Category Archives: Essential Oils

Radiata Oil – A Gentle Relative of Eucalyptus Oil With Similar Properties

Radiata Oil - A Gentle Relative of Eucalyptus Oil With Similar PropertiesYes, radiata is a type of eucalyptus—but its chemical composition is different enough from Eucalyptus globulus that we have elected to offer radiata essential oil separately, as its very own product. Even plants belonging to the same genus can produce very different essential oils at the species level; for example, take sweet annie and wormwood oil: while both plants belong to the genus Artemisia, their essential oils contain a distinct range of compounds that have different effects. In the case of the eucalyptuses, Eucalyptus radiata is widely considered to have a sweeter, gentler scent that lacks the more medicinal overtones of its famous cousin Eucalyptus globulus. Radiata essential oil is often used to treat the same conditions as eucalyptus oil in people who are too sensitive to the camphoraceous scent of eucalyptus.

Both Eucalyptus radiata and E. globulus are evergreen trees native to Australia [1]. Radiata has lance-shaped glossy green leaves and grayish brown bark that comes off in parchment-like layers, which is why it’s sometimes also known as the “paperbark” tree. In the wild, radiata trees grow to an average height of 15 meters (48 feet), and occasionally can reach heights of 30 meters (97 feet)[2]!

Australian aborigines used a wide variety of plant medicines in traditional medicine. Eucalyptus was one of the first and foremost of these, used to treat ailments from aching muscles and sore joints to respiratory infections, burns, and open wounds [2]. One common practice was to crush eucalyptus leaves into a poultice that could be applied to cuts and wounds to speed healing and prevent infections due to antimicrobial compounds in the leaf. Eucalyptus leaves were also burned and the vapors inhaled to treat fevers, and a distillation of eucalyptus leaves in water was often consumed to relieve menstrual cramps and stomach upset [2].

There are 6 known chemotypes of radiata oil [1], each with a slightly different ratio and composition of compounds; the chemotype we offer at Essential Oil Exchange contains naturally high levels of piperitone, used to synthesize the antimicrobial compounds menthol and thymol, which are found in mouthwashes, lozenges and commercial disinfectants [2]. Radiata essential oil also contains phellandrene, camphene, cymene, terpinene, and thujene.

The oil of radiata is used in aromatherapy as an analgesic rub for sore muscles and joints due to its anti-inflammatory [3], warming, and circulatory stimulant properties. Radiata oil is also inhaled in diffusion to support the immune system [3] and treat respiratory infections [2] and conditions ranging from sinusitis to nasal catarrh and chest congestion, especially wet congestion resulting from the production of excess mucus. The vapor of radiata oil can help clear this congestion by acting to regulate mucus secretion [4]. The oil is also sometimes diffused outdoors as an insect repellent [2], along with lemongrass and citronella oil.

Finally, we couldn’t conclude this article without mentioning some of the lovely blendings radiata oil makes with other essential oils! Aromatherapists often enhance the efficacy of essential oils by combining them to create a therapeutic synergy, and radiata oil is no exception. A blend of radiata oil with similar antimicrobial and expectorant essential oils such as Eucalyptus globulus, peppermint, and thyme may be invaluable in staving off winter colds while invigorating the senses and relieving general feelings of sluggishness and apathy. For a blend with enhanced anti-inflammatory and circulatory stimulant effects, a small quantity of radiata essential oil may be blended in a carrier oil with ginger, marjoram, Roman and German chamomile, and black pepper oil.


1. “Eucalyptus radiata.” Wikipedia. Last modified February 18th, 2014.

2. “Eucalyptus Radiata Essential Oil”. Quinessence Aromatherapy. Accessed April 22nd, 2014.

3. Serafino, A., PS Sinibaldi Vallebona, F Andreola, M Zonfrillo, L Mercuri, M Federici, G Rasi, E Garaci and P Pierimarci. 2008. “Stimulatory effect of Eucalytpus essential oil on innate cell-mediated immune response.” BMC Immunology 9 (17).

4. Juergens, Uwe R., Tanja Engelen, Kurt Racké, Meinolf Stöber, Adrian Gillisser, Hans Vetter. October 2004. “Inhibitory activity of 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) on cytokine production in cultured human lymphocytes and monocytes.” Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics 17 (5): 281-87.

Sweet Annie Oil Soothes Inflammation in the Body

Sweet Annie Oil Soothes Inflammation in the BodyThis close relative of wormwood has been a go-to in European and Chinese herbal medicine for centuries, especially as a women’s medicine for treating dysmenorrhea and painful childbirth. Though it is related to the absinthe wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), sweet annie (Artemisia annua) contains no thujone [5], which gives it a higher safety margin for therapeutic use. Thus, sweet annie essential oil is much more broadly used in aromatherapy compared to wormwood oil.

Native to Eurasia, the sweet annie plant is a perennial herbaceous shrub with feathery green leaves and small yellow flowers. The whole plant exudes a camphor-like odor, especially when the leaves are rubbed, and sweet annie essential oil has a strong dry-woody, licorice-like scent. The oil is yellow to brownish green and blends best with sweet orange, jasmine, lavender, and oakmoss.

