DIY Moisturizing Skin Serum

Growing up, I was fed the beauty myth that oily skin is bad. The cosmetics industry pushes the use of harsh, drying soaps and products that strip natural oils to help you get rid of shine. However, those natural oils actually help moisturize your skin. Washing them away can result in overly dry skin, rather than soft and supple skin. Really what you want is skin-loving oils like the serum recipe below paired with a nice, gentle astringent for a balanced regimen.

Using natural plant oils is a wonderful way to help nourish and refresh dry skin. Some of my favorites are organic rosehip seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, and tamanu oil. I love how quickly they absorb into the skin, leaving my face soft, but not greasy. Organic plant oils like these are used in the base of most homemade lotion recipes. Lotions often include butters or waxes to help smooth the skin and seal in the moisture. Using oil neat will allow it to absorb into the skin very quickly, and I prefer using this preparation first for daily facial moisturizing. However, you can use this serum as an oil base in a cream recipe if you like. This serum is wonderful for softening the skin on arms and legs as well.

For high-quality skin oils, you want to make sure that they are certified organic and minimally processed. I like to use cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils that are unrefined. It’s also important to keep them in a cool, dark place. I store mine in the refrigerator and buy often. Because they are minimally processed, high-quality oils can turn rancid if not properly stored. Keep in mind,  a little oil goes a long way.

Okay, it’s time to feed your skin some luscious serum! I use this recipe first thing after showering in the morning and again before bed. I find it especially helpful for dry or sensitive skin, but feel free to play with other carrier oils and essential oils to craft a serum that is perfect for you.

MOISTURIZING SKIN SERUM RECIPE

Ingredients

Carrier Oil Base
  • 2 oz. organic jojoba oil or organic sunflower oil
  • 1 oz. organic tamanu oil
  • 1 oz. organic rosehip seed oil
  • ½ oz. organic pomegranate seed oil
  • ½ tsp vitamin E oil
Essential Oils

Directions

Pour all carrier oils together into a glass bottle and roll between your palms to mix. Carefully drip each essential oil into the carrier base and roll again to distribute. Use less essential oils if you have skin or fragrance sensitivities. Invert the bottle several times and roll again. Use a coin-sized amount as a facial serum or allover body oil each day.

Make Your Own Green Tea Skin Serum

There is no point in stretching the truth…I am 60 years old and while I have tried to take good care of my skin over the years, my skin-care strategy is evolving as my body ages.As a teenager and young adult, it was all about absorbing extra oil and striving for blemish-free skin. Throughout my thirties and early forties, I used a water-based moisturizing cream with sunscreen daily, and that worked well to help combat the rigors of a busy life.

Recently, I’m finding my skin needs a bit more nourishment and moisture and I’ve been working on creating face and skin treatments that have more of the good oils and concentrated botanicals to meet the requirements of my ever-aging skin. I never would have dreamt of putting oils directly on my face when I was 21, but now my skin seems to soak it all in—leaving my face feeling soft and nourished.

I’ve been reading a great deal lately about the benefits of green tea antioxidants as one of Nature’s many gifts, especially in skin care applications. I thought I might give it a try and use it as a base for a skin serum created specifically for more “seasoned” skin…

GreenTeaSerum01blog-1

Green Sencha Skin Serum

This recipe makes approximately 1 cup of skin serum, which is quite a bit! You can use this as a whole body oil or divide it up and share. The recipe is also easy to half or quarter if you’d like to make a smaller amount.

The first step is to create an infused oil. I used about 1 cup of organic Green Sencha Leaf Tea and covered it completely with organic olive oil in a 1-pint mason-type jar. Allow this to infuse for 4-6 weeks, shaking regularly and making sure the tea stays completely covered with oil. After infusing, strain. Compost the tea.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well to combine.
  2. Pour into a dark amber or cobalt blue bottle or jar to protect from light and store in a cool, dark place. This does not need to be refrigerated.
  3. Apply by pouring a small amount in the palm of your hand and gently spread on your face using non-dominant fingers (avoid using your pointer finger or thumb as they put more pressure on your skin.)
  4. You can also use a dropper to collect the oil for application.
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Best Essential Oils and Their Benefits

Essential oils, also called volatile oils, are scented oils extracted from plants. Historically, they’ve been used in medicine, cosmetics, perfumes, food, and, more recently, aromatherapy. Essential oils are “essential” because they contain the “essence” of the plant, meaning the taste or odor.

Not only are essential oils popular, they have legitimate therapeutic use and the science to back it up. Although the exact benefit depends on the oil in question, some have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Others can affect cognitive function, mood, and memory. Some can even help alleviate stiff, sore muscles and joints.

Some essential oils can be applied to the skin, others are best taken orally. However–and this is important–do not ingest or topically apply any essential oils unless you are absolutely certain that they can be used this way. Not all essential oils are safe to take internally and some can irritate the skin. Essential oils are a concentrated source of many phytochemicals and some essential oils must be diluted with an unscented “carrier oil” to be used safely on the skin.

Health Benefits of Common Oils

One of the primary benefits of essential oils is that, when used properly, they offer many benefits and have few, if any, side effects. Many essential oils are effective against harmful organisms. Some can positively affect your mood and mental state. Some essential oils can even help you reduce a headache or feelings of nausea. Aromatherapy uses essential oils to improve quality of life and reduce unpleasant side effects of aggressive therapies and health conditions. Just be careful not to spill them; some surfaces, like painted wood, may react with essential oils.

Lavender Oil

Derived from fresh lavender flowers, lavender oil is one of the most well known essential oils. It appears to slow the activity of the central nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote better concentration, and help encourage hair regrowth in those suffering from alopecia areata, a type of hair loss.

Lavender may also help fight anxiety. In one study, encapsulated lavender oil was found to be effective for generalized anxiety disorder, without sedative effects or potential for abuse.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil, derived from the leaves of Eucalyptus odorata, a smaller variety of eucalyptus tree, is a powerful biocide. It’s antimicrobial, insecticidal (kills insects), herbicidal, acaricidal (kills ticks and mites), and nematicidal (kills nematodes). It’s especially effective against the bacterial strains Staphylococcus aureusHaemophilus influenzaStaphylococcus agalactiae, and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Eucalyptus oil is great for respiratory health. Inhaling eucalyptus steam can help alleviate a cough and congestion. The aroma of the oil acts as an expectorant, helping to loosen phlegm in the nasal passages and lungs.

In one study, researchers found that the combination of eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil boosts cognitive performance. The same study also found the scent of these two essential oils reduce headaches and promote mental and muscular relaxation.

Peppermint Oil

 

Peppermint oil can help alleviate nausea, a headache, upset stomach, gas, indigestion, and anxiety. It works on the digestive system by speeding up the rate of elimination. Peppermint oil calms the involuntary smooth muscle of the stomach, producing an antispasmodic effect, and improves the flow of bile. It can help soothe discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and studies have shown that encapsulated peppermint oil can reduce IBS symptoms in as many as 80% of people who take it. Peppermint oil is effective because it contains menthol that interferes with the movement of electrolytes across cell membranes, stopping involuntary contractions.

Beyond digestive help, peppermint oil may offer relief for HSV-1 (Herpes simplex) outbreaks by permeating the skin and acting as a virucide directly on the virus. More research is needed, but preliminary results suggest topical application may fight outbreaks.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is another essential oil with strong antimicrobial properties. Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil comes from “tea” or “paperbark” trees. In Australia, it has a long history of use as an antiseptic. Bundjalung aborigines native to Australia inhaled the aroma of crushed leaves to relieve a cough and used poultices to help heal wounds.

Today, we know that tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoal. It fights harmful organisms by damaging cell membranes. Tea tree oil also inhibits the growth and sporulation of yeast and fungus. The oil can be applied topically to cuts to discourage infection.

