Sweet smells, sweet thoughts
The Essential Oils - students study notes
Essential oils overview students guide
Shirley Price Everyday guide with illustrations
There are over a hundred essential oils available and used by professional aromatherapists. Some essential oils need care in use and should never be sold over the counter except by an
Essential oils overview students guide
Shirley Price Everyday guide with illustrations
There are over a hundred essential oils available and used by professional aromatherapists. Some essential oils need care in use and should never be sold over the counter except by an
aromatherapist or herbalist who can advise on their use. The forty or so study oils in this guide are those generally reckoned to be safe in everyday use subject to the safety cautions and contraindications noted. A simple patch test of a small quantity of diluted essential oil on the inner elbow is simply and easily done, Essential oil labels list the haptens to which a rare allergic reaction can occur - usually when the oil has become oxidised after its best by date.
The therapeutic effect of essential oils oils was explained by Shirley Price in Practical Aromatherapy first published in 1982 and in greater depth in the textbooks Aromatherapy for
Health Professionals and the Aromatherapy Workbook, both available from Amazon in a Kindle edition.www.shirleyprice.co.uk. The scientific basis for aromatherapy in theory and practice is well set out by French authors.
BASIL (Ocimum basilicum)/Lamiaceae
Basil is found in many of the warm, temperate climates of the world. This annual herb grows up
to 60cm in height, has dark leaves and whorls of pink flowers which give off a powerful aroma.
The European sweet basil is produced mainly in France and Italy.
The essential oil, which is distilled from the whole plant, is virtually colourless and has a
refreshing sweet aroma. Top note.
Used in inhalation, baths and massage, basil is particularly effective for depression, nervous
insomnia and mental strain. In baths and massage, basil can relieve cramps and digestive
disorders emanating from nervous tension; it can also be helpful in regulating scanty periods.
Inhalation of basil essential oil stimulates the brain and is most beneficial during long periods of
study. Helpful in emotions such as fear, despair and lethargy.
CAUTION: Care should be taken during early pregnancy as Basil can be a powerful oil depending
in variety of plant.
BENZOIN ABSOLUTE OIL (Styrax benzoin or S. tonkinensis)/Styraceae
Benzoin resinoid is produced form a thick, red-brown resin which exudes from the wounded bark
of trees native to Thailand (formerly Siam) and Sumatra; the best qualities have a soft, vanilla-
Benzoin is primarily an antiseptic and a stimulant, but is also used as an expectorant, clearing the
respiratory tract of surplus mucus and so improves breathing. Helpful against urinary infections
like cystitis, benzoin also relieves nervous tension and stress. It is excellent, when used in a
carrier lotion, at relieving chapped, cracked skin.
BERGAMOT (Citrus bergamia -per)/Rutaceae
Bergamots are inedible bitter citrus fruits grown for their essential oil. The trees were first discovered on the Canary Islands by Christopher Columbus, who introduced them to Italy, which is still the chief area of production. The oil, obtained by expressing the fruit rinds, is a yellow-green colour and has a refreshing aroma. Top note. Bergamot is used to flavour Earl Grey Tea. Bergamot is used in some half of womens perfumes and is an ingredient in the original Eau de Cologne.
Bergamot oil is extremely useful in the treatment of digestive problems such as colic, gastric
spasms and sluggish digestion. Emotionally, bergamot calms agitation, lifts despondency and
balances mood swings.
CAUTION: Because bergamot is a photosensitiser it should never be used on the skin before
going into strong sunlight, since pigmentation can occur. A bergapten free Bergamot oil is available and is the oil used in perfumery.
BLACK PEPPER (Piper nigrum)/Piperaceae
The pepper plant is a creeping vine which is found mainly in Vietnam, india and Ceylon. Known as the king of spices with its excellent qualities and rich flavour, black pepper is probably the most used spice on earth. The essential oil is distilled from unripe berries which have been picked and left to dry in the sun (where they turn black). It has a warm, spicy odour with a characteristic undertone.
