Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Is Here~ Finally!

As gardens are awakening with new blossoms,
Black Cat Aromatics is awakening with exciting possibilities.
Each day I am working towards opening the online shop~ details coming soon!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Top 5 Favorite Essential Oils

     As an aromatherapist, I use a variety of essential oils, however I have several that I use more often than others.  These few essential oils can be used alone or in combination with one another for a multitude of uses.  That's why these are my favorites and I recommend them to anyone who may be new to using essential oils and who may be feeling overwhelmed with how many choices there are. How do we choose which oils to purchase when there are so many?  Some essential oils are fairly expensive, therefore having a large variety in one's collection may seem impossible.  That's where these top 5 favorite oils come into play.  They are reasonably priced and versatile.  These 5 oils are generally priced at $20 or less for a 15 ml bottle.

My Top 5 Favorite Essential Oils
Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Some of my favorite uses for these oils  

All of these oils are wonderful options for diffusing.  Try making your own blends with the combinations suggested below.  Remember it only takes a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser to get the benefits of inhalation.  I recommend 5-8 drops total in a diffuser, depending on room size and ventilation.

Cedarwood, Lavender, & Sweet Orange- great all around blend, helps with respiratory issues & allergies, safe to use around children

Lavender & Sweet Orange- Calming, yet bright- safe to use around children

Peppermint & Sweet Orange- Uplifting- safe to use around children age 5 yrs and up

Cedarwood, Lavender & Tea Tree- Great for allergies- safe to use around children

How about making some cleaning products?  Not only will you be using all natural products, you will also be getting a refreshing aromatherapy treatment while cleaning.   Check out the recipes in my Green Cleaning section. 

Try the soft scrub or bathroom tile recipes with Peppermint, Sweet Orange & Tea Tree

Have a headache or achy feet?  Lavender & Peppermint can help ease headache pain.
Mix 1 drop of Peppermint and 1 drop of Lavender in 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil such as Jojoba or Sweet Almond oil and rub on temples and back of neck for headache relief.

For tired feet, mix 1 drop of Peppermint with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as Jojoba. Pour into foot bath and soak feet.

Bee sting or bug bite? A drop of lavender on a bee sting can help ease the pain.

These are just a few uses to get you started using these essential oil favorites.  There are many more uses for them and I'm sure you'll discover your own favorites.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or send a message.

Some safety considerations for these oils.

Check the latin name of the essential oils before purchasing to ensure you're getting the intended oil.

I recommend diluting all essential oils before applying to the skin, with the exception of using Lavender on a bee sting.

Peppermint- Do not use on or around children under 5 yrs of age.  Use in low 1-2% dilution for skin.

Sweet Orange- may cause skin irritation.  Use in low 1-2% dilution for skin.

A 1% dilution is 5-6 drops essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil or lotion.

For more safety information and guidelines click here.

To read about using essential oils around young children, click here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Allergy Nasal Inhaler

Just in time for all the Spring time allergies!  My allergy inhaler is my best friend when my
allergies get stirred up.  This works amazingly well!!

If you want to make an allergy inhaler for children, the following recipe is safe for children
age 5-10 years.

2 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
3 drops Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana)
2 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Boo Boo Blend for Children

This blend is great for the minor cuts, scrapes and bruises children often get while playing.  Apply with a cotton pad after cleansing affected area.  Store this blend in the refrigerator since there are no preservatives.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I Need Sleep - Essential Oils for Sleep Support

     If you're like me, sleep doesn't always come easy.  Sometimes it seems the more exhausted I am, the more difficulty I have falling asleep and staying asleep.  After a long, non-stop day, there are always the questions- Did I forget something?  Did I finish everything that needed to be accomplished?  Tomorrow will be busy enough, but can I fit anything extra in my day?

      Chances are, if you're having sleep difficulties, you have read about and possibly even tried a few suggestions for falling into a deep slumber.  Perhaps you've tried cutting your caffeine intake after 3pm or maybe even cutting it out all together.  Maybe you're already turning your television off about an hour before bedtime, and turning off cell phones and other electronic devices around the same time.  Perhaps you have tried taking a warm shower or bath and practice a little yoga before bed. If you're doing all of these things and still having difficulty, try diffusing calming essential oils approximately an hour before bedtime.

