Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tea Tree Oil - Nature's First Aid

Anyone who is interested in natural remedies and aromatherapy will recognize the name of this very common, very useful essential oil.  Tea Tree Oil is easily accessible, affordable, and can be used in a variety of remedies.  Besides lavender essential oil, on which I wrote an earlier blog, tea tree oil should be an essential part of your medicine cabinet or first aid kit.

Tea tree oil comes from a very small tree with cream colored flowers like bottlebrushes and soft skinny leaves.  The blossums are followed by small, woody capsules set close together.  These trees grow in marshes located in dense thickets in New South Wales, Australia.  The essential oil is obtained from the leaves and terminal branchlets through a distillation process.

The fragrance of tea tree oil is very medicinal, spicy, pungent, and masculine.  It wouldn't be used much, if at all, in the perfume industry, but it is very heavily used in natural health care.  It is to be used sparingly because heavy concentrations can prove to be irritating.  Because very few drops are used for various remedies, a small vial will last a long time. 

The first illness that is quite well known for being relieved by tea tree oil is an earache.  I was very happy to hear Kelly Ripa mention on her show, Live!With Regis and Kelly, that she regularly uses tea tree oil in a little warmed olive oil to treat her children's earaches.  A celeb who has access to lots of money and lots of expensive health care still uses an inexpensive natural health care remedy.  That should prove its effectiveness to any doubters!  The usual mixture would be one drop of tea tree oil to one tablespoon of warmed olive oil.  Place mixture in a dropper and drop a few drops into the ear canal.  Place cotton to cover the opening of the ear.  Repeat two to three times a day and the earache should be gone quickly.

The same mixture can be used in nasal passages to treat dry mucous membranes due to overuse of cold medicines,  smoky environments, and air conditioning.  It can also be used to treat sores inside the nasal cavity.

Tea tree oil is frequently used to treat early sore throats caused by colds, local irritation, trauma, and overuse. Viral sore throats which constitute 90% of the sore throat cases can also be treated with this oil.  Immediate treatment will guarantee the best results for remedy.  Using a cup of warm tea, add a tablespoon of both apple cider vinegar and apple juice, one teaspoon of honey, and three drops of tea tree essential oil. Gargle with this mixture for as long as you can three times a day.

Mouth irritations such as gingivitis, canker sores, cold sores, or sores caused by dentures or braces can be relieved by mixing two drops of tea tree oil into a cup of warm chamomile tea.  Rinse in the mouth every couple of hours during the day.  The sores should heal quickly.

Sinus infections, coughs, flu, and respiratory ailments can be alleviated by using a steam inhalant.  Into four cups of very hot water, stir in one drop of tea tree oil and one drop of eucalyptus essential oil.  Put a towel over your head and place your face about 8 inches from the water.  Breathe deeply and slowly for ten minutes.  Do this steam inhalation two to three times a day.

Tea tree oil is very beneficial for any type of skin irritation.  Place a couple of drops of tea tree oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil such as olive or canola oil.  Rub the mixture over the irritated skin such as a rash, a scrape, psoriasis, chafing, or any common type of skin irritation.  For a wart, place one drop of each tea tree oil and lavender essential oil on a round bandaid and place over the wart.  Repeat this procedure several times a day until the wart is gone.  Tea tree oil can be used sparingly by itself on the skin.  Place a small amount of tea tree oil on a pimple or on a cut to speed healing.  Its antiseptic properties are helpful for small skin irritations such as these.

Hopefully I have given you a few good usages for tea tree oil.  Use them when you are faced with the misfortune of having any of these ailments, and hopefully relief will come quickly.

Will be talking to you soon about another great topic regarding my world of aromatherapy.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How Aromatherapy Can Give You Alertness and Focus

Hi Everyone!  Nice to be back!  I went away for a few days camping with my daughter and six of my grandkids and two of their friends.  Sounds like lots of fun if you like lots of little ones in a confined space...which I do, thankfully.  Oh, it had its moments, but overall we all had fun and hopefully made some memories.  Yes, we packed two adults and seven kids from age 6 to 14 in an OLD camper and a big tent!!

Now that I am home, I am dead tired though.  Relaxation was part of every day, but relaxation is not part of the preparation for camping, nor is it in the packing up, dragging home, washing everything and putting it away.  I really need a week to recover when I come back because of all the packing and unpacking!!

I seemed to have enough stamina when I got home, but my mind was in la-la land.  I had no focus, a hard time remembering things I had to do, and I was so un-alert that someone could have walked away with my house and I probably wouldn't have noticed until it rained. 

Thankfully I had the solution on hand.  Stimulant drugs were a desperate off-hand thought, but besides being illegal, they are poison to a human body.  No, I had aromatherapy.  Nice, pleasant smelling, essential oils were within reach in my kitchen.  There are a ton of essential oils that are helpful for alertness.  Basil, Cardamom, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Lime, Peppermint, Spearmint, Bergamot, Thyme, and Black Pepper are among the most popular oils for waking up the mind and becoming alert and highly focused.

