May 14, 2021
My Daily Routine to help with Overthinking
Thoughts flying around my head, jumping from one thing to another.. the should do this.. I should have done that ..I have to do that…. I am the queen of overthinking! It makes it harder for me to focus when I’m working and ruminating over what may never happen is a favourite pastime of mine.
Over time there are a few things that help me to settle my mind.. it’s a bit like dealing with a toddler.. distraction and some routine go a long way!
Here are few things that work for me.. and of course, essential oils are in there too!
A daily routine
Starting the day with a 20 minute online Pilates. I don’t do it every day but it is worth it. Just stretching and toning leaves me feeling calmer and not so guilty about those stomach muscles.
I follow it with a walk. My day never goes well if I don’t go for a walk first thing. It clears my head and just lets me step out myself for 40 minutes. I do live by the sea which is always a treat. The light during the month of May is stunning. I went for a walk at 10 pm last night and the sky was magical.
The Calm meditation app
I try to do it every day and make myself sit still for 10 minutes.. some days are better than others but the narrator’s voice is so comforting – the one I could listen to all day is Tamara Levitt.
A cup of coffee
I was lucky enough to live in Florence many years ago and it gave me a love for strong coffee in the morning. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel! The smell, the taste, and using my favourite cup.. all combine to hit the right level of serotonin. If the weather is good, I walk through the garden to see what’s happening with the flowers. This Spring has been such a joy and has really helped me get through this never-ending lockdown in Ireland.
An Essential Oil
Ah… I had to get to an essential oil.
When I am doing my meditation. I like to choose an oil and put a couple of drops on a tissue and breathe it in .. a favourite to calm the mind is frankincense – boswellia carteri
Grown wild in Somalia and distilled from the resin of the tree, the frankincense I use has a haunting deeply spiritual fragrance – woody, spicy with a hint of citrus.
I love the way it calms the mind and clears the head. This ancient and mystical oil has the ability to both relax and revitalise, and I find it perfect to ease nervous tension and exhaustion. It is one of the oils I use a lot and will go to in times of stress and anxiety especially when it is hard to switch off after a tough day.
it’s a key ingredient in my bestselling REST pulsepoint oil and part of the reason why people love that blend. Frankincense works well with orange, bergamot, and neroli. I also like it with lavender and vetiver in the evening time. Try it in a diffuser – choose 2 of these other oils with the frankincense and a total of 8 drops together in a diffuser. You could use the same recipe in an egg cup of almond oil or sunflower oil and use it as a body or bath oil.
Whatever way you use it, frankincense is a wonderful way to relax and ease overthinking. Try it and let me know.
March 16, 2020
Practical Tips & Recipes during this Stressful Time with Covid-19
These joyful, star-shaped flowers popped up in my garden this week… Spring is always a time for hope.
Many of you have been in contact over the last week or so, asking about a recipe for a home-made hand sanitiser and also which essential oils are good to use during this stressful time.
I have been looking at the body of clinical research which investigates the anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties of essential oils. The evidence is very encouraging for those of us involved in clinical aromatherapy who see the benefits every day but recognise the need for further research. Here is an informative systematic review on the use of essential oils and clinical studies.
A Pharmacist colleague in Turkey, Asli Yazicioglu, is also a clinical aromatherapist. She has written an interesting article about essential oils and the coronavirus.
It is well worth a read. it is easier to read with google translate!
However, as Asli points out, the COVID-19 is an unknown virus and there is currently no vaccine, medication or essential oil that has been proven scientifically to be effective. We can only hope that the international scientific community can develop a vaccine as soon as possible.
The MOST important thing we can do
Every medic, pharmacist or scientist I talk to says over and over, WASH YOUR HANDS! I know it seems obvious at this stage, but keep washing your hands with soap and water, It is your best action to prevent the spread of the virus. Was going to put a link to the World Health Organisation (WHO) video #handwashchallenge…but then I saw the one with Gloria Gaynor..
Hand sanitisers are only for when you are out and about.
They need to be high in alcohol which, although very drying on your hands, they play a vital role in creating an effective formulation.
