A Quick Guide to what Essential Oils and Herbs can do for you .
Aloe Vera Aloe is an ancient herb. There are references in The Holy Bible of the body of Christ being embalmed with Aloes and Myrrh before placing him in the tomb, as was the custom in those days. Kings have fought wars over the valuable fields of medicine plants (Aloe) and its healing properties kept their soldiers fighting after they were wounded. Aloe is easy to grow and can be found at most any herb nursery or plant merchant.
Aloe Vera Oil The Aloe Vera oil used in soap recipes is actually a 70/30 blend usually. It is blended 30% Aloe with 70% vegetable oil which is usually Soy. The Aloe Vera plant itself is mostly water and has very little oil in it so this combination allows us to incorporate it's valuable polysaccharides (healing herbal constituents)into the saponification process. Aloe Vera also helps restore natural ph levels to the skin. Aloe Vera Gel can be used in small quantities but it can soften the soap if you use too much.
Bay Bay is used in cooking, useful for colds, flu, sprains, and rheumatism, but more importantly here is also used in perfumery. Bay essential oil is produced from the leaves of the plant in the West Indies and South America. Bay is antiseptic and is wonderfully fragrant. Since it's discovery along the trade routes of the Caribbean several centuries ago it became a commonly traded spice and is used frequently in traditional French cooking. While the leaves are used for cooking spices and making the essential oil, the berries are also used to make a fragrant waxy oil that is used in candle making for Bayberry candles. The Bay and Bayberry plant referred to here is actually Wild Cinnamon or Pimenta Acris native to the west Indies. There is a Bay plant native to Eastern America that has fragrant waxy berries that have a similar scent and was used by colonial period candle makers for scenting candles in the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie areas. The American plant is Myrica Cerifera, commonly called Wax myrtle or tallow shrub. The West Indies "Bay" is available for home gardeners at most herb nurseries but it is not winter hardy and will have to be greenhoused or brought indoors for winter. Aromatherapists claim the aroma to be warming, and relaxing.
Calendula Calendula Officinalis or Pot Marigold should not be confused with regular marigolds of the Tagetes species. The bright yellow to fire red-orange flowers of this herb yield wonderful properties for healing wounds, skin inflammations, eczema, dry cracked skin and calluses. Many herbalists claim the redder blossoms are more potent. Calendula is considered to be astringent, antiseptic and anti-fungal. The Calendula flower has long been valued for its medicinal properties and is now also used in the manufacture of several patented homeopathic remedies. The infused oils and extracts of Calendula are useful in creams, lotions, soaps, massage oils, and other personal care products. Calendula salves and ointments have been credited with healing qualities useful for everything from diaper rash to eczema to hemorrhoids. A bath with 20 to 30 drops of Calendula infused oil is said to be soothing relief for nervous tension, anxiety and depression. The Calendula leaves and buds made into a salve were once a common treatment for gouty conditions. Calendula plants do well in direct sun or partial shade and are considered a hardy annual. If you keep the blooms picked off from the beginning of the season they will produce flowers prolifically even until after the first few frosts. They can be started from seed outdoors in most parts of the country from very early to even as late as June or July, or they are available potted for setting out at most garden centers and herb nurseries. We grow as many as we can, picking them daily once they start to flower. Immediately, we set them in the sun for a little while (1/2 hour to an hour, not enough to let them dry out) in a cardboard tray, the thrips, ants, bees, and other critters sense something is terribly wrong and leave the flowers. Then we just toss them into a resealable container in the freezer, this allows us to thaw them out and make salves and oils from fresh versus dried plant material year around. The flowers are also edible and rich in vitamins
A Quick Guide to what Essential Oils and Herbs can do for you . and minerals so throw a few in a salad and give them a try! (I recommend removing the stems, leaves, and bud parts, eating only the petals).
Chamomile Chamomile is a perennial flower that grows abundantly in Germany, Morocco, and Italy. It is available for home gardeners here in the US in the form of seeds for planting or plants starts at garden centers and herb nurseries. It is considered mildly astringent, healing, anti-inflammatory and mildly fragrant. The tea is useful for indigestion and relaxation. The oil infusions are useful for eczema, insect bites, and minor wounds. The water infusion is useful as eyewash for conjunctivitis and eyestrain. It is very useful externally for helping to deep clean pores.