     Listed below are 18 essential oils which help with calming the mind and getting a good night's rest.  Most are calming to the central nervous system while others have a comforting aroma and an overall calming effect on the mind.  Some are great for reducing anxiety and over-thinking.  Choose a single oil or 2-3 favorites to create a blend that you like.  Generally, just 4-8 drops total of essential oil in a diffuser is plenty.  Just remember, the smaller the space and the stronger the oil, the less essential oil is needed.  Diffusing too much essential oil in a small space will cause a headache and/or agitation.

*Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Relaxes and calms the mind, reduces anxiety and insomnia
Try blending it with Clary Sage & Lavender or Neroli & Rose

Cedarwood (Cedrus virginiana)

Relaxes the mind and calms stress and anxiety
Try blending it with Lavender & Mandarin

*German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Calms anxiety and nervous tension
Soothes the nervous system and supports sleep
Try blending it with Lavender or Neroli

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Calming to the mind, sedative
Reduces anxiety and over-thinking
Try blending it with Rose or Ylang Ylang

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Calms the mind and reduces anxiety
Try blending with Bergamot and Lavender

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Quiets the mind, supports tranquility
Try blending with Jasmine, Myrrh, Mandarin or Ylang Ylang

Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora ct linalol)

Calms the nerves and assists in meditation
Try blending with Lavender and Sandalwood

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Reduces anxiety, calms the mind, soothes
Try blending with Bergamot, Cedarwood, or Mandarin

Green Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
Calms agitation and reduces anxiety
Try blending with Cedarwood, Clary Sage, or Lavender

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)

Calms obsessive thinking, calms the heart, relieves anxiety
Try blending with Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, or Mandarin

Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)

Calms the mind, calms over thinking, brings a sense of peace
Try blending with Frankincense, Opopanax or Sandalwood

Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)

Calms the heart and relaxes the nerves
Try blending with Bergamot, Frankincense, Rose or Ylang Ylang

Opopanax (Commiphora guidotti)

Grounding, sedates and restores
Try blending with Frankincense, Rose or Sandalwood

Palo Santo (Holy Wood) (Bursera graveolens)

Quiets the mind, calms anxiety
Try blending with Frankincense, Mandarin, or Neroli

Rose (Rosa damacena)

Relieves stress and anxiety, it's relaxing
Try blending with Bergamot, Lavender, or Mandarin

Sandalwood (Santalum album or Santalum paniculatum)

Quiets the mind, supports meditation, calming
Try blending with Frankincense, Rose, or Ylang Ylang

Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)

Calms the heart and mind
Try blending with Lavender or Sandalwood

*Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina)

Relaxes, calms stress
Try blending with Lavender, Neroli or Sandalwood

*Safety Considerations

Bergamot is phototoxic.  Avoid direct sunlight or tanning beds for 18-24 hours after application.
German Chamomile can inhibit some metabolizing enzymes (CYP2D6) and can interfere with some antidepressants (ie: fluoxetine, quinidine, and paroxetine).  Can also have drug interactions with codeine and tamoxifen.
Ylang Ylang Do not use on children under 2 years of age. Ylang Ylang is a strongly scented oil.  Use in small quantities to avoid headaches. Generally, 1 drop blended with other oils in a diffuser is sufficient.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Using Essential Oils with Young Children

     There is a lot of information floating around the internet on essential oils these days. Unfortunately, not all of the information nor suggested uses is regarded as safe by the experts in the field.  In this blog post I'd like to discuss some basic safety for children and essential oil use.  For general basic safety on using essential oils, scroll to the bottom of this article and click the link to a recent blog post.

