Thursday, December 01, 2016
THE BASIC CARE KIT: An Excerpt from THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ESSENTIAL OILS AND AROMATHERAPY by Valerie Ann Worwood
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| When New World Library first published Valerie Ann Worwood’s book twenty-five years ago, its subject matter was new. Over the years the book has become the trusted, tested, last word in its field, as aromatherapy has been accepted in medical and mental health care, as well as home and workplace environments.
In the revised and expanded 25th Anniversary Edition of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments, Valerie’s clear and positive voice provides the tools we need to create health, beauty, and safe environments — in a way that offers natural, nontoxic comfort and care.
We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book, in which Valerie introduces the 10 essential oils (out of the 125 that she covers in detail in the book) that she recommends as a nice starting selection for most home practitioners.
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Essential oils are versatile — each one can perform a variety of functions. There are 10 essential oils in the Basic Care Kit, which between them will manage a huge number of problems. The short profile of each of these oils that follows may help you decide which to include in your kit, and which to add as time goes on. The choice will very much depend on your own requirements.
The 10 essential oils in this Basic Care Kit also feature strongly throughout this book and have useful applications for a wide diversity of purposes — from health care to well-being to the enhancement of mind, mood, and emotion, from skin care to gardening, and from home care to celebrations. So on all counts these oils make a hugely helpful contribution to any household.
In addition to these 10 oils, other useful additions to your care kit would be aloe vera gel, witch hazel water, rose water, and lavender and chamomile hydrolat. Aloe vera comes from the leaf of the aloe vera succulent plant (Aloe barbadensis
) and is a fine healing agent for cuts, inflammation, and burns, as well as being a good carrying agent for the essential oils. It can be bought in gel or liquid form, or try growing your own plant so you can cut a leaf and squeeze out the gel whenever you need it. Witch hazel, extracted from the shrub Hamamelis virginiana
, is known for its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Rose hydrolat is a by-product of the distillation of the various varieties of rose essential oil and is used for its mild antiseptic and soothing properties. You will also need a neutral carrier oil or two to dilute the essential oils, such as sweet almond. Clove bud essential oil is another very useful essential oil to add to your Basic Care Kit for its analgesic and other properties.
The 10 essential oils I have chosen for the Basic Care Kit are versatile, easy to use, and readily available. Compared to many other essential oils, they are reasonably priced, so it should be possible for you to purchase oils of good quality. Let us now have a brief look at the 10 essential oils that comprise the Basic Care Kit.
The Basic Care Kit Oils
LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender is an indispensable essential oil — it’s not only useful to have at home but many people won’t leave home without it. In a sense, it’s the mother of all essential oils: incredibly versatile, yet powerful. The aroma doesn’t suit all tastes, but when someone suffers a minor burn or scald, a cut or graze, an insect bite or a headache, a tooth abscess or sleeplessness, it’s lavender they call for.
Not only is lavender a spectacular healer that also prevents scarring, it’s a mood tonic that brings calm, relaxation, and stress relief. Lavender oil is a natural antiseptic, antibiotic, and slightly antifungal agent that’s also a sedative and antidepressant. Although not known specifically as a circulatory stimulant, lavender oil certainly seems to allay the effects of clinical shock. Lavender is one of the few essential oils that could be applied undiluted to the skin in certain acute conditions.
GERANIUM (Pelargonium graveolens)
Geranium is deceptively charming. If the quality is good, the aroma of geranium essential oil is clean and floral and enjoyed by most everyone, including children and teenagers. The sweet aroma of geranium masks the fact that this is an antiseptic and antibacterial oil, making it a good choice to include in anti-infective blends, while also being an analgesic. Geranium is indispensable in the treatment of circulatory and blood disorders; it will help chilblains to disappear and help alleviate the effects of frostbite. Geranium brings hormonal balance and is a vital component in addressing female reproductive conditions, including menstrual and menopausal problems and infertility.
Geranium oil is excellent in body care and brings a radiant glow when used in skin care. Its astringent properties contribute to its general usefulness. It also works profoundly on the emotions, serving as a nerve tonic and as a sedative. It’s fantastic in blends because just one drop used as a back note will mask a healing aroma that might otherwise be too medicinal. Aromatically, geranium is an equalizer, making everything smell a bit better, and as such it is a great all-rounder in room fragrances.
THYME LINALOL (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool)
There are several types of Thymus vulgaris essential oil available, but the chemotype (ct.) linalool
is preferred because it’s versatile, has a long history of use in clinical aromatherapy, and is more compatible with skin applications because it’s considered nonirritating.
Thyme linalol is like a valued warrior, having powerful antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Few oils are as useful as thyme linalol when there’s an internal infection of some sort, or when “flu” or other contagious conditions are a threat. Even one or two drops of thyme linalol used in a room diffuser mix of, for example, geranium, lemon, and cardamom will add purifying anti-infectious protection.
The antimicrobial aspects of thyme linalol are enhanced by other properties attributed to this oil, such as its immune stimulant and diuretic properties. Thyme linalol is excellent in the treatment of soft tissue and joint conditions, including rheumatism. It’s also used in cases of neuralgia and fatigue and in hair- and skin-care regimes, including those for acne. In addition, thyme linalol is a good brain stimulant, boosting the capacity for analytical thought.
