Essential Oils

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Resources for more information on Essential Oils

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Anise seed Oil: Pimpinella anisum.
Small dose stimulating, large dose can cause circulatory problems, stupor, coma and paralysis. Licorice-like scent. Used in "Fisherman's Soap" to hide human odor. *1

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Basil Ocimum basilicum'
Basil is considered helpful for mental and physical fatigue, aids in mental alertness, concentration. A good wake up oil, used in moderation. Helps ease sinus congestion. and headaches. Helpful against colds and congestion, as well as easing muscular aches and pains. Can reduce menstrual cramps. Avoid use if pregnant or if subject to seizures. There has been some concern about basil's normally high content of methyl chavicol can be a carcinogen. The evidence is far from in on that one, but, on the other hand, it is the phenol content that would make "regular" basil both as stimulating as it is, and also as irritating as it can be. A high Linalool Basil should be much less irritating, and less apt to keep you awake at night!. *1

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Bay (Pimenta racemosa)(West Indies Bay Leaf)
The base for traditional West Indies Bay Rum, this spicy EO is reputed to stimulate the scalp and promote hair growth, why it's been beloved of barbers for centuries. Also useful for muscle spasms and strains. Used to counteract depression and stress and nervous exhaustion. It is a possible sensitizer and dermal irritant, should be used in very dilute application. Avoid use on broken skin. *1

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Bergamot Citrus bergamia
Lovely green light citrus/floral note, fruity and warm,much used by perfumers as a top note. Encouraging, balancing to the spirit. Combats fatigue due to stress, tension and anxiety., Is reputed to strengthen the immune system. The flavoring in Earl Grey tea. Some authorities recommend it as a treatment for herpes, shingles, eczema and psoriasis, although much care must be used when applying it to the skin, due to the risk of photosensitivity. Never apply Bergamot to skin that will be exposed to the sun. Mixes well with other citrus oils, geranium, ylangylang as well as other florals, such as rose or neroli. Bergaptene-Free versions available to prevent photosensitization. *1

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Black Pepper Piper nigrum
Pepper is one of the very stimulating oils, wonderful in a pre-sports rub to loosen muscles, as well as in a pain reliever for overworked muscles. Emotionally it is alleged by some to be an aphrodisiac, and also is said to both increase self confidence and to be grounding and stabilizing. It is also a strong antibacterial and antiviral oil, warming and comforting for congestion, the flu, etc.. I'd use it in mild dilutions in massage due to it's potential as a skin irritant. *1

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Cassia Chinese cinnamon, Cinnamomum cassie. Both Leaf and Bark oil available.
Tested hazardous; a dermal irritant and sensitizer; a mucous membrane irritant, possibly toxic. Easily absorbed into the skin. Powerful antibacterial and antifungal oil. Inhaled it is a stimulant, warming and useful in combatting insomnia and depression. It has been used to treat scanty periods; induces menstruation. Avoid during pregnancy. *1

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Cedar Wood Cedrus atlanticus.
Excellent for easing the discomfort of any sort of respiratory ailment, either inhaled, or as a chest rub. Often used in treating seborrheac dandruff and acne. Can act as a diuretic, as well as an expectorant. Often used in blends to combat cellulite. Emotionally, Cedarwood oil can calm anxiety, and help diffuse fear. I've used it in 'confidence building' blends. And your grandmother would remind you that it is a wonderful moth repellent. I keep some in the closet where we store winter clothing. Should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or heart problems. It blends well with Rosemary, Basil, Eucalyptus and Chamomile. *1

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Chamomile (German) Marticaria chamomilla (Blue Chamomile) Organic, Hungary, blossoms only.
Deep blue oil. Most effective used in a carrier oil and applied to the skin. This Chamomile is traditionally the EO of choice for treating irritated or inflamed skin. I know of nothing better to add to a blend for infected skin, acne, I put it in my grandbaby's baby oil, along with Lavender. I also have blended it with Yarrow and Helichrysum to use as a massage blend for irritated/inflamed muscles. *1

