Wednesday, 23 July 2014

In praise of Peppermint oil

Peas with peppermint leaves and butter. Very nice. The leaves also contain valuable antioxidants. Peppermint is very easy to grow in a tub for a source of leaves and to introduce children to aromas and eating healthily. Serving a defensive function for the plant the oil is secreted in oil glands so using the leaves is practical whereas other oils are the product of their distillation. Peppermint tea is one of the most popular herbal teas. Peppermint supports liver function by improving the flow of bile from the liver to the gallbladder. 

Menthol with citral and camphor are certainly important and useful terpenoids central to aromatherapy which can be thought of as modified terpenes. The cooling effect is important and is used in veterinary medicine as a herbal poultice for inflamed tendons. The antispasmodic property of peppermint oil makes it useful for gastrointestinal treatments in capsules. 

I like to think of peppermint oil as having a stimulating politicians personality. We'll wake up and listen to them and give them our attention but in small doses! Blending? I'd be interesting in others thoughts. Do you have a favourite blend or does peppermint shout the other oils down?



Menthol and menthone are useful for illustrating aroma chemical family structures as they are simple and structurally related.  Add in citral, limonene, linalool and linalyl acetate and you cover a lot of ground quickly.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

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For some precious oil Ian Brealey

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Aromatherapy Bath

Aromatherapy Style Royalty Free Stock Photography
The bath or shower debate rumbles on.  Most working people aim to start the day with one or another these days.  Aromatherapy can help maintain a healthy balance of the the skin flora and natural body odour as well as a pleasing scent.  The aromatherapy bath is an essential beauty treatment.

Historically a "top and tail" with soap, a flannel and bowl of warm water sufficed for a healthy start to the day but the standard now in the average family home is more elaborate. Bath or shower is part of our ritual and a very pleasant, fresh way to start the day.  Considerations like water usage or bathroom space may play a part but lets put those aside and concentrate on personal care.

A walk in shower can easily harbour and promote the activities of those pesky funghi in those hard to reach places.  Usually the first toenail to go yellow, an indication of troubles ahead, is the little toe or big toe.  A bath by contrast is much easier to keep antiseptic.  So the aromatherapy bath has its place.

My personal preference is for the aromatherapy bath. With a little personal organisation a bath is no more time consuming than a shower nor is it necessary to fill the bath to the brim as you might for the weekend relaxing soak.  A water level to cover the hips is fine. My style is to add a squirt of Badedas. Then for particular aromatherapy effect a drop of essential oil.  I find a little essential oil goes a very long way. There are some 20 drops to a ml and so a 10ml bottle of your favourite essential oil or blend of essential oils is good for 200 baths.
The citrus oils and peppermint though stimulating are best avoided in the bath as they can irritate the skin.  As part of a blend however the citrus have their place.  To start with lets consider something more herbaceous.  All mothers know a drop of lavender oil at baby's bathtime in the sink can transform bathtime in the sink from an alien and upsetting experience into an eagerly anticipated delight.

One of the reasons aromatherapy works is the ability to stir pleasant sensory memory associations and feelings.  Below is a pan shot of lavender against mountains. Very beautiful. Very relaxing even without the aroma of the lavender and the hum of honey bees competing with the farmer to harvest the crop.

Not all lavenders are the same.  Their aromas vary according to the environment in which they are grown.  Bulgarian lavender has a sweet smell, French grown lavender a stronger smell.  Medicinal lavender has very little aroma.  The lavenders hail from the Lamiaceae plant family of flowering plants which also gives us the commonly used essential oils of Basil, Clary Sage, Hyssop, Sweet Marjoram, Melissa, Patchouli, Sage.

Venturing out from lavender it is as well to know your essential oils. The professional aromatherapist with their box of 48 commonly used essential oils and further 48 professionally used oils has plenty of choice.


Battaglia, Complete Guide

Caddy, Essential oils in Colour

Monday, 7 July 2014


Influenza is a viral respiratory infection that causes an acute febrile illness with myalgia, headache and cough, and can result in high morbidity and mortality rates during an epidemic. Annual epidemics are thought to result in between three and five million cases of severe influenza and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths worldwide. 

There are occasional pandemics.  The deadly 1918 influenza pandemic infected 500 million people and killed 50-100 million, 3-5% of the population. [2]

Development of strategies for mitigating the severity of a new influenza pandemic is a top global public health priority. Treatment of clinical cases can reduce transmission, but only if antivirals are given within a day of symptoms starting. Given enough drugs for 50% of the population, household-based prophylaxis coupled with reactive school closure could reduce clinical attack rates by 40–50%. [1]

Anti viral drugs and vaccines show mixed results but are the first line of defence.  Once a new strain of influenza is identified it takes a few months for a vaccine to be developed and distributed however once available infection rates are considerably reduced.  

Aromatherapy.  Essential oils are used in personal care for their useful properties including antiseptic first aid for skin injuries and respiratory conditions. Wiping surfaces with diluted essential oils and diffusing essential oils in a room is useful.  Essential oils properties include both anti viral effects and immune stimulation.  Methods of use include diffusion and steam inhalation into the lungs.  Essential oils have the important feature that unlike drugs immunity to them is not acquired by viruses and bacteria. One studied antiseptic oil blend includes clove bud, cinnamon, pine, thyme, peppermint, lavender, rosemary.  There are also the oils of eucalyptus and tea tree,

Chinese medicinal herbs are a therapy of choice.  
Cochrane review of evidence

[1]  Strategies for mitigating an influenza pandemic
[2] The 1918 Pandemic

Saturday, 5 July 2014


Interesting article highlighting the use of clove bud, lemongrass and biofilms

Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family MyrtaceaeSyzygium aromaticum. They are native to Indonesia and are commonly used as a spice. The largest producer is Pemba Island just off the coast of Tanzania.