The Basics: Creams, Lotions, and Salves

Dry, itchy skin? Cuts, scrapes, infected wounds, or rashes? They can all be soothed and renewed with the healing nourishment of herbs applied in a moisturizing base – the realm of creams, lotions, and salves. Of course, your skin is your largest eliminative organ. It’s often exposed to the elements, and it’s somewhat delicate {no fur or scales to protect it!}. This means that it can take a beating from the weather and can be prone to wrinkling and drying. Because your skin breathes and eliminates toxins and other substances from your body, you may experience conditions such as rashes, acne, or boils as your skin releases these substances.

Creams, lotions, and salves are all marvelous ways to apply healing herbs to the thirsty, damaged or troubled skin, but they’re each formulated slightly differently.

Cream. A cream is a mixture of oil and water, with a little wax added for body and texture. It’s a bit like mayonnaise because it’s an oil combined with a watery or non-oily substance whipped together so they don’t separate {a process called emulsification}. With mayonnaise, oil and eggs are mixed, while with cream, oil and tea concentrates are combined. Many commercial creams include an emulsifier such as borax, which prevents the oil and water from separating, or they include substances that add texture, such as lanolin, cocoa butter, or acetyl alcohol. My recipes also contain vitamin C powder, which acts as a mild preservative, but you can substitute an equal amount of ascorbic acid, which is available over the counter at pharmacies or in the canning area of the grocery store. Or you can add 2 or 3 drops of vitamin E or rosemary oil to the oil phase as a preservative. A cream moisturizes and soothes your skin.

Lotion. A lotion is similar to a cream, but it is lighter and contains more liquid. You can pour a lotion and spread it easily, which can really make a difference when you have inflamed, needy skin. By varying the ingredients, you can create lotions that are astringent, moisturizing, antifungal, antibacterial, or regenerative. My lotions also contain vitamin C powder, as a preservative, and you can substitute vitamin E or rosemary oil just as you might in a cream.

Salves. A salve is a wonderful way to use your infused oils. Salves are made of oils and wax and are typically somewhat solid, so they’re more convenient to use than oils. Although not as moisturizing as creams and lotions, salves last longer and provide a protective barrier that keeps bacteria out and moisture in. { Studies show that moist wounds heal faster than dry ones.} Salves keep the healing power of the herbs close to skin injuries, reducing inflammation and soreness and reducing cracked skin on feet and lips. Lip balms are a form of a salve. Salves can be made with a single infused oil or with a combination of several; customizing a salve for individual use is part of the challenge and fun of making it.

You’ll find a basic recipe for a cream, a lotion, and a salve, and then some sample recipes for you to try, using herbs from your garden. Be extra careful to wash all utensils, surfaces, containers, and your hands before beginning to make any of these recipes because this combination of ingredients is susceptible to spoilage. Keep everything as hygienic as possible will yield long-lasting remedies.

If you make creams, please be aware that they spoil easily, so store them in your refrigerator if you’re going to keep them for more than a few days. Don’t introduce bacteria by dipping your fingers into the cream; instead, use a little craft stick or a small spoon to scoop it out of the jar.

Basic Cream:

Creams are composed mainly of oil and water, and each oil and water mixture is referred to as a “phase.” The two phases are prepared and heated separately and then mixed together in a blender. You’ll heat the two phases so they are close as possible to the same temperature {160 degrees to 175 degrees F} before you combine them.

An emulsifier is required to hold the phases together in a creamy state. I use ordinary household borax as an emulsifier because it’s a natural, gentle substance that does the job.

Oil Phase;

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons infused herbal oil

10-20 drops essential oil or combination of essential oils of your choice {optional, for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea} or strong tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and infused herbal oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Skin Protection Cream:

This cream prevents drying and chapping. It’s formulated with glycerin, which is moisturizing and texturizing, making it lighter and extra creamy.

Oil Phase:

1 ounce {about 1 1/2 tablespoons} beeswax

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 ounces almond oil

10-20 drops essential oil of your choice {for fragrance}*

Water Phase:

2 ounces lemon balm, rosemary, or lavender strong tea infusion

2 ounces glycerin

1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and almond oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, glycerin, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • For a sweet-smelling cream, try adding equal amounts of orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lavender essential oils to the basic cream. For an antiseptic cream to heal cuts and infections, stir in thyme, oregano, or tea tree essential oils. For a skin-protecting and age-defying cream, add rosemary essential oil and/or vitamin E oil {and use Gotu kola tea for the water phase}.

Anti-fungal Cream:

Use this handy cream for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other common fungal infections. Prevention is the best medicine here. Don’t let an athlete’s foot fungus migrate into your nails, where it can be very difficult or impossible to treat.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {about 2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1/2 ounce {1 tablespoon} coconut oil

4 tablespoons calendula infused oil

10-20 drops oregano or thyme essential oil

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons strong thyme tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and calendula infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herb and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Ginger-Cayenne Heat-Treatment Cream:

Here’s help for muscle aches and pains. You can make the infused oil yourself, using the recipe below,* with 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried ginger and 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried cayenne.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons cayenne and ginger-infused oil

10-15 drops wintergreen essential oil {optional, for fragrance and pain-relieving compounds}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons ginger tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea}

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 -1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and cayenne and ginger-infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional wintergreen essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea concentrate, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

* Basic Herbal Oil:

1 cup finely ground dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds}

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until pureed for greater extractability. Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar with a lid, making sure the plant material is completely submerged in the oil. If it’s not, add more oil until the herbs are covered by about 1 inch of liquid. Cover the jar and store it in a dark place, shaking it daily, for 2 to 3 weeks. Filter it carefully through cheesecloth, a muslin bag, or a square of linen, gathering up the edges and squeezing out the oil. Compost the herbs. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Oils

Herbal oils are simply oils infused with herbs, much as you’d steep rosemary in olive oil for culinary purposes. Healing herbal oils can be taken internally for a variety of ailments, can be used externally for therapeutic or daily beauty routines, and can be incorporated into herbal salve recipes. Dried herbs are preferred since fresh herbs will sometimes ferment.

Basic Lotion:

Good choices for the strong tea infusions are calendula, chamomile, comfrey, ginger, lavender, Oregon grape, peppermint, plantain, and rosemary.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup strong tea infusion*

Cosmetic clay

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

25 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance}

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Bottle, label and refrigerate.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Poison Ivy or Poison Oak Lotion:

This lotion works quickly and thoroughly for anyone suffering the misery of poison ivy or oak, any rash or burn, and even for acne.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup combination of plantain and/or calendula strong tea infusion* and/or aloe vera gel

Cosmetic clay

25 drops peppermint essential oil

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea or aloe gel. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Pour into bottles and cap, label, and refrigerate. Apply as needed to the affected area, avoiding your eyes and mucous membranes.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1/2 cup dried herb and 1/2 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Basic Salve:

Good choices for the infused oil in this recipe include calendula, cayenne, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, St. John’s wort and turmeric {turmeric can stain}.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil

5-10 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

Tips for Salves.

If you prefer a salve that’s harder or softer than this recipe, just add more or less beeswax or oil. You can test the consistency of the salve before it hardens by scooping out a spoonful and dipping the back of the spoon into a little bowl of ice water to harden the salve. If it’s too soft for your taste, heat the ingredients again and add more beeswax. If it’s too hard, heat the ingredients again and add a bit more oil. Test after each addition to get the consistency you prefer. Sometimes, after the salve is poured into a jar and when it’s nearly set, a small crater will appear in the middle of the surface. You can add a small amount of hot salve to the crater to create an even surface.

Healing Salve:

Use to reduce inflammation and lessen the possibility of infection from a skin injury.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil, using equal parts calendula, yarrow, and St. John’s wort – infused oils

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice, such as lavender, orange, mint, or thyme {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label the jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

One of my favorite recipes is Healing Lip Balm:

A lip balm is no different than a salve in its formulation, except that you may wish to make it a little firmer. This one works wonders for chapped, dry lips.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil {calendula, ginger, peppermint or spearmint, rosemary, and St. John’s wort are good choices}

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your mixture into lip balm tubes and let it cool. Cap and label the tubes.

Double Chamomile Chronic Pain Cream Recipe

Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile have a lot in common, but they’re also very different.

In fact . . . they’re not even the same genus or species! Roman Chamomile’s Latin name is Chamaemelum nobile, and German Chamomile’s is Matricaria recutita.

They are both beautifully relaxing—they can calm everything from emotions to inflammation. Both are gentle on skin and help soothe skin irritation. They both also ease tension in muscles and pain in joints. They are simply a great team!

I tend to use Roman Chamomile a little more often for relaxation and soothing an upset stomach, while I reach for German Chamomile for topical blends meant to relieve pain and inflammation. In this pain cream, I’m using them both. This blend is especially nice for chronic pain, since it’s persistently effective, and also very gentle on the skin over time.

Double Chamomile Chronic Pain Cream

  • 1 oz (28 g) natural unscented cream
  • 7 drops Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
  • 10 drops of German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Make this blend in a 1 oz (30 ml) glass jar. Put the natural cream into the jar, then stir in the essential oils with a glass stirring rod or the handle of a stainless steel spoon.

Massage the cream into muscles and joints that feel painful—tense, cramped, strained, or swollen. Apply as needed every few hours.

I suggest making this blend fresh every few weeks since most natural cream is not made with a preservative. Also, be aware that German Chamomile is a blue oil, and can stain light-colored clothes or linens.

If you don’t have German Chamomile essential oil, you can use Juniper essential oil (Juniperus communis) instead. It’s also very good at soothing muscle and joint pain.

And if you prefer a rich, luxurious butter for pain relief, you can try:

Kpangnan Butter Recipe for Joint Pain

“Kpangnan” is pronounced “pan-ya”—though it’s often just called “golden shea butter!” It’s deeply moisturizing and has nourishing components that help reduce inflammation.

