Almond or Apricot Kernel at 10%.

Recipes using Red Carrot Oil

Facial Oil:

For dry, damaged or prematurely aged skin. Combine 40ml Apricot Kernel Oil, 10ml Jojoba Oil, 5ml Argan Oil and 5ml Red Carrot Oil with 2 drops Neroli essential oil, 2 Rose, 3 Frankincense and 3 Benzoin. Shake well before use. Apply 20 minutes before bed and dab off any excess oil with a facial tissue before retiring or you may find you stain your pillow cases yellow!

Body Lotion:

Mix 100ml Organic Moisturising Lotion, 10ml Jojoba Oil, 5ml warmed Extra Virgin Coconut Butter, 5ml Red Carrot Oil, 20 drops Geranium essential oil, 10 Sweet Orange, 10 Bergamot and 5 Patchouli. Shake well before applying. Perfect to use as a rich Winter body lotion. Note: if you’re off on a Winter holiday do not use before sunbathing due to the phototoxic nature of the citrus oils!

Face Mask:

To give your complexion that extra boost before a big night out – or a good “feed” once a week – try adding 2ml Red Carrot Oil to your usual blend. I like to mash ½ avocado, add ½ teaspoon runny honey and 1 heaped dessert spoonful of White Kaolin Clay. I then stir in 2ml Red Carrot Oil and 2 drops each of Neroli, Rose and Benzoin. Apply to face and neck and leave on for 20 minutes before splashing off with cold water.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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cinnamonCinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is an aromatic, evergreen tree that predominantly grows in India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. The medicinal properties of this unmistakable spice have been known for thousands of years – and it is now commonly used as a food flavouring, digestive and circulatory tonic and an immunity booster.

The essential oil distilled from the aromatic bark isn’t used in aromatherapy as it is too irritating for the skin and mucus membranes. The leaves however offer a yellow/brown oil that has a similar warm, spicy, fragrance with few of the irritant properties of the bark.

SAFETY NOTE: Although the essential oil produced from the leaves is non-toxic, it can still be an irritant and a mild sensitizer for some – so it is best used very sparingly. Do not use topically for those with sensitive skins and never use topically at a dilution of more than 3%.

Cinnamon Leaf essential oil has 5 main roles:

As a circulatory stimulant

It is useful in massage for those who feel the cold and who suffer with poor peripheral circulation. Try 30ml Sweet Almond Oil with 1 drop Cinnamon, 2 Rosemary, 2 Lemon and 8 Lavender.

As a digestive aid

For those who suffer from sluggish digestion/constipation, use in full body massage paying particular attention to the clockwise rotation over the abdominal area. Try 30ml Grapeseed Oil, 1 drop Cinnamon essential oil, 4 Sweet Orange, 1 Palmarosa and 2 Lime.

For pain relief

To help ease aches and pains associated with rheumatism or muscle stiffness after exercise, massage with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml Neem Oil, 1 drop Cinnamon, 1 Black Pepper, 2 Roman Chamomile, 4 Marjoram and 6 Lavender.

As an immunity booster

To lift mood and boost up immunity and to neutralise airbourne microbes, vaporise 2 drops Cinnamon, 2 Clove and 4 Lemon Eucalyptus.

For nervous debility and stress

For stress related exhaustion, try massage with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 1 drop Cinnamon, 2 Lemon, 4 Ylang Ylang and 3 Lime.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

It’s that time of year again – like it or not – Christmas is just around the corner! Whether you’re a humbug or a party animal you’ll probably want to look and feel your best at Christmas parties and family get togethers! There are masses of fabulous ways in which aromatherapy can come to your aid – to help you shine and glow, and summon up some energy even when your slippers and the warm fire-side seem rather tempting. So dust off your “glad rags”, shine those shoes and get ready to party – as we share our secrets to help you really sparkle this Christmas– even if you do feel like your fizz has rather fizzled out!

At this time of year I put my use of essential oils in 3 main categories:

  1. Pampering Power – using aromatherapy to help you feel your best.
  2. Perfect Preparation – using aromatherapy to make you look your best.
  3. Heaven Scent – using aromatherapy to help you smell divine – naturally!

Sounds good? Wait until you try the following aromatherapy recipes.

BUT, before we get started, to make you and everyone else smile, and your house feel festive, warm and inviting this Christmas, vapourise 3 drops Frankincense essential oil, 4 Sweet Orange and 2 Cinnamon.