Also called annual wormwood, in European herbalism sweet annie was used as a tea to bring down fevers and was believed to be the antidote to many poisons. People would strew the dried foliage on the floor in their homes as a moth repellent and in the belief that the sweet odors would repel the miasmas thought reponsible for the plague and other illnesses. Like absinthe wormwood, sweet annie leaves were sometimes used as a flavoring additive in beer before Bavarian purity laws restricted the allowable ingredients in beer to barley, hops, and water.

Traditional Chinese medicine classifies sweet annie as a heat-clearing herb with cooling and drying actions; the tea is used to treat conditions believed to be brought on by too much heat and wetness in the body’s humors, such as fever, jaundice, indigestion, and dysentery [1]. One traditional treatment that has found a place in modern medicine is sweet annie’s action against malaria: artemisinin, a compound extracted from sweet annie foliage, has been demonstrated to be highly effective at killing the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum [2].

Always perform a patch test with sweet annie essential oil diluted in a carrier oil, as it can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive people. Pregnant or nursing women, or those with compromised immune systems or taking immunosuppressive drugs (for example, anti-rejection drugs) should not use sweet annie essential oil, as the oil can lower immune function [3]. In aromatherapy, sweet annie oil is used topically in small amounts to treat headaches, menstrual discomfort, fevers, and fungal skin infections such as athlete’s foot [4]. The oil also has suspected anti-viral effects, which is why some people inhale sweet annie oil from a diffuser to treat respiratory infections, as well as for congestion and nasal catarrh [3].

Like many essential oils, sweet annie oil can be blended with various essential oils that have similar effects to create a therapeutic synergy. Common blends combine sweet annie with other anti-inflammatory essential oils such as lavender and jasmine for the relief of headaches, menstrual discomfort and other conditions related to inflammation in the body. Though sweet annie tea is no longer a common medical treatment for malaria (having given way to more concentrated artemsinin extracts), the essential oil of sweet annie has recognized anti-infectious properties [3], especially when combined with anti-microbial powerhouses such as sweet orange, lemon, and other citrus oils!


1. Dharmandanda, Subhuti. “CHING-HAO and the Artemisias Used in Chinese Medicine.” Institute for Traditional Medicine. Accessed April 11th, 2014.

2. Cumming, JN, P Ploypradith, and GH Posner. 1997. “Anti-malarial activity of artemisinin (qinghaosu) and related trioxanes: mechanism(s) of action.” Advances in Pharmacology 37: 253-97.

3. “Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua)” Healthline: Drugs A-Z.” Accessed April 11th, 2014.

4. “Ask Granny Earth- Artemisia annua (Sweet Annie)”. Granny Earth, Naturopath. Accessed April 9th, 2014.

5. Tisserand, Robert, and Rodney Young. 1995. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Elseiver Health Sciences.

White Sage Oil Cleanses the Spirit of Negative Influences

White Sage Oil Cleanses the Spirit of Negative InfluencesThough most people are more familiar with European sage (Salvia officinalis), anyone who’s ever smelled the incense at a Native American smudging ceremony is already intimately familiar with white sage! Native American tribes in southwestern North America from California to Mexico have used white sage ceremonially, in medicine, and even as a staple food. Today, more and more people in alternative medicine and spiritual communities are realizing the potential of white sage essential oil in spiritual cleansing and increasing awareness of the sacred.

White sage is Salvia apiana, a North American sage species native to the Sierra Nevada region of California, the southwestern U.S., and northwestern Mexico. An evergreen perennial shrub, white sage has fuzzy whitish leaves that exude a strong smell when rubbed. Its small purple or white flowers are mainly pollinated by bees, and the plant’s species name, apiana, comes from this association with bees (or apiae in Latin)[2].

As a desert species, white sage needs well-drained soil and full sun to thrive, and grows mainly in dry pine forests, coastal scrub, and chaparral environments [2]. Because white sage is very drought tolerant, it quickly became a staple food for Native American tribes living in these regions: the seeds were commonly pounded into flour and then mixed with wheat grains to make biscuits and a kind of gruel [3]; the Chumash people of the American southwest eat the leaves and stems of white sage as well [2]. Sage seeds were also a popular flavoring in pinole, a kind of Aztec gruel (also consumed as a beverage) made from ground corn with herbal flavoring additives [2]. Pinole consumption was widespread in much of Mesoamerica before the arrival of the Spanish.

Medicinally, white sage seeds were sometimes used to remove small objects from the eye [3], a practice that paralleled the use of clary sage seeds in medieval Europe. Cahuilla women would also drink a tea made from white sage root to regain their strength and vitality after childbirth [3]. However, by far the greatest use of white sage in herbalism continues to be as a spiritual medicine for cleansing the mind and heart of negative influences: white sage has been used for centuries as a smudge to purify a space before ritual and magical work [3]. This humble plant has been gradually making its way into spiritual practices far outside southwestern Native American traditions, and bundles of white sage leaves are now commonly available in ritual supply and health food stores.

