Edition 19: May 2010
Essential Oi of the Month
Nerve tonic makes mother’s milk flow
THE CLEAN, uplifting scent of lemongrass essential oil penetrates deep into the mind, like a breath of fresh air, revitalising the conscious mind, dissipating pessimism and boosting self-esteem.
Now we can generate the courage and confidence to overcome difficult situations; stressful anxieties about the future dissolve into patience.
Lemongrass expands the crown chakra and spiritualises the thought process. By softening rigid mental attitudes and encouraging flexibility we become less resistant to change, which encourages our spiritual progress.
This oil stimulates the left brain, expanding the range of logical thought, manifesting new ideas and infusing them with spiritual energy.
It helps us recognise the causes of discordant and unharmonious energy.
Lemongrass helps fight depression due to failure in career or love, insecurity, loneliness or loss, and especially the depression rooted in trying to live up to social standards.
The oil also protects the energy field and us from the bombardment of electromagnetic energy of radio, TV, computers and other electronic appliances.
Lemongrass oil acts as a general tonic to boost health and strengthen the immune system. It tones all the bodily systems and facilitates absorption of nutrients in the body, thus providing better strength and well-being with its boost to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a boon when recovering from illness.
Lemongrass nurtures the nervous system and strengthens the nerves. It can bring relief for many nervous disorders such as shaking hands or limbs, nervousness, vertigo, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and convulsions, sluggishness and lack of reflexes.
It is an excellent sedative, with soothing, sedating and calming effects on the mind, relieving tension and anxiety.
These virtues are useful for insomnia and relieving the symptoms of jetlag; it helps clear headaches and combat nervous exhaustion and stress-related conditions. It is remarkably rehabilitating after shock.
Burners and Vapourisers: Use as a general tonic for nervousness and to revive the mind when feeling lethargic. Use as an insect repellent and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Blended in a massage or diluted in the bath: Use to assist with cellulite, digestive problems, as a diuretic, for infections or for over-exerted ligaments.
The analgesic properties of lemongrass essential oil help relieve pain in the muscles and joints and thus it is a valuable addition to massage blends to ease pain from sports injury and over-exertion in exercise.
Lemongrass oil helps tone the muscles and tissue, relieving pains, eliminating lactic acid and making the muscle more supple. It also enhances the regeneration of ligaments and connective tissues and improves lymph and blood flow.
Lemongrass oil helps bring down fever by fighting the infection that caused it and increasing perspiration. This oil has been known to even bring down the dangerously high fevers.
This oil has anti-microbial properties that inhibit microbial and bacterial growth in the body, internally or externally. It inhibits bacterial infections in the colon, stomach, urinary tracts and respiratory system.
Lemongrass is an excellent skin remedy to treat a variety of problems such as acne and skin rashes. As a potent antiseptic, it is a useful ingredient in preparations to treat wounds and sores and preventing infection. The oil has good fungicidal properties and may be used to cure fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.
Cosmetically it acts as a skin toner because it naturally dilates the blood vessels, tightening pores and wrinkles.
Its astringency helps clear up excessive oily skin and it can be added to ointments to treat varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
Deodorising and safe
It is deodorising and assists with excessive sweating, so is a natural and safe additive for deodorants.
Lemongrass soothes digestive disorders such as colitis, indigestion and gastroenteritis and can efficiently remedy wind and bloat problems. It not only helps remove gas from the intestine by relaxing the muscles in the abdominal region, ensuring a comfortable exit, but also stops further gas formation.
Lemongrass oil is diuretic and increases urination, both in frequency and in quantity. In this way it removes excess water from the body and reduces swelling, so it is often prescribed for edema, and fluid retention. This increased urination lowers blood pressure and helps clean the kidneys, removing toxins from the body.
Lemongrass oil is a galactagogue, which means it increases formation of milk in the breasts of nursing mothers and it also enhances the quality of milk. The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties of Lemongrass oil are also absorbed into the milk and thus indirectly help the baby get rid of any infections, which they can be prone to.
Lemongrass is an effective insect repellent: biting flies, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks do not like the smell of lemongrass and will avoid it. Use it to keep the family pet free of fleas and ticks as well.
Latin: Cymbopogon citratus/flexuosus
What is it? It is a perennial, fast-growing aromatic grass, growing to about one metre high with long, thin leaves and originally was growing wild in India. It produces a network of roots and rootlets that rapidly exhaust the soil. In India it is known as 'choomana poolu' and used in Ayurvedic medicine to help bring down fevers and treat infectious illnesses.
Aroma: Strong, sweet and lemony. The rather sharp oil is dark yellow to amber and reddish in colour, with a watery viscosity.
Lemongrass oil blends well with: neroli, rosemary, basil, cedarwood, coriander, geranium, jasmine, lavender and tea tree.