At room temperature, kpangnan butter’s texture is firm like cocoa butter, and it has a beautiful powdery silkiness. It’s usually a yellow butter, and has a rich scent that’s somewhere between shea and cocoa butter—softly nutty and warm. Once the butter is smoothed onto your skin, the aroma only lingers for a few minutes.

If you’re looking for a super-moisturizer, kpangnan butter is fun to blend with. Its moisturizing properties are as impressive as shea butter’s (and that’s saying something!). In West Africa, where most kpangnan comes from, it’s often called “golden shea butter” or “yellow shea butter,” and is used for skin moisturizing, making soap, and even for cooking meals. (Don’t you just love using natural butters on your skin that are so healthy you could actually eat them?)

I like using kpangnan butter in therapeutic blends where I want a slight warming effect and some pain relief.

Some of kpangnan’s healing effects are due to the high level of stigmasterol in it. Stigmasterol is a natural plant sterol with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

 

Here’s a massage body butter blend with kpangnan butter that you can make to relieve joint pain (especially pain that sets in when the weather turns cold). You’ll need a 4 oz (120 ml) glass jar.

Kpangnan Juniper Joint Butter

  • 1.5 oz (42 gm) Kpangnan butter (Pentadesma butyracea)
  • 1.5 oz (45 ml) Trauma Oil
  • ½ oz (14 gm) Beeswax (Cera Alba)
  • 10 drops Juniper (Juniperus communis)
  • 17 drops of Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • 13 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

This recipe calls for Trauma Oil, which is actually an infusion of three different herbs in a single carrier oil. The carrier is usually olive oil, and the three herbs are arnica, St. John’s wort, and calendula. It’s so relieving pain.

Directions

  1. Melt your beeswax in a Pyrex measuring cup over the stove. Use the “double boiler method”—put the Pyrex in a soup pot that’s about ¼ of the way full with water. Bring the water to a gentle boil. I like to leave the handle of the Pyrex hanging over the side of the soup pot, so it’s not too hot when I go to grasp it.
  2. Add the kpangnan butter to the melted beeswax in the Pyrex.
  3. Add the Trauma oil to the Pyrex and mix.
  4. Remove the fully melted blend from heat. Add you’re essential oils and stir gently.
  5. Pour the blend into your 4 oz (120 ml) glass Rest the lid on top of the cooling butter so the essential oils won’t evaporate. Allow the butter to cool for a few hours.

The butter itself would be so soothing for joints even without the essential oils, but we’ve added oils with strong anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Use your butter as often throughout the day as you like.

Source:

Aromatherapy Education and Resources

aromahead weekly
https://blog.aromahead.com/

Great Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Lavender Recipes

The ‘recipes’ are extremely old but still usable in our modern lavender era. We did not change the wording.

Scottish Handwater and English Sweet Handwater:

Scottish Handwater
 
1 handful of lavender flowers
1 handful of thyme leaves
1 handful of rosemary leaves
1 bottle of still white wine
Place all the ingredients in the wine, cover, and allow to infuse in a warm place for two to three weeks. Strain and bottle attractively.
An old English recipe for sweet handwater is based on the simple Scottish recipe but it is more complex in its ingredients and the final product was distilled.
Here are an adaptation and translation.
English Sweet Handwater
 
6 handfuls fragrant Damask roses
2 handfuls rosemary
2 handfuls lavender
2 handfuls sweet marjoram
2 handfuls sweet basil
2 handfuls sweet balm
1 tablespoon cloves
2 tablespoons cinnamon bark chips
1 handful of bay leaves
Thinly sliced rind of two lemons
Thinly sliced rind of two oranges
Handful of flowering rosemary tops
White wine
Cover with white wine and leave in a warm place for 8 to 10 days. Distil off and bottle.Handwaters are a wonderful idea. They are added to the final rinse of delicate garments, used as a final hair rinse, or added to a basin of water when washing hands or face.
A traditional Scottish recipe used equal quantities of lavender, thyme and rosemary infused in wine.

Lavender Water for Fever and Headaches:

2 tablespoons dried lavender leaves
1 tablespoon Sweet Cicely
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon red rose petals
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large pinch ground cloves
Powder all the ingredients as finely as possible and mix with four cups of either surgical spirit or brandy.
Allow to steep for 14 days, strain and bottle, sealing tightly. Add a few drops to cold water, wring out a towel in the liquid and place on the forehead. Repeat until relief is obtained.
In my experience, a sachet of the same mixture makes an excellent portable headache reliever.
In the once Imperial Library of Hungary lies a handwritten manuscript inscribed long ago by Queen Elizabeth of that country and dated 1235. In it is written the original prescription for the famous Hungary Water. The Queen was paralysed, but was cured by a secret herbal recipe invented for her by a hermit. The preparation was rubbed each day into her limbs and eventually restored her. The Queen’s formula for Hungary Water became well known throughout Europe and was particularly widely used in southern France. The original recipe given here is on a queenly scale but can, of course, be made in much smaller quantities.

Lavender Cosmetic Vinegar and Sweet Water for Linens:

White wine vinegar
Freshly gathered heads of lavender with the dew dried from them
Fill a glass jar with whole heads of lavender blossoms, and cover with white wine vinegar.
Leave the jar with a plastic lid on in a sunny place for 2 weeks, shaking the bottle each day.
 Empty the bottle, straining out the vinegar. Refill the bottle with fresh lavender flowers and cover with the same vinegar. Repeat after 2 weeks making a triple infusion in all.
An old Scottish recipe used half rosemary and half lavender to make a very refreshing vinegar for adding to ‘Sweet Washing Water’.
Lavender foot baths are another very old-fashioned pleasure and made good use of lavender’s ability to soothe the peripheral nerves, as well as its antiseptic qualities and its clean sweet fragrance.
A strong infusion of lavender flowers and leaves in boiling water was made.

This was added to a basin of warm water in which the feet were allowed to soak blissfully at the end of a long day.

Sweet Water for Linens

This recipe is culled from Bulleins Bullworke {1562}

Three pounds of Rose water, cloves, cinnamon, sauders’, 2 handfuls of the flowers of Lavender, lette it stand a moneth to still in the sonne, well closed in a glasse; Then distill it in Balneo Marial.
It is marvellous pleasant in savour, a water of wonderous sweetness, for the bedde, whereby the whole place shall have a most pleasant scent.
Sandalwood
Bain Marie or waterbath

Oil of Lavender:

This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}
To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful of fresh lavender flowers and cover with one liter of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.

Lavender Sleep Pillow:

Mix together the following ingredients:
3 parts of lavender flowers
Hop flowers or lemon verbena leaves
Rosemary leaves
Marjoram leaves
Sweet Cicely leaves
2-3 drops lavender oil {recipe Oil of Lavender above}
Sew the mixture into a bag made of thin material which allow the fragrance to escape eg. Organza or muslin.
Make a pillow slip to contain the sleep pillow. Silks are ideal.

Lavender used as an inhalant is considered to speed recovery from colds, bronchitis, tonsillitis and flu.Many people who have used the lavender-based herbal sleep pillows from us have reported not only overcoming insomnia but that they were helpful in cases of asthma, and particularly in breaking up pulmonary congestion. The ingredients of sleep pillows vary but it is important to make the mixture around 3 parts of dried lavender flowers and leaves. The fourth part, made up of various tranquilizing or sleep inducing herbs, can be mixed in different proportions according to what you have available.

lavender-fans-trio

Lavender Fans:

These can be quite exquisite but should be treated as strictly ornamental and hung from a mirror or used to ornament a pillow or dressing table. They are better made as miniatures.
English lavender is freshly cut with long stems when approximately half the flower spike is open. Tie at the base of the bunch and about one-third of the way up the stems.
Cut two pieces of lavender organza or lace into a fan shape to cover the upper two-thirds of the lavender stems when gently teased out to form a fan shape. The lavender stems {I use pairs of stems for strength} form the ribs of the lavender fan. These are now sown into the lace casing, sewing both sides of each rib.
Press flat between books until dry and retaining their fan shape. Finish each little with lace and lavender ribbon bows, and wrap the satin ribbon tightly around the handle as a final touch, tying off with a bow and sprig of dried French lavender.

potpourri making

Lavender Fragrance and Fancies {How To Make Potpourri}:

Making your own potpourri is a delightful hobby and easier than you may think….
The ancient and fragrant art of potpourri is one of the few truly civilized and civilizing processes left for the twentieth century inhabitant to partake of. This ‘preservation of garden souls’ is a work worthy of time and loving care and its products can bring delight not only to the maker but to so many others.
We will disdain the often quoted and unworthy translation of the French ‘rotten pot’, and proceed hastily to the fact that there are two distinct techniques for potpourri production, ‘moist’ and ‘dry’.
Moist potpourri is an old method of production and its presumably the source of the French title, for it is the fragrance, and most certainly not the appearance  that is the attraction with this variety. Moist potpourri are reputed to retain their fragrance for up to fifty years, so the process results in much longer staying power. They are made from floral materials that are partly dried, despite the name.
The peak time to pick any floral ingredient is just as it is coming into full bloom. Pick after the dew has dried but as early as possible on a sunny day. Dry the flowers on papers or preferably on screens, out of sunlight but in an airy place. For moist potpourri they should be only partly dried. leathery when finished rather than crisp. Aim for a very limp appearance. Around one third of their bulk will be gone.
We use large straight sided glazed pottery crocks with good fitting tops to hold and mature moist potpourris. These should really be set aside for the purpose as it takes a number of weeks to mature a batch. Never use metallic spoons to turn the mixture. Buy some long-handled wooden spoons and keep them for this purpose alone. To make your job pleasant the crock needs to be sufficiently large and wide-mouthed to hold all the ingredients comfortably during the necessary turnings and stirrings as the mixture ages. The shortest time needed to mature the mix is two weeks. This is really far too short. The best results come with longer maturation. We wait at least six to eight weeks, but in previous centuries, far more noted for their patience than our own, the crocks were left to stew for months.
The general principles are simple. Place a layer of ‘leathery stage’ petals at the bottom of the crock, then cover with a layer of common {not iodized} salt. Add another layer of petals, then salt, alternating them until the crock is about three quarters full. A batch requires at least two weeks ageing before the remaining ingredients are added. Weigh the mixture down with a plate on which is placed some heavy non-corrodible object. A large bottle of homemade preserves is an answer. A large glass jar filled with sand and tightly capped will do the job well too. Each day the mix needs to be stirred well from the bottom. A kind of ‘petal soup’ appears and should be mixed back into the petals. If a hard crust appears, remove it and allow it to dry. Reserve this for the final mixing when it should be crushed and added back.
Next the spices, ground roots, dried peels, fragrant leaves and fixatives are added and blended. Leave for one month, stirring daily and covering again, to mellow and mix the fragrances. Finally add whatever essential oils may be required and allow the mix to continue to ‘stew’ {the word is too appropriate to be avoidable}, stirring daily, for a few more weeks.
If all this sounds tedious in the extreme, interrupting a very busy schedule, you are probably one of those who would most greatly benefit from its therapy! The fragrance alone is sufficient reward as the mixture is stirred each day, and it is no more difficult to build this routine into your day than any other daily routine.
Now is the time to move the potpourri into its final containers. Remember how long it will give pleasure to its owner and choose something worthy of the contents. Old Chinese ginger jars, oriental porcelain jars, even old-fashioned tea-caddies and marmalade jars in fine pottery are suitable. Haunt secondhand and antique shops for suitable potpourri jars. The only provisos are that there is a solid cover and that it is made of glazed pottery of some kind. Once you are looking, it is amazing how many unusual and attractive old containers suggest themselves.
The mixture in its new container will still be a little raw in its quality of fragrance, but in a few weeks will be a delight. When you wish to scent a room, remove the cover and a delicious subtle fragrance will gently pervade the whole area. Otherwise, keep the lid on the mixture.
Here are a few recipes for moist potpourri. Once you have mastered the basic technique you will be able to devise your own mixes.

Lavender Antiseptic Washes and More…

Lavender Antiseptic Wash.
This is a favorite treatment for eczema, cuts, acne and minor burns.
Take a good handful of the flowers and boil together with half a liter of water for ten minutes. Filter and allow to cool before using.
Since Roman days this has been used in hot baths, to relax the body, and it is known to have a marked effect on the peripheral nervous system. It has also been widely used as a gargle for sore throats and sore or infected gums, due to its antiseptic properties and relaxant effect on the nervous system.
Hungary Water.
1 gallon brandy or clear spirits {equal to 16 cups}
1 handful of rosemary
1 handful of lavender
1 handful myrtle
Handfuls are measured by cutting branches of the herbs twelve inches long. A handful is the number of such branches that can be held in the hand. After measuring, the branches should be cut up into one-inch pieces, and put to infuse in the brandy. You will then have the finest Hungary Water that can be made.
Four Thieves Vinegar.
This antiseptic vinegar is attributed to a gang of four thieves who robbed the bodies of victims of the plague in Marseilles in 1722. They washed their bodies with it, frequently disinfecting their hands, and sprinkled it on their clothes and around their houses. It is said that all four survived without infection.
Actually it is not surprising that this famous aromatic vinegar was so successful. Many of its ingredients are among the most powerful natural antibiotics in the world. Another case of empirically gained knowledge long preceding that obtained by scientific investigation.
*Infuse garlic cloves, lavender flowers, rosemary, sage, calamus root, mint, wormwood, rue, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a glass flagon of wine vinegar and leave sealed in the sun for 3-4 weeks to release the powerfully antibiotic oils into the vinegar. Filter, pour into smaller bottles, add a little camphor and seal until ready for use.
Soothing Massage Oil.
1/2 cup safflower or sunflower oil
Dried pot marigold petals
12 drops essential oil of rose geranium
12 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential pine oil or oil of cypress
Place the safflower oil in a glass jar and add as many freshly dried pot marigold petals as possible.
Cap the bottle and place in the sun for 4-5 days. Filter off the petals and squeeze out any retained oil from them before discarding. The oil will now be deep orange and fully charged with the active healing principles of calendula. Mix the other essential oils into the infused oil of marigold, bottle and store in the refrigerator.
lavender-hand-cream

Lavender Cream and Lavender Night Cream:

This is an antiseptic cream and has been traditionally used for all manner of minor cuts, abrasions, bruises etc.
* 125 g white wax
500g sweet almond oil
370 g distilled water
10 g essential oil of lavender
2.5 g spike oil
Lavender Ointment:
 
25 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential oil of lemon or neroli
5 drops essential oil of thyme
2 tablespoons oil of lavender
60 g pure beeswax
Warm the beeswax in a small pot in a roasting pan of hot water and, when melted, beat in the oil of lavender; then, as the ointment cools, add the essential oils, continuing to beat until cool. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
Oil of Lavender.
This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}
To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful o fresh lavender flowers and cover with one litre of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.
 
g=grams
Lavender Night Cream
1 tablespoon avocado oil or apricot oil
1 tablespoon almond oil
3 tablespoons lanolin
1 teaspoon oil of lavender {see
‘Oil of Lavender’}
If you work outside a lot this is the ideal answer to sore chapped hands and weather beaten skin.
Put the lanolin in an ovenproof bowl and place in a roasting pan half full of hot water.
Pour in the avocado and almond oil and beat well to completely combine.
Remove from the heat and continue to beat as the mixture cools and thickens.
Add the oil of lavender. Continue beating until mixture is thick and creamy and cool.
Pour into a small pot, cover and store in the refrigerator.
Vitamin E can be added by squeezing the contents of 2 or 3 capsules at the same stage as oil of lavender is added.

Recipe: Lavender Water:

Of course, this can be bought commercially. My favorite comes from Norfolk Lavender in England. But for home purposes you can enjoy making up your own supply.
In a clear glass bottle steep 100 g of lavender flowers in half a liter of alcohol {brandy or vodka are both good}. Place in the sun for a few days, then strain. Repeat until the fragrance is very strong.
Strain and seal in a glass bottle. If your hair is weak, falling out and breaking, try an old idea and rub lavender water into your scalp several times a week. Try it too as a rub for rheumatism. It has a long tradition of usage for both problems.
lavender breath mints

Lavender Sweet Breath Lozenges and Lavender Inhalant:

egg white
icing sugar
lavender oil
These sweet lavender pastilles were once most fashionable among ladies as a breath freshener after indulging in a little wine. A few drops of essential oil of lavender were added to well sieved icing sugar and mixed thoroughly. It was then bound with sufficient lightly beaten egg white to form a stiff paste, and small portions shaped into lozenge shaped pastilles.
These were then set aside to dry and harden in a warm place.
While these pastilles were an emergency social measure, a mouthwash made from an infusion of sage leaves was much favored for everyday use, as was sage toothpaste.
Lavender Inhalant.
Make a hot infusion of one good handful of lavender in 3 1/2 cups of water. Add a few drops of oil and inhale the steam under a cloth. If you wish, add one or more of the following:
thyme, sage or peppermint.
As an alternative, you might like to try William Turner’s suggestion from the New Herball {1551}:
 
“I judge that the flowers of Lavender quilted in a cap and worne are good for all diseases of the head that comne from a cold cause and that they comfort the braine very well.”
lavender tisane

Sweet Lavender Tisane:

Queen Elizabeth I reputedly consumed countless cups of this tisane.
3 tablespoons fresh English lavender flowers
2 cups boiling water
Honey
Allow the flowers to steep for 3 to 4 minutes, strain and serve with a slice of lemon and honey if liked.
If using dried flowers, halve the quantity used. A little mint or rosemary can be added for an interesting flavor variation.
The English long served their equivalent of the modern fruit salad with lavender flowers and on a bed of lettuce and lavender leaves. This is a delicious modern adaptation of that old idea.
lavender and rose washballs

Lavender and Rose Wash-balls:

2 bars Castile soap {or any good quality pure soap} finely grated

10 drops oil of lavender

Rosewater

Heat a quarter of a cup of rosewater and pour over the soap and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Work together very thoroughly, then incorporate the lavender oil. Set aside to begin drying out.

After two days, form balls of soap between your hands and set aside to dry in the sun.

When the balls have almost fully hardened moisten the hands with rosewater and polish each wash ball by rubbing between the hands.

Now put aside for approximately six weeks to fully harden.

Wash balls make delightful gifts wrapped in a square of tiny sprigged fabric tied with a satin ribbon.

Recipe: Oil of Lavender.

This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}

 To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful of fresh lavender flowers and cover with one liter of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.

Creams, Lotions, and Salves

Dry, itchy skin? Cuts, scrapes, infected wounds, or rashes? They can all be soothed and renewed with the healing nourishment of herbs applied in a moisturizing base – the realm of creams, lotions, and salves. Of course, your skin is your largest eliminative organ. It’s often exposed to the elements, and it’s somewhat delicate {no fur or scales to protect it!}. This means that it can take a beating from the weather and can be prone to wrinkling and drying. Because your skin breathes and eliminates toxins and other substances from your body, you may experience conditions such as rashes, acne, or boils as your skin releases these substances.

Creams, lotions, and salves are all marvelous ways to apply healing herbs to the thirsty, damaged or troubled skin, but they’re each formulated slightly differently.

Cream. A cream is a mixture of oil and water, with a little wax added for body and texture. It’s a bit like mayonnaise because it’s an oil combined with a watery or non-oily substance whipped together so they don’t separate {a process called emulsification}. With mayonnaise, oil and eggs are mixed, while with a cream, oil and tea concentrates are combined. Many commercial creams include an emulsifier such as borax, which prevents the oil and water from separating, or they include substances that add texture, such as lanolin, cocoa butter, or acetyl alcohol. My recipes also contain vitamin C powder, which acts as a mild preservative, but you can substitute an equal amount of ascorbic acid, which is available over the counter at pharmacies or in the canning area of the grocery store. Or you can add 2 or 3 drops of vitamin E or rosemary oil to the oil phase as a preservative. A cream moisturizes and soothes your skin.