White sage herb and oil can both be burned for their purifying effects. People generally burn the smudging bundles in a metal or shell incense bowl, while the oil may be placed in an oil burner or diffuser. The aura of white sage is cleansing to the psyche, introducing a positive, uplifting mental energy when you feel negativity, apathy, or lack of creative drive holding you back. It is also said to induce feelings of the sacred in everyday life, making white sage oil a valuable tool for setting the mind to spiritual or ritual work.

Like its cousin sage oil, white sage essential oil is a powerful medicine that is generally not used in aromatherapy. However, some studies have suggested that white sage oil may have practical as well as energetic benefits to health: a 1991 University of Arizona study found that white sage oil has potential in-vitro antimicrobial action against three nasty bugs—Staphylococcus aureus, Candida brassicae, and Klebsiella pneumoniae [1]. The researchers noted that white sage oil is 70% 1,8 cineole by weight, a well-known antimicrobial compound also found in eucalyptus, radiata, and niaouli oil [4]. All this suggests that white sage oil is a useful oil to have in your toolkit when colds and other respiratory illnesses threaten. Due to its thujone content, it is recommended to use only small amounts of white sage oil in diffusion.

So, the next time you feel down or under the weather, try inhaling some white sage essential oil—it will put the verve back in your life mentally, physically and spiritually!


1. Dentali, Steven John. 1991. “Potential anti-infective agents from Eriodictyon angustifolium Nutt. and Salvia apiana Jeps.” The University of Arizona Campus Repository.

2. “Salvia apiana.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 6th, 2014.

3. “White Sage – Salvia apiana Jepson”. U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Accessed April 9th, 2014.

4. Butje, Andrea. “Essential Oil Chemistry – Oils High in 1,8-Cineole.” The Aromahead Blog: Aromatherapy Education and Resources. Last modified August 2nd, 2009.

Lotus Oil and Its Ancient Uses in Meditation

Lotus Oil and Its Ancient Spiritual UsesPeople in the West may be familiar with the lotus as an ornamental aquatic flower, but in Asia the uses of these sacred flowers go far beyond decorating one’s backyard pond. The lotus is revered throughout East and South Asia as a symbol of non-attachment, purity, and spiritual awakening, and lotus absolute oil is commonly used as an anointing oil prior to meditation and spiritual work.

The lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is an aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. Commonly mistaken for the related water lily, the lotus can be distinguished by the large yellow seedpod in the center of its blossom, which lilies lack. Known variously as blue lotus, sacred lotus, Indian lotus, and bean of India, lotuses have broad flower petals that can be blue, white or pink, with yellow stamens and seed pods that dry to green or black. Lotuses float atop the water on a pad-like round leaf, anchored to the soil of the lake or river bottom by a long stem. They thrive in ponds and slow-flowing rivers with lots of rich silty soil [1].

Because it floats above the silt and muck of the water—which represents earthly, material life—lotuses have become a potent symbol of non-attachment and spiritual purity in Buddhism and Hinduism: deities and enlightened figures such as the Buddha, Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Ganesha have been depicted sitting on or holding lotus flowers in South and East Asian religious art. Iconography and mantras intended to focus and attune the mind to the sacred often make use of lotus imagery, and its expanding, rising petals are thought to symbolize the promise of spiritual growth[1].

Almost every part of the lotus also serves an earthly use in cuisine and medicine throughout Asia. In Vietnam, lotus roots are commonly cooked or pickled with sugar, chilies and garlic to make a relish, while the seeds are dried and then popped like popcorn[1]. In China and Japan, lotus seeds are soaked in water and then mashed into a paste to flavor sweets such as mooncakes and daifuku (glutinous rice flour buns)[1]. Though rarely eaten, lotus leaves are sometimes also used as a wrap in savory dishes.

In China, Japan, and Korea, lotus flowers and stamens are dried and used like jasmine flowers to flavor green tea, or to make a herbal tisane. Lotus flower tea is used in Chinese medicine as an analgesic[2] and for its sedating[3] and antidepressant properties[4]. The seeds and seedpod have also been used medicinally to treat fevers, encourage the onset of sleep, staunch bleeding, and treat diarrhea, syphilis and hemorrhoids[5].

Lotus absolute oil is a relatively new addition to the aromatherapy world. However, it quickly found a niche as a sumptuous perfume and massage oil that is especially prized for its hypnotic and aphrodisiac effects[6]. Made from the petals using cold CO2 extraction, lotus absolute oil is a red-gold viscous liquid possessing an intense floral scent dappled with green notes. On application, its scent often deepens to a sugary musk that blends exceptionally well with other exotic oils such as sandalwood, magnolia, and cedarwood.

Because lotus oil is highly concentrated, a little goes a long way in any therapeutic application: a few drops of the oil diluted in a carrier oil (jojoba or another scentless oil work best) may be used as a massage oil to treat aches and pains, muscle tension, and as a circulatory stimulant [1]. This last action is often thought to be at the root of lotus oil’s stimulating effect on the libido in both men and women!

Using lotus oil can also be as simple as opening the bottle and inhaling it prior to engaging in meditation or another spiritual practice. Lotus oil can be placed in a diffuser to let its warm, grounding scent permeate and purify a space before spiritual work, or a small quantity of diluted lotus oil may be applied to the forehead to open one’s centers of spiritual awareness.