Comfrey Comfrey is also commonly referred to as boneknit. This refers to its traditional use in healing fractures. Comfrey is a rich natural source of Allantoin that is commonly used in many commercial natural health and beauty preparations available worldwide. Allantoin absorbs through the skin and speeds up healing as it encourages cell proliferation in bone, cartilage, and muscle tissues. The roots and leaves are used in infusions, decoctions, poultices, etc. It is healing, soothing, emollient and mildly astringent in nature. Comfrey preparations have been traditionally used as poultices for gout, hairline fractures, infused oils and creams for arthritic joints, sprains, inflamed bunions, and bleeding hemorrhoids. Other constituents besides Allantoin present in Comfrey that make it such a wonderfully useful herb include steroidal saponins, tannins, B12, proteins, and mucilage. The Comfrey mucilage is also useful for sizing in homemade papers. Comfrey is a large, flowering perennial that is considered somewhat invasive, as it tends to take over any area it may be planted. Most commercially available Comfrey in bulk is wild crafted central and Eastern Europe and Russia where it is native. Comfrey has escaped and has become available to wild crafters in some regions of the US. It is a very easy plant to grow and propagates very easily from root cuttings. The root and leaves infused in Olive oil is a wonderful topical remedy for all types of skin afflictions as well as muscle aches. A simple tea wash is especially helpful for quick healing of skin inflammation and acne. Comfrey is available in bulk from most any herb supplier and is fairly inexpensive.
Clary Sage Essential Oil Clary Sage essential oil is distilled from the flowering top of the herb. It is imported for commerce to the US from France, Russia, Spain, Hungary, and Bulgaria as well as being produced domestically in several states including Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and Virginia. Here in the states thousands of acres are grown by big tobacco companies to produce clarinol, an additive used in cigarette production. The essential oil is also used for depression, nervousness, sore throat, minor aches and pains and as a sedative. The aroma is described as a sweet spicy scent that blends well with other scents giving it a wide variety of uses in the perfume industry. Aromatherapists consider it to be centering, somewhat euphoric and visualizing. It is a perennial that grows fairly low to the ground with large oval fuzzy looking leaves. It is commonly available at garden centers an herb nurseries for the home gardener.
Cypress Essential Oil Cypress essential oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the Cypress tree. The oils sold commercially in this country are imported from the Mediterranean countries. It is an astringent, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and sedative, helpful for easing nervous tension and healing wounds. Cypress has a refreshing, spicy aroma with the hint of evergreen needles. Aromatherapists consider it to be purifying and balancing.
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus essential oil is one of the most useful and most used essential oils. It is anti-septic, antibacterial, anti-viral and smells good too! It soothes sore throats, makes you breathe easier, and is very useful in vaporizers during cold & flu season. Although most Eucalyptus essential oil is imported 2
A Quick Guide to what Essential Oils and Herbs can do for you . from Australia, Tasmania, China, and Brazil, there are now many farms and even wild escaped stands of this aromatic shrub across the southeastern United States. It has historically been used in inhalants, and lozenges. It is somewhat stimulating and may create a mild tingle as it increases circulation to the skin and hair follicles. Eucalyptus leaves you feeling totally refreshed! Eucalyptus essential oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the plant. It has been used for sore throats, coughs, aches, pains, bronchitis, sinusitis, skin infections, and candida. The Eucalyptus essential oil is known to be antiseptic and antibiotic. The leaves are available from most herb suppliers and are great for simmering in a cast iron pot on top of the wood burning stove during those dark dreary winter days.
Glycerin Glycerin occurs naturally in vegetable and animal fats. Glycerin is a by-product that is extracted from commercial soaps through a salting process. Even though the commercial soaps would be better with the Glycerin left in it, the manufacturers make more on the Glycerin than they do the soap. That is one of the reasons why the commercial store bought soaps are so much less expensive than handmade and natural soaps. Glycerin is emollient as it moistens and protects the skin, soothing inflammations, and a humectant meaning it draws moisture out of the air to the skin.
Jewelweed Jewelweed is also known as touch-me-not and grows wild across most of North America. Native Americans first discovered it as an antidote for poison ivy and poison oak. It is an annual that can grow to 6 feet or better. It is not recommended for the home gardener because technically it is a weed and when the seed pods burst open they can shoot their seeds for several feet in all directions taking over the area in a few seasons. It is commonly found in two varieties, one has orange flowers, and the other has yellow flowers. It is generally believed the orange flower plant is more potent. It is ready for harvest as soon as it blooms in early July and can be harvested through frost. Many people make a strong tea from the plant strain it and freeze it in ice cube trays for later use. It is very cooling and soothing for several skin inflammations.
