Edition 28: February 2011
Essential Oil of the Month
Anti-depressant oil lightens dark moods
BERGAMOT is both sedative and calming to the sympathetic nervous system.
It is a subtle and uplifting nerve tonic and one of the most effective essential oils in combating depression, especially caused by fatigue or unreleased tensions and frustrations.
It tends to lift the heaviness and lethargy felt by depressed people, elevating their mood.
Bergamot disperses stagnant Chi that manifests as tension, irritability and frustration; all conditions that lead to depression if they are not released.
This valuable oil redirects obsessive nervous energy that manifests in addictive and unproductive behavior and restores positivity and mental clarity.
Bergamot inspires the personality to release its tightly held, depressive patterns and allow the powers of grace and wisdom to direct life instead of fear and the ego’s need to control.
Old thought patterns of guilt and despair are transformed to serenity, contentment and wisdom.
The heart chakra is activated, deepening our connection with spiritual love and reopening it to joy. When we feel overshadowed by the dark side, enveloped in sullen bitterness, this sunny essential oil helps us focus concentrated sweet light wherever it is most needed.
Bergamot releases fear and trauma from the cellular memory of the physical body, calming the mind so that new realms of awareness can be explored. Energetically, bergamot revitalises the endocrine system, stimulating the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands, increasing the body’s vibratory frequency. This rejuvenates the body, ousting dense feelings of unworthiness and restoring harmony and the sense that joy is our native state of being.
Burners and vapourisers: depression, feeling fed-up, respiratory problems, PMS (pre menstrual tension) and SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder).
Blended massage or bath oil: stress, tension, PMS, skin problems, compulsive eating and anorexia nervosa, postnatal depression.
Blended in a base cream: wounds and cuts, psoriasis, oily skin, acne, eczema, cold sores and chicken pox
Added to the Teapot: Add a drop or two to a pot of black tea to create the fragrant Earl Gray flavour and extra cheer.
The name bergamot comes from the Italian town Bergamo, where it was first cultivated. This delicate citrus tree requires very specific growing conditions. It can grow up to four meters high, with star-shaped flowers and smooth leaves. It yields small, pear-shaped fruit, much like miniature oranges in appearance, only they are very sour and inedible. The bergamot essential oil is cold-pressed from the rind of the nearly ripe fruit. Cold-pressed is the best, though it can be steam distilled.
The tree is native to South East Asia, but was introduced to Italy where it was cultivated to become a staple in oil production. It is also found in the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.
The oil is widely used in the perfumery industry and is blended together with neroli and lavender for the classic 4711 Eau de cologne fragrance.
Conditions of the digestive system, such as indigestion, dyspepsia, wind and colic will respond well to bergamot oil and it also stimulates appetite in those who have lost it, especially due to emotional stress.
It has been used to expel intestinal parasites; some sources refer to bergamot enemas (well diluted in goat’s milk) for this purpose.
Stimulating for the Liver
Bergamot is stimulating for the liver, stomach and spleen. An abdominal massage can help diminish gallstones. The oil has a superb disinfectant effect on the urinary tract and helps with infections and inflammations such as cystitis. A local wash with bergamot relieves the symptoms as well as soothing the accompanying anxiety.
Bergamot is anti-microbial in cases of respiratory infection such as bronchitis and helps with breathing difficulties.
It is understood to be a tonic for the uterus and was once used to treat sexually transmitted diseases. Used sparingly in the bath it is cooling for feverous conditions.
Cosmetically it acts as a natural skin tonic and detoxifier that helps prevent premature ageing. It works well on oily skin conditions and is often used to treat conditions such as psoriasis and eczema when included in soothing lotions.
It can be applied to herpes, chicken pox and shingles for its cooling quality. It is a useful antiseptic for healing acne, wounds and varicose ulcers and it can be used in hair treatments for seborrhea of the scalp.
Bergamot will repel insects successfully and keep pets away from plants.
Latin name: Citrus Bergamia
Scent: Bergamot is the finest of the citrus oils, exuding both a fresh lemony and orangey scent with warm and sweet floral notes. The colour ranges from green to greenish-yellow and the oil has a watery viscosity.
Blends well with: All the citruses, cypress, chamomile, geranium, jasmine, neroli, coriander, ylang-ylang, ginger, clary-sage, black pepper and juniper.
Medicinal properties: Acne, abscesses, anxiety, cold sores, cystitis, depression, halitosis, itching, loss of appetite, indigestion, oily skin, psoriasis, eczema, stress, infection, general convalescence, insomnia, vaginal candida, insect repellent.
Indications: Analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, carminative, vulnerary (heals wounds), deodorant, digestive, febrifuge, (reduces fever) sedative, stomachic, tonic, insecticide.
Precautions: Avoid using in strong sunlight as it increases photosensitivity, increasing the risks of burning. Always test a small amount first for sensitivity or allergic reaction.
