Tag Archives: aromatherapy

Essential Oils for Headaches

Essential Oils for HeadachesHeadaches are one of the most common medical complaints; they can be caused by stress, muscle tension, hunger, eye strain from too much screen time, or deeper medical conditions. Luckily, there are many essential oils for headaches that can help reduce pain and tension. What’s more, using essential oils to treat headaches is often as easy as dabbing some oil on a cotton ball or inhaling some from the bottle. In this article, we explore some of the most popular essential oils for headaches and how to use them effectively.

Please note that this article is not a substitute for trained medical advice. Headaches may be an indication of a more serious medical condition. You should consult a physician if you suffer from headaches that are severe and/or chronic. Many severe, chronic headaches such as migraines and cluster headaches require treatment by a doctor. This article is intended to be an overview of essential oils to treat headaches that are minor and infrequent.

How Essential Oils Can Reduce Headache:

Essential oils containing menthol or 1,8-cineol have cooling properties that can directly numb the pain and discomfort of a headache [1]. Many essential oils also have vasodilating properties that increase circulation [1], may reduce muscle tension, and can even treat emotional stress at the root of some headaches [3]. Essential oils with hormone-balancing properties, such as lavender and clary sage, may be especially effective at reducing headaches caused by hormonal imbalances during a woman’s menstrual cycle [3]. As you can see, as many causes as there are for headaches, there is also an essential oil to combat them!

The Essential Oils – Peppermint:

One of the most popular essential oils for headaches, peppermint contains cooling menthol that can directly numb tissues while also increasing nourishing blood flow to the painful area. People commonly use peppermint oil for tension headache and muscle ache [2]. However, peppermint oil can be stimulating and may interfere with sleep, so we recommend against using it right before bed. You can also use spearmint oil if you prefer the aroma, since it contains many of the same compounds [2].

Essential Oils for Headaches

Peppermint oil is considered one of the best home remedies for headaches and migraines.

Lavender: With its high linalyl acetate content, lavender oil is sedating and can soothe inflammation [2]. The oil also contains phytoestrogens which may help reduce headaches caused by an imbalance of female hormones. Lavender oil’s calming properties can be perfect for treating any underlying emotional stress as well. This oil can be used before bed without keeping you awake, and in fact, lavender aromatherapy is actually recommended for treating sleeplessness[2].

Roman Chamomile Oil: This lovely, apple-scented oil possesses similar properties to lavender oil due to its high ester content [2]. Roman chamomile oil is sedative, reduces tissue inflammation, and may also have direct relaxing effects on the nerves [2].

Essential Oils for Headaches

Roman chamomile oil is one of the gentlest essential oils. Its common name comes from its wide use in medicine since Roman times.

Eucalyptus Oil: This oil is especially effective for sinus headaches caused by congestion. Packed with 1,8-cineol, eucalyptus has powerful expectorant properties and direct analgesic properties similar to menthol [3]. Note that eucalyptus oil should not be used on children younger than 12 (for older children, consult a physician), because it can cause respiratory spasm, especially in larger quantities [2].

Basil Oil: A muscle relaxant similar to peppermint oil, basil oil can be used to reduce tension headaches, as well as aches and pains in the surrounding neck and head muscles [1].

Ginger Oil: This slightly spicy-smelling oil is a powerful vasodilator and circulatory stimulant. Commonly used for painful, aching joints, a little bit of ginger oil can also go a long way toward wiping away that irritating tension headache [2]. Ginger oil is best used sparingly in a blend with another oil such as lavender. Anecdotal evidence suggests ginger oil may be somewhat effective against more severe chronic headaches such as migraines [3].

Essential Oils for Headaches

Ginger oil is an invigorating circulatory stimulant that works on circulatory problems and muscle pain as well as headaches.

How to Use Essential Oils for Headaches:

As with any essential oil treatment, dilution is the rule. Always dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil (or blend) in 1 fluid ounce of a gentle carrier like jojoba oil. The general ratio is 10-12 drops of essential oil (6-8 drops if using peppermint, spearmint, or eucalyptus, as these oils are stronger) in 1 fluid ounce of carrier oil. Place your blend in an amber or blue glass bottle with a stopper. 1-4 drops of this blend may be massaged into the painful area—back of the neck, temples, forehead, and so on. You can also dilute a few drops of essential oil in water in a spray bottle to create a room spray, or use the inhalation method: place a few drops of undiluted oil into a diffuser or cotton ball and inhale the vapors. When using this method, use only one drop of essential oil at first until you know how your body reacts to it [2].