Also known as azulene (where its gets its blue color). An essential oil distilled from flowers of Matricaria chamomilla, or German chamomile. One of its major components, chamazulene, is an effective anti-inflammatory that encourages healing. Another component, bisabolol, is a powerful antiseptic and antimicrobial. This oil also contains flavonoids, plant acids, fatty acids, amino acids, polysaccharides, salicylate derivatives, choline, and tannin. Azulene is extremely soothing to the skin and has a distinctive smell, much like fresh hay. Only tiny amounts of this powerful essential oil need to be used for product effectiveness. Aromatherapists use it as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antidepressant, antifungal and disinfectant. Excellent for the treatment of dry, reddened, burned, or sensitive skin. *3

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Chamomile (Roman) Anthemis Nobilis Organic, Italy.
I prefer to use Roman Chamomile for inhalation, as a sedative or pain reliever. I will reach for German Chamomile for inflamed skin. Roman Chamo is wonderful for insomnia caused by stress or tension, for relieving intestinal spasms, helpful for inflamed joints and muscle or joint pain. It's a wonderfully calming pain and stress reliever. Both Chamomiles are strong sedatives, wonderful for stress relief. Both have strong anti-inflamatory properties, although the azulene that gives German chamomile its deep blue color makes it more effective for soothing irritated skin. Both are useful to combat pain of arthritis and/or menstrual cramps, as well as insomnia and headaches. I tend to use the German Chamomile for skin disorders, and the Roman for internal 'aches and pains', while either will work wonderfully for relaxing and summoning sleep. *1

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Cinnamon Bark, Cinnamon Leaf. Cinnamomum zeylanicum.
Essential oil distilled from inner bark or from leaves and twigs. *1

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Cistus (Rock Rose) Cistus landaniferus
Rock rose has a warming, slightly spicy aroma. Emotionally, it is supposed to warm what is frozen. It is said to stimulate lymph drainage, and to be astringent in skin care; helpful in treating acne. It is another ancient spiritual oil, with a history of being used in incense as an aid to meditation and centering. *1

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Clove Bud Eugenia caryophyllata
Clove oil tests out as hazardous, both a dermal and mucous membrane irritant and sensitizer. It can cause dermatitis when used on the skin. If you must use it on the skin, make sure it is highly diluted, avoid use on sensitive or damaged skin. Clove is a stimulant for mind, body and memory. It aids fatigue and depression when diffused in the air, is a powerful anti-fungal and anti-viral agent, as well as a stimulant for the immune system. It is a traditional remedy for the pain of a toothache. *1

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Coriander Coriandrum sativum, seeds
sweet/spicy scent. It can stimulate appetite, ease indigestion, and relieve neuralgia. Useful as both an antispasmodic and anti-inflamatory. More gently stimulating than most spice oils *1

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Clary Sage Salvia sclarea
(Do not confuse with common sage (Salvia Officinalis) which is much stronger and has very different properties.) Clary is believed by many to have hormonal properties which can help balance menstrual and menopausal difficulties, making it a perfect partner with Geranium. It's a superb balancing oil both emotionally and physically. Can balance extreme emotions, reducing stress and restore inner tranquility. It can produce a state of euphoria and has been used as an aphrodisiac. I find it wonderful for any stress related disorder and personally use it to combat depression. Avoid use during pregnancy, and don't use while consuming alcohol, as it is known to increase the effects of alcohol. It blends well with Sandalwood, Chamomile, Rose,and the lighter citrus oils, as well as the aforementioned Geranium. *1

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Cypress Cupressus sempervirens
Cypress is a known astringent, and may be useful for circulatory and respiratory problems. It is often used in blends to ease arthritis pain. Can ease the pain of aching muscles or menstrual cramps. Stimulates circulation. Emotionally, it is comforting in case of loss and grief. It is alleged to increase concentration. Blends well with Bergamot, most citrus oils, Clary and Juniper. Sandalwood and Cypress can be a lovely blend. *1

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Evening Primrose
See Evening Primrose profile by Gaylin Walli 6/5/98

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Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus Australia,
Eucalyptus is best known for its respiratory effects. It fights viruses and bacteria, while easing congestion. It also eases muscle and joint aches and pains. It stimulates circulation, increasing the flow of blood to affected areas. Eucalyptus can be mentally stimulating and may help increase concentration. As far as blending goes, Eucalyptus is going to dominate any blend it's used in, so it should be blended with essentials that contribute to the effect you want to achieve. Frankincense compliments its respiratory effects. Bergamot, blended with Eucalyptus, can reduce the discomfort of cold sores, herpes outbreaks, and shingles. The combination is reputed to be very effective against that specific virus. *1