A very important stimulant in the treatment of certain digestive disorders, such as painful
defaecation, constipation, loss of appetite, black pepper essential oil is also effective against colic,
food poisoning and indigestion. Its analgesic qualities make is effective against toothache, and
muscular complaints. It helps colds and can be used as a sexual tonic.
CEDARWOOD (Cedrus atlantica)/Pinacceae
The trees from which cederwood essential oil is extracted are found across the globe -depending
on which particular species is used. Cedrus atlantica grows abundantly in Northern Africa and
particularly in Morocco. The oil, which has a sweet, woody odour is obtained by steam
It has a variety of uses, especially in the treatment of skin-related complaints such as acne,
dandruff, alopecia and over-production of oil from sebaceous glands. Respiratory problems like
bronchitis, catarrh and coughs can all be helped by the used of cederwood essential oil in
preparations. It is said to help prevent nightmares.
Caution: Although Cedrus atlantica contains a ketone, research does not show it to be toxic (as is
cedar LEAF oil, derived from Thuja occidentalis). Nevertheless, it may be prudent to use it with
CHAMOMILE GERMAN (Chamomilla recutita)/Asteraceae
True chamomile, is a hardy, self-seeding annual herb indigenous to Europe and Western Asia.
The plant more commonly referred to by the name ‘chamomile’ is Roman chamomile
The flower heads of Chamomilla recutita render a dark blue essential oil under steam distillation.
It has a fatty, sweet smell and contains, among other things, an important component known as
German chamomile is principally anti-inflammatory. It is helpful in the treatment of digestive
ailments such as indigestion and gastric ulcers, as well as being indicated for premenstrual
syndrome on account of its hormonal properties. Acne, broken veins, inflammation and wounds
can all be helped be the careful use of this oil and a compress will work wonders on irritated or
CHAMOMILE ROMAN (Chamaemelum nobile)/Asteraceae
Distilled from double headed flowers it has a light, refreshing aroma. Roman chamomile is both
soothing and calming and, with its low toxicity, is very suitable to use on children and babies.
Good for sensitive, dry skin, its anti-inflammatory action soothes irritated skin, eczema, acne,
nappy rash and burns. In compresses, baths, application or massage, it helps stomach disorders
and restores appetites. Also beneficial for muscular cramps and the inflammation in rheumatism
and arthritis. It helps relieve menstrual problems, premenstrual stress and menopausal symptoms.
Roman chamomile is beneficial to frustration, panic, grief and forgetfulness.
CLARY-SAGE (Salvia sclarea)/Lamiaceae
Salvia means health. Schlarea means clear. Clary is short for clear eye. This beautiful plant is to
be found growing high up in the Alps. The oil, which has a strong, distinct aroma, is distilled
from the whole of the impressive flowering stem which grows up to 1.5 metres in height. It is an
excellent nerve tonic and powerful relaxant.
Clary is helpful for haemorrhoids and varicose veins when used in a carrier. Soothing and
regenerative for the skin, it helps to combat cellular ageing and preserve moisture in dry, mature
skin by compresses or application.
When used in inhalations, vaporisers, compresses, baths or massage clary sage essential oil has a
calming effect, and can help reduce high blood pressure.
Uplifting for depression and excellent for regulating hormones it is consequently most useful for
women’s problems such as premenstrual syndrome, irregular periods, infertility and associated
Emotionally, clary sage soothes excitability, fear and grief. It lifts despair and helps to prevent
CAUTION: Continuous inhalation may cause sleepiness and its use is recommended at the end of
the day. Do not take alcohol after a treatment as the effects of the alcohol will be enhanced. NB
This plant should never be confused with sage (Salvia officinalis) which has different properties.
CYPRESS (Cupressus sempervirens)/Cupressaceae
Cypress oil is distilled from the leaves, twigs and cones of the Cyprus tree and has a woody, clear
and dry fragrance.