Like peppermint oil, tea tree oil seems to have an effect on HSV-1. One study revealed that, while topical tea tree oil doesn’t prevent recurrent herpes outbreaks, it may reduce viral load by up to 98.2%.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is derived from the seeds of the wild jojoba shrub, a small, woody desert plant native to Arizona, California, and northwestern Mexico. Historically, Native Americans used jojoba oil to help wounds heal. Jojoba oil contains unique fatty acids and fatty alcohol esters that are similar, but superior, to those found in sperm whales.

Unlike other essential oils, jojoba oil is not a volatile oil, but still offers plenty of benefits, primarily to the skin. With respect to wound healing, researchers found that jojoba oil accelerates the closure of wounds at a cellular level. To improve skin appearance and reduce acne, incorporate jojoba oil into your skincare routine. Evidence indicates that clay-jojoba oil facial masks might be an effective remedy for mild acne.

Blue Chamomile Oil

Blue chamomile oil is extracted from German chamomile. The vibrant color of blue chamomile oil is a result of the steam extraction process—the azulene content in the oil darkens to an inky blue, brilliant azure, or deep green. This color fades and turns dark yellow during storage, but, don’t worry, the oil’s benefits don’t fade.

Chamomile has been used therapeutically for thousands of years by Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians to remedy everything from skin conditions and injuries to fever and insomnia. As a traditional medicine, blue chamomile oil may help with eczema, wounds, bruises, burns, canker sores, mastitis, and other conditions.

Chamomile is also appreciated for its anti-inflammatory effects. One study found that chamomile inhibits and prevents a chemical process in the body that incites inflammation. Further, chamomile seems to inhibit the effects of the stomach-ulcer-provoking bacteria Helicobacter pylori.

Chamomile tea can help with insomnia, and inhaling the aroma of chamomile oil produces a mild sedative effect on the brain, which makes you feel sleepy. Like lavender, chamomile oil offers a mild anti-anxiety effect for those who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.

Rose Oil

Rose oil is a floral-scented essential oil derived from the petals of several species of rose. In contrast, rose absolute is not an essential oil because the essence of the rose is extracted using a more intense chemical extraction processes. Like other essential oils, rose oil promotes a calm mood and fights harmful organisms. It contains tocopherol (a vitamin E compound), carotene, and high levels of phenolic compounds. Rose oil can make your skin more permeable so it’s often added to skin care products to improve efficacy.

Oregano Oil

Oregano oil contains carvacrol, a powerful organic compound with a long list of beneficial properties, including fighting harmful organisms. Carvacrol also supports liver health.

Jasmine Oil

Jasmine oil is derived from jasmine flowers. While many of the essential oils mentioned are sleep aids and relaxants, jasmine oil has a stimulating effect. When applied topically, jasmine oil increases alertness, breathing rate, and vigor. These effects may promote an uplifted mood and better sense of well-being.

Copaiba Oil

Copaiba oil is extracted from the Amazonian plants in the Copaifera genus. Copaiba oil contains copalic acid, which seems to halt the growth of common, but harmful, dental bacteria such as Streptococcus pyogenusStreptococcus salivarius, and Streptococcus mutagens. Copaiba oil also has strong anti-inflammatory effects. Unlike most essential oils, copaiba oil can be taken orally.

Bergamot Oil

Bergamot oil is known for its calming effects, but it may also encourage a healthy body weight and help with vascular and heart health. Researchers aren’t yet sure how, but bergamot oil encourages normal cholesterol levels and blood sugar.

Neroli Oil

Neroli oil is derived from the blossom of Citrus aurantium, also known as the bitter orange tree, which is native to tropical and subtropical Asia. The oil goes by many names but is frequently called “orange bitters” and “Seville orange.” It’s known as Neroli because of a 17th-century Italian princess, Anne Marie Orsini of Nerola, took a liking to the scent. Neroli oil is commonly added to diet pills due to its ability to act as an appetite suppressant. One of the major benefits of Neroli oil is that it helps relieve symptoms associated with menopause and stress. It also boosts the actions of the endocrine system, fights harmful organisms, and soothes irritation.

Lemon Balm Oil

Also called valerian, lemon balm is another essential oil that helps with symptoms of menopause, especially disordered sleep patterns. Lemon balm also seems to sharpen memory and boost problem-solving abilities. Some promising research indicates that it may improve recall for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Pomegranate Oil

Pomegranate oil comes from the many seeds of the pomegranate. It’s exceptionally rich in linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid. Some research suggests pomegranate oil may even delay the development of colon cancer and skin cancer. The oil also enhances the immune system.

Frankincense Oil

Frankincense oil is extracted from Boswellia tree sap and has a long history of therapeutic use. Most interestingly, frankincense promotes normal cell growth.

How to Use Essential Oils

Most essential oils are safe to use, but you have to pay attention to their intended use and stick to those applications. Some oils can only be used aromatically and should not be applied to the skin or taken orally. You may have noticed that many of the oils are effective against harmful organisms. Those effects aren’t always limited to harmful organisms—they might affect gut and skin microbiota, too. Others can kill cells indiscriminately, including normal tissue cells.

There are, of course, gentle essential oils that are great for the skin. Neroli oil, for example, promotes circulation and soothes irritation. Rose oil moisturizes the skin and is used as a gentle toner. To take advantage of some of the skin benefits of essential oils, AquaSpirit® contains Neroli, rose, jasmine, and lavender oil. It encourages healthy-looking, radiant skin and promotes well-being.

Holiday Homecoming Diffuser Blend

A great DIY Holiday Essential Oil Diffuser Blend Recipe for the Christmas Season:

sweet orange aromatherapy

Sweet Orange Essential Oil:

Description: Sweet Orange is one of the most commonly used essential oils because of its diverse and beneficial properties. Its uplifting and familiar aroma makes it an ideal oil to add to diffuser blends. Some of its properties include Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Antidepressant, Diuretic, Tension Relieving, Uplifting, Muscle Soothing.

Directions: Add to your diffuser for aromatherapy benefits. Recommended to properly blend with a carrier oil prior to topical applications.

Cautions: None known

GC/MS Lot#: Sweet-Orange-0104
GC/MS Lot#: Sweet-Orange-0103
GC/MS Lot#: Sweet-Orange-0102
GC/MS Lot#: Sweet-Orange-0101

Frankinsence-Essential-Oil-Spotlight

Frankincense

Description: Frankincense has been used for thousands of years for spiritual, health, and cosmetic benefits. In aromatherapy, it is used to ease feelings of grief and to create feelings of peace and serenity. When applied topically, it is rejuvenating to the skin and joints.

Directions: Recommended to properly blend with a carrier oil prior to topical applications.

Cautions: Frankincense is extremely gentle to the skin.

GC/MS Lot#: Frankincense-0103
GC/MS Lot#: Frankincense-0102
GC/MS Lot#: Frankincense-0101

peppermint oil

Peppermint

Description: Peppermint essential oil is well known to aid in digestion. It contains menthol, well known for its ability to warm and cool. The menthol will aid in digestion and is beneficial to the sinuses. Peppermint is great for the muscular system and helps relieve cramps during menstruation. It’s a fresh, energizing, essential oil that stimulates mental clarity, reduces fatigue, and reduces stress.

Directions: Add to your diffuser for aromatherapy benefits. Recommended to properly blend with a carrier oil prior to topical applications.

Cautions: Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If pregnant or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician.

GC/MS Lot#: Peppermint-0106
GC/MS Lot#: Peppermint-0105
GC/MS Lot#: Peppermint-0104
GC/MS Lot#: Peppermint-0103
GC/MS Lot#: Peppermint-0102
GC/MS Lot#: Peppermint-0101

Clove-Oil-When-You-Are-Pregnant

Clove

Description: The bud of this evergreen, indigenous to Southeast Asia, has a long history as an effective agent for minor pains and aches, particularly dental pain when blended with a carrier oil and applied to the outer jaw. It is widely used in contemporary Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

Directions: Add to your diffuser for aromatherapy benefits. Recommended to properly blend with a carrier oil prior to topical applications.

Cautions: Clove Bud Oil should only be used in dilution. It should be avoided during pregnancy. May cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use.