A recipe for an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
I am mindful of the severity of the current situation regarding COVID-19 and I am following the official guidelines and any formula for a hand sanitiser must contain a minimum of 60% alcohol to be effective. Guided by the WHO and through discussions with chemists, I have made up a hand sanitising formula. If you don’t think you will make it, scroll down to the ways you can use essential oils at home for some tips and recipes.
To make 50ml bottle with spray
35ml of rubbing alcohol such as isopropyl alcohol
0.5ml ( ½ teaspoon) glycerine – this is hydrating
14-15ml approx. – Distilled water – boiled water cooled down in a sterile glass jar if you don’t have access to distilled water.
(Hydrogen Peroxide is recommended for larger quantities to protect the formula but not needed for this small quantity which will be used in a short time.)
As a clinical aromatherapist, I believe that essential oils are very beneficial, and I have added essential oils to the above formula. These are oils which have been researched for their anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties and have been used culturally for generations in their country of origin.
Add 15 drops in total.
Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Lemon – 4 drops of each
3 drops of Lavender.
Shake well. Spray once onto the palm of the hands. Rub gently.
www.bomar.ie supply oils, bottles, glycerine and alcohol.
Irish essential oil suppliers:
Using Essential Oils at Home
Complement your keeping clean regime by using essential oils in your home. Here are some ideas:
I think every home should have a room diffuser. In a well-ventilated area, it can be used at intervals to clean the air, boost the mood and provide some protection and support.
It also empowers you as you are taking action for yourself and your family. It is difficult for parents with children out of school and those working from home in a confined space. Anything that will lift the mood, ease stress and cleanse the air is good. I see as a valuable tool to use in everyday life.
Use a combination of 6-8 drops of essential oil in the water of a diffuser. Switch on for 40-60 minutes maximum and repeat at 3 intervals during the day.
First thing in the morning, I make what I call my “Warrior” oils which are anti-bacterial and antiseptic. Create your unique aroma and experiment with the balance of drops of each oil you choose.
Here is a list of the “Warriors”:
Tea- Tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, Thyme, Sweet Marjoram, Ravintsara, Niaouli, Bergamot, Clove, Peppermint.
3 drops of either Ravintsara or Eucalyptus
2 drops Lemon
2 drops of Lavender
1 drop of Thyme
For later in the day, to create a calming atmosphere, I would suggest the following oils: Again, 6-8 drops in total.
Sweet Orange, Mandarin, Neroli, Frankincense, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Lavender, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Rose and Jasmine.
2 drops of Vetiver
3 drops of Bergamot
3 drops of sweet orange
Kitchen Cleaning Spray
I use this recipe all the time to clean countertops, computer keyboards and screens, tabletops. Here is the link for the kitchen cleaning spray:
Car/ Room Spray
Make your car a clean and aromatic space. This spray also works as a bathroom or room spray.
Nothing beats a 15-minute soak in the bath to De-Stress. If you don’t have a bath, a foot bath is a good alternative.
Use any combination of the calming oils listed above in the Diffuser section. I would suggest 3 maximum. Put 6 drops of essential oil into one tablespoon ( or an egg cup) of sweet almond or sunflower oil. Add to a pre-run bath or a cup of Epsom Salts and then add to bath. Hop in and breathe in the aroma….. Divine! Epsom salts contain magnesium which is a wonderful muscle relaxant…
Use the same recipe for a foot soak.
Face and Body Massage
Use your favourite oils and lotions to do some gentle self-massage at the end of the day. It is a lovely way to unwind before sleep. I use my facial oil every night as a before-bed ritual.
If you want to have more information I have a full list of oils to use at home: https://floraplusfiona.com/10-essential-essential-oils-for-your-home/
Don’t forget to boost your immune system by a keeping to a healthy diet, with lots of walking in nature and 7-8 hours sleep.
Sending you all warm wishes for a safe and healthy time ahead.
January 30, 2018
Frankincense – The Mystical Oil
Bringing some Calm
Frankincense – Boswellia Carteri
A haunting deeply spiritual fragrance – woody, spicy with a hint of citrus
A key ingredient in my REST rollerball oil, Frankincense is very powerful oil. I love the way it calms the mind and clears the head. This ancient and mystical oil has the ability to both relax and revitalise, perfect to alleviate nervous tension and exhaustion. It is one of the oils I use a lot and and will go to in times of stress and anxiety especially when it is hard to switch off after a tough day.
