Helichrysum

HELICHRYSUM, the Essential Oil

The Helichrysum species are difficult to tell apart and contain a rare therapeutic essential oil that is used to reduce pain (analgesic) and reduce bruising.

By Jeanne Rose ~ 5-12-22

unknown origin of photo

Common Name/Latin Binomial ~ Helichrysum angustifolium DC. often called Everlasting and Immortal. The four species that are most used in medicine and aromatherapy in the genus Helichrysum are. Helichrysum bracteiferum (Madagascar), Helichrysum gymnocephalum (from several countries), Helichrysum italicum (Corsica), and Helichrysum odoratissimum (South Africa).

Other Common Name/Naming Information ~ The various species of Helichrysum are often hard to tell apart as they are polymorphic, that is, appearing in several different forms. They have common names such as Immortal and strawflower and some kinds are grown as everlastings, that is, they retain their shape and color when dried. Helichrysum is derived from the Greek name for sun and gold.

Family ~ Asteraceae

Countries of Origins Helichrysum ~ Helichrysum italicum (H. angustifolium) Italian everlasting, Immortelle. The genus Helichrysum includes around 500 species from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. They grow wild in many Mediterranean countries.

Endangered or Not ~ Some species of Helichrysum are listed as endangered.

Historical & Interesting ~ Most Italian oils are orange-colored.  The finest and most therapeutic Helichrysum comes from Sicily – it is greenish-colored, and honey-scented and contains the anti-hematomic (stops bruising) diketones called italidone.  American and Croatian grown oil has been found to contain neryl acetate for skincare but rarely contain italidone.  The finest Helichrysum essential oil is a result of its terroir and point of origin, the parts of the plant used, and harvest time.

General description of Plant habitat and growth ~ Etymology (the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.) – The composite flowers of Helichrysums are surrounded by desiccated, colored, membranous sepals, remaining unchanged when the plant is dried – whence the name ‘everlasting’. Helichrysums can be perennials or annuals or shrubs.

gathering Helichrysum

Gathering

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Portion of plant used in distillation, how distilled, extraction methods, and yields ~ Helichrysum oil is produced on a limited scale by steam distillation or solvent extraction of the flowering tops of Italian everlasting, H. italicum, and closely related species. Harvest must be done by the hand of the flowering tops and leaves. They should be wild grown. Distilling must be done as soon as possible after harvest. If the plants are kept longer that 24 hours, the plant material will start to fade and to ferment and the oil will be of poor quality.       Helichrysum can be solvent extracted to an absolute.

Yield ~ the plants contain as little as 0.2-0.5% essential oil

bottle of Helichrysum oil
beautiful example of Helichrysum from Prima Fleur Botanicals

Helichrysum – Organoleptic Characteristics of the Essential oil

The oils of Helichrysum are very different colors depending upon where they are grown, from an orange color to yellow and some of the most interesting are green in color.

Color – usually yellow
Clarity – clear
Viscosity – non-viscous
Intensity of odor – soft intensity, about 4-5
Tenacity – a tenacious scent that can be recognized within a blend
Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment ~ It has a rich, honeyed, herbaceous, sweet hay aroma and has been used for special effects in perfumery but is mostly used in blends for pain relief.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES & Uses of Helichrysum

Properties and Uses ~ Several studies have confirmed that Helichrysum italicum  (*H. italicum (Roth) G. Don) essential oil from Algeria exhibits interesting antimicrobial activity that seems to be due to the large diversity of its chemical contents. Therefore, the essential oil of H. italicum (Roth) G. Don might be used as a therapeutic agent and these compounds can be applied to medicinal and pharmaceutical purposes.1

Physical Uses ~ Some Helichrysum oil from Corsica contains diketones, which are anti-hematomic, that is, the use reduces the effects of bruising. The oil is also analgesic (reduces pain) and can be used in a compress to areas that have been banged and bumped and to older injuries and aches and pains.

Other Physical Uses include Helichrysum has important anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and sedative properties. It can be used as an external application for Dupuytren’s contracture, (another possible use is for Peyronie Syndrome), arthritis, and trigger finger. It has regenerative properties and is used to resolve old scar tissue, treat burns,  and taken in a tincture or carrier as an internal use for ulcers or stomach lining or mouth wash for inflammation of the gums. In France, it is used by ingestion to regulate cholesterol (I do not know how or how much) It also has detoxifying properties and can be used on herpes, acne, and by inhalation to help one to cease smoking.

STOP SMOKING
No-Smoking/Heal Damage done by Drugs

Use by Inhalation & Application
3 parts Lemon – cleanser and astringent
2 parts Rose Geranium – adrenal tonic
1 part Helichrysum – healing, antihematomic

Morton’s Neuroma Formula. A Helichrysum-based product can be effective. Helichrysum is more anti-inflammatory than German Chamomile, and often more tissue regenerating than Comfrey or Lavender and is both anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It is said to have corticoid-like effects.

Helichrysum Salve or Oil A 10-15% essential oil formula in Calophyllum oil and Calendula infused oil, thickened with beeswax. The formula of oils is to use 15% EO to 85% carrier
35% Helichrysum – soothing/healing
25% Rosemary cineol – stimulating/healing
20% Basil analgesic/warming/healing essential oil
20% Lavender aromatic/healing essential oil
Add 15% EO to 85% Carrier of Calophyllum & Calendula
You can change the ingredients around for different results.

Application & Skincare ~ Regarding essential oils for the recovery of scars and keloids, here is a wonderful formula using Helichrysum. Supplementary information can be read in my book, “375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols” and get a copy of this book as it will help you with education and information.

Scar Care Formula & EO
20% Rosehip Seed oil20% Calophyllum inophyllum50% Calendula infused oil
            10% essential oils:
              4% Helichrysum
             
3% Lavender – high altitude
             
3% Blue Chamomile

Mix everything and apply as often as possible, several times per day.

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Inhalation ~ Use inhalation of the mixture to help one to stop smoking. Inhale as often as necessary to repel your use of cigarettes. [see formula above]

            Diffusion – This is such a special and expensive essential oil; I do not recommend its use via a diffuser.

Emotional/Energetic Use ~ Often used to inhale to release trauma and for peace and a quiet mind.

Short List of Helichrysum Uses from Rivendell Aromatics

Helichrysum/Immortelle: Helichrysum italicum

Arthritis Pain – anti-inflammatory

Emotional –  Heals emotional scars, connects body and spirit, and opens inner spiritual life. 

Face & skin –  Clear Acne, Rosacea, Age spots & Scars

Infections – bacterial & fungal

Mouthwash – heal gingivitis & sores

Respiratory –  Inhale mist for asthma, bronchitis, cough

Surgery – helps heal incisions and needle wounds, helps to detoxify the liver of anesthetic & drugs

Wounds –: Reduce swelling of bruises, bumps, nosebleeds, 

Personal use –  Strong anti-inflammatory – has worked well for my aging mother as she was able to stop taking prescription pain medication for her arthritis, and she noticed that her ‘age spots’ faded. 

Strong effective remedy for hematoma bruises and aches and pains from trauma or overworking a muscle. And I have also used Helichrysum hydrosol plus Bay hydrosol as a mouth wash for serious gum problems.

Herbal & Hydrosol Use ~ I have found that the best use for Helichrysum flowers is in flower arrangements as they are very dry and thus last quite a while.  Other than this, hydrosol is the most efficient and best use of this hard-to-distill plant. The hydrosol can be used directly as a facial tonic, as an ingredient in any skincare product, and as a direct spray for calming and cooling.

The average yield is 1 lb. of plant material and 1-2 lbs.  (2 cups to 1 quart) of hydrosol out. (One gallon of distilled water weighs approx. 8.32 lbs.)

Key Use: Oil for delicate skin care.

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Chemistry and Comparison of Main Components ~ The major ingredient of typical Helichrysum oil is neryl acetate (up to 40 %). Moreover, a number of unusual beta-diketones are present in some samples in significant amounts, e.g., 4,6,9-trimethyldec-8-en-3,5-dione. One of the components of the EO from Corsica is italidone, a double-bonded ketone that is an anti-hematomic i.e., it helps reduce bruising. Other species contain neral acetate, an important ester used for soothing and healing and for skincare.

Chemistry of Helichrysum (the Essential Oil Certificate of Analysis) by Arthur Tucker – 10/22/03

GCMS of Helichrysum by Arthur Tucker

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A Story of HYDROSOL ~ Helichrysum, Helichrysum angustifolia dc.,

called Everlasting and Immortal among other names

DISTILLATION TIDBITS •      the various species of Helichrysum are hard to tell apart, they are polymorphic (have many shapes). They grow wild in many Mediterranean countries. Most Italian oils are orange-colored.  The finest and most therapeutic Helichrysum comes from Sicily – it is greenish-colored, and honey-scented and contains the anti-hematomic (stops bruising) diketones called italidone. To date, no American or Croatian grown oil has been found to contain italidone.  This oil can be taken internally for liver problems and is used externally as a regenerative and to resolve scar tissue. See page 88-89 in 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Hydrosol is used to bathe fresh wounds, it is healing and soothing.  It is not yet known what the USA-grown hydrosol will do in actual practice.

                  Specific gravity is .0.89-.92 ± .002 and the plants contain as little as 0.2-0.5% essential oil.