Lotion. A lotion is similar to a cream, but it is lighter and contains more liquid. You can pour a lotion and spread it easily, which can really make a difference when you have inflamed, needy skin. By varying the ingredients, you can create lotions that are astringent, moisturizing, antifungal, antibacterial, or regenerative. My lotions also contain vitamin C powder, as a preservative, and you can substitute vitamin E or rosemary oil just as you might in a cream.

Salves. A salve is a wonderful way to use your infused oils. Salves are made of oils and wax and are typically somewhat solid, so they’re more convenient to use than oils. Although not as moisturizing as creams and lotions, salves last longer and provide a protective barrier that keeps bacteria out and moisture in. { Studies show that moist wounds heal faster than dry ones.} Salves keep the healing power of the herbs close to skin injuries, reducing inflammation and soreness and reducing cracked skin on feet and lips. Lip balms are a form of a salve. Salves can be made with a single infused oil or with a combination of several; customizing a salve for individual use is part of the challenge and fun of making it.

You’ll find a basic recipe for a cream, a lotion, and a salve, and then some sample recipes for you to try, using herbs from your garden. Be extra careful to wash all utensils, surfaces, containers, and your hands before beginning to make any of these recipes because this combination of ingredients is susceptible to spoilage. Keep everything as hygienic as possible will yield long-lasting remedies.

If you make creams, please be aware that they spoil easily, so store them in your refrigerator if you’re going to keep them for more than a few days. Don’t introduce bacteria by dipping your fingers into the cream; instead, use a little craft stick or a small spoon to scoop it out of the jar.

lavender flower spikes

Basic Cream:

Creams are composed mainly of oil and water, and each oil and water mixture is referred to as a “phase.” The two phases are prepared and heated separately and then mixed together in a blender. You’ll heat the two phases so they are close as possible to the same temperature {160 degrees to 175 degrees F} before you combine them.

An emulsifier is required to hold the phases together in a creamy state. I use ordinary household borax as an emulsifier because it’s a natural, gentle substance that does the job.

Oil Phase;

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons infused herbal oil

10-20 drops essential oil or combination of essential oils of your choice {optional, for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea} or strong tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and infused herbal oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Skin Protection Cream:

This cream prevents drying and chapping. It’s formulated with glycerin, which is moisturizing and texturizing, making it lighter and extra creamy.

Oil Phase:

1 ounce {about 1 1/2 tablespoons} beeswax

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 ounces almond oil

10-20 drops essential oil of your choice {for fragrance}*

Water Phase:

2 ounces lemon balm, rosemary, or lavender strong tea infusion

2 ounces glycerin

1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and almond oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, glycerin, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • For a sweet-smelling cream, try adding equal amounts of orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lavender essential oils to the basic cream. For an antiseptic cream to heal cuts and infections, stir in thyme, oregano, or tea tree essential oils. For a skin-protecting and age-defying cream, add rosemary essential oil and/or vitamin E oil {and use Gotu kola tea for the water phase}.

Anti-fungal Cream:

Use this handy cream for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other common fungal infections. Prevention is the best medicine here. Don’t let an athlete’s foot fungus migrate into your nails, where it can be very difficult or impossible to treat.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {about 2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1/2 ounce {1 tablespoon} coconut oil

4 tablespoons calendula infused oil

10-20 drops oregano or thyme essential oil

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons strong thyme tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and calendula infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herb and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Ginger-Cayenne Heat-Treatment Cream:

Here’s help for muscle aches and pains. You can make the infused oil yourself, using the recipe below,* with 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried ginger and 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried cayenne.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons cayenne and ginger-infused oil

10-15 drops wintergreen essential oil {optional, for fragrance and pain-relieving compounds}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons ginger tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea}

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 -1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and cayenne and ginger-infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional wintergreen essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea concentrate, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

* Basic Herbal Oil:

1 cup finely ground dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds}

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until pureed for greater extractability. Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar with a lid, making sure the plant material is completely submerged in the oil. If it’s not, add more oil until the herbs are covered by about 1 inch of liquid. Cover the jar and store it in a dark place, shaking it daily, for 2 to 3 weeks. Filter it carefully through cheesecloth, a muslin bag, or a square of linen, gathering up the edges and squeezing out the oil. Compost the herbs. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Oils

Herbal oils are simply oils infused with herbs, much as you’d steep rosemary in olive oil for culinary purposes. Healing herbal oils can be taken internally for a variety of ailments, can be used externally for therapeutic or daily beauty routines, and can be incorporated into herbal salve recipes. Dried herbs are preferred since fresh herbs will sometimes ferment.

Basic Lotion:

Good choices for the strong tea infusions are calendula, chamomile, comfrey, ginger, lavender, Oregon grape, peppermint, plantain, and rosemary.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup strong tea infusion*

Cosmetic clay

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

25 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance}

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Bottle, label and refrigerate.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Poison Ivy or Poison Oak Lotion:

This lotion works quickly and thoroughly for anyone suffering the misery of poison ivy or oak, any rash or burn, and even for acne.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup combination of plantain and/or calendula strong tea infusion* and/or aloe vera gel

Cosmetic clay

25 drops peppermint essential oil

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea or aloe gel. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Pour into bottles and cap, label, and refrigerate. Apply as needed to the affected area, avoiding your eyes and mucous membranes.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1/2 cup dried herb and 1/2 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Basic Salve:

Good choices for the infused oil in this recipe include calendula, cayenne, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, St. John’s wort and turmeric {turmeric can stain}.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil

5-10 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

Tips for Salves.

If you prefer a salve that’s harder or softer than this recipe, just add more or less beeswax or oil. You can test the consistency of the salve before it hardens by scooping out a spoonful and dipping the back of the spoon into a little bowl of ice water to harden the salve. If it’s too soft for your taste, heat the ingredients again and add more beeswax. If it’s too hard, heat the ingredients again and add a bit more oil. Test after each addition to get the consistency you prefer. Sometimes, after the salve is poured into a jar and when it’s nearly set, a small crater will appear in the middle of the surface. You can add a small amount of hot salve to the crater to create an even surface.

Healing Salve:

Use to reduce inflammation and lessen the possibility of infection from a skin injury.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil, using equal parts calendula, yarrow, and St. John’s wort – infused oils

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice, such as lavender, orange, mint, or thyme {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label the jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

One of my favorite recipes is Healing Lip Balm:

A lip balm is no different than a salve in its formulation, except that you may wish to make it a little firmer. This one works wonders for chapped, dry lips.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil {calendula, ginger, peppermint or spearmint, rosemary, and St. John’s wort are good choices}

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your mixture into lip balm tubes and let it cool. Cap and label the tubes.

Gypsy Herbal Astringent Lotion.

This wonderful herbal astringent lotion has been hailed as the first herbal product ever produced and marketed. Legend has it that the early Gypsies formulated it and claimed it to be a cure-all. Whether or not it is I hardly know, but I do know that it is an excellent astringent for the face and a great rinse for dark hair.

This Gypsy herbal astringent lotion combines gentle common herbs in a masterful way, it’s easy to make, and it’s a versatile formula that serves many purposes. The Gypsies used it as a hair rinse, mouthwash, headache remedy, aftershave, footbath, and who knows what else! I have seen this formula sold in department stores in exotic little bottles for a fancy price. You can make it for the cost of a few herbs and a bottle of vinegar.

  • 6 parts lemon balm
  • 4 parts chamomile
  • 4 parts roses
  • 3 parts calendula
  • 3 parts comfrey leaf
  • 1 part lemon peel
  • 1 part rosemary
  • 1 part sage
  • Vinegar to cover (apple cider or wine vinegar)
  • Rose water or witch hazel extract
  • Essential oil of lavender or rose (optional)
  1. Place the herbs in a widemouthed jar. Fill the jar with enough vinegar that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 weeks.
  2. Strain out the herbs. To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of essential oil, if desired. Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.
  3.  To use: Pour a small amount of the toner onto a clean cotton ball and rub over your scalp or massage lightly into your scalp after shampooing.

Aromatherapy Peppermint.

Menta Piperita

Peppermint (botanical name Menta Piperita) is basically a hybrid plant – a cross between the spearmint and watermint. Although the herb is native to Europe, presently it is grown across the globe. This perennial herb possesses numerous therapeutic properties that were identified and used by the Indians, Egyptians and Chinese since the ancient times. In order to avail the detoxifying attributes of the peppermint, the ancient Romans used to make wreaths with this herb and wear them as crowns during festivities. Owing to its sharp and spicy fragrance, peppermint is well accepted by most people.

The peppermint plant usually grows up to a height of 30 cm to 90 cm. The plant has smooth stems that are squares in cross section. The rhizomes or subterraneous roots of the plant are fleshy and travel far and wide while the bare roots are fibrous. The plant bears deep green leaves with reddish veins that are 4 cm to 9 cm in length and 1.5 cm to 4 cm in width. The peppermint plant bears purplish blooms that have four-lobed corolla in whorls around the stem. The plant usually blossoms between mid and late summer.

The essential oil extracted from peppermint not only has a soothing effect, but it also rejuvenates the skin and is tremendously resourceful for household use. The oil possesses a clearing aroma that is effective in fighting fatigue and, at the same time, very stimulating. Use of this essential oil enhances the capability to concentrate as well as brings clarity of thoughts and decisions. Peppermint essential oil is said to be inspiring and revitalizing.

It may be mentioned here that irrespective of the herb, all essential oils are prepared solely using the herbs or the plants. This denotes that the essential oils do not enclose any outside element, such as moisturizer, which could dilute their attributes or potency. As a result, whenever bottles containing essential oils are opened, they exude an exceptionally strong smell.

