Category Archives: Essential Oils

Cold & Flu Prevention

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Fall is the time when children head back to school and it is also the time to enhance and support the immune system to effectively ward off colds and viruses during the winter months.

Sometimes the simplest suggestions are the most effective prevention. To enhance the immune system and protect against viral infections:

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Epsom salts added to a hot bath is a useful way to raise the body temperature and jump start the immune system, (as an elevated body temperature is the immune systems first line of defense against viruses and bacteria).
  • Vitamin C and Beta Carotene are ‘tried and true’ agents to support immune system function and enhance the white blood cell activity against infection.
  • Herbs: Astragalus, Yarrow, Elderflowers, Boneset.
  • Essential oils, (such as Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Lemon, Rosemary) added to the bath, as a steam, inhaled through a tissue or diluted in water and poured into a spritzer bottle can disinfect both the air and counter surfaces.
  • Breath Essential Oil as a steam is my top recommendation for clearing congested sinuses.
  • Winter Warming Tea Blend and Clear Breath Tea Blend provide additional support for the lungs and immune system.
  • Phytogen an potent immune enhancing herbal blend in capsule form.

Remember, antibiotics do not effectively eradicate viruses and are rarely prescribed for any symptoms of a viral related cold in all countries outside of North America. The common cold can be caused by over 200 viruses, thus the flu shot is a hit and miss attempt to inoculate against 3-4 of those many viruses. Simply the best way to rid the body of viruses of all kinds is to strengthen the immune system directly. Lifestyle suggestions can help rid the home of circulating bacteria and viruses…

  • Clean your computer keyboard and phone mouthpiece with essential oils and water.
  • A computer keyboard has been noted to contain more germs than a toilet seat.
  • Change your toothbrush monthly, also known to harbor bacteria.
  • Avoid ingesting sugar, which will decrease immune system function for hours after ingesting.
  • Avoid consuming dairy, which is very mucous forming, and will worsen symptoms of congestion.
  • Wash the kitchen dishcloth frequently…

For more information on the use of essential oils

For health programs (and custom blended plant medicine) tailored to your specific health concerns, consider booking a clinic appointment.

Creating Your Own Herbal First Aid Kit

 ~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Interested in creating a natural First Aid Kit for the summer months? Here are some MUST HAVE traditional herbal remedies to include in your first aid kit!

Natural insect repellents: Lavender, Tea Tree and Citronella Essential Oils all have insect repellent properties. For more information on using and applying essential oils click here.

A Sunburn Spritzer: dilute Lavender and Peppermint Essential oils (using 3-4 drops each) in ½ cup of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spritz over the burning skin frequently, then liberally apply aloe vera gel to the sunburn. For another recipe click here.

Minor kitchen or barbeque burns and scalds: Cool the burn with cold water then apply pure Lavender essential oil. Lavender works like magic for preventing blisters and minimising scarring of the burned area. Apply it directly to the skin frequently throughout the day.

Bites and Stings: A bee sting can be washed with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), or baking soda can be applied as a paste (mix with water) to the bite. The herb Plantain can be prepared as a tea, strained and used as a skin wash or a poultice for helping to pull out venom from the bite. For instructions on preparing a poultice, click here.

Lavender Essential Oil applied to insect bites is cooling and helps to relieve inflammation caused by bites and stings; its antiseptic properties help to combat infection and of course its calming effects will assist with symptoms of shock and trauma.

Motion sickness and travel sickness: For people on-the-go consider using ginger capsules or prepare ginger root tea to help settle the stomach.

Poison Ivy: Try not to scratch, as it will worsen itch. Apply aloe vera gel to the area, bathe the affected area in apple cider vinegar diluted with water and apply Lavender Essential oil to the affected skin.

Minor cuts and scrapes: Marigold cream is used to promote healing and prevent infection from minor cuts, scrapes and open wounds, an excellent first aid treatment.

Arnica Cream applied frequently to problem areas for bruising, local inflammation and athletic injuries.

Aloe Vera Gel is an excellent topical application for sunburn.

Plantar warts: Zap Away Essential Oil Blend, contains potent antiviral essential oils Cinnamon, Tea Tree and Lemon. Protect the healthy skin with cream before applying this essential oil directly to the wart. Keep away from the eyes and do not ingest. Traditional Home Remedies for stubborn warts include: applying the milk from the fresh Dandelion stem directly to the warts. Home Remedies for plantar warts: apply and tape crushed garlic or the peel of a ripe banana to the problem area, replacing daily or use a mixture of castor oil blended with baking soda applied to the growths for several months, may help clear up the issue.

