Base Formula & British School of Aromatherapy
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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.

Hazelnuts2Hazelnut Oil (Corylus avellana) is another wonderfully nutritious base oil that has been used for hair and beauty for over 3000 years. Rich in various vitamins, minerals and Essential Fatty Acids, it is particularly useful for its antioxidant Vitamin E and Linoleic Acid.

Hazelnut Oil has, as you would expect, a pleasing, light nutty aroma. It is highly absorbent, light and non greasy, and a wonderful emollient that helps prevent moisture loss throughout the day. Its antibacterial, astringent action helps prevent excess sebum secretion, which makes it useful for acne prone skin and other oily skin conditions. It can also be useful for sensitive skin (although obviously not for those with nut allergies) and makes and ideal addition to a facial oil base.

Hazelnut Oil has a good reputation as a sun filter, and for this reason it is often included in sunscreen products.

Aromatherapy recipes using Hazelnut Oil

Conditioner for coloured/treated hair:
Hazelnut Oil makes a wonderful pre–shampoo hair conditioner, helping to retain hair condition when it has a tendency to loose colour and become course and dry. Mix 20ml Hazelnut Oil, 5 drops Lavender essential oil, 4 Ylang Ylang and 4 Geranium. Massage into damp hair before shampooing. Leave on for 20 minutes then shampoo and condition as normal.

Facial oil for mature sun-damaged skin:
Mix 10ml Hazelnut Oil and 10ml Jojoba Oil, then add 15 drops Red Carrot Oil, 2 drops Neroli essential oil, 2 Rose and 2 Geranium. Use nightly.

Bath oil for dry skin:
Combine 50ml Luxury Bath Oil, 10ml Hazelnut Oil, 10 drops Geranium essential oil, 5 Patchouli, 5 Sandalwood and 3 Neroli. Shake well and add 1-2 tablespoons once the bath water is run. Gently agitate the water to disperse the oil.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

bergamotBergamot essential oil is often called “Nature’s Prozac” due to its balancing, anti-depressant effect. Apart from its marked uplifting and harmonising effect on the emotions, Bergamot is also a powerful anti-viral, antiseptic and antibacterial agent. It is very useful for post viral “blues” following flu or colds, and has a particular affinity for the respiratory tract and the genito-urinary system. It is also beneficial in the aromatherapy treatment of skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis, and as a digestive aid along with most of the citrus oils.

In addition to its powerful therapeutic actions it is also one of the most popular unisex fragrances, and blends well with a huge variety of other essential oils. It was a major ingredient in one of the first recipes for the original “Eau de Cologne”.

A real “must have” essential oil for your aromatherapy collection! Remember it is one of the photo-toxic essential oils though and therefore should not be used on the skin prior to exposure to the sun!

Aromatherapy recipes using Bergamot essential oil:

Massage oil for eczema (for use on adults):
80ml Sweet Almond Oil, 10ml Hazelnut Oil, 5ml Avocado Oil, 5 Red Carrot Oil, 10 drops Lavender, 10 Bergamot and 4 German Chamomile. Shake well before use and apply regularly after a bath or shower. Patch test prior to overall use.

Uplifting vaporising blend:
5 drops Bergamot, 3 Geranium, 2 Benzoin.

Relaxing bath oil for stress, anxiety and sadness:
80ml Luxury Bath Oil, 15 drops Bergamot, 10 Lavender, 8 Ylang Ylang, 8 Geranium and 4 Neroli. Shake well before use and add 5-10ml per bath.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

Happy young woman relaxing in bathtubMother’s Day is fast approaching – that special time of year when we can really show our Mothers just how much we appreciate all the hard work and care they show us throughout the year!

Typically, there is lots of hype and commercialism surrounding these type of these celebrations – so we thought it would be a great idea to help you personalise your giving – and to pamper your Mum with some luxurious homemade aromatherapy gifts that will not only encourage her to take some precious time out, but will also help to boost her health and wellbeing!

It’s great if you know which essential oils your Mum likes best, but if not just think about the types of oils that would benefit her the most! Does your lovely Mum need calm, relaxing aromatherapy oils, stimulating, uplifting blends, or nourishing, moisturising products that will be great for her skin. One of the joys of aromatherapy is that is really is so versatile. We’ve given you a range of ideas below to help you create your very own ‘personalised’ Mother’s Day gifts. Feel free to use these tried and tested recipes or get creative and develop your own…

Aromatherapy Foot Bath
After a long day on your feet there’s little better sensation than popping your tired feet in a warm foot bath. Use a Foot Spa if you have one a rectangular washing up bowl.

For the evening (before bed):
Half fill the foot spa or bowl with warm water, add 3 tablespoons of Dead Sea Salt, 10ml Bath Milk, 5 drops Lavender essential oil, 2 Roman Chamomile, 2 Benzoin and 2 Lemon. Then, all you need to do is get your Mum to sit down and pop in her feet! She will be in pure bliss!!

For a daytime energy boost:
Use the same quantity of Dead Sea Salt and Bath Milk but add 1 drop Peppermint essential oil, 2 Rosemary, 2 Plai and 4 Geranium.