Peppermint essential oil is beneficial for people enduring headaches, asthma, cramps, fainting, colic, flatulence, nausea, and fevers. It is known to be highly effective in relieving pains associated with these conditions. This oil also has the potential to alleviate the symptoms of insomnia, distress, tension, anxiousness, lethargy and/ or vertigo (light-headedness).

The essential oil extracted from peppermint can be used in various ways. Some of the different uses of peppermint essential oil are briefly mentioned below.

Provided you have a water spritzer (a container for two different liquids or drinks), fill it up with water and add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to it. If the bottles are small, you need to add just 15 to 20 drops of the oil, while you may add 20-30 drops of oil in medium-sized bottles. Shake the mixture of oil and water thoroughly and gently spray it on your bedding, curtains and also carpets as an alternative to a room deodorizer.

Get a small pot filled with water for boiling over a stove top. Add three to five drops of peppermint essential oil to the water and inhale the aromatic vapor. While doing so, ensure that you take deep and slow breaths enabling the mixture to infuse your lungs.

In aromatherapy, peppermint can be effectively used as a massage oil to alleviate a number of conditions. However, as in the case of any essential oil, remember to dilute the peppermint essential oil blending it with any suitable carrier oil before use. In fact, the moisturizers present in carrier oils help to make the skin smooth and softer – supple to touch. As the concentration of peppermint essential oil is extremely high, only a few drops (one to three) of it need to be added to a little amount of carrier oil.

These days, there are several stores that sell ceramic oil burners meant for aromatherapy. Generally, these ceramic oil burners have the appearance of archetypal, glass milk bottles, but are smaller having a small, detachable, saucer-shaped lid, underneath which one can position a tea-candle. When you have lit the candle, replace the lid and pour in a small quantity of peppermint essential oil in the lid. As the candle will heat the oil in the lid, the sharp and spicy aroma of peppermint will infuse the air. This will help to refresh your senses.

You may also put in two to three drops of peppermint essential oil on a handkerchief and fold it before placing it under a pillow. While the delicate aroma of the oil will not be too intense for your nose, it will help in ensuring sound sleep.

As mentioned earlier, peppermint essential oil possesses numerous therapeutic properties and is, hence, used to treat a number of conditions. Its health benefits are many and some of them are briefly discussed below.

  • Since peppermint oil possesses potent antiseptic properties, it is very helpful in dental care. This oil not only helps to get rid of foul breath but also aids the gums and teeth to fight germs. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that peppermint essential oil forms an active ingredient in toothpaste. In addition, like clove oil, peppermint essential oil is highly effective in healing toothaches.
  • The essential oil extracted from peppermint is also effective in alleviating digestive problems while promoting digestion. On many occasions, people add a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a glassful of water and drink it following a meal with a view to facilitating digestion. The digestive properties of peppermint essential oil make it an excellent tonic for those enduring poor appetite. This oil also possesses carminative properties and, hence, is effective in expelling gas formed in the stomach and intestines, thereby, providing relief from flatulence and bloating. In addition, this essential oil is also useful when one is suffering from an upset stomach or motion sickness. Initial researches have established that a blend of peppermint essential oil and caraway oil can also be used to effectively treat heartburn.
  • Peppermint essential oil is also a good home remedy to cure a headache and nausea. Topical application of watered down peppermint oil on the forehead is helpful in providing relief from headaches.
  • As in the case of a majority of the essential oils, peppermint essential oil also has the aptitude to alleviate tension, depression as well as mental exhaustion. These actions of peppermint essential oil are attributed to its ability to revitalize and refresh. This oil is also helpful in providing relief from nervous anxiety and restiveness. It is also known to be an effective remedy for insomnia.
  • Peppermint essential oil is rich in menthol content and, hence, is helpful in clearing the congestion in the respiratory tract. It also possesses potent expectorant properties which help it to draw out mucus and phlegm from the lungs, providing instant, albeit provisional, relief in several respiratory problems, such as cold and cough, sinusitis, nasal congestion, bronchitis and even asthma. Owing to these actions of peppermint essential oil, it is widely used in several formulations for cold rubs. Massaging or rubbing the cold rubs enclosing peppermint essential oil on the chest helps to get rid of nasal congestion as well as blockage of the respiratory tract almost instantly.
  • The essential oil extracted from the peppermint plant also possesses analgesic properties and, hence, it can be used topically to get relief from pains and aches. Peppermint essential oil encloses calcium antagonism which is believed to facilitate in providing relief from pain. This oil also has a cooling nature, which is effective in bringing down high temperatures during fever.
  • It is important to note that peppermint essential oil is highly effectual for colonoscopy, gastroscopy, and also during double-contrast barium enema (the inducement of a barium salt suspension into the rectum and colon before taking an X-ray). In such cases, peppermint essential oil is applied intraluminally (a lumen inside the space of a tubular structure, such as an artery or intestine). Presently, scientists are studying the additional benefits of the oil’s anti-spasmodic properties.
  • Peppermint essential oil is also known to augment blood circulation throughout the body.
  • It has been found that the essential oil extracted from peppermint plant possesses the property to relax the muscles. Also, relaxing the stomach muscles helps in alleviating irritable bowel syndrome. Initial findings of several types of research have proved this action of the oil, but the scientists are yet to determine the precise manner in which it works.
  • As mentioned before, peppermint essential oil contains high amounts of menthol which is beneficial for the health of the skin. Owing to the presence of menthol, using this oil topically on the skin brings forth a cooling effect. In addition, this oil nurtures dry skin and removes the problems associated with oily skin.
  • Peppermint essential oil also helps to fortify the immune system, thereby, enhancing the body’s capability to fight against diseases. In addition, this essential oil also helps to safeguard the body against several ailments.
  • Peppermint essential oil is also extremely beneficial for our hair. It brings forth a calming effect when applied on the head and facilitates getting rid of dandruff and lice. In addition, peppermint nourishes the hair follicles and makes the hair appear glistening.
  • Although researchers are still trying to ascertain the anti-cancerous properties of peppermint essential oil, it is generally believed that this oil is helpful in treating cancer. Moreover, peppermint essential oil is said to be effective in curing tuberculosis.
  • Many herbalists recommend the use of peppermint essential oil for people suffering from urinary tract infection {UTI}. Nevertheless, it needs to be mentioned that the scientists are yet to ascertain the use of peppermint essential oil for this purpose.

General Properties:

  • antibacterial
  • antiseptic
  • antispasmodic
  • carminative
  • stimulant
  • stomachic
  • tonic

Blends Well With:

  • eucalyptus
  • juniper
  • lemon
  • rosemary
  • rosewood

General uses

  • abdominal pains
  • acne
  • anorexia nervosa
  • bites
  • bruises
  • colic
  • coughing
  • mouth thrush
  • mouth ulcers
  • nausea
  • painful menstruation
  • stings
  • stress
  • swollen gums
  • toothache

Precaution:

Although the essential oil extracted from peppermint possesses several therapeutic properties, it is said that this oil negates the efficacy of a number of homeopathic medications. Similar is the case for the essential oil derived from eucalyptus

 

Peppermint Oil: Four Surprising Utilities.

For several centuries, the oil obtained from the peppermint plant has been a vital element of several medications and there are sufficient reasons for this too. Peppermint oil is not only intense but also highly aromatic. In addition to being an established analgesic, carminative, and expectorant, peppermint oil possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties and, it is widely used to treat gastrointestinal (GI) problems like indigestion as well as stomach spasms. However, this oil is used in mild doses for these purposes. There are an increasing number of evidence indicating that peppermint oil can also be used for treating irritable bowel syndrome {IBS}.

Generally, peppermint oil has been extensively used in the form of an internal medication. However, it also offers a number of cosmetic benefits; for instance, it is especially effectual in augmenting the health of our mouth, skin, hair and nails.

Four Amazing Uses of Peppermint Oil:

Mouth care

Peppermint oil possesses antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Therefore, it effectively kills several harmful microbes that may be present in our mouth and eventually lead to tooth decay. It has been found that menthol, an active element present in peppermint oil, is effective in treating foul breath.

You may use peppermint oil to prepare an effective mouthwash. Add three to four drops of the oil to a little amount of clean purified water and gargle with this solution for anything between 30 seconds and one minute. For best results, you may add one teaspoon of baking soda to the solution as this will enhance its tooth whitening attributes.

Skincare

Individuals who want their skin to appear more youthful and healthy will find peppermint oil very beneficial. This oil is a proven astringent and possesses the ability to put off blockage of the skin pores. In fact, peppermint oil has been proven to be a very effectual natural therapy for acne. It contains elevated levels of menthol, which aids in keeping the skin cool and make the dull patches brighter. Applying peppermint oil to the face helps to cleanse the waste and dirt build-up.

A solution prepared by adding peppermint oil to water is ideal for external use on the skin all over the body. You may also add other ingredients beneficial for the health of the skin like aloe vera gel and apple cider vinegar to augment the potency of the solution.

Hair care

Many commercial shampoos and conditioners enclose peppermint oil as an active ingredient and there are important reasons for this. This oil possesses significant invigorating and regenerative actions, which may aid in alleviating scalp irritation, encourage new hair growth as well as revitalize the existing hair. In addition, application of peppermint oil to the scalp results in a cooling sensation, making the entire head feel stimulated and refreshed.

You can prepare an effective natural shampoo at home by blending peppermint oil (10 drops), olive oil (three tablespoons), baking soda (10 tablespoons), and aloe vera gel (6 ounces) with purified water (7 ounces). You can store this home-made shampoo in a bottle for use when necessary. It is much more nourishing compared to commercial shampoos and does not contain any chemicals that may deplete the natural oils from the hair.

Nail care

Many people across the world are affected by fungal nail infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. While such problems hardly ever raise medical concerns, they definitely are cosmetic problems and may be responsible for obstinate itching and other bothersome symptoms. Since peppermint oil possesses anti-fungal attributes, it can effectively deal with fungal nail infections. Just apply peppermint oil to the infected nails once or twice every day till the problem disappears.

