Important information for Base Formula Blog users

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.

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Base oil of the month – Mustard Seed

mustard seed oilMustard Seed Oil (Brassica alba) oil is highly favoured in all parts of Indian tradition and culture. It is expressed from the seeds of the plant and is highly nutritious – being rich in antioxidants, Vitamins, E, D, A and K plus Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. It also contains the minerals zinc and selenium. It is highly prized in Ayurvedic Medicine and has various beneficial properties for the body, hair and skin.

This rich, warming oil has a mildly rubifacient action and can be used at between 5-25% concentration in other base oils. It can:

  • Help protect the skin from sun damage and also helps to act on sun damage – due to the high levels of nutrients particularly Vitamin E.
  • Be added to detox recipes as it helps stimulate the circulation and stimulates the sweat glands.
  • Help ease skin infections and a range of common skin ailments due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
  • Be helpful for eczema and psoriasis when added at 5% to another base oil – skin patch test is always recommended first.
  • Help to prevent dry or chapped lips – an ancient traditional recipe involves massaging a few drops of Mustard Seed Oil into your belly button to prevent dry or chapped lips. Try it!
  • Help to relieve inflammation and stiffness in the joints and muscles.

Aromatherapy recipes using Mustard Seed Oil:

Rich detox bath blend:
15ml Bath & Shower Gel, 5ml Mustard Seed Oil, 1 cup Epsom Salts, mixed together with 3 drops each of Geranium, Juniper and Lime essential oil. Add to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Helps encourage detoxification, soothes tired muscles and encourages restful sleep.

Rich conditioning hair oil:
5mls Mustard Seed Oil, 5ml Jojoba, 5ml Argan Oil, 5 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil, 3 Rosemary and 3 Geranium. Massage into the scalp and right down into the ends of hair. Leave on for 30 minutes and then shampoo as normal (massaging shampoo into hair before wetting).

Rich body lotion:
120ml Base Formula Moisturising Lotion, 10ml Mustard Seed Oil, 5ml Jojoba, 15 drops Lavender essential oil, 10 Geranium, 5 Frankincense, 5 Benzoin, 3 Neroli and 3 Jasmine. Shake well before use and apply morning and evening.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Base oil of the month, Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , , ,

Essential oil of the month – Basil

Basil essential Oil (Ocimum basilicum), otherwise known as “Sweet Basil”, has a sweet, fresh, herbaceous aroma with rich, warm anisic undertones. It is distilled from the fresh leaves of the herb grown principally in France, Egypt, Madagascar and the Comoro Islands – with its constituent elements varying greatly depending on its origin.

The name “Basil” is derived from the Greek word “royal”, indicating that it may have been used in medicines for royalty in the past. In the 17th Century the famous herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, recommended Basil for insect and snake bites!

Note: Basil can be a mild irritant – so should not be used in baths or massage for sensitive skin. It is not recommended for use during pregnancy.

Basil has 3 main therapeutic actions:

  • Musculoskeletal: For muscular tension, pain and physical (and emotional) stress. Blends well with Lavender, Rosemary, Geranium, Marjoram, Clary Sage and Black Pepper.
  • Nervous System: As a mild brain stimulant it is good for stress, stress-related headaches, difficulty in concentrating and post viral and general fatigue. Also helpful for emotional fragility: lack of courage, clarity and strength. Blends well with Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Neroli.
  • Digestive system: For IBS/anxiety related indigestion/stomach upsets. Blends well with Peppermint, Spearmint, Lavender, Citrus oils, Fennel, Black Pepper and Juniper.

Aromatherapy recipes using Basil essential oil:

Massage oil for muscular pain (back and neck):
30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 3 drops Marjoram, 3 Rosemary, 2 Basil and 2 Clary Sage.

Massage oil for high stress and PMT:
30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5 drops Lavender, 4 Geranium, 3 Rosemary, 2 Basil and 2 Clary Sage.

Bath blend for high stress (not for sensitive skin):
15ml Bath & Shower Gel, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 2 Neroli, 2 Basil and 1 Eucalyptus.

Stress headache balm:
20ml Aloe Vera & Rose Gel, 5 drops Lavender, 3 Neroli, 2 Basil and 1 Peppermint.

Massage oil for pre-exam stress and confidence booster:
30ml Grapeseed Oil, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 3 Rosemary, 2 Lemon, 2 Basil and 2 Neroli.

Massage oil for IBS tendencies:
Regular massage with 30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 4 drops Sweet Orange, 4 Lavender, 2 Spearmint, 2 Neroli and 2 Basil.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Essential Oils of the Month, Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Turbo charge your brain for the return to work, university or school!

aromatherapy to boost your brain

As the summer holidays draw to a close we’re faced with that time of year when “time off” suddenly morphs into “game on” and we have to speed up again into fully functioning human beings. It’s not always easy though. Hopefully, many of us have had some form of Summer recuperation, or enjoyed a slower pace of life with a little more “time out”. At the very least – we’ve hopefully had more fresh air, exercise and topped up our Vitamin D levels!

So, whilst we’re getting the kids ready for school or uni, or preparing to return to work ourselves – let’s consider what we need “on the inside” to ensure our brains are back in gear and are up to the jobs we require of them!

