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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.

stretch marksStretch marks are caused by skin tearing in the deep fibres due to over-stretching when there are periods of rapid weight gain, or during pregnancy. The scars show up as white or pink lines. They do fade with age and some forms of laser treatment are said to help remove the scarring.

Prevention, of course, is always better than cure! Make sure you have a diet rich in zinc – for renewal and repair. Turkey, oysters, eggs, almonds and peas are particularly rich in zinc. Vitamin C is important for so many things – from skin healing and boosting the complexion through to cancer prevention – so include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Essential fatty acids are also important too – so keep up those levels of oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds. Hydration is always a key factor with almost every metabolic process, and skin regeneration is no exception to the rule!

Aromatherapy oils can be key, both in assisting an improvement in the scarring, and preventing it in the first place.

To help prevent stretch marks forming during pregnancy – known as “Striae gravidarum” – massage belly, breasts and thighs (the most common areas to be affected) with a rich base oil mix for the first 3 months, without essential oils. Try 5ml Avocado oil, 5ml Rosehip Seed oil, 5ml Argan oil and 85ml Apricot Kernel oil. Then after the third month, if there are no problems, use the same base oil quantities with the following essential oils: 2 drops Neroli, 6 Frankincense, 6 Geranium and 10 Lavender.

If your skin already has a tendency towards dryness, or is easily marked, add 10ml of warmed Cocoa Butter to your blend and shake well before use. Always massage the blend in after a bath or shower when absorption of the oils and nutrients will be at its height.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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St Johns WortSt John’s Wort Oil (Hypericum perfortatum) is not strictly a base oil, but an infused oil, that is as much used by Medical Herbalists as it is by Aromatherapists. (Calendula and Carrot Oil are two other popular infused oils).

St John’s Wort is a perennial herb that typically grows wild – although it can be easily cultivated and grows prolifically once established. The infused oil is a lovely warm red colour – the ovate leaves being dotted with tiny red oil glands, which infuse the oil with the same colour.

The main properties of the oil are:

Anti-inflammatory:

Both for the skin on the external surface, and for nerve pain under the skin such as fibrositis and sciatica. It can help ease the inflammation of arthritis and rheumatism and is particularly useful for eczema and psoriasis.when combined at 50:50 dilution with Calendula Oil.

Eczema: try regular massage with 20ml Macadamia Nut Oil, 5ml Calendula Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil, 2 drops Yarrow essential oil, 2 German Chamomile and 6 Lavender.

Astringent:

Useful to help ease sunburn and bruises.

Sunburn: try 20ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil, 5ml Calendula Oil, 2 drops German Chamomile essential oil and 15 drops Lavender.

Antispasmodic:

It can be helpful for muscle spasm, strain and pain.

Muscular spasm/pain: 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil, 3 drops Black Spruce essential oil, 3 Plai, 1 Black Pepper and 8 Lavender.

Safety note: St John’s Wort is phototoxic- so should not be used immediately before direct exposure to sun.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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Black Spruce cropBlack Spruce essential oil (Picea mariana) has an exceptionally deep, resinous, rich aroma, with slightly smoky hints and a refreshingly cleansing aroma. It is distilled from the needles and twigs of the Spruce tree – that is native to North America and Canada. Black Spruce has been used for thousands of years – traditionally for respiratory complaints and rheumatic/arthritic conditions. Native Americans also smeared the resin liberally on their skin to help protect them from insect bites.

Note: Fresh essential oil of the Black Spruce tree is very safe and non-irritant/sensitising to use, however if the oil is older – it can become so. It is safest kept in the fridge where it can be used for up to a year – otherwise it is best used for vaporising only after 6 months.

The main uses of this oil are:

Emotionally:

Like many of the resinous essences, Black Spruce is calming, soothing, and helpful for stress, tension and anxiety, particularly when stress levels are persistently high. Try regular massage with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil, plus 4 drops Sweet Orange, 3 drops Black Spruce and 8 drops Lavender.

Spiritually:

This oil helps ground the energies to aid a state of calm, balanced inner peace. Vaporise 3 drops Black Spruce with 2 Frankincense and 5 Sweet Orange.