A Natural Antibiotic: Thyme Oil

Superbugs like methicillin – resistant Staphylococcus aureus {MRSA} are on the rise and, unfortunately, are becoming resistant to the drugs used to treat them. When faced with a microbial infection, using natural antibacterial agents may not only be more effective but also safe and risk-free.

Apart from using spices like garlic, I recommend you try essential oils derived from herbs like thyme oil. Not only do they have antibacterial properties, but they also provide a number of health benefits. Before I go into thyme oil’s antimicrobial functions, let me share some information on the essential oil.

What Is Thyme Oil?

Oil of thyme is derived from thyme, also known as Thymus vulgaris. The perennial herb, a member of the mint family, is used in aromatherapy, cooking, potpourri, mouthwashes, and elixirs, as well as added to ointments. Thyme also has a number of medicinal properties, which is due to the herb’s essential oils.

The benefits of thyme essential oil have been recognized for thousands of years in Mediterranean countries. This substance is also a common agent in Ayurveda practice. Today, among the many producers of thyme oil, France, Morocco, and Spain emerge as the primary ones.

Uses of Thyme Oil

Due to thyme oil’s antibacterial, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant, hypertensive, and calming properties, it has a long list of uses that include:

  • Home remedy – Thyme oil is used to relieve and treat problems like gout, arthritis, wounds, bites, and sores, water retention, menstrual and menopausal problems, nausea and fatigue, respiratory problems (like colds), skin conditions (oily skin and scars), athlete’s foot, hangovers, and even depression.
  • Aromatherapy oil – The oil can be used to stimulate the mind, strengthen memory and concentration, and calm the nerves.
  • Hair product – It is said that thyme oil can prevent hair loss. It is used as a treatment for the scalp and is added to shampoos and other hair products.
  • Skin product – Thyme oil can help tone aged skin and prevent acne outbreaks.
  • Mouthwashes and herbal rinses – Like peppermint, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oil, thyme oil is used to improve oral health.
  • Insecticide/insect repellent – Thyme oil can keep insects and parasites like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and moths away.

Composition of Thyme Oil

Thyme is an example of a herb with over 300 varieties and various chemotypes, which are plants with the same appearance but have different chemical compositions. Each chemotype yields different oils with corresponding therapeutic benefits. This occurs when the plant is grown in different environments, climates, and soil.

Depending on which chemotype it is derived from, the oil of thyme produced will have a distinct chemical structure. The known chemotypes are:

  • Thymus vulgaris thymolThis chemotype has strong antiseptic activities and is 60 to 70 percent thymol. It goes by the name of “thyme” and “red thyme,” and is harvested during the fall.
  • Thymus vulgaris linalool This is the most gentle of all thyme chemotypes. Referred to as “garden thyme,” this variation has potent antiparasitic and antifungal properties and is grown at high altitudes.
  • Thymus vulgaris carvacrol– As its name suggests, this type contains the chemical constituent carvacrol. Its amount will depend on when it is harvested. When collected in the spring, it will contain 30 percent carvacrol, and 60 to 80 percent when harvested right after flowering or during the fall. T. Vulgaris carvacrol is known for its antiseptic properties.
  • Thymus vulgaris thujanol– Found only in the wild, this plant contains 50 percent thuja oil and is known for its beneficial effects on the immune system and hormones. It is often called “sweet thyme.”
  • Thymus vulgaris alphaterpineolThis type is harvested during the early spring and has a pepper-like smell.
  • Thymus vulgaris geraniol ­– The geraniol chemotype has a lemon-like fragrance and is grown in high altitudes. It is often picked during autumn.
  • Thymus vulgaris 1,8 cineole – This contains 80 to 90 percent cineole and has diuretic, anticatarrhal, expectorant, and analgesic properties.
  • Thymus vulgaris p-cymene– This should be obtained from spring or else it becomes a different chemotype.
  • Thymus vulgaris phenol­– These are thyme plants that grow in high altitudes and contain up to 90 percent of phenol compounds.

Benefits of Thyme Oil

As I previously mentioned, thyme oil is an effective natural agent against nasty bacterial strains. A study presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s spring conference in Edinburgh pointed out that essential oils may be efficient and affordable alternatives to antibiotics in the battle against resistant bacteria.

Among the essential oils tested, cinnamon oil and thyme oil were found to be the most successful against various Staphylococcus species, including the dreaded MRSA.  Researchers said that this can help lower antibiotic use and minimize the formation of new resistant strains of microorganisms.

Oil of thyme can also function as a decontaminate for food products. As shown in Food Microbiology, both basil, and thyme essential oils exhibited antimicrobial properties against Shigella sonnei and Shigella flexneri that may contaminate food. The compounds thymol and carvacrol in thyme oil demonstrated this benefit.

Furthermore, thyme oil can be used as a preservative against spoilage and several foodborne germs that can contribute to health problems. It is effective against other forms of bacteria like Salmonella, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas species.

Other reports also show that oil of thyme has anti-inflammatory properties. In a research published in the Journal of Lipid Research, six essential oils including thyme oil showed the ability to suppress the inflammatory cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme in the same manner as the antioxidant resveratrol does. It was noted that the chemical constituent carvacrol was responsible for this effect.

The same study also noted that thyme and the other essential oils activated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), which help suppress COX-2 expression.

In addition to these, significant health benefits of thyme oil include:

  • Helps reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Stimulates menstrual flow
  • Increases circulation and elevates low blood pressure
  • Triggers the removal of waste that may lead to cellulite
  • Eases nervousness and anxiety
  • Helps fight insomnia
  • Eliminates bad breath and body odor

How to Make Thyme Oil

Thyme essential oil is produced through the steam distillation of the fresh or partially dried leaves and flowers of the thyme plant. Distillation produces a red-, browns, or orange-colored thyme oil, which has a strong, spicy smell. Further distillation yields white thyme oil, a clear or pale yellow oil with a mild fragrance. As mentioned before, its chemical composition varies depending on the type of thyme used in production.

Fortunately, you can make infused thyme oil at home. Here’s is one guide you can use.

What You Need:

  • ½ cup fresh thyme
  • 8 ounces carrier oil (ex. olive oil)
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Saucepan
  • Funnel
  • Glass container

Procedure:

  • Wash the herbs and dry it by patting it with a clean cloth. You may also dry it in the sun or place it in a salad spinner.
  • Crush the herbs using the mortar and pestle to release their natural oils.
  • Place the crushed thyme and its oil into the saucepan, and place the carrier oil. Simmer this mixture over medium heat for at least five minutes or until it produces bubbles.
  • Turn the heat off and allow the mixture to cool. Pour the mixture into the glass container then store in a cool place.

How Does Thyme Oil Work?

Thyme oil can be used in a number of ways. It can be inhaled, applied topically, or used as a mouthwash. Below are some particular ways to enjoy its benefits:

  • Relieve pain – Mix three drops of thyme oil with two teaspoons of sesame oil. Use this mixture as a massage oil and apply on the abdominal area to relieve pain. This may also be used as a massage oil to treat other types of pain.
  • Alleviate fatigue – Add two drops of thyme oil to your bath water.
  • Improve sleep – Add a few drops to your diffuser.
  • Promote oral health – Use thyme oil as a mouthwash by adding one drop to a cup of warm water.
  • Reduce the appearance of scars and skin marks – Apply oil of thyme mixed with any carrier oil (like almond oil) on the affected area.
  • Use as cleanser – Add a few drops of thyme oil to your facial wash.
  • Treat or protect against respiratory problems – Add two drops of thyme oil to hot water and use for steam inhalation.
  • Uplift mood – Simply inhale the scent of thyme oil.

Is Thyme Oil Safe?

Thyme oil should not be used directly on the skin, as it can cause sensitization. It must be first diluted with a carrier oil (like olive oil or almond oil). Before use, test on a small area to see if you have any allergies.

This herbal oil should not be taken internally, as it can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle problems. Doing so may also negatively impact your heart, lungs, and body temperature. It may also stimulate the thyroid gland, which is why this essential oil is not recommended for people with hyperthyroidism.

Since thyme oil can be used to increase circulation, it should be avoided by people with high blood pressure. Pregnant women should steer clear of thyme oil because it can stimulate menstrual flow. Thyme oil should also be kept away from infants and young children because they are sensitive.

Thyme Oil Side Effects

Use of thyme oil may result in allergic reactions, even when it’s diluted. Some people who use it may experience dermatitis or inflammation of the skin. People with allergies to rosemary or mint oils should also stay away from thyme and its essential oil.

Always consult a physician or anyone knowledgeable in essential oils before using one, especially if you’re suffering from any disease or are taking certain medications.

Lemongrass Oil.

You may have tasted the refreshingly mild flavor of lemongrass, a herb that’s commonly added to foods and beverages. But have you ever tried using lemongrass oil, an all-around herbal oil with many health benefits? Keep on reading to discover more about lemongrass oil.

What Is Lemongrass Oil?

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) is a tall perennial plant from the Poaceae grass family, which thrives in tropical and subtropical regions, such as in India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, and Guatemala. This plant grows in dense clumps and has bright-green, sharp-edged leaves, similar to grass.

Lemongrass is a popular flavoring in Asian cooking – added to curries and soups, or paired with beef, fish, poultry, and seafood. Fresh lemongrass is also used to make lemongrass tea.

There are over 50 varieties of lemongrass, but not all are edible or ideal for medicinal purposes. The two varieties of lemongrass most popularly used today are Cymbopogon citratus and Cymbopogon flexuosus. While they can be used interchangeably, especially for making lemongrass oil, C. citratus is more popularly known in culinary applications, while C. flexuosus is more dominant in industrial applications, such as perfumery.

Lemongrass oil is extracted from the leaves of the plant. It has a thin consistency and a pale or bright yellow color. It has a strong, fresh, lemony, and earthy scent.

Uses of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil is a great addition to various skin care and cosmetic products, such as soaps, deodorants, shampoos, lotions, and tonics. It also works as an air freshener and deodorizer, especially when blended with other essential oils like geranium or bergamot. Simply put it in an oil burner, diffuser, or vaporizer.