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Eucalyptus Peppermint Eucalyptus dives Australia
This species of Eucalyptus is also effective for respiratory problems. It has a slightly less overwhelming odor than the 'standard' euc. globulus, with a trace of peppermint scent in it. very effective for sinus relief. However, it is very high in Ketones, is a possible neurotoxin, and should only be used under specialized conditions. Also can be an abortive. *1

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Frankincense Boswellia carterii
It can act as an expectorant, soothing congestion. It is a wonderful oil to blend into facial creams or oils for aging skin. It also provides a wonderful base note for perfume blending. Frankincense has traditionally been used for spiritual growth. It is believed to have a centering effect on the emotions. It can slow respiration, thus helping your body calm and center itself. It's a wonderfully calming oil. I've found that it blends well with Orange and Neroli. It tends to 'soften' any sharply scented oil blended with it. It seems to blend well with any of the woods, or spices. *1

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Geranium Pelargonium graveolens
A "woman's oil", geranium is believed by many to have a hormonal balancing effect and traditionally has been used to alleviate problems associated with menopause and menstruation. It also acts as a diuretic. It can lower blood sugar, and should be avoided if you are hypoglycemic. The word that comes to mind is "balance", especially for its emotional effects. It blends well with Clary, Rose, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Lavender, and Chamomile, among others. Some varieties are strongly rose scented; range of aromas can vary immensely so always sample before buying. *1

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Ginger, Zingiber officinale
A strong, sweet spicy scent, and wonderfully soothing for aching joints and muscles, or an upset tummy. It can be irritating to the skin so be sure to dilute it. It is a wonderful ingredient in massage blends for aching muscles, or as a warming ingredient in a 'chest rub' for a cold or flu. It can be an aphrodisiac and has been used by some to treat male impotence. Ginger blends well with the citrus oils, and the woods or resins. *1

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Pink Grapefruit Citrus paradisii
Energizing and uplifting. At this price you can't afford not to sample some! Grapefruit is recommended by some authorities for treating eating disorders, both anorexia and overeating, when they stem from lack of self esteem. It seems to create a feeling of internal buoyancy. It's also helpful in treating oily skin and hair, and is often recommended as part of anti cellulite blends because of its toning and astringent effects. *1

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Helichrysum (Italian Everlasting, Immortelle) Helichrysum Italicum
The steam distilled oil of the Italian Everlasting is one of the strongest anti-inflamatories I know. I use it in all my skin blends, and have been known to use it neat on bad bruises. It smells vaguely honey-like, with faint floral undertones. (another hard to describe one!). It is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It is a component of antiacne blends, as well as useful in any rash or skin irritation. Mentally, it is very supportive and comforting. It is believed by some to open the right side of the brain and improve creativity as well as increase dream activity. It is also used in meditation blends to encourage spirituality and personal growth. It is considered by some to be one of the 'sacred' oils *1

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Juniper Berry Juniperus communis
Extracted from Juniper Berries only, Juniper Oil has a wonderfully crisp, green odor. And yes, it smells like gin. Juniper is said to clean the atmosphere of a room, and assist with meditation. Physically, it is a diuretic and is often included in anti-cellulite blends. It may be helpful with arthritis and rheumatism. Do not use during pregnancy. I like it blended with a touch of lemon, or with sandalwood, cypress. or frankincense. There are Juniper oils available that are produced from branches only...needles and twigs, no berries. They lack the clarity and effectiveness of the oil produced from berries. *1

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Lavandin
This is NOT a true lavender; it results from a cross of Lavender vera and Spike Lavender, sometimes known as Aspic. It's aroma is a blend of floral and medicinal. It is helpful for easing aches and pains, a prime migraine remedy, The Lavandin Super is also a good alternative treatment for acne, and skin diseases that don't respond well to true Lavenders. It has been recommended as the oil of choice for scabies and other infectious skin diseases. It is a good addition to cold and flu remedies with its proven germ killing ability, as well as its ability to stimulate teh respiratory system and ease breathing. Please do not use Lavandin as a relaxant the way true lavenders are used. It is definitely a stimulant, not a relaxant. *1