Physically:

For muscular aches and pains: Try an aromatic bath with 15 drops Moisturising Bath Milk plus 2 drops Black Spruce, 2 drops Vetivert and 6 drops Lavender.

For helping prevent asthma attacks: Vaporise 3 drops Black Spruce, 3 Vetivert and 5 Marjoram.

For helping ease coughs, colds and congestion: Try regular inhalations with 2 drops Plai, 3 Black Spruce and 4 drops Tea Tree.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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PainPain is something that all of us suffer from at some stage or another, and it can be a very useful communication tool! Yes – it’s uncomfortable by its very nature, but it’s our body’s way of signalling important factors that it needs us to listen to and preferably learn from. Obviously this is especially relevant if it’s long term, recurrent chronic pain – rather than labour pain, or discomfort from accident/injury.

I spend a great deal of my time in clinic, going through detailed medical history and lifestyle consultations to help people get to a fundamental understanding of what their symptoms mean, what their body is trying to tell them. Many get to the point where they’ve had all the health checks and everything has come back clear. Still their body is not happy! Once you’ve started to explore the root causes of the issues each person is experiencing – then you can work on a plan of action together. I always believe people recover – or improve their quality of life, if they can be involved in being part of their own solution.

Many people would like to try different forms of Natural Medicine to help resolve pain and discomfort, but they are not sure what therapy/therapies might be most relevant to their needs.

So, what do these pain signals mean and which therapies can you try? Often – it’s remarkably simple, but identifying the cause/s is the key to helping your body help itself:

Headache – possible causes, solutions and therapies to try:

  • Dehydration (drink more water)
  • Neck misalignment (Osteopathy)
  • A reaction to food your body doesn’t like – food intolerance/allergy (Applied Kinesiology)
  • Nutritional deficiencies – especially B Vitamins, Iron and Magnesium (Nutritional therapist)
  • A reaction to alcohol/excess caffeine
  • Liver congestion (Detox)
  • Thyroid issues (Medical test)
  • Muscular tension – especially in the back, neck/shoulders (Aromatherapy massage)
  • Eye strain (Optician)
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Anxiety/emotional tension. (Aromatherapy, CBT, Hypnotherapy/TFT)

Back Pain - possible causes, solutions and therapies to try:

  • Spinal misalignment (Osteopathy)
  • Muscular tension (Aromatherapy/Acupuncture/Reiki)
  • Poor posture (Alexander Technique/increased exercise regime)
  • Injury (Depends on the type of injury!)
  • Anxiety/emotional tension (Aromatherapy, CBT, Hypnotherapy/TFT, Reiki)
  • Muscle Spasm (Aromatherapy Bath/Acupuncture)
  • Arthritis (Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture/Aromatherapy/Nutritional Therapy)
  • Nerve damage/inflammation (Acupuncture/Tens Machine/Aromatherapy)

Digestive Pain – possible causes, solutions and therapies to try:

  • Recurrent constipation (Dietary change – Probiotics/Nutritional therapy/Relaxation therapies such as Aromatherapy/ Chinese Medicine/Western Herbal Medicine)
  • Recurrent diarrhoea (Dietary change – Probiotics/Nutritional therapy/Relaxation therapies such as Aromatherapy/Chinese Medicine/Western Herbal Medicine)
  • Period problems (Acupuncture/Chinese/Western Herbal Medicine)
  • Stress/tension/anxiety (Relaxation therapies such as Aromatherapy, Hypnotherapy, Reiki, Reflexology)
  • IBS “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (Dietary change – Probiotics/Nutritional Therapy/Slippery Elm/Relaxation Therapies such as Aromatherapy – if stress related – which is usually the case)
  • Trapped wind – eat more slowly –  could be allergy/food intolerance issues (Nutritional Medicine)

Pain and inflammation almost always goes hand in hand. Inflammation is caused by injury or acidity – and always causes degeneration and or pain. Almost all ageing and degenerative disease is caused by acid levels increasing – leading to the breakdown of cellular activity or the very cell structure itself, as well as our normal, healthy metabolic processes.