Nourishing Foot Cream
Try this deliciously rich and intensely moisturising blend: 100ml Moisturising Lotion, 5ml Red Carrot Oil, 5ml Jojoba Oil, 15 drops Bergamot essential oil, 20 Lavender, 10 Cypress, 5 Spearmint and 5 Tea Tree. Stir thoroughly and add to 2 x 50ml jars, with beautiful hand made labels. That way – when she raves about your blend – you can whip out that second pot!

Soothing Hand Cream:
Hands that do dishes? Pamper your Mother’s dry skin with this beautifully scented, smooth, rich hand cream. Mix 60ml Moisturising Cream, (organic option available too), 5ml Neem Oil, 5ml Hazelnut Oil and 5ml Avocado Oil. Then add 10 drops Patchouli essential oil, 10 Lavender, 8 Geranium, 8 Bergamot and 5 Neroli.

Aromatherapy Bath Bliss
A moisturising bath oil with relaxing, mood enhancing essential oils is hard to beat. If your Mother’s stress levels are high, or she finds it difficult to sleep, she’ll love this recipe. Mix 100ml of Luxury Bath Oil with 4 drops Valerian, 4 Roman Chamomile, 10 Sweet Orange, 10 Lavender and 7 Neroli. Simply gorgeous!

Shower Power
If a real “wake-up formula” is required – here it is. Mix 100ml SLS free Bath & Shower Gel, with 10 drops Lime essential oil, 10 Bergamot, 10 Geranium and 3 Peppermint – for a real zingy, citrus buzz!!! Shake well before use!

Beautifying Facial Oil
So after a blissful soak in the bath why not finish off with a beautifying aromatherapy facial oil to boost your Mum’s complexion whilst she sleeps!  Combine 10ml Jojoba Oil, 5ml Hazelnut Oil, 5ml Apricot Kernel Oil, then add 5 drops Neroli essential oil, 3 Rose and 2 Benzoin. Massage into mature/dry skin 20 minutes before bed. Dab off any excess oil after 15 minutes. Pure skin magic and a divine way to end the day!

Vaporising Magic
As an extra thoughtful touch while your Mum’s soaking her feet or relaxing in the bath, light some candles and diffuse this refreshing, revitalising and balancing aromatherapy blend. If you’re using an oil burner, add 20ml of water, 4 drops Rose, 4 Sandalwood and 5 Bergamot.

Mellow Mood Spritz
Create a house that smells as good as it looks once you’ve cleaned it all up whilst your Mum was out! Mix 100ml Orange Flower Hydrolat, 10 drops Sweet Orange, 10 Bergamot, 5 Neroli and 3 Benzoin. Add to a spray bottle and shake well before use. Spritz around the house so your Mum can enjoy its relaxing, uplifting and harmonising scent.

Aromatic Chocolate
If your Mum has a favourite chocolate – preferably dark – try this simple trick: A week before Mother’s Day, unwrap the chocolate (do not eat!!) and put in a tupperware box. Drip 2 drops each of Sweet Orange and Ylang Ylang essential oil onto 4 balls of cotton wool. Place these balls into each corner of the box – but do not allow them to touch the chocolate. Store in a cool dark place for 1 week, then wrap the chocolate in tissue paper which has had the same treatment. The scent is glorious and the chocolate infused with essential oil is extra delicious.

Rose Turkish Delight
For “yummy mummies” who love Turkish Delight – try infusing them with Rose essential oil using the same technique as above – use 2 drops of Rose and Lemon essential oil per cotton ball.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

insomnia2A good night’s sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing! Most of us however, will have experienced some form of sleep problems or insomnia at some stage or another. There is little worse than not being able to sleep when you want to, and sometimes the harder you try to “drop off”, the harder it gets! If this sounds familiar read on for our comprehensive guide on how to supercharge your sleep the natural way!

First of all, the causes need to be identified – as there is rarely one reason – but a collection of factors that come together to cause issues with sleep.

Here are some of the classic reasons:

  • Too much caffeine (tea, coffee/energy drinks)
  • Too much chocolate (also a stimulant)
  • Too much alcohol (feels like a sedative but is actually a stimulant)
  • Too many liquids too late in the day (many of us realise we haven’t drunk enough during the day and try to make up for it later on!)
  • Nutritional deficiencies (especially B vitamins and magnesium)
  • Too much adrenal and cortisol in the blood stream
  • Not enough exercise during the day
  • Too much exercise too late in the day
  • Mental agitation
  • Physical Tension
  • Not enough “wind down time”
  • Eating too late
  • Eating too early (and too little)
  • Side-effects of medication
  • Late night TV (too stimulating)
  • Anger/ resentment
  • Shock
  • Allergies
  • Over-tiredness
  • Depression
  • SAD Syndrome

So, being clear which reasons are the likeliest causes is important – knowledge is power! Having identified which of these could be the main causes, here’s how to tackle them:-

Too much caffeine
You might think that you only have a few coffees a day, and you don’t drink them after 4pm in the afternoon, but remember everyone’s tolerances and reactions to caffeine varies hugely. The amount you consume can creep up on you during the day. Did you know that a strong cup of tea can contain as much caffeine as coffee, and that the caffeine in some fizzy/energy drinks can also be very high? Try and decrease the amount you normally ingest and see if it helps – it usually does! If your normal intake is quite high, remember to decrease it slowly as the body’s reactions can be quite severe i.e. headaches, shakes etc.