1.”Nelumbo nucifera.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 8th, 2014.

2. Liao, CH and JY Lin. December 2012. “Purification, partial characterization and anti-inflammatory characteristics of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaert.) plumule polysaccharides.” Food Chemistry 135 (3): 1818-27.

3.Sugimoto, Y., S Furutani, A Itoh, T Tanahashi, H Nakajima, H Oshiro, S Sun, and J Yamada. December 2008. “Effects of extracts and neferine from the embryo of Nelumbo nucifera seeds on the central nervous system.” Phytomedicine 15 (12) 1117-24.

4. Sugimoto, Y., S Furutani, K Nishimura, A Itoh, T Tanahashi, H Nakajima, H Oshiro, S Sun, and J Yamada. May 2010. “Antidepressant-like effects of neferine in the forced-swimming test involve the serotonin 1A (5-HT1A) receptor in mice.” European Journal of Pharmacology 25 (1-3): 62-7.

5. “Lian Zhi – Nelumbo nucifera”. The Jade Institute. Last modified 2007.

6. Vahitha, SM, V Banumathi, J Anbu, Ashwini Anjana, and M. Pitchiah Kumar. October-December 2012. “Aphrodisiac activity of  Venthamarai Magarantha Chooranam (stamens of Nelumbo nucifera white variety) on healthy Wistar albino rats.” International Journal of Life Science and Pharma-Research 2(4): 44-50.

Use Verbena Oil for Chronic Stress, Tension and Nervous Exhaustion

Use Verbena Oil for Chronic Stress, Tension and Nervous ExhaustionThere’s nothing quite like the study of essential oils to make one realize the deep relationship between the chemistry of plants and their outward characteristics, including their distinctive smell, taste, and therapeutic effects. Verbena essential oil is a case in point: because it contains high levels of citral [3], verbena oil has an unmistakable lemony fresh smell usually associated with lemons and other citrus fruits! Hence, verbena is often called lemon verbena, and in the Latin name for the plant (Lippia citriodora), “citriodora” actually means “lemon-scented” [1].

Verbena essential oil also shares some therapeutic applications with citrus-based oils: it is used to stimulate digestion, center the mind, and clear away mental cobwebs that are the result of fatigue, lack of sleep, or chronic stress [3].

Verbena is a perennial flowering shrub native to Chile and Peru. It can grow 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 feet) tall at maturity, with small clusters of white or pale purple flowers and lance-shaped green leaves that are slightly rough to the touch [1]. The leaves are the part used to distill verbena essential oil, and they emit a strong scent of lemon when crushed due to the presence of the compounds citral, nerol, and geraniol [4].

When the Spanish and Portuguese first came to South America, they fell in love with verbena’s crisp citrus aroma and imported the plant back to Europe so they could cultivate it for its essential oil [2]. Verbena oil became an instant must-have in soaps, facial toners, and toilette water, while the fragrant leaves were used to flavor everything from fish and poultry to vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, and puddings [1]. A Spanish botanist went so far as to name verbena Yerba Louisa in honor of the Spanish princess Maria Louisa of Parma, who later went on to become the queen of Spain [1].

In aromatherapy, verbena essential oil is most commonly used to stimulate digestion and soothe indigestion, wind, and an upset stomach [2, 3]. The oil can also soften the skin and reduce puffiness when it is added to facial creams and lotions [2]. Verbena also has a reputation for helping with liver congestion, and has a mild calming effect on the respiratory and cardiac systems [3]. Perhaps this is why verbena essential oil is often used to address nervous tension, anxiousness, stress-related insomnia and other symptoms of chronic stress [3]. The oil’s sweet yet sharp aroma can calm the emotions and focus the mind on the present moment when life’s demands seem overwhelming.

Because of its citral content, the same caution should be taken when using verbena essential oil as with citrus oils such as orange, lime, and lemon. Always do a patch test with verbena oil diluted in a carrier oil before working with this oil in a massage, and do not expose treated skin to sunlight for 24 hours after application to avoid possible photosensitization [3]. With its floral-citrusy fragrance, verbena oil blends well with resinous and citrus oils such as elemi, frankincense, lemon, neroli, and palmarosa.


1. “Aloysia citriodora”. Wikipedia. Accessed February 24th, 2014.

2. Roberts, Margaret. 2003. A-Z Herbs: Identifying Herbs, How to Grow Herbs, and the Uses of Herbs. Struik Publishers.

3. “What is Lemon Verbena Oil?” Accessed April 9th, 2014.

4. Gomes, P.C.S., H.R.C. Oliveira, A.M.S. Vicente, and M.F. Ferreira. 2006. “Production, transformation and essential oils composition of leaves and stems of lemon verbena [Aloysia tryphilla (L’Hérit.) Britton] grown in Portugal”. Rev. Bras. Pl. Med. 8: 130-135.

