A stocking filler from the bees

candle 1

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the UK. For a moment the Earth tilts furthest away from the sun in the northern hemisphere, before it turns back towards the light.

My pagan friends celebrate the winter solstice, Yule, by lighting candles to mark the sun’s rebirth. While it is a long time till spring from this point on we can all welcome back the lengthening of days.

candle 2

I’m not pagan, well maybe a tiny bit…

In beekeeping traditions the darkest day of winter is a point of stillness inside the hive. The queen has stopped laying and the workers cluster around her in a broodless nest. A perfect time to give the bees a solstice stocking filler of warmed oxalic acid in syrup.

Yesterday was bright, cold and dry at the apiary. The beekeepers were feeling festive as they ate mince pies and drank home-brewed beer. Everyone was soon very merry!

Andy Pedley was amused that I had decorated our hives a few weeks ago with pine cones and berries to look Christmassy, he tweeted:

andys tweet

There also had been exciting news from Andy during the week, he wrote: “This might justify a special email?” He and John Chapple had been interviewed for Alan Titchmarsh’s The Queen’s Garden, which airs on Christmas Day at 3.10pm on ITV. Wow, beekeeping royalty to follow the Queen’s speech. I can’t wait till Christmas! (You can see John Chapple looking like Father Christmas in his red coat and white beard above.)

Elsa helped us to warm the oxalic acid that we were giving to the bees by standing the bottles in an upturned lid of a teapot. As we marvelled at her practicality, she said in her gentle Australian accent, “I wasn’t a Girl Scout, but I was raised in the bush”.

The sun was dropping fast through the trees and the mince pies had all been eaten. It was time to give the bees their stocking filler.

christmassy2

I’ve blogged about giving the bees oxalic acid before, this year two beginners gave it to the hives. They will make excellent beekeepers. The oxalic acid is meant to burn the mouths and feet of varroa mites feeding on adult bees, so they drop off. It is given in midwinter when the colony is thought to be almost broodless and the varroa mites have fewer places to hide.

christmassy3

Some beekeepers now check their hives for brood a few days before giving the oxalic acid following last year’s findings by Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI), which caused something of a stir among beekeepers. The research suggests any time between 10th December and Christmas is a good time for oxalic acid treatment and that you check for sealed brood, and destroy it, around two days before. I hadn’t forgotten the advice but we didn’t do this. I could tell by looking at the way the bees were moving around and over the frames that there is likely to be sealed brood inside the hives. Perhaps it is a knock-on effect of a longer brooding season due to a milder autumn and winter? What effect that will have on the oxalic acid treatment, I don’t know.

Even so, all’s looking well inside the four hives. Chili’s bees were playful, Melissa’s bees were peaceful, Chamomile’s were curious (a good sign) and Pepper’s were spirited!

christmassy1

Merry Christmas lovely bees!

This is my last post of the year as I take a break for Christmas. So, as an aromatherapy beekeeper, I’ll leave you with a picture of the apiary on the darkest day in winter and a stocking filler from the bees – a home-made honey-and-lavender lip balm that you can make quite easily. The recipe is in the Postnotes below, along with more details about The Queen’s Garden.

All that remains to be said is a Very Happy Christmas bees, humans and everyone!

goodnight apiary

See you all in the New Year xx

Postnotes

Home-made honey-and-lavender lip balm

Ingredients:

  • 40 ml olive oil
  • 10 g beeswax
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil

Method:

  1. Heat the oil gently in a saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Add the beeswax, stirring till completely melted.
  3. Mix in the honey then pour into a warmed bowl.
  4. Add the lavender essential oil and stir quickly before the balm starts to set.
  5. Pour the warm balm into small pots and leave to set, then lid and label your honey-and-lavender lip balm.

Of course, the lip balm is meant as a gift – you can’t sell home-made cosmetics without special safety requirements. As an added precaution too, skip the lavender oil if you are pregnant. Aromatherapy texts differ on which essential oils to use in pregnancy and at which stage of pregnancy, and the proper advice is actually a lot more involved than this. I’m not going into that now, so skip the lavender to be on the safe side – the balm really is as nice just as honey and beeswax.

The recipe is also posted on the Ealing and District Beekeepers’ website which I run, as a news item along with a link to the recent Bee Craft live episode on using hive products.

