| 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.
You need to be very careful while using essential oils. This is because oils can have contraindications on account of their high concentration and pure properties. Neat or undiluted applications of aromatherapy oils can result in skin problems and even life long sensitizations. To avoid trouble, get to know which oils need to be avoided at different times/situations of life and which are safe to be used. One of the most commonly used oils is Lavender. It is said that Lavender oil is harmless even if applied neat, but this is not true. Also, Lavender oil can be used in a variety of sensitive applications like during times of pregnancy, child birth and for babies. No wonder Lavender oil is often called the mother of oils. It is soothing, relaxing and extremely pleasing to everyone who uses it. These are the reasons Lavender oil finds usage in many applications. First, we will take a look at the dos and don’ts of Lavender oil.
Lavender – The Mother of Oils: As mentioned earlier, Lavender oil is revered by many aromatherapists for its multifarious healing properties. Pregnant women can use Lavender oil anytime, except the first trimester. But use only ½ of the strength of the oil as heavy dose of essential oils are not recommended during pregnancy. Lavender oil helps in reducing blood pressure. If you happen to have low blood pressure, be careful when you use the oil. Similarly, the oil has proved to be safe for babies, even the 6-week infants. If your baby has a stomach upset, rub Lavender oil in a circular, clockwise motion on the baby’s tummy. You can add a drop or two of the oil on baby’s items – pillows or toys – to give the baby a general well-being and good bath. However, you can start using the oils only after 6 weeks of infancy and should avoid it for a week, when you go for vaccination.
Lavender dosage to people: For an infant who is just born, you can use Lavender oil only after 6 weeks, that it more than 1 ½ months. For babies aged from 1 to 5 years should have 2 drops of Lavender per 1 tbs of carrier oil. For use of children from 6 to 12 years of age, use 1 drop of essential oil per 2 tsp of carrier oil. For adults, 2 to 5 drops of essential oil per tsp of carrier oil, while for the elderly, use ½ strength of the dose used for adults. For pregnant women, use 1 drop of essential oil per 2 tsp of carrier oil. But, there are different opinions on why and how oils should be used.
Essential oils to avoid: Several essential oils are to be avoided if you have skin disorders, if you are pregnant or if you have heart problems/pain with your body. You can be sensitive and allergic to anything, so keep in mind while using essential oils safely:
1. Avoid Bay Rum, Roman and German Chamomile, Clary Sage, Juniper, Rose, Spearmint, Black Spruce, Thyme etc. during pregnancy.
2. For skin problems, skin irritation or sensitive skin, avoid Bay Rum, Bergamot, Citronella, Ginger, Lemon Yellow, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Scotch Pine, Black Spruce, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Thyme etc. as they may aggravate the disorder and sensitize the skin further.
3. Safe oils to use: Red Myrtle, Palmarosa, Pink Pepper, Ravensara, Spruce, Tea tree, Vanilla, Vetiver and others.
Buying essential oils is an art. Indeed, it is. This is because, when you buy, you buy with credibility in the purity of oils and the quality of the manufacturer. But mishaps do happen and your oil sometimes grows old, starts stinking or becomes imbalanced and invalid for use. This is why it is important to look for quality signs while buying. Above all, buying essential oils can be fun. You can try out any number of recipes even as an amateur. If safety precautions are adhered to, essential oils are safe and proper to use. You also get to know the shades of a blend, its top, middle and base notes while buying oils. In brief, you get a practical, down-to-earth knowledge on how to buy oils that would not trouble you in future and have a long life. This article will detail to you on what to monitor and look for while buying different essential oils.
Buying essential oils – Tips: When you buy essential oils, you may have to look up for one of the following things. The underlying fact is, you need to compare oils and choose the best out of them. Below are a few tips on how to do this:
1. Sniff and compare brands: Very important. An essential oil is first known by its scent/smell. If you are someone who wants to compare between two or more brands of essential oils, you need to sniff and find out the differences. Keep the oils at a distance of about 5 inches from your nose and compare/identify oils you like. Never use undiluted oil which is strong and can cause you headaches. Take breaks while comparing different scents/brands. This is because pure oils can enter our blood stream and invigorate all our senses. This would make every oil look the same and of the same aroma.
