November Aromatherapy Favourites

A quick run down of what I’m loving this month

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Neom Moroccan Blush Rose Lime & Black Pepper Candle

This has been going almost three months now and I light it virtually every day for an hour or so when I have my quiet time.  I’m in love with rose and this candle now smells like home to me as I’m burning it so often.  The only downside is that even though I use extra long matches, I am still struggling to light it without burning my fingers as it reaches the bottom of the glass.  You can probably see the black marks on the glass where I have dropped the burning match! I think next time I will go for a smaller candle.

Neal’s Yard Seaweed and Arnica Bath Foam

This smells almost medicinal (a good thing) and I’ve been using it after my long walks and yoga sessions to relax my muscles.  I’m a fan of anything Neal’s Yard really, but this one is new to me.  I’ll definitely buy it again.

Scottish Fine Soaps Tangled Rose Hand Cream

There we go again with that rose theme!  This is designed, made and packaged all in Scotland by a family business in Stirlingshire.  It doesn’t contain a massive hit of rose, but still smells fab.

Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil

This beautiful exotic oil is solid at room temperature so I run it under the hot tap while I’m in the bath to liquefy it before slathering it on afterwards.  Expensive, but oh so worth it!

Sabai Soaps Lemongrass Bar

I’m no big fan of lemongrass if I’m honest, but I was gifted this soap to try and it really is rather soothing on the skin, unlike many soaps which can be drying.  I took it on holiday and really enjoyed using it.  The lemongrass scent is 100% natural so not overwhelming. I’ll pack it again for my next trip.  It came beautifully packaged too – so would make a good stocking filler.

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I’m planning to try out some different candles soon, so if anyone has a recommendation for a good quality candle containing essential oils with an even burn and natural soy, please shout up!

Aromatherapy: A Blend To Take On Holiday

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I love a posh aromatherapy blend like Aromatherapy Associates, but my budget doesn’t often stretch.  However, if I have treated myself, then I hang onto the bottle as you see here and use it to make a blend to take on holiday.  This bottle takes 55 mils which is perfect for taking in your hand luggage.  I’m off on a cruise soon so it’s time to get creative!

I’ve made a blend which is deeply relaxing and the first thing I’ll do when I get to my cabin on Celebrity is step in the shower and zing the place up by putting a glug of oil on a flannel and taking it in with me.  It will make the whole cabin smell wonderful.

I’ll use it mostly as a body oil and make sure I give my feet some TLC with it at the end of the day as I plan to do a lot of walking.

The blend I’ve chosen is frankincense, lavender and bergamot and the carrier is sweet almond.  I’ve chosen the essential oils not just for the scent, but for their therapeutic properties as follows:

Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) this works on an emotional as well as physical level which can help you move on when things have been tough. Just what I need right now. Its action is to relax you and slow down your mind. Physically it also helps to relieve coughs and sore throats and if you’ve ever been on a cruise you will know that the aircon can make your sinuses a bit dry after a few days, so using this in the shower and inhaling the vapour will help counteract any scratchiness.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is hypotensive, so lowers blood pressure to aid relaxation.  It’s also an insect repellent – very handy for a holiday in the Med.

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Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is an uplifting oil which has a comforting action.  It’s important not to use this essential oil on your skin when out in sunlight as it can cause sensitivity, but as I’ll be using it in the evening, this isn’t a problem.

If you would like to make this yourself, you need 50 mils of a carrier oil such as sweet almond or grapeseed.  For a 50 mil bottle I use a 3% dilution which means 30 drops of essential oil. Up to you how you vary the blend, but I have used ten drops of each.  Don’t be tempted to add more as this is plenty strong enough.  Add the drops to the container with your carrier oil and give it a good shake – then you’re done.

PS I qualified as a clinical aromatherapist in 2005 and this little book that you see is my bible which I took notes in during the course and I’ve referred to ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make A Lavender Scrub

This DIY scrub is perfect for gardeners and walkers alike.  It is easy and cheap to make and acts as an exfoliant and softener for hands and feet.

