Saturday, 30 March 2013

#aromatherapy #essentialoil

    1. Help to stop official endorsement of Ofquack My submission here Feel free to plagiarise
    Case reports remain of use to any student practicioner who has to turn theory and evidence into practice on a ward.
    Reply to  

    Image will appear as a link
    1. Robert Tisserand has a new 1400 page book out on safety and evidence shortly.
    2. with a little labour in these sources I think you may consider taking off your list.
    3. Cochrane Reviews tend to work on a ten year cycle and if the last two years are anything to go by should have more to go on
  1. no criticism intended. The evidence has widened in the last 2 years with developments in neuroscience & study of rat models
  2. this physician is strong on clinical aromatherapy uses/wellbeing evidence
  3. but while cut and pasting bear in mind the bit re and lack of a qualification in A&P is untrue

Everyday Essential Oils Guide

Everyday Essential Oils Guide




Essential oils profiles

About carrier oils

The Carrier oils

Blending recipes

A sensory garden

A guide to safe essential oil use in a ward environment


Neuroscience – the evidence

Sensory Training a program for a study day

Though reference is made to uses and properties of essential oils in this guide nothing should be taken as a substitute for medical advice and treatments.  If you are ill see your doctor!






Welcome to this everyday essential oils guide. I would like you to imagine that you are sitting with me in a group in a classroom.  You are perhaps slightly unsure of why you are there.  Maybe your boss has said this training for you and colleagues is required for use in your work.  So you approach the study day with a willing, open and slightly sceptical mind!  Maybe you are studying this guide in school or maybe you and friends are reading this booklet with me with a kit of oils open in front of you for fun because you have heard essential oils make a great hobby.

As a first step after our introductions I circulate a blank piece of lined paper and ask you to note your questions as we go along.  I ask you to leave the first ten lines free and pass around a bottle of Lemon essential oil.  Everyone in the group sniffs the oil. Anyone find that unpleasant I ask?  Here is our first encounter with essential oil.  Our mind is geared up to be alarmed by relatively heavy smells which contain chlorine and sulphur.  Essential oils do not and we usually experience them as neutral, pleasant aromas. 

Essential oils can be divided into those we find stimulating and relaxing.  From the stimulating citrus family of oil we have before us Bergamot, Orange Sweet, Grapefruit, Mandarin and Lemon. From the relaxing and uplifting herbaceous family of which Basil, Lavender, Marjoram Sweet, Patchouli and Rosemary are members.  Already we have 10 essential oils all of which are effective and safe provided we bear in mind some simple precautions which we learn under safety. 

Those 10 oils have names we are already familiar with so now lets look at how we experience their odours.  Unlike the sharp citrus smells the longer notes of the herbaceous family are earthier middle to base notes.  Early on in the study of essential oils scientists noted the similarity of essential oil notes to notes on a piano keyboard with sharp notes at the top and longer deeper notes at the bottom.  Could it be they wondered that the brain interprets the information from the nose in a similar way we interpret music?  Could that explain the marked effects of odours on mood? We possess an appreciation of harmony and beauty which automatically adjusts our mood.  Science tells us also that odours impact directly on the brain stem through olfaction.

We note that essential oils are already a blend of different chemicals which we experience as a single odour.  Beyond the headline ingredients essential oils can have over a hundred constituents.  Terpenes like limonene found in the citrus oils are stimulating.  Alcohols like linalool and Esters are relaxing.  Ketones and Aldehydes though a small constituent can contribute much to the odour. However we are mainly concerned with the stimulating and relaxing properties of essential oils so we can look at their chemistry in a simplified and easily appreciated way.

With this gentle introduction to odour, botany and chemistry we can say at once what the policy of our study group is. 


Each essential oils characteristic odour and properties come from the essential oils chemical composition

Essential oils can stimulate or relax according to their chemical composition

Use 100% pure essential oils
Essential oils can be applied by inhalation,  orally by ingestion (lavender or peppermint capsules), or topically through the skin.  
Topical applications can be given in a bath, a compress, or self hand massage diluted in carrier oil.
Carrier oils are cold pressed vegetable oils, such as almond, grapeseed, sesame, peanut and olive oil

The Essential oils

We can now look at more essential oils.  Ones derived from trees, ones derived from flowers and so our study group’s essential oil list is complete. 


Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon,  Lime, Mandarin, Orange Sweet 


Clary Sage,  Lavender, Marjoram Sweet, Melissa, Patchouli, Rosemary

Woody, Floral, Resin

Cedarwood,  Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, Geranium, Jasmine, Neroli,  Peppermint, Petitgrain, Rose Otto,  Sandalwood, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang                 

You can find profiles on these oils in the guide below.  Throughout the guide are botanical drawings.  You might like to collect a cutting from the garden and use it to colour in the drawing.  There is plenty of room to make your own notes on the oils and how you feel when you inhale the oils on their own and in combination with each other for example by dropping oils onto a tissue or flannel together. 

