Feeling tired, stressed or sad? There’s an essential oil to fix that…
If you’ve ever enjoyed the scent of fresh flowers in spring, you’ve inhaled the aroma of the plant’s essential oils. They are found in all parts of a plant, and have been used for centuries for their amazing health benefits.
But there are a myriad to choose from, so here’s our guide to which ones you need to pick off the shelf.
Feeling frazzled? Ylang ylang is your friend. “Ylang ylang is good for use in nervous tension, in the case of frustration, restlessness, anger, anxiety, depression and stress,” says Claire Kelly, co-founder of Indigo Herbs (indigo-herbs.co.uk). “It is also the essential oil to use in the case of shock and trauma to body or mind. It has a beautiful relaxing aroma and can really aid an over stimulated nervous system to unwind and relax.”
“Mandarin has a soothing effect on the emotional body and can bring relief in the case of insomnia, anxiety, low mood and stress,” says Claire. “With its beautiful sunshine colour, the essential oil is actually nourishing to the nervous system. It is also thought to be uplifting and restorative to the mind, bringing back zest, happiness and concentration.”
It’s an old favourite and one most people know about – lavender. “Lavender is known for its peaceful, soothing and restful qualities,” says Claire. “It helps with sleeplessness, headaches and irritability as it is calming to the mind.
“Bergamot has a wonderfully uplifting aroma, and it is used traditionally in aromatherapy for depression, low self-esteem, melancholy and anxiety,” explains Claire. “It is refreshing and invigorating. It is also indicated as good for banishing stress and promoting confidence.”
“Clary sage essential oil is primarily a woman’s botanical,” says Claire. “It is excellent for balancing female hormones and of great use during menstruation. It is a uterine tonic and has an emmenagogue action, which means it can promote the healthy flow of blood during the monthly period. It is also used to treat menstrual cramps as it has anti-spasmodic and sedative properties. It is relaxing and can balance the mood at this time.” So now you’ve got the basics, it’s time to reap the benefits! But be warned – essential oils have medicinal and beneficial properties, but are very strong and cannot be applied directly to the skin. “It’s important that we dilute the oils,” says Claire. “A great way to ingest the beneficial phytochemicals in them is by adding them to a hot bath and having a good long soak, so we can add drops to either a bath oil or milk before adding straight to the bath water. “Applying the oils to the skin is another excellent way to benefit, and this can be done by adding them to a carrier body massage oil such as almond oil, or to an aqueous cream, or even to a handcrafted balm made with oils and beeswax. These preparations can be used for whatever you need them for – beauty, muscle or joint pain, wounds or promoting relaxation.” You can also simply inhale them – a few drops can be added to an essential oil burner, a handkerchief, a paper towel, or simply to a bowl of boiling water. The drops can also be blended with a flower water and used as a room or body spray, even popping a few drops on a radiator can mean that the oils evaporate and can be breathed in and benefited from.
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