CHAMOMILE ROMAN (Anthemis nobilis)
There are several essential oil–producing plants called chamomile, but the two most commonly used in aromatherapy and known as the true chamomiles are chamomile roman, which is included here, and chamomile german (Matricaria recutita
), which is distinguished by its beautiful deep-blue color, due to a high azulene content.
Chamomile roman is an excellent anti-inflammatory oil, which makes it valuable in a wide range of conditions. It is also antiseptic, antibacterial, and when combined with other oils, analgesic, and it is used in recovery from burns, including sunburn, as well as for asthma, sprains, strains, diarrhea, nausea, and fever. It is also used for a variety of skin care issues, including in rejuvenation treatments. Chamomile roman is calming and sedative — particularly effective in the treatment of nervous conditions, depressive states, and insomnia. It has a balancing effect in blends.
Chamomile is a strong but humble oil that works on the mind, body, and spirit, the psychological as well as the physical. As it’s essentially a soothing oil, chamomile roman is good to use with children, and also with the inner child in adults. This is an oil with many subtle levels.
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a good analgesic essential oil, useful in the treatment of all muscular problems, as well as joint conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism. It’s used both for respiratory tract issues and, in small amounts, for conditions of the liver and kidneys.
Rosemary is a very stimulating essential oil, having an effect on both the physical body and the analytical mind. All these attributes make rosemary energizing when facing an exhausting, mentally challenging day, or following a physically stressful one.
Rosemary is an aid to memory — whether required for enhancing the ability of the brain to function well or exploring long-term emotional memory. It’s also used in the treatment of depression, migraine, headaches, anxiety, and stress. Rosemary is helpful in a variety of beauty treatments, including those for cellulite, acne, and hair care. For the sportsperson, cook, or gardener, rosemary is invaluable.
PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint is hugely helpful in all problems of the digestive tract, including indigestion, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomach-derived halitosis. It’s also useful in certain conditions of the respiratory and circulatory systems and as an all-round tonic. Peppermint is an analgesic, antiseptic, cooling, anti-inflammatory oil with some antifungal properties. It has a place in the treatment of catarrh, headaches, migraines, skin irritations, rheumatism, toothache, and fatigue. In small amounts, it can be incorporated into complex perfumes or room blends, providing a subtle back note. It has a unique place in cookery, while also being able to keep ants, fleas, and mice away. Peppermint is a multipurpose oil, and a useful addition to the Basic Care Kit.
CARDAMOM (Elettaria cardamomum)
Cardamom has layers of healing ability, starting with its calming effect on the digestive system, making it a good choice when dealing with flatulence, stomach or abdominal cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease. Cardamom is antibacterial and antifungal, as well as analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It helps ease muscular cramps and spasm and, as an adaptogen, has a calming yet stimulating effect. Cardamom can also be used for most types of coughs and is useful for respiratory problems, as well as for certain types of food-related infection.
As if all this were not enough, cardamom can be used in cases of exhaustion — whether physical, mental, or emotional. It’s stimulating in cases of tiredness or fatigue, yet has a calming effect on the mind and nerves during times of stress. Cardamom has a balancing and harmonizing effect on the body and mind. It’s also a gentle ingredient in skin preparations and can be used in cooking.
LEMON (Citrus limon)
Lemon essential oil has a tonic action on the lymphatic system and a stimulating action on the digestive system. It can be used to alleviate bilious attacks, and when combined with other essential oils, it can contribute to the treatment of verrucas, insect bites, and tension headaches.
Lemon can assist the metabolic function and is useful in skin care. Although slightly sedative and calming, lemon essential oil greatly aids focus and concentration, especially when part of a blend. The fresh, clean aroma of lemon is universally liked, making it highly useful as a synergistic addition to room fragrances and perfuming blends. This antiseptic and uplifting essential oil has a place in household care and, of course, is invaluable as a flavoring agent. Lemon essential oil can be used for so many things — as a water purifier, in skin care and body treatments — it is a true all-rounder.
EUCALYPTUS RADIATA (Eucalyptus radiata)
Eucalyptus radiata has been chosen for the Basic Care Kit because it’s the species of the genus Eucalyptus
that can safely be used on those with long-term chronic conditions, while also being a strong and effective essential oil.
Eucalyptus radiata is perhaps best known for its effectiveness against respiratory tract infections, but it has many other uses too. This is an antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, and analgesic essential oil, with anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and deodorizing properties. As part of complex blends, eucalyptus radiata can also be helpful in the treatment of cystitis and candida. It cools the body in summer, while also treating sunburn and deterring insects, and it is warming in the winter, while keeping infection at bay.
TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree essential oil is antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal — making it useful for a wide range of conditions. It’s used in the treatment of various infections, including candida, ringworm, and athlete’s foot, as well as for toothache, sunburn, cuts and grazes, and various skin conditions, including acne. It could also be incorporated into mouthwashes and hair shampoos. Tea tree oil is widely used as an insect repellent and to treat insect stings. Although the aroma is not to everyone’s taste, it can easily be disguised with other essential oils for use in room diffusion methods when someone in the household has a contagious airborne infection.
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Valerie Ann Worwood
is the author of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
and numerous other books about essential oils. She has a doctorate in complementary health and is a clinical aromatherapist who teaches around the world, training therapists and practitioners. She lives in Sussex, United Kingdom.
Excerpted from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
. Copyright © 1991, 2016 by Valerie Ann Worwood