Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena
Latin Name: aloysia triphylla syn. lippia citriodora, verbena triphylla, lippia triphylla

Alternative Name: yerba louisa, cedron, herb louisa, verveine citronelle or odorante, lemon-scented verbena

Forms Available: Leaf, flower Lemon Verbena – aloysia triphylla syn. Lippia citriodora – Lemon Verbena has strongly lemon-scented whorls of three or four leaves along its stems and panicles of tiny, pale summer flowers. The leaves are used to flavor drinks and fruit and sweet dishes, and to make herb tea. The tea is refreshing and mildly sedative. The leaves also yield a green coloring and essential oil. The leaves and flowering tops are used to lower fevers and to relieve gas and indigestion. Lemon Verbena is calming, a sedative for the nerves. Steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes and take one-fourth cup four times a day. Stimulating to the skin, lemon verbena makes a good facial scrub for pimples and blemishes. To make the scrub, grind the dry herb or use the powder and mix in a little natural clay and ground oatmeal, add water to make a paste.

Aromatherapy & Health Uses: The leaves and flowering tops are used to lower fevers and to relieve gas and indigestion. Lemon Verbena is calming, a sedative for the nerves. Other Uses: Often sold simply as “Verbena” This full lemon-scented essential oil is wonderful in love blends. Added to other mixtures to increase their strength, and is also used to purify an area or is added to bathwater for protection and purification purposes.

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Lemon

Lemon

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Latin Name: citrus limon
Alternative Name: citrus medica, citrus limoum, citronnier, neemoo lemoo, limoun, limone
Forms Available: essential oil, peel

Lemon – citrus limus – The fruit, juice, and peel of citrus fruits flavor food and drink and provide vitamin C. Essential oils from the peel scent food, cosmetics and perfume. The seed oils are used in soaps.

Aromatherapy & Health Uses: Acne; Anemia; Brittle Nails; Boils; Chilblains; Corns; Cuts; Greasy Skin; Herpes; Insect bites; Mouth Ulcers. Key Qualities: Refreshing, Mental Stimulant; Cephalic; Purifying; Reviving; Strengthening; Soothing.

Other Uses: Use in Lunar oils. Wear diluted lemon oil during the Full Moon to attune with its energies. Use in purification and healing oils. Purification; Love. A Lemon may serve as a poppet.


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Lemongrass

Lemongrass

Latin Name: cymbopogon citratus
Alternative Name: melissa grass, sereh
Forms Available: essential oil, leaf, stem

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Lemongrass – Cymbopogon citratus – This aromatic grass has clumped, bulbous stems becoming leaf blades and a branched panicle of flowers. The stem and leaf, used widely in Thai cuisine, have a distinct lemon flavor. Leaf tea treats diarrhea, stomachache, headaches, fevers, and flu, and is antiseptic. The essential oil is used in cosmetics, food and aromatherapy.

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Aromatherapy & Health Uses: Acne; Athlete’s Foot; Excessive Perspiration; Open Pores; Pediculosis; Scabies; Tissue Toner; Muscular Pain; Poor Circulation and Muscle Tone. Key Qualities: Refreshing; Active; Stimulating; Soothing.

Other Uses: The essential oil strengthens psychic awareness and is also useful in purification mixtures.


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Licorice


Licorice


Latin Name: glycyrrhiza glabra

Forms Available: powder, root powder

Licorice – glycyrrhiza glabra – Licorice is a wonderful tonic herb for winter illnesses and immune, digestive tract, respiratory tract, and adrenal gland support. It is also excellent for children’s health. Sweet-tasting licorice root is an outstanding tonic for the endocrine system and is specific for the reproductive system. It is particularly effective for relieving adrenal exhaustion, which is so prevalent in those who suffer from depression. Licorice will revitalize the adrenals if used over a period of weeks or months. It has constituents that are similar in function to the natural steroids in the human body. Licorice is also highly regarded as a remedy for the respiratory system and it is used as a soothing demulcent and anti-inflammatory remedy for respiratory problems. The effective yet delicious qualities of this herb help make it one of the most important herbal remedies for children. Because of its extremely sweet flavor, licorice is best used with other herbs. For adrenal exhaustion, lethargy and fatigue, drink 2-3 cups of tea made from licorice blended with astragalus, sarsaparilla, burdock root and dandelion or with wild yam, sarsaparilla, burdock root, and sassafras. Caution: There have been studies indicating licorice’s ability to induce water retention and thus raise blood pressure levels, but most of the studies were done on licorice extracts, licorice candy and allopathic medication–not on the whole plant. However, licorice is not recommended for individuals who have high blood pressure due to water retention. And those on heart medication should check with their health care provider before using licorice. Licorice is generally safe for children and the elderly, which usually means it’s safe for everyone in between. Licorice is used in Ayurvedic medicine for inflmmation, abscesses and skin problems. Make a paste and apply to the skin.

Aromatherapy & Health Uses: Hhighly regarded as a remedy for the respiratory system and it is used as a soothing demulcent and anti-inflammatory remedy for respiratory problems. Revitalizes the adrenals if taken over a period of weeks or months.


