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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..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QtXAo8pICg

Hand Sanitisers

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:

The Nature of Things, Kotanical  Atlantic Aromatics

Using Essential Oils at Home 

IN a bright kitches, a miniature lemon tree stands on a worktop beside two saucepans on a hob. Superimposed text reads: "Tea Tree: anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and antiseptic."

Complement your keeping clean regime by using essential oils in your home. Here are some ideas:

Room Diffuser

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.

Suggested Recipe

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.

Recipe:

2 drops of Vetiver

3 drops of Bergamot

3 drops of sweet orange

A view into an old style conservatory with a pastel blue door. Foliage surrounds a comfortable chair sitting on a tiled floor under the slanting sun. Text superimposed on the image reads "Bergamot: Lift the Mood; Brings a Smile"

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.

Bath Time

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.

Suggested recipe

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.

Things I’ve learned about sleep since launching my REST Oil

A woman sleeps on a bed of daisies. Image by Ann Danilina on Unsplash.com
A woman sleeps on a bed of daisies. Image by Ann Danilina on Unsplash.com

I was at a conference in the Royal Marsden Hospital in London last month. It was looking at the benefits of using aromatherapy in clinical settings.  One of the clinicians started his presentation by saying the the most important medicine is sleep.

His comment got me thinking about everything I’ve read about sleep throughout my life but especially since I launched my REST oil. Read on below to find out a few interesting things that have stood out for me.

Read more

Essential Oils to help runners

With Dublin Marathon on the horizon here I have been thinking about ways that essential oils can help runners. Here is a selection to support those of you who have got the running bug.

Text on a white background reads "se essential oils to soothe muscles, relieve anxiety and keep your skin in tip top condition." superimposed on a botanical line drawing.
Soothe muscles, relieve anxiety, keep skin in tip top condition.

You can’t miss them along the coast and in all the beautiful parks in Dublin City at the moment. The runners. All shapes and sizes and all speeds. On their own or in groups, pounding the pavement, putting in the time on their feet in preparation for the main event here in Dublin. Taking place on October Bank Holiday weekend I thought now would be a good time to share some of my favourite ways for runners to use essential oils to soothe muscles, relieve anxiety and keep your skin in tip top condition.

Read more

10 *Essential* Essential Oils For Your Home

A comfortable relaxing couch in a home with grey and turquoise tones. Superimposed text reads "10 Essential Essential Oils for your home"
10 Essential Essential Oils for your home

I have been asked many times if I had to choose a selection of botanical oils, say a top three, which oils would I consider essential for everyday life. Well, that is so hard to do… I could not pick just three! If I had to narrow it down to the ten oils that I would always keep in my home these are the ten I would choose and why.  Of course, I have many more but let’s start with these ones…

Read more

The Botanical Armour Kitchen Cleaning Spray

Make your own kitchen cleaning spray
Make your own kitchen cleaning spray

Would you like an antibacterial, mood boosting, stress relieving, memory enhancing and gorgeous, fresh smelling kitchen cleaning spray? Yes please!

I’ve written before about using essential oils in sprays, both for very specific purposes. One spray I shared last December creates seasonal aromas in your home, and a welcoming and calming atmosphere. The second, an energising and clearing car spray, will fill your car with scents to help you get where you are going in healthy and happy form.

This next spray that I’d like to share with you is one that I use everyday around the home. It’s a kitchen cleaning spray. All you’ll need to make this surface spray is a clean, used, spray gun bottle, some water and four easy-to-find essential oils. Read more

The Spring Clean: A car spray to get you there healthy and happy

An energising and clearing spray for your car to help you get from A to B, healthy and happy.
An energising and clearing spray for your car to help you get from A to B, healthy and happy.

Winter is coming to a close and there is a spring in our step. Traditionally, the brighter longer days give us an opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get stuck into a big spring clean. Using the therapeutic power of essential oils we can make this more than just a mammoth bout of cleaning. We can take the opportunity to lift our senses and clear our minds by adding some carefully chosen oils to our cleaning routine. I’ll be sharing a few different ideas about how to use essential oils day to day over the coming weeks. However, the recent good weather got me thinking about hopping in the car and hitting the road!