PAMPERING POWER

Here’s a selection of Aromatherapy bath blends to lift your spirits and boost your mood:-

Festive Energy:

Feeling flat, tired and fed up? Mix 15ml SLS free Bath & Shower Gel with 1 drop Clary Sage essential oil, 1 Black Pepper, 4 Bergamot and 2 Jasmine.

Happy Bubbles:

Has your Mo has lost its Jo? Mix 15ml SLS free Bath & Shower Gel with 4 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil, 4 Geranium, 2 Neroli and 2 Benzoin.

Sunshine Smile:

This blissful blend is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Mix 15ml of Luxury Bath Oil with 4 drops Sweet Orange essential oil, 2 Rose and 2 Neroli.

Add your chosen blend to your bath once the water has run and swirl gently to release the aroma and therapeutic powers of the essential oils. If you don’t have a bath simply add your blend to a foot bath – then sit back and relax!

PERFECT PREPARATION

Make sure your complexion soft, smooth and glowing:-

Skin Gleam Body Scrub:

Take 1 tsp of Red Carrot Oil, 1 tsp Jojoba, ½ tsp Ultra Fine Dead Sea Salt, 2 tablespoons pin head oatmeal, 1 tsp Coconut Oil or warmed Extra Virgin Coconut Butter and 1 ripe banana. Squish it all together with a fork to make a paste, then add in 2 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil, 2 Benzoin, 3 Geranium and 3 Frankincense. Stand in the bath or shower tray and massage into the skin with circular upwards motions, starting with your feet and working up towards the heart. Once you’re well and truly, covered rinse off with warm water and pat dry.

Peachy Face Mask:

Using no peaches! Take ½ a ripe avocado and eat it – it’s good for you! Then take the other half, mash it up with 1 tbsp of plain live Greek yogurt and ½ tsp of runny honey. Then add 1 tsp of Ultra Fine French Green Clay, 2 drops of Patchouli essential oil, 2 Rose and 2 Neroli. Mix well and smooth onto face and neck avoiding the eyes. Leave on for 10 mins then rinse off with cold water.

Skin Smoothing Moisture Balm:

For a silky soft finishing touch and gorgeous aroma mix 80ml of Moisturising Lotion, 5ml Red Carrot Oil, 5ml Jojoba and 5ml Argan Oil. Add in 10 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil, 15 Bergamot, 5 Rosemary, 5 Rose and 5 Neroli. Mix thoroughly and smoooooooooth on!

HEAVEN SCENT

Enjoy the beautiful, natural fragrance of essential oils on your hair and skin:-

Hair Lustre Conditioner:

Take 20ml fragrance free Hair Conditioner, add 2ml warmed Extra Virgin Coconut Butter and 2ml Argan Oil. Then add 4 drops Frankincense essential oil, 4 Geranium and 4 Rosemary. Massage in to the hair and scalp and leave for 20 min. Rinse well.

Top tip: Massage a few drops of Ylang Ylang into the ends of a natural bristled brush for extra shine and perfume (watch out though as it’s an aphrodisiac!)

Skin Glow Body Oil:

Mix 50ml Jojoba, 50ml Coconut Oil, 20 drops Mandarin essential oil, 10 drops Sandalwood, 10 Geranium, 2 Ginger and 2 Neroli. Massage into your skin for a glorious gleam and exquisite aroma.

Heart quickening ‘PPP’ – Pulse Point Perfume:

Take a 10ml bottle (our Rollette bottles are ideal) and add 5ml Jojoba, 2 drops Neroli, 2 Jasmine and 2 Rose. Shake well and apply often to wrists and behind the ears. Breathe deeply and smile with the knowledge that you won’t be the only one catching their breath!

After Shave Splash for the Boys:

Why not let the men in on the fun too! This 100% natural after shave smells divine and is great for easing shaving rash. Take 100ml Orange Flower (Neroli) Hydrolat. Add 15 drops of Sandalwood essential oil, 10 Bergamot, 8 Petitgrain, 4 Tea Tree and 4 Neroli. Shake well before splashing on.

Hope you enjoy trying these lovely recipes and that you have the most fabulous time this Christmas!

