Twelve Essential Oil Relaxants
Bergamot, grown chiefly in Calabria, Italy, is a sour tasting citrus fruit whose rind ironically produces a sweet, lemon-y oil with a gentle, refreshing fragrance. Bergamot has been cultivated in South America and the United States, but the quality is incomparable to fruit grown in southern Italy's unique soil. The green or yellow oil is an important ingredient in many colognes and perfumes, and is used in the production of Earl Grey tea, giving the drink its characteristic aroma. Bergamot is considered the finest citrus oil and is sometimes called the ''sunny'' oil. It has a soothing, calming effect and simultaneously energizes and uplifts the spirit.
Bergamot is good for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and herpes, acne and oily skin. It's excellent for cystitis and urinary tract infections, as well as for reducing fever. It balances the appetite, and is useful for weight reduction as well as stimulating the appetite.
The anti-depressant qualities of bergamot make it ideal for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) on cold, gray days. It's mild, sedating effect helps control anger, relieve stress, reduce nervous tension, fear and anxiety.
- Bergamot should not be used on the skin neat. It should only be used in a carrier oil, lotion or bath water. A few drops in a solution is adequate.
- Since most bergamot oil is photosensitive, to prevent severe skin reaction, it should not be used on skin within 12 hours prior to sun exposure. However, bergamot oil labeled 'Bergaptine Free' or 'Bergamot FCF' (Furo-Coumarin Free) is safe even in direct sunlight and will not cause a reaction.
Chamomile oil, a deep-blue substance extracted from white, daisy-like flowers, is a sweet, herbal aroma with a fruity, somewhat bitter undertone. When dried, the flowers are used to make highly aromatic chamomile tea, a drink commonly used to promote relaxation. There are many varieties of chamomile, but the German and Roman species are believed to have the best medicinal value. Chamomile is soothing, calming and balancing with a gentle rejuvenating or restorative effect.
This is one of the few essential oils that can be used safely on infants and children, as well as during pregnancy.
Chamomile oil is an anti-inflammatory agent useful in treating skin rash, blisters, and allergies, including eczema. It also has analgesic properties and is useful in the treatment of deep, persistent pain, muscle tension or spasm. It is excellent for reducing stomach ache, pre-menstrual cramping and headache, including migraine. Because of its gentleness, a few drops diluted in boiling water can be used to make a soothing eye compress to treat conjunctivitis or tired eyes.
Chamomile's calming and sedating effect make it a traditional ingredient in massage oil to promote overall relaxation. It's a favorite for balancing mood swings, emotionality, anxiety, nervous tension and insomnia.
- Chamomile oil that is no longer blue and has begun turning green is not fresh and should be discarded.
Clary sage, commonly called salvia, is a tall herb with purple-green, hairy leaves and a profusion of small white or pale violet flowers. Steaming the petals and leaves yields a sweet, musky oil with nutty, floral tones, the most euphoric of essential oils, uplifting, intoxicating, deeply relaxing and revitalizing.
Physically, this oil is an excellent analgesic, particularly for abdominal and stomach pain, including menstrual cramps, menopausal symptoms such as 'hot flashes,' and labor pain. Clary sage relieves headache, including migraine, and is an effective chest massage to alleviate asthma. It is often used to treat dandruff and promote healthy scalp and hair.
Clary sage oil can produce a drug-like ''high,'' and is a powerful aid in treating depression, anxiety, and melancholy. It is useful in reducing stress that diminishes sexuality and thus is considered an aphrodisiac. This oil also aids in focusing the mind and results in more creative thinking, as well as restful sleep and vivid, pleasant dreams. Clary sage is often used to achieve a meditative state.
- Use of euphoric oil such as clary sage is not compatible with alcohol consumption or recreational drug use.
- This oil should be avoided throughout pregnancy and never used on infants or children under 18.
The frankincense tree grows in India and Middle Eastern and African countries, including Oman, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Its milky-white resin hardens into orange-brown ''tears,'' which when steamed produce an essential oil with a fresh, woody, fragrance with balsamic, smokey tones. Frankincense has been used for centuries in purification rites of Judaic, Christian and Islamic religions to remove negativity and was a gift of the Magi to the infant Jesus. This oil, used as a disinfectant and perfume fixative, is also an ingredient for incense. Generally, it is calming, uplifting and rejuvenating.