                  Harvest must be done by the hand of the flowering tops and leaves. They should be wild grown. Distilling must be done as soon as possible after harvest. If the plants are kept longer than 24 hours, the plant material will start to fade and to ferment and the oil will be of poor quality.——2001

Distillation of California grown Helichrysum September 23, 2003. On 9/23/03, I received 5 lbs. plus of Helichrysum flowering tops grown and harvested by Sandy Messori in California and distilled it in a 25-liter copper still.  The information is as follows: Latin binomial and variety. Helichrysum italicum. The grower did not know the variety or chemotype.

Terroir (where and how grown). The area is near Carpentaria, CA and the field is located in a protected canyon called Casitas Pass, 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. It is at about 900 feet elevation, in an area that was once an oak forest and is now an avocado orchard.  The area was cleared by a landslide about 7 years ago and the soil that was ‘unearthed’ by the slide, the ‘virgin’ soil, was allowed to be fallow, never planted with trees or crops. The soil is heavy clay, but the slope allows plenty of drainage for these drought-tolerant plants that are native to the southern part of Europe bordering the Mediterranean Ocean (Italian Riviera, Dalmatian Islands, and French Riviera.  The plants have similar needs to Lavender. 

These plants were grown on clay soil on a gentle 20-30% W – NW facing slope. The plants were not watered as in June there had been a light rain.  The springtime weather was very cool and gloomy well into the summer (July).  Then it was bright and sunny the rest of the summer.  The soil around the plants is covered with a dark-colored weed cloth that helps keep the soil warm and conserves moisture.  There is full sun exposure all day long.

Harvest. The plants were harvested on 9/22/03 between noon and 12:30 pm. It was a clear and sunny day with a slight mist down by the ocean, which gives the growing area some slight humidity. The temperature was 74° F with a slight breeze from the west at noon. The morning dew had dried off the plants. The nighttime temperatures had been 55-60° F. The tops were cut 3-6 inches in length with immature flower heads, some mature flowers as well, 5 lbs. were laid lengthwise in a box and shipped by Fed Ex to arrive by 10 am the following day in San Francisco.

Distillation occurred on September 23, Autumn Equinox, 2003. On Tuesday, I received the FedEx package at 10:30 a.m. and immediately set up the 25-liter copper stovetop still. The plants picked weighed 5 lbs. and were placed in the pot on a copper grid to keep the plants out of the water. The still was put together at 11:08 a.m., it was 75° F in the kitchen. Three gallons of 60° F. spring water were added to the pot, the heat turned on, the rest of the connections were made, and 2 gallons of warm water added to the condenser. There was heat at the head at 11:20 a.m., at the gooseneck at 11:30 a.m., and at the condenser at 11:35 a.m. The connections were secure, and the distillate started at 11:42 a.m. The heads (first plant aroma) were strongly herbaceous and with floral back notes.  During the distillation, the scent stayed strongly honeyed, herbal, and floral.  pH stayed at 4.2 ± .1 throughout the distillation that lasted 3 hours. At 12:15 p.m. the scent or body note was flattening out, but the odor could still be characterized as herbal, honey and floral. The distillation was slowed by turning down the heat during the middle of the time which seemed to improve the odor as well as slow the distillate into the receiver. At 3:42 p.m. after 3 hours of distillation, 6 quarts of hydrosol had been collected and a vegetative back note was creeping into the scent. Distillation was stopped at this evidence of a tail note.

5 pounds of cut tops with mature and immature flower heads yielded 6 quarts of hydrosol and 1 ml. of essential oil.  The essential oil was sent for analysis and this information is added.

                  When Sandy Messori, the grower, distilled on her glass still, she got much less hydrosol but more of the essential oil. “Jeanne, so much hydrosol with just 5 pounds of material.  It has a nice honey/toast scent.  The hydrosol I get has a stronger, more pungent scent since I am using a smaller still and get only about 2 liters during a 3-hour distillation.  And from 8 pounds of material, I get about 8 -10 MLS. of  essential oil.” Sandy Messori of Rivendell Aromatics • 

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

Prima Fleur Helichrysum oil superimposed on Helichrysum plants
Prima Fleur Helichrysum oil over a bed of Helichrysum

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Patch Test:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test on the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose band-aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas.—The Aromatherapy Book, Applications &  Inhalations, p. 64

Do not Ingest essential oils, please.

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies  – Jeanne Rose©

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References:
Guenther, The Essential Oils
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, http://www.bojensen.net/EssentialOilsEng/EssentialOils13A/EssentialOils13A.htm

1http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506734/
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:

botanical drawing of Helichrysum

LEMON BALM & LEMON VERBENA

LEMON BALM & LEMON VERBENA

By Jeanne Rose ~ 4-20-22

photo from the garden of Lemon vebena and Lemon Balm
Lemon Verbena and Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena are from two different genera and family.  They are not the same and yet I am writing about them together because they often have the same properties, in both essential oil and herbal use.

                                                                          COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL/FAMILY

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) and Family Lamiaceae

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla) and Family Verbenaceae

                                                        OTHER COMMON NAME/NAMING INFORMATION ~
Lemon Balm is often called  Balm, Balm Mint, Bálsamo de Limón, Common Balm, Cure-All, Dropsy Plant, Honey Plant, Melisa, Melissa, Melissa officinalis, Melissae Folium, Mélisse, Mélisse Citronnelle, Mélisse Officinale, Melissenblatt, Monarde, Sweet Balm, Sweet Mary, Toronjil.

AND

Lemon Verbena has many names and confusing scientific names including Aloysia citrodora, Aloysia triphylla, Lippia citrodora, Lippia triphylla, Zappania citrodora and common names such as Cedrón, Herb Louisa, Hierba Luisa, Lemon-Scented Verbena, Louisa, Verbena Citrodora, Verbena triphylla, Verveine Citronnée, Verveine Citronnelle, Verveine des Indes, Verveine du Chili, Verveine du Pérou, Verveine Odorante.

            So, know these two plants by their physiology and anatomy – look and them and memorize their looks, smell, taste, and touch.

                                                                  COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS & Harvest Locations

Lemon Balm grows easily in many places and is distilled in Bulgaria, France, and Italy.

Lemon Verbena is distilled in Chile, Argentina, and Morocco. I have seen a Lemon Verbena tree here in San Francisco that had grown up to the 2nd story window and the one in the backyard that I grew from a 2-inch baby in 1969, grew to about 12 feet in height with a trunk measurement of 18 inches, even though I distilled the top third of it yearly. A great wind broke one of the main branches – then I duct-taped the broken ends together and it lasted until the duct tape rotted away. I think my tree finally aged out as it fell in another windstorm and now the fallen trunk is a host for various types of mushrooms.

HISTORICAL USES and INTERESTING INFORMATION ~

Melissa was called the ‘elixir of life’ by Avicenna, the ancient Roman physician. The herb was associated particularly with nervous disorders, the heart, and emotions. Melissa was used for anxiety, melancholy, and to strengthen and revive the vital spirit.


Lemon verbena or Verveine is the French word for the plant known as Lemon Verbena. The correct Latin binomial for Lemon Verbena is Aloysia triphylla and not anything else. Verbena is a genus of the plant named from the Latin meaning ‘sacred bough of olive etc.’. Vervain is the French word for the same from medieval Latin. It is the Verbena officinalis used by herbalists and they refer to the old spice Vervain.

         Latin is favored in gardening terminology since Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist introduced the plant naming system in use today – a plant family is divided into various genus names and then sub-divided into species and then cultivar.

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ Neither Lemon balm nor Lemon verbena are endangered or threatened.  Both grow easily in a natural environment or from cuttings.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH of Lemon balm & Lemon verbena

Melissa/Lemon Balm … this plant naturalizes easily, reproduces by underground stems, and will grow up to 18 inches in height, spreading easily. Melissa grows best in ‘alluvial soil; excess water is harmful, while yields diminish in light and dry soils’ (Guenther). Melissa produces more of the chemical citral (anti-viral) prior to flowering. After flowering, it contains more citronellal.

photo of spring growing Lemon Balm. San Francisco, April 20, 2022
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) April 2022

Lemon Balm

Lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) is a woody shrub, and its narrow glossy leaves grow quickly in hot summer weather, replenishing as you harvest throughout the growing season. Pick it before it flowers.

Lemon verbena about 5 feet tall growing in the garden with one trunk,.
Lemon verbena

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS & Yield

Melissa -The percentage of citral depends on the seed source and when distilled. Citral has been found to range between 8.8 and 75.0%, with citronellal between 1.0 and 52.0%, citronellol dominating after flowering. The percentage of citral is highest in young leaves and just before flowering, but favorable growing conditions are very important. After a 6 months period of storage, the citral content decreases from 84 to 50%. As the plants become older, the percentage of citral decreases from 37 to 12%, and citronellal increases from 1 to 32%.

            A great deal of the oil sold as Melissa or Lemon Verbena is actually a blend of lemongrass and citronella or May Chang oils – ‘true’ Melissa or Lemon Verbena oil have their own unique aromas and properties.

The high cost of these oils is a result of needing 3.5 to 7.5 tons of plant material to produce 1 pound of essential oil.

Yield – Yields of Melissa are as low as 0.014% for distillation of the fresh herb to 0.112% for dried herb, increasing to 0.13% using cohobation. True oil is extremely expensive.