With my best wishes.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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seasonal-affective-disorder-This month I thought I would talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression affecting about 2 million people in the UK, and more than 12 million people across Northern Europe. The condition is more common in women than men and most likely to develop in people aged 18 to 30; it tends to start in Autumn, as the days become shorter and there is reduced exposure to sunlight, is at its peak in the winter months, and starts to improve as the days become longer in Spring. The two main symptoms are low mood and a lack of interest in life. Other symptoms may include feelings of irritability, despair, guilt, low self-esteem, indecisiveness, tearfulness, stress, anxiety, tiredness, lethargy, lack of concentration and being less active than normal.

Whilst the exact causes of SAD are not actually understood, NHS Choices state that: “Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones….one theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel. In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly”.

Experts believe that the lack of light is thought to affect production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin as well as the body’s internal clock, which is responsible for regulating several biological processes (also known as the circadian rhythm).

If you believe you have symptoms of SAD it is always advisable to visit your GP, who may wish to carry out an assessment to ascertain whether you are suffering from the condition. As with any form of depression, SAD can be difficult to live with, making sufferers feel tired, stressed and unhappy. However, the NHS state that it can be treated successfully with, for example, Light Therapy, medication, or cognitive behavioural therapy.

I believe that the use of aromatherapy essential oils may also help to alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD, thereby providing sufferers with another, natural coping mechanism. I’ve provided a list of the essential oils below that are reputed to be beneficial in helping the sufferer feel that they are in control of the condition, rather than the condition being in control of them.

Recommended essential oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder / Winter blues:

Top notes:
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

Middle notes:
Chamomile Roman (Anthemis nobilis)
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

Base notes:
Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)
Neroli (Citrus aurantium amara)
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
Rose Otto (Rosa damascena)
Sandalwood (Santalum album)
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

Visit our website to learn more about the above listed essential oils.

Recommended Carrier oils for blending:

Sweet Almond (Prunus amygdalus)
Apricot Kernel (Prunus armeniaca)
Avocado (Persea gratissima)
Jojoba (Simmondsia sinensis)
Macademia (Macadamia ternifolia)
Peach Kernel (Prunus persica)
Rosehip (Rosa rubiginosa)

Visit our website to learn more about the above listed carrier oils.

Creating a synergistic essential oil blend:

In order to create a synergistic blend it is recommended to select a top, middle and base note from the lists provided, taking into account, of course, any contra-indications. I recommend using a ratio of 2:4:1 in 7ml of carrier oil. For example, if I wanted to use an all-time favourite blend of mine comprising of Bergamot, Lavender and Rose I would use 2 drops of Bergamot, 4 drops of Lavender and 1 drop of Rose in 7ml of carrier oil, such as Rosehip Seed Oil. Bergamot is sunshine in a bottle and is particularly uplifting, whilst Lavender is relaxing, and Rose, apart from having a beautiful aroma, is reputed to be a hormonal balancer. The three blended together offer an exquisite aroma that can be enjoyed in massage or in aromatherapy baths. You may also wish to add the essential oils to a base cream or lotion in the same proportions and apply morning and night.

I do hope this article has provided you with some useful information and that the use of essential oils will help to give some relief from the miserable symptoms of SAD.

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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rose-hip-syrup-resizedThe hedgerows are full of beautiful red Rosehips at this time of year!

Whilst we readily gather in the blackberries and sloes, the Rosehip all too often gets ignored – which is a real shame as this vitamin-rich fruit of the wild (or dog) rose makes a wonderful syrup to keep coughs and colds at bay.

Rosehips are typically gathered in October and November – ideally after the first frost when they are ripe and soft. They are rich in vitamins A, C and K, and the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.

Here is a great recipe for Rosehip Syrup which we’ve taken from James Wong’s ‘Grown Your Own Drugs’.

Vitamin Booster Rosehip Syrup

  • 250g of fresh Rosehips
  • 5 cloves (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 500ml water
  • approx 125g sugar

Directions:

Lightly crush the Rosehips and pop in a pan. Add cloves and cinnamon if you wish, and pour in the water. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain the mixture and add the same quantity of sugar as there is liquid (approx 125g). Stir thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved and then bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer again f0r 10 minutes. Let the syrup cool and then filter to ensure that all the tiny hairs from the fruit are removed (as these can cause irritation). Decant into sterilized bottles.

Usage:

2 tsp per day for Children; dilute 1 part syrup to 5 parts water and use as a cordial; pour over pancakes, waffles, ice-cream etc.

The Rosehip Syrup will keep for 1 week in the fridge after opening and will last for 1 year unopened.

 

rosehip_fruitIn the popular press Rosehip Seed Oil is being hailed as the next “big thing” – the new coconut oil – due to its amazing skin rejuvenating properties.