Whilst many therapies – including aromatherapy – can present effective therapeutic options – the fundamental key to reducing pain and inflammation is almost always to reduce acidity in your body. Our normal healthy pH levels internally are around pH 7. So what causes an increase in these pH levels – and why is it so common?

Acidity levels typically increase due to the following:

  • High levels of stress
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Poor diet (high levels of refined foods)
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcohol
  • Anxiety/fear/shock/distress
  • Dehydration
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Lack of exercise
  • Candida albicans
  • Certain nutritional deficiencies.
  • Certain forms of medication

So – how can we create a lifestyle that helps us reduce those acid levels?

Here’s the typical type of plan – that forms the basis of most people’s “Plan Of Action” – to help regeneration, revitalisation and the reduction of pain and inflammation. Obviously this basic plan would then be orientated around each individual’s specific conditions.

  • Rehydration – the quickest way to reduce the concentration of acidity if you don’t drink enough – or drink too much alcohol /caffeine – try 1.5 litres of warm water plus freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • Herb teas- such as Peppermint, Chamomile, Fennel and Nettle will help reduce inflammation and increase detoxification.
  • If your digestive system is inflamed, a few weeks – 1 month on Slippery Elm – which naturally and gently lines the gut – taken 20 mins before eating (BioCare’s excellent “Slippery Elm Complex” is in capsule form and easier to take than the powder) A dose of Pro-biotics is often indicated too – to help repopulate the intestinal flora that may be out of balance following antibiotics, high stress or a poor diet.
  • Relaxation therapies – especially aromatherapy – can help ease the acidity levels by calming the body and mind. Oils that soothe the senses and reduce inflammation are indicated – such as Lavender, Neroli, Yarrow, German and Roman Chamomile, Peppermint, Fennel, Marjoram, Clary Sage, Plai, Black Spruce and Frankincense. Try regular massage and aromatherapy baths with the inclusion of Dead Sea Salt, and Moisturising Cream with the appropriate oils for specific complaints.
  • Exercise – and not always fast and furious! Many of those who suffer from pain and inflammation need to access exercise regimes that are about increasing flexibility and the capacity to relax. These could include swimming/aqua aerobics, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga and meditation.
  • A gentle detox diet – with more “Clean Eating” and less congestive sludge! The body thrives on food that it can digest easily and that provides the energy and nutrients that are easy to access. For most of us – this is whole food – a diet low in carbohydrates and sugars – and high in fresh vegetables, fruit and clean proteins – such as lean meat (game is excellent), fish, nuts and seeds.

Specific treatment programmes can then also be included in the plan – according to what type of pain and inflammation you are experiencing. A check with your GP is always advisable in the beginning, but then for long term chronic conditions, medication/surgery should be an absolutely last resort – after natural, more holistic approaches have been tried first – as you will often manage to resolve the issues proactively, with a little help from nature’s treasure trove!

If you do need natural pain killers beyond Essential Oils, Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Herbs and Tens Machines – there is a relatively new range of natural painkillers sold by nutritional companies. One such supplement is called “Nurocyte” – produced by “Nutrigold” – an effective painkiller based on natural hop alpha acid extract. Most natural pain killers may take a little longer to work – but can still provide good pain control – without the same side-effects of many drug based medications.

Certain nutrient based supplements can also be helpful as a painkillers, especially if there’s a deficiency – Magnesium can be one of them – but seek advice of a Nutritional Therapist first, as it often needs to be taken in conjunction with Calcium in order to create the right action.

Safety note: Always remember to check the contra-indications of herb/nutrient based supplements as well as drug based medication.

Recommended aromatherapy recipes:

Headaches (stress):
Take 3 drops Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
Drink 2 glasses of warm water with fresh lemon juice.
Massage the scalp with your finger tips to encourage blood supply to the surface.
Massage back of neck, temples and jawline with 50ml Moisturising Cream, 2 drops Neroli, 1 Peppermint, 3 Plai and 15 Lavender.