Frankincense is one of the best essential oils for skin care, an excellent therapy for dry, sensitive or mature skin that has lost its elasticity. This oil is used to restore skin tone and prevent wrinkles. It also helps reduce scars and stretch marks. Additionally, frankincense oil is helpful in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, coughing spell, sinusitis, cold and sore throat. Medical research was conducted in 2008 at the University of Connecticut and the U.C. Davis in California, using a frankincense compound to successfully treat osteoarthritis of the knee.
This is the most valuable essential oil for inducing slow, deep breathing, alleviating fear and developing courage and emotional strength. It is also an aid for eliminating sadness, anxiety, nervous tension, stress, and nightmares. Frankincense inspires prayer, meditation and mystical states of mind.
Lavender oil comes from the purple or violet flowers of a bushy shrub with gray or green leaves grown globally, but the most desirable comes from France and England. The colorless to pale yellow-green oil has a clean, floral fragrance, slightly sweet, with subtle balsamic or woody undertones. Known as the Queen of Essential Oils, or the cure-all oil, lavender is the best all-around essential oil. It blends well with other essences and boosts their effectiveness. If you can have only one oil, make it lavender. This oil, believed to activate the pineal gland in the brain, balances and normalizes body functions, as well as emotions, and has been used for thousands of years for its soothing, calming and relaxing effect. Lavender is frequently used in skin care products, perfume, soap and household cleaners. It can be used safely on children and infants when diluted in a carrier oil or lotion.
Lavender is an excellent analgesic for muscle ache/spasm and headache when used in massage oil or bath water. It is effective for relieving symptoms of cold, sinus congestion and bronchitis, as well as for counteracting virus and infection. Oil of lavender can be applied undiluted (neat) directly on flesh wounds and burns, including sunburn, to relieve pain, combat infection and speed healing and skin restoration. Lavender is both a treatment for insect bites, as well as an insect repellent. Other skin conditions treated with lavender are acne and itching due to allergies.
The aroma of lavender helps control irritability, anger, anxiety, mood swings, hyperactivity and insomnia. The cooling effect of this soothing oil aids insight, rationality, clear thinking and meditation.
- Lavender should be avoided during the first three months of pregnancy.
Marjoram, a bushy herb with dark silver-green leaves, downy stem and clusters of tiny, pinkish white flowers, yields a colorless oil with a spicy, warm, woody aroma. It's been used in perfume, ointment and as a food flavoring since the time of Ancient Egypt. Marjoram is known as ''the great comforter'' for its strong and powerful sedating effect.
Marjoram helps with all types of pain because it dilates blood vessels and creates a warming effect and improves circulation. It is successful in reducing sharp, steady pain from migraine headache, sore muscles, stiff joints, even chronic pain of arthritis and rheumatism. An abdominal massage with marjoram oil relieves constipation and flatulence. Marjoram's heavily sedating property is anaphrodisiac and helps reduce sexual desire during celibacy.
Emotionally, marjoram oil is effective when dealing with grief, extreme melancholy or loneliness. Marjoram can also be used for hyperactivity(ADD/ADHD) hysteria, obsession (OCD) and trauma (PTS), as well as insomnia. Inhaling this soothing aroma gives comfort, solace, fortitude, inner strength and endurance.
- Marjoram can be numbing and should be used with discretion. Excessive, or long-term use should be avoided to prevent dulling of the senses.
- Marjoram should be avoided throughout pregnancy.
Neroli, also called orange blossom, is the pale yellow oil from deeply fragrant white flowers of the Seville orange. It has a delicate, fresh floral fragrance with a strong, bitter-sweet undertone and is an ingredient in many popular perfumes. The oil is associated with innocence and purity, like the blossom, a traditional wedding flower, from which it is extracted. The fragrance emanating from the bridal bouquet is believed to soothe the nerves of an anxious bride or groom. The aroma is calming, uplifting and mildly hypnotic. This hauntingly beautiful fragrance is one of the costliest essential oils.
Neroli oil is a cell regenerator and is effective in noticeably rejuvenating all skin types, especially mature, dry and sensitive skin. Neroli tones facial skin and muscle, making it a choice ingredient in skin-care products, massage or bath oil. A neroli massage in the abdominal region will relieve intestinal spasms related to diarrhea.