Properties: analgesic (quells pain), anti-depressant, antimicrobial and antiseptic (kills infection), antipyretic and febrifuge (reduces fever), astringent, carminative, deodorant, diuretic, fungicidal, galactagogue (increases breast milk), insecticidal, nervine, sedative and tonic.
Precautions: Lemongrass oil can irritate sensitive skin, so care should be taken.
What Herb is That?
Vervain: herbal protection from vampire venom and depression
ACCORDING to Egyptian mythology, vervain grew from the tears of Isis, the Goddess of fertility.
One thousand years later, vervain was used to staunch the wounds of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary. It was often crossed and blessed when harvested and perhaps for this reason it was worn as protection against vampires. Vervain was worn around the neck also as a charm against snake and other venomous bites as well as for general good luck.
The Romans spread vervain throughout Europe. The priests used it for sacrifices and as a purifying alter herb; hence the common name Herba Sacra. The druids included it in their lustral water, while magicians and sorcerers employed it largely in various rites and incantations.
During the Middle Ages, healing herbs were called “simples” and herbalists “simplers”. Vervain was known as “simplers joy” as it was prescribed so frequently. It was recommended to treat skin problems such as acne and as a treatment for jaundice, gout, cough, wheezing, bleeding gums, shortness of breath, kidney stones, fever, plague and congestive heart failure.
In the 12th Century, herbalist Hildegard Von Bingen prescribed it for toxic blood and toothache. Culpeper said it would help ease swelling and ‘pains of the secret parts’ (genitals) when mixed with hog’s grease.
Colonists introduced vervain into North America where it quickly went wild. Vervain was commonly prescribed in a similar manner as “taking two aspirins and going to bed” is today. Modern studies suggest it has similar effects, combining mild pain relief with some ability to reduce inflammation. This research supports vervain’s traditional use in treating headaches, toothache, wounds, and kidney stones.
Vervain has been called a natural tranquiliser as it strengthens the nervous system while relaxing tension and stress.
It can also be used for insomnia. As a relaxing tonic, it is specifically indicated for depression and the debility of convalescence after fevers, especially influenza. It can be used to help seizures and hysteria and works well when combined with skullcap.
It is used as a relaxant and antispasmodic remedy in asthma, migraine and nervous coughing. Verbenalin, one of the constituents, has a direct action on smooth muscle and also has a potential hypotensive effect.
As a diaphoretic, the herb encourages sweating and is indicated in the early stages of fever. The warm tea, taken often, is recommended for colds and flu and especially for getting rid of congestion in the throat and chest. It is a traditional remedy as a mouthwash for infected gums and tooth decay, halitosis and tonsillitis.
Vervain acts as a liver restorative, promoting the flow of bile and is used for liver conditions such as jaundice, inflammation of the gall-bladder and gallstones. Vervain contains a glycoside that has a direct effect on glandular secretions. The herb works as a gentle but effective laxative to combat constipation and is often effective for eliminating intestinal worms.
Externally, vervain infusion heals sores and wounds. A poultice of the herb may be applied to insect bites, sprains and bruises; and added to a lotion or ointment it is used to treat eczema, wounds, weeping sores and painful neuralgia.
Vervain contains actives that have reputed emmenagogue action and has been documented to possess weak parasympathetic properties, causing slight contraction of the uterus. This means it is not safe for during pregnancy but can be used during labour to stimulate contractions.
The Chinese use vervain to treat migraines associated with female sex hormone fluctuations. It promotes milk flow in nursing mothers; this galactagogic property is attributed to the aucubin constituent.
Herbal Tea to Ease Pain
For a bitter tea to help treat headache, mild arthritis, and other minor pains, use two teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water. Drink up to three cups per day. You can mask the bitterness of vervain with honey, sugar and lemon, or mix it with another drink or tea. Taken cold, the infusion acts as a tonic.
Latin name: Verbena officinalis
What is it? Verbena is a slender perennial herb, 30-90cm tall, with a woody stalk and several stiffly erect stems. Tiny blue flowers appear in long slender spikes. The above-ground part of vervain is used. Verbena is native to England, central and southern Europe, North Africa and Asia, and has been introduced into North America. It grows in waysides and waste places. The plant has no perfume, and is slightly bitter and astringent in taste.
Actions: Sedative, relaxant, nerve tonic, thymoleptic (favorably modifies mood in serious affective disorders such as depression or mania), spasmolytic (muscle relaxant), mild diaphoretic, hepatic (liver tonic), emmenagogic (uterine stimulant), galactagogue (promotes milk flow), vulnerary (heals wounds).
Medicinal Uses: asthma, common cold/sore throat, cough, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, gastritis, gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), indigestion, pap smear (abnormal), peptic ulcer, bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, cystitis, urethritis, urinary gravel or calculi; locally for abscesses, boils and ulcers.
Caution: It should be avoided during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant, but it may be taken during labour to stimulate contractions.