Too much chocolate
Do you have a real craving for chocolate? If so you may have a few nutritional deficiencies and some blood sugar issues. Look at a low GI diet (Glycaemic Index) and talk to BioCare or a Nutritional Therapist about Magnesium and Chromium. Remember that chocolate is a stimulant and might be interfering with your sleep pattern. Try to reduce your intake and look at healthier other options that will release sugar more slowly – such as unsulphured dried apricots or fresh fruit.

Too much alcohol
Ironic isn’t it- we often have a drink to unwind and relax after a hard day – but it doesn’t always have the effect we’re hoping for! If you’re having trouble sleeping and your stress levels are high, try reducing your alcohol intake to weekends only – and see if you sleep better during the week. You’ll then be clearer on how it’s effecting you. It tends to be a quick way of reducing excess weight too.

Too many liquids too late in the day
This is a classic one. We’re trying to look after ourselves better – get to the end of the day, and realise that we haven’t had our 1.5 litres of water. It doesn’t tend to be a good idea to try and fit the whole lot in the last few hours of the day though – as severe sleep loss through needing to get up 5 times in the night may be worse than temporary dehydration!

Nutritional deficiencies
Even with a healthy diet, some of us commit ourselves in so many different directions that we simply use up certain nutrients far more quickly than we can access them from our food. The reality in the modern world is also that much of the food we buy as “fresh” has in fact been in storage for days or even weeks. Try and buy locally produced, seasonal food – which will tend to be fresher and more nutritious. If your stress levels are high, it would be a good idea to check your B vitamin intake, and Magnesium levels (and trace minerals) as these can be associated with poor quality sleep.

Too much adrenal and cortisol in the blood stream
If your stress levels are high, it is very important that you have an adequate “wind down” period before bed, so that you can allow your system to balance itself out again before you go to sleep. Going straight from “fast forward” to “stop”, without your body having time to adjust, will often mean that you will lie there waiting for sleep that won’t come! If you have been physically static all day, it is great (as part of your wind-down period) to go for a walk – to help your body release the “fight or flight” hormones in your blood stream. Other gentle exercises that can be helpful can include Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga. Ideally avoid types of exercises that are “fast and furious” – as they can be over-stimulating at the end of the day.

Not enough exercise during the day
If your lifestyle is too sedentary, it may be difficult for you to sleep, even if your stress levels are not too high. Our systems need a balance of physical and mental stimulation to remain in balance, so if your sleep pattern is disturbed, trying a new exercise regime may well have a profoundly restorative effect. You can also try regular massage – with circulatory stimulant essential oils during the first part of the day, or relaxant oils in the later part of the day – to passively exercise your muscles and help you to relax and unwind towards the evening:

Am: 25ml Grapeseed Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 3 drops Rosemary, 4 Geranium, 4 Bergamot and 2 Plai.
Pm: 25ml Grapeseed Oil, 5 drops Lavender, 5 Bergamot, 4 Marjoram and 2 Neroli.

Too much exercise too late in the day
As we’ve mentioned, exercising too late in the day can be too stimulating and can create a release of stress hormones – especially if you are pushing yourself through tiredness. If this is really the only time available, try a warm aromatherapy bath before bed, to help your body wind down and relax. The exercise regimes that are about stretching and flexibility are still a better idea than more vigorous forms. Swimming and aqua aerobics can also be fine, as they are gentle on the mind and body.

Mental agitation

If you are mentally agitated due to worries or concerns before bed, try winding down by writing a diary. Use it as a “dumping ground”, and help yourself to “disengage” from the worries of the day. Always end on an “up” note to help you think positively. Having an aromatherapy bath or vaporising relaxing essential oils in your bedroom can also be a great help – inducing a sense of peacefulness and lifting the spirits. Try vaporising 2 drops Neroli essential oil, 2 Roman Chamomile and 6 Lavender, or bathe with 15ml Bath Milk, 3 drops Frankincense, 2 Neroli and 2 Roman Chamomile. Herb teas can be beneficial too – try drinking Valerian or Chamomile tea before bed, or Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime which has a Spearmint flavour that is both relaxing and refreshing at the same time.

Tension
If you suffer from muscular tension towards the end of the day, gentle stretching exercises can help to release and relax tension. A warm aromatherapy bath can also be one of the best and most enjoyably effective options. Try: 15ml Bath Milk, 3 drops Clary Sage, 3 Marjoram and 4 Lavender. If muscular tension is a regular feature, try an aromatherapy massage once a week for a month. This will really give your therapist a chance to get deep into those muscle fibres to release built up tension. For home massage try 25ml Grapeseed Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 3 Clary Sage, 3 Marjoram and 8 Lavender.

Not enough “Wind down time”
Whether you’re self-employed or just work long hours, it is easier to over-work in this day and age than ever before. 24 hour connectivity means we can push ourselves to our absolute limits. The type of technology we have at our disposal means that, unless we are really self-disciplined, we can be answering phone calls or emails, even when we do finally get away. I used to treat a business man who would answer his phone when on the beach with his children! This means that our minds just simply do not get a chance to “switch off”, rest and recuperate. Not only does this render us incapable of relaxing when we finally try to – but the health risks of the type of electro-magnetic energy that these units emit is not yet fully understood – the technology has simply not been around for long enough for us to know. Yes, most of us are under increased financial pressure, but no amount of money can bring back our health once it is undermined for long enough. We need to learn to put back what we take out, so taking enough “time out” is vital. Difficulty in sleeping could be an early warning signal to indicate that more time for “you and yours” is needed! To help you switch off at night try vaporising 2 drops Neroli, 2 Roman Chamomile and 6 Sweet Orange in the bedroom.