A turbo-charged brain is a well-nourished one – and it may surprise you to know that means an increase in FAT in your diet….yes really. The brain consists of 60% fat – so a low fat diet is about the worst sort of diet you can have for concentration and clarity, despite what we’ve been told in the past. This is particularly important whilst we’re still growing – up to our early 20s.

So, if we increase our intake of healthy fats, then our mental capacities will improve. Unfortunately we tend to do the opposite – and our diets tend to be high in saturated fats from fried foods such as chips and crisps. What we really need to do is to increase the healthy Omega 3s – such as DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) – which are found in high quantities in fresh fish and grass fed, outdoor reared beef.  A recent study(1) has thrown up a huge amount of evidence indicating how important these “Essential Fatty Acids” are. The study indicates that the frontal lobes of the brain – particularly in relation to children – have a very high demand indeed for DHA to support development and functioning. These lobes are the areas of the brain that regulate behavioural centres as well as being responsible for activities such as attention, focus, problem solving and planning. This and other studies indicate that DHA is also extremely important for eye health. The area of the eye which is sensitive to light and transmits signals to the brain so vision is formed – the retina – contains very high levels of DHA. So as children tend to learn visually – the vital nature of a diet rich in this essential fatty acid is also reinforced.

In 2014 another important research paper(2) indicated that higher levels of DHA are associated with improved quality and quantity of sleep. This is particularly important as sleep problems in both children and adults are on the rise. In children though – adequate sleep is essential for healthy brain development as well as school performance and general behavior.

So, what type of fish has the highest levels of DHA? When sourcing your fish, or supplements, do ensure that the fish comes from seas low in mercury pollution (and other heavy metal pollutants), as some seas are worse than others. Research throws up conflicting advice, but the worst fish to accumulate heavy metal toxins seem to be shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Fish richest in DHA (in order of priority) are:-

  • Mackerel
  • Kippers
  • Tinned Sardines in Tomato Sauce
  • Tinned Sardines in Brine
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Tinned Red and Pink Salmon
  • Crab
  • Seabass
  • Plaice
  • Scampi
  • Mussels
  • Cod
  • Tuna in Sunflower
  • Calamari
  • Cold water prawns

So other than eating a diet rich in EFAs especially DHA, what other elements can help improve your brain power NOW?

  • Get a good 7 – 8 hours quality sleep
  • Get at least 3 sessions of exercise a week – to release mood-enhancing endorphins and increase oxygen uptake
  • Good posture also helps ensure adequate oxygen uptake
  • Ensure you are not dehydrated – drink a minimum of 1.5 litres of water per day
  • Eat little and often high nutrient snacks with no sugar or slow release sugars from unrefined sources
  • Cook with raw organic Coconut Oil
  • Dietary recommendations with powerful effects on general and brain health: Paleo or Ketogenic Diet
  • Have a regular Aromatherapy massage to reduce muscular tension which can negatively affect blood flow to the brain and concentration. Massage also stimulates the release of endorphins, your circulation and immune response, and gives you a “feel good factor” that will help anyone’s brain to function better! Tension releasing essential oils include: Lavender, Chamomile, Marjoram, Plai, Cedarwood, Pine, Benzoin, Neroli and Petitgrain.
  • Stock up on brain stimulant / cephalic essential oils to vaporize or inhale. These include Ginger, Black Pepper, Rosemary, Thyme, Lime, Basil, Spearmint, Peppermint, Ravensara, Camphor and Eucalyptus.

Useful aromatherapy blends to try:-

Inhalation for tiredness and congestion:
3 drops Pine essential oil, 2 Plai and 2 Cedarwood

Massage oil for neck and shoulder tension (with regular headaches):
30ml Grapeseed Oil, 8 drops Lavender essential oil, 4 Marjoram and 2 Plai

Massage oil for back tension with lower back pain:
30ml Grapeseed Oil, 4 drops Pine essential oil, 4 Lavender, 3 Benzoin, 2 Neroli and 2 Chamomile

Vaporising blend for cleansing and concentration at work:
Vaporise 4 drops Rosemary essential oil, 4 Lime and 2 Camphor

Vaporising blend for lifting the spirits and stimulating the mind:
3 drops Basil essential oil, 2 Black Pepper, 2 Ginger and 1 Eucalyptus

Temple balm to release mental tension and fatigue:
20ml Aloe Vera & Rose Gel, 4 drops Lime essential oil, 3 Spearmint, 2 Camphor and 2 Rosemary

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Sources:

(1) Kuratko CN, Barrett EC, Nelson EB, Salem N Jr. The Relationship of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) with Learning and Behavior in Healthy Children: A Review. Nutrients. 2013 July;5(7):2777-810.

(2) Journal of Sleep Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Sleep Research Society.

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Holistic home facial for post-summer skincare

Summer is a time that can cause lots of stress on your skin, with sunburn and air-conditioning drying it out and causing imbalances, not too mention problems such as prickly heat rash and sun cream blocking pores. In particular, the skin on your face, which is thinner and often more sensitive than the rest of your body, is most affected by these Summer challenges – and, due to life becoming so busy at this time of year, it can all too easily become neglected.