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Ingredients

One cup of oats

Ten drops of lavender essential oil

One tablespoon of melted coconut oil

A few sprigs of lavender

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Method

Strip the lavender from the stalks then combine all the ingredients.  Slather on your feet but beware: it makes a mess! The added bonus is that your kitchen will smell fantastic and you can leave any remaining potion on the worktop for a few days to enjoy the scent.

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How To Make Tea Cup Candles

If, like me, you lust after Jo Malone candles, but don’t have the budget, then you can make your own beautifully fragranced candles which unlike a lot of the cheapies for sale, actually give you a proper fragrance hit, as well as the therapeutic benefits of the essential oils that they contain.

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Ingredients

  • First you will need some old china, very easy to pick up for next to nothing in charity shops.  Make sure the cups are clean and dust free so that you don’t affect the burn.
  • You’ll need some wax (I bought soy wax as it gives a clean burn and is free of nasty chemicals) and some wicks (they come in packs of 10 and are very cheap)
  • Next, find a big pan that you’re not too precious about.  I have a battered old jam making pan which is perfect for the job.
  • This is the most important bit: choose your essential oils.  As an aromatherapist, I’m a bit picky about this and would never use cheap candle scents or pre-blended essential oils.   You need to think about how you want your candle to smell, and what you want the oils to do for you e.g. relaxation, stimulate your mind, pick you up.   I chose jasmine (Jasminium officinale) and petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) because I wanted a scent reminiscent of the Costa Del Sol (imagine taking tea in a walled garden surrounded by creeping jasmine with orange trees just coming into blossom).  I  could have chosen neroli, but I think that petitgrain has a bit of an eau de cologne feel about it and a slightly spiky edge.  Both jasmine and petitgrain are mood boosting and uplifting: perfect for winter in the UK!

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So now you have all your kit together, let’s begin

Method

  • Measure how much wax  you need by filling your cup with flakes to where you want the candle to reach, then put double this amount of wax per candle into the pan.
  • Heat the wax until melted, keeping an eye on it and stirring.
  • In each cup, place a wick (I tried to glue them down, but it didn’t work) then cut the wick to size.

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  • When the  wax is melted, you need to leave it to cool to about 100 degrees before you add the essential oils (otherwise they will evaporate which will smell fantastic, but is not the idea!).
  • How much essential oil to add is very much up to you.  I personally like to use a lot as I want the fragrance hit so each tiny teacup candle has about 20 drops of oil.  However, I would vary this according to what I’m trying to achieve e.g. less for a bedtime candle with oils for relaxation as too much lavender for example can be stimulating and have the opposite effect.
  • Pour the melted wax into the teacups.
  • Now comes the tricky bit – while they set you need to keep the wicks upright.  I used spaghetti to balance mine.
  • Leave overnight to set fully then enjoy!

PS this will make a mess of your kitchen worktops, so be prepared for some cleaning up after!

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The Scent Of Christmas

Seeing as it’s Christmas I’ve treated myself to this beautiful candle from Molton Brown.  Their candles are the proper job: plenty of essential oils and a good burning time.  When you light it, the scent is pretty immediate and full on, no waiting for it to get going.

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I chose ‘Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold’ for a Christmas candle, as I wanted the house to smell exotic with a whiff of the Middle East.

It contains the following essential oils:

Cinnamon – very festive

Nutmeg – warming and reminds me of the kitchen in winter

Elemi – an incense like scent

Myrrh – it’s Christmas, so how appropriate!

Vetiver – a deeply relaxing oil, often used as a sedative

The combined effect is intoxicating and very potent.  I often make my own blends, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone do it for you!

 

 

 

 

Essential Oils For Deep Relaxation

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I’ll be honest, I don’t buy  Neal’s Yard Frankincense Nourishing Cream for what it can do for my skin.  I buy it purely for its intoxicating fragrance.