Eating too late
A classic reason for poor quality of sleep! You’ve had no breakfast, little time for lunch and you’re starving hungry when you finally get home after a long, hard day. Your food takes 2-3 hours to digest. If it lies in your gut overnight, as your digestion is under pressure when you are lying down, it can lead to fermentation, discomfort and a slowing down of your metabolic rate over time. So, eat at least 3 hours before bed and chew food thoroughly before you swallow. If you have to eat later, go for very light dishes, such as white fish with steamed vegetables, chicken stir fry or thick homemade soup.

Eating too early (and too little)
Eating your main meal in the middle of the day is great if you can manage it, but not missing out on breakfast and supper is important too. First of all, in order to access all the nutrients you require for good health and wellbeing in general – a certain amount of nutrition needs to be assimilated on a daily basis. Poor quality of sleep can also arise from waking early through hunger, as well as going to bed too full! If you’ve eaten a large meal earlier in the day try a fresh soup in the evening, remember this is easy to digest as it is already in a semi-liquid state. In Chinese medicine it is said that warm food is nourishing for the “Chi”, i.e. good for your energy. It is also comforting towards the end of a long day.

Side-effects of medication
Many forms of medication, especially fast acting pain killers and cold/flu remedies, have caffeine in them, which many people don’t realise. This is particularly ironic when you consider that the one thing that you really need when your immunity is low – is decent sleep! Read the labels on all over the counter medicines – and remember the natural approach. Very often a good regular dose of Vitamin C powder and aromatherapy inhalations will help alleviate the cold/flu symptoms without needing to resort to those allopathic medicines.

Late night TV (and electronic devices)
With current technology, many of us work late and are glued to our computer screen until late at night. The rest of us might be watching TV late into the evening, surfing the web, or reading on a Kindle, all of which stimulate our brains in a way that can keep us awake when we want to go to sleep. The nature of the material we are watching can also have an impact – watching a horror film, or an action packed adventure movie just before bed, can be a recipe for wakefulness.

Anger/ resentment
It is very difficult to have a good night’s sleep if you go to bed fuming, as it’s a very burning, inflammatory type of emotion that tends to stimulate the release of stress hormones. So, talk about it if you can, to help yourself calm down. If that’s not possible, write your feelings down in that diary of yours! An aromatic bath can help, with oils to soothe those raw emotions. Vaporising oils in your bedroom can further soothe that savage breast. Regular massage can also help to ease strong, burning emotions. Try Grapeseed Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort, 2 drops Rose, 2 Roman Chamomile, 5 Sandalwood and 5 Bergamot. Finally, remember anger can be transmuted fear, what is it that you’re frightened of?

Shock
If you’ve had a shock to the system, it can really disrupt your sleep pattern. The incident can play around and around in your mind, “hot wiring” your thought processes and making restful sleep seem rather a long way away. Taking Arnica (a homeopathic remedy for bruising and shock) can be really helpful as can Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. You can also try inhaling Neroli essential oil from a tissue immediately after the shock, and massaging 5% Neroli Light into your pulse points and temples. Aromatherapy baths can also help to relax the mind. If sleep and emotional disturbance continue beyond the first week after the initial shock, try Thought Field Therapy (TFT), which is excellent at re-wiring the neural networks in the brain, and alleviating the emotional reactions.

Allergies
Recurrent sleeping problems, especially if accompanied by digestive issues and chronic fatigue, can be related to food intolerances or actual allergies to things such as gluten, dairy, and synthetic additives i.e. colourings, preservatives and flavourings. If your allergic reactions have more of a respiratory nature, or are skin-based, you could be reacting to the detergent that you wash your clothes in, or the toiletry products you are using – such as your shampoo, conditioner, or deodorant. An “Applied Kinesiologist” can help you identify which factors are causing you problems, and even help de-sensitise your body. It’s important to note down all the symptoms that you experience before your consultation.

One final note in relation to allergies and sleeping problems. It is a very good idea to hoover your mattress weekly – especially if it is an old one. Most mattresses will have microscopic bed mites in their fibres, and it is their faecal matter that we can react to when it gets excessive. It gets breathed in and can cause some people to react, sometimes quite severely. A good quality mattress cover and pillow cases are advisable. You can also purchase an infra-red wand to pass over the mattress before hoovering it – which is said to kill the mites (not to be confused with bed bugs). Another option is to make an aromatherapy blend and spray on the mattress regularly. Leave to dry and air before making the bed.

Over-tiredness
Ironically, over-tiredness can create sleeping problems! If you get completely exhausted you can actually become so over-stimulated that it becomes difficult to sleep deeply. One of the indications of this is wakefulness (waking up easily throughout the night or waking up prematurely). In order to help re-balance your system specific steps need to be taken to help prevent complete exhaustion from setting in. Again, regular aromatherapy baths and massage can help re-balance the system, but if your sleeping pattern is completely disrupted, it might be useful to consider additional constitutional help. Herbal medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine can be worth consideration.