The Queen’s Garden
Don’t forget to watch The Queen’s Garden on Christmas Day! Elsa is sure from a preview that you’ll at least see John Chapple, the Queen’s Beekeeper, pull a frame from a hive!

The Queen’s Garden
Thursday 25th December at 3:10pm on ITV
Queen’s Garden, Episode 1: The first of two programmes in which Alan Titchmarsh gets exclusive access to the royal gardens at Buckingham Palace for a whole year. He watches the garden change over the four seasons and reveals its hidden treasures that have evolved over five centuries. In the first part, he arrives along with 8,000 others to attend the Queen’s summer garden party, but unlike the other guests, he has a different itinerary. He begins by venturing into the garden’s wilder spaces where nature has been left to rule. He meets the Queen’s bee keeper John Chapple, delves into the history of the garden and finds its oldest tree. Late summer is the ideal time to visit the rose garden with its 18th-century summer house. Later, as Christmas arrives, Alan helps royal florist Sharon Gaddes-Croasdale bring in plants to decorate the palace.

Download a free ebook stocking filler here, a Christmas gift from me and the bees.

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Aroma Yoga

Aroma Yoga

Aroma Yoga is an inspiring way to start the day by using fragrances that complement yoga moves. Simply put it means burning an essential oil or a blend of essential oils while practising yoga.

Aromatherapy is a natural partner to the five principles of yoga: exercise, deep rhythmic breathing, release from tension, relaxation and meditation. Essential oils can be used to energise the body, encourage deep breathing, awaken the senses, and promote calm.

I practise yoga every morning at home so it is easy to choose an aroma for my daily Asanas (yoga poses). To feel revitalised and renewed after a session, I choose essential oils that are energising and uplifting. Basil or rosemary oils stimulate the mind and clarify the senses, and burning one of these two fragrances brings a greater sense of awareness, aiding focus and balance.

Frankincense is another excellent oil to combine with yoga particularly for classic meditation poses like the Lotus. The orange oils (mandarin, petitgrain, sweet orange) are good choices because they are relaxing and uplifting. Lavender combines well with yoga because it balances the mind and emotions.

My favourite essential oil for yoga is not an obvious one – jasmine. The fragrance of jasmine is very inspiring while practising Salute to the Sun as the world awakes.

I would love to hear more ideas of how to use aromatherapy with yoga.

My essential oils are from Neals Yard, including the aroma stone in the image above.

Juniper berry – the perfect antidote to January

Juniper clears your mind. She is the friend who lifts confusion and doubt, and who helps you to see true. She is a breath of fresh air when you need it most.

Juniper berry oil is best known for its detoxifying and mind-clearing properties. It comes from the blue-black berries of the juniper conifer tree and, like many essential oils from tall forest trees, its effects are purifying, uplifting and revitalising.

Juniper berry has a sharp, piercing balsamic smell which makes it a potent burning oil – the perfect antidote to January.

Cleanse and clear

Add 3–4 drops of juniper berry oil to an oil burner. Make sure all windows and doors are shut, and burn the oil for 30 minutes to banish the staleness of the previous year. Inhaling its vapours will help remove toxins from your body due to the over-indulgences of Christmas and New Year, and clear your mind of the January blues.

Hair of the dog

Juniper berries are used to flavour gin. If you have not yet kick-started your New Year resolutions and find yourself suffering from left-over Saturday hangovers, burn juniper berry to relieve your headache and clear your mind.

Detoxifying skin oil

If you are suffering post-Christmas and New Year party breakouts, get your skin off to a good start with this detoxifying juniper berry oil cleanser:

  • 30ml jojoba oil
  • 6 drops juniper berry oil
  • 6 drops tea tree oil
  • 6 drops lavender oil

Massage a teaspoonful of this blend on your face. To enhance the blend’s detoxifying effects, massage the oil using small circular movements and work from the centre of your face towards temples, earlobes and the neck. This helps to drain toxins from your skin through your lymph vessels and nodes. Remove the oil with a hot damp cotton flannel. Repeat twice. Use the blend throughout January and discard any left-over oil at the end of the month. This facial blend removes make up but do not use on the eyes.

Cellulite-busting oil

Juniper berry is often used in massage to help treat cellulite, because of its powerful action of eliminating toxins from the body. Massage this cellulite busting oil into orange-peel skin:

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 6 drops juniper berry oil
  • 6 drops geranium oil
  • 6 drops grapefruit oil

Exercise also helps to improve the appearance of cellulite.