     Using essential oils on children under the age of 5 years is generally not recommended. There are some instances where that guideline can be set aside- with caution, of course.  In the case of a bee sting or a small scrape or bruise, a drop or two of essential oil blended into a carrier oil is fine.  Since babies and young children's bodies are so sensitive, using only carrier oils and hydrosols is usually sufficient to allow their small bodies to heal themselves.  Too much essential oil can cause an adverse reaction.  After all, everything that we put in and on our bodies has to be filtered out by the liver.  It's best to not put that extra work on our children's bodies.

What is a hydrosol?

     Hydrosols are the aromatic waters collected after the distillation process.  When an oil is distilled, steam is forced through a container holding the plant material.  The plant cells burst, releasing the essential oils.  The steam and the oil molecules are cooled resulting in the steam turning to water.  These liquids are collected in a flask where the oil floats to the top of the water.  The essential oil is made of the fat soluble components of the plant material and the hydrosol is made of the water soluble parts of the plant material.  Hydrosols contain many of the same therapeutic benefits as essential oils, however they are much more gentle.  Since hydrosols are so gentle, they can be used without diluting them and are healing to many skin irritations and abrasions. 
Their shelf life is approximately 6 months to 2 years and I like to store mine in the refrigerator to help extend their shelf life as long as possible. 

For Infants & Toddlers

     Using essential oils on infants and toddlers is not recommended.  Carrier oils and butters, aloe vera gel and hydrosols are recommended instead.  If an infant or small child has a cold or stuffy nose, it is safe to diffuse an essential oil such as Cedarwood.  The suggested practice for this is to run the diffuser for approximately 15-20 minutes without the child in the room, turn the diffuser off and then bring the child into the room.

     Another option is to have the parent or caregiver place a drop of the essential oil onto a cloth that is then draped over their own shoulder while they're holding the baby.  A third option is to mix a drop or 2 of essential oil into an ounce of carrier oil (ie: Jojoba Wax) or lotion and then the parent rubs that onto their own back or shoulder and the baby will be able to benefit from inhaling the oils while they're being held.

     Hydrosols are a much safer option than essential oils for use on infants and children.  They are much more gentle and easy to use.  Generally, they are packaged in a spray mist bottle which makes for convenient and quick use.  They can be used to treat many skin irritations such as diaper rash, baby acne, minor scrapes from little ones taking a tumble, etc.

     A few hydrosols to keep on hand are- Calendula, German Chamomile, and Lavender. You can use these hydrosols on their own or try combining equal parts of all three to make an even more therapeutic blend to use on infants and toddlers.

For Preschoolers & Up to 5 Years old

     For this age range, the guidelines discussed above still apply.  For younger or more petite children, the more caution is needed still.  The older or more robust the child, there is a little less hesitation for essential oil use. (Of course, still using oils deemed safe to use with children)

     When using an electric diffuser with this age range, it is safe to diffuse oils while the child is in the room.  However, it is recommended that the diffuser is used intermittently, not run for several hours at a time.  Try turning the diffuser on for about 30 minutes and then off for about an hour, then on again for about 30 minutes and so on.  If you're using a diffuser in the child's room at bedtime, turn the diffuser on for about 30 minutes before bedtime.  Then turn it off.

     Another option for children closer to about 5 years of age, is to allow them to use aromatherapy nasal inhalers made specifically for them.  Whether it be for a cold or allergies, anxiety, to help feel calm, etc, aromatherapy inhalers can be useful and comforting for children.  They're small enough to fit in their pocket and can easily travel wherever your child goes.

     While carrier oils, butters and creams are still a great option to use with this age group, when needed a few essential oils can be used with caution.  It is recommended that a 1% dilution be used for children.  That's only 5-6 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil.  It's also a great idea to start with just using 1-2 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier to begin with and see how that helps the situation.  Again, less is more! 

For 6 Years old up to 10-12 Years old 

     While still using caution, this age range can use essential oils a little more independently with aromatherapy inhalers and carrier oils, lotions and creams blended with their favorite essential oils for helping with skin issues, emotional support, and colds or allergies.  A 1% dilution is still recommended.  (5-6 drops essential oil per 1 ounce carrier)

     I still recommend using the same intermittent cycle while diffusing essential oils with this age range.  If you're using a diffuser at bedtime, turn it on for only 30 minutes when the child goes to bed.  Then turn it off.  It doesn't need to run for several hours at a time to be beneficial.