Frankincense aids deep relaxation and some nights, after a hot bath, I massage this into my face and neck, jump into clean sheets and drift off, dreaming of exotic places where, long ago, people lived in jewelled palaces, with courtyards surrounded by orange trees and damask roses, eating Turkish delight and ripe figs from silver platters.

Deep, fragrant, peaceful sleep.  That’s what frankincense says to me.

Juniper on the other hand is, in my opinion, one of the best oils for burning on those nights when you just need to clear your mind and reboot.  It says new beginnings, clean slate, declutter.  It also has sedative properties so will help you drop off (but don’t forget to extinguish the oil burner first!).  The scent lingers for ages, so burn it an hour before bed.  It has a meditative quality and would work well with a yoga practice.

Calm, refreshing sleep and a clear head.  That’s what juniper says to me.

The geranium and orange is a hand cream that I massage into my feet before bed.  Geranium and orange is a ‘pick me’ up blend.  It makes me feel happy and settled.  Orange is a nervous sedative, so can help if you are a little on edge.  Geranium has mild anti-depressant properties.  Used together, they help you feel calm and relaxed.

Balancing.  That’s what geranium and orange say to me.

You don’t have to create your own essential oil blends to benefit from their therapeutic qualities, but you do have to buy well. There are many lotions and potions on the market, but once you understand what they can do for you, there is a point when you just cannot go back to the synthetic and cheap alternatives which look pretty but do nothing else.  This isn’t an advert for Neal’s Yard – it just happens that they are one of a number of ‘go to’ brands that I choose when I don’t want to make up a blend myself.

If you are unsure about blending, just try essential oils on their own in a burner.  It’s a good way to see how you feel about each one.  You only need a couple of drops so it’s a really cost effective way of fragrancing your home too.

Bladder Weakness: Why Don’t We Talk About It?

When I was studying for my diploma in aromatherapy, we had a talk from a nurse about pregnancy and how to use essential oils in each trimester.  As part of this lecture, she covered a subject which you don’t hear much about: bladder weakness.

I’ve never been pregnant so I didn’t appreciate quite how many women were affected post pregnancy, but also, I had no idea that my own little habit of having a ‘just in case’ wee could possibly cause me a problem in later years.  Her advice was never to go just because you think you should, but go only when your body is actually telling you, as you can train your bladder into not working to its full capacity, just as you can train it to work properly by using common sense.

I’m glad I took her advice because years later, long bus and train journeys hold no fear for me and waking up in the night to visit the loo doesn’t happen too often, but for many people it does, and we simply don’t talk about it.

I for one had never had a conversation with my friends about it until TENA Lady asked me to do this piece for my blog. So I did a quick and unscientific poll.   It seems that it’s not only post pregnancy that you can suffer an embarrassing leak when exercising, laughing or sneezing, but also during and after menopause (oh no!) even if you have not had a pregnancy.

You can be given medication to help and one lady knew someone who had had botox (who knew?) to sort it out.    As for self help, of course we all know about pelvic floor exercises and how you should be doing them whilst standing in the supermarket queue, but seriously, do you ever remember?  The only time I remember my pelvic floor is during Pilates and Yoga classes when you are constantly reminded to pull in and up.

Interestingly it had never occurred to me that bladder weakness could affect your sleep, but of course, if you can’t relax and drop off, or you are awake multiple times then it is going to be an issue.  There are lots of tips to get off to sleep, but TENA Lady offers a product which may help.

This is what TENA Lady say about their product:

For extra peace of mind, TENA Lady Maxi Night with Lie Down Protection gives you Triple Protection from leaks, odour and moisture. With additional length and width at the back for extra coverage and security, TENA Lady Maxi Night is specifically designed to give you confidence that lasts all night long.

You can get a free sample from http://www.tena.co.uk/women/

They offer lots of advice and tips on their website for getting a blissful night’s sleep, and I agree wholeheartedly with the recommendation to avoid caffeine and of course use essential oils such as lavender pre bedtime.  A word of caution with lavender though, you can use too much and it will act as a stimulant, so use sparingly and maybe try frankincense or vetiver as an alternative.

Sweet dreams everyone!