It also has the advantage of being a wonderful for nourishing and rejuvenating the skin and is used in many cosmetic products.
ORIGINS – Some of the history
The Frankincense tree originates mainly in Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and the Lebanon. The resin oozes from the bark of the tree and is distilled into an essential oil.
The word Frankincense means “real incense” sometimes called Olibanum meaning oil from the Lebanon. In ancient Egypt it was burned as an offering to the Gods and is used to this day in many religions for ritual and meditation. Historically it was valued nearly as much as gold, hence in Christianity, it was a gift from the Three Kings to the infant Jesus.
In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:
- Naturally Sedative
- Helps to ease breathing difficulties
- Clears the lungs of mucous membranes, eases coughs and bronchitis
EMOTIONAL & ENERGETIC QUALITIES
- Brings a sense of calm and peace to the mind and body
- Deeply relaxing and soothing
- Can revitalise by clearing the head and easing a cluttered mind
WHEN I USE FRANKINCENSE OIL
- If I feel anxious, I put 2 drops on a tissue – and breathe in during the day. You can also leave the oil infused tissue by your pillow. It is very soothing when mixed with drop of lavender or orange oils.
- If I have a cough, I will put 3 drops of Spike Lavender and 4 drops of Frankincense into a bowl of hot water (not too hot!) Place a towel over your head and the bowl, close your eyes and breathe. Do this for about 5 deep breaths twice a day. It really helps. The lavender is also analgesic which can help ease the pain. The drops can also be added to 20ml of sunflower oil and used as a chest rub.
- It can also create a lovely calming atmosphere in the evening pre-bedtime. I would put 4 drops in a room diffuser and add something like Bergamot or Lavender (2 drops of each) to create a beautifully fragrant space. Experiment with the oils you like but remember nothing too stimulating in the evening. e.g. no Rosemary or Eucalyptus or Tea Tree
- For a facial and neck massage, I sometimes add about 3 drops of Frankincense to rosehip oil (approx. 20ml) and gently massage face and neck. It is lovely treatment to give yourself after a bath or warm shower. Ancient Egyptians used it as a face mask to rejuvenate the skin!
Not to be used undiluted on the skin.
As an inhalation it is non–irritating and well tolerated by adults.
Not suitable for children under 5
I you would like to look at the other precious botanical oils in my REST oil, click here.
August 30, 2017
Spotlight on Sweet Marjoram
Botanical Name (origanum majorana)
Marjoram, commonly known as sweet marjoram, is a green bushy plant native to the Mediterranean region but can be found in most herb gardens. It has a woody herbaceous aroma.
Sweet, warm and protective are the words that best describe sweet marjoram for me.
It is naturally anti-septic and contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol which has anti- inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
In a recent clinical study into the chemical content, antibacterial and antioxidant properties of marjoram essential oil, it was concluded that the essential oils of marjoram may be an alternative source of natural antibacterial and antioxidant agents.*
I chose sweet marjoram as a companion to my “warrior” oils – ravintsara and niaouli in my Carry-on Travel oil.
Sweet marjoram has been used since Ancient Times as a culinary and medicinal herb,
17th century physician and herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper wrote of sweet marjoram,
“Our common sweet marjoram is warming and comforting in cold diseases of the head and stomach sinews”.
The Ancient Greeks called it the ‘funeral’ herb and planted it on graves to bring spiritual peace to both the living and the dead. It was also seen to represent peace and harmony and was used to make wreaths.
WHEN I USE IT
Firstly, sweet marjoram oil is wonderful to ease abdominal cramps or trapped wind. Put 5 drops of the oil in a tablespoon of sweet almond, coconut or sunflower oil and massage gently in circular movements in a clockwise direction on the abdomen. Cover with a warm hot water bottle and relax. It really helps to soothe the cramps**
Good for period cramps too.
The same formula can be applied to aching joints but I would add lavender to the mix for extra anti-inflammatory effects and pain relief.
To aid relaxation and promote sleep, lavender and sweet marjoram work really well together. I put 3 drops of each oil into an egg cup of sunflower, jojoba or sweet almond oil and add to a pre-run warm bath or use as a bedtime massage oil**
I use sweet marjoram frequently when cooking due to its high anti-oxidant properties. It is a good addition when cooking pulses. Helps to ease the ‘wind factor’!
