Tag Archives: Essential Oils

Mimosa Oil for a Healthy Emotional Balance

Mimosa Oil for a Healthy Emotional BalanceAlthough they share a common name, the mimosa from which mimosa essential oil is extracted is Acacia dealbata, and not the tropical tree Albizia julbrizzins [1]. Once again, it’s important when buying essential oils to make your purchase by the genus-species label so that you are certain of what you’re getting! True mimosa essential oil is extracted from the small yellow flowers of Acacia dealbata, and is used primarily to treat emotional conditions such as anxiety and depressed mood, as well as to nourish the skin [1].

Acacia dealbata is a small evergreen tree or shrub with silver-green, bipinnate leaves and small yellow flowers whose thready petals cause them to resemble pom poms. Also called mimose, silver wattle, blue wattle, or cassie flower, this species of mimosa is native to southeastern Australia and Tasmania. It has also been naturalized to warm, Mediterranean parts of Europe [2]. Mimosa’s fluffy yellow flowers produce a heavy concrete or absolute oil, with a scent reminiscent of honey with leathery undertones and a hint of anise. Mimosa oil also tends to be quite thick, so it can help to warm up the oil before working with it.

The chemicals in mimosa oil include, in order of concentration, methyl salicylate, anisaldehyde, geraniol, nonadecane, benzaldehyde, and geranial [3]. In its native southeast Australia and Tasmania, various parts of the mimosa including the leaves, bark, and roots have been used in traditional medicines. The leaves are used as a poultice for skin infections and wounds, as well as to treat urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases. In Java, the powdered bark is used as an emetic to induce vomiting, and as an astringent in India and Costa Rica. The roots have also been employed as a tuberculosis remedy in India [3].

Traditional medicines have focused on the whole mimosa plant, as the absolute or concrete oil was unavailable until modern methods of extraction were invented. Today, the absolute oil extracted from mimosa flowers is beginning to be incorporated into aromatherapy for emotional conditions. Mimosa essential oil is most commonly used by inhalation to address stress and stress-related conditions such as frigidity, anxiety, depression, nervous exhaustion and hypersensitivity [4]. A small amount may also be added to a carrier oil to nourish and emolliate the skin [4].

While mimosa oil is also commonly called cassie flower oil, be careful not to confuse this essential oil with cassia oil! Cassia is a totally different tree related to cinnamon, and its oil is considered very irritating to the skin, as well as stimulating to the emotions. In contrast, mimosa essential oil is generally non-sensitizing and non-irritating, and tends to have a balancing effect on the emotions. Inhaling a bit straight from the bottle can tamp down feelings of stress, anxiety or being out of balance. Try adding a tiny amount to a bath for a luxurious steam treatment that can soften your skin and restore a bit of healthy equilibrium at the same time!

REFERENCES

1. Vosnaki, Elena. “Mimosa Perfume Ingredient”. Fragrantica. Accessed August 6th, 2014. http://www.fragrantica.com/notes/Mimosa-167.html.

2. “Acacia dealbata”. Wikipedia. Last modified July 29th, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_dealbata.

3. “Acacia farnesiana Willd.” Globinmed. Accessed August 6th, 2014. http://www.globinmed.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=79066:acacia-farnesiana-linn-willd.

4. Keville, Kathy. “Aromatherapy Materia Medica: Mimosa”. HealthyNet. Accessed August 6th, 2014. http://www.healthy.net/Materia_Medica/Mimosa_Acacia_decurrens_var_dealbata_Aromatherapy_Materia_Medica/54.

Nutmeg Oil and Its Actions on the Central Nervous System

Nutmeg Oil and the central nervous system

Nutmeg is primarily used as an aromatic spice in foods. But, it has also been indicated for various medicinal purposes including treatment of psychosis, flatulence, and diarrhea.  However it has also been recorded as an aphrodisiac and hallucinogenic when taken in high quantities.  Oddly, there is some indication that it is also a naturally occurring pesticide.

Nutmeg Essential Oil

Background:

Nutmeg essential oil comes from the nut or seed of the fruit of an evergreen tree that is scientifically named Myristica fragrans.  The fruit of the nutmeg tree or Myristica fragrans is yellow and fleshy; it contains the nut that the tree has become so well known for and where the alluring aromatic nutmeg spice and oil comes from [2].

It is believed that nutmeg originated in the Banda Islands of modern Indonesia (the “Spice Islands”), or what is known as the Maluku Province of Indonesia.  Historically in ancient Egypt and Rome nutmeg was used as incense for burning – it was a spice for the privileged as it was quite costly at that time [1, 2].  And in medieval times, nutmeg was an expensive flavoring, medicinal and preservation agent in Europe [6].

It is believed that nutmeg was first brought to Europe by the Arabs in the 12th century and it is known that during the Middle Ages the Arabs sold nutmeg to the Italians as a pricey and luxurious item.  During the course of the Portuguese expeditions, the Portuguese went to Indonesia and came away with control over the Indonesian nutmeg trade in the sixteenth century – 1512, to be specific. [1, 2]

Sometime during the seventeenth century the Dutch dominated the nutmeg trade and later Britain monopolized the trade, having acquired seedlings from the Banda islands themselves – clearly it was a desirable commodity even back then!  There was actually a period, prior to British dominance of the trade, when the English believed nutmeg could ward off disease – specifically the bubonic plague — which might give us some understanding as to why they went to Indonesia to get the seedlings in the first place.