Rosehips are the fruits of the ‘Dog Rose’ (Rosa canina), sometimes called ‘Briar’ or ‘Wild Rose’. The best quality oil is produced by “cold pressing” the seeds of the Rosehip fruit. The resulting oil is considered one of the best for skincare as it is packed full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids!

The oil is predominantly produced in Chile, and is yet another oil that the ancients discovered first – it was used by the ancient Egyptians, the Mayans and the Native Americans for its healing properties!

Rosehip Seed Oil is excellent for soothing sensitive, itchy, dry skin (and scalps), and can help to reduce dark age spots, fine lines, wrinkles and scars. It is especially good for skin that is prematurely aged due to sun or environmental damage.

Unlike many of the highly nutritious base oils, this light, dry oil is extremely absorbent, and non-greasy, and makes an excellent rejuvenating oil to apply at night, to boost and plump the skin and restore its natural elasticity.

For Dry Itchy Scalp:

Take 100ml fragrance free Hair Conditioner. Add 15ml Rosehip Seed Oil, 3 drops German Chamomile, 10 drops Geranium, 10 Lavender and 5 drops Sandalwood. Use an SLS free shampoo as normal then massage 20ml of Conditioner into the scalp and leave on for 5 minutes before rinsing.

Dry Skin Face Mask:

Take ½ avocado and ½ banana, and mash up with 10ml Rosehip Seed Oil, 1 tablespoon pinhead oatmeal, 2 drops Neroli, 2 Roman Chamomile and 4 Frankincense. Apply to the face and neck and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse off with cold water.

Night Facial Oil for Mature Skin:

Mix 80ml Apricot Kernel Oil, 10ml Rosehip Seed Oil 10ml Macadamia Nut Oil. Add 4 drops Neroli, 8 Frankincense, 2 Rose and 8 Geranium. Shake well before use and massage in a couple of drops at night, with a light, upwards motion.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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frankincenseFrankincense (Boswellia carteri) essential oil has an unmistakable odour – being both warm and resinous yet penetrating and camphorous. It is one of those few oils that actually improves with age – and is one of the most ancient and revered of essences – used in temples and vaporised in religious ceremonies since the earliest of times. It was famously used in the embalming process in Ancient Egypt, the aroma still detectable thousands of years later – when their tombs were discovered and explored.

The resin was initially gathered as it formed bubbles and crusts from cracks in the tree bark – but as demand increased, cuts were hewn into the bark to encourage more uniform exudation. The essential oil is extracted from the resin using steam distillation – which produces an oil that is usually a pale yellow colour.

Whilst much is covered regarding the rejuvenating properties of Frankincense for mature skin, this feature is going to focus on the extraordinary properties it has in relation to its other physical, emotional and spiritual actions. One of the reasons this oil is ideal at this time of year is that it has such a warming, comforting action, which can really help when those Wintery winds first start to bite. Its main therapeutic actions – aside from those properties relating to the skin – are extensive, but fall into 3 main categories:-

Immunity boosting: 

This essential oil is enormously effective in helping the immune system – both whilst under attack from various bugs – and as a tonic during convalescence. It blends particularly well in relation to these uses with Lavender, Eucalyptus, Bergamot and Palmarosa.

For flu: Try vaporising this combination and use as a twice daily inhalation: 3 drops of Frankincense, 3 Bergamot, 3 Lavender and 1 Eucalyptus.

Emotional tonic:

Frankincense has been used throughout the ages for its powerful relaxant and calming effect. It was used in many forms of religious ceremonies, and indeed still is, as it creates an effect conducive to prayer and meditation. In one of my books I referred to it as the “Little Hug Oil” – such is the comfort and reassurance it brings. So, for sadness and depression, anxiety and nervousness, it has a grounding, uplifting effect that is a real delight. It blends particularly well with the fragile flower essences and citrus oils, as well as Sandalwood, Geranium, and Lavender.

For depression: Try regular massage with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 2 drops Neroli, 2 Jasmine, 4 Frankincense and 6 Geranium. This blend is also great for a soothing aromatic bath – combine with 15ml of Bath Milk and add to the bath once water has run.