2. Look for label information: This is a must if you are intent on buying quality oils. Look for the Latin name and soil/growth information of the oils. Check if the essential oils are full of natural aromatics without any synthetics. Check if the oil is formulated to contain only the safe/allowed level of each ingredient included in it. Check for the date of harvest, month of distillation and packaging etc. This will give you a clue of how old an essential oil is.
3. Check for therapeutic, non-aromatic properties: An essential oil, if it is pure and of high quality, should have more of therapeutic, than aromatic properties. For instance, an oil like Tea Tree is a natural germ fighter, while German Chamomile is a killer anti-inflammatory that does not smell good. Check if the oil you buy can be used for any of these purposes: treatment of common ailments, emotional well-being, skin care, personal care, hygiene products, for massaging, personal/room/home fragrancing, cleaning and anti-microbial protection. If your oil is not therapeutic and is only aromatic, we suggest you to not buy it. This is because you can substitute such aromatic oils with other liquid materials like hydrosols, absolutes or CO2s.
Similarly, do not buy oils that have been diluted with carrier oils. You can find this out by pouring a drop of the oil on to a tissue paper. If the oil leaves a stain after evaporation, gather that it is not pure.
Essential oils, as you know, are plant substances that form the immune system of plants. When steam distilled or extracted from plant parts, they are pure and pristine, without any synthetic elements. Such pure essential oils can change over time. They can go rancid, oxidize, deteriorate and lose their therapeutic properties if they are not handled properly. To avoid any kind of damage, essential oils need to be stored and preserved in the right way. Be it of a small quantity or a large quantity, essential oils need special attention to keep them natural and untainted.
How to store essential oils? Before plunging into the dos and don’ts of storing essential oils, we need to look into the measurements of oils sold in the market. Essential oils are highly concentrated substances and hence a little goes a long way. Owing to this, they are sold only in 5ml, 10ml and 15ml quantities. Some of the costliest oils are sold even in 2ml or one dram sizes. This is being done to help preserve the quality and purity of oils sold. As oils age with time, they can lose their therapeutic value. If sold in large quantities, you may end up with oils that are of no use to you. Below are a few tips on how to store essential oils:
1. Do not store oils in plain, clear glass bottles. Most of the essential oils, especially the Citrus ones, are phototoxic and hence should not be exposed to sunlight. If clear bottles are used, there is every chance of sunlight entering the bottle and deteriorating the oil. To avoid this, don’t buy oils sold in clear glass bottles
2. Store essential oils in amber-colored or cobalt blue color bottles. These bottles filter UV rays from entering the oils inside and hence you have less chance of losing the therapeutic value of the oils.
3. Plastic bottles should be avoided completely. Essential oils react vehemently with plastic and eat it out. This will make them rancid and impure over time. To avoid this, never use plastic bottles.
4. Avoid bottles that have a rubber dropper incorporated into its screw-top cap. Droppers with rubber bulbs should not be kept with essential oil bottles as the oils can react with droppers and ruin them into a gum-like form. In the process, the oils can go rancid and impure.
5. Store all your essential oil bottles away from sunlight, in a cool and dark place. Ensure that they are out of reach of children and pets. A tiny drop of oil can be toxic if ingested without dilution. So, avoid such a scenario at any cost.
6. Store all your essential oil bottles in a wooden box. You can choose any wooden box from craft stores or bazaars. Even unfinished wood is no issue.
7. Check for an oil’s shelf life and properties before buying an oil. For instance, Citrus essential oils tend to deteriorate in six months time. While those like Patchouli or Sandalwood mature with age. If you know the shelf life of every oil you buy, you will be able to use them and conserve them properly.
8. Aluminum bottles are said to be safe for storing essential oils if they are lined on the insides. Check the nature and quality of bottles before you buy oils.
Finding a good aromatherapist is often more difficult than finding a good doctor. In the United States. Almost anyone can call themselves an aromatherapist as there is no standardization or Federal certification for aromatherapy or the alternative medicine that uses essential oils. This leads to a number of courses that offer certification on aromatherapy, the art of blending essential oils and so on. Confusion sets in, when your aromatherapy practitioner says he is an aromatherapist and not an aromatologist. There are subtle differences between aromatherapist, aromatologist, aromacologist and aromatherapy practitioner etc. This article will detail on how to identify the differences and find the right aromatherapist for yourself.