Always use any essential oil for headache sparingly and in dilution (unless using the diffusion method above). Using more of an oil will not necessarily be more effective, and may cause a reaction or sensitivity to the oil. We always recommend consulting a physician when considering treating children with essential oils, as they may have sensitivities to certain oils. For instance, oils high in menthol or 1,8-cineol, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, can cause breathing difficulties in children. Furthermore, while this is rare, a few essential oils can actually cause headaches! Ylang ylang oil in particular is a headache trigger for some people, especially when used in excess [2].

Other Headache Treatments:

Certain foods rich in phytochemicals are thought to reduce the frequency of headaches: particularly flax seed (which is high in healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids), and buckwheat, which contains the phytochemical rutin [1]. The pith (white part) of citrus fruit is also a source of rutin. Conversely, people suffering chronic headaches and migraines should consider keeping a food diary to identify foods that may be headache triggers. Common “trigger foods” include caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, chocolate, red wine, foods high in tannins, MSG, red or processed meat, and aged, fermented or pickled foods [1]. Eliminating these foods and then slowly adding in one at a time can be one way to identify foods that may be headache triggers [1].

Even more severe forms of headaches such as migraine and cluster headache may respond to do-it-yourself remedies. At the onset of a migraine, massaging the occipital nerve at the base of the skull can sometimes reduce the severity of an attack, or even prevent it in some cases [3]. This treatment’s effectiveness may be increased by warming the hands about 15 degrees (by soaking them in warm water); researchers think this increase in temperature may treat vascular headaches by regulating circulation [3].

Finally, some people find relief from chronic, severe headache such as cluster headache by use of capsaicin cream [3]. Derived from the compound that makes chili peppers hot, when rubbed into the spot where headaches occur 4-5 times per day for about 4 weeks, capsaicin cream is thought to reduce and even prevent severe headaches by depleting nerve endings of substance P, the neurotransmitter that sends pain impulses to the brain [3]. Capsaicin cream works best as a headache preventative because of the more extended treatment required.

Nature has created many plants with compounds that can aid us in our quest to rid ourselves of headaches and other sources of chronic pain. With a little research and dedication, it is possible to naturally treat headaches and live a more comfortable life!


1. Calabro, Sara. “Home Remedies for Headache and Migraine”. Everyday Health. Accessed January 27th, 2015. http://www.everydayhealth.com/headache-migraine-pictures/8-home-remedies-for-headaches-and-migraines.aspx.

2. “Aromatherapy for Headaches”. Aromaweb. Accessed January 27th, 2015. http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/aromatherapy-essential-oils-for-headaches.asp.

3. Keville, Kathy. “How to Get Rid of a Headache With Aromatherapy”. HowStuffWorks. Accessed January 27th, 2015. http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/aromatherapy/how-to-get-rid-of-a-headache-with-aromatherapy.htm.

Can Essential Oils Ever Be Ingested?

testing essential oilsThe practice of ingesting essential oils is one of the more contentious issues in aromatherapy. Ask a dozen different aromatherapists and you’re likely to get a dozen different answers as to the efficacy and safety of taking essential oils internally.

Many essential oils are distilled from edible plants such as oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, and so forth, a point that some aromatherapists use to advocate ingesting essential oils from these plants.

However, one point we strive to bring home to readers is that essential oils are much much stronger than the whole herbs from which they are distilled. Furthermore, the chemical content of essential oils can differ from the whole plant, either due to the distillation process or because the oil is distilled from a different part of the plant than that used in cooking. In other words, it’s important not to approach the ingestion of essential oils as you would the whole herb. In this article, we will explore a range of important factors to consider when comtemplating an oral essential oil supplement.

Essential Oils are Highly Concentrated

While essential oils are present in whole plant-based foods such as herbs, nuts, and spices, they occur in very small amounts—usually 1% or less of the plant’s total weight [1]. Likewise, the approved amounts of essential oils used in food flavoring tend to be extremely small, the equivalent of ingesting one drop of an essential oil per day [1]. In contrast, when taking an oral supplement of an essential oil, you are introducing your body to much larger amounts of that oil.

We discuss the difference between food-grade and therapeutic essential oils further in the article “Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: What is Therapeutic Grade?” In brief, essential oils approved in food flavoring have been twice distilled (fractionated) to render them safe for consumption [1]. Therapeutic essential oils, on the other hand, are usually more lightly distilled in order to preserve their medicinal constituents; however, this may also mean that these more concentrated essential oils are not safe to ingest.

Natural Does Not Mean Safe:

“But wait,” you might ask, “I thought all your essential oils were completely natural.” Indeed they are! At Essential Oil Exchange, we pride ourselves on providing 100% pure essential oils with no synthetic adulteration. However—natural does not always mean safe to take internally or in large doses. It’s very important to remember that highly concentrated essential oils are powerful medicines, and can have the same physiological effects on the body as some pharmaceuticals. An essential oil represents the full range of constituents in the whole plant, including compounds that may be harmful to the body in high doses, even though your body can cope with them just fine in the amounts typically used in aromatherapy.