Neroli is the recommended choice of aromatherapists for treating chronic anxiety, disappointment, and shock. It helps alleviate depression, despair, panic attacks, hysteria and post-traumatic stress (PTS), and instills confidence, initiative and optimism. Neroli is a subtle aphrodisiac, particularly helpful in overcoming shyness, nerves or fear of sexual encounter. The cheerful, uplifting property of this oil aids meditation, creative thinking and healing on all levels of body, mind and spirit.
Rose bushes, familiar to everyone, yield an essential oil from flower petals, ranging in color from pale pink to deep scarlet red. The most common species for aromatherapy are the Damascus, Cabbage or French Rose. ''Rose otto,'' obtained by water distillation, is the most expensive essential oil on the market, between $500 and $1,400 per ounce, or $1.25 to $4.00 per drop. This clear to pale yellow oil has a delicate, subtle aroma that is light, sweet and spicy.
"Rose Absolute,'' distilled with solvent (alcohol), varies in color from orange to brown and has a deep, dusky and honeyed aroma, much stronger than rose otto, but available at half the price. Some aromatherapists consider rose absolute inferior, but other than a difference in fragrance, the properties and benefits of rose otto and rose absolute are generally the same.
The rose is considered by many the most regal of flowers, the finest and most elegant flower in the garden. It traditionally symbolizes true love and its essential oil is a tonic for the physical heart as well as emotions. It is a tender, uplifting and soothing aroma that has been used for centuries to heal both heart and soul.
A rose oil massage or bath is a preferred treatment for female reproductive problems including premenstrual cramps and emotionality (PMS), menopause, and postpartum depression. Rose oil is also a choice ingredient in skin-care products for all skin types, but especially for treating mature, dry or sensitive skin. This essential oil is an aphrodisiac for both men and women, alleviating sexual anxiety and inspiring confidence in one's ability to express sensuality.
Essential oil of rose alleviates sadness, disappointment and grief, while nurturing and strengthening the inner spirit. It creates a comforting feeling that allows one to experience and express love toward others, as well as themself.
- Rose oil should be avoided in early pregnancy, especially if there is a history of miscarriage, but it is perfectly safe in the second and third trimesters.
Sandalwood oil is distilled from roots and heartwood from the inner part of the sandalwood tree, an evergreen whose wood is among the strongest and heaviest in the world. Its pale to dark yellow essential oil is the richest and longest lasting of essential oils and the beautiful fragrance is enhanced with time, rather than becoming rancid as most oils when they age. The sweet, woody aroma with touches of balsam and spice has a balancing, harmonizing effect on the psyche and has been used in religious rituals for thousands of years to aid prayer and meditation. Sandalwood is appealing to both male and female senses and is widely used to make perfume for both sexes, as well as incense. The fragrance is erotic, relaxing and uplifting.
Indian sandalwood is the finest and most desirable. However, it has become an endangered species and its oil is consequently quite costly. Australian sandalwood oil, approximately half the price of Indian sandalwood, is considered a satisfactory and comparable substitute by most aromatherapy experts.
Sandalwood is the main essential oil for treating bronchitis and laryngitis, because of its antiseptic as well as soothing and calming properties. It is also used for the treatment of urinary and bladder infections and fluid retention. Its astringent and balancing quality makes sandalwood appropriate for treating acne and other skin and scalp conditions resulting from dry, flaky skin. Sandalwood in massage oil or bath water is an overall body and mind relaxer, good for tension headaches and insomnia.
Sandalwood relieves sadness, aggression and obsessive thinking. It's a powerful aphrodisiac, especially when frigidity or impotence result from stress, depression or feelings of isolation.
- Sandalwood oil should not be applied neat (undiluted) to skin.
Essential oil of spearmint is distilled from the pink or lilac flowers at the head of this busy herb with spear-shaped, green leaves that grow to approximately 3 feet. The pale yellow-green oil has a fresh, minty aroma, similar to peppermint but sweeter and milder. This is an excellent, less harsh alternative to peppermint for children. It's a common flavoring in chewing gum, candy, food and medication because of its sweet, cooling, and calming effect. Spearmint tea makes an excellent bedtime drink. Ancient Greeks used spearmint in bath water for its antiseptic and refreshing properties.