MASSAGE OIL RECIPES
To release anger and frustration:
1 ml Bergamot Essential Oil
1 ml Roman Chamomile EO
1 ml Orange EO
97 ml Carrier Oil Blend
To overcome tension and anxiety:
3 ml Lavender Essential Oil
2 ml Neroli EO
1 ml Bergamot EO
194 ml Carrier Oil Blend
The recipes can also be used in a diffuser (exclude the carrier oil).
What Herb is That?
Incan nerve tonic still does the job
FIRST USED by the Incas and the Aztecs of Mexico as a sedative nerve tonic, passionflower has been a popular folk remedy for centuries in Europe and North America.
The herb received its curious name from the Spanish conquistadors who conquered Mexico and Peru in the 16th Century. The name passionflower refers to the passion of Christ. In the Spaniards’ elaborate analogy, in the flowers of the vine they saw various symbols of the Passion of Christ, which in Christian tradition refers to the period of time between the Last Supper and Christ's death.
The five stamens represent his wounds, and the petals represent the 10 faithful apostles (Peter and Judas did not count); the corona in the centre of the flower was thought to resemble the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The flower's tendrils symbolised whips, and so on. Perhaps this was seen as a divine sign of approval for the Spaniards’ wholesale slaughter of the local populations.
In 1839 the eclectic physicians cemented passionflower’s popularity as a “non-narcotic sedative and digestive aid.” They also used the juice from the leaves externally for burns and wounds.
The Germans attempted to use harmine, the alkaloid in the passionflower, as a truth serum during World War II due of the chemical's reputation for inducing a euphoria-like state.
Throughout its history passionflower has been used to treat a variety of medical problems; including diarrhoea, neuralgia, asthma, whooping cough, seizures, painful menstruation, and haemorrhoids (when used externally).
Passionflower is a creeping perennial vine with white, purple-tinged flowers and orange berries that grows to a height of up to nine metres. While there are more than 400 species belonging to the genus Passiflora, the variety used for medicinal purposes is called incarnata, which can be translated “embodied”. Other names for passionflower include maypop, granadilla, passion vine, and apricot vine.
The passionflower is edible and medicinal. The delicious fruit and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked in jellies and jams; young leaves are used as a cooked vegetable or in salads.
Passionflower is easily cultivated and has many beautiful large and aromatic flowers. It grows quickly and produces edible fruit but it is the leaves and stems that are used medicinally.
Passionflower has tranquilising effects and is used to treat nervous conditions. It is normally administered as part of a prolonged treatment for its relaxing and calming effects.
This nerve tonic herb is also used in preparations for troubled skin, as many skin conditions are in fact a manifestation of nervous disorders.
A passionflower infusion is a wonderful sedative; relieving anxiety, restlessness and stubborn insomnia.
Research has shown it to prolong sleep and reduce motor activity; it slightly reduces blood pressure and increases respiratory rate. In its capacity as a sedative and sleep aid, passionflower has been endorsed by several important European research organisations. The herb contains alkaloids and flavonoids that are an effective, non-addictive sedative that do not cause drowsiness.
It is also recommended for the relief of nausea caused by nervousness or anxiety. The herb appears to work, at least in part, by mildly depressing the central nervous system and preventing muscle spasms. Passionflower relaxes the smooth muscle that lines the digestive tract and it is often used in combination with other sedative plants such as valerian, hawthorn and lemon balm to alleviate digestive spasms associated with gastritis and colitis. Passionflower is also used in Germany in a special sedative tea for children. This antispasmodic herb relaxes the smooth muscle of the uterus, easing menstrual discomfort and the combined properties deal admirably with PMT.
Effective nerve relief
Passionflower is effective in the relief of nerve pain in neuralgia and shingles. An infusion of the plant depresses the motor nerves of the spinal cord, making it very valuable in the treatment of back pain. It is also of benefit in asthma where there is spasms and when there is associated tension.
Some herbalists recommend passionflower as a treatment for Parkinson's disease, based on a belief that the har- mine and harmaline in the herb may counteract the effects of the disorder.
Some of the plant’s constituents - apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol and quercetin - are being studied and showing promise in fighting Parkinson's disease, HIV, leukaemia and more.
In 2002, a team of American researchers published a report finding that passionflower showed promise as a treatment for cancer. Scientists found that the herb extract inhibited an early antigen of Epstein-Barr virus, which suggests that it may also inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours. Nonetheless as a supportive therapy that attends to the overall well-being of the patient, passionflower is very beneficial.
Latin name: Passiflora incarnate
Indications: anodyne, antispasmodic, astringent, diaphoretic, hypnotic, narcotic, sedative, vasodilator and women’s tonic.
Caution: When taken in recommended dosages, passionflower has not been associated with any significant or bothersome side effects.