The same rule applies to many undoubtedly healthful foods that we eat every day: apple seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, compounds that produce hydrogen cyanide when broken down; castor beans produce the poison ricin; and green potatoes contain teratogenic alkaloids that can disrupt proper embryo development [2]. So why don’t we sicken ourselves every day eating fruits and vegetables? Because the body has natural detoxification systems in the liver and kidneys that can efficiently break down the normal amounts of these compounds in your diet and render them harmless [2]. However, by the same token, you wouldn’t want to eat an entire bowl of apple seeds or green potato chips! When toxins are present in an amount higher than the body can effectively detoxify, this is when symptoms of poisoning can result. The same goes with using more than miniscule doses of certain essential oils.

It’s About Safety, Not Purity

Another common misconception when it comes to ingesting essential oils is that it’s an issue of purity. Obviously, ingesting a product that contains synthetic compounds is probably not good for your body, and is another good reason to find a reliable essential oil supplier. Yet even essential oils that are 100% pure may not be safe to ingest. In some cases the compounds in essential oils that are therapeutic at a low dose can be toxic at a high dose. For instance, wintergreen and birch oils contain methyl salicylate, which is soothing to painful joints and muscles when applied sparingly [2]. However, ingesting as little as 101 mg of methyl salicylate can cause toxicity manifesting as respiratory depression, kidney failure and other serious symptoms [3, 4]. 1,8-cineol, the main therapeutic compound in eucalyptus essential oil, has wonderful anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, but can cause breathing problems in children, especially at higher doses, and should not be given to them in any form without a physician’s advice [2].

Furthermore, an essential oil that is safe to use one way may not be as safe when used another way. For instance, citrus oils such as lime, lemon, orange, and bergamot (non-bergaptene-free), as well as angelica oil, can be photosensitizing to the skin when applied topically but can be inhaled without any issues [5]. Cinnamon and cassia oil are also highly irritating to the skin but may be inhaled from a diffuser in aromatherapy treatments [5]. So even though an essential oil may be perfectly safe when inhaled or used on the skin in dilution, this doesn’t mean it is necessarily safe to ingest.

Risk of Drug Interaction

As mentioned above, essential oils can have physiological impacts on the body just like conventional medicines, so the risk of drug interactions is another possibility you should explore before using a particular essential oil. When applied topically, peppermint, ylang ylang, and eucalyptus oil can increase the body’s absorption of 5-fluorouracil, a topical anti-cancer drug [5]. The methyl salicylate previously mentioned in wintergreen oil can have blood thinning effects that may interfere with anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin [5]. You should research potential drug interactions even if you don’t plan on taking the oil internally. However, the risk of potential drug interactions is higher when ingesting an essential oil supplement simply because the amount you are introducing into your body is larger.

Seek Medical Advice

This is really the final word when you’re considering taking any supplement you’re unsure about. Many holistic healthcare practitioners and even conventional physicians are becoming knowledgeable about essential oils and the best ways to use them to achieve the health results you want. Some doctors now prescribe very small oral doses (usually one drop or less) of certain essential oils for some ailments: peppermint oil in enteric coated capsules is sometimes prescribed to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and lemon oil may be administered as a decongestant, antiviral, antibacterial, and treatment for gas [6].

Consulting a physician or aromatherapist can help you determine what oils to use at what dosages, as well as the best ways to use those essential oils to get the results you want. It’s always important to have medical supervision when using a medicinal substance such as an essential oil as part of a specific treatment plan. Finally, the health benefits of essential oils when inhaled or topically applied are tried and true: essential oils are composed of small molecules that can readily enter the body through the skin and mucus membranes of the nose and throat via inhalation; this is the reason they can work on internal body systems without the need for ingestion. You may surprised by just how potent and effective essential oils can be when applied externally!



1. “Can Essential Oils Be Ingested?” Plant Therapy. Last modified January 14th, 2014. http://essentialoilblogging.com/2014/01/14/can-essential-oils-be-ingested/.

2. Tisserand, Robert and Rodney Young. 2013. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. 2nd Edition. Churchill Livingstone.

3. “Methyl salicylate | Safety and Toxicity”. Wikipedia. Last modified August 2nd, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methyl_salicylate#Safety_and_toxicity.

4. “Salicylate Poisoning”. Patient UK. Last modified May 22nd, 2014. http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/salicylate-poisoning.

5. Halcón, Linda PhD. “Are Essential Oils Safe?” Center for Spirituality and Healing: University of Minnesota. Last modified July 16th, 2013. http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/are-essential-oils-safe.

6. Barice, Joan. “Ingesting Essential Oils.” Accessed August 8th, 2014. Dr Joan Barice Dot Com. http://drjoanbarice.com/ingesting-essential-oils/.