Respiratory tonic:

Frankincense has a wonderful effect on the rate of respiration, and the depth of the breath, encouraging deep slow breathing – particularly useful for those who shallow breathe at a rapid rate due to anxiety and stress. It has a drying action for those with chronic or acute congestion – excess catarrhal congestion due to infection and/or a diet which creates excess mucus. This oil can also be particularly effective when used regularly in massage for those who suffer from asthma. For these uses, it combines well with other resinous essential oils – such as Pine, Cedarwood and Sandalwood, Ginger and Lemon, Bergamot and Eucalyptus.

For preventative treatment of those prone to asthma: Try regular massage with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml Neem Oil, 1 drop Eucalyptus, 4 Frankincense, 4 Pine and 1 Ginger.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

Young woman having fluThe clocks have gone back signalling that Winter is on its way – prompting me to think about the wonderful aromatherapy oils that I need to stock up on to cope with all the typical Winter health challenges! You know what life is like, if you order everything you need, it could well be your insurance against having any problems at all! It’s a lovely feeling, being prepared. When my Base Formula oils arrive in the post this time of year, it makes me feel like I’m ready for almost anything! 

My winter shopping list tends to fall into 5 main categories:

  • Antivirals/antiseptics/antimicrobials
  • Circulatory stimulants
  • Analgesics
  • Mood enhancers
  • Digestives

Of course – the essential oils’ amazing properties mean that some fall into most categories in one go, they are so versatile – but this check list enables me to “tick off” those that I know I need to have on board ready for the drop in temperature and the reduction in daylight. Some of us can really dread this time of year, but remember there’s much to look forwards to as well – the festivities, the beauty of the change in seasons – and the fact that it makes you appreciate the changes that will come along again in the Spring!

If you are one of the many who has come to dread the commercialization of Christmas, remember, to a certain extent, it’s up to you to make it what you want! Historically it used to be about sharing good food and good company first and foremost and entering in to community celebration – so perhaps it’s time to re-focus our attention and do things differently this year. If you find yourself on your own or lonely, I highly recommend getting involved in some of the charities that serve Christmas lunch to the homeless on Christmas Day. My daughter and I got involved with local charities for a good few years. It gave Christmas a whole new dimension, and made us feel exceptionally fortunate with what we had ourselves too, never a bad thing at a time when we are bombarded by messages of commercial acquisitiveness.

Anyway, getting back to our Winter shopping list – these are my special favourites at this time of year:

Essential oils:-

Antivirals/antiseptics/antimicrobials:
Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Frankincense, Pine, Myrrh, Cedarwood and Sandalwood.

Circulatory stimulants:
Black Pepper, Rosemary, Ginger, Plai and Thyme.

Analgesics:
Clary Sage, Marjoram, Lavender, Palmarosa, Clove and Roman Chamomile.

Mood enhancers:
Bergamot, Sweet Orange, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Jasmine, Rose and Neroli.

Digestives:
Peppermint, Spearmint, Fennel, Nutmeg and Mandarin.

Base oils:-

When you’re thinking about what you need at this point in the year, don’t forget your base oils! I go for those rich in nutrients – as your skin is under extra pressure with the harsher weather and central heating. I always stock up, so I have something for every skin type and almost every eventuality. Firm favourites would include: Jojoba, Argan, Avocado, Neem, St John’s Wort and Rosehip Seed Oil.

Now let’s get down to how you can use of these wonderful oils – then you really will be fit for anything!

AROMATHERAPY INHALATIONS:

One of the most effective ways of combating low immunity and many different types of infection – not just those of the respiratory tract. Remember that this is the fastest route – via the blood rich lining of the lungs, to get the essential oil molecules into the blood stream.

Coughs/Colds: Frankincense will help dry up excess congestion, Eucalyptus will help decongest the sinus and lungs, Tea Tree will help boost the immune response, and all are strongly antimicrobial! Place 4 drops Frankincense, 1 Eucalyptus and 3 Tea Tree in a bowl of steaming hot water. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over your head, breathing in through the nose and mouth for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

Flu: Is caused by a virus – and so needs a different approach – which takes in to account the low mood that often accompanies the virus. Try Bergamot to lift the spirits, Tea Tree to boost immunity and Cedarwood to help ease congestion and temperatures – all 3 are antiviral/antimicrobial agents. Use 3 drops Cedarwood, 6 Bergamot and 2 Tea Tree and follow instructions above.