Read more

Christmas Calm: A Scent for Home

Make your own DIY room scent spray with this easy to follow recipe that I have been making for years. It really gets me in the mood for Christmas!

While many of us look forward to a break midwinter during all the festivities, it can get very hectic. We rush around making sure everything is in place. Meanwhile our minds are swirling, full of lists and to-dos (and even don’ts!)

Sometimes January arrives and we feel like we haven’t had a break at all!

I created this DIY room scent spray to calm and energise my senses. While the traditional festive scents of Frankincense, Cypress, Clove and Mandarin evoke times gone by they are also nurturing, energising and calming in equal measure. Just the formulation required during a time when you need to recharge but you also want to enjoy social occasions too!

It’s easy to pull together once you’ve gathered your ingredients.
Read more

Botanical Oils are wonderful to use for those anxious moments in life.

Recently, I had the unique experience of creating a set of videos to use in the promotion of FLORA +FIONA. I was spurred on by my exciting collaboration with the Danish lifestyle retailer, RICE.

Working with RICE*

The ethical entrepreneur, Charlotte Hedemann, designs and produces the funky and colourful range that sells in over 45 countries. She asked me to create two new oil blends- specifically for their Travel the World Autumn Winter 2018 catalogue. My friends in Rice wanted a video to share with their online community where I could share some of my inspiration for my hand-blended oils.

I arranged to meet the videographer at my garden studio. Because of the fabulous summer, my rambling, cottage style garden was looking its best and bursting with colour and luscious blooms. I was feeling a lot less so. Work and business travel had taken their toll and I was very nervous at the prospect of being in front of the camera…

We were on a deadline

But it had to be done. We were on a deadline. I had made promises and, goodness, the garden had to be captured in all its botanical glory!

So I put my best foot forward, applied two drops of Frankincense essential oil on a tissue, took a deep breath and went for it!

Don’t let stress and anxiety get the better of you

There is no doubt that sometimes we can let stress and anxiety get the better of us. Allowing it to win, causing us to procrastinate and dwell on the source of the anxiety is often more harmful than the imagined future turns out to be. A friend, who had a huge business decision to make recently, said to me, “Once the decision was made, everything else fell into place. When I was considering all the options, imagining ALL of the possibilities, instead of living just one, in the here and now, my mind was swirling. I couldn’t settle and everything was too complex. The over-thinking nearly finished me.”

Frankincense, Lavender and Neroli come together to soothe, revitalise and calm

Among much else, I spoke during the filming about how my feelings of stress and anxiety propelled me to do something about it.  As a younger, working mother I was beset by doubts and anxiety… and exhausted!  I bought a book on aromatherapy, started my studies, researched many oils and created a blend not dissimilar to the blend you will find in my REST oil.   It’s good to know that the blend I made to help me all those years ago is now part of my own product range.  It has some of my favourite oils including ancient, mystical Frankincense for the way it brings calm and peace. This wonder oil has the ability to both relax and revitalise, perfect to alleviate nervous tension and exhaustion. I added Moroccan Neroli, as it is so comforting and also because the aroma of orange blossom is such a glorious fragrance.   To complete the blend, I added a little of relaxing Lavender, a versatile oil that should be in everyone’s kitchen cupboard.

Take a moment and breathe

Whatever way your use natural oils, whether on the face or in body massage, on pulse points or in a diffuser, the important thing to remember is to take a moment and breathe them in.  By breathing in the aroma, the therapeutic properties in the oils interact with senses so that we can step away from our heads, settle ourselves and just enjoy the moment.

Why does my Carry-On Travel Oil work?

Flora + Fiona Carry-On Travel Oil was my first product and the one I have been passionate about for nearly 10 years. I am delighted to see that we have been getting great feedback from our customers on this special oil! It is used by frequent fliers and holidaymakers alike: anyone who wants to enjoy a relaxed journey with the added reassurance of natural products that protect you and keep you well when you travel. Some customers love the aroma so much that they use it as a perfume!