Organic Essential Oils

Organic Essential OilsAs aromatherapy rises in popularity, there has also been a corresponding rise in the demand for organic essential oils. Discerning customers, as well as practitioners in alternative and complementary medicine, are interested in buying the best-quality oils for therapeutic work at home and in aromatherapy; for many, that means buying organic essential oils. However, are organic oils automatically better quality? The answer may surprise you.

The official definition of an organic product means that it has been produced without the use of artificial pesticides, herbicides, growth agents, or additives. Antibiotic-free beef or fruits and vegetables grown without artificial fertilizers are examples of organic foods. In addition, certified-organic essential oils have been verified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be free of adulterants and synthetic additives. Similar government agencies do this kind of certification in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and other countries. In general, it is not the actual products but the farm or facility where the products are grown or processed that receive an organic certification.

These days, the word organic has become a shorthand for pure, natural, and high quality. However, when it comes to essential oils, there are many factors that determine their quality and suitability for therapeutic use—and surprisingly, being organically produced isn’t necessarily one of them. While the way plants were grown will certainly influence quality, other factors such as time of harvest, how the plants were harvested, method of distillation, and aftercare of the finished oil are equally important in producing a high-quality essential oil. All these factors could make a conventionally grown but professionally processed essential oil better for aromatherapeutic work than an organic essential oil that was harvested and distilled poorly.

All this means is that essential oils don’t have to be organic to be therapeutic grade. In brief, therapeutic-grade essential oils are generally distilled at lower temperatures and pressures in order to preserve a range and ratio of constituents that is closer to that of the living plant. Therapeutic-grade oils are also used in cosmetics, skin care products and perfumes; commercial-grade oils are distilled in larger, more cost-effective batches and are used in cleansers, detergents, and food flavoring.

There’s still plenty of reason to seek out organic essential oils, not least of which is that worldwide demand for organic products has enabled more and more farmers to acquire the equipment needed to produce therapeutic-grade organic essential oils. When you buy an organic oil, you know you’re getting a product that is closer to nature and can be assured that it will have the therapeutic effects you want it to, free of synthetic additives or contaminants. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of supporting small organic farmers and voting with your dollar against the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. At Essential Oil Exchange, we strive to source the highest-quality therapeutic grade oils from micro-distillers around the world. We never purchase oils that have been adulterated with synthetic compounds or cheap vegetable oil, so you can shop our line of 100% pure essential oils with confidence for all your aromatherapy needs!

Wintergreen Oil is a Natural Pain Relief Alternative

Wintergreen Oil Is a NAtural Pain Relief Alternative

Wintergreen essential oil is a natural pain remedy, with anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, antitussive, carminative, emmenagogue, stimulant and galactagogue properties.

Wintergreen Essential Oil


Indigenous peoples have spent centuries acquiring the knowledge of how to take care of their bodies using natural remedies found in nature. These traditional healing techniques have been fine tuned through the centuries, and the herbal wisdom acquired is passed from generation to generation. One such piece of wisdom is the usage of wintergreen essential oil for natural pain relief and other natural healing benefits; traditionally achieved through chewing the leaves [7]. The oil is derived from the wintergreen plant, scientifically known as Gaultheria Procumbens of the Ericaceae family. It is sometimes referred to by the name “checkerberry” or “teaberry” [2].

In less traditional methods of extraction, the oil from the wintergreen leaves is extracted through steam distillation. First, the leaves are macerated (softened) in warm water.  The maceration process is what enables the formation of methyl salicylate (responsible for the pain alleviation) – formed from a glycoside compound, which takes formation while the leaves are being warmed [5]. The pure essential oil is then obtained through the steam distillation of the softened leaves [8].


Methyl salicylate is the beneficial compound found in wintergreen essential oil – the benefit of methyl salicylate is probably what accounts for wintergreen’s precursory use to pharmaceutical aspirin [2].  Once applied topically to the area of inflammation or pain, the salicylates enter the cells through the external tissues and inhibit the formation of prostaglandins [9] – a group of cyclic fatty acids responsible for swelling and pain reception [12]. This salicylate action then is responsible for the reduction of inflammation and pain that wintergreen oil is so fondly known for [2].

Winter green oil is used to alleviate the pain of arthritis and other joint conditions, acute pain and sensitivity.  Due to having similar pain relief properties as that of aspirin due to its methyl salicylate content, wintergreen oil is also used to help with headaches and pain caused by injury [2].  The synthetic version of methyl salicylate is also found in several over-the-counter pain remedies aside from aspirin, such as rub-A535 [11].  These effects are generally acquired through the external application of the oil in a diluted formula [7].