Lemongrass oil is also known for its ability to repel insects, such as mosquitoes and ants, due to its high citral and geraniol content. Spray it around your home, diffuse it, or rub a diluted mixture on your skin.

Lemongrass oil’s refreshing scent makes it a valuable aroma therapeutic oil. It’s clean and calming aroma helps relieve stress, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia, and prevent drowsiness.Lemongrass oil can also help relax and tone your muscles, as well as relieve muscle pain, rheumatism, period cramps, stomachache, toothache, migraines, and headaches.

Here are some ways to use lemongrass oil:

  • Make a refreshing foot bath. Add two drops to a bowl of warm water, and soak your feet for 10 minutes. If your feet are aching, add two tablespoons of Epsom salts.
  • Make a massage oil by mixing it with sweet almond or jojoba oil.
  • Kill your pet’s fleas and lice by spraying diluted lemongrass oil all over his coat. You can also soak his collar in it, add it to his final rinse after shampooing, or spray it on his bedding.
  • Blend it into your favorite bath products or add it to your bath water. 

Composition of Lemongrass Oil

The main compounds of lemongrass oil are geranyl acetate, myrcene, nerol, citronellol, terpineol, methyl heptanone, di pentane, geraniol, neral, farnesol, limonene, and citral. These are known to have anti-fungal, antiseptic, insecticidal, and counter-irritant properties.

Citral is known for its antimicrobial effects, and can help kill or suppress the growth of bacteria and fungi. It’s said that lemongrass oil’s quality is generally determined by its citral content.

Another beneficial compound in lemongrass is limonene, which helps reduce inflammation and kill bacteria, according to research.

Benefits of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil has analgesic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, carminative, astringent, antipyretic, fungicidal, bactericidal, and antidepressant properties, making it one of the most versatile and health-promoting essential oils. It works well for:

  • Inflammation – Lemongrass is an analgesic that can help reduce pain and inflammation, which can lead to many chronic diseases. According to a 2005 study by Dr. Sue Chao, lemongrass oil is one of the top six essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Hair problems – If you’re struggling with hair loss, oily hair, and other scalp conditions, lemongrass oil may be beneficial as it can help strengthen your hair follicles. Just apply a diluted solution onto your scalp, and then rinse out.
  • Infections – Lemongrass can help kill both internal and external bacterial and fungal infections, such as ringworm and athlete’s foot.  In a 2008 study from the Weber State University in Utah, it was found that out of 91 essential oils tested, lemongrass ranked highest in inhibitory activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.
  • Fever – The antipyretic effect of lemongrass oil helps bring down very high fever, especially when it is beginning to reach dangerous levels.23
  • Digestive issues – A diluted lemongrass mixture helps facilitate nutrient assimilation and boosts the functioning of the digestive system, which is helpful for treating bowel problems and digestive disorders. It also prevents the formation of excessive gas and increases urination, which helps eliminate toxins from the body.

How to Make Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil sold in the market today is made via steam distillation. But if you have lemongrass growing in your backyard, you can easily make this oil by infusing it with another carrier oil. Here’s a simple method:

Materials:

4 to 6 lemongrass stalks
Fine cheesecloth
Mortar and pestle
Carrier oil (Olive, rice bran, grapeseed, or any unscented natural oil)
Two jars
Dark glass container

Procedure:

  1. Get two lemongrass stalks and remove the leaves. Crush the stalks using a mortar and pestle (or any heavy object) to release the oil.
  2. Fill a jar with your carrier oil of choice and put the crushed stalk in it. Leave the jar for two days in a place where it can get plenty of heat and sunshine.
  3. After two days, strain the oil using the cheesecloth and transfer it into another jar. Make sure to press and squeeze the stalks until they’re completely dry.
  4. You may need to repeat the process using fresh new stalks to achieve the desired lemongrass fragrance. Just keep replacing the stalks every two days to increase the oil’s potency.
  5. Once you’ve reached the desired fragrance, transfer the oil into a dark glass container and leave it in a cool, dry and dark place. You can use this oil for a year or more.

How Does Lemongrass Oil Work?

Lemongrass oil is a tonic that influences and helps keep the systems in your body working properly, including the respiratory, digestive, nervous, and excretory systems. It also allows nutrients to be absorbed into the body, which keeps your immune system strong and robust.

Lemongrass oil can be diffused using a vaporizer, inhaled, applied topically, or ingested. To ensure the efficiency of lemongrass oil, you should use it depending on the health condition that you want to improve. For example, if you want to quell stress and anxiety, diffuse the oil using a vaporizer. But if you want to relieve muscle pain or use it to treat infections, it’s better to massage a diluted solution in the affected areas.

For internal health ailments, such as digestive issues, lemongrass oil can be taken internally in a diluted form. However, I do not recommend taking this oil orally without the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.

Is Lemongrass Oil Safe?

Lemongrass oil is generally safe as long as it is used in small quantities (it is one of the strongest-smelling oils in aromatherapy) and properly blended with a carrier oil. Undiluted lemongrass can actually burn and injure your skin due to its high citral content, so it’s best to mix it with a carrier oil. Some of the best carrier oils you can use with lemongrass oil are basil, palmarosa, vetiver oil, lavender, rose, clary sage, patchouli, ginger, fennel, geranium, sandalwood, and cedarwood.

I advise doing a patch test before applying lemongrass oil on your skin, to see if you have any adverse reactions to this essential oil.

Side Effects of Lemongrass Oil

Skin irritation, discomfort, rashes and a burning sensation are some topical side effects experienced by people with sensitivity to lemongrass oil. Using the oil may also lead to lowered blood glucose, and may have contraindications for people who are taking oral diabetes drugs or antihypertensive medications, as well as those who are diabetic and hypoglycemic.

I do not recommend children, pregnant women, and nursing moms to use lemongrass oil orally. Those with liver or kidney disease and other health conditions should also consult their physician before using lemongrass oil.

Cinnamon Leaf Oil.

Beyond its alluring fragrance and spicy-sweet flavor, cinnamon provides many  benefits for your health, such as its insulin-like effects, which can be useful for diabetics. But did you know that you can also get many of cinnamon’s health benefits by using cinnamon leaf oil? Here are facts worth knowing about this oil.

What Is Cinnamon Leaf Oil?

Cinnamon leaf oil comes from Cinnamonum verum (also called Laurus cinnamomum) from the Laurel (Lauraceae) plant family. This small and bushy evergreen tree is native to Sri Lanka, but now grows in many countries such as India, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Indonesia. There are actually over 100 varieties of C. verum, with Cinnamonum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) and Cinnamomun aromaticum (Chinese cinnamon) as the most consumed.

Cinnamon tree can be distinguished by its small, white flowers, shiny, leathery green leaves, and purple oval berries. Its papery, pale brown bark has thick quills that roll inside one another, and are gathered every two years.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man. It was valued in ancient Egypt not only as a medicine and beverage flavoring but also as an embalming agent and is also mentioned in the Bible. Cinnamon was so precious that it was considered more valuable than gold throughout some of its history.

You’ve probably heard of cinnamon bark oil, but don’t be confused – it’s an entirely different product. Cinnamon bark oil is extracted from the outer bark of the tree, resulting in a potent, perfume-quality essential oil. Cinnamon bark oil is extremely refined and therefore very expensive for everyday use, which is why many people settle for cinnamon leaf oil, as it’s lighter, cheaper, and ideal for regular use.

Cinnamon leaf oil has a musky and spicy scent, and a light yellow tinge that distinguishes it from the red-brown color of cinnamon bark oil.

Uses of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Cinnamon leaf oil can be used as an additive in soaps and a flavoring to seasonings. When used in aromatherapy – diffused, applied topically (I recommend diluting with a mild essential  oil or mixing in your favorite cream, lotion, or shampoo), or added to your bath water – it can have health-promoting effects. Here are some ways to use cinnamon leaf oil for your health and around your home:

  • Use it as a disinfectant. With its strong germicidal properties, cinnamon leaf oil works as a non-toxic natural disinfectant. Use it to clean your toilets, refrigerator, kitchen counters and other surfaces, door knobs, microwave, and sneakers. You can even use it to clean and disinfect your chopping boards.
  • Make a facial scrub. Mix it with cinnamon sugar, orange juice, and olive oil to create a rejuvenating scrub that has antiseptic properties to kill facial bacteria effectively.
  • Gargle as a mouthwash. Add a drop or two to a glass of purified water, and gargle with it. For people with dentures, simply make a solution of water, hydrogen peroxide, and cinnamon leaf oil, and soak your dentures in it.
  • Add it to your foot soak. Get rid of nasty fungal infections by mixing a drop of cinnamon leaf oil in a bucket of warm water, and then soak your feet in it. This works great for athletes and people who wear closed shoes for most of the day.
  • Use cinnamon leaf oil as an insect repellent. Did you know that the scent of cinnamon leaf oil can deter pesky household insects, such as black ants, mosquitoes, roaches, and flies? Studies found that it may even be more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the toxic chemical DEET. Simply spray or diffuse the oil around your home. You can also spray it over your mattresses and sheets to get rid of bed bugs.
  • Add it to your shampoo. Add a drop of cinnamon leaf oil to your regular non-chemical shampoo. This will help keep your hair healthy and, in children, help kill stubborn head lice.

Composition of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

The oil extracted from cinnamon leaves contain phenols and beneficial components like eugenol, eugenol acetate, cinnamic aldehyde, linalool, and benzyl benzoate. It also has low levels of cinnamaldehyde, an excellent flavoring agent and the active component that helps repel mosquitoes and other insects.

Benefits of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Cinnamon leaf oil can work wonders as a quick pick-me-up or stress buster after a long and tiring day, or if you want to soothe your aching muscles and joints. This oil has a warm and antispasmodic effect on your body that helps ease muscular aches, sprains, rheumatism, and arthritis. It’s also a tonic that reduces drowsiness and gives you an energy boost if you’re physically and mentally exhausted.