So what do I put into the Carry-On Travel Oil to make such a small bottle do so much hard work?

I chose some of my favourite oils when researching this formula. Firstly, All my blends are 100% natural and carefully chosen from ethical distillers all over the world. I create and hand blend my oil formulations myself in my studio in Dublin looking out at my garden. I have been hand-blending oils for my private clients for nearly 20 years and really enjoy researching and discovering new oils . About 8 years ago, I started looking at oils for travel that had anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  A client who suffered constantly with sinus problems when flying had asked to me to create a blend for her. My research led me to examine many of the problems associated with travel :

  • Jet lag
  • Disturbance of sleep patterns
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Exposure to contagion

I wanted a convenient roller bottle, with an oil blend designed to target some of these downsides of travelling. The oil I created became The Carry-on Travel Oil.

Powerful Oils

Powerful oils including Ravintsara and Niaouli from Madagascar, and Egyptian Sweet Marjoram, all used in their native countries for their antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties, are combined in this unisex product.

I’ve written about Ravintsara previously. I love it for its strong punchy aroma. I see it as a strong protective presence in the blends I create with it.

Breathing in its powerful aroma certainly transports me to the exotic island of Madagascar, with its unique and fascinating flora and fauna. 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. As an immune stimulant and also an energising oil I felt it was just what you need in transit.

 

Green fresh sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) spicy herb sprouts growing close up

Sweet Marjoram oil has been used since Ancient Times as a culinary and medicinal herb. Sweet, warm and protective are words I associate with this plant native to Mediterranean regions. They are also words I would like to have close to me when travelling, like a cocoon to protect me from the hustle and bustle about me.

In aromatherapy it is used for its antiseptic and anti-bacterial qualities. It is also considered to be a muscle relaxant and have analgesic and sedative properties. It brings a wonderful sense of calm and peace. Sweet Marjoram helps to aid mental and emotional fatigue or ‘overthinking’ by settling any nervous tension and anxiety. From this description alone you will understand why I include this “all rounder” in my oil.

The Third Protector Oil in the Carry-On Travel Oil

Wild Niaouli is the 3rd protector oil and is also sourced in Madagascar. Related to Tea Tree it has similar qualities but is far more gentle on the skin. It is thought that the presence of the Niaouli Tree in New Caledonia is responsible for the absence of malaria on that south west Pacific island. Whether or not this is the case, for me it is an oil that protects and helps clear the head.

I have completed the blend with the sunny and cheering aroma of lemon and orange oils. Apart from their various properties it is essential that my blends make you feel good.  Breathing in the aroma has a direct link to the storehouse of memory and emotions in the brain. The oils I have chosen have a vitality and energy that are joyful, comforting, and reassuring, ensuring that you are refreshed and ready for anything at your destination.

If you think that sounds like how you would like to feel when contemplating your next journey, whether for business or pleasure, my 100% natural Carry-on Travel Oil in its handy 10ml rollerball bottle will be your perfect travel companion.

Excited about your holiday? Be prepared and then just dive in!

In this article I write about travel. I love to travel myself but I know how stressful it can be. That’s one of the reasons why  I developed my Carry-On Travel Oil – to combat the feelings of anxiety and act as a support in new places.

I love travel. I joke with my pals that one of my favourite places is the Departure gate at Dublin Airport!

Holidays are a wonderful time to sit back, day dream. Put aside work demands, say goodbye to the boredom of domestic chores, park some worries and just let it all go.

Of course, Anticipation is a big part of a holiday. I know an eight year old who is very excited about her holidays. There is a blackboard in her house with a number on it. Everyday she rubs out the number and subtracts one. She is one day closer to her holidays.

That being said, for the parents, actually getting there can be so stressful.

Will all the work deadlines be met and finished in time? Have I brought everything? Will the house be ok? Cancelled deliveries? Told the neighbour? Are all the passports up to date?

Whether you are travelling for work or pleasure there are certain things you can do to avoid those anxiety pitfalls. From my experience, travelling the world for fun and function, these are my top five tips for a smooth journey this summer. Naturally I recommend my specially blended Carry-On Travel Oil, my REST Oil and Velvet Skin Body Oil for super relaxed travelling but there is much else besides. Read on and please add in your own tips in the comments below!

