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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.

Black PepperWell, the Tour de France and Commonwealth Games are finished, and how exciting were they? I don’t know about you, but seeing the home nation teams competing successfully at international level certainly spurs me on to be more active. I consequently suffer for my enthusiasm with resultant aches and pains, forgetting that I’m not as young as I once was…or as agile! At such times, I always turn to my essential oils and inevitably choose Black Pepper to help ease the pain caused by overworked muscles. Black Pepper, in my opinion, is an often ignored, but valuable addition to anyone’s essential oil First Aid kit.
Black Pepper is part of the Piperaceae family, and is commonly known as Pepper oil. It’s native to South West India, and is obtained by steam distillation of the still green unripe berries. Black Pepper is composed mainly of monoterpenes (64%) and sesquiterpenes (22%) as well as a small percentage of alcohols, ketones and oxides. Monoterpenes are said to have slightly analgesic properties whilst sesquiterpenes are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. The aroma of Black Pepper is described as crisp and fresh and, I believe, is more suited for working on a physical rather than emotional level. The oil ranges from being clear, colourless to an olive green liquid, yellowing with age.

Battaglia (2003) suggests that Black Pepper is well known in the West as a rubifacient oil making it useful for muscular aches and pains, arthritic stiffness and tired aching limbs, whilst Davis (2000), considers it useful for poor circulation. Massaging the affected area with a blend containing Black Pepper can improve circulation, and so bring oxygen and nutrients to the area whilst removing waste products such as lactic acid. This, of course, helps muscles to recover more quickly and effectively.

The analgesic effect of Black Pepper has been demonstrated widely. A three week small scale case study in America relating to the use of Black Pepper on patients with arthritic hands demonstrated a 23% decrease in pain. The study also demonstrated a 21% decrease in stiffness, 18% improvement in dexterity and a 13% increase in strength (Buckle 2007).

Although some experts believe that Black Pepper may overstimulate the kidneys, others suggest that there are no known contra-indications associated with it. Price (2006) reports no irritation or sensitisation at 4% dilution when tested on humans.

So, how can we use Black Pepper for optimum results. Essential oils can be used in compresses, massage, bathing and for general topical application. Upon returning from exercise, I would recommend having a refreshing shower, and applying a blend of Black Pepper in a base cream to the affected areas. Generally, we would add up to 5 drops to 10ml of base product. If the area is particularly painful, you may wish to apply a compress. To make a compress add six drops of Black Pepper into 100ml of hot or cold water. Immerse a piece of muslin in the water, remove, wring out the excess water and apply to the affected area. Repeat this process several times. This method of use is particularly good for muscular aches and pains. If the accident has happened within 24 hours use an ice cold compress, if after 24 hours use a hot compress or combine hot and cold. Post exercise massage is, of course, very effective and is best experienced with a qualified Aromatherapist. If massaging your own muscles though, blend up to five drops of essential oil into 10ml of carrier oil and apply as needed using a combination of effleurage and petrissage movements. If, like me, you enjoy a long soak in a nice warm bath after exercise, simply blend up to five drops of Black Pepper into 10ml of  carrier oil, apply to your skin before entering the bath and then lay back and enjoy your soak! Using the oils in this way also helps to reduce the risk of slips or trips whilst getting in or out of a potentially slippy bath. Alternatively mix the essential oil with our Luxury Bath Oil or Moisturising Bath Milk which will help disperse the oil safely into the water.

Well, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for reducing the discomfort caused by over-zealous (or not as the case may be) exercising. Next month I’m going to talk about Ravensara – a fantastic oil for helping cope with the stresses and strains caused by returning to work after the summer holidays.

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

Reading List:
Battaglia S. (2003) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy 2nd Edition. Australia: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.
Buckle, J. 2007 Myth or Magic? In Essence 5 (4) pp10-13
Davis, P. (2000) Aromatherapy an A-Z. 6th Ed. Essex: C.W. Daniel Company Ltd
Price S and Price L. (2006) Aromatherapy for Health Professionals 3rd Edition. London: Churchill Livingstone

Blog Disclaimer

Q: Can you offer any advice or recommend any essential oils for treating Cystitis?

A: Cystitis occurs when the bladder is inflammed – usually due to infection. Symptoms include the urgent and frequent need to wee, stinging or pain when you do go to the toilet, and pain in the bladder.

Taking antibiotics can predispose you to this condition so if you have just finished a course I always recommend taking BioCare’s Bio-acidophilus Forte – a strong pro-biotic (much more powerful than most available) to help re-populate and boost your intestinal flora and immune system.