Wintergreen essential oil is also used in formulas or blends that open breathing passages or provide sinus relief, such as the Tei-Fu blend which contains safflower oil, menthol, wintergreen oil, camphor and other essential oils [1]. Often essential oils are blended with other oils for added or enhanced benefit.  The oils can also be added to facial oils or facial massage formulas, perfumes, skin creams and other body formulas.  However, with all oils used in blends it is important to understand the intricacies of each oil – essential oils are highly concentrated and some can be toxic if used inappropriately [3].


It is incredibly important to understand the proper use of wintergreen essential oil, since it can be toxic if used incorrectly [2].  The oil must be used in modest amounts just like aspirin and other synthesized or organic pain remedy methods that are high in salicylates. Salicylates are a blood-thinning agent that are found in many over-the-counter painkillers and natural foods known for their blood-thinning properties – such as garlic or onions [6]. Wintergreen essential oil can be absorbed transdermally (through the skin) and can enter the blood system in this way [2].  As a result it is very important to ensure that it is not overly used or used in the wrong quantities.  For illustrative purposes, in a teaspoon of 98% methyl salicylate (the compound primarily found in the wintergreen plant) there are 7 grams of methyl salicylates [10] – 4.7 grams of methyl salicylate can be dangerous [4].

Some authors on the proper usage of wintergreen and other essential oils suggest that it only be used externally on unbroken skin and that it not be used on wounds or open sores or ingested [9]. Although wintergreen essential oil is used in candies and food in very small micro measured quantities as a flavouring agent, these are scientifically calculated and produced so as  to be certain of safety and it should never be used for such purposed at home  [2].  In any case, a health practitioner’s advice should always be sought before using something like wintergreen essential oil, which could have toxic effects if used incorrectly.

It’s rare to find folks chewing on wintergreen leaves these days, but extracted wintergreen essential oil is an excellent alternative to this more traditional method and probably a whole lot easier to use as well. The oil provides an easily accessible method of preparing the body for the day’s adventures or getting some relief after a hard day’s work!


1. Aromatherapy for the respiratory system: online http://www.naturalhealthschool.com/respiratory_aromatherapy.html

2. Balch A. Phyllis CNC. “Prescription for Herbal Healing”.  Penguin Putnam INC, 2002: p. 142.

3. Dodt, Colleen K. “The Essential Oils Book: Creating Personal Blends for Mind and Body”. Pownal, Vt: Storey Communications, 1996. p. 64.

4. Ellenhorn, M.J. and D.G. Barceloux. “Medical Toxicology – Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Poisoning”. New York, NY: Elsevier Science Publishing Co., Inc. 1988., p. 562: online http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+1935

5. Ingrid Petrus. Essential Oil Profile – Wintergreen. Cheryl’s Herbs, 2012: online http://www.cherylsherbs.com/Essential%20Oil%20Profiles/wintergreen.htm

6. Isaacs, Tony.  “Nature Offers Safe and Effective Blood Thinning Alternatives”.  June 25, 2012: online http://www.naturalnews.com/036286_blood_thinners_natural_remedies_alternatives.html

7. Lerner K. Lee and Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth. “Winter Green”. The Gale Encyclopedia of Science.  Detroit: Gale, 2008. Vol. 6. 4th ed. p. 4709.

8. Mulvaney, Jill. “Essential Oils and Steam Distillation”. Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine: National Herbal Association of Australia, 2012.  Vol. 24. 4th ed. p. 140.

9. The International Journal of Aromatherapy. Elsevier Science Publishing CO., INC. 2000. Vol. 10. 1st ed. p. 16 – 29.

10. Waseem, Muhammad MD, MS.  “Salicylate Toxicity”.  Last Modified, March 5, 2013: online http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1009987-overview

11. Wikipedia. Rub-A535. Last Modified: March 14, 2014: online http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RUB_A535.

12. Wikipedia. Prostaglandin.  Last Modified: February 22, 2014: online http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostaglandin.

Rosewood Oil Acts As a General Tonic for the Nervous System

Rosewood Oil Acts As a General Tonic for the Nervous SystemPeoples living in the Amazon jungle have been using rosewood for centuries. In particular, the Brazilians say they combine rosewood oil with other oils and use the blend to treat various skin conditions. On its own, the oil is used to treat impotence. The French call it ‘bois de rose‘ and say that it helps relieve stress, sexual issues, and respiratory problems. The global demand for rosewood oil didn’t really kick in until the 1900s, but in Brazil, rosewood trees and rosewood oil have been a big part of the rich local culture for centuries. However, thanks to an increasing demand for rosewood, abuses of rosewood forests have been brought to the forefront in the last twenty years.

This interesting essential oil has some powerful chemical components, which are also found in a variety of other essential oils that treat similar physical and mental ailments. For example, myrcene, limonene, linalool, and 1,8-cineole found in rosewood oil are common chemical compounds found in other evergreen species, as well.