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Lavender Lavender vera
Lavender has a score of 'first aid' uses: burns, minor abrasions, skin problems of all sorts. It is a powerful anti fungal and anti-viral oil, as well, of course, as anti-bacterial. The only essential oil that I will recommend using neat, it is a 'first aid kit in a bottle.' Add it to sore muscle blends, put it in the bath for relaxation; scent bed linens with it for a peaceful night's sleep. *1

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LAVENDER 40/42
A blend of various strains of lavenders, lavandins, spike lavender, and possibly chemicals from other essential oils to give a consistent and stable result year after year. Developed for the cosmetic, perfume and soap industries, not effective for aromatherapy. *1

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Lemon Citrus limon Peel only.
Tart, tangy true lemon aroma. Lemon Oil is a strong germicide and astringent, a wonderful air disinfectant and freshener. I use it in cleaning solutions all the time for its clean scent and disinfecting action. It has fever reducing action as well as its effective germicidal action, so it's a good oil to use to aid in treating colds and fevers. Lemon oil stimulates the immune system, and stimulates circulation. Is a key component in most anti-cellulite blends. It has a toning effect on oily skin and hair, but must be used properly diluted as it may irritate sensitive skin. Lemon, like many of the other citrus oils, may cause photosensitivity. It blends well with any of the coniferous oils, with most spice oils, and with other citrus oils. *1

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Lemongrass
Astringent, often added to shampoos for dandruff, greasy hair. good for study, visual concentration. Best used in a burner as many people find it is irritating to the skin. *1

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Litsea Cubeba Oil Picture
Litsea cubeba oil is steam-distilled from the small pepper-like fruits of a plant commonly called May Chang. It is a shrub or tree of the Laurel family with fragrant flowers, fruits and deciduous leaves up to four inches long. It grows wild and is cultivated from northeastern India to South Vietnam. All parts possess a pleasant lemon scent. The delightfully fragrant flowers are used for flavoring tea and they also yield an essential oil prized in perfume blending. The young fruits are also fragrant and peppery-tasting. They resemble and are used as a substitute for Cubeb Pepper (Piper cubeba of the Pepper family). May Chang fruit is especially employed as a seasoning to overcome the strong odor and taste of old goat's meat and not-so-fresh fish. A small amount of the alkaloid laurotetanine in the bark, leaves and fruit renders them slightly toxic. The taste is pleasant and it is used with Lemon and other scents as a room freshener. 9/9/98 *2

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Mandarine Citrus nobilis, Italy.
Similar in uses to Tangerine, but much more tart in aroma, Mandarine is gentle enough to use with young children and during pregnancy. It is a good antiseptic to use as a room spray. It is a good toner for oily or acnied skin. Emotionally, it is considered a calming influence, and helpful in doing inner child work. Phototoxic, do not apply before going out in the sun. *1

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Sweet Marjoram Origanum marjorana flowers and leaves
Marjoram's aroma is slightly spicy, warm and soothing. It blends well with orange, eucalyptus (softening it, somewhat) and lavender. I sometimes blend it with Clary. Marjoram has been used to lower high blood pressure. It warms the skin, where applied, and is the most effective antispasmodic I know. As such it can ease pains of arthritis, cramped muscles, muscle spasms, and menstrual cramps. It has a calming, slightly sedative action and can be effective against some types of migraines. It can stimulate menstrual flow, and thus should never be used during pregnancy. Long term use can permanently decrease sexual desire. It mixes well with lavender or rosewood for a very relaxing bath. *1

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Myrrh Commiphora myrrha resin, steam-distilled.
Myrrh, another of the ancient 'sacred oils' has been used as an astringent for thousands of years. It clears extra mucous from the lungs and is useful for helping 'dry out' respiratory problems. It can help ease the itching and irritation of weeping eczema, and helps fight the fungus that causes jock strap itch. It is an excellent treatment for gum diseases and sores in the mouth. I use it neat on cold sores. It is said to stimulate menstrual flow, and thus should be avoided during pregnancy. *1