Lavender English, French, Chinese, Oregonian, they're most all very delightful essential oils. Lavender plants are commonly available at most garden centers and herb nurseries. It is a perennial with only a few cultivars hardy to the northern half of the US. The most common cultivars you'll find are officinalis, angustifolia, lady, french, spica. They produce spikes of purplish blue flowers with a wonderful floral scent. The essential oil is made out of the flowering tops of the plant. Other herbal uses of Lavender essential oil besides soaping includes treating burns, wounds, eczema, dermatitis, headaches, insomnia, infections, ulcers, acne, asthma, and arthritis to name a few. It is also used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and perfume industries. Lavender essential oil is known to be antiviral, antibiotic, antiseptic, and anti-fungal. It is also known to be repellent to mosquitoes and houseflies. Lavender essential oil is also known to be an effective treatment for some types of warts. Several drops of Lavender to a couple ounces of Aloe Vera gel does wonderful things for sunburn. Aromatherapists consider Lavender to be balancing, soothing and normalizing.
Nettle Nettle and Stinging Nettle have long been used for making a nutritive tonic for the hair. A simple tea, with 4 oz. Nettle and 2 quarts water, steeped, strained, bottled and refrigerated (will last 3 to 5 days under refrigeration) worked into the scalp every other night is said to keep hair from falling out and restores body to limp hair. Nettle is a common field weed with over 300 species worldwide. It ranges from the minor stinging sensation of the north American and European varieties to extremely painful and causing debilitating injury with some of the Asian and African tropical varieties. Nettle has a long history regarding herbal remedies and has been used for many ailments including asthma, goiter and venomous bites. The decoction yields a bright green dye that is used on woolens in central Russia. The decoction is also astringent and a stimulating tonic. It is also useful for planting around beehives to discourage frogs. Nettle can be wild crafted in most areas and is available in bulk from most any herb supplier. It is also known to be a blood purifier when taken as a tea. 3
A Quick Guide to what Essential Oils and Herbs can do for you .
Oatmeal Oatmeal refers to the ground or rolled (roller pressed) seeds of the oat grass plant. For most natural body care and soap recipes the organic rolled oats commonly available at health food stores and coops is preferred. The rolled oats can be chopped in a food processor or blender to the desired consistency. Oatmeal is commonly used in cleansing grains and exfoliating soaps. Ground Oats have a high silica content and are considered very helpful for many skin conditions such as eczema, cold sores, and shingles when applied externally.
Patchouli Essential Oil Since the east first traded with the west the essential oil from the patchouli plant has been regarded with high esteem both for medicinal herbalists and ancient to modern day perfumeries. Patchouli is more of a woodsy or musty smell as opposed to floral, it is also described as earthy, sweet, and spicy. It anchors as a bass note in many commercial perfumes and has been historically used for the relief of symptoms associated with acne and skin fungus. Patchouli is a fairly fragrant plant for your herb garden growing 1 to 3 feet in height. Its foliage releases the scent when gently rubbed through the summer months. Most of the essential oil available in the US is imported from Indonesia, Madagascar, and China. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves of the plant. Patchouli essential oil is known to be antibiotic, antiseptic, and anti-fungal. Other uses for patchouli include skin inflammations, fungal infections, eczema, dandruff, and as an insecticide.
Peppermint Peppermint is very stimulating to the skin and gives a tingling sensation. Peppermint essential oil is one essential oil that is produced in large quantities here in the US. Large Peppermint farms in Michigan, Oregon, and Washington state grow massive quantities of Peppermint and then have portable stills set up to start the first distillation on location in the fields as soon as it is cut. The crude first distillation of the whole plant is then taken to more efficient stills for further refining. Most commonly when you buy Peppermint essential oil you will be buying the 2nd or 3rd distillation. Peppermint essential oil is antiseptic by nature. Other uses of Peppermint essential oil include nausea, indigestion, flatulence, headaches, arthritis and liver problems. It is a common food flavoring used in confections, candies, beverages, ice creams, and is also used in pharmaceuticals. While most used in this country is produced domestically some is imported from Europe, and China. Peppermint is a very prolific garden or bedding plant, it's also considered invasive so checking with your friends and relatives you'll probably find someone who has too much and would be glad to give some away. If you're not so lucky however it is readily available at most garden centers and herb nurseries.