Essential Oil Profiles

Lets get to know our study oils a little better.  Much the best way is to pass them round.  Choose the oils which most appeal to you and try to develop your signature oil or an oil for a particular purpose. 

There are some blending recipe examples later on.  There is an extensive essential oil literature and recipes can be found there which can help inform the feeling of which oil you might like to make. 

There are many other useful oils like Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Thyme which as a result of their chemistry are antiseptic in effect.  Juniper is used as a diuretic. Cypress oil is effective for grief.  You will be familiar with Black Pepper which evidence shows improves the swallowing reflex.  Yes science is telling us the reasoning for seasoning!

The profiles below are accompanied by botanical drawings from Lorella Bevilacqua

Lets meet Lorella.  Not only is she an artist she is a grower and distiller of essential oil and is pictured on the front of this guide. She collects the flowering stems by hand with her sickle and uses steam to distill the oils she produces.  The steam cools and the essential oil liberated from the flowers floats on top.  Agricultural work is hard but as you can see from her picture Lorella loves what she does. 

Citrus oils are cold pressed or steam distilled from the peel as part of fruit juice production.  To avoid pesticide residues I recommend organic citrus oils.  All essential oils should be kept in a secure, cool dark place.  Citrus oils should be storaed in a refrigerator as they rapidly oxidise when opened.

BASIL (Ocimum basilicum)/Lamiaceae

Aroma: Sweet, herbaceous, licorice-like, slightly campherous.

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. May be helpful in emotions such as fear, despair and lethargy.

Evidence:  Basil (contains R Linalol) reduces stress levels.

CAUTION: Care should be taken during early pregnancy as Basil can be a powerful oil depending on the variety of plant.

ANALYSIS: Linalol 52.7%, cineole 7.9%, bornyl acetate+t a bergmotene 6.5%, b elemene 2.0%, eugenol 7.0%

BERGAMOT (Citrus bergamia)/Rutaceae

Aroma;  Fresh, orange/lemon/citrusy, slightly floral.

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.

Evidence:  Bergamot oil and diazepam exhibited anxiolytic-like behaviours and attenuated HPA axis activity by reducing the corticosterone response to stress.

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.

ANALYSIS: Limonene 43.3%, Linalyl acetate 27.1%, Linalol 7.3%, Beta pinene 5.6%, Gamma terpinene 7.6%.

CEDARWOOD (Cedrus atlantica)/Pinaceae

Aroma:  Woody and sweet.

Cedrus atlantica grows abundantly in Northern Africa and particularly in Morocco. The oil, which has a sweet, woody odour is obtained by steam distillation.

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 cedarwood essential oil in preparations. It is said to reduce anxiety and help prevent nightmares.

ANALYSIS: Beta Himachalene 50.2%, Alpha Himachalene 18.1%, Gamma Himachalene 11.6%, Trans alpha atlantone 2.0%, Delta Cadinene 1.6%.

CHAMOMILE ROMAN (Chamaemelum nobile)/Asteraceae

Aroma:  Bright, crisp, sweet, fruity, herbaceous.

Familiar to all as Chamomile Tea this gentle oil is known as the womans oil calming outbursts of temper.  Distilled from double headed flowers it has a light, refreshing aroma. Roman chamomile is both soothing and calming and useful for insomnia.

Depression is often accompanied by inflammatory conditions because of a chemical link so treat the one and the other can be improved.  Good for sensitive, dry skin, its anti-inflammatory action soothes irritated skin, eczema, acne, nappy rash, puritis 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.

Evidence:  Chamomile has a beneficial effect in skincare, chamomile has a stimulant effect on the CNS.  Research shows chamomile may provide clinically meaningful antidepressant activity that occurs in addition to its previously observed anxiolytic activity.

ANALYSIS: angelate disobutyl + methacrylate d'isoamyle 33.6%, angelate d'methyllallyle 7.9%, angelate de 2 methylbutyl 4.4%, angelate d'isoamyle 15.3%, t-pinocarveol 4.2%

CLARY-SAGE (Salvia sclarea)/Lamiaceae

Aroma:  Bright, earthy, herbaceous, with a subtle fruity note.

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 irregularities.

Emotionally, clary sage soothes excitability, fear and grief. It lifts despair and helps to prevent nightmares.

Evidence:  Aromatic oil massage with clary sage provided relief for outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea and reduced the duration of menstrual pain.

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. This plant should never be confused with sage (Salvia officinalis) which has different properties.

ANALYSIS:  Linalyl acetate 64.9%, Linalol 21.6%, Germacene D 2.0%, Borneol 2.1%, Beta caryophyllene 1.5%.

CYPRESS (Cupressus sempervirens)/Cupressaceae

Aroma:    Fresh, herbaceous, slightly woody, evergreen aroma.

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 cramp.

Cypress is helpful against frustration, irritability and indecision. It is reputed to clear the mind of grief and it certainly helps induce sleep.