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Neroli Citrus aurantium, flowers Tunisia
Distilled from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree, Neroli's aroma is a wonderful blend of floral with undertones of citrus. It is lovely by itself, or blends well with rose, bergamot, or other citrus oils. Emotionally, Neroli can help calm anxiety, and relieve depression. Neroli can help balance both oily and dry skin, since it has an sebum-balancing effect. *1

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Orange Citrus aurantium USA, Florida, Cold Pressed,
The essential oil of the Sweet Orange is delightfully bright and cheery. Used in the aroma lamp, it brightens the atmosphere of a room. Blended with any of the spice or coniferous oils it makes a wonderful holiday blend. Orange is refreshing and relaxing. It can cause photosensitivity so be careful of applying to the skin prior to exposure to sunlight. It is generally considered mild enough for use with small children. *1

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Palma Rosa Cymbopogon Martini Nepal, Wild
A product of a sweet smelling tropical grass, Palma Rosa smells like a blend of Rose and/or Geranium Oil. Many dealers sell it as "Rose Geranium" so check the Latin name on any Rose Geranium you buy, odds are it is really Palma Rosa. Palma Rosa is very effective in blends for treating various skin conditions as it helps balance production of sebum, thus being useful for both extremely dry and oily skin. It blends beautifully with geranium, emphasizes the scent of Rose in any blend, works well with lavender. Emotionally, it is said to aid in the release of anger and grief. I have occasionally found it useful in a PMS blend. *1

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Patchouli Pogostemon patchouli
Patchouli, oil of the 60's is an effective anti-inflamatory for the skin, helpful in healing cracked or inflamed skin, acne, dermatitis and eczema. It is said to tone and tighten the skin, and is used in many anti-wrinkle blends. At the same time it helps regulate oily skin and dandruff. Some authorities say it is useful in appetite suppressant blends and, .with its skin toning qualities, in combatting cellulite. It is an excellent base note for perfume blends, and is generally considered an aphrodisiac. In small quantities it has a mildly sedative effect, while in large quantities it may be stimulating. *1

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Rosewood (Bois de Rose) Aniba roseodora
Rosewood, with its rich floral aroma, can be an aphrodisiac, an antidepressant, and a general balancer to the emotions. In skin care, it is said to stimulate new cell growth, regenerate tissues and help minimize lines and wrinkles. It helps balance both dry and oily skin, and can prove helpful against acne. Some authorities say it has a hormonal effect, not unlike that claimed for rose and for geranium. It blends well with both of these oils. *1

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Sage, Dalmation, Salvia officinalis Blossoms & Leaves
Sage is an oil to be treated with respect. With overuse it can be toxic, and other EO's can be as effective. However it is a useful oil both for inflamed and oily skin and hair; there are those who claim it is useful in stimulating hair growth, treating both baldness and alopecia. It can be helpful in easing arthritis and painful muscles, there are also those who say it is helpful in treating palsy, as well as various types of joint pain. It is an immune stimulant and can raise blood pressure. AVOID during PREGNANCY and HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE! *1

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Sandalwood Santalum album Mysore, India
This rich and sweet scented oil is known as an aid to meditation, a spiritual order, and, oddly enough, an aphrodisiac. It acts as a tonic to the immune system, is often used in treating urinary tract problems. Maggie Tisserand says that it is effective against Strep. It balances both dry and oily skin, is useful in treating acne, and useful in soothing barber's rash. Emotionally, it relaxes stress, soothes irritation, and lifts depression. It is a wonderfully balancing oil. The Indian Government has banned the export of this oil until the trees have had a chance for regrowth, so there is a very limited amount of true Mysore Sandalwood available. *1

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Spikenard Nardostachys jatamansi
One of the oldest of the sacred oils, Narde is the ointment mentioned in the New Testament. Mary Magdalene is supposed to have used it to anoint her master's feet. It has traditionally been a part of the incense used in many religious traditions. From a spiritual aspect, it is believed to inspire devotion and add to inner peace. There are those who say it aids in finding their inner balance, spiritually and emotionally. It is an essential oil in any spiritual blend. Narde has been used for millennium as a healing agent for skin disturbances, and as a beauty aid to maintain youthful skin. As a relative of valerian, it may be useful in treating insomnia and migraines. I use it primarily as part of 'inner journeying' blends. *1