In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:
EMOTIONAL & ENERGETIC QUALITIES
Brings a sense of calm and peace.
It helps to aid mental and emotional fatigue or ‘overthinking’ by settling any nervous tension and anxiety. It is a comfort to the lonely or those suffering from grief.
Non-sensitising and non-irritating to the skin.
Do not use directly on the skin but blend with a carrier oil ( e.g. sweet almond, coconut, sunflower, jojoba etc..)
Not to be used when pregnant.
* Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28375110
**Not to be used when pregnant.
August 3, 2017
Spotlight on Powerful Ravintsara
Botanical Name (Cinnamonum Camphora Cineoliferum)
A key ingredient in my Carry-on Travel Oil is Ravintsara oil. A Native of Madagascar, this powerful oil is distilled from the leaves or this great rainforest tree. It has a fresh, medicinal aroma. I use it often and see it as the great protector.
I discovered Ravintsara oil 9 years ago when a friend brought me a bottle back from a trip to Madagascar. This mysterious island with its unique flora and fauna has always had a fascination for me and the oil itself was a revelation.
Just by smelling it you get the sense that the strong ‘punchy’ aroma is powerful. In its chemistry it contains an oxide called 1,8 cineole that is historically known to be anti-viral, anti- bacterial and an immune stimulant. This oxide is also found in more common oils such as Eucalyptus and Tea Tree.
Historically, it holds a place in traditional folk medicine in Madagascar. The ravintsara leaves were used to fight flu, headaches and infections. Known by the Magasy people as “gold leaf” – The bark and leaves were burnt for their aroma or used as a tea to fight infections.
In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:
- Anti- viral
- Anti – bacterial
- Immune stimulant
- Headache relief
EMOTIONAL & ENERGETIC QUALITIES
I call it The Warrior Oil – It is stimulating. It boosts energy and positivity. It makes you feel protected. Also helps to calm and soothe the nerves.
WHEN I USE IT
If you feel you are getting a cold, put 2 drops on a tissue – and breathe in during the day. You can also leave the oil infused tissue at your desk by your computer screen.
It is also a very good to kick start the day. Put a few drops on the floor of your shower before you step in. It will really wake you up!
When I am travelling, I bring Ravintsara and Bergamot oils. As soon as I check in to a hotel, I put hot water the hand basin, sprinkle 3 drops of each oil and leave it there for a few hours. Not only does it make the room smell divine, the aroma is giving you a natural support.
It can also be beneficial as a steam blend to aid sinus congestion, I put 3 drops of Lavender and 2 of Ravintsara into a bowl of hot water (not too hot!) Place a towel over your head and the bowl, close your eyes and breathe. Do this for a few minutes twice a day. It really clears the head and can help to relieve the sinus congestion. The lavender is also analgesic which can help ease the pain. I have done this when I want to stop sinus congestion developing into an infection. I find it really helpful.
For a room diffuser, I would put in 4-6 drops of oil. On its own the aroma can be too strong so I experiment with other oils to soften it, by adding a citrus oil like Bergamot or lemon, another woody oil like Juniper or a more grounding oil like Frankincense to balance the blend.
- As an inhalation it is non–irritating and well tolerated by adults.
- Can affect those with severe asthma condition.
- Not to be used undiluted on the skin.
- Not suitable for children under 5
- It is stimulating so don’t use it at night.
January 23, 2017
How to use the FLORA+ FIONA FACIAL OIL
Lots of people have been asking me how I would recommend using my facial oil.
Remove all make-up.
Put 3-4 drops onto the palm of your hand and rub together gently. (If you are using the roller ball, roll on your fingertips with circular movements to release the oil and rub together).
Hold your palms up to the front of the face and breathe in the natural aroma of the oils. For me this is the best part. Breathe in deeply and inhale the natural fragrance of the oils, creating a wonderful feeling of wellbeing.
Then, massage onto the face, neckline and décolletage with gentle upward movements. Be very careful around the eye area and just pat this delicate area with the fingertips.
Take as much time as you can, even if it’s just a minute or two, these are valuable moments to enjoy the touch and aroma sensations with these natural oils. Remember, it’s all part of caring for yourself and your skin and giving a little time to tune into nature and all its gifts.