Depression
One of the first signs of depression, apart from the emotional elements, can be a deeply disrupted sleep pattern. This can then set up a vicious circle, where chronic tiredness contributes to the emotional state. Make use of uplifting, anti-depressant essential oils such as Melissa, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Neroli, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Frankincense, Benzoin, Patchouli, Clary Sage and Jasmine. Chose the ones that you are drawn to the most, and use them regularly for massage, vaporising and in aromatic baths. You can also take Valerian in the evening to aid sleep, and St John’s Wort in the morning as a natural mood enhancer. TFT and Hypnotherapy can also be effective therapies, as can CBT. Always see your GP when suffering from depression – as it is important to have someone over seeing your health-care. Although many herbs and certain anti-depressant medications cannot be taken together – many other natural medicines can be used in combination with orthodox approaches. No matter how focused on Natural Medicine you may be – sometimes a course of anti-depressants or sleeping pills can be a life-saver, and it always pays to have a balanced view.

Sad Syndrome – Seasonal Affective Disorder
This is now a great deal more recognised than it was previously – and can cause depression and sleeping issues. Try getting a full spectrum “light box” for the office or for use at home. 3 hours a day is usually enough to help your pineal gland stimulate the hormone/neuro-chemical balance you require. Vitamin D drops can also help – especially if you go outside very little in the winter months – when this condition tends to strike.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

romanceHistorically, numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine, and February 14 is celebrated as St. Valentine’s Day in various Christian denominations.  Valentine’s Day customs relating to romance developed in England during the 18th century when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Valentine’s Day has now evolved into an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other by sending cards and gifts such as flowers or chocolate!

Rather than focus solely on Valentine’s Day, which is, after all, just one day of the year, I thought it would be more useful to look at ways in which essential oils may be used to promote healthy and positive relationships between couples throughout the year.

Many factors can affect relationships such as lack of confidence caused, maybe, by poor self-image or self-esteem, or stress caused by work, money or health issues.  While aromatherapy cannot necessarily resolve all of these problems, it can certainly help couples cope with them on a day to day basis.  For example, an aromatic massage can help to relieve tension and anxiety, and there are many workshops available for couples to learn how to provide non-sexual massage on each other that helps relax both mind and body.  A soothing blend comprising of two drops of Clary Sage essential oil (Salvia sclarea), four drops of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and one drop of Sandalwood (Santalum album) in 14ml of Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armeniaca) provides a relaxing blend, which when applied with a combination of soothing effleurage and petrissage movements can help reduce worry and encourage closeness between the couple.

Lack of communication is often cited as a factor in the break-down of relationships.  The use of gentle massage combined with aromatic aromatherapy oils can sometimes be all that is needed to help couples to communicate and express their feelings positively rather than bottling up negative thoughts and letting resentment over-flow.  A suitable blend for opening up channels of communication is one drop of Neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium amara), four drops of Geranium (Pelargonium graveolen) and two drops of Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha).

For those suffering from poor body image, perhaps due to illness or other problems, Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is reputed to give a sense of confidence and an inner sense of beauty.  A couple of drops can easily be added to a suitable carrier and used during bathing or for massage.  One of my most favourite essential oils is Rose Otto (Rosa damascena).  Whilst Rose Otto is more expensive than Rose Absolute, it is my preferred oil due to the extraction process used – steam distillation opposed to solvent extraction.  Rose Otto has such a beautiful aroma, that inhaling it can definitely inspire feelings of confidence and self-worth.  I would recommend adding this particular essential oil to base creams or lotions and applying it both morning and night.

We are all so busy throughout the year, juggling lots of different roles, that it is hardly surprising that ‘life’ gets in the way of making time for the special person in our lives.  By using oils to bridge the gap, whether by having an ‘aromantic’ bath ready for your partner on their return from the office, or making time to give each other a luxurious massage once a month, the oils will help keep your romance alive!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

Macro shot of wild camomiles over whiteGerman Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a common annual herb that has been the bedrock of our traditional medicine chest for many centuries.

The essential oil is steam distilled from the plant’s daisy-like flowers, and has a deep, inky-blue colour – which is derived from the constituent element ‘chamazulene’ which is formed during the distillation process. Chamazulene gives German Chamomile its powerful anti-inflammatory properties – making it one of the best essential oils (alongside Yarrow) for treating inflammation. The oil also has valuable antispasmodic, analgesic, antiseptic and anti-allergenic properties and a calming influence on nervous related disorders such as anxiety, nervous tension and headaches.

German Chamomile can be used effectively in compresses as well as in massage oils and creams, and can be even more effective when combined with drinking Chamomile tea (the tea is as soothing for raw nerves as the essential oil is for inflamed muscles, joints and skin!)

Always think of German Chamomile essential oil when dealing with dry/inflamed skin that is sensitive – as well as painful, inflamed joints.

Aromatherapy recipes using German Chamomile

Facial oil for dry, sun damaged skin
50ml Apricot Kernel Oil, 8ml Jojoba, 2ml Red Carrot Oil, 2 drops German Chamomile essential oil, 2 Neroli, 2 Rose and 10 Lavender. Mix well and apply at night.

Click here for more German Chamomile skincare recipes for eczema and dermatitis.

Massage gel for inflamed joints (i.e. arthritis):
100ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 20 drops Lavender essential oil, 10 Marjoram, 4 German Chamomile and 2 Peppermint. Massage in regularly.