Muscular pain from stress related tension:
Warm aromatic bath with 1 cup Dead Sea Salt plus 15ml Moisturising Bath Milk with 2 drops Neroli, 4 Marjoram, 2 Plai and 2 Roman Chamomile. Following bath, massage affected area with 20ml Sweet Almond Oil (warm oil before using ) plus 3 drops Frankincense, 3 Black Spruce, 1 Roman Chamomile and 5 Lavender.

Muscular pain/stiffness from physical exertion:
Following a shower in which you alternate the temperatures to boost the circulation, use massage oil with 25ml Sweet Almond Oil and 5ml Argan Oil, plus 3 drops Rosemary, 3 Black Spruce, 5 Marjoram and 5 Lavender.

Arthritic pain (Osteo-arthritis):
Following a shower with alternating temperatures, or a cool compress, massage this gel into affected joints: 20ml Aloe Vera & Seaweed Gel, 5ml Argan Oil, 5ml Rosehip Seed Oil, 2 drops Yarrow, 2 Plai, 1 Peppermint, 4 Black Spruce and 15 Lavender.

Period pain (Lower back/abdominal aches and pains):
Try gentle stretching exercise and a warm shower or bath with 15ml Bath & Shower Gel, 3 drops Marjoram, 3 Clary Sage and 3 Geranium. Make up the following massage blend: 15ml Grapeseed Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil, 2 drops Plai, 4 Clary Sage and 4 Marjoram. Massage in clockwise rotations around abdomen and into the lower back and upper buttock areas.
Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea or take herbal capsules.

IBS Pain (Abdomen)
Take Slippery Elm Complex (BioCare) 20 mins before eating if stomach is inflamed (i.e. during a period of sensitivity) and drink Peppermint Tea immediately after a meal. Consider a month’s course of Bio-acidophilus Forte (BioCare) to help re-balance intestinal flora. If constipation is recurrent (typically in between spates of diarrhoea ) take 1-2 pieces of liquorice daily to help maintain regular bowel movements. When pain occurs, try a warm hot water bottle on abdomen, or a warm Lavender compress (1 litre hot water, 20 drops Lavender – place muslin in bowl, squeeze out excess water and place on lower abdomen. Reapply once muslin cools down). Massage tummy in clockwise rotations with warm oil: 20ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml Argan Oil, 5ml St John’s Wort Oil plus 1 drops Plai, 5 Marjoram, 5 Lavender, 4 Sweet Orange and 2 Peppermint.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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RavensaraIt’s hard to believe that autumn is now upon us. The children are back at school, students are returning to university and most people are now busy back at work after the summer break. So, how can we cope with trying to keep all of the balls in the air, balancing family life with work commitments, without becoming overwhelmed? While there is an array of essential oils noted for being calming, relaxing and alleviating emotional tension, I agree with Schnaubelt (1995), who suggests that Ravensara aromatica is useful for both mental and physical purposes, and I choose it over other oils for both mental and physical tension.

Ravensara is part of the Lauraceae family. It’s native to Madagascar, and the oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves and twigs. According to Caddy (1997) the essential oil is composed of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, oxides, esters, and alcohols. As you may be aware esters are anti-inflammatory and possess calming and uplifting properties which makes them balancing especially to the nervous system. Monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes have slightly analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties respectively, alcohols are said to have anti-viral, anti-bactericidal, stimulating and immune-stimulant properties, whilst oxides are mucolytic. It is worth pointing out that there are at least 18% of unidentified chemical constituents in the oil (Caddy, 1997); it is, however, regarded a safe essential oil, being non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitising, although some do suggest that it should not be used in pregnancy. The oil is said to have a slightly medicinal, slightly sweet with a fruity hint aroma and ranges from being clear in colour to having a tinge of yellow.

It is claimed that the oil, having antiseptic, antiviral and expectorant properties, can be used to boost the immune system and be a preventative measure against colds and viral infections. We know that stress, whether physical, emotional or mental can lower our immune system, so Ravensara aromatica is definitely a good choice for the home care kit from this perspective alone.