In application to the skin, it is astringent and soothing, helping to regulate production of sebum
and reduce perspiration, including the feet. Effective in the treatment of varicose veins and
haemorrhoids, it can help relieve menopausal spotting and can help staunch excessive blood
losses, especially after childbirth.
Cypress essential oil is calming as well as being helpful to nervous debility, soothing attacks of
diarrhoea when used in baths or application. Its antispasmodic properties are helpful against
Cypress is helpful against frustration, irritability and indecision. It is reputed to clear the mind of
grief and it certainly induces sleep.
EUCALYPTUS -Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus)/Myrtaceae
Extracted from the blue gum tree, originally a native of Australia and Tasmania, it is now grown
in many sub-tropical climates including Spain, Portugal and China. Although occurring
throughout the whole tree, the essential oil is mainly distilled from the leaves.
Eucalyptus globulus is a strong, natural antiseptic and is effective against a wide range of bacterial
infections. Its decongestant qualities make it ideal for relieving congestive headaches. Excellent
for clearing the head, it is universally used for colds, sinusitis and bronchial problems in gargles,
inhalations, vaporisers, baths and massage.
In baths, application or massage, relief can also be obtained in many circulatory disorders by
cleansing, stimulating and strengthening the kidneys and it is warming to arthritic pain, for which
relief can also be achieved by the use of a compress. It is a good insect repellent.
CAUTION: Due to the strength of its cineole content it should not be inhaled on its own by small
EUCALYPTUS -Gully Gum (Eucalyptus smithii)/Myrtaceae
Also a native of Australia, this variety of eucalyptus is much gentler than E.globulus, yet most
beneficial in action. Some of its effects are similar to those of E.globulus, being analgesic to
muscular pain and effective against coughs, colds, asthma and bronchitis because of its
decongestant qualities. Unlike E.globulus, it can be used very safely on children.
FRANKINCENSE (Boswellia thurifera, B. carteri)/Burseraceae
This small tree has grown wild in the red sea area and north east Africa since Biblical times. The
essential oil, which is sometimes called olibanum, is obtained by the distillation of the resin; its
sweet, slightly spicy aroma has a calming effect conducive to concentration and meditation.
When used in baths or massage it helps dry skin and mature complexions and is extremely
effective in the treatment of wounds and subsequent scars. It is helpful against coughs, laryngitis,
asthma and bronchitis and is an immunostimulant, also relieving depression. A most useful oil
emotionally, frankincense soothes anger, irritability and frustration, and relieves grief and
GERANIUM (Pelargonium graveolens)/Geranaceae
Geraniums are grown commercially in France, Egypt, Morocco, China and the Reunion Islands the
latter being known as geranium Bourbon. Distilled from the leaves the oil has a rich, sweet
Geranium oil reduces inflammation in arthritis and is an excellent antiseptic for acne and dry
eczema. Its astringent properties are effective in the control of herpes, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea
and gastroenteritis, as well as varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
Circulation of the lymph is improved by the use of geranium oil, assisting in the elimination of
waste products, therefore it also helps in the relief of fluid retention and cellulite.
Its antispasmodic action is helpful for cramp and its healing action on burns and wounds is well
known. It has been found to be of use in calming overaggressive sporting teenagers.
Used in inhalations, vaporisers, baths, application and massage it alleviates stress and anxiety,
and emotionally, it lifts the spirits from despair and lethargy.
GINGER (Zingiber officinale)/Zingiberaceae
The ginger plant is indigenous to the West Indies and the essential oil is won by steam distilling
the dried and crushed rhizomes. It has a clear, neutral colour and an aroma similar to that of the
spice but without the ‘hotness’.
The main therapeutic use of ginger essential oil is with respect to the digestive tract and its
attendant problems and conditions. It is stomachic, carminative, antiseptic and stimulating, and
acts as a tonic in the treatment of fatigue and impotence.
Its analgesic and warming properties are also effective in cases of muscular pain, sciatica and
GRAPEFRUIT (Citrus paradise)/Rutaceae
Originating in tropical Asia and the West Indies, the grapefruit tree is now cultivated mainly in
Northern and South America. The yellow oil is obtained by cold expression of the peel and has a
sweet, citrus aroma.