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Spruce (Black) Picea Mariana Canada,
Emotionally, I find it freeing and uplifting. Stimulating mentally. My resources recommend it for mental and physical exhaustion, say that it is grounding as well as stimulating. It is recommended for relief of both stress and anxiety. Physically, I have seen it recommended for muscle aches and pains, aching joints, poor circulation, muscle spasms. It also could be helpful for bronchitis or asthma. I use it just because I love having it in the atmosphere! *1

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Tagetes Tagetes glandulifera
Flowers of the common French or African Marigold supply this oil. (Don't confuse it with Calendula, another marigold oil with very different properties!) Because of its high ketone content, it needs to be used with respect. It is also a powerful photosensitizer. Shirley Price says it is effective against fungal infections of the foot, and against Candida (and that it deters houseflies!) Worwood recommends it for treating corns, callouses and other disorders of the foot. It should not be used in pregnancy or with small children. *1

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Tangerine Citrus reticulata
Tangerine is a delightful alternative to Orange Oil, a bit lighter when used in a blend. Emotionally, it is cheering and strengthening. Pregnant women and young children seem to enjoy it. I use it in a room spray or the aroma lamp with a touch of basil to keep me "up." It makes a good substitute for Mandarin Oil and vice versa. I tend to use the two interchangeably. As with all the citrus oils, beware of photosensitivity. *1

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Tea Tree Melaleuca Alternifolia Australia
Tea Tree has won a reputation as a 'cure-all' because of its powerful antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. It's the first suggestion for athlete's foot and other fungal infections. Often used in antiacne remedies, as well as in diffuser to combat the flu and other viral infections. *1

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Thyme, var LINALOL Thymus vulgaris linalool
This is the gentlest of the Thyme cultivars. It is considered anti-bacterial, and anti-infectious, as well as being a fungicide. I am told that aromatherapists trained in Europe consider this chemotype safe for internal use, and effective against gastritis, upset stomach, as well as intestinal conditions such as staph, candida and intestinal parasites. Since the oils are not used internally in the United States I am not recommending this, just passing along what I have read in the literature. *1

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Vetiver Vetivera zizanoides
Honey textured and coloured, this thickest of Essential Oils is the perfect base oil to anchor a blend. I use it to smooth and sweeten some of my blends, since vetiver is less apt to 'take over' a blend than some of the other base notes. Emotionally, vetiver is very grounding and balancing; I value it for this. It is also very relaxing, a mild sedative, useful for stress. I've seen it recommended in treatments for Anorexia; and have read that it stimulates production of red blood cells and that it is useful for 'aches and pains.' It balances sebum production, so is useful in treating both oily and dry skin. *1

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Yarrow Achillea milleflorum Canada, flower, wild.
Very useful for balancing oily skin or scalp, used in treating seborrhea. Said to encourage hair growth (as is Rosemary!) Said by some to act on bone marrow to ease rheumatoid arthritis. Circulatory stimulant, may ease cramps, menstrual problems, and constipation. To be avoided by those with "weed dermatitis". Avoid in pregnancy, with babies or small children. *1

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Ylang Ylang Cananga Odorata Indonesia, Ylang Ylang Bourbon
Reminiscent of Jasmine in aroma, the so-called 'Flower of Flowers' is sweet and exotically floral. It is known in Asia as an antidepressant, relaxing to body, mind and spirit, as well as an aphrodisiac. It is said to calm anger, release tension, lift depression and generally stabilize mood swings. YlangYlang mixed with jasmine or rose has been used to treat sexual difficulties, especially those stemming from lack of confidence. Physically, it has been used to lower blood pressure, ease muscle spasms and tense muscles, and treat PMS and menopausal symptoms. In a facial oil or cream, it can help balance sebum production and is most helpful to oily skin. It also can fight the bacteria that often contribute to acne. There are many different distillations of YlangYlang available on today's market. *1

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Sources:
  1. Copyright 1997 M.G.Clark, Nature's Gift Aromatherapy
    Marge
  2. The Aromatherapy Book by Jeanne Rose
  3. Roxy

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