Post-Summer Skincare Ideas using Natural Ingredients

If you love facials, why not make an effort in the post-holiday period to rescue your skin and repair some of that Summer wear and tear! Perhaps you have you always wanted to use natural products on your skin? In the following blog, I will talk you through some ideas for an entirely holistic facial skincare regime which is suitable for post-summer skin, and filled with natural goodness! I encourage you to have a go yourself and try this facial routine at home.

Preparing the Facial Blends

To start, we prepare all the ingredients and make the blends in advance so that we can just line them up and do the facial in one go – this saves you starting your facial regime and then having to make the next product! Though, be warned, they don’t last very long as they are natural and do not contain preservatives, so only make them before you are about to use them. Also patch test the blends before use, in case you are sensitive to any of the ingredients. You can pick and choose which ones you make – you don’t have to do them all and you can substitute parts with pre-blended products from Base Formula, (i.e. Hydrating Eye Gel), but the option is there if you want to. So, what do we need to make?

Whipped Coconut Sugar ScrubCoconut & Orange Sugar Scrub

  1. Whip the Extra Virgin Coconut Butter until fluffy (approx 5 teaspoons – you can pre-warm it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it if you want to measure it)
  2. Add the Coconut Sugar and mix well
  3. You should then have about 40-45ml of mixture. Add 10-15 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil for dry skin or, if you normally have an oily complexion, try Mandarin

Coconut oil is very hydrating and Sweet Orange is lovely for dry summer skin, whilst Mandarin is great for balancing and revitalising oily and congested complexions!

Aloe and Coconut MaskCooling Aloe Vera Shoulder Mask

  1. Melt the Extra Virgin Coconut Butter in the microwave for 6 seconds
  2. Mix the melted Coconut Oil (3 teaspoons) with the Aloe Vera Gel (1.5 teaspoons)
  3. With 30ml of mixture made, add 5-10 drops of Peppermint essential oil and stir well
  4. Put in the fridge to cool until use

Again, hydrating Coconut mixes well with skin-nurturing Aloe Vera – and, with Peppermint essential oil, which helps to cool and soothe sun burn, this is a great post-summer mask for over-exposed shoulders.

Rosy Avocado Clay Mask (2)Rosy Avocado, Aloe & Clay Mask

  1. Mash the avocado
  2. Separately, mix the Clay with the Aloe Vera Gel – use either Kaolin for dry skin or French Green clay for oily – using a 1:1 ratio (just over ¾ teaspoon of each)
  3. You should have roughly 30ml once mixed, to which you can add 5-10 drops of either Rose essential oil for dry summer skin (or Mandarin essential oil for oily skin) – or do 5 drops of each if this takes your fancy!
  4. Put this mixture in an airtight container in the fridge until use

All these ingredients help to combat the effects of Summer. Avocado is rich in anti-oxidants, moisturising fatty acids and vitamins so it really helps restore your skin, especially regenerating damaged cells and reducing redness and irritation; mixed with cooling Aloe Vera and cleansing, mineral-rich clay, this is a lovely post-summer mask. Rose is a wonderfully balancing oil for facial skincare after the stresses of summer – it moisturises and hydrates, reduces redness, and also acts as a general skin tonic.

Mandarin and Lime Lip Balm (3)Mandarin & Lime Lip Balm

  1. Add the Beeswax, Cocoa Butter and Apricot Kernel Oil to a large bowl and immerse it in a pan of hot water (using the double boiler method such as when you melt chocolate)
  2. Stir until it has all fully melted
  3. Carefully remove the bowl from the pan of hot water, add 4 drops of each of Mandarin and Lime essential oil and mix thoroughly (don’t let the mixture thicken yet – you can put it back in the hot water if needed)
  4. Prepare your jar or container and fill with the mixture, place this in the fridge to harden before using.

This might be worth making the night before so that it can set. A lovely, natural lip balm recipe, this makes a fantastic soothing balm to keep with you whilst on the go. With no harmful, skin-smothering ingredients like petroleum, this is a must-have recipe for natural post-summer skincare – and the scent is gorgeous.

Also prepare the following products for your facial:

Once done, ensure you line up your facial products in order, according to the routine below, and have the following items to hand (if you want, you can add some relaxing background music too!) – then we’re ready to start:

  • Small bowl of fresh, warm water
  • Cotton pads
  • Flannels x 3 (preheated in the microwave, just prior to starting and put in plastic bags to keep warm)
  • Tissues to blot facial oil
  • Facial mask application brush (optional)
  • Large bowl of warm water (optional)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt (optional)
  • Atomiser for hydrolat (optional)