Puffy sore eye lids (following crying or chronic exhaustion)
Make a cup of Chamomile tea. Take the tea bags out and lightly squeeze out the excess liquid. Place them on closed eyelids for 10 minutes. Preferably drink the tea too!

Warm compress for Abscesses/Boils
Place hot water in a bowl and add 2 drops Tea Tree essential oil and 2 drops German Chamomile. Place a square of muslin in the water, then remove and squeeze out, before placing on the affected area. Repeat 3-4 times, blot dry and then apply 1 drop of neat Tea Tree oil.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

smallAloeVeraPlantRather than featuring a base oil this month we thought we’d focus on Aloe Vera, which is equally useful for skin and hair care and as a base for blending.

Another ancient traditional medicine, Aloe Vera originates from South and East Africa, but was introduced to the West Indies in the seventeenth century, where it has flourished and spread from ever since.

This succulent, easy to cultivate plant has no stems, but big, waxy, fleshy leaves. These contain sacs filled with Aloe Vera juice which can be used direct from the plant.

Aloe Vera is renowned for its soothing, moisturising, healing, anti-pruritic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing and antioxidant properties. It is usually safe for all skin types, and is particularly useful for cooling and soothing hot, angry, inflamed skin conditions (including sunburn and acne). It can be applied direct to burns, bites, minor cuts and abrasions. It also helps to hydrate and improve the skin’s natural firmness and elasticity, to promote younger looking skin.

Recipes using Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera Mousse (for dry / red skin that inflames easily)
Mix 40ml Aloe Vera & Rose Hydrating Gel with 5ml Jojoba and whisk vigorously until combined, finally adding 2 drops Rose essential oil, 2 German Chamomile and 6 drops Lavender. Stir well and apply as a face mask. Leave for 10 minutes and dab off any remaining gel.

Blemish Gel:
Mix 40ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel with 6 drops Tea Tree essential oil, 6 Lavender, 4 Cypress and 2 German Chamomile. Stir thoroughly. Dab on ideally when the area reddens, before spot erupts, and you can often prevent it from coming to the surface.

Sunburn Soothing Gel:
Mix 40ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 14 drops of Lavender, 4 Yarrow and 2 German Chamomile. Stir well and apply liberally and often.

Click here for additional Aloe Vera recipes for eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.

Base Formula sells a variety of Aloe Vera Gels. Please visit our website for more information on our extensive range.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany people find that certain skin conditions become worse in the Winter time. This can be due to a number of factors – central heating dries the air and skin, we suffer from a lack of sunlight (and therefore Vitamin D), plus some of us tend to drink less water and eat considerably less fresh fruit and veg.

Inflammatory conditions in general are often caused or exacerbated by acidity in the system – the body’s natural pH balance being disrupted. Many practitioners of Natural Medicine believe that degenerative disease and premature ageing is caused by heightened levels of acidity. Many aspects of modern life contribute to this – i.e. stress, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, refined foods and lack of exercise.

As with all “dis-ease” in the system, skin conditions often require a multifaceted approach to resolve or reduce the issue – and there are certain elements that can be relevant to various inflammatory skin complaints. The key is to work with a holistic approach – looking at all the elements that may be playing their part:

Nutrition/deficiencies 

Different skin conditions – whether it’s Acne Rosacea, Psoriasis or Eczema – have similar nutritional issues. Essential Fatty Acids are often deficient (Omega Fish Oils and Evening Primrose may be the best options).  Zinc Citrate, Vitamin Bs, C and E are all important too. With Acne there is often an imbalance in the micro-flora in the gut (consider a quality Bio-Acidophilus supplement) and constipation that can worsen the condition. If your diet has been poor, or your alcohol/caffeine intake high – the herb Milk Thistle can help as a Liver Tonic. It is also important to increase fresh fruit and vegetables – especially leafy green veg, blueberries and kiwi fruits – which are rich in Vitamins and Bioflavonoids.

Allergies

Remember your skin is the largest organ of your body, so it can be reacting to what you are putting on it. Avoid skincare products containing alcohol, and try to chose products that are as pure as possible. Making up your own base products and adding appropriate carrier and essential oils could be a much more appropriate option for you. Try and test your deodorants, hair products, perfumes/aftershave, lotions and toothpaste too – anything you use regularly can cause a reaction. Look at your make up as well. The other classic is your washing powder and fabric conditioner. Dry cleaning chemicals can also cause issues.

Food intolerances

Food allergy testing or Applied Kinesiology can really help identify if anything you are ingesting is causing your skin to react. The classic intolerances are: dairy products, wheat/gluten, citrus fruits (especially orange juice), colourings, flavourings and preservatives found in refined foods. Refined sugars can really cause problems – as they add to inflammation in a variety of ways – promoting bacterial growth on the surface of the skin – and causing candida albicans proliferation in the gut. Applied Kinesiology is one of the best and most gentle non-invasive ways of identifying food allergies/intolerances, and in some cases can also correct them, or reduce the reaction. It is also worth noting that many people who have inflammation in relation to their skin or joints can find the Paleo diet very useful.

