Category Archives: Essential Oils & Aromatherapy

Allergies and Essential Oils

Over the last 50 years, the rise in prevalence of allergic diseases and disorders has continued in the industrialized world. Hay Fever and what’s behind the unpleasant seasonal allergy symptoms we all know so well, develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment.allergic diseases

According to The New England Journal of Medicine, 40 to 60 million Americans today are affected by allergic rhinitis and the numbers continue to grow, especially in children. When left untreated, allergies can cause blocked and runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and an impaired sense of smell.

People who suffer from allergies are often told to avoid triggers, but that is nearly impossible when the seasons are changing. Thankfully, essential oils serve as a natural and safe way to treat the symptoms of allergies and boost our immune systems.  More than the substances themselves, it is our body’s reaction to them that decides the occurrence and severity of allergies. The release of histamines by the body is what triggers these reactions. Antihistamines that counteract the histamines are the first line of treatment against allergies.

 How Can Essential Oils Fight Allergies?

One of the most amazing benefits of essential oils is their ability to fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Essential oils for allergies will help to detoxify the body and fight infections, bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and harmful toxins. They can reduce the body’s susceptibility to outside sources and reduce the overreaction of the immune system when it is faced with a harmless intruder.

Top 3 Essential Oils for Allergies

  1. Peppermint Oil

Inhaling diffused peppermint oil can oftentimes immediately unclog the sinuses and offer relief to scratchy throats. Peppermint acts as an expectorant and provides relief for allergies, as well as colds, coughs, sinusitis, asthma and bronchitis. It has the power to discharge phlegm and reduce inflammation — a leading cause of allergic reactions.

Uses: Diffuse five drops of peppermint essential oil at home to unclog sinuses and treat a scratchy throat. This will also help to relax the nasal muscles, enabling the body to clear out mucus and allergens like pollen. Peppermint tea or fresh mint added to a smoothie can also help. Peppermint oil can also be applied topically to the chest, back of neck and temples – always dilute peppermint with carrier oil before topical application.

  1. Eucalyptus Oil

eucalyptus-essential-oil-usesEucalyptus oil opens up the lungs and sinuses, thereby improving circulation and reducing symptoms of allergies. Studies have shown that it produces a cold sensation in the nose that helps to improve airflow. It contains citronellal, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; it also works as an expectorant, helping to cleanse the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that are acting as allergens.

Uses: To treat respiratory issues associated with allergies, diffuse five drops of eucalyptus at home or apply it topically in carrier oil to the chest and temples. To clear the nasal passages and relieve congestion, pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and add 1–2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Then place a towel over your head and inhale deeply for 5–10 minutes.

  1. Lemon Oil

Lemon oil supports lymphatic system drainage and helps with overcoming respiratory conditions. Studies have shown that lemon essential oil inhibits the growth of bacteria and boosts the immune system. When diffused at home, lemon oil can kill bacteria and eliminate allergy triggers in the air.Lemon Oil

Lemon essential oil can also be used to disinfect your home, without depending on alcohol or bleach. It will remove bacteria and pollutants from your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom — reducing the triggers inside of your home and keeping the air clean for you and your family.

Uses: Add lemon oil to your laundry detergent, mix a couple of drops with water and spray it on your couches, sheets, curtains and carpets.  Adding fresh squeezed lemon to water also helps with pH balance. Lemon water improves immune function and detoxifies the body. It stimulates the liver and flushes out toxins that can lead to inflammation and an over reactive immune system. Lemon water also stimulates white blood cell production, which is vital for immune system function because it helps to protect the body.

Many more essential oils contain anti-inflammatory properties and work like antihistamines. So the next time you feel a tickling in the nose or itching of the skin or eyes, turn to your essential oil stash for relief.

General: As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted, in eyes or mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Mother Nature’s Medicine Chest – Lavender

The surging popularity of essential oils and aromatherapy may seem like a New Age trend, but they’ve actually been around for centuries. They are natural remedies with incredible power and there are many essential oil resources online giving worrisome blanket advice about their use. Because of the strength of essential oils, you should always be cautious of over-using them.

In most cases, essential oils should not be used undiluted on the skin. Due to the small molecular size of essential oils, they can penetrate the skin easily and enter the bloodstream. As a general rule, essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil like jojoba  or grapeseed, 3-5 drops of essential oils per teaspoon of carrier oil. Undiluted use can cause irritation or an allergic reaction in some people, and can cause a permanent sensitivity to certain oils after using it on broken skin. Some, like lavender, rose and chamomile are typically considered safe for undiluted skin use.

This isn’t to say essential oils should not be used, but they should be used carefully, with proper education and in safe amounts. Let’s take a look at ever-popular Lavender in this blog.

