Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – Oils, origins, uses and Safety – Part Two 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

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.

Oils, origins, uses and Safety Part Two

Last time I gave you a list of the most common essential oils to be found in skincare, massage and for therapeutic use. I would like to continue that today but first a quick word about carrier oils.

Carrier Oils

Essential oils are known as volatile because they smell of the plant they were extracted from and evaporate quickly according to the ‘note’ of the oil. For example if an essential oil has a ‘top’ note such as a citrus oil, it will evaporate within a couple of hours of being applied to the skin. Whereas, an oil with a ‘base’ note is warmer and lasts longer, sometimes for several hours or days. Although called an oil, it does not feel oily and it is not easy to apply. The essential oil also requires diluting in varying degrees dependent on how you are going to use. As skincare, for massage or therapeutic. It therefore needs to be blended with an oil that can be applied smoothly.

A carrier oil is made from plants but is scentless which makes them a perfect partner for the pungent essential oils. Because these natural plant oils have not got the extended shelf life of the essential oils, you would blend and keep on the shelf for a much shorter period or less than six months.

Here are some of the more common oils used in aromatherapy and you should experiment to find the one that suits you best dependent on your own skin type.

For example I have a fairly dry skin so like to use either Jojoba oil or prepared Coconut oil which has been liquified. They are also lighter in aroma and I feel maintain the aroma of the essential oil better. I have also used Sweet Almond Oil but if you have a nut allergy you should avoid.  I am now experimenting with Avocado Oil and I am pleasantly surprised how well it is absorbed.

Other oils that you can use are also solid and room temperature and are more difficult to work with such as Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter although when melted they can add a smooth feel for massage purposes. It tend to not use Olive Oil as I find the smell stronger than I like.

There are several other carrier oils available and I suggest you do some research based on your skin type and price and availability. There are some health food shops who stock them but you can also find some of the plant based oils in the supermarket.

Later in the series I will cover the blending of different essential oils and the dilution with carrier oils in more detail.

Next however I want to continue the list that I began last week on the most common essential oils.

A reminder of what the term ‘Note’ refers to in relation to an essential oil

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.

Lemongrass is made from grass from Africa, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

  • Scent: lemony
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, bath,
  • Note:  Top
  • Mood: Stimulating and Refreshing
  • Safety: 24 hour test on sensitive skin.

Mandarin is made from the peel of the fruit and comes from Brazil, Algeria and Argentina.

  • Scent: Citrus
  • Usage: Bath, massage, skin care
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: Avoid exposure to sunlight.

Marjoram is made from the whole plant and comes from Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria and Egypt.

  • Scent: Herbaceous
  • Usage: Baths, inhalation, massage.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Warming
  • Safety: None indicated.

Melissa is made from the whole plant and comes from Wales, Ireland and Germany.

  • Scent: Lemony
  • Usage: Inhalation, massage, skin care, baths
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Soothing
  • Safety: None indicated

Neroli is made from the flowers and comes from Morocco, Tunisia and France.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: Skin care, massage, baths
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safety: None indicated

Patchouli is made from the leaves and comes from India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

  • Scent: Musky
  • Usage: Burners, massage, baths
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Calming
  • Safetly: None indicated.

Peppermint is made from the leaves and usually comes from America and China.

  • Scent: Minty
  • Usage: Massage, steaming, compresses
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Revitalising
  • Safety: 24 hour test on sensitive skin.

Pine is made from the needles and comes from France, Canada and Russia.

  • Scent: Pine
  • Usage: Inhalation, massage, baths.
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Stimulating
  • Safety: 24 hour test on sensitive skin and avoid in pregnancy.

Rosemary is made from the tips and the leaves and comes from Tunisia, Algeria, France and Hungary.

  • Scent: Camphorated
  • Usage: Massage, inhalation, skin care and baths.
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Uplifting
  • Safety: Not for epileptics or in pregnancy.

Rose Otto is made from the flowers and comes from Bulgaria and Turkey.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: massage, skin care and baths.
  • Note: Middle/Top
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Sandalwood is made from the wood of the tree and comes from India.

  • Scent: Woody
  • Usage: Massage, inhalation, skin care, baths.
  • Note: Base
  • Mood: Balancing
  • Safety: None indicated.

Tea Tree is made from the leaves and twigs and comes from Australia.

  • Scent: Fresh
  • Usage: Massage, Skin care
  • Note: Top
  • Mood: Cleansing
  • Safety: None Indicated.

Ylang Ylang is made from the flowers and comes from Madagascar.

  • Scent: Floral
  • Usage: massage, baths, skin care
  • Note: Middle
  • Mood: Seductive
  • Safety: None indicated.

Just a couple of notes.

This is not a full list of essential oils and you can discover the full range at any specialist shop or website. You will also find that they have carrier oils and also a range of accessories for blending and keeping your finished preparation fresh.

Secondly it is not advisable to take essential oils internally especially in their concentrated form. However, I have used peppermint oil … just one drop to a large glass of water for IBS. Do ask an expert before experimenting.

Next time I will be looking at specific essential oils in more detail beginning with Bergamot.

I hope that you have found of interest and always delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally


©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


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

  1. It’s amazing, Sally, how nature lends a helping hand to keep us healthy if we pay attention to what she has to offer, using plants, fruit, herbs and even (surprisingly for me) sandalwood. Thanks so much for enlightening us. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hadn’t come across Melissa before but it looked so like the lemon balm I have in the garden I had to look it up. I live and learn! Sandalwood was a great favourite of mine when i was a student but I’d forgotten about it until now. I didn’t realise you could get it as an essential oil and I’ll have to look into it – it’s a perfect scent for this time of the year and I can understand its ‘balancing’ nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Here coconut oil, lemongrass, Jasmine(which) I love or Papaya oil which is rich in omega 9 essential acids and is very good as a moisturiser and for skin problems…another post which I enjoyed reading, Sally…shared on Saturday Snippets tomorrow Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peppermint is a great oil and yes a few drops rubbed at the corners forehead has been shown to help with migraines…the capsules of peppermint can also help as there us a link to digestive problems and some specific foods.. I have used one drop of the oil in a large glass of water and drunk through the day and that has helped too..hugsx


  4. Pingback: Saturday Snippets…10th October 2020… | Retired? No one told me!

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