Stress

If your skin condition is, at least in part, related to stress, Aromatherapy can be a huge boon. Firstly, regular aromatherapy massage can have a powerful effect on reducing the response to stress, therefore helping reduce the physical tension. Secondly, as the impact of stress and tension is reduced, the acidity levels will reduce too – helping to reduce the inflammatory reaction. As a third bonus – certain essential oils can:

  • have an antiseptic, antibacterial action if some of the skin response is related to yeast, or if the inflammation has become infected.
  • have a directly cooling, calming, anti-inflammatory action.
  • stimulate the production of healthy skin cells.

In addition to this, certain highly nourishing and enriching vegetable base oils can be added to the massage blend to help feed the inflamed skin cells – some of which also have an anti-inflammatory action too.

Digestive issues

Many people ask why they should suddenly react to foods that they have eaten with no reaction all their lives. That’s precisely the point – certain foods are over-eaten in the Western world, and the body can build up a reaction over time. Often, increasing the variety in your diet can make a big difference. Identifying any foods causing the reactions is important, but if you are experiencing a lot of wind/bloating after you eat, and your immune system is low (particularly in relation to thrush and cystitis) then a strong pro-biotic supplement could be indicated. (You could be experiencing “Leaky Gut Syndrome”).

In addition, drinking peppermint/chamomile tea regularly can help – and if your whole system is inflamed, a Slippery Elm supplement, taken 20 minutes before you eat, may help line/calm the digestive tract.

Constipation can be linked to skin conditions, as the body is not detoxifying itself efficiently – toxins are therefore reabsorbed back into the system due to the slow transit. Aromatherapy can be particularly helpful here – both in the choice of “digestive” oils, but also by focusing on abdominal massage, and stress relief – stress can contribute to the likelihood of constipation. Always go to the loo as soon as you get the urge, as waiting can create problems. Also remember to chew your food to a pulp before you swallow it, and drink 2 litres of water daily.

Lifestyle issues

Smoking, a diet high in fried foods and chocolate, a lack of exercise – all these issues can exacerbate skin conditions. The key is identifying which are the contributory factors for you – which is why a holistic approach is essential. A medical approach is more likely to focus on a medicated solution only, and can create serious problems in some cases. Steroid creams are often prescribed which thin the skin over time, especially on the face where the skin is so sensitive. Some of the drugs prescribed for acne have extremely powerful side-effects. So a natural holistic approach is often a more positive long term solution. You are also then addressing the key fundamental reasons for the condition, rather than merely suppressing the symptoms. Remember a combined approach can also work well in some instances, it doesn’t have to be a choice between one approach or the other.

Please do remember however that some forms of medication can be the cause of certain skin conditions.

Aromatherapy Recipes

Safety note: As with all sensitive skin types we recommend a skin patch test before liberal application of the following blends.

Eczema Gel:
100ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 5ml Red Carrot Oil, 5ml Evening Primrose Oil, 10 drops Lavender essential oil, 6 Geranium and 4 German Chamomile. Mix well and apply regularly.

Psoriasis Mousse:
Take 20ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, add 5ml Jojoba and whisk well with a small hand whisk. As the oil is combined, add another 10ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 5ml Argan Oil, 2 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil, 2 Patchouli, 2 Neroli and 4 Yarrow. Mix well and apply regularly.

Dermatitis Cream:
100ml Organic Moisturising Cream, 20ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 5ml Red Carrot Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil, 4 drops Tea Tree essential oil, 4 German Chamomile, 10 Lavender and 10 Bergamot. Mix well and apply regularly.

Bath Oil (for very dry skin):
Mix 100ml Luxury Bath Oil, 5ml Jojoba, 4 drops Rose essential oil, 4 Benzoin, 4 Frankincense, 10 Lavender and 10 Geranium. Use twice weekly.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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paleoOver the last 25 years in working as a natural health practitioner, I’ve developed a passionate interest in nutrition. It seems to me that many of us STILL engage in cycles that lead to premature ageing and a rapid deterioration in our health and wellbeing as we age – as if it’s just unavoidable.

It appears that most of us just consider that this process is something that we have to accept as inevitable. Many doctors still respond to patients who complain of different symptoms of chronic tiredness and aches and pains with comments like “well what do you expect at your age?”.  I’m absolutely sure that this is mainly an expression of those who practice under the pressure of enormous patient lists and high stress levels, rather than those who believe it to be true. After all – there are increasing numbers of health-care professionals who access Natural Medicine for themselves and their families. There is also an increase in surgeries offering an “Integrated Approach” – where Natural and Orthodox practitioners work side by side. Now that’s progress.

So the main reason for this article. On my constant quest for a way of eating that can work for most of us – that is straight forwards and easily explained, I’ve discovered something that really works. This is especially relevant to those who want to lose weight easily, but sustainably. I recently heard that around 90% of those who attend Weight Watchers classes are repeat users of the service. Whether this is true or not (and I suspect it may be) I do witness many people on a constant cycle of weight loss and weight gain. Many gain more fat each time they come back as the weight loss is too rapid – so muscle as well as fat is lost.

What we need is a holistic approach where the theory is accessible, makes sense and is easily followed, with exercise and lifestyle advice included. It ideally needs to elevate energy and vitality as well as aiding weight loss – so people start glowing with health and an increased sense of wellbeing.

Over the years I’ve been in practice, I’ve tried many things. The Hay Diet (food combining for health), the Blood Type Diet, leaving out dairy produce, then wheat, trying vegetarianism, and even a short spell as a vegan (if only for a week!!). I’ve done so predominantly for the desire to achieve optimum health and vitality. I have been very ill in the past and I intend to avoid being so again!

