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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

Frankincense – The Mystical Oil

Frankincense Trees, Boswellia sacra, olibanum-tree, Homhil Plateau, Socotra Island, Yemen

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:

PHYSICAL

  • Naturally Sedative
  • Digestive
  • Tonic
  • 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!

SAFETY

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.

 

 

 

 

 

REST cures all ills: science says so.

The Dalai Lama said “Sleep is the best meditation” and never a truer word was spoken. As I spent time researching and developing my new blended oil, REST,  designed to prepare you for sleep, I came across more and more scientific research on journeying to the Land of Nod.

We are regularly reminded by health practitioners to get 8 hours sleep. However, with life being so busy, there always seems to be obstacles to achieving that magic number. Work, study, family, fun times all seem to conspire at different stages in our lives to come between us and our pillows, sometimes literally.

Imagine a product that could help you prepare for those eight hours, that gets you in the mood for a nice, long relaxing sleep. Doesn’t that sound marvellous? When I began thinking about my new REST oil, I was thinking of all my family, friends, clients and customers lamenting the fact that they were having difficulty switching off, tuning out and dropping off. Knowing that Frankincense oil and Neroli oil contain powerful relaxing properties, I began my research into creating an oil that can become part of any bedtime routine, relaxing and winding down to sleep.

Improve your life

Research in recent years suggests that adequate sleep (which varies depending on age but is not less than eight hours regardless of age group) can improve your memory function, your motor skills, boost your immune system, aid longevity (1) and bizarrely, improve breakfast food choices among teenagers thus counteracting potential onset of diabetes and obesity. (2)

According to the scientific research benefits of sleeping the recommended length of time for your age group include:

  1. Improved health: there are numerous studies that confirm the link between the optimal amount of sleep and conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. (3)
  2. Improved weight control: this is partly due to psychological reasons. If you are too tired it’s easier to slide a pizza out of a packet than to spend time chopping vegetables for a nourishing soup. However it’s also physiological as a hormone called leptin plays a role in telling you when you are full. Leptin levels drop when you are tired meaning you’re more likely to feel hungry. (4)
  3. We all know that short sleep can make us cranky (5) but research shows that adequate sleep can improve concentration and productivity in adults (6) and in children. (7) So if you sleep well not only will you stop snapping at your co-workers, you’ll get your work done in half the time!
  4. Longer sleep will help you get achieve fitness goals: Longer sleeping has been linked to achieving athletic goals in a study of college basketball players (9) so get to bed early if you are trying for a personal best.
  5. Stay healthy this winter by sleeping for eight hours a night. A 2015 study (9) found that adults with longer sleep were less likely to develop cold symptoms after infection.

Apart from the short and long term health benefits that can be gained from eight hours of sleep per night there are also mental and emotional benefits. Sleep before and after learning can greatly assist recall due to the role deep sleep plays in memory retention or what Matthew Walker, the Sleep Diplomat and author of “Why we Sleep” calls in this video presentation “the save button” . There are campaigns afoot to adjust school start times in order to make allowances for the specific sleep needs of teenagers with sleep experts calling for a complementary course of sleep education for parents, teachers and teenagers. How have we gone so wrong that we need to be taught how to sleep!

Sleep Nirvana

What can we do to reach this sleep nirvana? Over and over experts recommend routine, gentle activity that helps frame your mind for rest. This can include gentle mindfulness or yoga practice, a soothing blend of tea or incorporating FLORA + FIONA REST into your evening routine to help you prepare. Other tips (based on scientific research!) include:

  1. Avoiding alcohol (10) and caffeine, (11) not just before bed, but altogether. Do I want to believe that?! 
  2. Putting away that phone/ mobile device  (12) (you have our permission to stop reading right now if you are in bed!)
  3. Getting some daylight during the day (13) but dim the lights at bedtime. (14)
  4. Developing a routine which can include things as simple as brushing your teeth but try and keep to a schedule. Consider including a warm bath (15) with calming oils as part of that routine.(16)
  5. Introducing some calming scents to the bedroom.(17) We love this one, of course!

Would you like to do everything you can to prepare for a restful night of sleep? Try some of those scientifically proven tips along with FLORA + FIONA REST and you will find yourself easing your mind and body onto the golden sands of sleep.

Try REST for yourself

My new product REST will help you to calm the mind and settle so you are more able to relax and sleep.

Just roll it on and breathe it in!

As an introduction to REST we 10% off all FLORA+ FIONA products until midnight November 26th 2017.  Shop online now using the promo code “rest10”


  1. How Does Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep Affect Your Body? 
  2. The Impact of Sleep Improvement on Food Choices in Adolescents With Late Bedtimes
  3. Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. 
  4. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. 
  5. Cognitive flexibility across the sleep-wake cycle: REM-sleep enhancement of anagram problem solving.
  6. Sleep and rest facilitate implicit memory in a visual search task. 
  7. Cognitive benefits of last night’s sleep: daily variations in children’s sleep behavior are related to working memory fluctuations. 
  8. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. 
  9. Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. 
  10. Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use 
  11. Caffeine intake (200 mg) in the morning affects human sleep and EEG power spectra at night 
  12. Bright Screens Could Delay Bedtime 
  13. Effect of Light on Human Circadian Physiology
  14. Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans
  15. Night-time sleep EEG changes following body heating in a warm bath
  16. The effects of aromatherapy on sleep improvement: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis.
  17. An Olfactory Stimulus Modifies Nighttime Sleep in Young Men and Women

How to use the FLORA+ FIONA FACIAL OIL

Lots of people have been asking me how to use Facial oil. Here is what I recommend:

To start:

  • 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 my 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 6 plant oils which are easily absorbed and packed with vitamin A, C and E, 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 also uses it post shave 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.