Spiritual Uses of Jasmine Oil

Spiritual Uses of Jasmine OilIn India and throughout the Himalayas region, jasmine is a sacred flower associated with love, sensuality and spiritual awakening: garlands of jasmine flowers are offered to Hindu deities such as Kama, the god of love, and given to bridal couples to ensure their love lasts. Jasmine’s wonderful ability to calm the mind and bring balance to turbulent emotions has created a strong basis for the many spiritual uses of jasmine oil in South Asia. Jasmine is probably best known in the West as an aphrodisiac oil for both men and women, but the physical and spiritual uses of jasmine oil go far beyond that. Read on to learn about jasmine’s healing actions on the mind and spirit!

Jasmine holds the same status as a symbol of love in the East as does the luscious rose in the West. Hindu legends connect jasmine with undying love, sometimes in tragic ways: for instance, one legend tells of an Indian princess who falls in love with Surya-Deva, the sun god; when he rejects her, she is so heartbroken that she dies of grief. Upon cremation, her ashes are scattered and the jasmine flower grows up where they land. Because the sun spurned her, jasmine flowers open only at night to release their delicate perfume. Another myth relates that Kama, the Hindu analog to Cupid in Roman myth, would drape his arrow tips with jasmine flowers to ensure that they pierced the human heart and filled it with love.

When the effects of pure jasmine oil on the emotions are examined, it’s no wonder this flower has so long been associated with love and compassion, including the kind of cosmic compassion that is so valued in Eastern spiritual practice. Jasmine oil is listed as a calming sedative in aromatherapy, but some research has suggested that jasmine oil also activates beta waves in the brain—the type of brainwaves that indicate feelings of alertness.

Because of jasmine oil’s ability to promote calm alertness, one of the invaluable spiritual uses of jasmine oil is in helping those struggling with emotional issues to sort out their feelings in a tranquil, self-aware manner. Jasmine oil can be used to help someone confront emotional dilemmas, especially those that relate to love and relationships; to address states of shock, trauma, emotional stress, low self esteem, or body image issues. Overall, jasmine oil seems to offer the emotions a reset button, helping the user gain clearheadedness and perspective when they have become demotivated, mentally lethargic, or discouraged for any reason.

When employed in meditation, a common spiritual use of jasmine oil is to balance the body’s chakras—collection points of energy throughout the body in Hindu and Buddhist practice. As an anointing oil, jasmine is used to faciltate the opening of the third eye chakra, as well as the sacral chakra. The third eye chakra, located in the forehead, is associated with the pineal gland—the symbolic seat of wisdom, imagination, creativity, and clairvoyance. As you might expect, the sacral chakra, located around the sacrum or tailbone, is associated with sensuality, being in touch with the physical body, and being comfortable in one’s own skin. Jasmine oil tends to be quite yang, meaning it encourages outwardly directed energy, helping the practitioner to put themselves forward and be more confident in who they are.

We will leave you today with Peter Holmes’ beautiful invocation on the value of pure jasmine oil for universal healing in Western society: “We’re all survivors of trauma. Western culture has a deep need for jasmine. Our individual sensual repression and our social sensual deprivation in the alienated Western lifestyle cry out for the sensuous euphoria that jasmine provides. The Queen of the Night can connect us to the feminine source of life, presently stirring from a deep unconscious sleep. Her night-blooming pearls can lead us once again to the fragrant dawn we yearn for.”

From Peter Holmes. “Jasmine: The Queen of the Night” in International Journal of Aromatherapy 8 (4): 8-12.

Tangerine Oil and Its Benefits for Seasonal Melancholy

Tangerine Oil and Its Benefits for Seasonal MelancholyTangerine… even the name of this luscious citrus fruit conjures up impressions of all that is tangy, sweet and juicy! These thin-skinned orange relatives have been enjoyed in drinks, desserts and main dishes for centuries in East Asia, and Christmas wouldn’t be the same in many regions of the British Commonwealth without a basket of tangerines in the kitchen. Aromatherapists use tangerine essential oil to lift seasonal depression, stimulate circulation, and as a digestive tonic [1]—and that’s just for starters!

The tangerine tree (Citrus reticulata) is an evergreen slightly smaller than a sweet orange tree, with shiny green leaves and smallish fruit with a reddish orange peel. The name “tangerine” comes from the port of Tangiers in Morocco[2] (the first port to grow tangerines for export to Europe), and literally means “of or from the region of Tangiers”!

Tangerines are techinically a variety of the mandarin orange, and can be told apart by their deeper orange color and lack of seeds: mandarin oranges have a yellow-orange peel and do contain seeds, called pips. Tangerines are also harvested in November, while the mandarin harvest occurs in February. Other varieties of mandarin include the clementine and the satsuma, named after the Satsuma region of Japan where it was first developed[3].

Along with the pomelo, citron, and papeda, the mandarin is also believed to be one of the four original species that were hybridized to produce all other citrus species, such as the lime, lemon, and sweet orange[3]. Interestingly enough, the mandarin is the only one of these four original species that is naturally sweet, as is its varietal the tangerine! Easy to peel and eat by themselves, tangerines are also added to fruit salads, desserts, main dishes, and squeezed to make juice. In Sichuan cuisine, the tangerine peel is dried and used as a zest in certain curries.

