Brenda Lambert has been a qualified Aromatherapist for 21 years working for the Lavender Touch since 2003. She is our Service Co Ordinator.
“I would like to share with you some of my aromatherapy knowledge. When writing this I came across Aromatherapy an A to Z, and when I opened it the heading was Epidemics!!! let me share with you what is history but applies to the modern day.
Aromatic plants have been used since antiquity as protection against infectious illnesses. For example, the great waves of plague that swept across Europe from the middle ages to the late 17th century. There are records of people who worked with aromatic plants or oils escaping the plague while others around them were dying. Labourers working in the lavender fields, gardeners tending herb gardens and tanners and glove makers who used essential oils to perfume fine leather. We know now that the aromatic plants are powerful bactericides and some anti-viral agents. (Patricia Davis An A to Z of aromatherapy 1995)
The following are hints, tips and advice based on my own knowledge, experience and research available.
Essential oils are the aromatic compounds extracted from plant material. They can be extracted from the flowers, roots, seeds, leaves or fruits of a plant and are highly concentrated. Aromatherapy is the use of these aromatic compounds to help instil a sense of personal and emotional well being. By inhaling the naturally extracted aromatic distillations, you can achieve balance and harmony for a healthy mind, body and soul.
Extraction Methods. Essential oils can be extracted from plant material in different ways. Depending on the part of the plant that is used, they may be extracted through steam distillation, cold pressing or solvent extraction. Most essential oils are extracted through steam distillation, where the plant matter is exposed to high pressure and hot steam, resulting in the liquid form of the oil.
Therapeutic benefits of essential oils. Essential oils have different properties and aromas and can also have different effects on you when you inhale the aromas. From uplifting, calming and relaxing, to energising, stimulating and reviving, there’s an essential oil to help you create the perfect mood.
My first Oil to speak about is lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
It has a fresh, sweet, floral scent. Description: A shrub growing to about 90cm tall having narrow linear, grey-green leaves and beautiful blue-violet flowers borne on long spikes. The essential oils are extracted from the flowering heads… Lavender is the most versatile and useful of essential oils for therapeutic purposes.
I would use Lavender in most blends. Its probably the only essential oil that can be applied to the skin and is useful in the kitchen – first aid for burns. If you don’t want to apply it directly to the skin use 10ml of olive oil and 3 drops of lavender oil. Its very good for bites, burns, boils, cuts, bruising, It’s also good if you can’t sleep at night – use one drop on a tissue or on your pillow for sweet dreams.
Fill a basin with warm water put four drops of lavender oil place a flannel into the water for couple of minutes to absorb the oil, use as a compress apply to the forehead whilst lying down this method can help to alleviate headaches and nervous tension. A note of caution don’t use too much lavender in the evening as it has a stimulating effect so one drop for sleeping up to four drops to feel invigorated.
When I use essential oils in my bath I carry out the following – run the bath with door closed to maintain steam, get bath to preferred temperature, use 10ml full fat milk then put the oils into the milk. The reason I carry this out is because the essential oils are lipid loving (fat loving) so by placing them into the milk they are taken up by the fat of the milk. I then disperse the oils and milk into the bath water, the milk is miscible with the water so the oils are not floating on top of the water. I then agitate the water, so everything is dispersed, light my candles get in and breathe in the essential oils
Bath recipe (invigorating)
10mls full fat milk semi-skinned works as well
3 drops lavender
3 drops rosemary. (Note not to be used in pregnancy or those with epilepsy)
3 drops Lavender
4 drops Roman Chamomile
Apart from the lavender essential oil, if you have a garden and grow lavender there are many uses of the dried flowers.
Harvest on warm sunny day, try to remove leaves from stalks turn upside down and tie stalks, dry hanging up in paper bag, once the flowers are dried they can be used in pot pouris, used to make lavender bags or try my favourite ice cream recipe, below.
Lavender & Honey ice cream
90ml (6tbsp clear honey)
4 egg yolks
8 lavender spikes plus extra to decorate
450ml whipping cream
Put honey in a bowl with cornflour and egg yolks
- Pull the lavender flowers from the spikes and add them to the mixture with a little of the milk whisk lightly to combine ingredients
- Put the remaining milk in a heavy pan to boil
- Pour it over the egg yolk mixture in the bowl stirring well with a wooden spoon as you pour
- Return the custard mixture to the pan and cook very gently over a low heat, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon until mixture thickens. Do not let the mixture boil as it may curdle
- Pour the custard into a large bowl and cover the surface closely with cling film or greaseproof paper leave to cool, then chill
- Whip the cream until it is thickened but still falls from the whisk, then stir into the custard. Transfer the mixture to a freeze proof container. Freeze for about 6 hours, beating twice use a fork or whisk to break up the ice crystals, then freeze until firm
- Transfer the ice cream to the refrigerator 30 mins before serving so that it softens slightly
- Scoop the ice cream into small dishes decorate with lavender flowers serve with dessert biscuits
I first became interested in using essential oils after a life changing episode in my life and sought solace with these wonderful aromatics. I remember the first aromatherapy book I bought Aromatherapy an A to Z by Patricia Davis. That was it I was hooked and this inspired me to take aromatherapy further. I then enrolled on a course at Falkirk for one year gaining a diploma in Clinical Aromatherapy. I decided I still did not have enough knowledge and was accepted onto the degree course at Edinburgh Napier University and achieved a BSc in aromatherapy & nursing studies with distinction (surprising even myself!).
In 2003 whilst working towards my degree I worked nights at NHS Borders I found out that the Lavender touch were looking to recruit clinical aromatherapists to treat patients diagnosed with cancer. I applied for the post and spent the next seven years treating cancer patients and their relatives before becoming the service coordinator. whilst I miss going out and about in the Borders treating folks and using the repertoire of oils, I still use my aromatherapy skills to make up blends for the other therapists’ patient’s.
To enable me to do this I establish with the therapist what it is they want to achieve with their patient. This then gives me a bit of insight into what oils I may choose to achieve a favourable outcome for the patient. Essential oils are not a cure in our Lavender Touch Work throughout the Borders, but may help to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, pain, anxiety, insomnia, muscle aches and pains.”
I hope you will enjoy the first of many articles from Brenda and the other Lavender Touch therapists.
There are many online sources where pure essential oils can be purchased, for example Purple Flame, Quintessence or Naissance.