Steer clear of a diet high in sugar and yeast (mushrooms, bread, marmite, beer and wine) which will cause the fungus Candida Albicans to proliferate.

Drink plenty of water plus fresh lemon juice to help boost immunity and reduce acidity that will increase the likelihood of another infection.

Regular bathing can be effective in helping to prevent and treat occurrences of cystitis. Bathing after sexual intercourse is particularly recommended as increased inflammation can increase the likelihood of an attack, and if fungus/bacteria has been introduced this can also help flush it out. Try bathing with 1 cup of Dead Sea Salt dissloved in warm bath water to which you add 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk with 4 drops Bergamot, 4 Tea Tree, 4 Lavender and 2 Myrrh. This will help to sooth the symptoms and act on the fungus/bacteria that causes the infection.

Mild cystitis usually clears up within a few days. See your GP if symptoms persist or if you have more than 3 attacks per year.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

family holsWhilst many of us parents are on some level delighted that our children are on their summer break, the reality is that for those of us that have to work part time or full time it can be an incredible juggle. When the weather is nice it can be hard enough to sit in the office but it can feel doubly restrictive when the children are away from school! Many who are parents feel constantly guilty at balancing the requirement of their career and need to generate an income with the responsibility of parenthood.

Those of us who are now in our 40s may remember a time when in our childhood our mother was always at home and when we spent our summer holidays having fun in our home environment. The reality for many of us now is that our children are often off to holiday clubs, friends or relations and our quality time with our children then becomes even more important. A good thing to remember here is that your children have not experienced the childhood that you had, (if you were lucky), so try not to feel guilty at what you perceive you’re not giving them. Focus your mind on what you are able to provide and remember that you are the one comparing against your own up-bringing, not them!

The most important thing is to try and focus on the positives that this summer holiday offers you and your children. Remember that with the variety of different childcare cover, they may be experiencing a great deal more fun than you did, which can be exceptionally enriching . Obviously for many, the reality of the summer holidays and the extra childcare provision can have a huge cost impact, so we need to work on keeping those stress levels down and the positive focus really entrenched, otherwise, when you do spend time with your family, increased stress levels may sour the time that you do get to be together.

If this sounds all too familiar read our “Summer Holiday Action Plan” below which will hopefully help you get the most out of the next few weeks.