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Lilac


Lilac


Latin Name: syringa vulgaris
Alternative Name: common lilac
Forms Available: flower

Lilac – syringia vulgaris – Lilac is a deciduous, twiggy shrub or small tree with a mass of heart-shaped leaves and showy panicles of small, waxy, spring flowers. The perfume is extracted from the flowers and used commercially. The flowers were once used to treat fever. In the language of flowers, Lilac symbolizes the first emotions of love. If inhaled too deeply, however, the strong flower fragrance can cause nausea.


Other Uses: Lilac drives away evil where it is planted or strewn. It was originally planted in New England to keep evil from the property. The fresh flowers can be placed in a haunted house to clear it. Peace; Clairvoyance; Divination; Creativity; Happiness; Harmony


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Lily of the Valley


Lily of the Valley


Latin Name: convallaria majalis
Alternative Name: may lily, our-lady’s tears
Forms Available: leaf, flower

Lily of the Valley – convallaria majalis – grows in the United Kingdom, a perennial. A herb used in heart medecines to slow the heart rate and chronic lung problem medications. A diuretic, reducing blood pressure. This herb is used in the same way as foxglove is used but a less toxic build up within the body.

Aromatherapy & Health Uses: Used in heart medicine, slows the heart beat. This herb is also a diuretic so lowers the blood pressure. Used as foxglove is used but this is less toxic.


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Aromatherapy and Native Americans: Smudging rituals to keep bad spirits at bay

Ancient rituals used aromatherapy as a means to fight against negativity and evil. Our ancestors believed that good aromas ward off evil beings and keep bad creatures at bay. Essential oils were used to eliminate things that were not good for health or human well being. It was strongly opined that aromatherapy had a profound effect on one’s life and hence should be mandatory in all kinds of cleansing – physical, emotional, spiritual or psychic. Right from the ancient Egyptians to Greeks, Hindus, Romans and Persians, everyone advocated aromatherapy as an alternative kind of medicinal system.


Native Americans and Aromatherapy: Native Americans, like the ancient civilizations, have been using essential oils in their daily routine and spiritual/domestic rituals for a long time. They possess a respect for mother earth and use everything natural in their day to day life. They believe that essential oils, with their strong aromas, can fight against evil spirits and enhance their well-being. Native American practices use fragrant herbs and oils for cleaning a space. They have faith in aromatic herbs like Sage, Sweetgrass, Juniper, Cedarwood, Pine/Pinion needles to help cleanse and clear the air of negative influences and attract positivity into life.

But why should we talk about the Native American way of aromatherapy? Reason: It is simple, useful, primitive and natural. They have a wider sense of aromatherapy than most aromatherapists and know which oils or herbs are the best to ward off intense emotions, mental havocs and other bad energies from life. Most of the herbs/oils used by the Natives are common to all and can be purchased from aromatherapy stores or online. Though they do not make attractive blends (like popular aromatherapists do), they use herbs in their most natural form – as herbs with aromas. Below are a list of herbs preferred for use by aromatherapists.

Native American essential oil recipes: The natives do not follow any particular recipe except the use of smudging sticks or what is called the smudging ritual. Tying together sage sticks into bundles, the Natives use them as smudge sticks. As sticks, Sage is often used as a form of incense. The aroma of Sage cleanses the space and frees the air of negativity.

Sweetgrass is another commonly used herb/oil by Native Americans. They believe that Sweetgrass will cleanse a room, scent and purify a space. Unlike smudge sticks, Sweetgrass is generally made into a braid of about 12 inch thickness. Several other herbs or oils are also used by Native Americans, but most of them are burned raw, without addition of any other synthetics. Another way to use Sweetgrass or Sage or Juniper etc. is to use them as hydrosols. This not only saves money, but also reduces the intensity of the aromas. On the other hand, such hydrosol usage should be checked for any additional synthetic additions.

Essential oils chemistry: 8 common chemical components of essential oils

Essential oils are very complex by nature on account of their presence in plants. Their molecular structure is complex, consisting of all kinds of atoms, including hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen atoms. Even sulfur atoms are also present sometimes. Though made of several chemical ingredients,  every essential oil acts together as a whole, treating infections or promoting healing, based on the dominant chemicals in them. This article will explain in detail the chemical components of essential oils.

Essential oils chemistry:
Essential oils are complex structures to study. However, studying them or understanding their chemical structure can help with use of them for treatment or therapeutic purposes. Apart from that, when you know the chemistry of an essential oil, you can know its hazardous as well as therapeutic properties. This will make things easy for you if you have allergies against particular chemicals. Below are a list of the common chemical ingredients present in essential oils:


1. Monoterpenes: Found in most essential oils, Monoterpenes are antiseptic and tonic in nature. They are good air purifiers which have about 10 carbon atoms in them. Though Monoterpenes are present in almost every other essential oil, a large percentage of them are found in Citrus oils. They are colorless, highly volatile and deteriorate quickly. Hence, they should be handled with care and kept at cool temperatures. Limonene found in Lemon oil, pinene found in Pine and camphene found in Camphor are examples of essential oils.