The camphene, geraniol, neral, geranial, a-pinene, benzaldehyde, and a-terpineol in Brazilian rosewood trees are also found in other species. Benzaldehyde is not always found in evergreens, but it is found in almonds, apples, apricots, and cherry kernels. It’s this compound that gives those essences a slight almond aroma.

Rosewood oil is extracted from the wood chips of the rosewood tree by steam distillation. The therapeutic properties of the oil are tonic, antiseptic, stimulant, and antibacterial. This means that minor cuts, wounds, and insect bites can heal faster when rosewood essential oil is applied to the area. When the oil is used in aromatherapy, depression, sadness, and disappointment seem to lift and lessen.

Rosewood oil interacts with several hormones, functioning as a stimulant that gets the internal systems running properly, which means indigestion, acid and bile build-ups, and poor circulation issues vanish as the chemicals in the oil rejuvenate damaged cells and tissue. In vapor therapy, rosewood oil helps to relieve coughs, headaches, nausea, and nervous tension, as well as infections. When rosewood oil is added to floral oils to make skin lotions, wrinkles begin to fade, and the skin has a healthy glow after just a few treatments.

One of the most important uses for rosewood oil is as a tonic to treat nervous tension. Rosewood oil lowers the anxiety level, clears confusion, strengthens focus, and balances female hormones. Stress-related allergies diminish, and in some cases disappear altogether when the oil is used in aromatherapy products.

Rosewood oil blends well with bergamot, orange, neroli, rose, grapefruit, geranium, palmarosa, lime, lemon, jasmine, and lavender oils, and is found in lotions, tonics, and creams designed to treat skin cell degeneration as well as muscle and joint pain.

The rest of the world used to wonder why Brazilians had smooth skin, easy dispositions, and a carefree lifestyle. The answer is obvious now. It’s not the water; it’s the rosewood oil…well…maybe.

Mandarin Oil for Flavour and Memory Recall

Mandarin Oil for Supporting Liver Functions

Mandarin Essential Oil can be used to aid the discomfort of abdominal distension (swelling) and can also be used to aid with digestion, the release of phlegm and memory recall.   While the use of mandarin essential oil for medicinal purposes is minimal, it is also widely used in baking and cooking as a flavouring or coloring agent.  Also, mandarin oil can be used in combination with rotenone as an effective combatant of citrus red mite.

Mandarin Essential Oil


Mandarin essential oil is derived from the mandarin orange, which comes from a small citrus tree and is said to have its origins in Southeast Asia.   It is thought that the mandarin orange was cultivated in China as far back as 3000 years ago and arrived in Europe in more recent times – sometime during the 19th century [1].  Despite the global spread of mandarin cultivation, China remains the number one producer of mandarins [7].  Mandarin oranges arrived in Canada and the United States of America sometime shortly after their arrival in Europe; however, in the United States the oranges are referred to as “tangerines” [1].   But, it is worth noting that while many people use the terms “tangerine” and “mandarin” interchangeably, each term actually refers to different varietals; the tangerine is actually, most properly, a varietal of the mandarin orange [8].

Mandarin oranges and tangerines have a fairly widespread cultural significance as well.  They are used during the Chinese New Year to symbolize abundance and good fortune; they are displayed as decoration and given as gifts.  And in Christmas-celebrating nations, such as Canada, the U.S.A and Russia, the oranges are a traditional fruit given in stockings [8].

While most essential oils are extracted through a method of distillation, citrus peel oils (including mandarin) are generally extracted using a cold-press method similar to how olive oil is extracted from olives.   Citrus oils tend to be amongst the cheaper essential oils, given the high volume of oil that the peels yield, relative to the amount of fruit used [8].


Mandarin oil is primarily used as a scenting and flavouring agent. Given its aromatic quality, the sweet citrus scent is highly sought after for scenting household cleaning products, beauty products, candles and other items.  Given the sweet tastiness of mandarin orange, the oil is also used as a flavouring agent in many foods and baked goods, and it can also be used as a coloring agent.  According to Mathew Attokaran, only the oil from the peel of the mandarin orange can be used as a flavouring agent or to enhance the scent of mandarin [1].

Although the medicinal uses of mandarin essential oil are less notable, or at least not as well known as its flavoring and scenting properties, it does carry a few beneficial medicinal properties.  Mandarin oil can be used to clear phlegm, to aid in digestion or to help with abdominal swelling and bloating [9].  Furthermore, mandarin oil is part of the citrus family of essential oils, which in turn is part of the monoterpene functional group.  This group of essential oils carries a particular set of medicinal qualities attributed to the oil constituents characteristic of this group: myrcene, limonene, and caryophyllene – with limonene being the primary constituent of mandarin essential oil [6].  Limonene has been proven to prevent the increase of colon cancer cells and there is also some indication that it may be an anti-obesity agent [8].