GC/MS Lot#: Clove-0104
GC/MS Lot#: Clove-0103
GC/MS Lot#: Clove-0102
GC/MS Lot#: Clove-0101

barefut essential oils

 

Cinnamon

Description: Grown and distilled in Sri Lanka, barefūt’s 100% Pure Cinnamon Essential Oil is of the highest quality in the world!

Not only does cinnamon support a healthy immune system, but it also has many emotional and spiritual benefits. Cinnamon Essential Oil can help to release buried feelings of anger, frustration or pain caused by past trauma. It can also help to create feelings of security, safety and trust with relationships. These are just a few of the many blessings of cinnamon. Cinnamon may also increase brain function, aid in recovering from infections, and strengthen your immune system.

Directions: Add to your diffuser for aromatherapy benefits. Recommended to properly blend with a carrier oil prior to topical applications.

Cautions: Dilute properly with a carrier oil prior to topical applications at a maximum dilution of 0.1%. Avoid use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

GC/MS Lot#: Cinnamon-0103
GC/MS Lot#: Cinnamon-0102
GC/MS Lot#: Cinnamon-0101

A Story of Lavender

Lavender was once a virtual medicine chest in every home. It was used for everything: as a nerve stimulant and restorative, for the relief of muscular aches and pains and sprains, to induce peaceful slumber and ease the ache of rheumatism and nervous headaches, to promote the appetite following illness, and to relieve flatulence.
Merck said of true lavender {L. angustifolia} that it was ‘a stimulant, tonic, and used internally and externally in hysteria, headaches, fainting, nervous palpitation and giddiness’. The ‘vapours’ so beloved of susceptible victorian ladies were frequently treated with lavender water. No doubt loosened stays contributed to the cure!
As has so often occurred when old herbal remedies have been tested by modern science, many of lavender’s medicinal uses have been found to be solidly based on fact. Lavender oil has been shown to have antibiotic activity and will kill pneumococcus streptococcus, Koch’s bacillus, diphtheria and typhoid bacilli. So the traditional use of oil of lavender in the treatment of mild burns, abrasions, cuts, sword wounds, sores, varicose ulcers and stings, and also for coughs, colds and chest infections with a lavender tisane or steam inhalation, would have been effective. An infusion of the flowers of true lavender was also used as a douche for leucorrhoea.
Lavender oil was used extensively as an antiseptic in World Wars I and II when surgical supplies became scarce. Lavender farms, herb farms and every grower of a lavender bush in England were asked to contribute lavender for the cause. Britain, cut off from Continental sources of much-needed drugs, appeals to its citizens to assist the war effort by gathering various herbs from the seashore and countryside. Among the herbs requested in World War II were foxgloves, comfrey, wormwood, marigolds, yarrow, elderflowers and hawthorn berries from the hedgerows and woods, and seaweeds rich in agar from the coast. Some 750 tonnes of dried herbs were gathered by the Woman’s Institute, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and men and women in the various services. And should that quantity not sound enough, the quantity of fresh required to produce that amount of dried herbs was 6,000 tonnes!

In France, it is still quite common for housewives to keep a bottle of essence of lavender for use on bruises, sprains and bites.
Anyone who has stripped dried lavender flowers from their stalks on a warm summer day in a fairly closed room will know that the temptation to fall asleep is utterly irresistible. Its sedative action is amazingly strong and often, by just opening a bottle of oil in a confined space, I have seen visible relaxation in a person who is very anxious or stressed.
A week infusion {5 g of dried flowers in a litre of boiling water} sweetened with honey was a traditional treatment for problems of nervous origin such as insomnia, irritability and nervous headaches. A few drops of oil of lavender rubbed on the temples was considered equally effective. And if your sleeplessness is of the tossing and turning variety compounded by summer heat, try my favourite trick of sprinkling the pillow with cool fragrance lavender water. It is amazingly effective as it is old-fashioned. Sleep pillows containing fresh dried lavender are the answer for those who make a habit of seeing the dawn in.
A rub-down of lavender oil before retiring to bed completely relieves night-time symptoms of constantly spasming leg muscles, which is a truly exhausting condition to suffer from. For those with weary legs at the end of a hard day’s work, a few drops of oil of lavender in a hot footbath can relieve fatigue remarkably. A few drops of oil rubbed into the skin has also been used traditionally to ease neuralgic pain. And an old countryman’s trick in both England and France was to tuck a spray of lavender under a hat to prevent or cure a nervous headache.
Lavender water rubbed on the back and chest can, in my experience, do much to quieten irritating chest coughs and has traditionally been used for this purpose in France. Lavender is sedative to both the nervous system and the respiratory tract.
Compound tincture of lavender or tincture of red lavender was listed in the British Pharmacopoeia for over two hundred years. It was known in the eighteenth century as Red Hartshorn or Palsy Drops. The early formulation was a complex one involving the distillation of lavender flowers, sage flowers, rosemary flowers, cowslips, betony flowers and others with French brandy. A maceration was then prepared from the distillate and various aromatic spices. Finally fixatives, colourants and fragrance were added in the form of the Apothecary’s Rose {R. gallica officinalis}, musk, ambergris, saffron and red sandalwood. The 1746 Pharmacopoeia saw a considerable simplification in the formulation, consisting of the oils of rosemary and lavender added to spirits of wine and macerated with nutmeg, cinnamon and red sandalwood. This formulation remained virtually unchanged thereafter.
Red lavender lozenges were also favoured as a mild stimulant against faintness and giddiness. Other traditional formulations included the famous Oleum Spicae, which consisted of one part of oil of lavender and three parts spirits of wine and was popularly used on sprains and stiff or aching joints. Pure oil of lavender was once commonly used rubbed into paralysed legs to stimulate them. I imagine that in cases of hysterical paralysis caused by trauma of various kinds it might well have been very effective.
The volatile oil obtained from the distillation of L. angustifolia contains lavenderyl acetate, terpineol, pinene, borneol, camphor, cineole, linabol, limonene and linalyl acetate.
Spanish lavender oil, which is distilled in Spain, has a chemical composition resembling that of spike lavender oil. L. stoechas {Italian lavender} is similarly distilled and is likewise low in the esters present in L. angustifolia. They are used to add fragrance to soaps, disinfectants and other household items, in the manufacture of some fine varnishes and lacquers and by porcelain painters.
While its medicinal use appears to be restricted to veterinary practice, there is a traditional use of spike lavender oil in promoting the regrowth of hair that is falling out Where the problem is of nervous origin there may well be a particular basis for such a tradition. Lavender also had a reputation as a stimulant to the scalp. Arab women have traditionally used a lavender and basil based tonic to perfume and strengthen their hair, To make it, mix together in a glass bottle 2 cups of vodka, 30 ml lavender water, 30 drops of essential oil of lavender and 30 drops essential oil of basil. Allow maturing for two months, shaking thoroughly at regular intervals.
Even the ‘straw’, the stems of dried lavender after the flowers have been stripped, has found medicinal use, being burned in bundles as a deodorant and disinfectant of sick rooms.
Many lavender products are available on the market, but if you grow your own lavender it is possible to make up some of these old-fashioned fragrant formulas for yourself. Be sure to use English lavender {L. angustifolia}.

Lemongrass: A Resourceful Herb and Essential Oil.

Lemongrass {Cymbopogon citratus}

Also, Known As:

  • Citroengrass
  • Fever Grass
  • Lemongrass
  • Sereh
  • Te Limon
  • Zacate Limon

Cymbopogon citratus, generally known as lemongrass, is a resourceful herb, a natural source of aroma, mosquito repellent as well as a plant that is widely used to decorate gardens. Lemongrass belongs to the grass or Poaceae family (formerly known as Gramineae) and has several functions – an effective herb, aromatic or container garden, or as a medication for various conditions. One may find a number of the variety of lemongrass and each of them possessing dissimilar chemical compositions. However, citral is the major chemical ingredient found in all varieties of essential oils of lemongrass.