Plantain and Chickweed Plantain is common to most yards and meadows in either the narrow or broad-leafed variety. Native to Europe (primarily UK) the plantain was referred to in previous centuries as the Englishman's foot. It seemed that wherever the English traveled and colonized the plantain came along with them. It arrived in North America in the 1600's and now has spread across the continent. It is astringent by nature and has been used for wound healing, venomous insect bites and snakebites and as a poultice for skin sores and tumors. The Chickweed has similar properties for wound healing and treatment of skin diseases and skin inflammations including chafing and diaper rash. Chickweed is typically a nuisance in the North American garden. There has been very little research done to verify or dispel the historical and traditional uses of these two plants for external body care. What I can tell you is that all the herbalists I've talked to over the years speak very fondly of the healing qualities of these two plants that most consider a nuisance.
A Quick Guide to what Essential Oils and Herbs can do for you .
Rose, Rosewater and petals The actions of Rose on the body include antidepressant, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, sedative, astringent, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and others. It was listed as an official medicine up until the 1930's. Used in creams and lotions, Rosewater and Rose essential oil is considered very beneficial for dry skin conditions and skin prone to acne and pimples. Aromatherapists consider it a nervine and find it very useful for depression and anxiety. Rosewater is a by-product of steam distillation and is quite frequently fortified for fragrance with Rose geranium essential oil. Rosewater is considered mildly astringent and is frequently used in homemade cosmetics, creams, and lotions. A few drops of Rose essential oil in massage oil is used to relieve stress and exhaustion. Rose essential oils and Rosewater are primarily prepared from these Rose species; rugosa, gallica, damascena, centifolia, laevigata, and canina. Garden hybrids will not necessarily produce the qualities and properties stated for the above traditional species. Rose essential oil is one of the oldest and best known, used extensively in perfumes to lend depth and beauty to aromas. Aromatherapists also consider it to be romantic, and uplifting. As wonderful as it is it should be avoided while pregnant.
Rosemary A wild crafted shrub along the northern coast of Spain, the Rosemary herb is rich with folklore and tradition. Nowadays Rosemary is a very popular herb in the US and is readily available in several different cultivars at most garden centers and herb nurseries. It is a perennial with some varieties being winter hardy. Most herb suppliers will have bulk Rosemary leaves by the pound and they are fairly inexpensive. For centuries many Europeans have believed that Rosemary stimulates hair growth. One theory is that the essential oil deep cleans congested hair follicles helping to eliminate alopecia. Taking 4 oz. of Rosemary leaves and steeping them in 2 quarts boiling water for about 15 minutes makes a simple hair rinse. After shampooing simply rinse your hair with the (room temperature) Rosemary tea. Rosemary Essential oil is known to have aromatherapeutic uses for headaches, fatigue, aches and pains in muscles, dandruff, analgesic, decongestant, heart tonic and liver stimulant, and is also used in pharmaceuticals and veterinary medicine.
Rose Geranium Essential Oil Distilled from the Rose scented Geranium this essential oil has a powerful leafy aroma with rose and minty undertones. It is used in skin care products for it's cleansing astringency, antiseptic properties and it's aroma. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves and stalks as well as the flowers. Most commercially available Rose Geranium essential oil in this country is imported from China, Reunion, Madagascar, Egypt, France, Morocco, Algiers, and Russia. It is also used in the perfumery, and cosmetics industries.
Sage Garden green Sage and purple Sage are the most common. The purple has a higher content of the medicinal properties. Sage, beyond tasting great in the holiday stuffing, is astringent, antiseptic, and antibiotic. Sage has been used since ancient times in wound healing dressings because of these properties. The essential oil is made from the leaves and the flowers, and is mostly produced in the Mediterranean region where it is wild crafted and in China where labor costs are low. The essential oil is useful for bacterial infections, bronchitis, arthritis, and rheumatism. A tea from the leaves and flowers is useful as a mouthwash and gargle, for ulcers and mouth sores and gum problems. Sage is a delightful garden plant. It's a somewhat hardy perennial and comes back a little bigger each year. The Green Garden Sage is commonly available at most garden centers but you'll probably need to seek out the herb nurseries to find the purple or tri-colored varieties. All three types have bluish purple flowers.