Another more obscure and less documented use of mandarin essential oil is memory enhancement.  While the information on this particular quality of mandarin oil is limited, there is indication that it has been used to enhance memory recall in Alzheimer’s patients [2, 105].


In terms of aromatherapy use, mandarin essential oil can be blended with numerous other wonderful oils to have an increased synergistic effect or to add to its qualities.  Some essential oils that mandarin oil blends with particularly well are basil, coriander, chamomile, sage, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, neroli, palmarosa, petitgrain, rose, and other citrus oils [5]. But, given the very versatile and benign nature of mandarin essential oil, you can really have a lot of fun with it in terms of blending with other sensually pleasing oils and come up with your own concoctions!

Aside from aromatherapy blending, mandarin oil can also be combined with rotenone (a toxic substance obtained from derris roots and other plants in the same family) to create a synergistically effective pesticide.  When mandarin oil is combined with rotenone, the blend acts as an effective pesticide against citrus red mite and could offer an alternative to the use of synthetic chemical pest solutions [3].


While mandarin oil is a relatively benign essential oil, there are nonetheless a few mild safety concerns that are worth taking note of.

The oil may cause a phototoxic reaction in the skin to which it has been applied if exposed to the sun for an extended period of time.  However, there is no substantial indication that the harm goes beyond a mild skin irritation [4].  Furthermore, there is a bit of academic backing to suggest that if mandarin essential oil is directly applied to your skin for an extended period of time – exposed to sun or not – skin irritation may occur [2, p. 85].  As a result, it would be wise not to use mandarin essential oil directly on your skin, and especially wise to not use it on your skin and then expose yourself to direct sunlight.

Overall, mandarin essential oil is a wonderful oil to make use of for all kinds of purposes. And given the benign nature of mandarin oil it is a good essential oil to get started with if you’re fairly new to the aromatic world.  It has such a lovely scent that can be enjoyed alone or paired with another beautifully smelling oil!


1. Attokaran, Mathew. Natural Food Flavors and Colorants. Blackwell Publishing LTD, February 7, 2011.

2. Buckle, Jane RN, PhD. Clinical Aromatherapy – Second Edition. Elsevier Ltd, 2003.

3. Gao, Zeng, Cai-Yun Shu. “Solubility, stability, and synergistic acaricidal activity of rotenone in mandarin oil”.  International Journal of Acarology. June 2009: Vol. 35(2), p. 169-173.

4. R.A. Ford. “Mandarin Oil Expressed”. Elsevier Ltd, 1992: Food and Chemical Toxicology Vol. 30(1), p. 69-70.

5. “Mandarin”: www.oilsandplants.com

6. Sawamura, Masayoshi. “Citrus Essential Oils: Flavor and Fragrance – Chap. 7: Aromatherapy”. John Wiley and Sons, INC, October 14, 2010: p. 297-341.

7. Siddiq, Muhammad. “Tropical and Subtropical Fruits: Postharvest, Physiology, Processing and Packaging – Chapter 22: Tangerine, Mandarin and Clementine”.  John Wiley and Sons, INC, 2012: p. 419-434.

8. Wikipedia. “Limonene”. Last Modified, April 24, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonene

9. Wikipedia. “Mandarin Orange”. Last Modified, April 19, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_orange//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_orange

Spruce Oil Has Adrenal and Respiratory Support Properties

Spruce Oil Has Adrenal and Respiratory Support Properties

Spruce essential oil has many properties and uses, but is primarily used to aid the respiratory system during coughs, colds, asthma issues and other breathing conditions.  However, it is also used topically to sooth muscular aches and pains.  Recent studies of its micro components have produced results that may indicate that spruce essential oil has anticancer properties – but, further research needs to be done. And of course, let us not forget its use in aromatherapy for its calming and elevating scent!

Spruce Essential Oil


Many wise men have said that nature is our classroom: after all, natural spaces are filled with information and organic wisdom. With nature all around us, we can reconnect with the world that is the foundation of all knowledge and learn all about what nature has to offer. One such valuable knowledge aquisition is an understanding of spruce essential oil and its many benefits. Spruce needles come from the Spruce tree, which is a member of the genus Picea – a family of about thirty-five other plants of the evergreen type [9].

Spruce essential oil is derived from the needles of the spruce tree and has been used for its healing properties for quite a long time.  Captain James Cook, a historically acclaimed European adventurer, actually made a “spruce beer”.  The alcoholic spruce beverage was used to prevent himself and his crew from getting scurvy [8]; the spruce is a natural source of highly concentrated vitamin C, a nutrient lacking in people who develop scurvy. Of course, one might wonder how Captain Cook knew to use spruce – a plant native to the northern regions he colonized – and to this we can only assume that the generous hosts native to the region must have blessed him with their natural wisdom, sharing the healing qualities provided by the local plants.  Presumably, the wisdom that spruce oil soothes aching muscles, improves breathing, and gets rid of lingering coughs that make the body weak and the mind irritable was passed from one generation to the next of the native peoples of North America.