 LAVENDER OILLavenderEssentialOil

Imagine a flower being able to calm your nerves, help reduce inflammation and swelling, promote faster healing for minor burns, decrease muscle pain, alleviate insomnia, and work as a natural bug repellant? That purple colored flower named lavender, which is derived from the Latin word lavera meaning “to wash”, is one of the most versatile essential oils the plant kingdom has to offer.

 Types of Lavender:
Lavandula angustifolia is the most common type of lavender and is referred to as true lavender. Any true lavender will have the botanical name of “lavandula” as the prefix. (There are up to 39 different species, including lavandula officinalis and lavandula vera, yet they will all be simply lavender). The reason the “true” lavandula angustifolia genus is so popular is due to the low rate of camphor, less than one percent, it retains after distillation. This lends the essential oil a strong floral aroma, but it also makes it quite effective in aromatherapy usage, especially in accelerating the healing of minor burns. Lavandin, (also known as Dutch lavender), yields a similar essential oil, but with higher levels of terpenes including camphor, which add a sharper overtone to the fragrance. Camphor is a chemical constituent that you don’t want near a burn, and other versions of lavender,  which can contain up to 8% camphor—are not effective for soothing delicate skin tissue.

 My Favorite Uses for Lavender:
Bath soak ~ All you need is approximately 10 drops in your bathtub of warm to hot water and you should find yourself relaxing.
Diffuser ~ Add a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser. Lavender will fill the room with its soothing floral aroma and relaxation should follow.
Sachet ~ Add dried lavender buds to a small muslin bag and store in your drawers/cupboards, and especially where linen is stored. This method also works well as a natural bug repellent if you hang a scented lavender sachet in your closet(s) on a hanger.

General: As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted, in eyes or mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier.

An Affair to Remember – with Grapefruit?

I have been in love with all things grapefruit since my childhood, so we are talking some 58 years plus here. Grapefruit in the morning for breakfast was my absolute favorite. Keep your Cocoa Puffs, Rice Krispies and Cap’n Crunch, your bacon and sausages and waffles and pancakes and give me the naked grapefruit sliced in half or cut into sections. It was, and still is, the best way to start my day. Oh, and back then, a bit of sugar sprinkled on top was magical. Today, I like it “au naturale”. GrapefruitBreakfast

Fresh or canned fruit was pretty much it when wanting the tangy twist of citrus on your taste buds, except for Fresca, Squirt and 50/50 sodas. Today you can find grapefruit in beer, vodka, sparkling water, wine coolers, lotions, body washes, facial care and bath salts. People are even grilling grapefruits! Why has it become so popular you ask?  Well, I think it’s because the scent and properties of grapefruit have multiple benefits. It brings out the inner child and calms frustration and is a wonderful essential oil to use in body and hair care products. Grapefruits support clear, healthy skin can help to lower our risk for many diseases and conditions and may even help with weight loss as part of an overall healthy and varied diet.

Research suggests that inhaling grapefruit oil or using it for aromatherapy within your home can help turn on relaxation responses within the brain and even lower your blood pressure naturally. Inhaling grapefruit vapors can quickly and directly transmit messages to your brain region involved in controlling emotional responses. On this I wholeheartedly agree!

Because cravings — especially for sugar, salt, fats and carbs — are closely related to stressful feelings, grapefruit can help minimize emotional eating. But according to study findings, the smell of grapefruit oil has even more powerful effects when it comes to fat-burning responses within the brain. Researchers from the Nagata University School of Medicine in Japan found that grapefruit has a refreshing and exciting effect when inhaled, which suggests an activation of sympathetic nerve activity that helps control body weight. And who doesn’t LOVE that aspect of Grapefruit.

Thanks to this Love Affair I have – I use Grapefruit EOGrapefruitEssential Oil in a lot of the products I make for my company. The essential oil derived from grapefruit is an incredible addition to many applications. My favorites are in shampoos, body washes, deodorants and hydrating body sprays. I personally choose to use these products year-round because the scent and benefits are so uplifting. My customers seem to think so too, I am constantly making new batches of those products bi-weekly!

If you are interested in making some of your own homemade products using Grapefruit Essential Oil please refer to these guidelines.  Grapefruit oil is very concentrated and should be diluted before use. Carrier oils like almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are effective choices. While grapefruit oil has a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status, it should not be taken internally without the advice or supervision of an experienced practitioner or health professional. The citrus oil may also cause allergic reaction when applied topically. To be sure, have a skin patch test before use – apply a drop to a small area and observe if a reaction appears.