The Holistic Facial Routine

  1. In a large bowl, mix Himalayan Pink Salt with warm water and 10 drops of Lime essential oil and begin by soaking your feet! You could add some loose Berry Tea if you fancy a lovely addition to this blend.
  2. Begin by cleansing the skin using the Lemongrass & Lime Cleansing Lotion – smooth it over your face and massage in with your fingers using a circular motion, really working every area of your face. After a minute or so of massaging, remove the lotion with wet cotton pads.
  3. Now exfoliate your skin using the Coconut & Orange Sugar Scrub. Paint it on with your fingers and gentle massage it in to the skin (be careful not to rub too hard as this part is abrasive and avoid if you are on skin-thinning medication). After a minute or so, remove the exfoliant blend with cotton pads and then wipe a hot flannel over your face (take care it is not too hot after being microwaved). Once it is all removed, rest another warm flannel over your face (remember to allow some space to breathe!) and enjoy the warmth until it is cool.
  4. Tone your skin using your selected Hydrolat – either spritz it over your skin (if you have an atomiser) or put it on cotton pads and gently dab your face. Blot with your dry fingers to remove any excess.
  5. Now for the relaxing part: using the Rose or Mandarin Facial Oil blend, apply it to your skin and massage in using your fingers. You can swipe over the face applying the oil, then do small and large upward and outward circles with your fingers around your face and up your nose, as well as sweeping over your brows and cheeks and down your neck. Then lightly tap your fingers over your face and smoothly circle round your eyes with your ring finger. Finish with some slow sweeping movements, from the centre of your face outwards, to drain any toxins to the lymph.
  6. Blot with a tissue to remove any excess oil.
  7. Next, apply the Aloe Vera Shoulder Mask using your fingers to sweep it across the neck and shoulders. Get a good coverage and then wash your hands and, also, replace the warm water in the small bowl.
  8. Retrieve the Rosy Avocado, Aloe and Clay Facial Mask from the fridge and apply with either a facial mask application brush or with your fingers. Avoid the eye area completely.
  9. Pop the Green Tea teabags on your closed eyes and leave the mask on for 5-10 minutes.
  10. After 5-10 minutes, remove the mask using cotton pads and a fresh hot flannel.
  11. Tone your skin again with Hydrolat (as above).
  12. Sparingly apply the Rose or Mandarin Eye Cream to the eye area using your little fingers – avoid getting it in your eyes. Then apply the Rose or Mandarin Moisturising Lotion sparingly to your face.
  13. Apply the gorgeous Mandarin & Lime Lip Balm.
  14. Finally – you could finish by adding a few drops of Lime essential oil onto a cotton pad and inhaling it to refresh and reawaken you!

And we’re done! It might seem like a lot of steps for the whole routine but, if you enjoy making natural skincare products, it really is a lovely way to spend an afternoon whilst also making time for some pampering, and saving your summer skin! If you’re time-limited, you could just try one blend – maybe the mask or the moisturiser – as an addition to your normal skincare routine. Enjoy what’s left of this lovely season – just don’t forget to care for your post-summer skin, naturally!

Nicole Barton
Guest Blogger & Consultant Aromatherapist
Chalet Holistics

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Aromatherapy & managing the anxiety state of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder

childrens massageAlthough it was first identified in 1943, autism is still a relatively unknown disability.  Yet autistic disorders are estimated to touch the lives of over 500,000 families throughout the UK. People with autism are not physically disabled in the same way that a person with cerebral palsy may be; they do not require wheelchairs and they ‘look’ just like anybody without the disability.  Due to this invisible nature it can be much harder to create awareness and understanding of the condition.

While it is quite normal to feel anxious about certain situations, people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can feel anxious a lot of the time and it’s important to handle the stress or feelings of insecurity appropriately.  It is vitally important for parents or primary care-givers to find out when the worrying behaviour occurs as identifying the trigger allows the carer to apply strategies which may help overcome the problem.  The provision of massage and essential oils may also help the child manage his/her anxiety and facilitate their learning.  In an interview with Freeman and Lawlis (2001) developmental psychologist Tiffany Field, Ph.D., founder of the Touch Research Institute states that:

 “In a study on children with autism it was shown that the children with autism not only liked the massage, but they were also able to spend more time on task in the classroom; they related to their teachers better, and they showed fewer stereotypical behaviours.” 

It is important not to underestimate the importance of managing the anxiety of children with ASD.  Research outcomes have clearly identified a link between emotion and physiological reactivity and immune competence.  Our interpretation of events and our emotional responses to those events are the mechanisms by which the mind affects physiology and biochemistry and, consequently, health outcomes (Freeman et al 2001).  Complementary therapy may, therefore, have an important supportive role in the management of this disorder.  While there are many benefits relating to providing massage (and especially with the use of essential oils) such as creation of body awareness, enhancement of sensory awareness, promotion of well-being and self-worth, building a relationship with others, relief of stress and tension, increasing tolerance of touch and handling, enjoyment, time to reflect and talk, relaxation or stimulation depending upon techniques and oils used, data from questionnaires distributed to parents and primary care-givers by this author would suggest that very few in the piloted areas used massage or essential oils as a tool for managing the anxiety state of their children with ASD.

A study carried out by Field et. al in 1986 investigated the effects of touch therapy, another term for massage therapy, on three problems commonly associated with autism including inattentiveness (off task behaviour), touch aversion, and withdrawal.  The results showed that touch aversion decreased in both the touch therapy and the touch control group, off task behaviour decreased in both groups, orienting to irrelevant sounds decreased in both groups but significantly more in the touch therapy group and stereotypic behaviours decreased in both groups but significantly more in the touch therapy group.