Grapefruit is a perfectly safe oil due to its non-toxic and non-irritating properties. It is effective in
caring for oily skin and acne and helpful in the relief of anxiety, stress, tension and associated
headaches, due to its uplifting properties. Circulatory problems such as muscle fatigue, obesity,
cellulite and water retention can be helped by regular use of this oil in baths or massages.
Grapefruit oils can be contaminated with pesticides and it is best to use organic oils.
JASMINE ABSOLUTE (Jasminum grandiflorum)/Oleaceae
Jasmine oil derived India has a sweet aroma. Egyptian Jasmine has an earthier fragrance. It is a key birthing oil and has been found to reduce the likelihood of post birth depression or “baby blues” when the mother can be overwhelmed by the tasks and responsibilities of motherhood.
The jasmine bush is widely cultivated in Spain, Northern Africa, India and Southern France. Jasmine oil is not an essential oil, but an absolute, extracted from the small, white flowers by using
a solvent. The genuine oil has a rich, sweet, floral odour with a delightful herbaceous undertone.
Jasmine is valuable in the treatment of nervous disorders such as apathy, depression and nerve debility as it is both sedative and uplifting.
Use only high quality jasmin; poor qualities can affect sensitive skin due to the chemicals added during production.
Jasmine oil derived India has a sweet aroma. It is a key birthing oil and has been found to reduce the likelihood of post birth depression or “baby blues” when the mother can be overwhelmed by the tasks and responsibilities of motherhood.
JUNIPERBERRY (Juniperis communis)/Cupressaceae
The juniper is an evergreen tree grown throughout the Mediterranean. The oil is distilled from the
ripe berries which are dried immediately after picking (juniperberry oil). Lesser quality oil is
produced by adding berries used during the making of gin or by adding the twigs or leaves
(juniper oil). The essential oil has a sweet fresh aroma, similar to cypress but sharper.
Juniper oil is neurotonic, helpful in overcoming debility and mental fatigue. It is a very beneficial
oil for the urinary system, being a stimulant to the kidneys and therefore an excellent diuretic,
helping the excretion of uric acid in gout and rheumatism. High blood pressure problems can also
be alleviated, due in part to diuretic properties or the oil and in part its calming effect.
Juniperberry oil is helpful for period pains and invaluable when breasts are swollen during
Emotionally, it helps to reduce frustration, guilt and jealousy.
CAUTION: Infrequent use at low concentration (2 drops in 20ml) is advised during the first five
months of pregnancy and in cases of kidney disease, to ensure that the kidneys do not
become over stimulated.
LAVANDER (Lavandula officinalis)/Lamiaceae
This plant is a native of southern Europe and the Mediterranean countries, though it’s a hybrid
relation, lavandin, is more extensively grown, yielding more oil per acre and being cheaper to
produce. Much lavender available on the market is in fact lavandin or cloned lavender like Lavender Mailette, which has slightly different therapeutic properties. The Lavender in the French Pharmacopia for therapeutic use is Lavender Angustifolia Miller known as population lavender.
True lavender oil, which is obtained by steam distillation of the flowering tops of the plant, is
non-toxic and has a full flowery aroma. The Bulgarian grown lavender has a sweet smell. The aroma of lavandin is usually more camphoraceous. Shirley Price Aromatherapy’s Tuscan lavender has a refreshing topnote.
Known for its soothing and uplifting properties, lavender alleviates stress and depression and is
helpful for easing headaches and insomnia as well as lowering blood pressure. As an antiseptic, it
is effective in the treatment of colds, flu, sinusitis and respiratory problems in general. A relaxing oil Lavender can promote sleep and relaxation.
Used in masks, compresses, baths or application, lavender promotes healthy skin, heals wounds
and is effective in the treatment of acne, eczema, dandruff, nappy rash and athlete’s foot. It
soothes burns and insect bits and helps prevent scarring. Can be used safely on young children.