Evidence: Cypress shows a CNS depressant effect reducing anxiety.

ANALYSIS:  a pinene 48.0%, b 3 carene, 15.8%, terpenyl acetate 4.0%, gernacrene d 2.2% myrcene 2.8%

FRANKINCENSE (Boswellia carteri, B. frereana, B. serrata)/Burseraceae

Aroma:  Fresh, woody, balsamic, slightly spicy and fruity.

This small tree has grown wild in the red sea area and north East Africa and its resin collected since the end of the last Ice Age. 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.  Frankincense oil automatically deepens breathing. 

Most Boswellia Frereana from Somalia goes to Saudi Arabia for the Haj pilgrims.  Bosellia Carterii from Somalia and Boswellia Serrata from India have different chemistry.

Burnt as incense in ancient Egypt the smoke from frankincense is sweet and has always formed an important part of social and religious ceremony.  In ancient Rome the Emperor Nero is said to have burned many tonnes of Frankincese resin at the funeral of his wife.

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 confusion.

Evidence:  aroma hand massage with a blend containing frankincense had a positive effect on pain and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer;

ANALYSIS: (Boswellia carterii)  a pinene+ a thujene 44.3%, sabinene 8.3%, limonene 6.0%, myrcene 5.4%, viridifloral 3.6%

GERANIUM (Pelargonium graveolens)/Geranaceae

Aroma:  Floral, fresh, sweet, with a fruity note.

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 fragrance. 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, diarrhea 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.

ANALYSIS:  citronellol 26.3%, citronellyl forniate 16.9%, geraniol 11.3%, linalol 6.7%, isomenthone + a copaene 7.8%

GINGER (Zingiber officinale)/Zingiberaceae

Aroma:  Warm, spicy, earthy, woody.

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 rheumatism. Ginger is also used with Peppermint to relieve post operative nausea.

ANALYSIS:  Germacrene + zingiberene + bisabolene + geraniol 39.34%, sesquiphellandrene + curcumene 17.5%.

GRAPEFRUIT (Citrus paradisi)/Rutaceae

Aroma:  Citrusy. Characteristic pleasant tangy like grapefruit, but sweet.

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.

All citrus oils should be kept refrigerated.  Grapefruit oils can be contaminated with pesticides and it is best to use organic oils. Research has shown Grapefruit may prolong the effectiveness of medications by slowing their elimination from the body.  If on medication it is best to check before massage.  There is no such effect with inhalation.

Evidence:  Research shows a CNS depressive effect reducing anxiety. The scent of grapefruit oil, and particularly its primary component d limonene, affects autonomic nerves, enhances lipolysis through a histaminergic response, and may reduce appetite and so body weight.

ANALYSIS:  Limonene 94.5%, myrcene 1.9%, octanol .3%, decanol 0.3% sabinene 0.3% nookatone 0.38%

JASMINE ABSOLUTE (Jasminum grandiflorum)/Oleaceae

Aroma:  Warm, floral, exotic.

Jasmine oil derived from 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.  Jasmine oil is not an essential oil, but an absolute, extracted from the small, white flowers by using a solvent. The Indian 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 jasmine; poor qualities can affect  sensitive skin due to the chemicals added during production
Jasmine combines well with a drop of Ylang Ylang.

Evidence: the stimulating/activating effect of jasmine oil and provides evidence for its use in aromatherapy for the relief of depression and uplifting mood in humans;

ANALYSIS:  squalene oxide 11.6%, squalene 7.8%, t-phytol 8.7%, benzyl acetate 6.1%, benzyl benzoate 6.1%
LAVANDER (Lavandula officinalis)/Lamiaceae

Aroma:  Lavender oil is floral, fresh, sweet, herbaceous and sometimes slightly fruity. It can be slightly camphorous.

This plant is a native of southern Europe and the Mediterranean countries, though it’s a hybrid relation, lavandin, is more extensively grown. 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. 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 particular combined with vetiver.

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 bites and helps prevent scarring. Like peppermint lavender oil is ingested in capsules for medical conditions.

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. 

Evidence:  the relaxing effect of a mixture of lavender and bergamot oils. This synergistic blend provides evidence for its use in medicine for treating depression or anxiety in humans.  The use of antibiotics has resulted in fewer combat amputations and the traditional use of lavender oil in dressing wounds and burns has fallen into disuse. Lavender oil is prescribed in capsules for a variety of disorders.

ANALYSIS:  Linalol 43.1%, linalol acetate 34.3%, octonone 1.7%, a santalene 0.5%, camphor 0.8%

LEMON (Citrus limon)/Rutaceae

Aroma:  Characteristic.  Similar to fresh lemon rinds except richer and more concentrated.

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 may relieve guilt and resentment.

Evidence: Lemon oil lowers systolic blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity.

CAUTION: May cause dermal irritation on very sensitive skins, especially if exposed to sunlight, as Citrus oils are a weak photosensitiser.