So, how can we use it for optimum results? This essential oil is stimulating and energising, so I would suggest using it in a burner (with an electric source rather than candle for safety reasons) in the work environment – hopefully inhaling the oil will increase productivity and reduce mental stress levels generally! In my opinion the oil has a very pleasant aroma, and I have used it successfully and with good feedback from both male and female clients alike. At home, I would recommend using the oil in the morning after showering. Simply blend up to five drops into 10ml of carrier oil and apply it to your skin. Ravensara aromatica blends particularly well with Bergamot, Black Pepper, Clary Sage, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Marjoram, Rosemary and Sandalwood. You could blend the oil with up to two of these oils thereby creating a synergistic blend that helps to both boost your immune system and alleviate mental tension.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Ravensara aromatica. I would definitely recommend buying a bottle if you don’t already have one in your kit. Next month I’m going to talk about how essential oils and carrier oils can be used in the run-up to Christmas.

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

References:
Caddy, R. (1997) Aromatherapy, Essential Oils in Colour, Caddy Classic Profiles. Surrey: Amberwood Publishing Ltd
Schnaubelt, K. (1995) Advanced Aromatherapy, Canada, Healing Art Press

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facial steamingInhalations are typically recommended as an excellent way to relieve congestion and stimulate the immune system. This most effective way of getting essential oils into the bloodstream can however be used much more extensively. Whilst essential oils are highly valued for their extraordinary medicinal and antiseptic properties when it comes to congested infections, they are also extremely effective as mood enhancers, antidepressants, and relaxants. It is my suggestion therefore that inhalations should be used much more consistently to elevate the mood and to help you wind down at the end of a stressful or challenging day.

Obviously you can add essential oils to your bath, footbath, moisturising cream or you can vaporise them in your bedroom – all of which are useful methods when it comes to lifting your emotions. Inhalations however offer an extraordinarily efficient and quick way of absorbing the essential oils into your bloodstream, at the same time as stimulating the olfactory system – which is why they are so useful as an emotional tonic.

By breathing in the therapeutic steam during an inhalation, the essential oil is absorbed directly into the blood stream via the blood rich lining of the lungs. The warming nature of the steam is often extremely comforting when emotions are low, and the fact that you are breathing in steam can also encourage breathing rate to lengthen – some people breathe too quickly when stressed which then creates a CO2 and O2 imbalance which adds further to the problem.

Another useful aspect of inhalations is, of course, for facial steaming. The action of the heat and the oils themselves can help stimulate the pores to release blockages (spots/blackheads) and reduce excess oil. Steam facials can also give normal skin a really great complexion boost, particularly before a big night out, and especially if cold water is splashed on the face afterwards. The warm encourages the blood flow to the surface – the cold water after the heat then further stimulates the circulation – to give a wonderful healthy glow. The only main contra-indication here is for those suffering from broken veins.

To help you get the most out of steam inhalations I’ve put together a range of useful blends for you to try:

Steam Inhalation for Colds & Coughs:
Take a bowl of hot water, add 4 drops Tea Tree, 1 Eucalyptus and 2 Thyme. Lean over bowl, place a towel over the head and inhale, breathing normally through the nose and mouth. Remember to have a box of tissues handy. 5 – 10 minutes duration is perfect.

Steam Inhalation for Excess Catarrhal Congestion:
As above – but use 4 drops Tea Tree, 2 Lemon and 4 Frankincense.

Steam Facial For Oily Skin (Blackheads):
As above, but use 4 drops Lavender, 3 Cypress and 3 Juniper. Splash skin with cold water when finished. For very oily/congested skin conditions gently exfoliate before the steam facial – this will remove the top layer of congestion and aid deep pore cleansing.

Steam Facial For Combination Skin (Spots):
As above, but using 4 drops Geranium, 3 Tea Tree and 2 Cypress. Pop a drop of Tea Tree onto a cotton bud and dab on to the tip of spots before you start – this will help to draw out the infection. Avoid if your skin is sensitive.

Steam Inhalation for Anxiety:
Follow the method above but remember to select your favourite mood enhancing essential oils – try 5 drops Bergamot, 2 Neroli and 2 Benzoin.

Steam Inhalations for Stress/Depression:
As above, but try 3 Ylang Ylang, 4 Geranium and 2 Rose.