Lemongrass is native to tropical regions and grows in clusters. The plant has globular stems that eventually become leaf blades. This herb belongs to the herb family which also includes citronella and palmarosa and possesses a lemon essence. When the leaves of the herb are compressed they release the aroma of lemon.

The lemongrass is a perennial plant with brawny stalks and somewhat broad and scented leaves. This species of plant is usually cultivated commercially for oil refinement and is different by its individual aroma and chemical composition of the oil. Apart from C. citratus, or Cymbopogon citratus, there are other varieties of lemongrass such as C. nardus (also known citronella grass that is a source of citronella oil), C. martini (known as ginger grass, palmarosa or rusha) and C. winterianus (Java citronella oil).

Lemongrass is also a resourceful plant in the garden. This grass, native of the tropical regions, usually grows in thick bunches that often develop to a height of six feet (1.8 meters) and approximately four feet (1.2 meters) in breadth. The leaves of the plant are similar to straps and are 0.5 inch to 1 inch (1.3 cm to 2.5 cm) in width and around three feet (0.9 meter) in length, and possess stylish apexes. The plant bears leaves round the year and they are vivid bluish-green and when mashed they emit an aroma akin to lemons. The leaves of this plant are used for flavoring and also in the manufacture of medications. The leaves are refined by steam to obtain lemongrass oil – an old substitute in the perfume manufacturers’ array of aroma. The most common type of lemongrass found is a variety of plants that originated and persisted under cultivation and do not usually bear flowers.

Over the years, lemongrass has fast turned out to be the most wanted plant for the American gardeners and this is attributed to the increasing popularity of Thai culinary in the United States. The aromatic lemongrass is considered to be of multi-purpose use in the kitchen as it is used in teas, drinks, herbal medications and the soups and delicacies originated in the Eastern region of the world and now popular all over. In fact, the worth of this aromatic and cosmetic plant was known to the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.

For hundreds of years, lemongrass has been a resource of natural aromatic oil that is primarily used in the manufacture of perfumes, adding essence as well as in the preparation of herbal medications. It is advisable to store some quantity of lemongrass in the house so that you may include a lemon-lime essence to your ice tea and even put some zing to beat the fries. In order to collect the lemongrass, plow a cluster of the plant, divide the segments, and separate the roots and the tops maintaining around six inches (15 cm) of the pale-hued plant base.

Cymbopogon nardus, a member a relative of lemongrass, is a fine resource of citronella oil, a substance that offers a special aroma (and also a strike), and is, therefore, widely used as a mosquito repellent. It is important to mention here that when candles enclosing the Citronella oil are lighted, hardly any mosquito ventures near and even if they do, none of them survive the strong scent. Presently candles made with Citronella are becoming increasingly popular for their ability to ‘naturally’ control the mosquito menace and it is advisable that you may also have some of them on your terrace.

Plant Parts Used:

Dried above ground parts, the essential oil.

Lemongrass-Essential-OilTherapeutic Benefits:

Apart from the herb’s aromatic, ornamental and culinary uses, lemongrass also provides a number of therapeutic benefits. Lemongrass leaves and the essential oils extracted from them are utilized to cure grouchy conditions, nervous disorders, colds, and weariness. It may be mentioned here that many massage oils and aromatherapy oils available in the market enclose lemongrass oil as an important ingredient. The essential oils extracted from lemongrass have a yellow or yellowish-brown hue and this liquid is known to be antiseptic. Very often the oil is applied externally to treat disorders of athlete’s foot (tinea pedia). Among other things, lemongrass is also used as a carminative to emit digestive gas, a digestive tonic, a febrifuge or analgesic as well as an anti-fungal. In addition, lemongrass is prescribed to treat rheumatism and sprains, suppress coughs, and as a diuretic and sedative.

The stalks and leaves of the lemongrass are widely used in culinary in different Asian countries. The leaves and essential oils of the plant are also utilized in herbal medications. In addition, Cymbopogon citratus is extensively used by the cosmetic industry in the manufacture of soaps as well as hair care products. Finally, these days, lemongrass is being appreciated for its effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes. The essential oils of Cymbopogon species are basically used in the fragrance industry as they possess very restrained therapeutic uses.

Many gardeners in the sub-tropical climes grow lemongrass in the beds and borders with a view to decorate their plots. When planted along the walkways, lemongrass plants release a pleasant aroma when swept against by the passers-by creating wonderful environs. The plant also thrives well in tubs and containers. It is advisable to grow the plants in pots during the winter months and maintain them in vibrantly illuminated indoor areas. People residing in the frosty areas are able to enjoy the aromatic plant throughout the year.

 Lemongrass forms an important ingredient in Oriental cooking as this superb lemon-aromatic is a culinary delight. In fact, the lemongrass constitutes an essential element of the Vietnamese and Thai culinary as it reveals a satisfying essence to soups, sauces, curries and fish dishes. Additionally, a stimulating tea can also be prepared with lemongrass. Chefs in Thailand and Vietnam use lemongrass stalks to provide a lemon-like essence to their dishes. In fact, they only use the youngest part of the stems – usually 6 cm to 7 cm from the base of the plant. The process includes removing the outer leaves of the plant and cutting off both ends of the stem using the middle portion. While cooking with lemongrass stems, they should be cut into relatively longer pieces so that it is easier to remove them after the dish is prepared.

Cooks in China, Indonesia and Malaya use the dehydrated lemongrass leaves in the preparation of marinades for grilled meat and fish. On the other hand, French chefs use fresh lemongrass in some of their culinary. It may be mentioned here that lemongrass gels well with coconut, garlic, ginger, shallots and chili pepper.

Growing Lemongrass:

lemongrass (1)Lemongrass is native to tropical Asian countries like Sri Lanka and India where it grows in abundance. While lemongrass grows naturally in tropical grasslands, it is also widely cultivated in all the tropical regions of Asia for commercial purpose. Presently, lemongrass is cultivated as a cash crop in different parts of the globe.

It may be mentioned here that different varieties of the species originate and are cultivated in different parts of tropical Asia. For instance, C. nardus grows naturally all over the tropical regions in Asia, C. martinii had its origin in India, but is now extensively cultivated in Malaysia and C. winterianus is a cultigen (a cultivated plant of unknown or obscure taxonomic origin) is now cultivated commercially in India as well as Indonesia.

For best growth, Cymbopogon citratus requires anything between bright sunlight and light shade and a damp soil having an excellent drainage system. The plant is able to endure several other kinds of soils; for instance, it grows well in sandy soil too provided proper care is taken. If you are growing the plant in a greenhouse, make sure to use a mixed soil comprising two parts of peat moss to two parts of clay to one fraction sand or perlite (amorphous volcanic glass). Although these plants are able to endure droughts, actually when there is such a situation, the plants have a dry and pale look. On the contrary, when grown in a greenhouse, the plants remain reasonably wet all the times and it is essential to add fertilizers to the soil on a regular basis every month in order to help them maintain a robust growth. Growing lemongrass in the middle of planting containers, along with basil, sage and creeping thyme presents an attractive look. When the plants are grown in tubs or containers, it is essential to divide them occasionally as the Cymbopogon citratus is known to have a belligerent growth. Although it is not advisable to water the plants during the winter months, it should also be noted that the plants should never be allowed to dehydrate completely.

Generally, this species of the plant is propagated by division of the mature bunches either during spring or summer. In addition, Cymbopogon citratus is also growth by means of its seeds, which are often quite difficult to get. The Cymbopogon citratus is a very sensitive plant that is often killed back to the roots owing to extreme freeze ups. The leaves of the plant are so tender that they often suffer severe damages owing to the frosting.

Components:

The chemical composition of the essential oil extracted from lemongrass comprises huge quantities of citral (geranial, neral) as well as several other monoterpenoids. The main elements of citronella oil are geraniol, citronellal and citronellol.

Infusion, Essential Oil Benefits:

lemongrass-oilInfusions prepared with the lemongrass leaves or the watered down essential oil from the plant may be ingested to cure a number of disorders. In addition, the essential oil may also be used externally to heal several discomforts.