The yield of Lemon Verbena
is also very low, with 0.1 to 0.7% yield, on average, 20 kilograms of oil, the equivalent of 18 pounds of oil per acre. “Because the oil yields are very low, the leaves are steam-distilled as soon as possible after harvest to minimize vaporization.” – IPlantz.com

Name Latin NameChemo-typeComponent Distilled for & YieldWhen to DistillWhyTherapeutic Use
Lemon Verbena Aloysia triphyllaCitral but there are several including thujones, citronella, carvone, and citralCitral   Yield is low less than 0.3 to 0.5%— Distill before it flowers.  The leaves and flower buds are taken, and steam-distilled, the heavier stems discarded, It produces about 2-3cups of hydrosol per pound of fresh leaf distilled. The proportion of essential oil produced is very small about 0.02% or less by weight.Lemon verbena produces more citral before it flowers and more citronellal after it flowers.Citral is an anti-viral. [See also Melissa], as a beverage (1 t. /glass of carbonated, sweetened water)
Melissa Melissa officinalisCitralCitral –also citronellal (23.44%), geranial (16.22%), linalyl acetate (11.65%) and caryophyllene (11.77%).  The yield is low less than 0.05%  — Distill Melissa before it flowers.  The entire above-ground plant is taken, the heavier stems discarded, and steam distilled. It produces about 1 quart of hydrosol per pound of the fresh plant distilled. The proportion of essential oil produced is very small about 0.02% by weight.Melissa produces more citral before it flowers and more citronellal after it flowersCitral is an anti-viral. The essential oil can be applied directly to herpes on the lips and nose. The herb tea is relaxing and helps one to concentrate. The hydrosol is excellent as a wash on wounds, or as a beverage.

ODOR DESCRIPTION/ AROMA ASSESSMENT

ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS ~

Essential OilLemon BalmLemon Verbena
ColorPale yellowPale yellow
Clarityclearclear
ViscosityNon-viscousNon-viscous
Intensity Of Odor (This scale is from 1-10 with 1 being of the least intensity of odor and 10 being very intense)4-54-5

ODOR ASSESSMENT

Melissa essential oil has a citrus, herbaceous and somewhat vegetative odor with a bit of fresh fern or green note and back note of wood. If it does not have the vegetative subsidiary note it probably is not true Melissa oil. Melissa oil does not smell like Lemon or May Chang oil.

Lemon Verbena essential oil Scent — Green, vegetative, herbaceous, and floral with a strong citrus character.  Lemon verbena is different from either Melissa or Lemon peel. This scent is strongly citrus with a floral note and a woody finish.  It is expensive and often other oils are substituted for it. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory. 

Lemon verbena picked and fresh photo
Lemon Verbena fresh-picked and still on the tree

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena

PROPERTIES AND USES of the oils ~

Melissa oilThe properties are hypotensive, a calming sedative, and anti-inflammatory. Melissa oil is used for insomnia, hysteria, and irritability by inhalation and will relieve a lip or nose cold sore if applied externally.  

Lemon Verbena – This essential oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory, fever reducer, and sedative. It is generally inhaled for stress, insomnia, depression, nervous fatigue and to help during an asthmatic crisis. Strongly anti-viral, it can be applied directly to a lip or nose cold sore to reduce pain and symptoms.

APPLICATION/ SKINCARELemon Verbena And Melissa Essential Oils are very expensive because not much is produced.  I would suggest that you not use it in skincare as it can be irritating.  Use the herb instead as a tea, compress, hydrosol spray, etc.

EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USE – Eden Botanicals suggest Lemon verbena as a vibrant oil and a favorite ally to brighten low moods – perfect to diffuse or include in hand and foot balms, body mists, and massage oils.

DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION – It is wasteful to use these two essential oils in a diffuser. They are expensive and can be irritating.  Use other oils and use these herbs as in a tea blend or bath.

Lemon verbena and Lemon Balm blend best with other lemon-scented herbs but are best used in their original herbal form.

HYDROSOL: These herbs must be picked early in the day; too late in the day and distilled too late in the day and both of these factors change the chemistry of the resulting hydrosol. As the plant ages, citral is reduced and citronella increases. And both decrease as the day wears on. This plant needs to be harvested and distilled in the early morning (about 9 a.m. and in the still by about 10 a.m.) in San Francisco. Maybe even with the dew on it.

            Use of the Hydrosol — MELISSA or Lemon Balm, is one of the most expensive of the essential oils but the hydrosol is affordable. The herb has potent uses in the skin and body care.  The essential oil costs as much as $1 per drop but along with the essential oil is produced a wonderful hydrosol. The hydrosol is available for all your skin needs. This watery distillate, the hydrosol, which is the first 25% of the distillation, contains all the potency of the essential oil as well as the powerful therapeutic effects of the herbal extract. The pH is often a bit higher than other hydrosols because the herb is so light and it is very difficult to pack the still enough to get a good weight and thus a good pH, about 5 or so. Hydrosol has powerful and positive uses for any skincare product.  It is antifungal, relieves skin infection and breakouts, and can cure herpes. This hydrosol is considered useful in tonic drinks for ‘attention deficit disorder’ and dietary uses.  Has a wonderful lemony scent that is attractive to men and women as well as the teenage market.

            Other Uses for Melissa hydrosol – This is a good spray for the face and body for emotional calmness, soothing anger, and relieving insomnia. One teaspoon added to the clay mask for skin healing; add to regular tea for a delicious new taste treat. This hydrosol has powerful and positive uses for any skincare product. 

            More Uses for Melissa hydrosol: Drink the hydrosol by itself, diluted with water or soda, over ice for a wonderful, refreshing tonic drink.

a tin can of picked Lemon verbena stems
a can of picked Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) and Melissa (Melissa officinalis) hydrosol – are mental relaxants when ingested or applied, and a physical relaxant when ingested. Make a warm compress using 3-5 tablespoons of hydrosol per quart of water and apply or sip throughout the day to balance the endocrine system and relax mind and body. Or simply fill a spray bottle and mist away.

Lemon Verbena hydrosol can be applied to relieve PMS or dysmenorrhea.

PLEASE NOTE ~ a true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

HERBAL USES OF LEMON VERBENA & MELISSA

The herb tea or hydrosol of Lemon verbena is very useful as a tonic beverage to be taken before bed for sleeping. It is a delicious tea and can be drunk anytime as it is relaxing and soothing. It has found use in the treatment of Crohn’s disease which is an anti-inflammatory disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract. If drinking the hydrosol, use 1 T/cup of water or sparkling water. The tea is helpful for sleeping, the hydrosol as a facial spray has the opposite effect and can help to keep you awake on a long drive.

The herb tea of Lemon Balm is a delicious drink or can be used therapeutically for soothing stomach cramps, indigestion, and nausea. It is also lightly stimulating and a good tea to drink when studying. I especially enjoy using a goodly quantity of this herb, as one of my favorite bath herbs. The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as a repellant for mosquitos.

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KEY USE ~ Direct application of Melissa EO for herpes around mouth and nose. Hydrosol to calm stomach and nerves. Inhale scent to wake up and be aware.

Lemon verbena tea for soothing the gastrointestinal tract.

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CHEMICAL COMPONENTS & PHYSIOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES ~

            Collections of Lemon Verbena in Argentina evidenced four different chemotypes, named after the dominant component as follows: thujones, citronellal, carvone, and citral(neral + geranial). In the populations of Salta and Catamarca, linalool appeared as a new different chemotype. … https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305197817300996

            Chemical components were identified by B. Lawrence as  35-40% citral (a combination of neral and geranial); 13% limonene, 6% citronellol, 6% geraniol, nerol 5%; many other components depending on when harvested. —Essential Oils 1976-1992 by Brian Lawrence.

            A powerful anti-viral. Melissa has many chemotypes and many chemical varieties. Most interesting is that this scent, which is citrus, also has back notes of sweet wood. This is a very expensive oil and not the least like other citrus scents. 

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS:

lists of safety precautions
Safety Precautions

References:

Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.

Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999

Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies  – Jeanne Rose©

waft symbol

PEPPERMINT herb & essential oil

By Jeanne Rose ~ April 2022

INTRODUCTION to Peppermint ~ Just don’t call it mint, call it what it is. Is it Spearmint, Peppermint, or Menthol-mint (Mentha arvensis). There are 13 species of the Mentha genus, named below.  We are only discussing Peppermint whose chemistry includes menthol.

photo of peppermint herb and essential oil
fragrant Peppermint

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL  OF THE MINTS ~. Here they are. The ones with the ‘x’ are manmade crosses, considered sterile and do not produce seed, and must be duplicated by cloning or by replanting the underground stems. Those in bold will reproduce by seed.

FAMILY NAME ~ Lamiaceae (Labiatae) is a family of flowering plants that are commonly known as the mint or deadnettle or sage family.

The Mint Species

 Mentha aquatica L. – Watermint

M. arvensis L. – wild mint or Japanese menthol-mint

            Native Mint (Mentha canadensis?) is grown and used in Michigan

M. x gracilis Sole – ginger mint

M. x muelleriana F. W. Schultz – mint ([arvensis ssp. arvensis × suaveolens]

M. x piperita – peppermint [aquatica x spicata]

M. pulegium L. – pennyroyal

M. requienii Benth. – Corsican mint

M. x rotundifolia (L.) – Egyptian mint

M. x smithiana Graham – Smiths mint or Red Mint

M. spicata L. – spearmint

M. suaveolens Ehrh. – apple mint

M. x verticillata L. – whorled mint [aquatica × arvensis] 

M. x villosa Huds. – mojito mint [spicata × suaveolens] 

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COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS of Peppermint ~ England, France, USA, Italy, Russia, and China.

I once had a lovely sample of Peppermint oil that had -0- menthol in it. It had been bred that way and only contained menthone.