Over the last few years however, I’ve noticed a little roll of fat developing around my middle, some stiffness in my joints upon rising in the morning, and a reduction in energy levels. I believe there’s always something to help everyone – it’s just identifying the right course of action that’s the key!

So here’s the thing. I ve discovered something that REALLY works – quickly, easily and far more dramatically than anything else I’ve ever tried. A while ago I was recommended the recently published book “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf.  I’d heard murmurings regarding the “Hunter Gatherer” diet before – but this book explains the premise of the idea simply and very humorously. He suggests trying out his recommendations for 30 days and seeing for yourself if what he says is true. For me (and a vast number of other people, judging by the book sales), the results have been rather extraordinary.

The idea is surrounding results that have been obtained using forensic archaeology, and comparing Paleolithic Man (around for 120 thousand years) to the first agrarians (farmers) – Neolithic man – around for about 10 thousand years. It is the Neolithic man’s diet on which our modern Western diet is based.

The markers in the studies compared Paleo man’s health with the Neolithics, using 4 main comparisons: height and muscle mass, bone deformity, dental health and infant mortality. The hunter gatherers results won “hands down”. They were taller and more muscular, they had virtually no nutrition induced bone deformity, no dental caries and a very low infant mortality rate.

So, the concept is to avoid all grains, gluten and dairy, and include high levels of the right fats, low sugars, seasonal vegetables, fish, shellfish, meat, nuts, seeds and fruit. I’m still reading the book and hooting with laughter at the way he explains what we do wrong in the typical Western diet and lifestyle – and how we can put it right.

Here’s the thing. I gave the 30 days a go, whilst reading the book. In the first week my energy levels soared and the “middle age spread” receded. “Good grief”, I thought- that was quick! In the second week my eye sight improved, the “ring of fat around my middle” had almost gone – and I had two little bouts of the snuffles- as if my body was detoxing a bit. Or a lot – either way – it didn’t last long. By the third week my waist was fully back on track – my wrist watch was loose and my complexion shining with a plumped up glow. I’m able to do some writing in the evening again – which I’d stopped doing a few years ago due to mental fog and general tiredness.

Wow. So, to recap. My energy levels are 200% better than they’ve been in ages. I’ve lost excess weight and what I presume was some fluid retention, and my shape continues to “tighten and tone up”. My concentration levels have improved, I have no joint stiffness first thing in the morning or any time – unless I’ve physically thrashed myself on a gardening project!

This really is a book and a concept worth looking into – whether you are healthy or unwell, young or more mature in years, overweight or pretty average. Just try the 30 day challenge for yourself and see how easy it is.

Honestly – this is definitely worth trying. The 30 days went in a flash and I feel fabulous! So, why not give it a go – you must at least be a little curious?

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

New years resolutionsMany of us make New Year’s resolutions – resolving to lose weight, quit smoking, get fit, reduce alcohol, learn something new etc. Research shows, however, that only one in ten will actually achieve their goal and psychologists suggest that we are more likely to succeed if we apply the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goal to our resolutions. Whilst this is very good advice, I personally think that essential oils can also have a valuable role to play by altering our mind set from one of negativity to one of positivity, thereby making it easier for us to make the right choices and helping us keep our resolutions.

Let me explain what I mean… inhaling aromas of essential oils causes receptors within the olfactory system (the sensory system for the sense of smell) to send signals to the part of the brain known as the limbic brain. This part of the brain deals with both our emotions and memory. So, for example, smelling Cinnamon and Orange reminds me of Christmas, thus making me feel happy, while Frankincense reminds me of meditation, inducing feelings of calmness and peace. Sometimes, we can feel rather apathetic towards our goals and it can be a challenge to stay motivated. Some aromatherapy essential oils are known for their positive effect on our emotions. For example, certain oils can reduce apathy resulting in increased motivation which helps us stay on target, whilst other oils can stimulate us, which can be useful for instance when learning something new.

The table below provides a comprehensive list of essential oils that can be used to help change negative states of mind into more helpful positive states.

EmotionTop notesMiddle notesBase notes
ApathyPetitgrain

Geranium
Melissa
Rosemary
Jasmine
Mental exhaustion (fatigue)Palmarosa
Ravensara
Rosemary
Rosewood
Spearmint
Vetivert
Negative thoughtsBergamot
Clary Sage
Lavender
ProcrastinationCajuput
Grapefruit
Sandalwood
Self-criticalFrankincense
Sandalwood
Ylang Ylang
TensionBergamot
Clary Sage
Grapefruit
Sweet Orange
Petitgrain
Roman Chamomile
Geranium
Melissa
Rosewood
Benzoin
Frankincense
Neroli
Rose Otto
Sandalwood
Ylang Ylang
UndisciplinedBasilFrankincense

The oils can be used discretely throughout the day. For example, you may wish to simply pop a couple of drops onto a tissue or handkerchief, smelling as and when required, or you may choose to use an oil burner instead following, of course, manufacturers instructions. Please remember to check the oils selected are not contra-indicated for use though.

So, what is stopping you? Apply SMART goals to your New Year’s resolutions today, and remember to use essential oils to help you on your way. Make sure that this is the year that you achieve your goals!

Good luck!

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

Additional reading:-
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthychristmas/Pages/NewYearresolutions.aspx

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