Whatever you are using them for – remember that splashing the face with cold water afterwards helps to close up the pores that have been encouraged to open up by the steam. Always use your hot water with care – inhalations should never be used around small children, for instance. Remember the water in your bowl should be scalding hot in order for the steam to rise – so place your bowl on a mat or newspaper to avoid marking your table.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

Blog Disclaimer

summers endSo, it’s official – the summer holiday season is coming to an end. Some of us will be dreading the prospect of returning to work after a summer break, and many parents will, no doubt, be flat out with last minute preparations for the start of school or university. As ever, we’ve put together some top tips to help you and your family get through this potentially challenging time!

Post Holiday Blues:

So many of us spend so long looking forwards to getting away – it can seem there’s little to look forward to when returning home. Instead of feeling that surge of energy and vitality upon our return, we can end up feeling rather sad and deflated. Firstly, to help put a more positive spin on these feelings, try and remember that many people haven’t been able to get away for a holiday since the recession struck! I firmly believe that it is possible to train your mind into creating a positive thought for every negative. So, for instance if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of washing you have to do when you get back from your hols just think “thank goodness I have a washing machine and don’t have to do it by hand!”.

Having proper rest on your holiday is so good for boosting your immunity, giving your mind a chance to “reboot”, and for enjoying quality family time that builds those childhood memories. We often have such a wonderful time we can feel incredibly sad that we’re back to reality – perhaps for another year until the next holiday comes around. If this is the case I often teach my clients a useful NLP technique:-

Relax, go back in time – and focus on the favourite part of your holiday. Remember who was there, what you/they were wearing, how the sun felt on your face – building up all the submodalities (details) of what you remember until it feels as though you are there all over again. Then pull those powerfully positive feelings back into the present – enabling yourself to feel that joy all over again in the present. Developing this technique can leave little space internally for sadness or regret – and can turbo charge your day into positivity once again!

Of course there are also lots of other fabulous tips to get you back “on track”:

  • When you’ve had a “hot holiday” – one of the reasons you feel great in the sun is that your body is able to create high levels of Vitamin D – as long as you havn’t over done the sun block. Coming back to late Summer may mean your mood lowers due to a huge drop in Vitamin D. Try BioCare Vitamin D Bio Emulsion Drops – 1-5 drops daily. This will also help boost your immunity too.
  • Vaporise those uplifting essential oils to maintain your sunshine mood – I love to diffuse 6 drops Bergamot, 2 Neroli and 4 Geranium if I need a lift.
  • Aromatherapy baths to the rescue! Reward the post holiday work load by luxuriating in this lovely blend: 15ml Bath Milk, 4 drops Ylang Ylang, 4 Bergamot and 4 Geranium. you can also add 1 cup of Dead Sea Salt if your body is feeling a bit tired and achey.
  • Always remember those Bach Flower Remedies. If you’re really down there’s always Rescue Remedy, and Walnut is excellent for adjustment to any sort of change.

Back To School Top Tips: 

It’s natural for children to feel apprehensive when they start or change schools, but nervous or under-confident children can suffer more trepidation than others at this time. Remember children take so much from you – they absorb your feelings and the atmosphere at home like a sponge. The more relaxed and positively you frame all they have to look forwards to – the easier the transition will be. For very nervous children it can be helpful to find a few other children who might be about to start at the new school too – especially if you are new to the area or the child isn’t starting with old classmates or siblings. Other pointers that could be useful:

  • Rescue Remedy now comes in sweets – a perfect little treat for them that is great for reducing anxiety.
  • If your young child has a favourite little toy or “Lucky Mascot” – dab a few drops of Neroli, Lavender or Roman Chamomile essential oil (if they like the scent) to help calm nerves and remind them of home.
  • Tell them all the positive stories you can remember about great things you enjoyed when you went “up” into your new school when you were their age.
  • Remember most children are highly adaptable – and they will probably come home after their first day with all sorts of smiles and excitement to relay back to you!
  • Look out for books about “starting a new school” to help your child know a little of what to expect – ideal preparation which can really help to reduce concerns.
  • Remember children like to “blend in” when they move “up” into a larger school. Make sure they have all the uniform they need so they don’t feel the odd one out. This doesn’t have to “break the bank” as most schools have a second hand department that can be a huge help!
  • Give your child something to look forwards to that you could do after their first day or at the weekend – to help over-lay the anxiety they feel and help enable them to “future project”, a useful technique to begin to develop.
  • Help your child relax the night before with a soothing aromatherapy bath – try 15ml Bath Milk with 4 Lavender, 2 Roman Chamomile and 1 Neroli.
  • Night-time treat – give them a massage before bed to help them (and you) feel lovely and peaceful. Try a little foot rub and a clockwise tummy massage to help relax that emotional centre – the solar plexus. Use 10ml Grapeseed Oil with 4 drops Lavender, 1 Roman Chamomile and 1 Neroli.

The “All Natural” Uni Survival Kit:

Late nights, student parties and a typical unhealthy diet can all take their toll on your child’s health and wellbeing! To help, send them away prepared with a fabulous all natural ‘Student Survival Kit’ to help them if they need it (even though they’ll probably strenuously deny the very possibility that they need anything you might have to offer at this point in time!)

  • BioCares Travel Guard – a probiotic formulation that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge – to help boost immunity and ease tummy troubles if they occur.
  • BioCares “Refresh” – a powder blend in sachets – to help recover from those heavy nights out (hangovers) and also a tonic following a bout of ill health. Contains B Vitamins, Minerals and Vitamin C!
  • An Aromatherapy Kit. Equip them with a basic supply of 9 of the most versatile essential oils in a little Pine Storage Box – easy to pack and store and looks attractive on a shelf. I suggest Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Sweet Orange, Lemon, Lime, Bergamot, 5% Neroli and Frankincense/Sandalwood. Something for every eventuality. If they’ve not used the oils regularly include a little recipe list on a card in the top of the box. A small bottle of Carrier Oil and fragrance free Bath & Shower Gel would also be a useful addition and maybe even an Aroma Stone Diffuser if budget allows!
  • Rescue Remedy drops for any disasters or down days.
  • Arnica Cream and Arnica pills, for shock, bruises and bangs!
  • A range of comforting night-time herb teas, a coffee substitute such as “No Caff” and a good organic hot chocolate. To help them wind down when they finally want to, after those first few weeks. Celestial Seasons Sleepy Time is universally liked, or Chamomile/Valerian tea.
  • Finally if you can – fold up an envelope somewhere safe with an emergency £20 note – it maybe a shock how much everything costs when they’re out there “fully independent” for the first time!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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JojobaAccurately speaking, Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis) is a wax not an oil – even though it acts like any other base oil. On a molecular level, it is a chain of mono – unsaturated liquid wax esters. It is a golden colour when in its pure unprocessed form, and totally clear and colourless when processed. It is extracted from the seeds of the plant, which is indigenous to the USA and Mexico, however most commercial farms are now in Israel and Argentina.

Jojoba’s properties were discovered in the 1970s, when the use of squalene “harvested” from Sperm Whales, was banned. It has almost identical properties to squalene and therefore became an important replacement ingredient in cosmetic formulations.

Benefits of Jojoba

  • Unlike most vegetable base oils, it does not contain triglycerides, so it does not go off (oxidize) easily.
  • Jojoba oil is extremely similar – both chemically and molecularly – to the sebum oil that is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin.
  • It is great for sensitive skins, being hypo-allergenic and non irritant , so it can even be safely used around the eyes and mucus membranes.
  • It is light, highly penetrative and does not clog the pores of the skin.
  • It is a valuable addition to massage blends – typically at 10% – as it creates excellent “slippage”.
  • It is highly nourishing to the skin, full of nutrients such as protein, minerals, and Vitamin E.
  • Jojoba oil contains antioxidants that help protect your skin from free radical damage.
  • Surprisingly, this oil also contains antibacterial agents which have an antibacterial and fungicidal action – killing Candida albicans (which can cause thrush).
  • The nutrients and various constituents also create an anti-inflammatory action – so this oil is a fabulous addition to massage blends for eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, dry skin and skin that is sun damaged.