Used in baths, application or massage it gives relief from muscular aches and pains and
rheumatism. Essential oil of lavender has a calming and balancing effect, promotes menstrual regularity, helps pre-menstrual and menopausal symptoms and alleviates thrush.
There is a story that the French scientist Gattefose who coined the term
aromatherapy and put the study of the therapeutic properties of essential oils
on a scientific basis was alerted to the therapeutic properties of Lavender by a
laboratory accident. He is said to have plunged his burned hand into a vat of
lavender oil which happened to be nearby. He noticed immediately the
analgesic properties of lavender as the pain was reduced and the wound
healed without the usual scarring. Tisserand reports that Gattefosse in fact
used lavender oil to heal himself of gas gangrene which infected his burnt
hand. A very impressive treatment as gangrene can be fatal. Both Gattefosse
and Valnet reported good results using lavender to treat combat wounds.
LEMON (Citrus limon)/Rutaceae
The lemon tree is a native of the East but is now cultivated extensively in Mediterranean
countries and the Americas. The essential oil, extracted by cold expression of the peel, is pale
yellow in colour.
One of the most useful essential oils, it is most effective in the treatment of digestive disorders as
it regulates stomach acidity. Regular use of lemon in baths or massage helps to control acne,
greasy skin and herpes. It is also effective in the treatment of verrucas, corns and warts.
Lemon oil is a strong, non-toxic antiseptic for colds, coughs, flu and sore throats when used in
baths, gargles or massage. It can bring relief to those suffering with arthritis or rheumatism on
account of its anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to lower high blood pressure and stimulate
poor circulation. Emotionally, lemon oil relieves guilt and resentment.
CAUTION: May cause dermal irritation on very sensitive skins, especially if exposed to sunlight,
as it is a weak photosensitiser.
MANDARIN (Citrus reticulata)/Rutaceae
Originating in China, this evergreen tree grows up to six metres high, bearing shiny, waxy leaves,
fragrant flowers and fleshy fruit. Mandarin oil is obtained by cold expression of the peel; it is pale
orange in colour with a very sweet, citrus aroma.
Mandarin has excellent calming properties, being particularly good for insomnia and excitability,
when used in application, baths or massage. It is also a good digestive oil for stomach pains,
indigestion and constipation and has a stimulating effect on the stomach and liver.
Due to its gentle action it is ideal for use on children and pregnant women. Fluid retention,
obesity and fatigue can all benefit from the use of mandarin oil, and like lemon oil can relieve
guilt and resentment.
MARJORAM, SPANISH (Thymus mastichina)/Lamiaceae
A variety of thyme and not in fact true marjoram, this plant yields an essential oil which has a
sharper aroma then true marjoram oil and different properties.
Used in inhalations, vaporisers, compresses, baths, applications and massage, Spanish marjoram
helps to alleviate bronchitis, asthma and respiratory problems in general, due to its anti-catarrhal
CAUTION: Take care when buying marjoram oil to look at the botanical name, to ensure getting
the one whose effects you need.
MARJORAM, SWEET (Origanum majorana)/Lamiaceae
A native of Europe and central Asia, this plant yields a sweet smelling essential oil under
distillation of the leaves and flowering heads. The oil’s warm and soothing properties were well
known to the ancient Egyptians, who used it for healing and overcoming grief.
Sweet marjoram is calming and comforting to the mind, helpful in the treatment of tension,
anxiety, irritability and hysteria. It is effective in alleviating headaches, reducing insomnia and
lowering blood pressure.
The warming, analgesic and antispasmodic properties of sweet marjoram are effective in reducing
menstrual pains, and alleviating arthritis and rheumatism. It also regularises thyroid activity.
CAUTION: Origanum majorana contains different chemical components from Thymus
mastichina and if the Latin name is not given when purchasing, it will almost certainly be Spanish
marjoram (see above), whose effects are not the same as those of sweet marjoram.
MELISSA (Melissa officinalis)/Lamiaceae
Originating in southern Europe, but quite common in Britain, Melissa is a small perennial herb.