Tangerine essential oil is an orange-yellow liquid with a sweet, tangy aroma. The therapeutic compounds in the oil include a-thujone, a- and b-pinene, camphene, sabinene, myrcene, limonene, y-terpinolene, linalool, citronellol, terpineol-4-ol, nerol, and geraniol [2]. The primary use of tangerine oil in aromatherapy is as a nerve tonic with a calming effect on the emotions; it’s often inhaled from an oil burner or diffuser to relieve feelings of being “down” or “blue”, especially the seasonal depression commonly associated with winter[4]. As a gastric stimulant [1], tangerine oil is also used to treated conditions such as indigestion, flatulence, constipation, and diarrhea. The oil can stimulate circulation in the body, reducing edema and fluid retention [1], and has been used in massages to reduce and prevent the appearance of stretch marks. Like other citrus oils, particularly grapefruit and lemon, tangerine essential oil is also cleansing to the lymphatic system[5].

When using tangerine oil in a topical application, care should be taken to avoid exposing the treated skin to sunlight for at least 24 hours after treatment to avoid possible photosensitization [1]. Tangerine oil is considered generally non-sensitizing and non-irritating, but it should always be diluted before use and patch-tested on a small area of skin. With its tangy citrus scent, tangerine essential oil blends swimmingly with other citrus oils such as bergamot and neroli, floral scents such as lavender and clary sage, and spicy or balsamic oils such as frankincense, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, for an energizing synergy that just gives a boost to your day!


1. “Health Benefits of Tangerine Essential Oil. Organic Facts. Accessed April 11th, 2014.

2. “Tangerine.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 11th, 2014.

3. “Mandarin Orange.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 8th, 2014.

4. Stansfield, Brenda. “Aromatherapy for Season Affective Disorder.” Mother Earth Living. Last modified September 15th, 2009.

5. Thomas, Pat. “A Citrus Celebration.” NYR Natural News. Last modified June 27th, 2013.

Palo Santo Oil and Its Grounding and Purifying Properties

Palo Santo Oil and Its Grounding and Purifying PropertiesThe name palo santo is Spanish for “Holy Wood’; it was given by Spanish missionaries to this unassuming tree because of the wood’s abilities to induce introspective and spiritual states. All the way back to the Inca, who burned palo santo wood as a cleansing incense, the grounding properties of palo santo oil  have been well known to South American herbalism. Today, the oil’s antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and sedative properties are being hotly investigated by modern aromatherapy [1].

The palo santo tree (Bursera graveolens) is native to the Yucatan region of Mexico, Central America, and the Gran Chaco region of South America that includes Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, northern Argentina and parts of Brazil [2]. There are also a few palo santo trees on the Galapagos Islands. Part of the Burseraceae family, which includes such famous anointing oils as frankincense and myrrh, palo santo trees have twisted branches and whitish gray bark. The essential oil of palo santo is distilled from the heartwood and contains high levels of d-limonene, a-terpineol, trans-carveol, carvone, and germacrene D [4]. The aroma has been described as balsamic, earthy, and sweet with incense-like top notes.

Palo santo has a long history of use as a purifying incense used to prepare a space for ritual or spiritual work. The Inca burned the fragrant wood to banish negative energy from a space and guard against ill fortune, including evil spirits and illness. In Ecuador, the wood incense is still used to cleanse the home of “bad energy” (mala energia) and bring good luck. Palo santo wood has also been burned as a medicinal incense for various ailments: the Criollo people burned palo santo wood with the leaves of fringed rue (Ruta chapalensis) and blew it into the ears of those suffering ear infection or inflammation [2]. Another practice is fumigating cattle herds with palo santo smoke to protect the animals against vampire bats.

A herbal tea mixture containing palo santo is also prescibed in South American herbalism for treating stomachache, bowel and respiratory problems, and to improve mood, while the resin is frequently added to liniments for the treatment of rheumatism [3]. A growing use of palo santo oil is as an anointing oil in spiritual practice or meditation: a drop is massaged into the base of the neck to help center the mind and induce calm.

Palo santo oil is used in aromatherapy to treat muscle pain, inflamed joints, infections, and as a tonic for the immune and nervous systems [1]. With its earthy, grounding scent, palo santo oil can be diffused around the home or work space to create a cleansing, protective energy and to dispel negative emotions such as nervousness, anxiety, fear, stress, tension, or buried anger. Due to possible dermal irritation, palo santo oil should always be patch tested and diluted in a carrier oil before topical use.

As palo santo essential oil keeps growing in popularity, substitution and adulteration can be a problem; this is partly because the harvest of true palo santo is tightly regulated in Peru and Ecuador to protect the trees from overharvesting: by law, harvesters can only take wood from dead trees or branches that have fallen to the ground. Interestingly enough, many palo santo oil distillers believe that the dead heartwood actually yields a superior essential oil—and that the longer the tree has been dead, the more powerful the oil will be!

However, what this means for consumers is that certain unscrupulous companies will try to sell other Bursera species in place of palo santo, often under a generic name like “Holy Wood”. These substitutes are not the true palo santo oil. If you want to know that you’re getting the real, verified palo santo essential oil, make sure to only buy oils that list the genus-species, Bursera graveolens. At Essential Oil Exchange, we get our authentic palo santo oil direct from Ecuador, so you can experience the real benefits this holy wood offers to mind, body and spirit!