I whipped up an alertness/focusing blend solution of 10 drops of grapefruit oil, 10 drops of lime oil, 5 drops of black pepper oil, and 5 drops of peppermint oil in an ounce of extra virgin olive oil.  I massaged the oil into my neck muscles, shoulder muscles, and jaw muscles.  I sat in my chair and let the aroma stimulate my olfactory system and let the oils be absorbed into my blood stream through my skin and up to my brain.  It wasn't fifteen minutes, and I was feeling alert and focused and not walking through my life like a zombie anymore.  I made lists of what needed to be done, I wrote out a few bills that I realized needed to be mailed out, and I wrote out this blog which was my most pressing matter of business at the time. 

Long ago, being alert and focused kept us from danger.  Alert to the sounds of being trailed by a wild animal in caveman times meant life or death.  We don't really have the need to be alert to save our lives anymore, but we have the need to focus and be alert for our many tasks that we must do in a day.  We have to watch our kids at the playground.  We have to drive the carpool.  We have to study for exams.  We have to present our ideas to our bosses at business meetings.  Activities such as these are necessary for a successful day at home, at school, and at the office. 

So when you find you are at a point where you are overwhelmed by having too much to do, but you need to stay focused and alert to do the tasks at hand or to just listen to your kids when they have a problem to discuss, grab yourself a few of these oils, mix them with an ounce of olive oil, jojoba, grapeseed oil and massage them into your skin. You can use just one of these oils if you don't have lots of oils available, but most times, try to use at least two.   After a few minutes, you will feel more like yourself, more like the person you want to be.  When you feel like you have had your focus and alertness restored, then shower away the oils and go about your business. 

 Will be talking to you again real soon.  Stay alert and stay focused! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Secrets of Lavender

Lavender is one of the most well known and popular herbs and essential oils.  That's because it is easy to come by, it is relatively inexpensive, and it is safe for all ages.  And as with all essential oils, it probably should be used only after the first trimester.

Lavender's botanical name is Lavendula officinalis or Lavendula angustifolia.  Its aroma is floral with a slightly herbal undertone, and it is considered a middle note in the aromatherapy range of scents.  It has a beautiful purple  color and sometimes even on the bluish side.  Hence the color lavender.

Lavender is best know as a stress reliever, a relaxant, and a sleep inducer.  Using a few lavender drops in an aromatherapy diffuser or in a tart melter, can send a subtle aroma throughout your home that will induce a sense of calm.  Herbal pillows that can be used inside your pillowcase are always filled with a mixture that includes a majority of dried lavender blossoms because it can induce sleep.  Because of this relaxing, sleep inducing effect, real lavender essential oil or herbs should not be used as a car fragrance.

But, besides the most popular use for lavender, it also has many properties which can be utilized for many other conditions.  It can be used for many conditions of the skin.  I have a customer that buys my lavender soap religiously because it heals a certain rash which she gets on her hands.  She had been to her physician many times about the rash, and nothing he gave her ever alleviated the condition.

Lavender can be used successfully for hypertension.  The relaxation response which it evokes can bring about a lower blood pressure, and can lessen heart palpitations. This effect can be achieved successfully by using as a room scent through an aromatherapy diffuser.   Lavender can also limit muscle spasms and alleviate pain due to arthritis, sprains, and strains. To relieve these types of pain, a few drops of  lavender essential oil could be added to a  tablespoon of massage oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil  and then rubbed on the painful area.

As with every medicinal product, too much of a good thing does not make it better.  Essential oils are very concentrated and only a small amount is needed to be effective.   Always dilute any essential oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil before applying to your skin.  Always dilute the oil with a tablespoon of water or oil before it is heated in a aromatherapy diffuser or a tart burner.

Lavender is always a beautiful and useful oil to use for a linen spray.  Its scent lingers in your linen closet and in your bedroom.  Every time you make your bed, spray a little lavender linen spray on the sheets and pillowcases for a welcome scent when you crawl into bed at night.

My own lavender soap and linen spray is available for order by leaving a comment on this blog with your email address.  Other lavender soaps and linen sprays are widely available in health food stores and gift stores.  Make sure they are made with true essential oils and not a fragrance oil.. Fragrance oils do nothing but smell good.  They do not have the medicinal properties or the physical benefits of essential oils.

Thanks for reading today.  Other essential oils and they're properties and benefits will be discussed on future blogs.  Stick with me and learn the benefits!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Little Bit of the Science of Aromatherapy

I don't want to get real technical about the science of aromatherapy, but I thought you might want an idea of how aromatherapy works.  How can a small amount of oils or herbs affect the body, the mind, or the spirit?  Aromatherapy is the science of how pure essential oils can be therapeutic to your body and mind. 