Endangered or Not ~ Since Peppermint is a sterile, cultivated, and hybrid plant it is not endangered.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Peppermint was first described by Linnaeus in 1753. Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between Watermint and Spearmint. It is indigenous to Europe and the Middle East; the plant is now widely spread and cultivated in many regions of the world. Peppermint grows up to three feet, with small leaves, pinkish mauve flowers arranged in a long, conical shape and underground runners that spread widely. Since the plant does not develop a seed, it must be reproduced by cuttings and replanted every year in new soil.                                                                                                         

Yes, Peppermint is a sterile hybrid (specifically called an F1 hybrid) of two other species of mint, as mentioned above. Since one of the parents is fertile, an occasional seed may possibly be produced and these develop into the F2, and their characteristics can vary across the entire spectrum between the two original parent species. It’s possible that your plant may look like another mint but have a menthol-type scent of Peppermint.  Purchase plants from a trusted source.

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS, AND YIELDS ~ The whole plant above ground, just before flowering, is steam-distilled while fresh or partially dried.      Yield: .1-1.0%.

Peppermint essential oil gland
Peppermint essential oil gland

GENERAL PROPERTIES OF PEPPERMINT HERB AND ESSENTIAL OI9L

(USED by IG=ingestion or IN=inhalation or AP=application):

_____Application: Antiseptic, antibiotic, tonic, anti-parasitic, analgesic, respiratory decongestant.

_____Ingestion: Antiseptic, carminative, stomachic, antispasmodic, depurative, tonic, expectorant, digestive.

_____Inhalation: Stimulant, tonic, decongestant.

         

USES OF PEPPERMINT OIL AND HERB

Peppermint is not to be confused with Spearmint and vice versa.

CAUTION  • Use less than more and not with small children or pets.

All the herbs called Mint have been used extensively for medicinal properties for over 3000 years. The herb can be used internally as a tea, herb and EO can be used to make poultices or balms; specifically, Peppermint EO can be inhaled to make use of its high menthol content to reduce airway pain and irritation and suppress coughing.  Mints have many medicinal properties that include stomachic, carminative, stimulant, calmative, diaphoretic, febrifuge, anesthetic, disinfectant, nervine, sudorific and vermifuge. The following afflictions have been treated with a Peppermint herb or essential oil:

“Acne      A pinch of Peppermint herb and Rosemary herb as a compress makes a good astringent in cleansing the infected area.

Bronchitis
     Peppermint herb tea is excellent as an expectorant, as is inhaling the vapors of mint and eucalyptus, the mint for its high menthol content.

Burns      Peppermint oil is used as an ingredient in a balm to rub on burns and sunburns, as its menthol cools the afflicted area.

Colds      Peppermint herb is used to ease coughing and the oil in a blend is used for inhalation.

Dandruff      Peppermint herb mixed with Rosemary herb and vinegar is massaged into the scalp for relief of itching. An added benefit is the coolness of the menthol, which promotes a positive psychosomatic response to the treatment.

Digestive Ailments      An overall aid to most digestive disorders, Peppermint herb and oil is especially beneficial in the treatment of flatulence, diarrhea, colic, retching, and vomiting. Peppermint tea has been proven to stimulate the gastric lining, lessening the amount of time that food spends in the stomach. It is also said to relax the stomach, promoting burping. A poultice of Peppermint or Spearmint leaves over the stomach region also helps to aid in digestive distress. Peppermint herb also helps to alleviate the amount of gas in the digestive system. Most mint tea also helps to promote appetite.

Headaches      Peppermint oil can be rubbed on the temples or in the affected area. The coolness of the menthol, along with the aroma help in both minor and migraine incidents. The Lakota Indian tribe used strong wild-mint tea to treat all forms of headache.

Inflammation      Peppermint oil or a poultice containing mint leaves can be used to reduce inflammation in muscle groups, joints, as well as varicose veins. It is also a great palliative treatment for gout.

Liver Problems      Peppermint tea helps to promote the flow of bile in the digestive system, helping to cleanse the liver and gall bladder. It also may help in the reduction of kidney stones.

Nerve Afflictions     Facial tics and sciatic nerve spasms are treated by rubbing the Peppermint oil directly on the affected area.

Nervous System     All mint teas have a soothing quality and are used to treat nervousness, fatigue, nausea, vertigo, hiccoughs, palpitations, anger, confusion, depression, and mental strain. A combination of Spearmint and Peppermint is especially pleasant.

Rashes     Peppermint oil diluted in neutral alcohol or carrier oil can be rubbed on poison ivy rash, diaper rash, and athlete’s foot.

Toothache     A drop of Peppermint oil can be used directly on the source of pain to help alleviate the pain from both cavities and gum disease.

Travel Related Afflictions      Inhaled from a handkerchief, Peppermint oil helps to alleviate the problems associated with jet lag, seasickness, and motion sickness.

Viruses
     According to laboratory studies, Peppermint oil has anti-viral properties against herpes simplex, as well as other viruses.”1.

black and white drawing of Peppermint from the book, Kitchen Cosmetics
Peppermint herb from Kitchen Cosmetics

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APPLICATION/ SKINCARE OF PEPPERMINT ~ Cooling, analgesic, for nausea, sore throat, and travel sickness. Cooling, nerve pain, purulent eczema, muscular pain, poor circulation, somewhat anesthetic and disinfectant.                                                                                                                                                      

DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION of Peppermint ~ Be careful using Peppermint oil in your diffuser.  A little bit can last a very long time in the room.  It can also be harmful to pets and small children.  I advise you not to use this particular oil in a diffuser but only in an individually held inhaler.  Peppermint oil can make you feel cool but can also aggravate coughing.

            I once made a number of essential oil blends for a bank in Fremont, CA.  The one they chose had a small amount of Peppermint oil in it.  Using this blend for 15 minutes/hour was loved by the bank customers but caused the bank staff to become irritated with the sweet, cool odor and start coughing.

EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USE of Peppermint oil and herb ~ Use the herb or essential oil by inhalation for emotional uses such as, as a stimulant, nerve tonic, for headache, lighten fatigue, for apathy, shock, faintness, and to apply on the abdomen for travel sickness.

BLENDS & PERFUMERY of Peppermint ~ Peppermint has such a strong menthol scent that it is not very much used in perfumery. However, it is often used in blending for muscle aches and pains, headaches, and more. (see above)

Peppermint oil blends best with Cypress, Eucalyptus, Rose Geranium, Lemon, Marjoram, Pine and other conifers, Rosemary, and other herbaceous oils. 

            Blending with formula – Jeanne Rose Formula #30  – Sinus and Headache Inhaler –  In a small phial put equal amounts of Lavender Oil, Marjoram Oil, Peppermint Oil, and Rosemary Oil, say 10 drops of each and 5 drops of Clove Oil. Carry with you when traveling, as seems especially effective against a ‘smog’ headache. ! Inhale it whenever necessary. Or place a few pieces of rock salt in a vial and add the oils.  The salt will quickly adsorb the oils.  Inhale as needed.

INTERESTING PEPPERMINT FACTS ~ “According to Greek mythology the genus Mentha takes its name from the nymph Menthe who was seduced by Pluto and turned into a plant by his jealous wife, who trod Mentha into the ground. Pluto, however, turned her into an herb, knowing Menthe would then be appreciated by people for years to come.” —Kitchen Cosmetics.

 Cultivation of the plant began in the USA in 1855 in Indiana, New York, and Ohio.

color photo of Peppermint plant
Jeanne Rose peppermint plant

HYDROSOL ~ I truly enjoy the hydrosol of Peppermint.  I cannot grow enough to distill for myself, but I have been fortunate to have many bottles given to me over the years to use.  It is perfect in the bath to cool the system; it can be used as a digestive when taken a teaspoon full at a time, or in a glass of water for nausea, and it is excellent as a facial spray during menopause or to help heal an acne outbreak.

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

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CULINARY USES OF PEPPERMINT ~   Besides using as a flavorant in candies, cakes, and ice cream, Peppermint is used in gum.

Chewing gum ~ Of all the flavors incorporated into chewing gum, mint flavors have been some of the most popular. Most widely used have been Peppermint and Spearmint as well as blends of the two. Typically, Peppermint and Spearmint flavors are added to chewing gum in the form of essential oils. Peppermint oil is derived by distillation of the aerial parts of the perennial herb Mentha x piperita L. Oil of Cornmint, derived from Mentha arvensis L. var piperescens, can also be blended with Peppermint oil.             Oil of Spearmint is derived from the distillation of several species and varieties of the genus Mentha, principal species and varieties are Mentha spicata L. and Mentha verticillata, and Mentha cardiaca. —part of a patent application filed in 1989 and 2020-03-28 Application status is Expired –

KEY USE ~ The oil of digestion

a bottle of Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil

JEANNE ROSE’S PEPPERMINT TOMATO TALES

I don’t remember exactly when this happened, probably around 1985. I was driving north on Highway 1, on the curvy, narrow, treacherous part of the road that is high above the ocean, north of Muir Beach, driving in and out of the light fog, and was feeling rather tired.  So, I reached into my purse to get my First Aid Kit and the bottle of Peppermint oil. Apparently, the cap had loosened and come off the bottle and when I lifted it to my nose to inhale a bit of the odor, it splashed into my eyes.  Now I was blinded and smelling of Peppermint oil as it also had splashed on my clothing. I could sort of see and knew I had to get off the road as it was dangerous to drive in this condition.  Fortunately, the road to Stinson Beach appeared and I turned left and drove down into the parking lot of the café on the left. I pulled up and ran in, red in the face, reeking of Peppermint oil, and said to the first person, “please get me some oil or mayonnaise”.  The poor woman grabbed at a bottle of Olive oil which I then liberally splashed in my eyes, waving my handkerchief around, and wiping my face.  By this time, I was getting better and looked around and could see that the entire café was looking at me. I gave an embarrassed grin, dropped some money into the woman’s hand for the oil, and got back into my car to finish cleaning myself up.