A Quick Guide to what Essential Oils and Herbs can do for you .
Tangerine Essential Oil Tangerine as most citrus oils are is expeller pressed from the skin or peel of the fruit. Most Tangerine essential oil is produced in the US in Florida and California but some is imported from Brazil and Spain. The essential oil is antiseptic and astringent. Tangerine is also used for depression, anxiety and nervous conditions in aromatherapy. Vitamin E is commonly available in two forms, one that is primarily in a strength for adding as an antioxidant or preservative in soaps, lotions, creams, etc. and the other that is rated at 1,000 I.U. per gram. The Vitamin E at 1,000 I.U. per gram is used for foods and cosmetics where a therapeutic amount of Vitamin E is desired. Use only the d-alpha tocopheryl Vitamin E as other forms are synthetic and do not work as well. The Vitamin E helps heal cuts, scrapes, and has an anti-aging effect on the skin. Natural sources of Vitamin E include cold pressed vegetable oils of safflower, sunflower, and wheat germ. Vitamin E is available in health food stores in liquid and capsule form. It is also available in bulk from the on-line catalog in the Soap Making supplies.
Tea Tree Oil Large corporations have evolved around it and whole volumes are written to cover the many uses of this extremely valuable herb. Tea Tree essential oil is produced in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. It is anti-fungal, antiseptic, antibiotic, and anti viral. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs. It is clear, colorless, and very medicinal smelling. It has been used for Cold sores, warts, fungal, viral, and bacterial infections, acne, burns, candida, athleteâ€™s foot. The list of uses goes on and on. It's healing ability was first discovered by the aboriginal natives of Australia and clinical studies have shown it to be over 100 times more powerful than leading antiseptics. Tea Tree essential oil is especially wonderful with skin problems and compliments the Peppermint very well. Although some Tea Tree plants have invaded the wilds of the south Florida peninsula especially near the everglades, it is not generally available for the home gardener.
Wintergreen Wintergreen is a hardy perennial broadleaf evergreen that grows low to the ground in densely wooded areas and pine forests. Although it is native to North America there are other closely related species that are native to other parts of the world that contain the same properties. Essential oils commercially available are produced domestically and imported from Tibet, China. The wintergreen plant's major constituent is methyl salicylate, molecularly similar to the pain-relieving ingredient in aspirin. However aspirin is chemically produced rather than extracted from natural botanical sources. Although you can achieve the pain relieving effects internally by drinking a tea from the leaves, the essential oil can only be used externally and then only in extremely diluted quantities. Wintergreen oil should be avoided during pregnancy. 10 ml for children and 30 ml for adults could prove to be a lethal dose if ingested internally. When observing proper safety and dosage precautions the oil of wintergreen can be very useful for aches and pains of arthritis and sore muscles. Oil of Wintergreen used to be commonly available in pharmacies and general stores for just such purposes and had long been the active ingredient in many commercial pain relief topical formulations. It is also used in flavoring candies and pharmaceutical products.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) Witch Hazel is a shrub that grows wild through the mid part of the US. We have an abundance of it here in the Appalachian Mountains. We make simple extracts from the bark and leaves from bushes on the mountainside behind our house. Witch Hazel extract is used as a base for a lot of herbal concoctions. It has long been a household remedy for burns, cuts, scratches, itches, stings, and bites. The herb is said to be astringent, hemostatic, styptic, sedative, tonic, and useful for external inflammations. The extract has been used for dandruff by pouring directly on the scalp and rubbing in. It has also been used as a poultice for varicose veins. The shrub itself looks like a little tree but will grow to 30 feet in height. The home gardener can get Witch Hazel plants by searching out native plant nurseries. 6
A Quick Guide to what Essential Oils and Herbs can do for you .
Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil Ylang-Ylang is a broad-leafed evergreen tropical shrub that can grow upwards to 30 feet. The YlangYlang essential oil is imported to the US from the Comoro Islands, Reunion, Madagascar, and Indonesia. The scent is described as an intense richly floral jasmine-like aroma. It is distilled from the flowers of the tree and is considered somewhat an aphrodisiac in some circles. It is used extensively in exotic and floral perfumes. The action of the Ylang-Ylang essential oil on the skin is a toning effect that helps stimulate your skin to produce and or regulate it's own natural oils. More details on essential oils may be found in any library under “Essential Oils” and/or “Aromatherapy.”