The Checklist

Like the eight year old friend, do a countdown. You may not have to countdown the minutes as she does but certainly think about milestones you must hit or deadlines you have to reach before you can put your feet up. Make a plan and a to-do list to help you reach those milestones. Definitely start making a checklist now of things you must do or remember before departure:  I have a checklist that is divided into Work: Personal: Pack.  (Often on a back of envelope but carry it with you and jot it down whenever you think of something).

Keep your eye on the prize.

If you are feeling stressed, a few drops of frankincense  on a tissue will bring some calm. Its exotic aroma, traditionally from Somalia, will put you in mind of far off places and help you remember why you are on the move. Its soothing and relaxing properties are documented and it is a key ingredient in my REST Oil.

Digital Companions

Choose your books (I always bring a few actual books), or download an audiobook or ebook and up load those playlists,. The great thing about using digital downloads is that they don’t take up any extra space in your precious carry-on luggage.

    1. I love www.audible.co.uk for audio books. Since discovering it, It has given me such enjoyment and magical moments. You just sit there and someone is reading to you! Perfect for flights/train journeys and often a very handy way to fall asleep. I love using them for the Classics: Dickens, Tolstoy, Jane Austen, The Brontes… Check out Juliet Stevenson, she is a wonderful narrator and brings an extra sparkle to every book.
    2. BBC Radio 4 podcasts are endlessly enjoyable and so varied.  RTE Doc on One are brilliant too.
    3. A friend recommended The Stitcher app for listening to podcasts, easy to use and easy to search to find podcasts of interest to you. One recent find was 36 Questions, a podcast musical in 3 Acts about a couple working their way through a rough patch. Also check out 99% Invisible a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. Sounds nerdy but is full of humanity.

Bring a Natural Support

Bring the Carry-On Travel Oil. I have received rave reviews of my Carry-On Travel Oil: Elaine from Holland writes “The Travel oil comes everywhere with me. It is always in by bag” Designed to meet the requirements of carry on liquids, this 10ml roller ball is your security blanket. I have researched this formula for 8 years to source oils that are historically known to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Ravintsara, Sweet Marjoram and Niaouli provide strong support and these are holistically balanced by zesty Lemon and sweet Red Orange. It smells divine and it works! Whether on short haul/ long haul flights, just pop it in your bag. I made it as protection against the stuffy, bug-filled atmosphere of all modes of transport. Roll it on your wrists and neck regularly and breathe in deeply. One regular user, Mairead, says, “ It is lifesaver on flights”.

Take a Moment

Lastly and most importantly, remember to Take A Moment.

Carve out some quiet Metime when on your holidays.  For me; it is the early morning swim when no one is around swimming in cool water looking at a blue sky; sitting under the shade of a tree sipping a morning coffee listening to the birds; In the early evening after a shower, rubbing after sun body oil over your skin and just enjoying the aroma and sensory experience. Of course I would recommend my Velvet Skin Body Oil (!) rosehip, prickly pear and apricot oil are perfect to hydrate and soothe heat rashes or itchy skin post sun. The vetiver is a natural insect repellent which is bonus to help fight off the mosquitoes.

If you like to do some meditation, I use my REST oil to tackle a whirling mind and those anxious moments. Essential oils can be a wonderful asset when you combine them with meditation. Just roll on the palm of your hand, gently rub together and breathe in deeply 3-4 times. Or roll directly on inside of wrist and over neck area. Take a moment to enjoy the powerful aroma, tune into your senses and take a rest. Again it comes in a 10ml rollerball so perfect for carry-on luggage. Ideal for long haul travel where you intend to catch a few winks and arrive refreshed and ready to go at your destination.

There are some of our top tips for travelling for work and pleasure. How do you combat the stress of travelling and being away from your home place? I’d love to hear any tips you might have for the excited but weary traveller.

p.s  I forgot to say.. heat can make everyone a little cranky! My grandmother’s advice.. before you react. take a deep breath and count 10!

Happy Holidays  x