Caution and Possible Side Effects of Lemongrass:

Extremely watered down essential oil extracted from lemongrass and citronella oil are used to add essence to foods and beverages. However, using these oils in their pure form may prove to be venomous and if taken in excessive amounts orally, it may even become life-threatening. Here is a word of caution. Pregnant women should never take these essential oils. It may be mentioned here that it is always essential to use lemongrass, also called oil grass and fever grass, only under the guidance of expert healthcare providers.

The essential oil extracted from lemongrass is believed to be non-poisonous, but it may still sensitize the skin in some people who may be having susceptible or damaged skin or people who may be enduring some kind of allergic reactions. It is important that people using lemongrass or its essential oil should do so adopting utmost caution. In addition, these substances should never be used on small children. In fact, when using any essential oil people must seek professional guidance with a view to reducing the risks involved with them. This is all the more important when inexperienced people want to use the essential oil extracted from lemongrass.

Lemongrass Oil:

lemongrass oil header

The essential oil of lemongrass is extracted by refining the fresh or dehydrated leaves of the plant with steam. The extracted oil has a yellowish to amber hue and possesses an aroma that is similar to that of lemon, citrus or grass. It may be noted here that the essential oils obtained from the lemongrass species grown in the West Indian and East Indian regions have the same aroma and hue, but the oil extracted from the West Indian variety of lemongrass is comparatively wispier as well as more unsullied.

 The essential oil extracted from lemongrass encloses several therapeutic properties and, hence, is extremely valuable for the human body. Lemongrass essential oil offers numerous health advantages, including preventing the body from being susceptible to ailments such as muscle aches, flatulence or pomposity, athlete’s foot among others. At the same time, lemongrass essential oil is also very useful for healing skin problems like acne. In addition, it is also considered to be among the best medications to fight the problem of too much perspiration.

The essential oil extracted from lemongrass is also known to be a wonderful analgesic or painkiller. The substance possesses antiseptic, anti-fungal and antimicrobial characteristics and hence its demand has been soaring by the day. At the same time, this essential oil is also an exceptional astringent and is also known to possess the aptitude to tone the skin. It may be mentioned here that use of lemongrass oil also aids in avoiding panic, melancholy as well as nervousness. Massaging with lemongrass oil provides a calming and sleep-inducing effect. This is primarily owing to the fact that lemongrass oil functions as a potent sedative.

The popularity of lemongrass essential oil has been growing rapidly as people like its unsullied, plain and lemon-lime aroma, something which is just wonderful. A message with lemongrass oil is always very refreshing and helps to calm down the body after a day’s hard work. It has been already discussed earlier that the most common technique of extracting lemongrass oil from the plant is by means of steam refinement or distillation. The hue of lemongrass oil normally varies from deep yellow and amber to red. As far as the thickness of lemongrass oil is concerned, it is diluted by nature and, hence, its stableness too is very delicate.

The lemongrass herb is popularly called “choomana poolu” in India and it often denotes the “Indian Melissa oil”, which is widely used in Ayurveda – the ancient Indian medicine system. Ayurveda medical practitioners extensively use the lemongrass essential oil to lower fevers and also prescribed it for curing infectious ailments. In addition to its use in preparation of medications, lemongrass essential oil is also extensively used by the cosmetic industry in the manufacture of lemon scented perfumes and soaps.

It may be noted here that many people have often held the use of lemongrass essential oil for resulting in inflammation of the skin.  It is important that pregnant women are advised never to use this highly potent essential oil in any form.

How Can Frankincense Oil Aid in Natural Skin Care…

Frankincense is a special sap from the Boswellia tree and it’s had a wide array of cultural applications for over 5000 years. Boswellia trees are hardy trees that yield the valuable resin when the bark is “striped”, or slashed open. It’s a process that’s done by hand to ensure the highest quality resin. Frankincense originated in Africa, India, and the Middle East, with most of the supply coming from the nation of Oman. Trade grew extensive and frankincense eventually became so prized that it was one of the three gifts presented in the Christian Nativity story.

Frankincense has been used in a myriad of ways and, in present times, it’s a popular ingredient in topical skincare products. In this article, we will explore some of the historical uses of this valuable resin, as well as its role in skin care. But first, let’s answer a simple question.

What Is Frankincense?

Frankincense is an aromatic, hardened tree resin. It contains several unique compounds, most importantly boswellic acid. The hard frankincense resin can be refined into an essential oil that offers remarkable health benefits, including boosting the immune system. The regional composition of frankincense is so distinctive that you can trace the source resin by analyzing the oil.

Traditional Uses of Frankincense and Frankincense Oil

Some of the most common uses for frankincense have been cultural or religious in nature. Because of its pleasant aroma, frankincense has been used as incense for centuries. The first recorded use of incense was in Fifth Dynasty Egypt (2345 – 2494 BC). Frankincense was also used in religious ceremonies in the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece. Eventually, its use spread to countries like China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Frankincense saw cultural use in Taoism, Buddhism, and Shinto. Frankincense became popular in Europe and its use was adopted by the Christian faith, particularly Catholicism.

Modern Uses of Frankincense

As the use of frankincense evolved, it became popular as an ingredient in many cosmetic and skin care products. In some areas, frankincense is found in deodorant and toothpaste. Frankincense is used to create natural household cleaning products and is one of the most common oils used in aromatherapy. You can find it in many cosmetic and skin care products as frankincense is frequently added to soaps, shampoos, lotions, and facial creams.

Its popularity is not simply because of its aroma; frankincense actually helps promote youthful, healthy skin. Mixing the essential oil with liquids (especially distilled water) can yield a fragrant, spray-on skin toner. You can combine frankincense oil can with other products to impart its health-supporting properties. Frankincense has a unique chemical composition and proven skin-strengthening abilities. That’s why, after thousands of years, it still remains an important part of natural skin care.

Let’s take a look at why this is so important.

Why Is Natural Skin Care Important?

Skin is the largest organ in the human body. It is constantly exposed to the external environment and all its challenges. One of the primary responsibilities of your skin is to act as [thin] armor for your internal organs, muscles, skeleton, and more. It’s important to take care of your skin so it stays healthy. And, many of the best natural skin care products use frankincense to help achieve this goal.

Don’t underestimate the importance of using natural ingredients when it comes to skin care. If you wouldn’t put toxic substances in your mouth, why would you want to rub them on your skin? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many people do, as lesser products contain toxic ingredients that can be absorbed through the skin.

8 Skin Care Product Ingredients to Avoid

Eight common skin ingredients that should be avoided include…

  1. Parabens: commonly used preservatives found in many cosmetic products.
  2. Triethanolamine: used in herbicides and petroleum demulsifiers.
  3. Butylene Glycol: humectant that has been traced to contact allergens.
  4. Diethanolamine: can lead to skin irritation but commonly found in soaps, shampoos, cleaners, polishers, and other cosmetics.
  5. DMDM Hydantoin: harsh chemical preservative.
  6. Ethanolamine: listed as a chemical hazard by American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  7. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: widely used synthetic detergent with known side effects.
  8. Sodium Laureth Sulfate: shown to be a skin irritant.

This is by no means a complete list of harmful cosmetic additives. There are plenty more, and finding a safe skin care product may seem like an arduous task. That’s why choosing a product with natural ingredients, like frankincense, is so important.

How to Choose the Right Skin Care Product

Many people go out of their way to eat healthy, natural foods. That’s great! Unfortunately, not everyone puts the same thought into choosing the best skin care products. Your skin is not impermeable. Any substance you put on your skin could be absorbed into your bloodstream and dispersed throughout your body.

I suggest limiting yourself to skin care products made with natural ingredients like frankincense. Parfait Visage® is a premium, luxury face cream that was designed to help promote fresh, radiant skin. It’s made with all-natural ingredients, including organic Indian frankincense oil. It’s the perfect skin care product for keeping your face looking its best.

Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis)

Evening Primrose Oil Benefits

Evening Primrose Oil has been called the most sensational preventive discovery since vitamin C. It contains the pain-relieving compound phenylalanine and is increasingly being used to treat chronic headaches. It is currently being studied all over the world as a treatment for aging problems, alcoholism, acne, heart disease, hyperactivity in children, symptoms of menopause, multiple sclerosis, weight control, obesity, PMS, and schizophrenia. It has so many preventive and therapeutic qualities that it has become a standard part of recommendations of many herbalists for maintaining youth and preventing disease.

Evening Primrose Oil contains a high concentration of a fatty acid called GLA and it is this fatty acid that is largely responsible for the remarkable healing properties of the plant. In fact, Evening Primrose contains one of the highest concentrations are known of this important substance and only a few other plants contain it at all. This makes Evening Primrose an important medicinal herb, and as studies continue, the list of benefits will likely become much longer. The gamma-linoleic acid, linoleic acid and other nutrients in this oil are essential for cell structure and improve the elasticity of the skin. These fatty acids also help to regulate hormones and improve nerve function aiding problems ranging from PMS to migraine headaches. The hormone balancing effect contributes to healthy breast tissue.

Specifically, evening primrose oil may help to:

Relieve the discomforts of PMS, menopause, menstruation, endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts

By interfering with the production of inflammatory prostaglandins released during menstruation, the GLA in evening primrose oil can help to lessen menstrual cramps. It may also minimize premenstrual breast tenderness, irritable bowel flare-ups, and carbohydrate cravings, and help to control endometriosis-associated inflammation. Many PMS sufferers are found to have unusually low levels of GLA in their systems, which is why supplements might help so much. In women with fibrocystic breasts, the oil’s essential fatty acids can minimize breast inflammation and promote the absorption of iodine, a mineral that can be present in abnormally low levels in women with this condition. In menopause, it is widely reported that Evening Primrose oil reduces hot flushes and increases feelings of well-being.

Ease the joint pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis

Supplementation with evening primrose oil and other sources of GLA has been shown to lessen the joint pain and swelling of this crippling disease. A six-month study reported fewer signs of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers taking capsules containing GLA than in those taking a placebo. In another trial, the number of tender joints and swollen joints dropped significantly with GLA but not with a placebo.

Prevent diabetes-associated nerve damage

Research indicates that the GLA in evening primrose oil can help prevent, and in some cases even reverse, the nerve damage (neuropathy) so commonly seen with diabetes. In a year-long study, such symptoms as numbness, tingling, and loss of sensation in participants with mild diabetic neuropathy were less marked in those who took evening primrose oil than in those who took a placebo.

Reduce the symptoms of eczema

In some cases, eczema develops when the body has problems converting dietary fats into GLA. Getting supplemental GLA from evening primrose oil may, therefore, be helpful. Some studies indicate that this oil can outperform a placebo in relieving eczema-related inflammation, as well as the itching, oozing, and flaking associated with this condition. By taking GLA, eczema sufferers may tolerate reduced doses of steroid creams and drugs, many of which cause unpleasant side effects.

Help treat acne and rosacea

By working to dilute sebum, a thick oily substance that is oversecreted in some people with acne, the essential fatty acids in evening primrose oil may reduce the risk of pores becoming clogged and lesions developing. The oil’s EFAs help treat rosacea by reducing inflammation, controlling cells’ use of nutrients and by producing prostaglandins, which stimulate the contraction of blood vessels.

Combat damage from multiple sclerosis

The abundant supply of essential fatty acids in evening primrose oil may be valuable in minimizing the inflammation associated with this progressive nerve disorder. The fatty acids may also contribute to healthy nerve development when taken over time.

By boosting the transmission of nerve impulses, evening primrose oil may be valuable in treating this progressive brain disorder.

Counter impotence and female infertility

By promoting blood flow, the GLA in evening primrose oil can help treat a primary cause of male impotence; compromised circulation leading to impaired penile blood flow. The oil is often taken with vitamin C and Ginkgo Biloba for this purpose. In addition, when the oil is taken long-term, GLA can help prevent blood vessel narrowing, often a consequence of plaque buildup from high cholesterol. By improving uterine function, GLA may also help those who are unable to conceive.

Nourish nails, scalp, and hair

The rich stores of essential fatty acids in evening primrose oil not only prevent nails from cracking but also help to keep them generally healthy. In addition, the essential fatty acids nourish the scalp, making the supplement potentially valuable in treating a variety of hair problems.

Prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms

GLA prompts the brain to produce a specific type of prostaglandin called prostaglandin E, which works to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as depression and seizures by indirectly protecting the liver and nervous system.

Latin Name

Oenothera biennis

Also, Known As

Fever Plant, OEP, Sun Drop

Properties

Anti-aggregatory, antiatherogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-proliferative, anti-thrombotic, vasodilator

Medicinal Use

Acne, allergies, arteriosclerosis, asthma, cholesterol regulation, chronic headaches, diabetic nerve damage. dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity in children, high cholesterol, impotence and female infertility, inflammation, lupus, multiple sclerosis, prostate health, psoriasis, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea, scleroderma, treat, Alzheimer’s-related memory deficiencies, upset stomach. Nourish nails, scalp, and hair. Prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Relieve the discomforts of PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menstruation, menopause, endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts. Minimise premenstrual breast tenderness, irritable bowel flare-ups, and carbohydrate cravings, and help to control endometriosis-associated inflammation.

Consult a doctor first if you suffer from epilepsy, are taking anticoagulants, blood pressure medicine, blood cholesterol medicine or estrogen or other hormonal therapies.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this herb.

Anise {Pimpinella anisum}

Also, Known As:

  • Anise
  • Aniseed
  • Anise Plant
  • Common Anise
  • Hua-hsian
  • Sweet Cumin

In the ancient Chinese as well as the traditional Indian or Ayurvedic system of medicine, the herbal remedy anise has assumed a very popular stature and its utilization in various herbal medications is seen in both systems for many centuries now. The most commonly known type of anise is the ash colored variety from Spain, although, there exist several varieties of the aniseed-with more or less similar properties as a herbal remedy. Related to the common parsley and the common garden carrot, the anise belongs to the same botanical family of plants – the Umbelliferae family.

The herbal tea made from the anise can help improve memory function, it can reduce or stop oiliness in the skin, and it can be used to calm down a nagging and persistent cough in patients. The anise is also used to increase the production of breast milk in nursing mothers and at the same time, it serves as a natural antacid and can be used to replace either Tums or Rolaids in the treatment of heartburn and indigestion in affected individuals. These wonderful remedial benefits can be obtained by preparing anise herbal tea. Prepare this tea by bringing a quart of water to a boil using a pot or saucepan. When the water has begun to boil, you can then add about seven teaspoons of the herbal aniseed, and gently reduce the heat and simmer the content down to one pint or half a pint. Following this, gently strain the liquid and add four teaspoons each of honey and glycerin- which can be obtained from a drugstore, and used to preserve syrup tea while the water is still warm. To bring relief from hacking and persistent coughs, take two teaspoons of this syrup once about every few hours. This herbal syrup can also be used to strengthen memory functions, by taking two tablespoons thrice every day for a period of a few months. To treat skin problems drink two teaspoons of the herbal tea form made by excluding the addition of glycerin and honey once or twice every day, the herbal tea can also be used to fulfil milk needs and can be used to bring relief from stomach problems and other disorders associated with the digestive system.

Egypt has seen the cultivation of Anise for at least 4,000 years, and the plant grows wild in that country. Some of the Pharaonic medical texts show that the anise seeds were used as a herbal diuretic, and such remedies were also used in the treatment of different digestive problems, and as a remedy to relieve a toothache and pain. Even the ancient Greeks were familiar with the medicinal use of this herb. Early in the 1st century AD, the Greek scientist, Dioscorides wrote that the anise “warms, dries and dissolves” various symptoms in the body, he said the anise “facilitates breathing, relieves pain, provokes urine and eases thirst” in patients affected by such symptoms. This herb also saw widespread and popular use in the renaissance period.