Spearmint essential oil works well for chronic respiratory problems, such as bronchitis and sinusitis and accompanying headache or chest pain. It also is used for common digestive problems caused by tension or spasm. When massaged on the abdomen this oil will relax stomach muscles and relieve hiccups, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, constipation or diarrhea, and also treats motion sickness. Spearmint is excellent for whitening teeth and promoting healthy gum tissue. When added to a facial cleanser, spearmint clears and tightens pores, leaving skin toned and firm.
Oil of spearmint's uplifting and refreshing properties make it a good choice for alleviating mental fatigue and mild depression. Spearmint also brings a feeling of balance and tranquility during periods of stress or anxiety.
- Although spearmint is a common flavoring in foods and over-the-counter medications, essential oil of spearmint, as with all essential oils, should be ingested only under the direction of a licensed health practitioner.
- Spearmint might irritate eyes or sensitive skin, even when diluted in a carrier.
Tea tree is actually a shrub with medium green to yellow needlelike leaves; also known as paper bark, tea tree's bark is papery and white. Essential oil extracted from tea tree leaves and twigs is pale yellow with a pungent, spicy, aroma, somewhat like nutmeg, and having a slight camphor odor. Oil of tea tree is the most medicinal essential oil for fighting all three infectious organisms: bacteria, viruses and fungi. Its powerful antiseptic plus immunogenic properties make it a preferred choice for combating a variety of illnesses and ailments. This is an excellent all-around first-aid ointment. Tea tree oil generates penetrating warmth and healing both physically and emotionally.
Essential oil of tea tree can be applied neat (undiluted) to effectively treat skin rash, athlete's foot, nail fungus, cold sores, herpes, insect bites, head lice, skin abrasions and acne. Vaginal yeast infection (candida) can be treated with warm tea tree baths and regular abdominal massage with tea tree in a carrier oil. With steam inhalation and gargling, this oil alleviates cold symptoms and sore throat. Used routinely it prevents colds from developing into bronchitis, sinusitis or laryngitis. Regular baths and massage with tea tree oil help boost the immune system, especially in cases of long term, debilitating illnesses such as mononucleosis or Epstein-Barr Virus. Tea tree, mixed with aloe vera gel, reduces the pain and discomfort associated with shingles.
Tea tree's powerful aroma clears the mind, aids concentration, and counters fatigue. This oil also inspires self-confidence, helps dispel the gloom of chronic illness and fosters a positive, creative attitude toward healing. It also provides a subtle feeling of inner strength and endurance.
- Tea tree oil should be used in moderation - a maximum of 4 drops in bath water, and 2% in massage oil or lotion.
- This oil might irritate sensitive skin.
The essential oil of ylang-ylang is extracted from large yellow tropical flowers of the cananga tree which blooms profusely year-round in Indonesia. Translated from Malayan, ylang-ylang means 'flower of flowers.' This pale yellow, clear oil has an intensely sweet, almond and floral fragrance, with an exotic, woody and balsamic note. It has an exotic, seductive smell which is soothing, euphoric and sedating, making ylang-ylang a popular ingredient with perfumers and confectioners. 'Ylang-ylang extra,' the highest grade of this oil, is generally preferred for aromatherapy over grades 1, 2 or 3.
The primary medicinal use of ylang-ylang is treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension), heart palpitations and rapid breathing. Ylang-ylang is an ingredient in skin and hair care products for the treatment of excessive oiliness. This oil is a powerful aphrodisiac, useful in the treatment of impotence and frigidity when massaged on the abdomen and groin. The sweet, rich fragrance helps release inhibition and evoke passion.
Ylang-ylang is useful to reduce general stress and tension. It also helps overcome sadness, frustration and anger, as well as more severe emotional problems including panic attacks and post-traumatic stress (PTS). By creating a feeling of peace and tranquility, ylang-ylang unlocks repressed feelings and aids in meditation, creative thinking and artistic expression. A few drops of ylang-ylang in bath water before bedtime helps relax both mind and body, making it a choice treatment for insomnia.
- Ylang-ylang should be used in tiny amounts and for short periods of time. Extended or excessive use might result in headache or nausea.
- Blending with a citrus oil, such as bergamot or neroli, to lighten the effect of ylang-ylang helps prevent negative side effects.