2. Sesquiterpenes: Though not as volatile as Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes are effective and have about 15 carbon atoms in them. They have a calming effect, are anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious. Zingiberene in Ginger oil, cedrene in Cedarwood and caryophellene in Clove oil are some of the sesquiterpenes found in essential oils.

3. Phenols: The most antiseptic chemicals found in plants, Phenols stimulate bodily functions in small doses. However, large doses of can be a poison to the nervous system and can cause skin irritations as well as digestive comfort to sensitive people. Thymol found in Thyme oil and eugenol found in Clove are examples of Phenols.

4. Alcohols: A lot of alcohol content is also present in essential oils. Highly antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antibiotic, alcohols are good tonic to the nervous system and stimulate immune response in the body. Lavendulol  in Lavender, nerol in Neroli and geraniol found in Geranium oil are examples of alcohols in oils.

5. Ketones: Anticoagulants, Ketones can relax, sedate and heal scar tissues, immune system or respiratory system in the body. However, Ketones can be harmful to the nervous system and can result in miscarriage, convulsions and epilepsy. Examples of Ketones are thyone in Sage, pinocamphone in Hyssop, and carvone in Peppermint.

6. Ethers/Esters: Ethers and esters have similar properties but ethers are the stronger of the both. Antispasmodic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, ethers are gentle on skin and help in rebalancing the nervous system effectively. Cinnamyl acetate in Cinnamon and myrtinly acetate in Myrtle.

7. Aldehydes: Anti-inflammatory, Aldehydes have properties that are similar to Ketones and Alcohols. However, excess of Aldehydes can cause major irritation to the skin and the mucous membranes. Furfurol in Lavender, Sandalwood, Cinnamon and Cypress are aldehydes.

8. Coumarins: Anti-convulsant and anti-coagulant, Coumarins have a relaxing and sedative effect. As these chemicals can be photosensitive, essential oils with these constituents should be used with caution and should not be exposed to the sun. Bergaptene in Bergamot, angelicine in Angelica and Citroptene in Citrus oils are examples of Coumarins.

Essential oils extraction: 4 less-known methods, nuances you should know

Essential oil extraction is a subject for study for aromatherapists. This is because, there are so many things involved in extraction of oils from plant parts like roots, flowers, bark, resin, rinds and fruits etc.  However, there are several extraction methods which are used to extract essences from plants. These methods are often known only to aromatherapists and aromatherapy students and are often practiced on a small scale. The most popular of the methods is steam distillation. This has been prevalent from the eighth century and practiced by the Arabs, Egyptians and others. Distillation is used only for extraction of oils from leaves, barks, seeds, stems and roots.  There are several less known methods of extraction too. They are Expression, Enfleurage, Maceration and Solvent Extraction.


Extraction nuances: Essential oils extraction is not easy as any other industrial processes. Since we deal with delicate raw materials like plant products, it involves nuances of a subtle kind. The percentage of raw materials is to the end result varies depending on type of plant used. The method of extraction and the quality of plant used determines the oil’s value and price. For instance, it takes 12,000 Rose petals to produce 5 ml of Rose essential oil, while 100 kilos of Lavender to produce 3 liters of Lavender oil. As a result, Rose is about 20 times costlier than Lavender in the market. Similarly, raw materials vary from plant to plant, oil to oil. Lavender is extracted from its flower, Orange/citrus fruits from their rinds, Frankincense from the resin of its tree, Cinnamon is taken from its bark while Pine is extracted from its needles. Soil quality, climatic conditions and harvest time/distillation/extraction process of a plant determine an oil’s purity. There are other nuances like –  Jasmine flowers must be picked by hand at dawn (if they are for extraction) and Sandalwood must be 30 years old and at least 30 feet high to produce best quality oil.

Essential oils extraction methods: Below is a brief of essential oils extraction methods like Expression, Enfleurage, Maceration and Solvent Extraction.

1. Expression: Most of the citrus fruits like Orange, Lemon, Mandarin, Bergamot and Lime are extracted from this method. This is a simple method which squeezes the rind of fruits to produce essences.

2. Enfleurage: This method uses a fixed oil, mostly a vegetable oil or animal fat or lard. It involves use of a sheet of glass mounted on a wooden frame. The plant part from which the oil is to be extracted (flower petals) should be placed on the sheet, mixed with fixed oil. Then, the whole sheet is placed in the sunlight. Later, this mixture is dissolved in alcohol and evaporated from it during the final process. Rose, Neroli, Jasmine and Violet are usually extracted from this method. Labeled ‘absolute’, enfleurage is quite rare as it is very expensive.

3. Maceration: Maceration is just like Enfleurage which uses a heated up fixed oil to release the essential oil from the plant parts easily.

4. Solvent Extraction: This is a process in which essential oils is extracted from delicate flowers like Rose, Jasmine, Violet or Mimosa. Here, a solvent like petroleum ether is used to extract essential oils which is later dissolved in alcohol. The procedure is like this: flower petals are placed on metal perforated trays. The extracts are called absolutes and are expensive than enfleurage.