The oil is distilled from the leaves before the plant flowers and has a fresh, sweet, lemon
fragrance. Pure Melissa oil is rare and costly, consequently it is most frequently available in a
mix, giving the effects attributed to the lemon-smelling oils from which the mix is made, not of
True Melissa eases digestive disorders such as indigestion and nausea, it is used is compresses or
inhalation. It helps relieve anxiety, headaches, tension and insomnia; it also lowers high blood
pressure and relieves palpitations.
An excellent oil for women, baths, application and massage will ease painful periods and PMS
and by its hormonal action it regulates the menstrual cycle, which can assist conception. True
Melissa can also relieve eczema and other skin problems by its anti-inflammatory action.
It is soothing and uplifting to the mind, only low concentrations being needed to reduce
irritability or lift despair and lethargy.
MYRRH (Commiphora myrrha)/Burseraeae
Myrrh essential oil, obtained by steam distillation of the crude resin, is pale yellow and has a
warm, musky balsamic aroma. Soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory, it helps mature
complexions and numerous skin problems such as athlete’s foot, eczema, ringworm and nappy
rash, to name but a few.
When used in inhalation, baths or massage, myrrh is effective for respiratory disorders, giving
relief to asthma, bronchitis and colds. In gargles it soothes mouth ulcers and sore throats.
NEROLI (Citrus aurantium amara – flos)/Rutaceae
The bitter orange tree is grown mainly in Northern Africa and Spain. It bears small, white, star-shaped flowers at the leaf axils.
Neroli is the name given to the essential oil of the bitter orange flowers, which are hand picked just as they are beginning to open. It is obtained by steam distillation and has a unique bitter/sweet odour with a spicy undertone (‘Orange blossom’ oil is an absolute, obtained in the same way as rose absolute). Neroli oil is used extensively in the manufacture of colognes and toilet waters.
Neroli oil is extremely helpful in the treatment of many types of skin problems such as varicose veins, broken capillaries and irritated patches.
The essential oil has particular therapeutic benefit in nerve related disorders such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia and excitability.
ORANGE BITTER (Citrus aurantium var amara)/Rutaceae
Both the sweet orange tree and the taller, bitter orange tree originate in China. The former is
grown extensively in America and also many Mediterranean countries.
The essential oil is obtained by cold expression of the ripe outer peel. The sweet oil has a fresh,
fruity aroma while the bitter oil has a more delicate, dry and floral characteristics. Both oils are
Used in gargles, mouthwashes, compresses and massage, these oils are excellent digestive
stimulants, improving the appetite, helping constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence and mouth ulcers.
Bronchitis, asthma and hay fever can be helped by inhalation, baths or application, as can dull and
oily skins. Both are good oils to combat insomnia and relieve nervous tension be regular use in
inhalations and baths and by massage on tense muscles. Bitter orange oil is useful in relieving
frustration, irritability and nightmares.
CAUTION: Neither orange oil should be used on very sensitive skins immediately before being
exposed to strong sunlight, as they are weak photosensitisers.
PATCHOULI (Pogostemon patchouli)/Lamiaceae
Patchouli is a small, leafy shrub which grows mainly in the Far East – Indonesia, China – and on
the island of Madagascar. The essential oil is obtained be steam distillation of the young leaves,
which are first dried. It is a dark, viscous oil with a strong balsamic odour and spicy undertones. A ‘base note’ in perfumes, mixed with Almond oil it makes an attractive perfume on its own.
Patchouli oil is particularly helpful as an immunostimulant, when it is a valuable tonic used in
massage, inhalation and baths. It is also effective in the treatment of damaged skin, especially
cracks, sores, wounds and scars. It is also helpful against haemorrhoids and varicose veins and its anti-inflammatory action calms
inflamed skin and eczema.