ANALYSIS:  Limonene 66.8%, beta pinene 12.0%, Gamma terpinene 8.3%, Alpha pinene + alpha thujene 2.3%, Geranial 1.6%.

LIME (Citrus aurantifolia)/Rutaceae

Aroma: Fresh, citrusy, sweet, slightly tart.

Refreshing, rejuvenating, clarifying.  This is a useful workplace oil to diffuse for its refreshing aroma.

ANALYSIS:  Limonene 55.8%, y terpinene 13.8%, b pinene 10.5%, geranial 2.4%, a pinene and g thujene 2.5%

MANDARIN (Citrus reticulata)/Rutaceae

Aroma:  Very sweet, citrusy, fruity.

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 help relieve guilt and resentment.

ANALYSIS:  Limonene 73.1%, y terpinene 16.8%, a pinene + a thujene 2.4%, b pinene 1.3%, p cymene 0.7%

MARJORAM, SWEET (Origanum majorana)/Lamiaceae

Aroma:  Herbaceous, sweet, woody, with a camphorous, medicinal aroma.

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.  A noted anaphrodiasiac used by monks and nuns to improve study.

ANALYSIS:  Terpinen 4 ol 23.4%, c thujanol4 + linalyl acetate 18.4%, y terpinene 13.8%, a terpinene 8.4%, sabinene 7.1%

MELISSA (Melissa officinalis)/Lamiaceae

Aroma:  Fresh, lemony, herbaceous.

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. 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.

Evidence:  The Companion to Primary Care Mental Health 2012 p495 refers to increasing evidence that Melissa essential oil being of use in the treatment of low intensity arousal and agitation. The latest conclusion is that “When assessed using a rigorous design which ensures blinding of treatment arms, there is no evidence that melissa aromatherapy is superior to placebo or donepezil, in the treatment of agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease. However, the sizeable improvement in the placebo group emphasizes the potential non-specific benefits of touch and interaction in the treatment of agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease.”

ANALYSIS:  b-caryophyllene 23.6%, germacrene 33.3%, a limulene+ neral 16.5%, geranyl acetate 2.4%, cadinene 1.8%

NEROLI (Citrus aurantium amara – flos)/Rutaceae

Aroma:  Intensely floral, citrusy, sweet and exotic.

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.

Evidence: Research does not confirm neroli has an anxiety reducing effect.  Neroli clearly is a pleasurable fragrance.  Neroli has neither a CNS stimulating or depressant effect. 

ANALYSIS: b pinene 16.4%, limonene 18.1%, linalol 28.8%, t b ocimene + a g terpinene 8.8%

ORANGE SWEET (Citrus sinensis)/Rutaceae

Aroma:  Citrusy, sweet, reminiscent of orange peels, but more concentrated.

The sweet orange tree originates 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 Orange sweet oil has a fresh, fruity aroma.  The oil is non-toxic.  Strengthening, stimulating and enlivening. 

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.

Evidence:  Research focuses on odour uses.  Orange oil shows a CNS Depressive effect reducing anxiety.  Drawn is the related Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium var amara) which gives us Bitter Orange oil (from the fruit) used in bakery for Marzipan, and useful for nightmares, Petitgrain (from the leaves and branches) and Neroli (from the flower).

CAUTION: Orange sweet oil should not be used on very sensitive skins immediately before being exposed to strong sunlight, as Citrus oils can be weak photosensitisers.

ANALYSIS: Limonene 95.8%, myrcene 1.9%, linalol 0.5%, a pinene 0.5%, sabinene 0.2%
PETITGRAIN (Citrus auantium amara)/Rutaceae

Aroma:  Fresh, woody, and slightly floral.

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.

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 antispasmodic.  Emotionally, it is indicated for panic, irritability and resentment and is helpful against forgetfulness.

ANALYSIS:  linalol 20.4%, linalyl acetate 50.1%, geranyl acetate 4.3%, geraniol 3.3%. A terpineol + terpenyl acetate 6.3%

PALMAROSA (Cymbopogon martini)/Poaceae  

Aroma:  Fresh, floral, sweet.

A species of grass in the lemon grass genus best known by the common name palmarosa. Other common names include Indian geranium and rosha or rosha grass.   Balancing, toning and moisturising. Madagascan

Palmarosa essential oil has more floral and spicy overtones than the Indian variety. Its unique fragrance is equally loved by both men and women.

ANALYSIS:  geraniol 77%, geranyl acetate 11.8%, t b ocimene 2.6%, linalol 3.0%, b caryophyllene + a humulene 1.3%

PATCHOULI (Pogostemon patchouli)/Lamiaceae

Aroma:  Rich, earthy, woody aroma with a nearly hidden fruity note.