When using essential oils in massage, it is important to use the correct dilutions, for example: Infants aged 1 – 5 years 1 drop of essential oil in 10ml of carrier oil, Children aged 6 – 12 years 2 drops in 10ml of carrier oil, Children aged 12 years and over 5 drops of essential oil in 10ml of carrier oil.  There are a number of essential oils reputed to be useful in helping children with ASD.  Bergamot is excellent for agitation, Roman Chamomile is calming, Frankincense is helpful for anxious and obsessional behaviour, Lavender is reputed to possess antispasmodic properties, Sweet Marjoram has analgesic properties, Orange is cheering, Peppermint is cooling and refreshing, Rose otto is balancing, whilst Sandalwood is a tonic (see table below).

Obtaining consent from the primary care-giver and medical practitioner is, of course, of paramount importance.  When planning the treatment, I recommend using one essential oil in a suitable carrier oil initially and providing a shorter treatment; a hand and arm massage would be ideal. Feedback can be given at subsequent visits, with changes made to the blend and treatment as appropriate.

The use of essential oils for children with ASD

Essential Oil Pointers
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Excellent for agitation
Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) Antispasmodic, Calming, Sedative
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) Helpful for anxious obsessional links to the past
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Balancing, Calming, Antispasmodic
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana/hortensis) Obsessional, analgesic, antispasmodic, balancing, calming
Orange (Citrus aurantium amara) Cheering, Calming
Peppermint Cooling, Refreshing
Rose otto (Rosa damascena) Antispasmodic, Balancing, Calming, Sedative, Tonic
Sandalwood (Santalum album) Calming, Sedative, Tonic

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Aromatherapy A-Z of health conditions, General Tagged with: , ,

Aromatherapy & Sun Care

SUNBATHING-630x338The skin, comprising of the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layer, is the largest organ of the body and varies in thickness, being thinnest on the eyelids and thickest on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. A healthy skin is slightly moist, soft and flexible. It possesses an acid mantle of pH 5.6 and is free from any blemish or disease. Its texture revealed by feel and appearance should be fine and smooth (pores will be tight) with a healthy colour.

Although the skin has several functions such as temperature control, absorption, excretion, secretion and touch, this article will touch on its ability to protect, and how we can help defend it against the harmful effects of the sun.
The skin is greatly involved in protecting the body against the ultra-violet rays of the sun which in excess are lethal to living cells. The epidermis defends against harmful rays which are partially reflected by the outermost layer of the skin (Stratum corneum) so that very little penetrates the full thickness of the epidermis. The melanin pigment produced by melanocytes in the epidermis (Stratum basale) also acts as a sunscreen to protect us from ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. However, more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun (1) with skin cancer being one of the most common cancers in the UK. It is, therefore, of crucial importance to protect our skin, not only during the summer months, when the risk of sun damage increases, but throughout the year, as the winter sun may not be warm, but can still be dangerous. Adhering to the NHS SunSmart message will help to prevent skin damage (Spend time in the shade between 11.00am and 3pm, Make sure you never burn, Aim to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses, Remember to take extra care with children, Then use factor 15+ sunscreen) (2).

While I would hesitate in recommending essential oils and carrier oils as an alternative to pharmaceutically prepared sunscreens, it is interesting to note that research into Calendula officinalis L. suggests that calendula oil cream can be used to protect the skin from UV radiation in the form of sunscreen cream and to maintain the natural pigmentation of the skin (3). I do believe, however, that a number of oils can be used as effective alternatives to commercially produced after-sun creams and lotions by helping to moisturise and reduce inflammation caused by over exposure to the sun.

St John’s Wort, also known as Hypercium (Hypericum perforatum), is noted for being effective on burns and inflammation and can help to lower the skin temperature (3), although excessive use may cause skin allergy, especially for those individuals with sensitive skin. In fact, some experts recommend avoiding any sun exposure if ingesting the herb itself, as the active ingredient, Hypericin, causes skin sensitivity to sunlight. Calendula oil (Calendula officinalis) is reputed to reduce inflammation and promote skin healing. Both of these oils can be blended in a 25% strength with Sunflower oil (Helianthus annuus L.), commonly recognised as an effective skin softener and moisturiser. Sandalwood essential oil (Santalum album) and, in particular, Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) are excellent for helping to reduce the painful effects of sunburn and can be added to the aforementioned carrier oils in a 2.5% strength. A typical synergistic blend using these oils is provided below:

For those people with a sensitive skin, simply replace St John’s Wort with an additional 25ml of Calendula oil thereby avoiding the risk of skin sensitivity to sunlight.

Apart from applying the blend directly onto the affected area(s), it can also be applied to the skin prior to bathing in luke warm water. Alternatively, sunburn can be relieved by applying a compress to the area. To make a cold compress, pour about 100ml of refrigerated Lavender Hydrolat into a bowl and add 5-6 drops of Lavender essential oil. Place a folded piece of muslin on top of the water and let it soak it up. Next wring out the excess water and place the cloth over the area to be treated; a cold compress should not be left on the affected area for more than 10 minutes.