A bit gouty

If your indulgences have been of the excessive kind and left your toes a bit gouty, rub this ointment on your foot to help relieve this painful condition. Juniper berry’s detoxifying properties help eliminate the build up of uric acid crystals that cause gout, and arthritis, for which juniper is also helpful.

  • 30ml unfragranced ointment cream
  • 6 drops juniper berry oil
  • 6 drops cypress oil
  • 6 drops fennel oil

And, er, lay off the booze for a bit!

This post is dedicated to Christine who is always the life and soul of the party

Profile of juniper:

Latin name: Juniperus communis
Plant family: Cupressaceae
Plant type: wood
Perfume note: middle
Botany and origins: evergreen tree or shrub native to the northern hemisphere and growing up to 6m high, with blue-green narrow needles, small flowers and round berries; main producers of juniper berry oil are France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia
Extraction: steam distillation of the berries (oil from the needles or wood are also extracted by this method but not used in aromatherapy due to their toxic properties)
Chemical properties/active components: rich in monoterpenes (80 %), which indicates its actions are likely to be stimulating, expectorant, bactericidal and antiviral
Blends with: benzoin, cedarwood, citrus oils, clary sage, cypress, fennel, geranium, lavender, lavandin, pine, rosemary, sandalwood, vetiver
Key actions: analgesic, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, astringent, detoxifying, diuretic, vulnerary
Common conditions: cellulite, acne, oily skin; gout, arthritis and rheumatism, painful joints, stiffness, eliminates uric acid, fluid retention, obesity; cystitis; anxiety, nervous tension, stress-related conditions, intellectual fatigue
Contraindications: Non-sensitising and non-toxic, juniper berry may cause irritation in some; it has a reputation as an abortifacient, however, this may be due to confusion concerning its Latin name; it should only be used in moderation due to adulteration of the wood with turpentine oil
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © 123RF

Palmarosa – sweet!

A rainbow personality – palmarosa essential oil

Palmarosa is the friend who gives you the freedom to change. She does not expect you to be as you were yesterday or the day before. She accepts who you are in the present moment and who you will become in the next.

Palmarosa is one of my favourite essential oils. It is lovely to use for skin care. It has a sugary, sweet fragrance – if using in a perfume blend, add sparingly.

Palmarosa is one of the most useful essential oils for skin care. It is antiseptic and bactericidal, which makes it an effective treatment for acne and minor skin infections. It balances the production of sebum (the skin’s natural oil) and so helps to prevent breakouts. It is hydrating and toning, which makes it useful for dry, dehydrated or undernourished skin. It is cicatrisant, which means it can stimulate cellular regeneration and can be used to treat scars or wrinkles. It is an all-round beauty oil!

Palmarosa cleansing oil for problem skin

After a long hot summer’s day, I use this blend to cleanse my skin. It cools as well as deep cleanses and helps prevent breakouts during hot and humid weather.

  • 30ml jojoba oil
  • 6 drops palmarosa oil
  • 6 drops peppermint oil
  • 6 drops tea tree oil

Store the blend in a dark glass jar and use it daily for a month (the shelf life of your blend). To cleanse, massage on a teaspoonful then remove with a hot cloth, and repeat. The first cleanse removes surface make up and dirt, and the second cleanse removes deep-down dirt clogging pores. Apply this philosophy to any nightly beauty regime – especially if you live in London!

Palmarosa-perfecting blend

This blend can be used on skin that feels dry and undernourished, or as an all-round anti-aging oil. It revives skin and restores a glow to the complexion. It can also be used daily to massage on scars and to help improve their appearance over time. Expect to notice an improvement in scars or red acne marks in 6–8 months.

  • 30ml rosehip oil
  • 6 drops palmarosa oil
  • 6 drops rosewood oil
  • 6 drops lavender oil

Massage a teaspoonful of this blend on your face at night after cleansing. Once the blend has been absorbed you can use your usual night cream.

Soothing bath oil

Palmarosa is also good for emotional conditions of nervousness, stress and anxiety. Combine with lavender and geranium in a bath oil. Pour this blend into the bath after it has run and swoosh around before getting in.