 

Autumn is in the Air

 

 

As the 1st September comes, you can feel the season change. The holidays are over, it’s time for return to school, to college, to work or routine. Many welcome the chance to wear warmer clothes and make lots of plans and resolutions: healthier food, less wine, more exercise, less browsing on the internet, more reading.

I love this change of season. Nature is abundant. The garden is filled with late blossoms, making the most of the September sun, our apple tree is bursting with fruit, the sea is still warm enough for a quick dip and the morning walk is invigorating.

Change is in the air.

I am full of new ideas for oil blends and have been busy creating more formulations for new products. I look forward to sharing new creations with you shortly.

Autumn is also a good time to develop a skincare and wellbeing ritual for the months ahead. The sun has left dry and flaky skin that needs some loving care and attention. For me, natural plant oils are always my first choice.

Unlike many water-based creams that sit on the skin, oils are absorbed quickly and deeply, where their natural nutrients heal and hydrate.

In creating my Facial Oil,  Velvet Skin Body Oil and the Carry-on Travel Oil, I wanted them to effect both the body and the mind.  Seeing the difference on your body is fundamental,  but in all my oil blends, there has to be an emotional dimension, one that you can feel to complete the experience.

A balance between mind and body

FLORA + FIONA botanicals have to tick a few boxes to be included in my blends:

  • Easy to absorb – without no greasy residue
  • See the difference  – soft, hydrated skin with a radiant natural glow
  • Feel the difference – breathing in my unique blend of essential oils to give a powerful emotional response
  • Be 100% natural – wild harvested and organic oils
  • Rich in nutrients, omegas and antioxidants

One of the reasons why I became an aromatherapist was because of the powerful effect the oils can have on the emotions. The connection our sense of smell has with our subconscious is profound and never ceases to amaze me. This effect on the mind is the first thing I think of when I am creating a formulation. It completes the picture!

 

Essential Oil Safety

Essential oils are now available extensively in pharmacies and have become very popular. They are a wonderful addition to everyday life but they are highly concentrated and can be toxic if over-used.  I thought it might be useful to give some basic safety guidelines to consider before using essential oils. If in any doubt at all, consult with a qualified aromatherapist or your medical practitioner.

Use of Essential Oils

  • Not to be taken internally
  • Keep out of reach of children – do not use with children under 7 years old.
  • Keep away from the eyes
  • If pregnant, do not use in first 12 weeks and seek medical advice before using essential oils at any stage.
  • Do not use undiluted 
  • Do not put directly on the skin. Always put into a base or carrier – oil, cream or gel, even milk will do to dissolve the oil.
  • Discontinue if there is an allergic reaction. Seek medical advice
    Use a much smaller dose (normally 50%) for elderly and those with serious illness
  • Check that the bottle says 100% natural essential oil. The botanical name written in Latin must be on the bottle
  • Store in a cool dry place – once opened, use within 12 months .

Dosage

  • Adopt the approach – Less is more – The oils will be just as effective with a smaller dose. Do not be tempted to add a few extra drops.
    The general rule is to use 2 drops to 5ml – (One teaspoon) of base or carrier oil*
  • Bath 6-8 drops in a carrier oil, milk, aqueous cream or epsom salts
    2 drops in a tissue
    3-4 drops in a bowl of hot water for steam inhalation.

* carrier or base oil is a vegetable oil, nut oil or wax for e.g sweet almond, coconut, jojoba, apricot kernel, argan, rosehip etc.

Further information:

There are many resources online to read up on essential oils. One site I like as a good resource is https://www.aromatics.com/Oshadhi Essential Oils does a great newsletter with information on oils. I have previously mentioned Andrea Butje at Aromahead Institute, School of Essential Oil Studies  Any question on oils and how to use them please contact me or leave a comment below I would love to hear from you.

Prickly Pear Oil: A Precious Oil

Indian fig opuntia, barbary fig, cactus pear, spineless cactus, prickly pear. Opuntia ficus-indica. Edible cactus pear on cactus opuntia rufida

PRICKLY PEAR

Botanical Name: Opuntia Ficus Indica – distllled from the Prickly Pear Cactus seed

Prickly Pear oil is one of my favourite plant oils for the skin and one of the most precious. It is expensive but worth it because of its many benefits on skin health.  I use it in both FLORA+FIONA Facial Oil and FLORA+FIONA Velvet Skin Body Oil.

Why is it so special?

  • Exceptional skin hydrating properties
  • Rich in antioxidant, Vitamin E – It has a higher concentration than any other plant oil
  • Highest percentage of essential fatty acids. Omega 6 and 9.
  • Excellent for mature or damaged skin
  • Increases elasticity and brightens the skin adding radiance
  • Deeply moisturising and easily absorbed
  • Ideal for sensitive skin and dry skin
  • Reduces redness and hyper-pigmentation
  • Vitamin K to reduce brown spots

While these properties add to the physical well-being of your body and skin no oil is included in my blends that doesn’t also contribute to the emotional well being of the user. I talk about this in more detail in another recent post to this blog.

Spotlight on Sweet Marjoram

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.

HISTORICAL USES

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

In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:

PHYSICAL

Anti-septic

Anti-bacterial

Muscle relaxant

Analgesic

Sedative

Anti- spasmodic

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.

SAFETY

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.