Stress Free Summer Holiday Action Plan

  • Create a plan with dates and times of what is happening throughout the next few weeks so that your children can see where they’re going and when. This can prevent last minute issues and the older children might even be more prepared and get themselves ready to go! This will also help you, if the younger children just want to stay at home, as you can point out that in x number of days, you’re going to have some special time together.
  • Remember that many children , especially if they’re away from home in holiday clubs and at friends or relations houses, may just enjoy having a short ‘staycation’ and having quality time with you at home may be a really important and enjoyable way of spending time together. Many parents who feel guilty that they’re not spending the whole summer holidays with their children, will then book up lots of trips or days out when they do have time off, which can mean the children never get any ‘down time’. Just being at home, playing with their own toys, and spending time with you enjoying simple pleasures like reading together, painting or time playing in the garden can be really important and a restful time for you all. Try not to feel that the only way of having good quality time with your children is being ‘out and about’, because for some children it’s the very opposite of what they may need and want. Life during term time is so busy and frenetic for most of us with regimented time frames, so being relaxed and not having deadlines, order or structure can be immensely therapeutic.
  • If you feel stress levels are beginning to build up, take proactive action. Draw on your ‘natural first aid kit’ and get those essential oils and Bach Flower Flower remedies out! A great way to relax at the end of a long day is to luxuriate in a wonderful aromatic bath with some soothing and mood-enhancing essential oils. Try 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk, 2 drops of Neroli, 6 of Lavender and 4 Sweet Orange. Add to the bath once you have run the water.
  • If you recognise that your children are tired after the long summer term, why not teach them some basic massage techniques and get them to massage each other! Make up a nice gentle blend e.g. 30ml Grapeseed oil, 6 drops Lavender, 2 drops Roman Chamomile and 4 drops Mandarin (this blend is ideal from age 6 upwards). Give your child a gentle shoulder massage by using your palms and (warming up the oil first) gently moving them up either side of the spine and gently kneading the trapezius muscles at the top of the shoulders, even just gently massaging the oil into the hands and feet can create a lovely relaxing sensation. Then allow your child to copy your techniques on you or their siblings and you might just be surprised how nice it can feel. More than anything else its special time you can enjoy together, and it can be particularly enjoyable after a bath at the end of the day before bed, helping you both to wind down and relax.
  • Why not do a little gardening during your summer holidays. Even if you have a tiny garden or just pots and window boxes you can spend timing buying up cheaper plants that are in the sale at this time of year. Create a little herb garden from which you can show the children how to harvest the herbs and use them in cooking. You can also put together easily and cheaply, a bee and butterfly friendly area where you can plant flowers such as lavenders, buddlia, cornflowers, foxglove, marjoram and poppies. Remember if you have lawned areas in your garden this is a very important time for bees and other wild pollinators to gather pollen and nectar before the colder months and hibernation. The queens need to be well fattened to survive the winter months. So consider leaving the whole lawn un-mown for a while and just mowing a path through which is also lovely for the children. Perhaps next spring you might even like to plant wild-flower seeds, you can look up the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for suggestions on planting the right types of plants and flowers to ensure food provision from spring through to summer and autumn.
  • Growing food in the garden also gives you a wonderful opportunity to use the produce you have harvested to do some cooking with your children in the evenings or at weekends. If you don’t have a garden in which you can grow food (although even in the smallest garden you can grow a surprising amount – look up websites that deal with vertical gardening) even if you just grow herbs, tomatoes and onions you can then teach your children how to make home made pizzas! Try to cook savoury as well as sweet things with your children, as many children grow up only having learnt how to cook biscuits and cakes, and we all know that our diet tends to need the inclusion of more fresh fruit and vegetables!
  • When stress levels are high, try and have a period every evening where you have an hour to wind down without the stimulation of TV, mobiles and computers. We know that this type of technology bombards our senses and stimulates the brain in a way that can make it difficult to wind down and relax. Having a quiet time in your household on a regular basis can help you create quality family time once again, from which all of you can derive huge benefit.
  • Whatever is going on and however many different directions all of your family is going in each day, try and get together around the dinner table every evening, if at all possible. Switch off the TV and the mobiles, and compare notes, share your day! Although achieving this can be quite a challenge these days it can create really special time for a family to share and be together. Perhaps you can also go back to creating that traditional Sunday lunch time when a special meal is created for all to share (a family BBQ if the weather allows is ideal!). Ring fencing family time, without technology that can be both useful and rather destructive, has become, I believe even more important than it ever was.
  • Do you spend much of your time feeling guilty? If you spend your Summer holidays feeling ‘stretched’ and finding it difficult to do everything, be gentle with yourself. Try and develop the capacity to overlay any tendency towards having negative internal dialogue and remember to focus on what you are achieving and managing to cover. It is very easy in this modern age for us to feel like we are constantly ‘running’ and never quite able to keep up with everything. If you are constantly giving yourself a hard time it will be both draining and leave you less able to enjoy the good quality time that is available with your children. The average woman in particular is covering the running of the home, the majority of cooking and cleaning and organising of childcare, as well as engaging in a full time or part time job. It is a real achievement to juggle this number of responsibilities let alone cover the relationships in your family as well! So give yourself a regular pat on the back and remind yourself how well you are doing! It is likely that you are managing far more than you are aware of, or acknowledge to yourself.