1. “The Healing Benefits of Palo Santo.” Natureal Mom. Accessed April 7th, 2014.

2.”Bursera graveolens.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 11th, 2014.

3. Nakanishi, Tsutomu, Yuka Inatomi, Hiroko Murata, Kaori Shigeta, Naoki Iida, Akira Inada, Jin Murata, Miguel Angel Perez Farerra, Munekazu Iinuma, Toshiyuki Tanaka, Shogo Tajima, and Naoto Oku. February 2005. “A new and known cytotoxic aryltetralin-type lignans from stems of Burersa graveolens.” Chemical Pharmaceutical Bulletin 53(2): 229.

4. Young, D. Gary, Sue Chao, Herve Casablanca, Marie-Claude Bertrand, Danilo Minga. January 2007. “Essential Oil of Bursera graveolens (Kunth)Triana et Planch from Ecuador.” Journal of Essential Oil Research 19: 525-26.

Essential Oils to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Essential Oils to Get Rid of Bed BugsOf all the insects that prey on humans, perhaps none are so pesky as the dreaded bed bug: bane of sleep and nighttime comfort since ancient times, bed bugs have been a fact of life for millennia, and are making a comeback in many areas as they develop resistance to chemical pesticides. Fortunately, it’s possible to use certain essential oils to get rid of bedbugs and prevent future infestations.

Bed bugs are tiny, brown, flattish insects that feed on blood. They got their name from their habit of infesting bedding [1]. Areas where large numbers of people are sleeping, such as hotels, college dorms, and apartment buildings, are especially prone to bed bug infestations [2]. Hiding during the day, bed bugs come out at night to feed, frequently leaving reddish bite marks that can be very itchy and irritating to the skin. A few people have more serious allergic reactions to bed bug bites [2]. Even when symptoms stop at itching, bed bug bites interfere with restful sleep [2], which can result in health problems such as lethargy, a depressed immune system, weight gain, and anxiety or depression. Scratching the bites to relieve itching can also damage skin integrity and allow microorganisms to enter through the skin, causing infections. However, bed bugs themselves are not known to transmit any infectious agents to humans [2].

In the mid-20th century, bed bugs were almost eradicated from the developed world by the use of DDT, a pesticide that is now infamous because it devastated bird populations. DDT and many similar pesticides are now banned for their detrimental effects on human health and wildlife. What’s more, many bed bugs now show a resistance to these pesticides [3]. As a result, bed bugs are surging back in the developed world, and the need for natural remedies such as essential oils to get rid of bed bugs is bigger than ever.

How to Detect Bed Bugs: Bed bugs like to hide in dark, warm crevices during the day. If you suspect you may have a bed bug problem, check creases in your sheets, mattress seams, your bed frame and headboard, and the walls and floor of your bedroom. Bedbugs sometimes congregate around the seams between the walls, floor, and ceiling. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for their eggs and feces as well as the adult bugs: bed bug feces will appear on surfaces as small brown spots, while the eggs look like small whitish spots[1].

How to Use Essential Oils to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: Some common essential oils that may be repellent or even fatal to bed bugs and their eggs include eucalyptus [2], peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and clove [4]. Other essential oils that may repel—though not necessarily kill—bed bugs include palo santo, cedarwood, thyme, myrtle, and tea tree oil [4]. Whether you suspect you already have bed bugs or want to prevent them from entering your home, you can use these oils in a diluted room or bed spray to repel these pesky critters. Here’s a basic recipe for a bed bug repellent spray with essential oils:

1 cup water
10 drops lavender oil
10 drops rosemary oil
10 drops eucalyptus oil
3 drops clove bud oil (optional)

You can treat your mattress and bed linens with this spray or diffuse it into the air of your bedroom or hotel room. This spray can also be applied to cracks and seams in the walls where bed bugs like to hide and lay their eggs, to kill any bugs hiding there. Make sure to use a sparing amount of these powerful oils, and always dilute them before use: larger amounts may stain bedding or clothing, or cause headaches in sensitive people[4]. If you do plan to use a larger amount of spray to fumigate a room, strip the bed and leave the room overnight, and keep pets and children away.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself: When traveling, never place your suitcase on the ground where bed bugs can crawl inside. Instead, place it on the folding rack provided by some hotels or on the high shelf of a closet, and keep it closed up. You can also make sachets of dried bed bug-repellent herbs (such as lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary) and place them in your suitcase and any garments before putting them in the hotel room’s closet or drawers [4]. When you arrive home, store your suitcase in the garage or bathtub for a couple days in case any bed bugs have stowed away inside. The insects will be unable to climb the tub sides, and you should be able to quickly spot any against the white enamel.

Bed bugs don’t like heat, so dry your bedding, linens, drapes and clothes at the highest temperature in the dryer to kill any bugs that may be on them. You can also heat treat smaller items like overnight bags by placing them in a sealed black plastic bag in direct sunlight for about 3 hours, or until the internal temperature has reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit [4]. Use a handheld steamer to clean your mattress for the same effect; adding lavender essential oil to the water will make this treatment even more effective [5].