The moral to the story is if you get any essential oil in your eyes, do not try to wash it off with water as volatile oils and water do not mix; remember to use the olive oil (or mayonnaise) to dilute and remove the excess and then water to clean off the residue.

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ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS of Peppermint Oil

            Color – Clear

            Clarity – Clear

            Viscosity – Non-viscous

            Taste – Cool, herbal, umami

            Intensity of Odor – 4

            Tenacity of Odor – 6

Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment – This is a powerful oil with an intense odor that has a good tenacity in a blend.  It has the coolness of menthol and a green and herbaceous sustaining note.  Once you smell a well-distilled product you won’t forget it. Some Peppermint, especially those grown in other countries has a powerful candy cane smell.

PEPPERMINT CHEMISTRY & PROPERTIES

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS OF PEPPERMINT ~  The chemical composition of the essential oil from peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.) was analyzed by GC/FID and GC-MS. The main constituents were menthol (40.7%) and menthone (23.4%). Further components were (±)-menthyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, beta-pinene, and beta-caryophyllene.

“The main component of peppermint oil is (-)-menthol, about 50% followed by (-)-menthone about 20% and (-)-menthyl acetate about 10%. A characteristic of peppermint oil is the high content of (+)-menthofurane about 3%, and sometimes much higher; and a number of sesquiterpenes, one of them viridifloral.” –http://www.bojensen.net

Abstract/Scientific Data: Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. By Imai H,Osawa K,Yasuda H,Hamashima H,Arai T,Sasatsu M….. The effects of the essential oils of peppermint (Mentha piperita L.), spearmint Mentha spicata L.) and Japanese menthol mint (Mentha arvensis L.), of four major constituents of the essential oil of peppermint, and of three major constituents of the essential oil of spearmint, on the proliferation of Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) were examined. The essential oils and the various constituents inhibited the proliferation of each strain in liquid culture in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, they exhibited bactericidal activity in phosphate-buffered saline. The antibacterial activities varied among the bacterial species tested but were almost the same against antibiotic-resistant and antibiotic-sensitive strains of Helicobacter pylori and S. aureus. Thus, the essential oils and their constituents may be useful as potential antibacterial agents for the inhibition of the growth of pathogens.

RESOURCES ~ Most companies carry Peppermint oil and Peppermint herb.  I have found my favorite scent of Peppermint at Prima Fleur Botanicals.  It comes from the NW part of the United States.

  1. I found this chart in my files.  I do not know where it came from. Let me know if you know the name of the original author.

REFERENCES

Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.

Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999

Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992•

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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Caution chart
Caution chart

Moderation in All Things.

Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.

Be selective and more moderate in your usage.

Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

ANGELICA ~ Plant & Oil

Introduction ~ An old-time herb that was much used therapeutically but often now forgotten except for the uses of its musky, herbaceous fragrant root, and oil, used for perfumery.

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Photo of Angelica leaf with an insert of Angelica root oil
Angelica ~ Plant & Root essential oil

ANGELICA ~ Plant & Oil

By Jeanne Rose

 Name of Oil:  Angelica (root) (leaf) (seed)

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL/BOTANICAL Angelica archangelica, L. The essential oil is extracted from both the root, seed, leaf. Other species are also used such as A. sinensis which is called Dong Quai, which is indigenous to China,  and the root used for herbal Chinese medicine ‘to enrich the blood, promote blood circulation and modulate the immune system. It is also used to treat chronic constipation of the elderly and debilitated as well as menstrual disorders.’5

         Family  ~ Apiaceae(Umbelliferae)

OTHER NAMES AND BACKGROUND ~ Angelica was supposedly revealed to the 14th Century physician, Matthaeus Silvaticus, by the archangel Raphael (he who heals) as a medicinal plant, hence the common name of the archangel and subsequent specific epithet archangelica given by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.1  In the 17th Century the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote ‘…some called this an herb of the Holy Ghost; others more moderate called it Angelica, because of its angelical virtues…’

COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN ~  Native to Europe and Siberia naturalized worldwide.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT, HABITAT & GROWTH of Angelica ~ A large, biennial herb with large fernlike leaves and flowers borne on compound umbels, cultivated since ancient times. All parts of the plant, root, stem, leaves, fruit, and seed have been used therapeutically and in foods.

ENDANGERED ~ Due to the erosion of its natural environments and over-harvesting as well as the fragmenting of the natural distribution of A. archangelica, Angelica is now considered an endangered species. 

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS & YIELD ~ Angelica root and seed are usually steam distilled and sometimes carbon dioxide extracted.     “The essential oils of angelica roots grown in the Auvergne region of France differ from those studied to date in their a-pinene, β-phellandrene, and d-3-carene contents. Extractions performed with the plant out of or in water gave oils with similar compositions irrespective of how the roots had been dried or for how long. The optimal conditions necessary to obtain maximal yields of essential oil were obtained when the reactor was 40% full of plant material in water with a plant: water ratio of 1:4…”2

            Thick and thin roots were found to contain more than 200% oil compared to rhizomes. Thinner roots were measured to have the highest oil content (1.28%), followed by larger roots (1.03%). Stems were found to have the lowest oil content (0.07%). With the grinding intensity of the roots, it was possible to obtain more oil through distillation.3

            The yield of oil from the CO2  of the root obtained by supercritical CO2 extraction at various pressures ranged from 0.13–0.55%. 

A chart showing the organoleptic qualities of Angelica oil from two plant parts.
sensory aspects of the oils

Odor Description ~ The root oil has a predominating vegetative note, with subsidiary notes of herbaceous, fatty, and back notes of fruity, green, woody, mossy, aldehydes, and musk. Inhaling the scent of this essential oil is a revelation as it has such a sensory connection to the scent of some samples of musk deer (Moschus spp.).

[Musk is a heavy base note scent that is usually compared with woodsy and earthy smells. It was originally the name of the odor coming from a male musk deer, Moschus moschiferus, from which it was harvested. – wiki]

These charts showing the scent of the oil in 28 different words is called a "odor snapshot".
Snapshot of the Odor Profile of Angelica

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS:  Angelica archangelica L. (Apiaceae) is one of the important perennial medicinal and aromatic plants.

The root oil contains Lactones, Terpenes, mainly Phellandrene, Pinene, and others.  The essential oil composition of the rhizomes of Angelica archangelica from three different altitudes changes dependent on altitude. In one study it was found that the major compounds identified by GC–MS was α-pinene (21.3%), δ-3-carene (16.5%), limonene (16.4%), and α-phellandrene (8.7%).

         The seed oil contains more terpenes, such as Phellandrene, and others, and is otherwise similar to the root oil. “Seeds (fruits) of Angelica archangelica L. were collected in three habitats of Lithuania. The oils were analyzed by GC and GC/MS. β-Phellandrene (33.6–63.4%) was the dominant constituent in all seed essential oils. α-Pinene (4.2–12.8%) was the second major compound.”

            The leaf oil contained “γ-terpinene (59.2% and 44.3% in the Japanese leaf and flower oils; 68.3% and 62.3% in the North Korean oils), and (Z)-ligustilide (11.9% and 33.6%, 6.4% and 13.6%, respectively”.4

HISTORICAL USES: To stimulate appetite and relieve stomach pains.

INTERESTING FACTS:  The root and seed oils of Angelica are used as a flavoring and contained in liqueurs especially used in Benedictine, and Chartreuse to give that rich characteristic taste, and also used in liquors such as gin as a flavorant. The long green stems are candied and used as sweetmeat.   The oil is called “The Root of the Holy Ghost”.

A. archangelica has long been associated to the magic of protection and healing when tried as a remedy against the Black Plague epidemics (Alonso, 1998). Tea made from roots of A. archangelica has been used as a folk remedy for stomach cancer (Duke, 1987). This plant used as a carminative, a gastric stimulant, rheumatic, and skin disorders (Louis, 2002), treat respiratory problems as well as a tonic to improve disease recovery (Hutchens, 1992).

A picture containing text, plant, vegetable

Description automatically generated4

Angelica leaf and root oil
Angelica leaf and oil

PROPERTIES & USES OF ANGELICA OIL & PLANT

Angelica is a plant. The root, seed, and fruit are used to make medicine. Angelica root tea is used as a blood tonic, to regulate menstruation, pain reliever, and to relax the bowel for better movements. The essential oil is used to relax the nervous system.

Properties (by IG=ingestion or IN=inhalation or AP=application):      
By Application: Stomachic
By Ingestion: Carminative, and stomachic.
By Inhalation: Nervous system sedative, insect attractant, and digestive stimulant.

Angelica roots
Angelica roots

PHYSICAL USES of Angelica & HOW USED (IG OR AP):   

         Application:    Angelica oil has great use as a blender oil in perfumery, used in the bath for fragrance and to stimulate the circulation to ‘remove toxins’, for stomachache, and in lotions for skincare.

           Some people apply Angelica oil directly to the skin for nerve pain (neuralgia), rub on a knee or elbow for joint pain (rheumatism), and apply for skin disorders.6

         Ingestion:   Take for spasms in the gut, stomach ulcers, and anorexia. Root infusion given 3 x/day to create distaste for alcohol.