Herbal Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

For many individuals, spring is the season of sinus congestion, sneezing and itchy watery eyes, yet it does NOT have to be a miserable time of coping with allergies. You can enjoy the changing seasons by bringing allergy and hay fever symptoms under control.

Often considered a flaw in immune system activity, allergies may be intensified in individuals with an impaired immune system. Allergens can produce excess histamine production in our body, provoking severe reactions including sneezing, irritation of the nose, eyes and throat, redness and inflammation of the mucous membranes, sinus congestion, even rashes and fatigue.

Prevention is the best medicine: strengthening and supporting the immune system is the key for minimizing allergy symptoms. Bioflavonoids, found in the white peel under the rind of citrus fruits, in berries, buckwheat, kale, garlic, green tea and onions, can aid allergy suffers in controlling symptoms. There are many types of Bioflavonoids, such as rutin, hespiridin and quercetin, however one particular bioflavonoid offers dramatic protection from the allergy response.

Known as THE allergy supplement, Quercetin is used to inhibit both the manufacture and the release of histamine. For allergy suffers, the therapeutic adult dose of Quercetin is between 750-1500 mg taken throughout the day. To enhance absorption of this well tolerated supplement, combine it with Bromelain, a digestive enzyme from pineapple. Bromelain also contains anti-inflammatory properties that enhance the activity of Quercetin.

Among herbal remedies used for allergies, the anti catarrhal properties of Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra) make it an ideal remedy for nasal congestion, throat inflammation and bronchial conditions. Elderflower can be prepared as a tea and drank or gargled for symptoms of a sore throat. High in vitamin C and flavonoids, it is used for the common cold and winter chills.

The dried leaves and flowers of Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) are anti-inflammatory, anti catarrhal and contain antiseptic properties to the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract.

Nettle leaves (Urtica dioica) are my favorite herb for individuals dealing with itching, hives and allergic reactions.

The dried herbs can be combined together in equal parts and prepared as a medicinal tea. For allergy relief, consume three to four cups of tea daily. Peppermint leaves can be added to enhance the taste.

For a preblended herbal tea used for seasonal allergies, our Sin-U-Clear Tea Blend contains herbs traditionally used to minimise the bodies production of histamine, clear up congestion and reduce the symptomatic effects of allergies. This tea is best used as prevention prior to the allergy season, and then drank throughout the allergy season.

Steaming with essential oils is also beneficial to relieve allergy symptoms. When in contact with foreign pathogens, our sinuses increase production of mucous. Our Breath Essential Oil Blend contains anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties, is antiseptic to the mucous membranes lining the nasal and sinus passages, the volatile oils found in the blend immediately help to disinfect and clear congested sinuses when used in a bath, as a steam, or inhaled by placing a couple drops of oil on a Kleenex.

Never take essential oils internally, instead place a few drops in a humidifier or in a basin of hot water, then cover your head and inhale the fragrant vapors. Take care not to burn yourself on the water or hot steam. An almost forgotten home remedy, steaming is one of the best ways to treat upper respiratory infections and sinus congestion.

Some additional tips for reducing seasonal allergies, wheezing and sinus congestion:

1. Avoid dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream), which can increase the body’s mucous production.
2. Consume hot lemon drinks with a dash of cayenne pepper to help decrease excess mucous production.
3. Garlic and onions are useful medicinal foods for clearing up sinus congestion. Add them into ones daily diet.
4. Practice strengthening your lungs, by blowing up a balloon every day.
5. Begin using horseradish as a condiment in your foods to immediately clear up sinus congestion.
6. Dilute 2 tsp organic unpasturized apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 tsp honey and ¼ cup water and drink
3-4 times daily to help minimize symptoms of wheezing and tightening in the chest.
7. Avoid salt, dairy, corn, milk eggs, chocolate; foods high in fats, tartrazine (also known as FD&C yellow).
8. Frequent steaming with essential oils such as Eucalyptus or our popular Breath Essential Oil.
9. Yoga, deep breathing practices and singing is useful tonics for strengthening the lungs.

For health programs (and custom blended plant medicine) tailored to your specific health concerns, consider booking a clinic appointment.