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

ANALYSIS:  patchoulol 30.0%, seychellene, a patchoulene, g gurjunene 12.0%, b patcholene 2.2%, a bulnesene 19.6%, pogostol 2.4%

PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)/Labiatae

Aroma:  Minty, reminiscent of peppermint sweets, but more concentrated. More fragrant than spearmint.

A product of northern temperate climates, some of the best peppermint plants grown elsewhere in the world originated in Mitcham, England. The essential oil is distilled from the whole plant and its sharp, refreshing aroma is easily recognised.  Peppermint and Spearmint find use in sweets and gums to aid concentration.  Peppermint makes a stimulating tea.  Like lavender, peppermint is ingested in capsules for medical conditions.

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 headaches. 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.

Avoid before bedtime as this is a stimulating oil.

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.  Keep eyes closed when inhaling (not
recommended for small children).

ANALYSIS:  menthone 22.8%, menthofurone 4.1%, menthol 37.1%, mentyl acetate 5.0%, isomenthane 3.8%, cineole 5.2%

ROSE OTTO (Rosa damescena)/Rosaceae

Aroma:  Characteristic.  Strongly floral, sweet.

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.

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.  Suitable for inhalation it should be avoided in self made hand creams because of its eugenol content.

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 a heart warming oil ideal for repairing trust and confidence issues in relationship failure or minor relationship annoyances.  Helpful against where anger, jealousy or guilt are affecting the health.

Rose Absolute is obtained by solvent extraction.  It is cheaper to produce than Rose Otto.

Evidence:  Inhalation of rose oil can reduce stress induced disruption of the skin barrier.

ANALYSIS: citronellol + nerol 36.5%, geraniol 22.3%, phenyl ethl alcohol 0.3%, eugenol 0.6%, methyl eugenol 0.3%, heptadecane C17 3.9%, nonadecane C19 11.1%, linelcosane C21 3.8%, b carophilen 0.5%

ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)/Lamiaceae

Aroma:  Fresh, herbaceous, sweet, slightly medicinal.

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.

Evidence:  improved anti aging cognitive effects of using rosemary oil
CAUTION: Rosemary is a stimulating oil.  Avoid in pregnancy.  Avoid using if you suffer from high blood pressure.

ANALYSIS:  cineole 46.4%, b pinene 6.5%, camphene 4.8%, a pinene 12.6%, camphor 10.6%

SANDALWOOD (Santalum album)/Santalaceae

Aroma:  Rich, sweet, fragrant yet delicate, woody, floral.

A warming and relaxing oil.  Woodchips are burned by middle eastern brides to relax their husbands on honeymoon.  One of the great oils for skincare it finds its way into soap.  Sandalwood oil from sustainable plantations in New Caledonia is noted for its consistency. Australian sandalwood is also available.

The sandalwood tree is a native of India.  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 conditions. Important in the treatment of genitor-urinary systems, essential oil of sandalwood helps in the treatment of infections, including cystitis.
Sandalwood oil 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. It is also a sexual tonic.

An emotionally balancing oil, sandalwood calms agitation and panic, lifts despair and controls mood swings.

ANALYSIS:  c a santalol 45.2%, c b santalol 18.4%, c lancerol 9.4%, t a bergamotol 6.2%, e b santalol 3.5%

VETIVER (Vetiveria zizanioides)/Poaceae

Aroma:  Woody, smokey, earthy, herbaceous and spicy.

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 distillation.

Toil of restfulness.  its a pretty thick oil so we add a slightly wider dropper to the bottle. You also can try warming the bottle and carrier in a little hot water. Some therapists find that vetiver is more effective than lavender for dealing with anxiety and sleeplessness.

Vetiver carries less emotional charge so it can be better for hospital use for example with families experiencing cancer. It makes an ideal base note to a blend. It has a strong earthy and complex smelling aroma. You need a whiff of coffee to clear the nose if you are blending so leave it to last as it is described as woody, smokey, earthy, herbaceous and spicy all in one oil. So a little goes a long way!

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.

CAUTION:  Use sparingly.  One drop to a blend.

ANALYSIS:  b vetyvenene 5.9%, khusimol + b vertivone 9.9%, a vetivone 3.1%, isovalencenol 4.6%, zizanoic acid 4.2%, valencene 1.6%

YLANG YLANG (Cananga odorata)/Anonceae

Aroma:  Fresh, floral, sweet, slightly fruity, fragrant yet delicate.

Ylang Ylang Complete (Cananga Odorata): the oil of harmony.  Ylang is a clear oil and part of every aromatherapists tool kit.  Ylang 'Complete' consists of the whole distillation while Ylang 'Extra' is the product of the first 30 minutes or so's distillation.  Ylang I, II. III are used by the specialist perfumery trade. Another calming oil useful for anxiety and relaxation and noted for this reason as an aphrodisiac.  Relaxation is not the same as sedation.  The action of the oil might be better described as harmonisation. The oil appears to open the mind to joyous thoughts. 