Essential oils are oils which are contained within the flowers, the stems, the leaves, or the roots of the plant.  They are very aromatic and volatile. These oils are encapsulated in little cells in the plant, but these oils, though part of the plant, do very little for the life or the vitality of the plant itself.  They may be part of the fragrance of the plant, but they may also be contained in the root where an aroma would not be present.  Their reason for being, so to speak, seems to be mainly to be used by animals and humans.

Some essential oils are anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, mucolytic, or bactericidal.  All of the oils are antiseptic, some more so than others.  They are volatile, which means that they cause a chemical reaction.  The highest of the volatile oils are classified as top notes and are used mostly in the perfume industry. Being highly volatile means that they evaporate easily, thus the first fragrance that you smell when you first put on a perfume.  After the inital contact with the skin, the volatile oils evaporate quickly, leaving the highly fragrant top note to be smelled quickly and then to disappear.  These oils are usually uplifting upon smelling.  The less volatile oils are called the base notes.  These fragrances evaporate much slower leaving the base notes to be smelled for a longer period.  These oils are usually calming in nature.  The last type of oils are called the middle notes.  They don't last as long as the base notes, but last longer than the top notes.  They are usually stimulating to the psyche.

Used properly, essential oils can calm, invigorate, reduce inflammation, ease aches and pains, cause deeper focus, and affect many types of disorders of the skin.  Some oils should not be used around children or pregnant women due to their effects on certain systems within the body, usually the nervous system.

When your nose smells an essential oil, it is sensed by the smell receptors and sent to the olfactory bulb in the nose.  The olfactory bulb transmits the scent to the brain's smell sensory cortex and finally to the limbic system.  The limbic system is one of the most basic and primative parts of the brain.This jouney of the scent causes a reaction which can be a felt as a sense of calm, an uplifting feeling, invigoration, a balanced feeling of well-being and harmony. 

The surface of the skin can be penetrated by certain oils which are highly therapeutic to many types of skin problems.  Some of these problems can be diaper rash, skin aging, scarring, burns, dry skin, and eczema. Essential oil treatment has been successful in relieving many types of skin conditions.

Some essential oils can absorbed into your bloodstream from the skin.  One of the best transfer places for an essential oil is the bottom of the foot.  Some say that when garlic oil is placed on the bottom of the foot, it is quickly tasted in the mouth due to the quick absortion in the blood stream! Another way to deliver essential oils to the skin or to the blood stream is by massage with essential oils mixed into massage oils. 

Later on down the line, I will tell you all about how aromatherapy was used centuries ago...a little history of aromatherapy.  But before we talk about the history, I think we should explore a few basic essential oils.  My next post will talk about lavender essential oil.  If you are stressed, this is the oil for you.  See you soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Introduction to the World of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is not a New Age fad or modality to be taken lightly.  It is truly a proven scientific method of bodily reactions based on the introduction of aromas or scents to the brain.  These scents can be introduced to the brain through the obvious act of smelling, but they also can be absorbed into the blood stream via oils and creams rubbed or massaged on the skin.  In the coming weeks, I will discuss the many types of ways that essential oils, hydrosols, inhalations, smudgings, and the like can be introduced into the body and the benefits that each can bring to the mind, body, and spirit.

But before we get to the history and science and types or aromatherapy, let's take a minute and think about some of the very simple ways that we experience aromatherapy everyday without even realizing it.

How do you feel when you smell the aroma of rubbing alcohol?  To me, it makes me anxious because it brings to mind a physician's office and specifically getting a shot of some sort which was preceded by the nurse rubbing my arm with rubbing alcohol.  To some people, it brings back a sense of embarrassment because it reminds them of their teenage years when they had acne and the main cleaning agent for pimples back then was rubbing alcohol.  If we are truly aware, we can experience the affect of aromatherapy from daily happenings such as these But most of the time, the memories of those times in our life brought on by the odor of rubbing alcohol are only recognized by our subconscious, and we are left wondering why we, all of sudden, are feeling anxious!

We are more likely to notice the aromatherapeutic effects from the positive scents that we smell.  Such as when we smell wood burning, we may think back to camping trips we enjoyed sitting around the campfire and feel uplifted and happy. When we smell suntanning lotion, we may think back to last summer's vacation to the beach and feel relaxed and laid back like we were during those days in the sun. These positive reactions to scents are what influence our choices of scents to be around more often, such as  our use of specific candles, air freshener, car fresheners, and even perfumes.  I am sure we have all smelled a scent of perfume or aftershave from a person walking by and smiled as we remembered a special person that wears or used to wear that scent!

But besides making our moods positive and negative, aromatherapy is a science that can be used successfully in many health related issues.  Besides its more lighter side, aromatherapy definitely has a much more serious side.  Those issues will also be discussed as the weeks go by.

I am hoping that you will find this new blog to be helpful and interesting as I open up all the different ways we can help ourselves and others by merely smelling.

My next post will delve a little into the science of how aromatherapy works and also how long people have been using its benefits over.  This week make a conscious effort to really feel how your body reacts to some comforting and some not-so-comforting smells which you encounter!  Have fun and see you soon.  Happy Smelling!