However, in 1576 there was a case reported in England of a woman who ate 10-12 nutmeg nuts and was intoxicated; in another case, someone became lethargic upon eating three nuts.  Cases like these and others have contributed to a better understanding of nutmeg’s effect on the central nervous system – including its hallucinogenic and euphoria-inducing properties.  Even the autobiography of Malcolm X speaks of his use of nutmeg while in prison for its effects on the central nervous system – my, it certainly was a popular spice!  These cases along with others are probably what prompted the studies that lead to our now thorough understanding of how to best use nutmeg. [1, 2]

nutmeg oil and the central nervous system

Use:

Fortunately, today nutmeg in all forms is financially approachable and has adopted an array of different uses – including, but not limited to olfactory, food and medicinal uses.  The essential oil of nutmeg is acquired through a steam distillation process and is pretty much colorless, although it could be sometimes said to have a pale yellow hue.  It is the oil that can take the credit for the spicy nutmeg smell that nutmeg is so well known for.  The oil contains 60%-80% d-camphene as well as d-pinene, limonene, d-borneol, l-terpineol, geraniol, safrol and myristicin [6].  It is the myristicine that is mostly responsible for the psychoactive properties of nutmeg [2].

While it is important to know that nutmeg is not used as a hallucinogenic in traditional Indonesian culture, it is still no wonder that nutmeg has been traditionally used to combat anxiety and psychosis, given how it has been known to act on the central nervous system with euphoric and hallucinogenic properties.  But it has also been traditionally used for many other purposes, such as combating diarrhea, flatulence, rheumatism, cholera, stomach cramps and nausea.  While nutmeg is traditionally used for aiding the digestive and nervous system, it is probably best known for its aphrodisiac properties – that’s right, nutmeg has become known as a spice that really does spice things up [2]!

Nutmeg is probably most interestingly used to treat psychosis.  Why this is so interesting is because nutmeg itself is a psychomimetic substance and has been abused as such by adolescents, students and prisoners.  For something to be used as a psychomimetic means that the substance “mimics” psychosis, and for something that mimics the very symptoms of something it is used to treat – namely, psychosis – is indeed very peculiar.  Although it is probably worth noting that the not so wonderful taste, limited potency, and unwanted side effects make its abuse relatively rare in comparison to other substances [2].

Nutmeg essential oil isn’t just used for the medicinal or pharmaceutical purposes explained above.  It is also widely used as a food flavoring in meat preparations, liqueurs [1], syrups, drinks, baked goods and sweets, and of course we all know the wonderful flavor it adds when sprinkled on top of eggnog [6]!  It has also been widely used in ancient and current Indian culture as well as in other cultures as a scent for perfumes [4].  Another lesser-known use of nutmeg is as a pesticide due to its quantity of myristicin (the main compound in nutmeg essential oil), which is a naturally occurring  type of pest repellant.


nutmeg oil and the central nervous systemBlending:

A lot of food spice blends contain nutmeg, such as apple pie and pumpkin pie spice mixes. Additionally, however,  there is one study indicating that nutmeg and camphene oil, when inhaled in combination, may contribute to the alleviation of respiratory conditions.  In the study – which was unfortunately done on lab rabbits – when nutmeg oil was inhaled it acted on the bronchomucotropic activities of the respiratory system, that is to say that the mechanisms of mucus augmentation was no longer active [3].   Additionally, in combination camphene and nutmeg inhalation may act as a pharmacological expectorant [3] – which is just a scientific way of saying that something clears up mucus and lubricates the irritated respiratory tracts in the process [5].  However, further study that needs to be done on this topic before anything can be said for certain.


nutmeg oil and the central nervous systemSafety:

Although nutmeg has traditionally been used for medicinal purposes, there aren’t any recognized medicinal uses of the essential oil. It is also important to note that although lab tests have indicated central nervous system intoxication in lab experiments, the same effect has not been yet seen in humans.  It is the compound myristicin that acts as a point of concern in some cases as it is possible that it may act as a serotonin receptor agonist (activates the receptors) and as a hallucinogenic.  However, the amount of myristicin in nutmeg is so low that it’s unlikely to have any negative effect – although doses of myristicin as low as the equivalent of two whole nutmeg nuts did induce episodes of reduced alertness [2].

As always it is wise to err on the side of caution with essential oils, especially those that do not have documented medicinal qualities.  However, when it comes to nutmeg it is certainly safe to say that its use as a spice is more than okay and is definitely a very desirable addition to many wonderful recipes and aromatic preparations.

Sources:

1. Attokaran, Mathew. “Natural Food Flavor and Colorants: Nutmeg”. Blackwell Publishing, LTD and Institute of Food Technologists 2011.

2. Barceloux G. Donald. “Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Nutmeg”. John Wiley and Sons, INC, 2008.

3. Boyd M. Eldon and Sheppard, Patricia. “Nutmeg Oil and Camphene as Inhaled Expectorants”. Vol. 92 (4): Arch Otolaryngol, 1970. pg 372-378

4. Neelima, M. et al. “Historical Perspectives on the Usage of Perfumes and Scented Articles in Ancient Indian Literatures”. Vol. 28 (2): Ancient Science of Life, 2008. pg 33-39

5. Wikipedia. “Mucokinetics”. Last updated June 3, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucokinetics

6. Wikipedia. “Nutmeg”. Last updated July 17, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutmeg

 

 

 

 

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

Background:

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].

Usage:

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].

Blending:

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].

Safety:

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!

Sources:

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:@[email protected]+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

Background:

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].

Usage: 

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].

Blending:

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].

Safety:

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!

Sources:

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

Background:

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.

Usage:

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.

Blending:

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!

Safety:

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!

Sources:

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