Prevention is, of course, always better than cure, and by following safety guidelines it is possible to enjoy the great outdoors whilst staying safe in the sun!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

References:

  1. Gallaher, RP; Lee, TK’ Bajdik, CD; Borugian, M (2010) Ultraviolet radiation. Chronic diseases in Canada 29 Suppl 1: 51-68.
  2. NHS Choices Protect your skin and eyes in the sun Available at www.nhs.uk (Accessed on 21 June 2015).
  3. Price et al (1999) Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage (3rd Edn), Riverhead, Stratford upon Avon.
  4. Mishra A, et al. (2012) Assessment of In Vitro Sun Protection Factor of Calendula Officinalis L. (Asteraceae) Essential Oil Formation Available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (Accessed on 21 June 2015).

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Base oil of the month – Raspberry Seed

Raspberry Seed OilRaspberry Seed Oil (Rubus idaeus) is a highly nutritious base oil that contains 83% essential fatty acids (Omegas 3 and 6) as well as high levels of Vitamins A and E. This makes it excellent for inflamed skin conditions such as acne rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. It is also good for mature, dry skin and for use within facial oils.

In a study conducted in 2000, and published by Elsevier Science Ltd, Raspberry Seed Oil was shown to have SPF (Sun protection factor) of between 28 and 50 for UVB rays and 8 for UVA rays! This is principally due to the polyphenols, potent anti-oxidants which are also found in olives, green tea and red wine. For this reason Raspberry Seed Oil is often added to natural sun protection creams.

Aromatherapy Recipes using Raspberry Seed Oil:

Face Oil For Mature Skin:

40ml Apricot Kernel Oil, 10ml Jojoba Oil, 10ml Raspberry Seed Oil, 8 drops Geranium essential oil, 8 Lavender, 6 Frankincense, 2 Neroli and 2 Rose.

Body Lotion For Eczema:

120ml Organic Moisturising Lotion, 5ml Argan Oil, 10ml Raspberry Seed Oil, 10 drops Lavender essential oil, 8 Geranium, 2 drops German Chamomile and 2 Yarrow.

After-Sun Cream:

80ml Organic Moisturising Cream, 10ml Raspberry Seed Oil, 5ml Avocado Oil, 20 drops Lavender essential oil, 8 Roman Chamomile, 4 Spearmint and 4 Yarrow.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Essential oil of the month – Lavender

lavender2Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) is just about the most versatile, effective “all-round” power-house that our aromatherapy kit could possibly offer. It has an unmistakable scent that is at once floral and herbaceous, fruity and woody. Its scent and therapeutic actions reflects its highly complex chemical structure, and the concentration of the various active elements vary according to the soil, weather patterns, climate and conditions in which it is grown.  The best quality Lavender essential oil is said to grow in the Mediterranean, from where the Romans first transplanted it throughout Northern Europe and England.

Lavender essential oil has powerful and effective actions on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. It blends well with a huge range of other essential oils and is said to synergistically improve the actions of other essential oils.

I like to call it “Fast aid in a bottle” as it is one of the few essential oils that most aromatherapists agree can be used neat on bites, stings and scratches, and especially effectively on burns and bruises.

Other uses include:

  • Nervous system: for headaches/migraines, insomnia, stress, anxiety. Combined with oils such as Peppermint, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Rose, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense and Sandalwood.
  • Skin: for eczema/irritation, infection, phlebitis. Combined with oils such as Yarrow, German Chamomile, Rose, Vetivert, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Bergamot, Cypress and Myrrh.
  • Musculoskeletal system: for pain, strains, inflammation, tension, spasm. Combined with Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Ginger, Lemon, Black Pepper, Juniper, Marjoram, Clary Sage, Plai and Geranium.

Aromatherapy recipes using Lavender essential oil:

Sunburn Salve:
Mix 50ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 15 drops Lavender essential oil, 5 Roman Chamomile and 2 Spearmint.

Muscle Rub for Aches & Pains:
Mix 50ml Grapeseed Oil, 20 drops Lavender essential oil, 10 Marjoram, 5 Plai and 2 Ginger.

Headache Balm:

Blend 50ml Aloe Vera & Rose Gel, 10 drops Lavender essential oil and 2 drops each of Neroli and Peppermint. Massage into the temples and back of neck.

Alternatively for a ready-made solution for sunburn, aches, pains and headaches try our multi-functional Cooling Gel with Cornmint and Lavender.

Relaxing Bath Soak:

Blend 15ml SLS Free Bath & Shower Gel, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 4 Sweet Orange and 2 Neroli and add to the bath once the water has run.

Calming Massage Oil for Kids:

Mix 30ml Grapeseed oil, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 2 Roman Chamomile and 4 Mandarin and use for massage to calm, soothe and prepare them for bed!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Essential Oils of the Month, Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Discover the powers of the Summer herb garden

HerbsHerbs are incredibly cheap to buy, easy to seed and grow, with many growing profusely once established. Most are perennial, and many of those that aren’t are easy to gather seeds from, if you let them “run to seed” at the end of the season.