  • 20ml olive oil
  • 4 drops palmarosa oil
  • 4 drops lavender oil
  • 4 drops geranium oil

This post is dedicated to my lovely friend Marion Two-Puddings Davies, who is a true free spirit and accepts you as you are

Profile of palmarosa

Latin name: Cymbopogon martinii
Plant family: Graminaceae
Plant type: grass
Perfune note: middle
Botany: a grass with slender stems, fragrant grassy leaves and flowering tops. It is native to India and Pakistan, although now grown in Africa, Indonesia, Brazil and the Comoro Islands
Extraction: water or steam distillation of the fresh or dried grass
Chemical properties/active components: high in alcohols (85%) with active constituents including geraniol (antiseptic, antiviral, uplifting) and linalool (stimulating, tonic)
Blends with: cedarwood, lavender, geranium, peppermint, rosewood, sandalwood
Key actions: antiseptic, bactericidal, cicatrisant, comforting, hydrating, stimulant, stabilising
Common conditions: balances sebum production, stimulates cellular regeneration, acne, dermatitis, minor skin infections, dry and undernourished skin, scars, wrinkles; stress, restlessness, anxiety, nervous exhaustion, encourages adaptability and brings feelings of security, soothes feelings of nervousness
Contraindications: Palmarosa is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitising.
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © 123RF

Rosemary – an established personality

Rosemary is young at heart. She is the friend that you can call at a moment’s notice to go out. Her vibrancy and enthusiasm for life cannot be quenched. She is fiercely determined and thrives on a challenge. Rosemary excels at multi-tasking and loves to succeed.

Rosemary is an energetic essential oil. It has a recognisable, distinctive herbaceous scent that stimulates the brain and focuses concentration. Its powerful action helps to banish fatigue, and its aroma uplifts and strengthens the mind.

Rosemary for remembrance


In past times, the herb was used to stimulate the mind and to aid memory. Sprigs of rosemary became symbolic of remembrance. The scent of the essential oil has the same effect. Burn rosemary as a room fragrance if you are revising for exams or engaging in any form of study. Its scent will sharpen your focus and help you to better remember what you have learned. Rosemary will prevent the mind from wandering and keep sleepiness at bay during study.

Vaporise 3–4 drops in an oil burner for a couple of hours as you work at your desk.

An invigorating tea

Fresh rosemary tea is an invigorating beverage and can be drunk to replace your usual shot of coffee. Brew a couple of stems of fresh rosemary in a cup of boiling water and sip once cooled. It has a refreshing flavour and will invigorate your body and mind. Experiment by adding a couple of fresh-torn mint leaves.

A tonic for hair

Rosemary has long been used as a tonic for dark hair to enhance the colour and shine, whereas chamomile is traditionally used for fair hair. However, rosemary is beneficial for all hair types as it stimulates circulation of the scalp and encourages new growth. Rosemary essential oil is often added to hair care products to strengthen hair and to make it appear healthy and glossy.


To make your own rosemary shampoo and conditioner, blend:


  • 200ml unscented shampoo or conditioner

  • 40 drops rosemary oil
  • 40 drops lavender oil
  • 40 drops thyme linalool oil

A deep-oil conditioning treatment once a week will also help to give you fuller, shinier hair. Blend:

  • 15ml jojoba oil

  • 3 drops rosemary oil
  • 3 drops lavender oil
  • 3 drops thyme linalool oil

Massage the above blend into your scalp and gently comb through to the ends. Wrap your hair in a warm towel and leave for 30 minutes or overnight. Wash out with your rosemary shampoo, and use a tiny amount of conditioner.


These blends are helpful for those whose hair is fine or thinning, and for those whose hair looks dry, brittle and fragile. In most cases, it will eventually help to encourage the growth of new hair and promote healthy looking hair. However, if you think you are suffering from a form of hair loss, medical advice should be sought to diagnose the cause and condition.


A sports aid

Rosemary has a stimulating effect on the circulation and increases the flow of blood to skin tissues and muscle. It can be used as a pre-sports blend to massage on arms and legs and help to warm-up the tissues. However it should not be used as a substitute for proper warm-up exercises. Rosemary is also helpful post-workout to treat tired, stiff and aching muscles, because it has an analgesic effect.