         Inhalation:   The oil is inhaled for anorexia, asthma, and for detoxifying alcoholics.

EMOTIONAL USES (AP OR IN)

         Inhalation:   Anxiety and nervous fatigue.  

CULINARY USES ~ Besides the described therapeutic uses, all parts of A. archangelica have been extensively employed as food flavorings, spices, and condiments. Some species are grown as flavoring agents or for their medicinal properties. Fresh stalks and leaves can be eaten raw in fruit salads or used as a garnish. A. lucida or Seacoast Angelica has been eaten as a wild version of celery. In parts of Japan, the shoots and leaves of A. keiskei called ashitaba are eaten as tempura, particularly in the spring.
                  The essential oil from the root is also an ingredient in liquors and in high-grade perfumery, notably to impart a musky note as well as a fixative (Stanchev et al., 1993).

ANGELICA LIQUEUR for Digestion ~ Chop, very small, 1 oz. of the fresh Angelica stems (before the plant flowers), and steep them in 2-3 cups of brandy or cognac for 5-10 days.  Strain through a fine strainer like a muslin or better yet a fine silk cloth.  Make a supersaturated sugar-water mixture by boiling water gently and adding sugar to it until the sugar will no longer dissolve. Cool this sugar water and add about 1 cup or more of it to the Angelica flavored brandy liqueur.  Add a drop of Bitter Almond essence if you like.  Put away in a fine crystal jar and use 1 teaspoon at a time for digestive upset.

Angelica leaf
Angelica leaf


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HERBAL USES ~ Angelica (part not mentioned) is used for heartburn, intestinal gas (flatulence), loss of appetite (anorexia), arthritis, circulation problems, “runny nose” (respiratory catarrh), nervousness, plague, and trouble sleeping (insomnia).6  The root in a tea with other herbs has been used to treat anorexia and asthma.
            Some women use Angelica tea to start their menstrual periods. In combination with other herbs, Angelica herb tea is used for treating premature ejaculation. (can’t find source) “Angelica is also used to increase urine production, improve sex drive, stimulate the production and secretion of phlegm, and kill germs.”6 The boiled roots of Angelica were applied internally and externally to wounds by the Aleut people in Alaska to speed healing.

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OTHER USES ~ Two sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, β-copaene, and β-ylangene, were isolated from bioactive fractions of angelica seed oil and were shown by field bioassays to be attractive to the male Mediterranean fruit fly. I also read somewhere that the Sami people of Lapland use the plant to make a traditional reed-type musical instrument called the fadno. A. dawsonii was used by several first nations in North America for ritual purposes. Some species have been smoked by First Nation peoples.


KEY USE:  Digestive stimulant.  

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ANGELICA TOMATO TALE

with Rock n’ Roll notes

Years ago, when I lived in Big Sur, in early November or December, I would make Christmas fruit cake for the holidays. But first I had to find and collect all the dried fruits and ingredients.  I quickly found out that I would have to grow some of the plants and candy them myself. The candied fruits were easily obtained.    And yes, I love fruitcake but not the unpleasant lead-heavy kind from the supermarket … but the fruit-filled cake that quality cakemakers bake (such as those in the English Royal family). I learned a lot from growing the biennial Angelica and making crystallized strips of young Angelica stems and midribs. They are green in color and are usually sold as decorative and flavorful cake decoration materials and may also be enjoyed on their own as a sort of candy. The addition of your own home-grown plants that you have candied yourselves makes a big difference in the taste of a fruitcake. Now (2022) the recipes, as well as the specialized ingredients, are very easy to find online.

            In late 1967 or 1968, I invited the rock and roll band, “Country Joe and the Fish”  to my home at the Sun Gallery which was located a few miles south of Gorda on Highway 1.  The members who came set up their equipment on a large sheet of plywood on a gently sloping hillside outside the Gallery. It was misting and raining. The music was loud and fun, and they played for a long time, and then we all, exhausted from the long drive as well as the dancing and the laughing, went to sleep in various parts of the Gallery or in the cars. In the morning, the rain had subsided, and the sun was out, and they all helped me chop the fruits and prepare the ingredients for the cakes.  It was a very special time. I don’t remember what we did after the cakes went into the oven, but I know some of us remember that glorious cool bright day very vividly.

candied Angelica stems

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This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

Science article: ·  Essential oil from Angelica seed, %: 0.5–1.3

·  Components: α-Pinene, β-pinene, camphene, myrcene, ocimene, humulene, α-phellandrene, β-phellandrene, limonene, cineol, γ-terpinene, n-cymol, β-caryophyllene, borneol, carvacrol, and others

·  Oil, %: 18.9–28.4 — ink.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-0-85729-323-7_17

References:

  1. Kew  Royal Botanic Gardens • Angelica
  1. Jean-Claude Chalchat & Raymond-Philippe Garry (1997) Essential Oil of Angelica Roots (Angelica archangelica L.): Optimization of Distillation, Location in Plant and Chemical Composition, Journal of Essential Oil Research, 9:3, 311-319, DOI: 10.1080/10412905.1997.10554250
  2. W. Letchamo, A. Gosselin & J. Hölzl (1995) Growth and Essential Oil Content of Angelica archangelica as Influenced by Light Intensity and Growing Media, Journal of Essential Oil Research, 7:5, 497-504, DOI: 10.1080/10412905.1995.9698573
  3. Nguyêñ Xuân Dũng, Luu Dàm Cu, Lâ Dình Mõi & Piet A. Leclercq (1996) Composition of the Leaf and Flower Oils from Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels Cultivated in Vietnam, Journal of Essential Oil Research, 8:5, 503-506, DOI: 10.1080/10412905.1996.9700676
  4. Pharmacological effects of Radix Angelica Sinensis (Danggui) on cerebral infarction • Yi-Chian Wu1 and Ching-Liang HsiehChin Med. 2011; 6: 32.
  5. https://www.rxlist.com/angelica/supplements.htm

Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999.

Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:

         Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992.

Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose’s Herbal. San Francisco, CA. 1972

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Safety Precautions

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botanical illustration of Angelica
botanical illustration of Angelica

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies  – Jeanne Rose

a kitchen tile
my kitchen tile

MYRTLE ~ plant & oil

MYRTLE – Plant & Essential Oil

By Jeanne Rose

Introduction ~ Myrtle, Myrtle communis, is a common evergreen plant, usually organically grown and not to be confused with the tree called Crêpe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.).

showing a photo of the plant of Myrtus communis with an overlay of the bottle of essential oil of green Myrtle (the oil is red).
Myrtle photos by Jeanne Rose

NAMING AND DESCRIPTION of MYRTLE ARE CONFUSING.

Naming & Background ~ Myrtle, the genus name comes from the Old Greek myrtos or myrsine.
The specific epithet (this species name) of communis means common. We are only discussing this myrtle that is discussed in this article and mentioned in the Bible and used in some Jewish rituals, called Myrtus communis or Common Myrtle (in Myrtaceae) and NOT the so-called Oregon Myrtle (Umbellularia californica).

Family ~ Myrtaceae

Names and part and country as follows: Myrtle, Myrtus communis, comes in several chemotypes and they all look different. It is important to know where it  comes from and how you want to use the plant or oil. There are several chemotypes of this plant. The typing seems to depend more on where it is grown, than how it is grown or processed. Please pay close attention to country of origin when selecting Myrtle to use in your practice. The various chemotypes often seem very difficult to obtain and are sometimes very expensive.

            Chemotypes:  Red myrtle CT cineole, camphor, and linalool

Countries producing: Tunisia, Morocco, Spain produce cineole, Corsica produces CT linalool

Colors of the oil: Red, Colorless, and Green Myrtle is from Corsica.

…Spring leaves are considered more suitable for processing because they are less fibrous and contain more aromatic compounds than winter leaves. However, leaves from myrtle cultivation are generally greener and longer-lived than those of wild plants (Mulas et al., 2002a) because of better water and nitrogen supply…. The green (i.e., more negative a* values) and yellow (i.e., more negative b* values) components of the color of the infusions prevailed in all samples. High concentrations of chlorophylls, tannins, and polyphenols determined a darker and less green color, with a light increase of yellow-brown components. …1

A photo showing three colors of the essential oil of Myrtle

Red Myrtle essential Oil  is grown in Tunisia, Morocco, or Spain.  The chemotype (CT) from Morocco and Spain is high in cineole and has a distinct spicy, fresh, herbaceous, and camphor-like aroma. The herbaceous aroma is penetrating that is complex but sweet as well. This oil is used in aromatherapy, particularly in blends for the respiratory system. It has astringent properties and  is used externally on hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and in skincare for wrinkled skin. Red Myrtle is considered balancing and is used in diffusers to refresh the air but also to stimulate the immune system and promote general health and well-being. Red myrtle CT linalool from Corsica is also available.

Green Myrtle essential oils is steam distilled from the leaves of Myrtle bush, organically grown in Tunisia and Corsica. This is a bright, fresh, very therapeutic distillation of Myrtle for the essential oil. Green Myrtle (rather than Red) is the preferred Myrtle variety for therapeutic essential oil applications. Green Myrtle from Corsica as carried by Prima Fleur is organically grown.