  • Is there anyway during the summer holidays that you can take some of the pressure off yourself? If you are able perhaps you could organise for this particularly demanding period, a little extra help. Even if you don’t normally have a cleaner, or help in the garden, or buy ready made meals, perhaps during the summer holidays you could set up a little more assistance so that you don’t have to do so much. Often it is possible to swap skills, or help each other out in a way that can help balance things a little more easily without necessarily engaging in extra financial pressure. For instance, perhaps you could offer to have a friends children for an evening if she could pick up your shopping when she gets hers or walk your dogs when she walks hers etc.
  • If you don’t normally have your groceries delivered from the supermarket perhaps this would be a good time to get it done, evening if it’s just while the summer holidays are with us. Remember the first order you make often gets the special offer of £15-20 off your first shop (look out for leaflets in the press, with your Amazon orders or when you’re next in store).
  • A great way to make your weekly shop both enjoyable, better value and educational all in one can be to visit your local farm shop. At this time of year there is often a glut of certain types of fresh produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, courgettes and soft fruits. So these types of fresh produce can even be more reasonable than they are in the supermarket and will definitely be fresher and therefore more nutritious. You will also be keeping the money you spend within your immediate locality, helping fund the rural economy and keeping your shop relatively carbon neutral. Many farm shops have livestock for the children to visit and cafes for that wholesome treat too, so it can be a really enjoyable trip out.
  • Try and include in some of the things that you do with your children the things that you enjoy as well! If your children can see you enjoying yourself they are often likely to enjoy themselves too. A trip to the beauty salon might not count though!!
  • Remember if finances are under pressure during the summer holidays, making up a picnic and going for trips locally can really help keeping the costs of day trips down. There are often many areas where you can spend the day free of charge, even in this day and age. Local parks, ruins, beaches and some National Trust facilities and nature reserves can still represent a free or low cost day out if you pick and chose and do a little research. If you join organisations such as the National Trust or the RSPB, many of these trips will be free all year round and will make the membership fee really good value.
  • Remember to create the ambience that you wish to establish in your home by vaporising essential oils when you get back from work. This will help create a positive and relaxing environment for all of you and help lift your mood if you’ve had a long day but still have lots to do! Try 6 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Rose and 4 drops Rosemary to de-stress and energise. Remember to vaporise essential oils when you hoover and do the housework as it makes it feel less stressful, and naturally creates a wonderful scent throughout your home without the toxic chemicals that synthetic air fresheners give off.
  • If you are getting very hot and bothered during this wonderful seasonal weather, try making up these aromatherapy spritzers, one for the face and one for the feet! Take 150ml Orange Flower Hydrolat. For your face, add 2 drops Rose, 2 drops Neroli, 6 drops Geranium and 1 drop Peppermint, shake well before use and close eyes when spraying. For the feet, and add 10 drops Tea Tree, 2 drops Peppermint, 6 drops Spearmint and 10 drops Lavender. Take your shoes off when at work and spray on your feet under your desk and this will also spread a wonderful scent throughout your office!
  • If you are making up packed lunches for your children before they go off to their holiday clubs or friends, you can help make the summer holidays more special by adding in little surprises. This will show them that you are thinking of them and help you feel more positive about the situation. You can add little messages, the occasional little surprise present, or the odd snacky treat that they’re not expecting or that you wouldn’t normally include. This will give them a smile in the middle of their day and it will give you a good feeling too.
  • If you and your children are all rather tired and hot and bothered at the end of a busy day try a lovely aromatherapy foot bath before you go to bed which can be especially useful in this hot weather. Take a couple of buckets or washing up bowls, add cold water, 1 cup Dead Sea Salt and get the children to stir it all up with wooden spoons. Then add 2 drops Roman Chamomile, 6 drops Spearmint and 6 drops Lavender. Sit in front of the TV or out in the garden, pop your feet in and enjoy how the cool comfortable feeling spreads up your body. You can also add ice cubes if you are really overheated and don’t mind the cold!
  • If you have been out in the heat and some of you have heat rash or a little sunburn, try this lovely cooling aftersun gel. Suitable for everyone over the age of 2. Take 100ml of Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel and add 2 drops German Chamomile, 4 drops Spearmint, 2 drops Carrot Seed Oil and 15 drops Lavender. In addition, to make the mix richer and more nourishing, you can also add 5ml Argan Oil. Mix well and apply. Remember to do a skin patch test for anyone with sensitive skin or with young children. This mixture also feels really lovely when massaged into hot feet! If you don’t want to make your own you could try our new Cooling Gel with icy-cold Cornmint and soothing Lavender!
  • A final small suggestion for frazzled parents! If it is possible, keep one or two days holiday allowance just for you. Many of us are completely exhausted following the summer holiday juggle. Book yourself up a day or two for recuperation of lost energies, for when the children go back to school, to give you something to look forward to. This is about honouring your own needs. It can help give you a little extra energy and boost your mood if the going gets a little tough when demands on you are higher than normal.