To make a rosemary massage oil blend:


  • 30ml olive oil

  • 9 drops rosemary 
oil
  • 9 drops lavender oil (always a good complement to rosemary)


This blend makes enough for one complete body massage or a few localised massages to arms and legs. The analgesic and stimulating effects of rosemary make it useful for those who suffer from backaches and also for conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis.


This post is dedicated to my friend Jenni – who has a well-established personality and whose strength and determination to see things through is rarely equalled.


Profile of rosemary:

Latin name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Plant family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Plant type: herb
Perfume note: middle
Botany and origins: a perennial evergreen herb with a woody stem and branches, needle-like leaves and white, purple, pink or blue flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean, but cultivated worldwide
Extraction: steam distillation of the fresh flowering tops or whole plant
Chemical properties/active components: high in oxides (30%), including 1,8 cineole; monoterpenes (30%), including pinene, camphene, limonene and cymene; and ketones (25%), including camphor. Oxides are good for respiratory complaints and monoterpenes are antiviral
Blends with: basil, cedarwood, cinnamon, citronella, frankincense, lavender, lavendin, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, thyme, and spice oils
Key actions: analgesic, astringent, antirheumatic, anti-spasmodic, cephalic, digestive, hypertensive, nervine, rubefacient, stimulates circulation, tonic
Common conditions: low blood pressure, circulatory problems of extremities, rheumatism, arthritis, tired and stiff or overworked muscles, fluid retention, gout; stimulates central nervous system and brain, aids concentration, relieves nervous debility, headaches, mental fatigue, nervous exhaustion and stress; catarrhal conditions, respiratory ailments, colds, flu and infections; stimulates hair growth, prevents dandruff, greasy hair, acne, insect repellent
Contraindications: non-toxic, non-irritating, non-sensitising; do not use if you have sensitive skin, high blood pressure or epilepsy, and avoid during pregnancy
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © 123RF

Frankie, oh Frankie!

Frankie is the friend who picks you up, dusts you off and puts you back on the road again. She encourages you to put the past behind you, focus on the present and to make a new start.

If you feel like the past is holding you back, old or recent wounds have left you feeling fragile and vulnerable, and you are afraid to set off on new paths, then frankincense is the essential oil you need.

Patricia Davis says that frankincense can ‘help break links with the past and may be very valuable to people who tend to dwell on past events, to the detriment of their present situation’. Grief, heartbreak and fear are all emotions that can hold you back. Frankincense helps to cleanse your emotions, dispels negativity and fills you with inspiration. It puts you back on track.

Oil of meditation and tranquility

Frankincense (olibanum) has been used for centuries in meditation and ritual. Its incense filled temples and churches, creating an atmosphere of tranquil contemplation. Its scent slows and deepens the breath, helping to prepare the body for a meditative state. Only a few drops are needed in an oil burner – its effects are quite powerful.

Respiratory complaints

Frankincense is thought to be helpful for respiratory complaints – easing coughs and helping to open respiratory passages. To use, rub on the upper chest in a blend of 10ml petroleum jelly and 5 drops frankincense oil. This is a soothing blend to use at night to aid sleep.

Rejuvenating skin oil

Let’s not forget frankincense’s age-old use in beauty. It has long been valued in skin care for its rejuvenating, nourishing and moisturising properties, even helping to prevent and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. Use the blend below as a nightly oil to massage onto skin, and wake up with a glowing and radiant complexion. After a few weeks of regular use you will really notice the difference – your skin will look firmer, smoother and more toned.

  • 6 drops frankincense oil
  • 6 drops lavender oil
  • 6 drops neroli oil
  • 30ml jojoba oil

Be inspired

My favourite way to use frankincense is as a bath oil. Run a warm bath, then add 10ml olive oil mixed with 6 drops frankincense oil and slosh around. Get in, relax, truly unwind and allow your mind to wander as frankincense inspires thoughts and dreams.

This blog post is dedicated to Yazzy Que, who recently picked me up, dusted me off and put me back on the road again.