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Plant Part Used:

Seeds, essential oil.

Herbal Remedy Use:

The herbal remedies derived from the seeds of the anise are famous for their ability to bring about a reduction in gas and bloating affecting a person, they are also able to settle the problems related to digestion. Remedies derived from anise seeds are very commonly used with infants and children to induce relief from cases of colic, and these remedies are also given to people of all ages to help in relieving the symptoms associated with indigestion and nausea arising as a result of different reasons. Another beneficial effect of the anise seeds, mainly their antispasmodic properties are very helpful in effectively dealing with the symptoms of menstrual pain, with the discomfort during asthma attacks, in the treatment of whooping cough, as well as in the treatment of other spasmodic coughs, and cases of bronchitis in different patients. The use of these anise seeds derived remedies for their expectorant action is often suggested to treat these different respiratory ailments and disorders. At the same time, the remedies made from the seeds of the anise are also believed to be able to bring about an increase in the production of breast milk; furthermore, these remedies may be beneficial in the treatment of impotence and frigidity in individuals affected by such ailments. The essential herbal oils derived from the anise are also used in the treatment of similar complaints in patients. The essential herbal oil is also a topical remedy, and it is used for the external treatment accorded to lice and to treat cases of scabies in patients.

It is suggested that the essential oil must be consumed by patients when they are under careful and responsible professional supervision. Women in the term of pregnancy must also abstain from taking anise, with the exception of minute amounts, such as those normally used during cooking.

Other medical uses

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ( COPD )

The Habitat of Anise:

The areas of the world such as North Africa, western Asia, and the eastern Mediterranean are regions where the plant grows in the wild anise is native to these geographical regions, though it present cultivation is widespread. These days, the anise plant is very widely cultivated for its seeds; these have a medicinal value and are also used as a flavoring agent in cooking as a part of some traditional cuisines.

The plant is an annual herb. It is usually cultivated these days and not harvested from the wild, the seeds are sown in dry and light soils in the early summer. The anise is also planted as thin seedlings at four inches apart in the fields. To produce fully ripened seed heads, the anise requires at least 120 frost-free days in a year.

Constituents:

Anise contains a volatile oil (comprising 70-90% anethole, together with methyl chavicol and other terpenes), furanocoumarins, flavonoids, fatty acids, phenylpropanoids, sterols, and proteins. Anethole has an observed estrogenic effect, and the seeds as a whole are mildly estrogenic. This effect may substantiate the herb’s use as a stimulant of breast-milk production.

Potpourri with Anise Seeds:

  • 4 Tbs. anise seeds
  • 2 Tbs. ground clove
  • 2 Tbs. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 4 drops rose oil
  • 1 cup unrefined salt
  • 12 cups of fragrant rose petals
  • 1 cup fine salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh ginger root, sliced
  • 2/3 cup powdered orris root

Dry the rose petals to a leathery texture. Mix coarse and fine salt, and layer petals 1/2 inch deep with salt. Store in a dry, dark, airy place for 10 days, and stir daily till moist potpourri base has formed.

Mix in the remaining ingredients. Seal the jar and cure for 6 weeks. Turn into decorative containers.

Jasmine {Jasminum spp.}

ALSO, KNOWN AS:

  • Catalonian Jasmine
  • Common Jasmine
  • Common White Jasmine
  • Italian Jasmine
  • Jasmin
  • Jasmine Flos
  • Jessamine
  • Mo Li Hua
  • Pikake
  • Poet’s Jasmine
  • Royal Jasmine
  • Spanish Jasmine
  • Yasmin

Jasmine belongs to the olive family, also known as Oleaceae. This shrub and vine genus comprises about 200 species that are indigenous to the warm temperate and tropical regions of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Plants belonging to this genus are cultivated extensively for the typical aroma of their flowers.

Jasmines may be evergreen (having green leaves throughout the year) or deciduous (shedding their leaves in autumn). In addition, plants belonging to this genus may be of various types – erect, climbing shrubs, spreading or even vines. The leaves of these plants appear alternately or opposite to one another on the stem. In addition, the leaves of jasmine may be simple, pinnate or trifoliate. Usually, the flowers of jasmine measure about 2.5 cm (0.98 inches) across and their color may either be white or yellow. Although rare, in some cases jasmine flowers may even be somewhat reddish. The flowers appear in clusters and each cluster contains no less than three blooms. However, in many instances, solitary flowers can also appear at the terminal of the small branches.

Each jasmine flower comprises anything between four and nine petals, one to four ovules and generally two locules. Every flower contains two stamens having very small filaments. The bracts of the flowers are either ovate or linear while the shape of the calyx is akin to that of a bell. Generally, the calyx is extremely aromatic. Jasmine bears berry-like fruits whose color changes to black when they mature.

PLANT PARTS USED:

Oil, flowers.

AROMATHERAPY, AYURVEDA USE:

Jasmine AbsoluteJasmine flowers and the essential oil obtained from them have numerous uses. While they are frequently used in perfumes and to flavor foods, a tea prepared from the flowers is taken internally for therapeutic purposes.

Traditionally, people have used jasmine flowers in aromatherapy to treat various conditions, including, depression, tension, anxiety, and coughs as well as for relaxation. Initial findings of scientific studies have revealed that jasmine flowers may also be effective in enhancing alertness and improving memory.

In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian herbal medicine system, jasmine has been traditionally used to lessen breast milk secretion. Moreover, initial studies on humans have shown that applying the juice or oil of jasmine flowers to breasts helps to lessen breast engorgement as well as milk secretion. However, further and more in-depth studies are necessary to corroborate these early findings.

In aromatherapy, jasmine flowers are frequently and extensively used to induce relaxation. Nevertheless, the initial evidence related to jasmine’s effectiveness in enhancing attentiveness is assorted.

Findings of initial studies on humans have hinted that consuming a tea prepared from jasmine flowers may not have the desired effects in certain forms of cancer. However, findings of other studies have shown that people who consumed jasmine tea, oolong tea or green tea have found them to be beneficial, especially in diminishing the chances of developing cancer. Further studies are necessary in this regard too.

In addition, aromatherapy has also used jasmine for massage. Findings of studies have shown that it may also be used to alleviate the symptoms related to menopause and regulate blood pressure. However, further studies are necessary for this field too, before arriving at any conclusion.

Findings of initial studies have shown that consuming jasmine tea may help to diminish the chances of having a stroke. Nevertheless, it has been found that the effect of jasmine tea is less compared to green or black tea. This is an indication that the benefits related to diminished stroke risk may not be associated with jasmine.

The aroma of jasmine is also said to possess tranquilizing attributes.

CULINARY USES

jasmine-teaIn China, people often consume jasmine tea, known as the jasmine flower tea there. People also make use of the flowers of Jasminum sambac, usually prepared with a base of white tea or green tea. However, sometimes it also has an oolong tea base. The tea and jasmine flowers are mated in machines, which can regulate the temperature as well as humidity. On average, it takes about four hours for the tea to take up the flavor and fragrance of the jasmine flowers. In order to obtain the best quality teas, it may be necessary to repeat the process several times – maximum seven times. It is also necessary to ‘refire’ or process the tea in order to prevent it from decomposing. Once the process is complete, you may or may not get rid of the used up flowers from the end product, as they have become completely dehydrated and fragrance-less by then. The tea is denser compared to the flower petals and you require giant fans to blow away the petals if you wish to remove them from the final product.

HABITAT OF JASMINE:

Jasmines are indigenous to places having tropical as well as temperate climatic conditions and have their origin in Asia, Australasia, and Africa. As of now, 200 different species of this genus have been identified. Some jasmine species are also found in South and Southeast Asia.