How to find qualified from quack? Qualified. You need to find one who has experience, qualification and sound knowledge in essential oils and aromatherapy. Any quack can boast himself as an aromatherapist and loot money from you if you are not shrewd enough to put him to rigorous questioning. Yes, before relating to a qualified aromatherapist, you need to put him to test and ask him about his details – aromatherapy study, experience as practitioner and successful cases handled.
If you live in the U.S., you need to find out what is your State’s stand on aromatherapy eduction and how it licenses/does not license aromatherapists. If you are in other countries, find out the Federal rule of your country and identify aromatherapists based on your State’s certification principles. It should be brought to light that there is no Fed-recognized certification for aromatherapists right now. There are only two kinds of aromatherapy practitioners – aromatherapists and aromatologists. An aromatherapist is an individual who has formal training in aromatherapy and has hands-on experience in the field of massage, nursing or cosmetology. An aromatologist is an individual who has formal training in the subject, but is not experienced in nursing or massaging or other related study. What is generally offered by aromatherapy institutions is a certificate or diploma in the subject and hence, you need to know the details of the course only from an aromatherapist before you undergo your therapy with him.
How to find an aromatherapist: There are several ways and below are a few of them:
1. Check your Yellow Pages: Best and easiest way out. You need to check your local Yellow Pages and find aromatherapists in Aromatherapy or Alternative Medicine columns. You can call the person to verify his credentials.
2. Ask local massage therapists: If you know of any massage therapist, you can ask them of aromatherapists they know. They would definitely be in touch with some renowned ones and so you can find the qualified from the quack.
3. Go online or on the spot: Check online or go to the spot of alternative medicine centers. You will definitely get a few leads to good aromatherapy practitioners.
4. Ask for details: Once you find a list of aromatherapists, you need to verify their credentials. You can do this by asking them about their formal training – Where and how long did you train yourself in aromatherapy? Do you have any certification for the same? This can be an appropriate question.
5. Certificate is not license: Having a certificate from a University is different from being licensed from the State. So, ask for that too.
6. Ask for hands-on experience: Distinguish whether the person is an aromatherapist or aromatologist. Find out the experience the aromatherapist has in massaging, nursing or other related study. This would help you find the authenticity of the person.
7. Observe the attitude: This is important. How does the individual feel when you ask all these question? Good, bad or terse or stressed? Or, does the person avoid such questions? This will help you know the true self of the practitioner.
The general misconception about aromatherapy is, people think it to be a complete alternative to traditional medicine and imagine that essential oils can cure everything from cancer to diabetes without the intake of oral drugs. This is wrong. Aromatherapy is just a complementary system of medicine and cannot or should not be used as the only kind of medicine. It can be added to the holistic way of healing you practice as it can alleviate your regular disease-symptoms and give you instant relief. However, that does not mean that essential oils can treat the disease in question.
Aromatherapy for beginners – Tips: Aromatherapy can be a difficult path for beginners if they go into it with preconceived myths or notions. Many who are new to essential oil usage, do not know what is to done and what is not to be done with regard to oils, their blending or usage properties.
Essential oils – Do’s and Don’ts: Below is a quick reference of how to and how not to use essential oils:
1. Read as much as possible about aromatherapy and the usage of essential oils. Knowing about it can save you time, money and waste of oils. You will get to know how to cure symptoms of serious ailments, common disorders and chronic diseases. Once you start applying aromatherapy principles, you will start feeling happy, relaxed and at home with yourself. You need to know about the various blends, properties of pure essential oils, carrier oils, grain alcohol, CO2s, absolutes etc.
2. Check for the purity of the essential oils you buy. Many companies promise pure quality essential oils when they know pretty well that they sell nothing but bad stuff. Beware of false claims by learning to identify purity through indicators – check for the plant’s Latin name, origin (place, country, growth conditions), extraction and distillation processes etc. with your buyer. If your buyer knows the properties of oils and can differentiate between a true and fake oil, chances are, he is well-acquainted with this aromatherapy business and can guide you in buying oils.
3. Start small. Do not end up making large quantity blends at the beginning. Even if you feel you are an expert in blending essential oils, avoid making blends in large quantities. Sometimes it can be a waste of time, money and effort. Start using oils in 5, 10, 20 drops.