Aside from developing a historically appreciated “spruce beer”, one can also make a spruce tea – by brewing spruce needles – that has similar nutrient properties and benefits as the “spruce beer” – namely, it’s an excellent source of vitamin C! [10]

Typically in aromatherapy, spruce essential oil is used to promote uplifting and invigorating feelings [6].  Spruce essential oil is also often used to clear breathing passages and aid overall respiratory health, especially when it comes to addressing a bad cough or bronchitis.   Amongst the several other typical benefits of spruce oil is its topical application to aid with aches and pains, rheumatism and poor circulation [7]. Black spruce essential oil is said to have antibacterial properties too,  as well as providing support to the adrenal glands of our body that can become overworked and damaged from stress, poor diet and overall bad lifestyle choices; the oil can also be rubbed over lymphatic tissue areas or areas located near your adrenal glands to aid with proper functioning [2].

Spruce essential oil and its uses are a good example of how elements of nature can be used for more intricate medicinal or healing purposes. Nature is our medicine chest and it is filled with naturally occurring chemical compounds that interact beautifully with the human body. Spruce oil is mainly made up of chemicals like bornyl acetate with smaller amounts of limonene, borneol, camphor, a- and ß-pinene, camphene, 3-carene, and ß-phellandrene [5].  Spruce species also have phytonutrients (plant nutrients), such as the lignan – titled 7-hydroxymatairesinol –  that are identified as possibly having a major role in the health of the human body.

Spruce essential oil’s phytonutrients – primarily its lignans 7-hydroxymatairesinol –  have been used in studies that indicate that it may interact with the cells in the body to normalize hormone secretion, creating balance and stability; it has primarily proestrogenic activity (promotion of balanced estrogen).  These studies also indicated that the properties of the spruce may also have chemopreventative properties with respect to cancerous cell formation as well as antioxidant properties [4]; in laymen’s terms, this means spruce essential oil may be used in the treatment or prevention of cancer and prevent the need for synthetic chemical treatment.


Spruce essential oil is used in bath oils, soaps, vapor rubs and other body products that are designed to ease discomfort related to colds, coughs and other respiratory conditions [3].  It can also be blended with other oils such as lavender essential oil to make a soothing blend or red myrtle, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to add to its respiratory health and invigorating properties [1].  If you are feeling particularly congested, try putting a few drops of spruce oil in a pot of boiling water on the stove. Bring the water to a boil and inhale the resulting vapors. You will notice that your respiratory function improves in moments!


Although spruce essential oil is a relatively benign and harmless essential oil, it is always wise to seek the advice of a practitioner who is an expert in the use of essential oils and herbs.  Yes, spruce essential oil is used in many over-the-counter nutrition supplements, but as always, these ingested forms of the oil are constructed with fine tuned scientifically developed tools and resources.

Once you’ve done your research and want to seek the beautifully aromatic properties of spruce essential oil – do not hesitate to get your hands on a bottle of it and begin to bask in its wondrously invigorating aroma and healing powers!


1. Breathe Clearly. Community Pharmacy, November 17, 2003: p. 28.

2. Catty, Suzanne. “Spruce up your shower.” Natural Health – Academic Onefile, November 2012: p. 66.

3. Clear Breath Bath Oil. Beauty Counter, June 1, 1998: p. 29.

4. Cosentino, Franca, Ramona, Marco, Delle, Marcello, Silvano and Paracchini Segio Lecchini. “Immunomodulatory activity of the lignan 7-hydroxymatairesinol potassium acetate (HMR/lignan™) extracted from the heartwood of Norway spruce (Picea abies)”. International Immunopharmacology, vol. 10, March 2010: p. 339-343

5. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Volume 30 (1), 1992: p. 117-118.

6. Jarrett, Linda F. “Aromatherapy: Advocates are convinced that scents can impact health & Well-being”. Executive Health’s Good Health Report, Vol. 35 (4), January 1999: p. 7.

7. Lawless, Julia. “The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health and Well-Being”.  Conari Press, 1st ed., May 23, 2013.

8. Stubbs, Brett J. (June 2003). “Captain Cook’s Beer: the antiscorbutic use of malt and beer in late 18th century sea voyages”. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12 (2): p. 29–137.

9. Wikipedia. “List of Essential Oils”. Last updated, March 17, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_essential_oils#cite_note-28

10. Wikipedia. “Spruce”. Last updated, February 27, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spruce#cite_note-7