Despite the fact that this genus is not indigenous to Europe, several species of jasmines have been naturalized in the continent, especially in the Mediterranean region. For instance, the species called Catalonian jasmine or Spanish jasmine (botanical name Jasminum grand forum) was originally brought from Iran and some regions in the west of South Asia. However, now this species has become naturalized in the Iberian Peninsula.

how-to-grow-jasmine-Jasminum-officinale-280939337-1280It is also possible to grow jasmines in containers. Jasmines grew in full sunlight bloom abundantly and produce the best flowers. However, plants belonging to this species also have the aptitude to endure partial shade for some hours every day. It is advisable that you should move the jasmine plants growing in pots when the temperature soars on hot summer days. Doing this will save the plants’ leaves as well as flower buds from the scorching heat. When you are growing jasmines indoors, you should ensure that the pots are positioned in a sun-lit place or in the south or west facing part of your room beside a window. They grow best when placed in such positions.

Jasmines have the ability to grow in all soils, provided they are well drained. These plants cannot endure soil that is constantly damp or soggy. When grown in such soils, the plants can develop fungal diseases resulting in root decay. However, jasmines have a preference for watering at regular intervals during the flowering season. When the flowering season is over, the plants can be rested.

THERAPEUTIC FORMULATIONS:

Therapeutic formulations prepared from jasmine flowers do not have any specific standard dosage. Hence, the dosage mentioned below will not be applicable to all jasmine products. Therefore, before commencing therapy with these products, it is essential that you go through the product labels thoroughly and also consult a qualified healthcare professional to ascertain the appropriate dosage.

Adults (18 years and above)

Jasmine is usually taken orally in the form of a tea along with the plant’s flowers. These are boiled or immersed in water or used to prepare a tincture. On the other hand, jasmine essential oils can be blended with shea butter for external application on the skin. In addition, the essential oils obtained from jasmine are also used in aromatherapy.

In order to enhance your alertness or attentiveness, mix one ml of 20% jasmine oil solution in sweet almond oil and apply the blend to the stomach for about five minutes. Subsequently, cover the area with a plastic film. For reducing breast milk secretion, apply 50 cm of stringed jasmine flowers to both the breasts every day for five consecutive days.

People have been wearing a surgical face mask preparation using jasmine to improve alertness. There are a number of such surgical masks. You may either use masks layered with jasmine absolute ether in measures of 100 microliters; wear surgical masks swathed with jasmine absolute ether in measures of anything between 20 microliters and 50 microliters for about 30 minutes, or surgical facial masks packed with the aroma of jasmine.

Similarly, you should use a jasmine-scented incense stick to fill your room with its aroma and inhale the scent to enhance memory.

Children (below 18 years old)

For treating children, there is no jasmine dosage that has been verified to be safe as well as effective.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS AND PRECAUTIONS:

jasmine growingIn case you are suffering from any health problem or are using any drug, herbal product or supplement, it is necessary that you consult a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any new therapy. Moreover, you should also check with a healthcare professional right away if you experience any adverse effect after using jasmine products.

It is advisable that people who are sensitive to jasmine or have allergic reactions when they use this herb, experience side effects from using any plant belonging to the Oleaceae family; are allergic or sensitive to the fragrance of jasmine flowers or any other fragrance, for instance lemongrass, ylang-ylang, sandalwood and narcissus, should always keep away from using them. There have been instances of people exposed to jasmine flowers or the essential oils obtained from it suffering from side effects like itchy rashes and skin allergies on the scalp as well as the hands.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the use of jasmine for therapeutic purposes is safe, especially when it is used in amounts approved for foods. Even the use of jasmine essential oils is considered to be safe, provided it is diluted appropriately using any suitable carrier oil and applied directly to the skin.

However, it is important to exercise utmost caution while using jasmine products, especially when used by pregnant women. It should also be used in small quantities, as there is no data available regarding the safe use of this herb. Even nursing mothers should use this herb very cautiously because when jasmine flowers are applied to the breasts, they work to diminish breast milk production.

Use of jasmine flowers may also have an effect on the blood pressure. Therefore, it is advisable that people suffering from blood pressure related problems or those taking drugs, herbal preparations, and/ or supplements which have an effect on the blood pressure should use jasmine with extreme caution.

Moreover, people whose heartbeat is irregular or who are suffering from health conditions that bring down the heart rate should also exercise caution while using jasmine or products containing this herb. You should know that jasmine possesses the aptitude to bring about changes in the width of the blood vessels as well as the heart rate.

People taking diuretics (medicines that increase urine flow) should also be careful while using jasmine, as this herb may also have similar actions.

As Jasmine has a sedative action, its use may result in drowsiness or stupor, hence, it is advisable that you should not undertake any task that requires alertness, such as driving a vehicle or operating any machine. Also, do not use any other sedative or tranquilizer when you are using jasmine.

Never use any essential oils, including jasmine essential oil, orally. It has been found that they may be poisonous when taken internally.

Orange Essential Oil May Improve Symptoms of PTSD…

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects around 8 million adults in the United States, but treatments for the condition are still limited. Orange essential oil may offer a nonpharmaceutical option to help reduce the stress and fear associated with the disorder, suggests research carried out by scientists at George Washington University.
[orange essential plant oil]

Early indications show that orange essential plant oil could help to diminish symptoms associated with PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder often triggered by exposure to stressful, distressing, or frightening events, or the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one.

The person with the disorder tends to relive the traumatic experience through flashbacks and nightmares. The severe anxiety caused by PTSD may last months or even years, and it can have a significant impact on the person’s life.

Chronic stress is thought to play a role in activating and exacerbating inflammation in the peripheral immune system. Research has suggested that peripherally circulating immune cells may be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation in the central nervous system, which may contribute to mental health disorders, including PTSD. However, the link between fear memory and the immune system is not entirely understood.

Furthermore, treatment for PTSD is currently limited to two FDA-approved medications and psychotherapy practices, including cognitive and exposure therapies.

Cassandra Moshfegh, a research assistant in Paul Marvar’s laboratory at the George Washington University, and colleagues sought to investigate the effect of orange essential plant oil on PTSD symptoms. Previous studies have shown that orange essential oil may have a depressant-like effect on the central nervous system.

The team presented the research at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting during the Experimental Biology 2017 conference, held in Chicago, IL.

Essential oils are naturally produced by plants and can be used for therapeutic purposes. The aromatic compounds of orange essential oil are usually extracted from the peel of the orange. Essential oils can be inhaled, applied to the skin, or ingested in foods or beverages.

Orange essential oil significantly reduced fear-associated behavior

Orange essential oil was tested in mice to determine the impact of the compound on fear memory and immune cell activation. The researchers used Pavlovian Fear Conditioning – a behavioral mouse model – “to study the formation, storage, and expression of fear memories as a model for PTSD.”

Pavlovian Fear Conditioning pairs a tone with a negative stimulus, such as a shock to the foot, which provokes fear as a response in the mice. The mice form an associative memory between the tone and the stimulus. When presented with the tone alone, the mice exhibit a fear response and typically freeze. This response diminishes slowly as time goes on.

Moshfegh and team divided the mice into three groups. The first group of 12 mice was exposed to the audio tone alone, 12 mice received water and fear conditioning, and the remaining 12 mice were exposed to orange essential oil by inhalation 40 minutes prior to and after the fear conditioning.

The researchers found that the mice exposed to orange essential oil were significantly less likely to exhibit freezing behavior and stopped freezing altogether earlier than the mice that received water and fear conditioning. Moreover, the mice exposed to orange essential oil experienced a significant decrease in the immune cells linked to the “biochemical pathways” associated with PTSD.

The mechanism behind the differences in behavior between the two groups could be explained by the variations found in gene expression in their brains.

Relative to pharmaceuticals, essential oils are much more economical and do not have adverse side effects. The orange essential plant oil showed a significant effect on the behavioral response in our study mice. This is promising because it shows that passively inhaling this essential oil could potentially assuage PTSD symptoms in humans.”

Cassandra Moshfegh

Further studies are needed to unravel the specific effects of orange essential oil on the brain and nervous system, says Moshfegh, and to uncover how these effects reduce “stress and fear in people with PTSD.”