If You Do Get Bit: For those unfortunate times when taking every precaution against bed bugs isn’t enough, there are also natural remedies that can alleviate the itching and skin irritation caused by bed bug bites. Applying witch hazel, organic apple cider vinegar, or even a slice of raw potato to a cut can reduce itching and swelling, and using chamomile soap on the bitten area will also address irritation while moisturizing the skin [5]. And of course, don’t forget the panoply of essential oils that can soothe inflamed or irritated skin, such as lavender, German chamomile, geranium, and vetiver.


1. “Bed Bug.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 15th, 2014.

2. Goddard, PhD, Jerome and Richard de Shazo, MD. April 1st, 2009. “Bed Bugs (Cimex lecticularius) and clinical consequences of their bites.” Journal of the American Medical Association  301 (13): 1358-1366.

3. Romero, Alvaro, Michael F. Potter, Daniel A. Potter, and Kenneth F. Haynes. 2007. “Insecticide Resistance in the Bed Bug: A Factor in the Pest’s Sudden Resurgence?” Journal of Medical Entomology 44 (2): 175-178.

4. “Natural Bed Bug Control.” The Herb Gardener. Accessed April 15th, 2014.

5. Henderson, Daniel. July 10th, 2013. “Bed Bugs and How to Eliminate Them Naturally”.

Use Jasmine Oil to Center the Mind and Relieve Stress

Use Jasmine Oil to Center the Mind and Relieve StressOften called the “king of oils”, jasmine has been revered in South Asia and the Middle East for its divine scent, calming effect on the emotions, and wide range of medicinal applications. In these regions of the world, jasmine is a well-known women’s herb that is used to address menstrual pain or discomfort, encourage uterine contractions, and ease the pain of childbirth. When you consider the number of healing properties jasmine oil  provides to humans, the origin of the flower’s name—yasmeen, Persian for “gift of the gods”—makes a whole lot of sense.

Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) is a flowering tropical vine native to South Asia, part of the wide-ranging Jasminum genus that has members in tropical regions throughout the Old World. The jasmine plant has green vines and leaves and small white flowers. Jasmine absolute oil is the only kind of oil that can be obtained from jasmine flowers: too delicate for traditional steam distillation, the compounds in jasmine must be extracted using a cold solvent such as liquid carbon dioxide. One pound of jasmine oil requires 1,000 pounds of flowers to make—equivalent to 3.6 million fresh blossoms!

Despite its delicate, floral, tea-like scent and traditional associations with women, jasmine oil is called the “king of oils”. (Rose oil, from Rosa damascena, is considered the “queen of oils”.) In South and Southeast Asia, women use fresh jasmine blossoms as hair ornaments, and garlands of jasmine and orchids are sold in Thailand to mark religious occasions and festivals.

Use Jasmine Oil to Center the Mind and Relieve Stress

Garlands of fresh jasmine adorn a market stall in Thailand before a festival.

In China, jasmine tea has been popular for centuries: a combination of fresh jasmine flowers and dried green or oolong tea is mixed together and allowed to steep for a few hours, until the tea leaves have absorbed the volatile compounds from the flowers. After it is refired to prevent spoilage, the jasmine flowers—now dried and odorless—are either removed or left in for decoration. Jasmine was likely brought to the Middle East by Persian traders, and from there disseminated to Europe via trade with Morocco by the 17th century, where it exploded in popularity as a perfume ingredient and even became part of a signature scent favored by King Louis the XVI of France.

Jasmine oil has been used since antiquity as a sedative, nervine, analgesic and anti-inflammatory[1]. The oil is believed to ease mental and emotional stress and tension while promoting feelings of calm and groundedness. Jasmine is still used by aromatherapists today to address stress-related conditions, nervousness, and anxiety, either by massage or vapor therapy. Inhaling jasmine oil can also help discharge excess mucus or nasal catarrh, while a gentle massage with jasmine oil does wonders to address dry, irritated or inflamed skin and to diminish the appearance of scars [2] and stretch marks. With its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, jasmine oil is also useful for pain, stomachaches, muscle aches, menstrual discomfort, and as a general uterine tonic [2]. One modern-day use for jasmine oil is to assist people going through addiction treatment, since it is thought to calm the mind and center the emotions during this turbulent experience.

Jasmine is also known as the “Queen of the Night”, since the flowers open only after dusk and must be picked at night to ensure maximum fragrance. Next time you take a whiff of pure jasmine oil, imagine the moon shining on fields of this night-blooming beauty as farmers pluck the flowers one by one to begin their journey from the Far East to your aromatherapy cabinet.


1. Paarakh, Sandeep and Padmaa M. Paarakh. 2009. “Jasminum grandiflorum. Linn. (Chameli): Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology – A Review”. Pharmacology Online 2: 586-595.

2. Vidyalakshmi, A. and S, Esaki Selvi. 2013. “Protease activity of floral extracts of Jasminum grandiflorum L., a wound-healing herb.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies 4(1): 11-15.