Well I hope that helps a little, and that you and your family do manage to enjoy an absolutely fantastic summer!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Neroli2Neroli (Citrus aurantium) essential oil. Ok, I admit it. The gloriously and highly fragrant, intense, “bitter sweet” citrus scent of the bitter orange flower is my absolute favourite.  It wins hands down in both its scent and its actions for me. It is also universally popular also an addition to traditional eau de cologne and other perfumes.

This lovely oil is steam distilled from the fragrant white flowers of the bitter orange tree (also known as the Sour or Seville orange). The same tree also produces Petitgrain oil from the twigs and leaves and Bitter Orange oil from the fruit.

Neroli oil has a powerfully rejuvenating, soothing effect on various types of sensitive, fragile skin types, and anti-depressant, deeply calming actions on the emotions.

Price and Price describe it as a “lightly tranquilising and neurotonic essential oil useful for fatigue, to aid sleep and to redress sympathetic nervous system imbalance”.

The oil has three main uses:

  • To help ease muscular spasm, tension and discomfort.
  • To help lift states of anxiety, nervous depression and sleeping problems.
  • Useful for fragile, sensitive skin types with broken veins, varicose veins and acne.

Recipes using Neroli essential oil:

For sensitive skin with broken veins:

Take 100ml Moisturising Lotion, add 20 drops Lavender, 10 Geranium, 10 Cypress and 4 Neroli. Regularly massage in after a bath or shower to help ease inflammation and to tighten the veins. (Do not have your water temperature too hot and alternate between warm and cool to help strengthen the circulation).

For insomnia and anxiety:

Mix 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk with 4 drops Lavender, 4 Marjoram and 2 Neroli. Add the mixture to the bath once the water has run and mix around with the hands to disperse into the water.

For palpitations and stress:

Have a regular full body massage with 30ml Grapeseed Oil, 5 drops Lavender, 4 Ylang Ylang and 2 Neroli.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Flaxseed2Linseed, also known as Flaxseed Oil (Linum usitatissimum – Linacaea) is a viscous, yellow green oil – with a slightly green, medicinal metallic scent. The oil is harvested from the seeds which contain linolene and palmotine and its main commercial use is in paints and furniture polish, varnish and in conditioning willow cricket bats!

Apart from its ‘industrial’ uses Linseed is without doubt one of the most extraordinary oils available. A “super food” when taken internally – it has many therapeutically dynamic qualities. When taken orally as a general tonic, it is highly recommended for improving general well being and whole body nutrition. It is considered to be nature’s richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids – which make up around 50% of its constituents – and it contains double the amount found in fish oils. It is particularly recommended as an excellent source of EFAs and nutrients for vegetarians and vegans.

Some indications that you may be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids include:

  • Dry skin
  • “Chicken skin” – tiny, rough bumps that are usually found on the backs of the arms
  • Dry or unruly hair
  • Dandruff
  • Soft, fraying, or brittle nails
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Premenstrual breast tenderness

The next extraordinary feature of Linseed / Flaxseed Oil is its additional levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that is beneficial for a variety of health conditions. It is highly recommended to help combat constipation, and help improve the absorption of Calcium, leading to stronger nails, bones and teeth. Rich in fibre, it also contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, potassium, lecithin, magnesium, protein, and zinc!

And it doesn’t end there – the oil also contains a group of chemicals called ‘lignans’ that play a role in the prevention of many forms of cancer. Lignans are substances known to stimulate immune activity. They can also help restore the body’s natural balance of good and bad prostaglandins. In addition, Lignans help combat inflammation, allergies, asthma, diabetes, cancer, and can help prevent certain diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. What a body tonic! It is recommended that the oil is taken at around 1000 mg 3 times daily, but it is reputedly best taken in the form of ground seeds which can be added to cereal, smoothies and yogurts (try Linwoods Milled Organic Flaxseed from your local supermarket or health shop).

When applied topically to the skin, Linseed Oil’s high levels of EFAs make it excellent for helping to maintain healthy skin, hair and eyes.

It is a supremely moisturising and nourishing oil and makes an excellent anti-wrinkle agent. It lubricates and softens the skin, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If used regularly at 20% in a facial oil the results will be better than anything else you’ve tried!

Flaxseed oil also soothes inflammation, helping provide relief to skin that is dry, in addition to other conditions, such as rosacea, eczema and acne. It is also a valuable aid in healing scars and burns, including sunburn.

Note: This oil should be kept refrigerated as it will oxidise quite quickly.

Recipes using Linseed (Flaxseed) Oil:

For Cracked Heels:

Blend in 20ml Flaxseed Oil to 80ml Moisturising Cream, add 4 drops Neroli, 6 Benzoin, 10 Tea Tree and 20 Lavender. File excess dry skin before a bath or shower and massage cream into feet regularly.

For Arthritic Joints:

Have a regular full body massage with 5ml Flaxseed Oil, 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 2 drops German Chamomile, 4 Juniperberry, 2 Eucalyptus and 7 Lavender. You can also take Flaxseed Oil as an oral supplement too – visit your health food shop for options. Please note that Base Formula’s Flaxseed Oil is not suitable for internal consumption.

For Dry Mature Skin:

Use this rich, nourishing facial oil 3 times a week: 5ml Flaxseed Oil, 15ml Apricot Kernal Oil, 2 drops Neroli, Rose, Roman Chamomile, Benzoin and Geranium.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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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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