Blends using Jojoba

Dandruff Scalp Mask:

Combine 2 tbsp of Jojoba Oil, 2 tbsp Argan Oil, 6 drops Carrot Seed essential oil, 6 Lavender, 4 Tea Tree and 2 Rosemary. Massage into the scalp and leave for an hour with hair wrapped up in shower cap. Shampoo and condition as normal.

Eczema Treatment Oil:

Mix 20ml Grapeseed Oil, 10ml Jojoba, 3 drops German Chamomile, 3 Yarrow and 6 Lavender. Massage into the skin morning and evening, especially after a bath or shower to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Make-up Remover:

Pour a little Jojoba Oil into the palm of your hand and massage it into your face and around the eyes, being careful not to get it into your eyes. Remove with facial tissues and then splash off residue with cold water. Even takes off stubborn mascara, and is great for the skin – without all of the harsh detergent chemicals often present in make-up removers.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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rosemary essential oilAlongside Lavender and Tea Tree, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is probably one of the most widely used and well recognised essential oils in the aromatherapy repertoire. Its fresh, clean, medicinal, herbal aroma is unmistakable, and just inhaling the oil is enough to clear the head and refresh the senses.

It has been used for many thousands of years, growing freely throughout Europe, especially happy in coastal areas and originating off the Mediterranean coast. It was one of the first plants to be used medicinally, in cooking, and in religious practises, so much so it was often referred to as the “incense bush” in ancient times. The Greeks burnt it in their shrines, the Romans revered it too, and the Ancient Egyptians used it in ceremonial practises, medicine and embalming.

Rosemary essential oil is fundamentally a stimulant and its uses centre around 4 main areas:

  1. The Nervous system: Inhaling Rosemary oil direct from the bottle helps restore mental clarity and concentration – and is excellent for tiredness and poor memory linked to fatigue. It has such a stimulant action on mental activity that it is best avoided for those with epilepsy – and also during pregnancy. Deigo conducted a study in 1998 on both Rosemary and Lavender, which concluded that Rosemary promoted alertness and increased mental accuracy and speed during maths tests.
  2. Respiratory congestion: Using Rosemary for catarrhal congestion that occurs during coughs and colds and flu is particularly effective – and it also helps boost the immune response to the bacterium or virus that is presenting.
  3. Fatigue: For exhaustion and debility following ill health this oil has a fabulous tonic effect – helping ease tension and stress that can so often create tiredness, by stimulating mood and focusing the mind. Bringing the blood up to the surface and increasing the blood and lymph helps ease apathy and restore vitality. Rosemary has a particularly positive effect on the liver, heart and gall bladder and is reputedly helpful to lower cholesterol alongside appropriate dietary changes.
  4. Pain Relief: For pain associated with muscular stiffness following exercise and exertion Rosemary is highly prized, especially when combined with Lavender and Marjoram in baths, massage oils and compresses. It can also be a useful addition (at 1% dilution) to German Chamomile and Clary Sage for arthritis and rheumatism, to help stimulate the body’s ability to remove inflammation and congestion in the joints.

Aromatherapy blends using Rosemary Essential Oil

Vaporising blend for energy and concentration for the office or during study: 2 drops Peppermint, 4 Lime and 3 Rosemary. Use in an Aromatherapy Diffuser and refresh the oils regularly!

Inhalation for coughs and colds: 3 drops Rosemary, 3 Tea Tree and 3 Bergamot. Add the oils to a bowl/sink of steaming water, lean over the bowl, place a towel over your head and breathe through the nose and mouth to inhale the therapeutic vapours.

Post-exercise massage blend: 30ml Sweet Almond Oil, 4 drops Rosemary, 6 Lavender, 4 Marjoram and 1 German Chamomile.

Massage blend for convalescent fatigue: 25ml Sweet Almond Oil, 5ml Argan Oil, 4 drops Rosemary, 6 Bergamot, 3 Geranium and 2 Neroli.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christine Fisk
Consultant Aromatherapist

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

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