As many herbs originate from the Mediterranean, most are also hardy in long, dry Summer-times, or drier areas of the garden.

Most herbs are also an excellent option for “first time gardeners”, as they are not easily predated upon by garden pests, due to their very strong scent and bitter taste. They also – very importantly – provide wonderful flowers for bees and wild pollinators, especially Lavender, Sage, Borage, Thyme, Chives and Chamomile.

Herbs can be grown effectively in small gardens, on balconies, in window boxes and verandas and even inside, so they really do represent the perfect option whatever your circumstances.

Some herbs, such as Comfrey – often referred to as the “miracle herb” – can be used to create free garden fertiliser for hungry food producing plants, and even helps plants susceptible to attack from fungi and virus! Comfrey will go well in almost any type of soil, and has an incredibly deep root system – roots will grow down to a depth of 20 – 30 feet – which is one of the reasons why it is able to draw up a huge range of trace minerals and nutrients that are unavailable to many other plants. It is said to be the only plant to contain a form of Vitamin B12.

We can use Comfrey in 3 different ways in the garden:

  1. As a green fertilizer – just cut up the leaves and sprinkle on the ground to break down and feed your plants and enrich your soil.
  2. To add to your compost heap to activate the decomposition process and increase nutrition.
  3. To make “Comfrey Tea Liquid Fertilizer”. Just add cut leaves to a large container of water – leave to rot for 2-3 weeks and spray onto plants.

In this form – this “soluble fertilizer” is rich in many nutrients and minerals – especially copper, and can boost plant immunity and help combat “leaf curl” on fruit trees.

Herbs are also incredibly versatile in the kitchen. They can be a fabulous addition to salads, and add fantastic flavour and colour to a multitude of foods, both fresh, frozen and dried. They dry and store easily, can be harvested regularly throughout the Summer, and used for sweet and savoury dishes, drinks and herb teas. They also help preserve foods and slow down the oxidising action.

Medicinally, herbs have the most amazing versatility, and have been used for many thousands of years – herbal medicine probably represents the most ancient form of Natural Medicine. Essential oils distilled from herbs represent some of the most powerful oils known to the world of aromatherapy, and we don’t always need to use the distillation process to access the essential oils that are so useful and effective.

Essential oils are released (albeit in a less pure and concentrated form) when we add fresh herbs to hot water for herb teas, inhalations, or use bundles of tied herbs for aromatic baths. We can also add herbs to vegetable oils and high quality vinegars for culinary uses.

So whilst nothing will ever replace the sheer ease of use and therapeutic power of pure essential oils and base oils, never under-estimate the medicinal herbs in your garden, and the way they were originally used. They can be easy to use, safe and gentle in their action, and can provide you with a powerful addition to your natural medicine chest.

In addition, there is something inherently gratifying and completely sustainable, in being able to go outside into your garden and harvest what you need to add to the food you eat and the medicinal action you require.

Here are some natural remedies to give you further green inspiration!

  • For indigestion or heart burn (especially after a rich meal) take a few handfuls of fresh Peppermint and add to a teapot or clean cafetiere. Steep for 5 – 10 minutes and sip 1-2 cups. If suffering from bloating and wind, you can include fresh Fennel leaves too.
  • To aid restful sleep do the same as above but using fresh Chamomile flowers.
  • For a sore throat, make a tea with 6 fresh Sage leaves and 4 sprigs Thyme, and gargle with it hot or cold.
  • If suffering from a cold or flu make up olive oil vinaigrette and add 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic and pour on fresh salad, including some raw parsley which will increase nutrients and boost immunity whilst neutralising garlic odour on breath!
  • For tiredness and tension tie together a bunch of herbs including Lavender, Lemon Balm, Chamomile and Rosemary. Hang under hot water tap and run a bath. To add to the effect – add 1 cup of Dead Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt. Then soak and relax!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Posted in Natural Health & Beauty Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

De-stress and unwind on your Summer holiday!

holiday stressAre you in a panic and suffering stress on the lead up to your Summer holiday? Whilst it can be a very exciting time of year, all the last minute rushing around (whether that be shopping for the holiday essentials, packing, cleaning the house, doing a hand-over at work, getting the kids ready, or just tying up any loose ends) can make it hard to finally unwind.

In fact, it is often so challenging the Telegraph recently reported that an Institute of Leadership and Management’s study found it takes people TWO DAYS, on average, to unwind once actually on holiday! Not only this, but 90% of people worry about going back to work to a deluge of emails, and 80% actually still respond to emails whilst away, finding it so hard to relax that they inevitably don’t. There is no wonder really as to why it is so hard to wind down, with the constant pressures of a fast-paced modern society and such easily accessible technology. However, with this in mind, why not swap your fast-pace and technology for something a bit more calming and natural, and make sure you really unwind on your break, starting just before you go?