4. Compare prices before you buy. Some essential oils cost more than others. If you know the difference, you will know which oil is worthier than which other. If your buyer sells all the oils at the same price, understand that he is cheating and never buy from him.
5. Don’t buy from buyers who sell oils in containers other than dark-colored glass bottles. This is because most of the oils are photo-sensitive and need to be stored in dark bottles to avoid being transformed due to the effect of sunlight.
6. Don’t purchase oils from village fairs, craft bazaars, farmer’s fairs/festivals etc. Many people sell aromatherapy oils as a hobby. Such people may not give you proper details of oils and may also not sell quality essential oils.
7. Don’t close oils with or buy oils that have rubber glass dropper tops. Essential oils are very concentrated and can turn the rubber into gum spoiling the purity of essential oils.
8. Don’t buy oils in large quantities. Every essential oil has a storage period. Some oils may go rancid if they are stored for a long time. Avoid it by storing oils only for a limited period of time.
Essential oils can cause health hazards if they are not of good quality or do not have therapeutic grade properties. Poor quality oils can mean oils which are adulterated, not properly distilled or produced from low quality crops. Such oils often do not last long and lose their aromatic and therapeutic properties too soon. Sometimes such poor quality oils can have harmful side effects and provide minimum benefits.
How not to buy essential oils: There are several nuances involved in buying essential oils. Below are a list of things to be noted/avoided while buying oils for aromatherapeutic use:
1. Don’t buy oils which are termed “fragrance oils”, “natural identical oils” or “perfume oils”. There are not therapeutic grade essential oils, but oils that are used for aromatic purposes. Many use the term aromatherapy for products that have no trace of the purity or essence of plant oils. Since aromatherapy is a popular alternative medicine, this malpractice has been on for years. So, avoid buying oils which are termed fragrance or perfume oils for aromatherapy.
2. Don’t buy oils without Latin name, place, country or region where the plant species has been grown. If it is a chemotype, the oil’s label should mention that too. Good quality essential oil companies do list all possible information about oils, their extraction methods and other valuable data. So, if an oil’s label does not have all these, understand that it is not of high quality.
3. Don’t buy oils with same prices. There’s should be something wrong with company which sells all oils for the same prices. For instance, therapeutic grade pure Patchouli may actually cost more that Eucalyptus. But if your vendor sells both the oils at equal price, understand that something maybe wrong with regard to quality or a compromise has been made somewhere.
4. Don’t buy essential oils from companies which sell to the food and beverage or perfumery industries. These industries do not buy oils for their therapeutic properties but for their aroma or flavor. Vendors who sell to them may not maintain the therapeutic standards required for aromatherapy use.
5. Don’t buy oils that are sold in clear bottles. Most of the essential oils are photo-toxic and hence are sensitive to light. Many of them lose their aroma or flavor with the impact of light. Oils in dark or brown glass bottles are not liable to loss. Some vendors sell in aluminum bottles. Don’t buy oils sold in aluminum if there is no lining inside the bottle. Also, never buy oils sold in plastic bottles as plastic tends to dissolve in the presence of highly concentrated essential oils.
6. Buy from vendors who are ready to offer you samples or advice you on the therapeutic use of each and every oil. Some sell essential oils as a hobby. Such vendors may not know about oils in depth. So, avoid buying from such aromatherapy-illiterate vendors.
7. Don’t buy from online without comparing rates between vendors. You can send emails or interact in the online forum of the vendor before buying a particular oil. An authentic vendor will provide possibility of such buyer-vendor interactions.
8. Organic oils are entirely different from non-organic ones. Non-organic ones can often be byproducts of a lot of synthetic processes. If you want to experience holistic healing, avoid buying from non-organic oils.
9. Start with small samples. Do not order in bulk if you are buying from a vendor new to you. Avoid purchasing from street fairs, craft exhibitions or festival markets as oils sold in such places maybe locally grown and may not be up to therapeutic mark.
10. Don’t go by words. Do a background check on your vendor’s authenticity. Many vendors use the term “pure essential oils” in all their labels. Often their oils are the most contaminated in the world. So, never go by words of your vendor or the label on your oil without doing a thorough check.