Cinnamon leaf oil offers benefits against viral infections, such as coughs and colds, and helps prevent them from spreading. It even aids in destroying germs in your gallbladder and bacteria that cause staph infections. When diffused using a vaporizer or burner, cinnamon leaf oil can help treat chest congestion and bronchitis.

Cinnamon can also help remove blood impurities and even aid in improving blood circulation. This helps ensure that your body’s cells receive adequate oxygen supply, which not only promotes metabolic activity but also reduces your risk of suffering from a heart attack.

Cinnamon leaf oil has gastric benefits as well, mainly because of its eugenol content. It works well for alleviating nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea. It also works as an antibacterial agent that can promote good digestion.

How to Make Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Cinnamon leaf oil, which is more delicate than cinnamon bark oil, is produced via steam distillation. The leathery green leaves are pruned from the trees and then left to dry for several days. Afterwards, they go through a special water-steam distillation machine that extracts the oil.

Cinnamon leaf oil can also be distilled via traditional methods, where a huge wooden vessel is fitted with a copper head on top that holds as much as 200 kilograms of dried cinnamon leaves. The vessel is then placed in a wood-fired boiler that produces the steam for distillation.

How Does Cinnamon Leaf Oil Work?

The phenols in cinnamon leaves give cinnamon leaf oil its rejuvenating and health-promoting quality. Cinnamon leaf oil contains 80 percent phenols, mainly eugenol, which has anesthetic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. However, eugenol may also irritate your skin, especially when applied near or on the mucous membranes.

Is Cinnamon Leaf Oil Safe?

While the cinnamon powder on your spice rack is safe to consume internally, the same cannot be said for cinnamon leaf oil. DO NOT ingest it without the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Do not self-medicate with cinnamon leaf oil, as it can cause irritation, especially on your mucous membranes.

When applying cinnamon leaf oil topically, I advise blending it with safe carrier oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil. It also blends well with other spice oils like black pepper, cardamom clove, and ginger oils. Check and make sure that you don’t have any allergic reactions to cinnamon leaf oil before using it. You can do this by performing a skin patch test: apply a small amount of diluted cinnamon leaf oil on your skin and see if any allergic reactions occur.

I also recommend pregnant women and nursing mothers to avoid using cinnamon leaf oil, as it has emmenagogue effects, meaning it may induce menstruation, which is dangerous for the unborn child. Avoid administering the oil on very young children, too.

Side Effects of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Use cinnamon oil in moderation and properly diluted, as high dosages may lead to convulsions in some individuals. This oil may also lead to side effects such as skin irritation, mouth sores, dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may irritate your urinary tract, intestines, and stomach lining, if taken internally. If these symptoms occur, consult a healthcare practitioner immediately.

Calendula Oil.

Marigold has much value today and in traditional cultures as a homeopathic remedy, but the oil extracted from the flowers, called calendula oil, is not far behind in providing benefits. Learn more about this oil distilled from the petals of the pot marigold or Calendula officinalis, and how you can harness its health and practical everyday uses.

What Is Calendula Oil?

Marigold is a genus of about 15 to 20 species of plants in the Asteraceae family. This flower is native to Southwestern Asia, as well as Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The common name “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary, to which it is associated in the 17th century.

Apart from being used to honor the Virgin Mary during Catholic events, marigold was also considered by ancient Egyptians to have rejuvenating properties. Hindus used the flowers to adorn statues of gods in their temples, as well as to color their food, fabrics, and cosmetics.

Pot marigold or C. Officinalis is the most commonly cultivated and used species and is the source of the herbal oil. “Calendula” comes from the Latin word “calendar,” meaning “little calendar,” because the flower blooms on the calends or the first of most months. It should not be confused with ornamental marigolds of the Tagetes genus, commonly grown in vegetable gardens.

Calendula, with fiery red and yellow petals, is full of flavonoids, which are found naturally in vegetables and fruits and are substances that give plants their lovely bright colors.

Calendula oil is distilled from the flower tops and is quite sticky and viscous. It has a very strange smell described as musky, woody, and even rotten – like the marigold flowers themselves. This smell does not readily appeal to many individuals, even in when used in a remedy.

Uses of Calendula Oil

Here are three classifications of calendula plant and oil uses:

  1. Health and wellness – It has tonic, sudorific, emmenagogic, and antispasmodic properties, but it is mainly used for skin care and treatment. It has great anti-inflammatory and vulnerary action, making it helpful for stubborn wounds, acne, ulcers, bed sores, varicose veins, rashes, eczema, and related conditions. It addresses sore, inflamed, and itchy skin conditions.Calendula massage oil also greatly heals, soothes, and softens skin, making it a good addition to massage oils or when preparing a carrier oil blend.
  2. Cooking – Since the Middle Ages, the petals of marigold have been used as “the poor man’s saffron” for coloring cheeses, butter, and dishes. During the Elizabethan era, both petals and leaves were used in salads, although the latter showed to be very strong. The petals flavored soups and stews.
  3. Practical uses – Marigold has been used as a dye. Dried petals can also be added in potpourris.

Composition of Calendula Oil

In a study, calendula oil was obtained in low yield (0.3 percent) by steam distillation with cohabitation from flowers and whole plants. Identified by the researchers were 66 components, mainly sesquiterpene alcohols. α-cadinol was the main constituent, about 25 percent. The essential oil from the whole plant was found different from that of the flowers through the presence of monoterpenes hydrocarbons aside from the alcohols.

The principal constitutes of calendula essential oil are flavonoids, saponoside, triterpene alcohol, and a bitter principle. The useful components of calendula itself include a volatile oil, carotenoids, flavonoids, mucilage, resin, polysaccharides, aromatic plant acids, saponins, glycosides, and sterols.

Benefits of Calendula Oil

Calendula oil is traditionally used for abdominal cramps and constipation. It’s your skin that will receive a good bulk of the benefits, thanks to the oil’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and related properties. Here are some of the promoted benefits of this oil:

  1. Skin dryness or chapping – Calendula oil is a great moisturizer for dry skin and for severely chapped or split skin. It soothes the area and reduces the pain.
  2. Inflammation – It works well on swelling sprained muscles or bruises; its anti-inflammatory action helps lessen swelling from injury. Calendula oil also helps treat spider veins, varicose veins, leg ulcers, and chilblains.
  3. Baby care – The oil helps relief diaper rashes, which can extremely irritate an infant.
  4. Minor cuts and wounds – The antiseptic and antimicrobial action of the oil help speed up healing of wounds and minor cuts, and also benefit insect bites, acne, and bed sores.
  5. Skin issues – Eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin problems can be soothed using calendula oil, applied topically. Calendula oil’s antifungal action is also great for treating athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch.

How to Make Calendula Oil

Calendula oil is extracted by steam distillation. There is almost no way to obtain 100 percent pure calendula essential oil, so this makes calendula essential oil an infusion and not a pure extract. In order to get the oil from the flower, the petals are steeped in oil, preferably olive oil. The oil left over when distillation is done is calendula oil, which should be a golden orange color.

You can create homemade calendula oil using the following instructions:

What you will need:

  • Dried calendula petals
  • Carrier oil (olive oil, almond oil, or sunflower oil are some great options)
  • A clean glass jar with a lid

There are two methods to infuse the oil:

  • Cold infusion method – This is the usually preferred techniques because it protects the delicate calendula from heat damage.
    1. Put your desired amount of dried calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar.
    2. Fill the jar with your carrier oil of choice to cover the petals by an inch.
    3. Put in a sunny place to infuse for four weeks.
    4. Drain the petals from the oil and store the oil in a container with a lid for up to one year.
  • Hot infusion method – This method is much quicker than the cold infusion method but won’t have the same strength because of the presence of heat.
    1. Put your desired amount of dried calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar.
    2. Fill the jar with your carrier oil of choice to cover the petals by an inch.
    3. Dump the entire contents of the jar (the petals and the oil) in a small saucepan or slow cookers. Heat on low for four hours, stirring occasionally.
    4. Let cool. Drain the petals from the oil and store the oil in a container with a lid for up to one year.

You can use the homemade calendula oil as an after-bath body oil, salve, baby oil, lotion, or home remedy for dry skin, inflamed areas, or rashes.

How Does Calendula Oil Work?

Calendula oil is used in various products, oftentimes as a great base for lotions, salves, creams, several natural cosmetics and personal care products, and herbal ointments. It also very commonly works as a base oil in aromatherapy. Furthermore, you can use calendula oil in an all-natural herbal hair color recipe.

You can create an infused oil by filling a jar with the dried flowers, which you cover with a carrier oil. You can get more out of these flowers by macerating the mixture in a blender. Leave it infused for two weeks or more to extract the flowers’ beneficial properties. When ready to use, filter the oil through cheesecloth, and use it directly in a balm or as part of a homemade cream or lotion.

Is Calendula Oil Safe?

Calendula oil is generally safe for use, but I advise you to heed the following safety guidelines and considerations:

  1. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should generally avoid using calendula oil. Do not take calendula by mouth, as there is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage. Avoid topical use as well.
  2. An allergic reaction may occur in individuals who are sensitivity to ragweed and related plants, such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, and daisies. Before using calendula oil, check with your doctor if you have allergies.
  3. Combined with medications used during and after surgery, calendula use might cause too much drowsiness and should be stopped at least two weeks before surgery.

Side Effects of Calendula Oil

If you are not pregnant, nursing, allergic, or about to undergo surgery, you can use calendula oil with likely no side effect. It is best, however, to consult your healthcare provider, especially for therapeutic use.

Remember, though, that sedative medications or CNS depressants interact with calendula. The plant extract might cause sleepiness and drowsiness, and taking it with sedative drugs might result in excess sleepiness. Some sedative drugs include clonazepam, (Klonopin), phenobarbital (Donnatal), and zolpidem (Ambien). I advise you to also explore safe, natural ways to get a good night’s sleep.