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ENDANGERED – Probably, it depends upon to whom you are speaking and what plant and plant part they are discussing.  Even in the scientific literature, often the plant part being discussed is missing as evidenced from many articles in the literature as well as any book discussing essential oils.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH – MYRTLE ~ Myrtle is a common evergreen bushy shrub (Myrtus communis of the family Myrtaceae, the myrtle family) generally found in southern Europe. It has oval to lance-shaped shiny leaves, fragrant white or rosy flowers, and black berries. Myrtle (M. communis L.) is a common part of typical Mediterranean flora and grows well in any country with this weather pattern. Myrtle is native to southern Europe, North Africa, and west Asia. It is also distributed in North and South America, northwestern Himalaya, and Australia. Myrtle is cultivated in gardens of  India for its fragrant flowers.

a closeup of some myrtle flowers
Myrtle flowers

Myrtle is widespread throughout the Mediterranean region and is considered to be one of the species most important as an evergreen shrub in the maquis, the thick scrubby evergreen underbrush of Mediterranean shores. It is most characteristic among the islands of Italy. The genus Myrtus communis grows wild in Tunisia, on the coast,  the internal hills, and the forest areas of northern Tunisia.

“In Tunisia, two myrtle varieties are described : M. communis var. italica L. and M. communis var. baetica L. which possesses the same vegetative characters. The morphological difference between the two varieties regards to the size of fruits and leaves. …(Pottier-Alapetite et al. 1979).”

a photo of a large bottle of Myrtus communis showing the color of the oil
Myrtus communis

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ Myrtle Essential Oil is steam distilled from leaves. Always carefully analyze the odor of the essential oil as there are certainly different varieties and scents. 

YIELD ~ Specific yield of essential oil of leaf varies with variety from .3% to .5%.

The chemical composition of Myrtus communis is characterized whatever the cultivar by some alpha-pinene. There were various chemotypes depending upon terroir and country.3

8 bottles of essential oil of Myrtle showing different chemotypes, countries of origin, and color of oil
a variety of different colors and chemotypes of Myrtle

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ORGANOLEPTICS of Myrtle

 The organoleptic, physical, and chemical profiles of the essential oil of Myrtus sp. is confusing, each  company has their own Myrtle oil and are variously named.  Some are chemo-typed, and some are not. Here is a sampling of what I have collected.

Sensory qualitiesCorsica #335 – PFTunisia Various companyTunisiaUnknown country #0063 – PF
Name on bottleGreen MyrtleMyrtleRed MyrtleGreen Myrtle
Chemotypelinalool??cineole??
Color of oilgreencolorlessredRed color but is green in name
ClarityClearclearclearclear
ViscosityNon-viscousNon-ViscousNon-viscousNon-viscous
Scent Intensity3-44-54-53-4
Tenacity in a blendGood (skin)Good (diffusor)Good (inhale)Good (skin)

PF = Prima Fleur Botanicals

DESCRIPTION OF SCENT ~ The leaf oil is herbaceous, spicy, and green-scented and more suitable to therapeutics than perfumery. Most of these Myrtles have an odor much like Eucalyptus often due to the same chemical component of Cineol. The ones with linalool are less intense and usually more softly herbaceous. It is pleasant and refreshing, sometimes fruity, herbaceous, and spicy. Know each one by their scent ‑ Waft the scent enough times to remember it by its odor.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of MYRTLE

Myrtus is a medicinal herb, leaves and berries, and is used in traditional herbal medicine.  It is an important herbal treatment in the Unani system of medicine in Greece. This plant was used for food, medicine, and flavor in meats and sauces. The essential oil is both antimicrobial and antioxidant.

PROPERTIES OF MYRTLE ~ Leaves used as an antiseptic, and a mild astringent in herbal mixtures for douching.

Leaves and flowers are fragrant when dried and used in linen closets for scenting sheets and towels. It is an aromatic astringent in the bath, and Myrtus communis L. (Myrtaceae) has long been used in folk medicine to treat inflammatory and infectious processes mainly in the respiratory system for bronchitis, sinusitis, and colds. Different experimental studies demonstrate its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities.

SKINCARE ~ The essential oil of Myrtle is used in creams, lotions, and preparations used for oily skin, hair loss, to reduce the enlarged look of pores, external skin irritations, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and in night creams. There are some noted uses in bedtime preparations to ease insomnia.

BLENDING MYRTLE FOR PURPOSE ~ This pleasant oil is best used in blends for the respiratory system and in massage blends to refresh and uplift the body.  Myrtle oil used in perfumery in the top note and not as a fixative. It blends with Rosemary, Clary Sage, Lavender, and Bergamot.

HYDROSOL of Myrtle ~ The leaves that I collected near Golden Gate Park (organically grown) were hydro-distilled and the hydrosol was used as a spray to heal and soothe skin irritations, inflamed facial skin, it was helpful in reducing scarring on fresh wounds, for all-over skincare, and as an external eye compress.  Emotionally, it seemed refreshing and reviving and relieved fatigue. I have also used Myrtle hydrosol as a spray in the mouth for sore throat and coughs as well as using it in cooking meat and fish.

  PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

CULINARY USES OF MYRTLE ~ Myrtle leaf has been used since ancient times as a spice, as well as for medicinal and food preparation purposes.

“Myrtle as a spice finds no wide application because of its bitterness, despite the pleasant odor. The taste is very intense, quite unpleasant and strongly bitter, so its culinary application is limited to the region of origin, such as Italy (Gortzi et al. 2008). In Italy, especially in Sardinia, berries and leaves are used to produce two well-known liquors (Mirto Rosso and Mirto Bianco, respectively) (Messaoud et al. 2012). Foods flavored with the smoke of myrtle are common in rural areas of Italy or Sardinia (Gortzi et al. 2008). However, some parts of the plant are used in the food industry, for flavoring meat and sauces (Chalchat et al. 1998), and its berries and leaves are mostly employed for the industrial formulation of sweet liquors with advertised digestive properties (Clark, 1996Mulas et al., 2000).”

SOME FORMULAS
Formula for Hemorrhoids  & Varicose Veins: Take 30 drops (1 ml) each of Cypress, Myrtle CT linalool, high linalool Lavender, MQV. Put into a 2 oz glass bottle.  Mix them together completely.  Add 120 (4 ml) drops of Calendula infused oil . Mix together. Apply regularly to the hemorrhoids or apply by gentle massage to the varicose veins.

Key Use ~ Inhale for Respiratory system.

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References

1.Influence of Growing Area, Year, Season, and Cultivar on the Composition of Myrtle Leaves and Infusions. Horti. Science. vol. 43: issue 2 • 2008

2. Touaibia, M. Composition and anti-inflammatory effect of the common myrtle (Myrtus communis L.) essential oil growing wild in Algeria. Phytothérapie (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10298-017-1100-9

3. M. Mulas & R. A. M. Melis (2011) Essential Oil Composition of Myrtle (Myrtus communis) Leaves, Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, 17:1, 21-34, DOI: 10.1080/10496475.2011.556986

4. Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential oils & Hydrosols • Frog Ltd, 1999.

This examination of the latest information about the essential oil Myrtle

was sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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SOME CAUTIONS TO REMEMBER

Know what you are using by correct name and chemotype

Moderation in All Things.

Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.

Be selective and more moderate in your usage.

Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

WINTERGREEN ~ plant and oil

The bright red berries and green leaves have a distinctly pleasing wintergreen flavor.
Learn all about Wintergreen, description, extraction, and uses.

Close-up of Wintergreen leaves with new flower buds
Close-up of Wintergreen with new flower buds

WINTERGREEN Plant & Oil

Jeanne Rose – December 2021

Introduction For many, roaming the woods and eating Wintergreen berries is a memory from childhood. The bright red berries and leaves have a distinctly pleasing wintergreen flavor. This is a fine shade-loving ground cover that is native to the woodlands from Manitoba to the eastern United States. It has very attractive, glossy, evergreen rounded leaves (purple-tinted in winter) and delicate, waxy, white flowers which become the large edible fruit. This 6-inch creeper makes a perfect groundcover for woodland, edible, and rock gardens. The fruit is an important food source for pheasant, squirrels, and deer. It is one that is used medicinally as a poultice for aching joints.

Common and Scientific Name ~ The common names of Wintergreen, Checkerberry,  and Teaberry are for the plant known as Gaultheria procumbens. This plant is an aromatic plant of the heath family called Ericaceae.

Countries of Origin of the Plant and oil ~ I have seen essential oil of Wintergreen (G. procumbens or G. fragrantissima) from Nepal and China. G. procumbens is in the forest of Canada and the north of the United States. I have seen the analysis of these as well.

ENDANGERED ~ Wintergreen is native to Ontario Canada. It was first discovered and used by Native Americans; the leaves and berries produce the oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate). And it is not endangered.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF WINTERGREEN HABITAT and GROWTH ~ Gaultheria procumbens has many short erect branches with short-stalked, thick, shining tooth-edged leaves in the upper part.  Flowers hang singly from the leaf axils and have a pale pink, waxy-looking, urn-shaped corolla.  The bright red berrylike fruits, sometimes called deer-berries, consist of the much-enlarged fleshy calyx, which surrounds the small many-seeded capsule.  The plant is a native of shady wood on sandy soil, particularly in the mountainous areas of the northern United States and southern Canada.”2

Close-up of glossy wintergreen leaves. Photo taken in December.
Close-up of Wintergreen leaves in December

                  This fragrant, evergreen ground cover makes a lovely addition to my urban garden. It is evergreen, a ground cover, and seems to be tolerant of most soil, sandy, dry, slightly alkaline, and drought tolerant.  It seems to prefer well-drained soil.  I plant it in the sun (about 6 hours/day), in the shade, and wherever I need it. I often add oyster shells around the base to add a bit of alkalinity and to highlight the green leaves.  The bright red berries last a long time, sometimes months. I still have a few berries on my plants from December 2020.