Super Circulation! 20 Simple Tips for Improving Circulation

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Circulatory problems can be a sign of underlying and undiagnosed health concerns such as varicose veins, thrombosis and plaque buildup in the arteries, high or low blood pressure, chilblains, Reynauds syndrome, and diabetes. Tingling, burning,or pins and needle sensations in the hands and toes are also common signs of circulatory issues and should be specifically addressed by your medical herbalist. A lack of oxygen to the tissues due to disrupted circulation can lead to a whitish or bluish hue to the fingers and toes; and when left untreated, gangrene may result from chronic contraction of the arteries.

Tips for Improving Circulation

  1. Cut out smoking! Many chemicals added to commercial tobacco are known carcinogens (known to be cancer causing) and are extremely damaging to the heart and circulatory system. It is understood that smoking contributes to elevated cholesterol levels by affecting the livers biofeedback mechanisms ~ mechanisms that regulate how much cholesterol is manufactured. Smoking is known to promote platelet aggregation (clumping) and increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  2. Decrease the consumption of tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks ~such as cola and red bull. Caffeine constricts blood vessels and decreases peripheral circulation, leading to a rise in blood pressure. A high intake of caffeine in tea or coffee promotes the ‘fight or flight’ response, raises the blood pressure and contributes to irritability.
  3. Replace the salt and pepper shaker with cayenne pepper powder. Use cayenne pepper to season your food and keep on the counter where you normally would keep the salt shaker. Traditionally, Cayenne is known to improve circulation and improve blood flow throughout the body.
  4. Add freshly chopped garlic to ones diet. Garlic is known for both enhancing immune system function and for its heart health benefits. Studies on garlic have shown it to be helpful for improving cholesterol levels and decrease the likelihood of platelet clumping.
  5. Keep fresh ginger in your pantry and chop, grate or slice the fresh root, adding it to soups, stews, stir fries or even herbal teas for an added spicy flavor. Ginger is known to improve circulation and blood flow to the hands and feet, traditionally used for chilblains, and gently easing the symptoms of frostbite.
  6. Herbal Teas are ideal for improving and supporting healthy circulation: Herbal teas such as ginger root, hawthorn berries, yarrow flowers, linden leaves, rosemary leaves, ginkgo leaves are all rich in flavonoids and have the effect of strengthening the walls of blood vessels, improving circulation and used long term for reducing hypertension.
  7. Reduce stress levels: Long term stress can cause a domino effect of health concerns in the body. Continuous stress increases the release of adrenalin into the blood stream, leading to a rise in blood pressure. Deep breathing techniques, stress management, regular exercise, yoga and tai chi can all go a long way to reduce the impact that stress plays on the body.
  8. Uncross your legs. Frequent leg crossing looks pleasing to the eye, but can hinder circulation, further contributing to broken veins and spider veins.
  9. Choose Movement! Instead of sitting for long periods of time, take a moment to raise up both legs off the floor and flex and point your toes OR take a time-out moment and walk. Sitting for long periods of time can decrease blood flowing to the peripheries and raise the risk of thrombosis ~ clot formations in veins deep within the body.
  10. Witch hazel water applied topically to the skin is cooling to local inflammation and promotes circulation.
  11. Consume buckwheat. This tasty grain is packed full of bioflavonoids which assist to enhance circulation.
  12. Horseradish: this spicy condiment is traditionally consumed to alleviate symptoms of sinus congestion and to improve poor circulation.
  13. Home remedies for circulatory issues: Due to direct exposure to the cold, chilblains can cause surface inflammation, itching and redness of the hands and feet. Traditional home remedies include rubbing the affected hands and feet with raw onion, or bathing in potato water, (hot water containing grated fresh potato). Apple cider vinegar is also used to improve circulation and used as a topical soak. Essential oils such as ginger, cypress, and release essential oil blend can be diluted in a base oil and rubbed topically on the hands and feet and areas of poor circulation.
  14. Traditionally, Gingko biloba has been used to increase the blood flow to the upper part of the body. Individuals on blood thinners should consult their medical herbalist prior to use.
  15. Regular exercise: Increasing the pumping mechanism of the heart is extremely important for cardiovascular health ~ as exercise enhances blood flow, improves the circulation of blood from the heart to the peripheries, helps reduce obesity and regulates blood pressure.
  16. Decrease the intake of trans fatty acids (bad fats contained in margarine, shortening, and most processed foods) and avoid deep fried and fatty foods; instead increase the intake on Omega 3 fatty acids in forms such as flax seed oil, fish oils, extra virgin olive oil increase the intake of deep sea- cold water fish such as: mackerel, herring, salmon and halibut ~ especially rich in Omega 3. Or take Nutra Sea Oil, a high quality fish oil supplement.
  17. Dry skin brushing aids poor circulation; use a vegetable bristle brush and begin brushing from the feet and work up towards the heart, brushing in a clockwise motion. Avoid brushing over areas of varicose veins, thin skin or open wounds.
  18. Increase the intake of fiber: fiber can help lower elevated cholesterol levels. Foods high in fiber include: psyllium seed powder, oat bran, brown rich, beans, onions, pears, peas, and broccoli.
  19. Coenzyme Q 10: helps to improve tissue oxygenation.
  20. Keep hands and feet warm in cold weather and wear gloves whenever possible.

Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary Essential OilRosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary essential oil is an effective topical application for clearing congestion in conditions of allergies, colds and flu,diluted in a steam or hot bath, it helps to open the sinus cavities. It is a stimulant used to enhance mental capacities and combat fatigue, uplift the spirits and used topically for aching muscles, arthritis, rheumatism or sports injuries. Topically it can be added to shampoo to help stimulate circulation to the scalp and for hair loss. Avoid use in pregnancy, if epileptic or suffer from high blood pressure.

Sunburn Sprizter

Soothing Summer Sunburn Blend

A soothing, cooling relief for the heat of a sunburn.

Mix all ingredients together in a spritzer bottle (100 ml or 4 ounce size). Shake well. Apply liberally. Keep cool and store in the fridge for added cooling effect. Do not ingest and keep the sprizter application away from the eyes.

For more information on herbal medicine, preparation and home use visit my website by clicking here and for ongoing encouragement, health tips, recipes and up to date information on herbal medicine, sign up for my newsletter Taking Charge of Your Health.

What are Essential Oils

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated organic compounds that are extracted from various plant parts, including flowers, trees, herbs, spices. Essential oil compounds are found in the leaves, wood, resin, fruit, flower blossoms, roots and buds of the plant.

The term aromatherapy has been in use since the early twentieth century; however the knowledge of essential oil extraction and application is an ancient art, used for centuries in India, Arabia and other countries for providing therapeutic effects to the mind and body alike.

The term “aroma” refers to the characteristic scent that essential oils contain and “therapy” referring to the healing modality; The ancient art of aromatherapy is based upon the principle that plant parts contain chemical constituents and a vital life force which impact our mind and body, assisting the body to heal itself in various ways.

Essential oils are pure, undiluted and very concentrated. With very few exceptions, essential oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil before applying to the skin and should only be taken internally when under the guidance and direction of a qualified health care practitioner. When used as directed, essential oils are non habit forming and non toxic.

Each essential oil contains different chemical components and hence each oil has different therapeutic properties. Essential oils can be used to enhance mental and physical wellbeing, alleviate some skin conditions, used as topical disinfectants, to repel bugs and insects, can assist the body in dealing with the effects of continued stress, aid sleeplessness, are antiseptic in nature and can help clear up stobborn warts, can help ease athletic injury, muscle cramping and minimise the effects of a cold, allergies or sinus congestion.

Essential oils are generally inhaled or absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream. When absorbed through the skin, essential oils can impact the function of internal organs, muscle tissue and support circulation. When inhaled, essential oils affect the olfactory and limbic systems in the brain which then has an effect on memory, learning capabilities, emotions and other intellectual processes.

Extraction Methods

Steam Distillation

Stream is the most common mode of extraction, used at a high pressure and passing through plant material it releases essential oils in to water vapor. The steam is then cooled back to water and the essential oils are then skimmed off the top surface of the water.

Expressed oils

Are created by pressing the oil directly out of the citrus fruit peel.

Solvent extraction

Chemical solvents are used to dissolve compounds out of delicate plant material to make absolutes. The chemical solvents are removed during the final stages of production, and are required when it is difficult to extract oil from the plant. This does not affect the quality of the oil, it simply means that the final product is more concentrated that other essential oils.

What are Carrier oils?

Also called base oils, these oils are used to dilute pure essential oils so they are safe for topical application on the skin. Grape seed oil, Almond oil, Avocado oil, Sesame oil, and Peach kernel oil are all excellent cold pressed, unscented base oils ideal for blending essential oils.

To purchase pure, undiluted essential oils click here.

This information is for education only and does not replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Home Use of Essential Oils

How to Use Essential Oils

Massage: First dilute the pure essential oil into a base oil, then pour into the palm of your hand and apply to the body for massage. Use 5-10 drops of pure essential oil to 125 ml of base oil.