When you are using pure plant oils, you will notice a visible radiance and glow to the skin. I have chosen some of favourite essential oils, Jasmine, Vetiver and Red Orange because they are deeply comforting and soothing and have mood enhancing properties that help to calm the mind and soothe the skin. I have also added 5 other plant oils which are easily absorbed and packed with vitamin A, C and E, antioxidants and the Omegas, so necessary for the skin to be nourished and hydrated.
So when are my favourite times to use the Facial Oil?
Firstly, I use the oil post shower in the morning on damp skin. It gives me a positive start to the day and works well as a primer before make-up. My husband uses it after shaving as a skin balm.
But for me, my special time with the facial oil is the night-time ritual I have developed so that I take some precious time for myself. The bottle is on my bedside table and because the oils are calming and grounding, they are a perfect way for me to end the day.
Take a moment and feel beautiful with botanical oils.
The Facial oil comes in a 30ml bottle or a convenient rollerball bottle. To link to shop: FLORA +FIONA Facial Oil
December 19, 2016
Aroma Magic: three blends to transform your mood
Aroma Magic: three aromatherapy oil blends with the power to transform your mood
For many years in my work as clinical aromatherapist I have witnessed, first hand, the ‘magical’ effect oils can have on your life.
I LOVE using essential oils and want everyone to experience their powerful effects for themselves. Essential oils can help to relieve stress, increase energy, boost the immune system, lift the spirits, help you sleep, keep you awake, ease pains and aches, bring you joy, clear your head, keep you calm, make you smile. And that’s just the beginning…
Too often, in the rush of daily life, we overlook the power and pleasure that scent can bring to our lives. One of the reasons why I became an aromatherapist is the ability of scent to evoke memories and to lift the spirits and the mood. For me, that means whenever I smell roses, I am brought back to my grandmother’s garden with my cousins, aged 4, making perfume in jam jars from rose petals. The memory and the scent transport me once more to those happy moments.
What makes scent special is that it makes you stop what you are doing – and insist that you take time-out to breathe in the aroma. When you inhale the oil, that’s when the magic begins. One of the quickest ways to give yourself a lift with aromatherapy is to keep some essential oils in your bag or purse, on a tissue. Here are my favourite go-to aromatherapy blends to enhance your mood throughout the day.
- To lift the spirits
Put 2 drops of Bergamot essential oil on a tissue and breathe it in deeply a few times during the day. Wonderfully refreshing, with a citrus and floral undertone, Bergamot always helps me to relax and “let go” a little.
I also like to put the bergamot-scented tissue in my car so that the beautiful aroma fills the space and makes the drive a much happier experience.
- To calm down
Add 2 drops of ylang ylang essential oil to a tissue.
Take three deep breaths breathing in the beautiful aroma of the exotic ylang ylang flower. The effect is immediate. Your anxiety lessens, your blood pressure lowers and you begin to feel calmer. This really works when you are nervous or anxious.
- To focus and energise
Really good when you need to stay awake, meet a deadline or just keep going. Add 2 drops of Rosemary and 1 drop of lemon to a tissue. Inhale slowly and you will soon feel stimulated and more alert.
Take a moment: Just remember, wherever you are, stop and make time for the magic of scent.
December 12, 2016
FLORA – it is all about FLORA
My love for plant oils and art is all rolled into one in Flora, the Goddess of Spring in Botticelli’s exquisite, Primavera.
I spent ages trying to think of a name for my new products. When I thought about it, I realised it has always been about Flora – the plant kingdom, the goddess…she is always there – For me, everything begins and ends with her –
So the name became FLORA + FIONA.
Working with plant oils, understanding their chemistry and their therapeutic properties is fascinating. When creating my oil formulations, I am always respectful of the origin and purity of the oils, I believe that when it comes to beauty, choosing a simple, natural formulation is the best choice. The products work, you feel wonderful and it is true, less is always more.
November 22, 2016
Inspiration from the garden
This Spring a heather in the garden bloomed for the first time with beautiful star-like flowers.
The stunning photo taken by Anne-Louise Kelly was the inspiration for my logo. I wanted to create a feeling of being in a meadow surrounded by beautiful flowers.
It makes me smile every time I look at it.