Ylang is particularly useful as besides blending well with Jasmine it blends well with citrus top notes creating a harmonious whole.  Try it.  Add bergamot and other top note oils to the carrier base first.  The result is sharp.  If a drop of ylang is added to this the aroma becomes a deeper pleasant harmonious whole.  Ylang makes an ideal middle to base note to add to a blend. It has a fresh, floral, sweet, slightly fruity, fragrant smelling aroma.  The benzyl acetate content of the oil helps stretch the experience of a jasmine blend which midwives find is so useful for mothers after giving birth.  A little Ylang oil goes a long way so use it sparingly in blends as some people can experience headaches when inhaling it.

Evidence:  Research shows that ylang-ylang oil may be characterized by the concept of "harmonization" rather than relaxation/sedation. Compared to an odorless placebo, ylang-ylang oil caused significant decreases in blood pressure and pulse rate as well as significant increases of subjective attentiveness and alertness.

ANALYSIS:  t t a farnasene + geranyl acetate 14.7%, d cadinene 5.0%, benzyl benzoate 7.5%, b caryophyllene and methyl benzoate 18.3%, germacrene d + benzyl acetate 16.6%, linalol 5.0%

About Carriers

Anything that ‘carries’ an essential oil into the body is known in aromatherapy as a carrier. The carrier in inhalation is air; in the bath it is the water; in massage it is the vegetable oil. If essential oils are added to a lotion or cream for self-application, then each of these is acting as a carrier.

Vegetable oils, macerated oil and white lotion are the most common carriers for application to the body.  Cold pressed, unrefined oils are best, as they retain all their natural, vital and beneficial properties which, although not as powerful as those of the essential oils, are still desirable in a treatment.

A lotion is absorbed immediately, leaving grease-free, smooth skin.
It is vital that the carrier is of an equally high quality as the essential oils which you use, as it makes up at least 95% of the mix and can dramatically affect the quality of the blend.

The Carrier Oils

Aloe Vera Gel is an important carrier for essential oils.
Sweet almond oil is one of the most useful carrier oils and is excellent for the protection of the skin, being emollient, nourishing and softening.
These oils are similar to each other and are rich in vitamins. Natural moisturisers, they are excellent for feeding the skin, and are immediately absorbed.
A rich oil, invaluable o add to a base vegetable oil at 10-25%. It has healing properties, and is rich in lecithin and vitamins A, B and D. Avocado oil is expressed from the dried fruits, which gives it its natural deep green colour. In cold weather, it may sometimes appear cloudy, indicating that the oil has not been refined and is therefore of good quality.
A highly beneficial oil, pressed from the seeds, evening primrose is useful for dry, scaly skin.  Rich in vitamins E and F and in GLA (gamma linoleic acid), this excellent natural moisturiser has  a regenerative effect, helping to maintain the natural softness and suppleness of youthful skin.
Mostly available as a refined oil, grapeseed is very fine, light, odourless and colourless. It
penetrates the skin, leaving a smooth sating finish.
Roship is a noted regenerative oil.  In combination with essential oils this makes an effective scar care oil suitable for reducing the pain and irritation associated with old scarring.
The oil has a lovely light texture leaving the skin satin smooth. It is a good base for bruises and skin problems.
A very rich oil, good for dry skin. It contains proteins, vitamins and minerals and is often added to other carrier oils (from 10-25%) because of the natural preservative powers due to its vitamin E content.
A synergistic blend of grapeseed, avocado and wheatgerm, which penetrates the skin easily. The
added wheatgerm helps the keeping qualities whilst the avocado enriches the mix.

CALENDULA (Macerated in sunflower oil)
A vegetable oil, usually sunflower oil, is used to absorb the healing properties from flowers. The resulting oil has a very beneficial effect on the skin, relieving eczema and protecting against chapping and cracking.
HYPERICUM (Macerated in olive oil)
(Also known as St Johns Wort)
The flowering tops from the plant are macerated in olive oil, producing a highly beneficial deep red oil. The colour comes from the buds which stain the fingers red if pressed between them. Hypericum oil is excellent for use on the skin as it is soothing and antiseptic, and healing to burns and bruises.
JOJOBA (Liquid wax)
Jojoba is obtained from the jojoba nut and is a very beneficial oil for all types of skin conditions, especially oily and problem skins. It lubricates and protects without blocking pores. Being a wax, it has an extremely long shelf life.
LIME BLOSSOM OIL (Macerated in sunflower oil)
The flowers of the lime blossom are used to make relaxing tea. The oil is also relaxing, aiding sleep. It is effective in fighting mature skin and wrinkles.
MELISSA (Macerated in sunflower oil)
The second cutting of Melissa is used to make this oil which is useful in the treatment of
headaches and dry, mature skin. With the addition of the appropriate essential oils its benefits are increased, especially for ‘heavy legs’ and cellulite.
A unique product based entirely on natural vegetable products, this lotion has been especially formulated for aromatherapy as a perfect carrier for essential oils. Easily absorbed, this fine light lotion is ideal when a carrier oil is though to be too greasy or inconvenient. It is absorbed readily into the skin, leaving a completely non-greasy, smooth feeling. The lotion has excellent keeping qualities and can be enriched by the addition of up to 25% of calendula or another carrier oil thought to be beneficial.