Bath: Add 5-7 drops of essential oil dispersed throughout a warm bath for adults or use 2-3 drops for children to ease tension and promote relaxation.

Compress: To relieve aches and muscular pains, add 6 drops of essential oil into 100 ml of water. Dip a folded cloth or flannel into the warm water and apply topically to the skin or area to be treated.

Foot Bath: Add 4-6 drops into a bowl of warm water, stir water to spread oils evenly throughout and use as a foot soak, an excellent way to invigorate tired aching feet.

Inhalation: To clear up congested sinuses and provide relief from sinus pressure. Place 6-10 drops of essential oil is a bowl of boiling water. Take care not to burn yourself. Cover head with a towel and inhale the steam vapors or add 12 drops of essential oil to a handkerchief or tissue and inhale.

Perfume: Add an essential oil or your blend of choice to a base oil and apply to the skin

Light Bulb Ring: Place 2-4 drops of essential oils in a cool light bulb ring and attach to a light bulb. The heat of the light bulb gently releases the aroma into the environment.

Oil Burner: Burners have a lower compartment to hold a candle and an upper basin to fill with water and mix in 4-6 drops of essential oil. As the water is heated by the warmth of the candle and the scent is released into the air.

A great way to disinfect a room during the cold or flu season, or to gently release a tranquil aroma into a room.

Boiling water: In a pot of boiling water on the stove, add in 6-10 drops of essential oil; as the water boils, the steam containing the aroma of the oils will scent the house. Sauna Place 6-10 drops of essential oil on sauna rocks and inhale the steam.

Storage of essential oils

Keep bottles tightly closed. Essential oils are concentrated and flammable; store away from direct heat, open flame and ideally keep cold in the fridge. Keep out of reach from children and pets.

Precautions

  • Essential oils are completely derived from nature; they are also highly concentrated and need to be used mindfully.
  • Avoid contact with the eyes and mucous membranes.
  •  Dilute before using directly on the skin -irritation may occur when used undiluted.
  • Essential oils are for external use only. Do not use essential oils internally without specific consultation from a qualified medical practitioner.
  • Seek professional guidance prior to using essential oils if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, suffering from high blood pressure, have epilepsy, liver damage, any medical condition or have specific health questions.
  • A skin patch test should be conducted prior to using a new essential oil. If you experience any adverse reaction, discontinue immediately and seek professional advice.
  • Use extreme caution when using oils with children and give children only the gentlest oils, diluted, at extremely low concentrations. It is safest to consult a qualified medical practitioner before using with children.

To purchase essential oils click here.

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Lavender Essential Oil

Botanical / Latin Name: Lavendula angustifolia

Application: A steam distilled essential oil extracted from the flowering tops of the plant; Lavender is the most all-purpose essential oil, used to ‘calm and balance’ the emotions for symptoms of stress, anxiety and energy enhancement.

A decongestant and antiseptic oil useful for the winter months,with anti-inflammatory properties useful for headaches, earaches, toothaches.

THE indispensable first aid remedy for a first aid kit at home. Lavender essential oil offers relief from burns and scalds, enhances wound healing and helps to prevent scarring.

This is one of the few essential oils that is safe to apply topically to the skin without first diluting with a carrier oil.

For kitchen burns, apply Lavender essential oil directly to the area, frequently throughout the day to help prevent blistering, relieve inflammation and reduce the risk of infection.

Lavender Essential Oil helps to balance conditions of nervous system depletion, exhaustion and fatigue, while also, at the same time helps to calm down anxiousness, hyperactivity and irritability. Traditionally the essential oil was used for conditions of hysteria, shock, tension and migraines.

Insect repellent properties. Apply to the skin, use around the home or on a sundeck for its known insect repellent properties…Try dabbing neet onto an insect bite to relieve the itching.

Fragrance: the classic Lavender scent, deeply floral used to warm the emotions and open the heart.

Caution: Avoid during pregnancy, especially the first trimester.

Home Remedies: Scented Herb Pillows

Herb Pillows

Sachets filled with medicinal herbs add a subtle scent to a room and more importantly, many aromatic herbs are gently calming and sleep inducing, ideal to place by a pillow at night for a deeper sleep. Any aromatic herbs with nervine or relaxant properties can be used in a sachet.

Mix well and scoop into a cotton bag or muslin sachet.

Great for children and adults alike for stress and tension, the gentle scent will assist the body to unwind at night, and can also be used for its mild insect repellent properties.

To purchase herbal ingredients for eye pillows click here.