Some of my favorite uses for Grapefruit Essential Oil:
Diffuser ~ Add a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser when inhaled, grapefruit oil can help curb hangovers, headaches, mental fatigue, and depression.
Bath soak – .All you need is approximately 10 drops in your bathtub of warm to hot water and you should find some relief for muscle and joint pain, menstrual cramps, and headaches.
Air freshener and deodorizer – Its fragrance is similar to citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. It can eliminate unpleasant odors in kitchens and bathrooms.

Massage – Use a 5% dilution in carrier oil for massage to relieve menstrual cramps. This can also work in relieving headache, muscle pain, and arthritis.

Try some grapefruits – in whatever form you choose – you will feel the joy!

Botanical Skincare Alternatives

My grandmother always taught me, if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. It’s good advice and we all know it is wise to heed the advice of our elders. However, not all skin care practices of yesteryear were good for our skin. If you are not familiar with some of the strange and dangerous cosmetic habits of our earliest ancestors, here are a few frightening examples: arsenic was a common ingredient in face powders, copper or lead was used to color the eyes, and face masks used by the Greeks to ‘improve’ skin condition  were lead-based.

There has been a big push for natural health, natural cosmetics and education about ingredients like the 2 P’s, parabens and phthalates. But how can you really know how safe so-called natural products really are?  As you may have heard from many in the natural beauty community, our skin is one big sponge and everything we spray, apply, bath or shower with makes its way into our system.

Botanicals
Botanicals

So, what’s a person to do? You can gather up all the beauty, bath and body products you currently use and run the ingredients through a database set up by the Environmental Working Group called the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. It will tell you the safety level of each ingredient on a scale of 1-10. Anything above a 5 is circumspect.

Or you can switch to skin-care products with plant-based ingredients that do more than just smell nice or look pretty. Herbs and botanicals have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal and dermatological properties, and they’re only getting more popular. These products are usually high in antioxidants, since plants are constantly exposed to sunlight and must build up defenses against the harmful ultraviolet rays that come with it. In addition, many are also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. To reap some of the best-known benefits of herbs and botanicals, look for the following ingredients the next time you’re shopping for skin care.

Lavender
Lavender

LAVENDER: This sweet little flower is known for its relaxing scent — but when used in topical products like a face cleanser, it can also act as a soothing antiseptic.  It may help reduce inflammation, and is a good ingredient to look for if you have sensitive or irritated skin; it may also be helpful in treating burns or psoriasis.  If you can’t find lavender in a wash, you can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a spray bottle of distilled water and spritz your face with the solution after washing. A few drops in the bath are also a wonderful treat for your skin and your mind.

CALENDULA: Products containing petals of the calendula, or pot marigold, flower can help hydrate dry skin and clear up acne. The plant is also traditionally known for its wound-healing properties, as well, as it increases blood flow to the area where it’s applied; this makes it a good choice for treating burns, bruises and cuts. In a study done on breast cancer patients, calendula was even shown to help reduce inflammation and prevent dermatitis, a common side effect of radiation therapy.

WITCH HAZEL: This liquid is distilled from the bark or leaves of the witch hazel shrub. It acts as an astringent, cleansing the skin and removing excess oil, leaving it tight and firm. Because witch hazel contains anti-inflammatory chemicals called tannins, it can also be used to provide relief to burns, bug bites or other mild skin irritation. A witch hazel based toner, used after facial cleansing will give you a cool, refreshing tingle.

HELICHRYSUM: This flower essential oil ranks as one of the most ancient and valuable healing substances along with Rose and Frankincense.  It is beneficial for it’s anti-inflammatory and cell-regenerating properties and is a wonderful ingredient for treating symptoms of rosacea. Added to a witch hazel toner, it can reduce redness within minutes of application. Added to an oil free base such as aloe vera gel, it can curb the redness and irritations associated with facial inflammation.

Botanical Skincare at Fields of Ambrosia

Fields of Ambrosia was developed in 2001 in response to a search for cleansing, nourishing and therapeutic skin and body care products – beneficial to the body and earth friendly. In researching natural soap making and aromatherapy, I recognized that many of the ingredients for creating these items could be found in the gardens, orchards and fields around my home at Intervale Farm. Combining the life force energy of healing plants, which is absorbed by your skin to generate healthy new cells, with the aromas and healing powers of pure essential oils, gives each creation a signature fragrance which can help to enhance health and psychological well-being. The “aroma” of aromatherapy is not as important as how it makes you feel..

Natural Botanicals are found in all of our products, whether moisturizing, reducing wrinkles, disinfecting, reducing swelling, or curing with aromatherapy, there is a lot more to the herb garden than just beautiful flowers.