Emotionally, patchouli balances mood swings, reduces irritability and lifts despair and
PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)/Labiatae
A product of northern temperate climates, the best peppermint plants grown elsewhere in the
world originated in Mitcham, England, and are known as Mitcham peppermint. The essential oil
is distilled from the whole plant and its sharp, refreshing aroma is easily recognised.
Used in gargles, compresses or application, it is highly effective for treating sickness and nausea;
it also relieves acidity, heartburn, diarrhoea, indigestion and flatulence. Respiratory problems
such as coughs and colds, sinusitis, throat infection, asthma and bronchitis can be relieved
effectively by the use of peppermint in inhalations, baths or application as can congestive
Its cooling and cleansing properties help soothe itchy skin and inflammation when well diluted,
which makes it helpful in the treatment of varicose veins and haemorrhoids. Essential oil of
peppermint used in baths, application or massage, encourages menstrual regularity; and during
the menopause, relief can be obtained from hot flushes.
CAUTION: Because of its powerful aroma and effects, the recommended dilution must be kept
to, especially during pregnancy (see paragraph 5, page 39). Keep eyes closed when inhaling (not
recommended for small children). De-terpenated oil is often sold as whole peppermint oil; this is
not suitable for aromatherapy.
PETITGRAIN (Citrus auantium amara – fol)/Rutaceae
Petitgrain is the name given to the essential oil won by steam distillation of the leaves of the bitter
orange tree. Such trees are cultivated on a large scale in Italy, Paraguay, Brazil and Northern
Africa. When the leaves are distilled with flowers, the oil is named ‘Petitgrain over flowers’,
whose wonderful aroma can approach that of neroli oil. The benefits of this special oil are twofold
– see neroli.
Therapeutically, petitgrain is a particularly good relaxant, being calming to the nervous system.
Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful against acne and oedema and it is also
Emotionally, it is indicated for panic, irritability and resentment and is helpful against
PINE NEEDLE (Pinus sylvestris)/Pinaceae
Also known as Scots Pine, this hardy tree can be found growing all over Europe and Russia,
especially in the colder upland regions such as Scandinavia and the Baltic States. The essential oil
is distilled from the needles, twigs and cones. It has a fresh, resin-like odour and is pale yellow in
Because of its inherent antiseptic qualities, pine needle essential oil is an excellent air antiseptic
and can be used with good effect in cases of infection, particularly those of the respiratory tract
such as bronchitis, asthma and sinusitis. It is also helpful against influenza.
Urinary tract infections like cystitis and renal infections can be relieved by the used of pine
needle oil and it is also indicated for general debility and fatigue. Its anti-inflammatory action
makes it a useful oil for arthritis, gout and rheumatism.
ROSE OTTO (Rosa damescena)/Rosaceae
Rose otto is obtained from the petals of the rose by hydro distillation, requiring several kilos of
petals to yield a few ml of oil. It is the essential oil of rose, also known as ‘attar of roses’, which
should be used in aromatherapy, rather then the absolute, which is not true a true essential oil.
Therapeutically, rose otto is a safe all-rounder. Because of its antiseptic properties, it is effective
in healing skin disorders such as cuts, wounds and other skin problems.
Rose otto is valuable against debility and depression. It is especially indicated in woman’s
problems, including irregular periods, PMS, womb impurities and sterility. Emotionally, rose
otto is helpful against where anger, jealousy or guilt are affecting the health.
Because of its low toxicity and strong antiseptic qualities, rose otto is ideal to use on children.
(see also rose absolute)
Rose Absolute is obtained by solvent extraction. It is cheaper than Rose Otto.
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)/Lamiaceae
A native of the Mediterranean region, this romantic herb yields its oil from the flowering tops
under steam distillation.
Stimulating and decongesting, rosemary oil promotes blood circulation, particularly to the brain,
so clearing the mind, relieving tension and giving a feeling of well being. Its antiseptic properties
relieve coughs, colds and flu. These qualities make it beneficial to the skin and help to prevent
dandruff and hair loss. Its use in compresses, application or massage is particularly effective for
indigestion, flatulence and constipation.