Blending recipes

Blending ideas - Anxiety, Panic, Depression, Agitation, Sleep, Birthing, Balancing, Cleaning
At first try dropping a drop of each oil onto a tissue and see how you like the aroma.
Breathing exercises then self hand massage
Chamomile roman (Roman chamomile)
Rose (Rosa Damascena)
Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Inhalation blend

Chamomile Roman (Roman chamomile)
Lavender (lavendula angustifolia)
Sweet Marjoram (origanum majorana)
Ylang Ylang (cananga odorata)


Chamomile roman (chamaemelum nobile)
Frankincense (boswellia carterii)
Neroli (citrus aurantium vara amara)


Melissa dropped onto a pjama collar


Lavender (lavendula angustifolia)
Vetiver (vetiveria zinazoides)


Jasmine (jasminum officinalis)
Ylang Ylang (cananga odorata)


Clary Sage  (Salvia scalarea)
Rose (Rosa damascena)
Geranium (pelargonium graveolens)

Added to the mop bucket
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)  antiseptic
Lemon (Citrus limon) degreasant

Ravintsara and Ravensara mix for diffuser use





A sensory garden

It is surprisingly easy to create a satisfying sensory garden.  Plants can be potted or kept in the pots provided by garden centres.  Roses are an obvious favourite.  For the Citrus and as a visually attractive centerpiece I recommend a Lemon plant which can be bought from garden centres and kept inside in a conservatory.  All the herbaceous plants can be bought from garden centres.  Calendula is very satisfying plant to keep.  It will produce yellow flowers throughout the spring and summer for you to pick. A home made dry skin food oil is to place Calendula flowers in a little olive oil on the kitchen shelf in the sunlight for ten days.  Strain out the plant material.  Bottle and label and you are done.

A guide to safe essential oil practice in a ward environment

1)                  Essential oils: Only the approved essential oils are to be used and stored on the premises. Material Safety Data sheets are to be obtained for each essential oil.

2)                  Method of use of essential oils: Always dilute essential oils, never use them neat or take them internally. Only use the oils in the methods agreed and covered in training and in the dilutions specified for each method below:

- Bath/Foot or Hand Spa: Run the bath first, then add 4-6 drops of essential oil and swish around until dispersed.

- Massage oil: Add 2 drops of essential oil to each 5ml or large teaspoon of vegetable carrier oil such as grapeseed or sunflower oil.

- Hand cream/moisturiser: Add 2 drops of essential oil to each 5ml or large teaspoon of plain lotion or moisturiser. Mix well.

Indirect inhalation: Add a few drops of essential oil to the vapouriser and switch on. The vapouriser only needs to be on for up to an hour and the oils will be diffused in the air.
 Burners using candles are not permitted. All diffusers to be checked for safety.

Direct inhalation: Place 2 or 3 drops of chosen essential oil onto tissue and put inside a pillow case at night. Alternatively place onto a tissue or cloth and inhale deeply through the nose, being careful not to touch directly to the skin as the oils may irritate.

Some methods such as perfume bottles may already be blended to the correct dilution.

3)                  Assessment: Before starting to use essential oil, first assess each person and record relevant information:
- purpose
- any health considerations and possible contra-indications eg epilepsy - avoid rosemary
- consult medical or health care practitioners if necessary
- their chosen oils
- how to be used
- when and how often to be used
- if using self massage state clearly which parts of the body can be massaged eg hands                 and face

4)                  Staffing:
-Appointed staff member who is responsible for purchasing oils and carriers, responsible for safe-keeping and over seeing safe use of essential oils including dates they are opened and use by dates, responsible for maintaining health and safety, doing risk assessments as necessary and consulting aromatherapists or GP etc as necessary
-  All staff using essential oils on the ward to have completed approved in-house training. Only designated and approved staff to blend oils and supervise other staff to use the blends safely. List names:

5)                  Recording information: Record information about the use of aromatherapy for each person and evaluate regularly. Record any incidents or adverse reactions

6)                  State where the aromatherapy is to take place eg in person's room, beauty salon, communal area

7)                  Safe use of essential oils: Essential oils are governed by COSHH regulations and their use in the workplace is covered by Health and Safety at work regulations.
- Storing essential oils: Store essential oils and blends in a locked cupboard or fridge away from heat and light. Use the essential oils within 1-2 years once opened and and within 3 months once blended. Qualified access only. When in use do not leave the blends unattended.
-Labelling: Label all bottles and blends with the name of the person who will use it, the essential oils used, the carrier, proportion of the blend and the date.
- Essential oils and blends to be prepared in well-ventilated area. Spillage to be cleared up immediately and area well-ventilated

8)                  First Aid Procedures:
- Accidents – record as health and safety incident
- If essential oils are swallowed treat in same way as when person takes other harmful substances and seek medical advice.
- Accidental spillage or irritation to the skin or eyes. Irrigate with milk or carrier oil, then rinse with plenty of fresh water and seek medical advice if necessary.