Top tips to kick-start your relaxation

No matter where you are going (even if you are just having time off at home), there are a few crucial tips to help kick-start your relaxation:

  • Be prepared – try and make time to organise everything in advance rather than leaving it to the last minute, so that you have time to unwind before you go and whilst on holiday.
  • Switch your phone off straight after finishing work – don’t give in to temptation to read all your work-related emails.
  • Book a relaxing treatment – whether that is an aromatherapy massage or something else like reflexology, hot stones or Swedish massage, this will help calm your nervous system in advance of your holiday and really get you in that ‘holiday mindset’. Why not try a treatment you don’t usually have to help you get into the mode of experiencing something ‘different‘ – for example Thai Yoga massage? Better still, book a treatment whilst you are on holiday too, at the start of your break!
  • Utilise some lovely essential oils with relaxing, sedating properties that can help you unwind and promote calmer feelings.

Tried and tested stress-busting essential oils:

Supportively calming emotional stress: Cypress

A few months ago I received a Base Formula order I had been expecting and, so excited was I that I rushed about hurriedly to open the box. In doing so, I managed to drop one of my brand new bottles of essential oil and it smashed all over my floor. Because I was so stressed and in such a rush, I immediately wanted to burst into tears because my brand new bottle of essential oil had now gone; clearly my nervous system had gone into overdrive and had had enough! However, despite wanting to, all of a sudden I found that I couldn’t cry. Not knowing which essential oil had smashed, I scooped up the remains and found it to be Cypress oil. The moral of this story is that I was actually quite fortunate to smash this particular essential oil; as the aroma that suddenly wafted throughout my room was effective enough to calm my stress. So, my top ‘unwinding’ essential oil for immense pre-holiday stress is, of course, Cypress – offering great support in times of upheaval to restore calm and stop those tears! Use it in a diffuser before you go, whilst finishing off at work, packing or sorting things ready for your holiday, as it is also an oil that can encourage focus!

Balancing the body and soothing stress: Rose

Rose essential oil is very nurturing, offering mental, emotional and physical support during times of stress. Uplifting and soothing, as well as hormonally balancing (making it a great oil for women), it helps alleviate anxiety and nervous tension! Perfect for easing that holiday stress, why not mix a few drops with a cup of full-fat milk and add it to your night-time bath for a de-stressing soak on the run up to your holiday. Lie and relax whilst doing some deep, abdominal breathing to fully-maximise the inhalation of the oil.

Relaxing, unwinding and aiding sleep: Lavender

Lavender essential oil is perhaps one of the most ‘universal’ oils. This is a great one to take on holiday with you as not only is it extremely relaxing, but it is also great in the Summer holiday first-aid kit for things like minor burns, insect bites, aches and pains, and also as an anti-viral and insect repellent. Unlike other essential oils, you can apply this neat to the pulse points on your wrist to help you unwind and get into holiday mode. It will also bust any holiday insomnia you might get from being in strange surroundings! Pop 3-4 drops in a rollette bottle with 10ml Sweet Almond carrier oil and apply to your pulse points as and when needed – both before and during your holiday. If you like Rose essential oil, you could add a drop or two of that as well.

Calming the holiday excitement: Mandarin

A cheery, comforting oil that is generally safe for use with children, Mandarin essential oil is very calming for the nerves, soothing restlessness (great for the combatting the over-excitement of going away), and also helping aid sleep. Pop some in a diffuser a night or two before you go away to help keep the kids calm! Take it away with you to have the same effect when they are there. If you can’t take or access your diffuser, try popping three drops of Mandarin essential oil on a cotton pad and place it by the bed, close enough to be inhaled, but at a safe distance from touching the skin.

Fear of flying stresses: Neroli, Lemon and Geranium

Neroli and Lemon are lovely essential oils to help with any worries about flying. Neroli is very relaxing and soothing for fear, whilst Lemon is more uplifting, which can help with jet lag. Make sure you adapt to the time-zone by sleeping at the right time – maintain a sensible bedtime schedule as far as possible, and use appropriate essential oils to help with either sleeping or keeping awake where needed. Neroli and Lavender will help aid sleep, whereas Lemon will help you wake up as it helps bust stress-related fatigue and enhances mental performance, so use accordingly to how you feel. Geranium essential oil will aid rebalancing of hormones which are involved in regulating your sleep regime, so try and utilise this oil whilst you are away, especially if you are going on a long-haul flight. Put a few drops on a hanky and sniff regularly during the flight!

Mini essential oil travel kit

As you can see, there are many aromatherapy oils that can help you unwind on your holiday, but it can be hard to take them all with you. So why not make up a mini travel kit so you can take the ‘essentials’? A full bottle of Lavender essential oil is always useful, and you could always decant some other essential oils into smaller bottles. Alternatively, if you are trying the oils before you go away, why not make up a really calming, de-stressing blend with your favourites and store in a rollette bottle to save space in your luggage? See which ones work best for you (as aromatherapy is very individual) on the run-up to your break, and blend two or three essential oils together – 1-2 drops of each (up to a maximum of 4 drops) in 10ml Sweet Almond carrier oil.

So, don’t take two days before you can relax into your break. Unwinding on holiday is easier than you think – pop the oils on your pulse points, shut the technological world away, and off you go to enjoy your time: stress-free!

Happy holidays!

Nicole Barton
Guest Blogger & Consultant Aromatherapist
Chalet Holistics

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