     Carrier oils, butters, creams, aloe vera gel and hydrosols are still great options for this age range as well.  Just because they are getting a little older, it doesn't mean we should throw caution to the wind and dab essential oils on every little bump or inhale them for each little sniffle.  Less is always best to begin with.      

A few suggested carrier oils, butters, etc to use with children

Aloe Vera Gel
Coconut Oil
Jojoba Wax
Favorite body butter blend without essential oils
Unscented creams or lotions

Essential oils safe for using with children (Not a comprehensive list-however, a great starting point)

Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) or (Cedrus deodara) or (Cedrus atlantica)

Eucalyptus Citriodora (Eucalyptus citriodora)

Eucalyptus Radiata (Eucalyptus radiata)- Only use with children over 10 years of age.  Use caution around children with asthma

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Green Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)- Use with caution and only on children over 5 years of age.

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) 

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) 

Do Not use these essential oils on or around infants and children under 12 years of age unless otherwise indicated This is not a comprehensive list.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) Use with caution on children over 10 years old
Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata)
Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus globulus) Use with caution on children over 10 years old
Eucalyptus Dives (Eucalyptus dives) Use with caution on children over 10 years old
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)  Use with caution on children over 10 years old
Laurel Leaf (Laurus nobilis)
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) Use with caution on children over 10 years old
Melissa (Melissa officinalis) Use with caution on children over 5 years old
Opopanax (Commiphora guidotti) Safe for use over age 5
Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8 cineole)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. 1,8 cineole) Use with caution on children 5-10 yrs old)
Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia) Use with caution on children over 10 years old

Do not use the following oils for anyone who might be vulnerable to epileptic seizures: Western Red Cedar, Wormwood, Genipi, Hyssop (ct pinocamphone), Sage, Thuja, Pennyroyal, Buchu, Calamint, Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Mugwort, Lanyana, Ho Leaf (ct camphor), Boldo, Wintergreen, Birch, Rosemary, Yarrow, Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Feverfew, and Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia). (Tisserand and Young p.134, table 10.2)

For general, basic safety on using essential oils, read (this) blog post.  It is excellent information for anyone new to using essential oils as well as a great refresher for those who have used essential oils for some time.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cleaning with Essential Oils (Part 4 -Recipes)

*This is Part 4 of a Spring Cleaning Series using essential oils.

Linen & Room Freshening Sprays

Replace your chemical laden commercial room sprays and "outlet fragrance warmers" with one of these recipes below.  Lightly mist on drapery, fabric furniture, carpets, etc to freshen and purify the air.
*These recipes are not meant to use as body sprays

Energy Balance

2 oz Distilled  Water or Vodka  (If using water, refrigerate and make a new bottle every                                                                     few weeks since there is no preservative)
20 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
10 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)
10 drops Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
1 ounce glass bottle with mister top

Mood Lifting

2 oz Distilled  Water or Vodka  (If using water, refrigerate and make a new bottle every 
                                                          few weeks since there is no preservative) 
10 drops Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
20 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
10 drops Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
1 ounce glass bottle with mister top

Combine essential oils in bottle with either water or vodka.  Shake well before each use.

Air Purifying Diffuser Blends

A few guidelines for using an electric diffuser:  When using in a small space or around children and pets, adjust drops to use a little less or open a window.  It is also best to diffuse intermittently- turn diffuser on for 15-20 minutes and then off for about an hour; repeat.
Another option is to diffuse while everyone is away from home.  You'll come home to a fresh scented house and clean air.  

Mood Lifting

1 drop Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
4 drops Green Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
2 drop Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Cold Fighting
2 drops Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
1 drop Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) (safe to use around children)
2 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
3 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

1 drop Geranium (Pelargonium roseum x asperum)
3 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
1 drop Ylang Ylang (Cananga ordorata)

*This is Part 4 of a Spring Cleaning Series using essential oils.

You can find more posts from this series here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3