Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety – Part One by Sally Cronin

Welcome to the repeat of the 2018 series about essential oils and aromatherapy and I hope those new to the blog will enjoy.

Twenty-two years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. I am looking forward to sharing this relaxing therapy with you.

What is Aromatherapy – More details in last week’s post

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

This week I am going to look at some of the most common essential oils, where they originate, what part of the plant they are extracted from, their scent, how to use, the mood they will enhance and some safety issues with its use. I will feature half the more common oils this week and the other half next time.

What are essential oils extracted from.

Depending on the plant or fruit the essential oil will be extracted from peel, petals, leaves, buds, twigs, underground roots, wood, bark or resin.  Sometimes the whole plant will be used. The most common way to extract the essential oil is by steam distillation, where the plant material is put into a vat and then has steam forced through it. The heat and pressure releast tiny droplets of essential oil which rise, with the steam through a spiral tube. The steam cools and turns to liquid.

What is meant by the term ‘Note’ in essential oil therapy.

I am sure that you have used perfume or after shave and wondered why some tend to linger longer than others. This will be partly down to your skin type as some types will absorb certain perfumes or aftershaves and the scent remains or it disappears very quickly.

Apart from your skin type of oily to dry… there are certain properties within an essential oil which will determine the rate at which they evaporate. For example a top or high note which is a property of citrus based essential oils, means that it is light and will evaporate very quickly within a couple of hours.

An essential oil that is classified as a middle note will last a few hours longer, between three to five. For example Lavender and Rosemary. And those oils with a base note such as sandalwood and Patchouli will last a great deal longer sometimes for days.

Some of the oils listed I will feature in more depth including their therapeutic benefits later in the series. There are many more that a qualified aromatherapist may suggest to you and I do advise before using any  that you consult an expert. This is particularly important if you are pregnant or nursing, although except for some specific oils that could cause contractions before full-term (Clary Sage), most are considered safe, especially if very diluted.

Bergamot citrus fruit originates from Italy and a yellow to green colour depending on ripeness and uses the rind.

Image wikipedia.

  • Scent: citrus
  • Usage: Massage, bath, inhaled
  • Note:  Middle
  • Mood: Uplifting
  • Safety: avoid sunlight.

Black Pepper made from peppercorns from India, Malaysia and china.

  • Scent: peppery
  • Usage: massage, inhaled
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Stimulating
  • Safety 24hour test on skin – avoid in pregnancy.

Camomile made from the flowers from UK, France and Egypt. There are two types Roman and German and they have different therapeutic benefits.

  • Scent: Herbaceus, light, fruit
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Compresses, Tea.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Consoling
  • Safety: Usually none needed.

Cedarwood from Algeria and Morocco is extracted from the wood.

  • Scent: Woody
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: Avoid in Pregnancy

Clary Sage from France and Russia uses the whole plant.

  • Scent: Herbaceous, earthy
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: Avoid with alcohol and in pregnancy (may result in early contractions, but is used for this purpose at time of delivery)

Cypress comes from Morocco, Spain and France and uses the leaves, needles, twigs and cones from the tree.

  • Scent: Fresh and Green
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Refreshing
  • Safety: Usually None.

Eucalyptus from Australia comes from the leaves and the twigs.

  • Scent: Camphor
  • Usage: Inhalation, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Refreshing
  • Safety: Avoid in Pregnancy and with any form of homeopathy.

Fennel from Egypt, France and Hungary is made from the seeds.

  • Scent: Aniseed
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage.
  • Note: Middle/Top
  • Mood: Clearing
  • Safety: Avoid in Pregnancy

Frankincense from Somalia and Oman is extracted from the resin.

  • Scent: Incense, warm
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skin Care, Massage
  • Note: Middle, Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated.

Geranium from Egypt, Madagascar, China is made from the whole plant.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin Care, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Harmonising
  • Safety: None Indicated.

Ginger from India, China and the West Indies is made from the root.

  • Scent: Spicy
  • Usage: Massage, Compresses
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Stimulating
  • Safety: 24hour test on sensitive skin.

Grapefruit from Israel, Brazil and the USA and uses the rind.

  • Scent: Citrus
  • Usage: Skin care, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Uplifting
  • Safety: Avoid exposure to sunlight.

Jasmine from Egypt, India and France and uses the flowers.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Inhalation, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Reassuring
  • Safety: 24hour test on sensitive skin.

Juniper Berry from Europe and the Himalayas uses the berries.

  • Scent: Woody, Peppery
  • Usage: Inhalation, Massage, Baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Cleansing
  • Safety: Avoid in pregnancy and if you suffer from Kidney problems

Lavender from Tasmania, England and France uses the flowers.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Inhalation, Bath, Skincare, Massage
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Next week more about carrier oils that dilute the esential oils for their various uses. Also the other half of the more common essential oils that you are likely to find on the shelves.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

37 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety – Part One by Sally Cronin

  1. This is a big topic right now, Sally. I realize it is a repost, yet still relevant. I have many friends encouraging me to attend Aromatherapy oil parties. Thank you for explaining the word “note.” I am a fan of Bergamot and Lavendar. I will bookmark this post. Great photos and information written in simple, concise terms. Perfect for me. 🙂 I look forward to learning more next week.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Neat to have the details in bullet points like this. I love lavender. I planted a hedge of it last year and the aroma when I brush past it is heavenly. I have essential oil of lavender by the bed and use it if I’m having difficulty getting to sleep sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety – Part One by Sally Cronin | Retired? No one told me!

  4. Such detail here along with the flower, herb and uses. Others mentioned “notes,” and I too latched on to that particular description: high, medium, and low note, which are sometimes used to describe wine.

    I know I can trust info that comes from a writer who is also a nutritionist. Thank you, Sally! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This information about the notes is new to me, Sally. I am not one for perfume [although I have a lot as Terence’s mom likes it so he buys me the gifts she like [smile]] but I did know some last and some don’t. If I do wear, it will be a citrus one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds again very interesting! Thank you Sally! Here with us in the past, most people used herbs extracted in alcohol. A healing tincture called “Melissengeist” (with a nun pictured on the pack) was also used to disguise alcoholism. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Sally. I was remembering the scents as I read. I like to use these in many form, but I’m careful what I use in the air with the cats.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for the mini course on the oils Sal. And I loved learning about the extraction of the oil process. I love wearing them instead of perfumes sometimes, and some – like patchouli, will stay on my pajamas til the next day. ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – September 27th – October 3rd – Don Shirley, Salsa, The Pack, Books, Reviews, Health and Laughter. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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