We all take care of our mental health in the same way that we care for our bodily and dental hygiene.  However the pressures of modern life and the mental strain which goes with it mean depression and mental illness can unexpectedly affect the best of us. 

Neuroscientists seek to understand how the brain underpins our behaviour, thoughts and feelings.  The interface between neuroscience and mental healthcare is an expanding one.

Neuroscientific or genetic evidence has established that certain people are more likely than others to commit crimes. Such decisions inevitably involve assessing the risk of reoffending, and risk assessment is a notoriously imprecise enterprise. The 2003 Criminal Justice Act introduced the concept of indeterminate sentence for public protection, by March 2011 there were 6,550 people in prison under the terms of these provisions. It seems at least possible that neuroscientific or genetic evidence might be able to reduce the risk of getting these decisions wrong.

The law has a good record of taking science on board
the most obvious recent example being the use of DNA testing. There is no reason to doubt that it will do the same with neuroscientific evidence, and equally good reason to believe that neuroscience will provide some important revelations about human behaviour within the foreseeable future.

Essential oils have many other uses than in hygiene and food and the treatment of illness or infection.  Above all they are important in maintaining wellbeing, improving mental and physical resilience and our willingness and desire to communicate. 

Our sense of smell is atracting increasing attention from Researchers interested in how our genes respond to our environment and how essential oils can be used, with good science and case reports, for care purposes.

Neuroscience – the evidence

Science is increasing providing the reasoning behind the evident effects on mood of essential oils.  The effect is at a cellular level going so far as to ‘switch off’ the 100 or so genes responsible for the chemistry of an ‘angry’ response.  This is an example of articles to be found on the Pubmed database

Phytother Res. 2012 Jun;26(6):884-91. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3665. Epub 2011 Nov 15.
Evaluation of the effects of plant-derived essential oils on central nervous system function using discrete shuttle-type conditioned avoidance response in mice.
Biological Imaging and Analysis Section, Center for Environmental Measurement and Analysis, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan.
Although plant-derived essential oils (EOs) have been used to treat various mental disorders, their central nervous system (CNS) acting effects have not been clarified. The present study compared the effects of 20 kinds of EOs with the effects of already-known CNS acting drugs to examine whether the EOs exhibited CNS stimulant-like effects, CNS depressant-like effects, or neither. All agents were tested using a discrete shuttle-type conditioned avoidance task in mice. Essential oils of peppermint and chamomile exhibited CNS stimulant-like effects; that is, they increased the response rate (number of shuttlings/min) of the avoidance response. Linden also increased the response rate, however, the effect was not dose-dependent. In contrast, EOs of orange, grapefruit, and cypress exhibited CNS depressant-like effects; that is, they decreased the response rate of the avoidance response. Essential oils of eucalyptus and rose decreased the avoidance rate (number of avoidance responses/number of avoidance trials) without affecting the response rate, indicating that they may exhibit some CNS acting effects. Essential oils of 12 other plants, including juniper, patchouli, geranium, jasmine, clary sage, neroli, lavender, lemon, ylang-ylang, niaouli, vetivert and frankincense had no effect on the avoidance response in mice.

Sensory Training – a program for the Day

coffee, welcome and introductions


The roots of emotion and motivation.  How aromas work directly on the brain through olfaction and the limbic system.  Why use aroma? What is the evidence that they are effective?
Coffee Break
Safe use of oils

10 Safety rules for practice
The elements of wellbeing.  Mindfulness session with the smells
Finding out activating and soothing smells
Same practice as we would do with women
Aromachemistry – stimulating terpenes, relaxing alcohols and esters – aromachemistry in three minutes.  Introducing the 3 ways we are going to use aromas for wellbeing: Skin care, perfume and shower/baths. Practise arousal and distress responses.
Practice safe space and relaxation/low stim
Safe storage and practice
Small groups to think through this in own environments.

Coffee Break
Sensory signatures
Key areas
Hand massage Mixing of essential oils into hand cream
Review of the day

During a study day we introduce many fascinating ‘aromafacts’ from our own and colleagues nearly 40 years involvement with essential oils.  We firmly believe that a simple grasp of the chemistry of these oil mixtures not only cements the learning but also enables health professionals and hobbyists to use the oils with confidence. 

As one exercise in the day I promise a grasp of aroma chemistry (stimulating terpenes, relaxing alcohols) in three minutes.  It can be done!

You can contact the author Ian Brealey at
Edwards Centre, The Horsefair, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 0AN
T: 01455 612000  F: 01455 613000.