Profile of frankincense:

Latin name: Boswellia ssp
Plant family: Burseraceae
Plant type: resin
Perfume note: base
Botany and origins: also known as olibanum, frankincense is the resin of the bark of a small tree with pinnate leaves and white or pale pink flowers. It is native to western India, southern Arabia and north-eastern Africa; major producers of frankincense are Somalia and Ethiopia
Extraction: steam distillation of the resin
Chemical properties/active components: 40% monoterpene hydrocarbons, including pinene, terpinene, myrcene, cymene and limonene
Blends with: sandalwood, pine, vetiver, geranium, lavender, neroli, rose, sweet orange, bergmot, basil, black pepper, cinnamon, cedarwood, rosewood and other spices
Key actions: antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, anti-oxidant, cytophylactic, expectorant, mucolytic, regenerative; deepens the breath, and calms and stills the mind
Common conditions: anxiety, nervous tension, stress; bronchitis, catarrhal conditions; dry, oily and mature skin, wrinkles, scars
Contraindications: frankincense is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitising. Avoid during the first three months of pregnancy
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © 123RF

Peppermint – the not so desperate housewife!

Peppermint is the Bree of the aromatherapy world. She runs a clean and efficient house, is super-organised and impeccable in appearance. She helps you to see clearly and is a calming presence no matter what the dilemma.

The grass-mint smell of peppermint has a profound effect on the mind and emotions, helping to clear and calm at the same time. This essential oil is great to use on-the-go as its fragrance can help to uplift and energise while also reducing nerves, stress or anxiety.

I particularly love using peppermint in summer months for its cooling effect on the skin. It’s a great addition to skin-care regimes when the weather is hot and the city feels dirty and muggy.

Clarifying skin oil

This cleanser is a great recipe to use to remove dirt and grime from your face at the end of a hot summer’s day in the city. It cleans deep down, declogs pores and helps to prevent blemishes. Simply blend:

  • 6 drops peppermint oil
  • 6 drops palmarosa oil
  • 6 drops lavender oil
  • 30ml jojoba oil

Store in a dark glass bottle, the blend will last for three months if kept out of direct sunlight. Massage a teaspoonful on your face and wipe off with a hot damp flannel. Repeat a second time.

Peppermint foot spray

Cool and relieve hot sweaty feet with a peppermint foot spray. Make a cup of peppermint tea and leave to cool overnight. Decant into an empty 100ml spray bottle. Add 20 drops peppermint oil and shake vigorously. Spray two to three times on your feet when needed, to refresh and deodorise. Also shake vigorously before each use. The spray will last one week if refrigerated regularly when not in use.

Stimulating scent

The scent of peppermint is both stimulating and soothing, making it the perfect oil to burn or vaporise when you are working. Pour 3 to 4 drops of peppermint oil in a burner. The oil is also expectorant and helps to clear congestion and aid easy-breathing.

If you are at work and can’t use a burner in the office, substitute the oil for the herb. Peppermint tea has an enlivening effect on the mind and also lowers stress. As an added bonus, it is great for your digestion – no work ulcers for you!

Peppermint has a zillion other uses, listed in the profile below. But as with all essential oils I’d advise that you don’t view it as your primary source of care for any common condition. Instead it can be used to complement conventional methods.

I particularly love this recipe recommended by Plume Perfume: invigorating peppermint-eucalyptus-body-wash.

This post is dedicated to Maria Davidova, who is an inspiration in every sense.

Profile of peppermint:

Latin name: Mentha piperita
Plant family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Plant type: herb
Perfume note: middle
Botany and origins: a perennial herb growing up to 1m, with green stems and leaves (white peppermint) or dark green serrated leaves, purple stems and reddish-violet flowers (black peppermint); it is grown commonly in Europe and America and cultivated worldwide
Extraction: steam distillation of the flowering herb
Chemical properties/active components: high in alcohols (42%), including menthol and ketones (30%) including menthone
Blends with: benzoin, rosemary, lavender, marjoram, lemon, palmarosa and eucalyptus
Key actions: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, expectorant, stomachic, vasoconstrictor, and a local anaesthetic action
Common conditions: nausea, vomiting, travel sickness, flatulence; clears head, aids concentration, relieves mental fatigue, headaches, migraine, nervous stress; sinus congestion, infection or inflammation, bronchitis, spasmodic coughs, colds (most useful at onset), flu, fevers; muscular pain; in skin care it can be used as a refreshing tonic in low dilutions (otherwise it may cause irritation), it cools and constricts the capillaries in steam treatment; also: acne, dermatitis, ringworm, and toothache
Contraindications: peppermint should be used in moderation. In low dilutions, it is non-toxic, non-irritant, but it may cause sensitisation. Avoid during pregnancy
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

Image © 123RF