Rosemary can be effective in regulating the menstrual cycle; its hormonal effects are conducive
to conception and helpful before the menopause. Its gentle analgesic properties relieve general
aches and pains, sprains and arthritis when used in baths, application or massage.
CAUTION: Avoid in pregnancy. Avoid using if you suffer from high blood pressure.
SANDALWOOD (Santalum album)/Santalaceae
The sandalwood tree is a native of India but grown also successfullyand sustainably in New Caledonia and Australia.
Sandalwood essential oil is distilled from the wood, mainly from the heartwood and roots but also
from off cuts and chips, after the best wood is used for furniture making. Its sweet, woody aroma
is most pleasant and therapeutic. Being antiseptic, calming and soothing, it relieves sore throats,
dry coughs and chronic bronchitis.
Used in compresses, application or massage, sandalwood is beneficial for dry, mature or wrinkled
skin. It therefore helps in the treatment of dandruff and eczema, relieving many allergenic skin
Important in the treatment of genitor-urinary systems, essential oil of sandalwood helps in the
treatment of infections, including cystitis.
Sandalwood is effective for digestive disorders such as heartburn and nausea, especially morning
sickness. It is cardiotonic, assisting in circulatory problems such as haemorrhoids and varicose
veins, which are soothed by compresses or application in a carrier (see page 35). It is also a
An emotionally balancing oil, sandalwood calms agitation and panic, lifts despair and controls
TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia)/Myrtaceae
Originating in Australia, the tea tree has been used for its oil for centuries by the aborigines – the
early settlers are reputed to have used he leaves to make ‘tea’. The essential oil is extracted by
The Tree is a powerful antiseptic, with the advantage of being non-toxic, and its aroma is an
effective insect repellent.
When used in gargles, mouthwashes, inhalations or vaporisers, it is a most effective bactericide,
alleviating intestinal infections and bronchitis. Tea tree also gives relief to mouth ulcers, calms
diarrhoea and relieves gastroenteritis.
It is cooling and antifungal properties are effective against athlete’s foot and nail bed infections.
Relieves boils and rashes, soothes sunburn and encourages healing of open wounds. Used in sitz
baths, douches, baths or application, essential oil of tea tree helps to clear vaginal thrush.
Tea tree oil and Eucalyptus should not be used on pets as cat and dog livers are not adapted to
eliminate the terpenes they contain and toxicosis can result
THYME, SWEET (Thymus vulgaris)/Lamiaceae
This herb, cultivated throughout Europe, is a small, creeping plant with delicate flowers and
leaves which yield essential oil under steam distillation. Unlike red thyme, sweet thyme essential
oil contains a high percentage of alcohols and is very pale in colour with a sweet aroma.
Sweet thyme is a good general stimulant, lifting depression, and is a powerful antiseptic with a
long list of indications, among them asthma, rheumatism, insomnia, flatulence, hypotension,
colds and flu and hair loss.
It is gentle in action, making it safe to use on children.
Sweet thyme is of great importance in balancing emotions, from anger to grief and jealousy; very
powerful for coping with mood swings.
SPIKENARD (Nardostachys jatamansi)/Valerianacea
Closely related to valerian, this plant is often called ‘false’ valerian. It is one of the oils mentioned
in the Bible, both in Old and New Testaments. The most important therapeutic use of spikenard
essential oil is a sedative, (valerian was a blue print for vallium) and it can be used to treat a
variety of nervous disorders.
Spikenard is antispasmodic against digestive problems, such as convulsions and intestinal colic.
Decongesting to the circulation, it is helpful in reducing varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
VETIVER (Vetiveria zizanioides)/Poaceae
This perennial grass is native to tropical Asia. It is now cultivated in Indonesia, Brazil, Angola
and the Far East. The clear, yellow essential oil is extracted from the dried root by steam
Vetiver has excellent antiseptic and tonic properties, being useful as an immunostimulant and in
the treatment of acne and other skin infections. It is also helpful for irregular periods and is a
tonic to both the liver and pancreas.