Sinusitis: As the mucus membranes are inflamed during sinus infections, this can be an extremely painful condition which must NEVER be ignored or left untreated. The back of the sinus cavities run close to the brain – and deep sinus infections can actually cause death if the infection creates an abscess which can rupture into the brain mass! Rare but not unheard of, sadly. So – for minor sinusitis try an inhalation using Lavender to ease pain and inflammation, Thyme to stimulate circulation and immunity, and Eucalyptus to help decongest the sinus themselves.  Use 4 drops Lavender, 2 Thyme and 1 Eucalyptus.

AROMATHERAPY BATHS & FOOT BATHS:

Warming bath for chills: Mix 15ml Bath Milk with 2 drops Rosemary, 1 Ginger, 2 Frankincense and 5 Lavender to help ward off chills after a cold day out. Mix well and add to the bath once the water has run.

Warming bath to lift low spirits: Some of us can feel a little low after a long cold Winter’s day – especially if we go to work and come back from work in the dark! Try and get some natural daylight by getting out in your lunch hour and consider taking BioCare Bio-emulsion D drops – then bathe in a deep hot bath before bed: Mix 15ml Bath Milk with 5 drops Bergamot, 1 Black Pepper, 3 Frankincense and 3 Neroli. Simply lovely!

Foot bath for poor circulation. Use 2 drops of Black Pepper, 2 Thyme and 2 Plai to boost circulation and warm up those extremities.

AROMATHERAPY GELS, CREAMS & LOTIONS:

Aloe Vera Gel for chilblains: These are a sign of poor circulation – and possibly a deficiency in Vitamins C, E and Calcium. Try massaging this gel into your toes regularly as a preventative measure and also to help ease the symptoms when they arise. Take 100ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, add 5ml Neem Oil, 5ml Argan Oil, 5 drops German Chamomile, 20 Lavender, 5 Lemon and 10 Marjoram. Drink Lemon and Ginger or Rosemary Tea to boost circulation internally too.

Cream for cold sores: These are caused by the immunity dropping through stress or others infections, which triggers the dormant virus “herpes simplex”. Mix 50ml Moisturising Cream, 5ml Argan Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 5 drops Roman Chamomile, 5 Myrrh and 10 Tea Tree. Apply as soon as you feel the tingle. Remember sunlight triggers the virus in some – so wear lip salve to protect sensitive areas.

Chest rub cream for coughs and colds: Having this made up ready in your bathroom cabinet is highly recommended. Blend 50ml Moisturising Cream, 2 drops Eucalyptus, 2 Black Pepper, 4 Thyme, 10 Sandalwood and 10 Pine. Rub onto chest and back at the first sign of a cough or cold – hopefully with some Vitamin C and an early night you’ll ward it off!

AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE OILS:

Warming reassurance: 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 5 drops Lavender, 1 Ginger, 4 Frankincense and 5 Bergamot.

Winter warming immunity booster: 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 2 drops Palmarosa, 2 Lemon, 3 Plai, 4 Frankincense and 4 Lavender.

Uplifting blast of sunshine: 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 5 drops Geranium, 5 Bergamot and 5 Ylang Ylang.

WARMING AROMATHERAPY COMPRESSES:-

To ease muscle spasm put a square of muslin in a bowl of warm water – add 5 drops Lavender, 3 Marjoram and 2 Roman Chamomile. Swirl the muslin around, squeeze out excess water and apply to affected area.

To ease joint inflammation – as above – but add 3 drops German Chamomile, 2 drops Peppermint and 6 Lavender.

To soothe stress related headaches – as above – but add 6 drops Lavender, 1 Spearmint and 2 Neroli.

Additional seasonal tips:

Garlic: Take 1 clove of garlic, raw, chop finely and swallow after supper (when stomach is lined) for colds, coughs and flu – as it is a natural antibiotic.

Ginger: Finely slice and make ginger and fresh lemon tea to stimulate immunity and aid digestion.

Lemon: Taken in water regularly lemon helps to neutralise acidity in the gut – this helps with detoxing and reducing general inflammation.

Probiotics: If your immunity is low take a course of pro-biotics to supercharge your immunity and give your digestion a tonic!

“The Paleo Solution” By Robb Wolf: If you want to give yourself a pre-Christmas boost, or if a HUGE health kick is overdue – this book is a REAL find. You may have heard of the Paleolithic Diet – “hunter gatherer” type eating – well 30 days in and my energy has doubled, my skin tone improved, the little bulbous “ring of fat” around my middle has almost disappeared completely (I kid you not) and my concentration levels are fabulous – no more mental fog at the end of the day! I highly recommend this read – which is extremely informative and humorous too!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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