            Wintergreen leaf tea is harvested in Nepal and steam distilled. When bruised or cut, the foliage emits a strong wintergreen scent.  Small pinkish-white flowers appear in summer followed by scarlet red berries that are quite persistent.

LEAVES OF WINTERGREEN ARE USED IN EXTRACTION ~ “… the composition of wintergreen essential oil is very simple; its distillation is a bit more complex. First, the methyl salicylate is not free in the plant but bound to some sugar. This non-volatile glucidic complex named gaultherin must be hydrolyzed prior to distillation so that the methyl salicylate can be distilled. The leaves must be macerated in hot water prior to the distillation so that the plant enzymes can free the methyl salicylate. This macerate water is used in the hydrodistillation.                            Wintergreen essential oil is one of the rare oils that are denser than water and it doesn’t decant easily. The distillation of eastern teaberry requires a still with a special design (a separator for heavy oils and for better yields, the possibility to distill with cohobation).1

For more technical details on the distillation test, 2.7 kg of the plant (stems and leaves) have been harvested and macerated in water the night before distillation. [see the article for more information).1

            Wintergreen leaf tea is harvested in Nepal and the oil is made by steam processing of warmed, water-soaked wintergreen leaves. and then steam-distilled.

When bruised or cut, the foliage emits a strong wintergreen scent.  Small pinkish-white flowers appear in summer followed by scarlet red berries that are quite persistent.

ORGANOLEPTICS of Wintergreen ~ The scent of the essential oil is bright and fresh and should be used in dilution – never neat.

Two bottles of essential oil of Wintergreen, one red oil, and one colorless oil
Two bottles of essential oil of Wintergreen, one red oil, and one colorless oil

ORGANOLEPTICSWintergreen – redWintergreen – no color
Colorreddishcolorless
Clarityclearclear
ViscosityNon-viscousNon-viscous
Intensity86
TasteStrong & bitterStrong & bitter
OdorEponymous Wintergreen gum odor. green, fruity, herbaceousFruity, green, and Herbaceous

CHEMISTRY AND COMPONENTS ~ WINTERGREEN oil has a relatively simple composition. Methyl salicylate is the main compound found in this EO at a concentration higher than 98%. The remaining part of the oil generally contains low amounts of ethyl salicylate, linalool, α-pinene, and limonene. Regarding adulteration, it’s obvious that pure synthetic methyl salicylate can be sold as genuine wintergreen oil. This can be detected by the absence of minority molecules mentioned above or by the presence of synthetic by-products created during the manufacturing process of synthetic methyl salicylate.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of Wintergreen Herb and EO

Wintergreen is an herb. It has a good taste and is used in teas for headaches and other types of pain, fever, gas, pain of arthritis, and other conditions. In foods, wintergreen fruit is consumed raw or cooked in jellies, syrups, and wine and is very tasty.            
          The leaves and oil are used to make medicine. In manufacturing, Wintergreen is used as a flavoring agent in food, candies, teas, root beer, and in pharmaceutical products. The E.O. is used for painful conditions including headache, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. It is also used for digestion problems including stomachache and gas (flatulence) and lung conditions including asthma.

APPLICATION AND SKINCARE ~ Wintergreen leaf tea is used as a compress for painful conditions including headache, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. The tea is also taken for digestion problems including stomachache and gas (flatulence), and lung conditions including asthma. Compresses of the herb leaf or blends that can include the essential oil are used for pain and swelling (inflammation).

            The scent of the essential oil is bright and fresh and should be used in dilution – never neat. The E.O. is used for painful conditions including headache, arthritis, and menstrual cramps.

INHALATION ~ Occasional use is okay.

DIFFUSION ~ Do Not diffuse this oil as it can be very irritating.

Thirty years ago, a friend was being cared for at home. In his last days, he had explosive diarrhea.  His family was only able to combat the odor by periodically diffusing Wintergreen into his area of the home. But this is not recommended for most situations as some are allergic to the scent.

BLENDING FOR PURPOSE ~ Be careful if you use Wintergreen in a blend for its scent.  It can be very irritating to some people.  Do not use this in a pain blend with a heating pad as the heat can drive the oil into the skin and cause a serious burn.

            Wintergreen added to Lavender can result in a blend that has the smell of a warm sea.  Try it at 1•100 and if that doesn’t do it, then add another drop of Wintergreen.

            Very small amounts added to various blends always add a sweet, happy, note to the oils it is mixed with.

EMOTIONAL & SYMBOLIC USE ~ Wintergreen has much symbolism attached to it.  These plants are considered calming and cooling and represent healing and protection. Some believe that when given as a gift they break any hex that surrounds the person getting the gift and that they attract love, luck, and money.  This is a great gift to be given to others as a potted plant for a shady, sunny spot on the porch or to be woven into a wreath. A sprig placed under a child’s pillow offers protection and a life of good fortune3

Two plants, one in the bud and one with the flowers fully developed.  Such a lovely plant.
Two plants, one in the bud and one with the flowers fully developed. Such a lovely plant.

CULINARY OR INGESTION ~ Wintergreen berries (Gaultheria procumbens) are a favorite January breath mint and trailside snack. One of the few fruits that is sweetest and freshest on a cold winter or early spring day, frozen wintergreen berries have “ the texture of sorbet “ and a classic wintergreen flavor. The red berries of this native species persistently cling to the plant and, like wild fox grapes, truly come into their own after the first frost. Prolonged, hard frost only invigorates the wintergreen flavor, reducing lingering bitterness and bringing out the cool, creamy texture of the red berry’s flesh. The fruit is at its finest freshly picked and eaten raw, but its flavor can be strong and only one or two berries is plenty to cleanse the palette. This is not a fruit that should be eaten by the handful; think of it as a garnish or palate cleanser.6

Wintergreen with berries. Plant obtained from Forest Farm http://www.forestfarm.com/
Wintergreen with berries. Plant obtained from Forest Farm http://www.forestfarm.com/

HERBAL USES OF WINTERGREEN AND BIRCH BARK ~ Compresses of the herb leaf or blends that include the essential oil are used for pain and swelling (inflammation). The leaves are used in baths, compresses, tonics, and many other ways.  “It will help external skin problems as a decoction application, but if you are sensitive to salicylates, it can also cause skin problems.4” Use in moderation.

HYDROSOL ~ I have never had the opportunity to use this hydrosol in any capacity.  I have had Birchbark hydrosol (same chemical component) and used small amounts as a foot bath for my aching feet.

KEY USE ~ Wintergreen Leaf and oil for Pain-Relief

A bottle of Prima Fleur essential oil of Wintergreen.
A bottle of Prima Fleur Wintergreen essential oil

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WINTERGREEN TOMATO TALE

Here is a story from 1988 regarding Wintergreen. These two oils  Birch and Wintergreen smell alike, contain methyl salicylate and may cause allergic reactions in sensitive persons, so it would be wise to check this before applying.

            Do not apply essential oils in a steam bath. Once while taking a steam bath, I made the mistake of applying a single drop of Wintergreen oil to the outside of my swimsuit.  The steam caused the oil to vaporize and met my skin, nose, and eyes.  Now even though I am not normally sensitive to this substance, the heat of the steam bath and the steam itself caused the oil to diffuse and vaporize, expanding incredibly, the skin above the suit line broke out into a bright red rash that burned and itched painfully.  I had to leave the steam room immediately and run cold water on my irritated skin for 10 minutes until the pain dulled and then went away.  I also applied vitamin E oil to heal the rash.

 So do be very careful when using essential oils; remember that they are highly concentrated substances that require only an infinitesimal amount to be effective.

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INTERESTING/SCIENCE/HISTORICAL ~ “…serious toxicity can result from exposure to small amounts of methyl salicylate. Methyl salicylate is widely available as a component in many over-the-counter brands of creams, ointments, lotions, liniments, and medicated oils intended for topical application to relieve musculoskeletal aches and pains. Among the most potent forms of methyl salicylate is oil of wintergreen (98% methyl salicylate). Other products with varying concentrations of methyl salicylate are ubiquitous throughout many parts of the world, including a number of products marketed as Asian herbal remedies.” ‑‑­­­­–– https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0736467906006366

POLLUTANT ~ Wintergreen oil is considered a pollutant to marine life and a hazard to wildlife.5

SOURCE OF WINTERBGREEN ~ plants@forestfarm.com

REFERENCES ~
1https://phytochemia.com/en/2018/07/03/about-canadian-wintergreen/
2 https://www.britannica.com/plant/wintergreen-plant
3 The Complete Language of Flowers. S. Therese Dietz. #401
4 Rose, Jeanne • The Herbal Body Book, page 131
5 Roses, Jeanne • 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p, 157
6 https://www.themushroomforager.com/blog/2017/1/17/wintergreen-the-hardy-wild-breath-mint

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This work was sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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Wintergreen oil cautions.
Some Cautions to Remember with Wintergreen

Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

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Wintergreen plant in a pot.
Wintergreen plant in a pot.

PINE & Pine Oil

Conifers are favorite trees, and their essential oils and plant parts perform in many formulas, therapeutics, and blends — they are widely grown and healing to mind and body. There are many species called Pine; over 100. We will cover about half a dozen.

By Jeanne Rose ~ October 2021

Showing a branch of Pinus patula with its very long leaf clusters.
Pinus patula – photo by JeanneRose in SF Golden Gate Park – 2008

INTRODUCTION ~ Conifers are favorite trees, and their essential oils and plant parts perform in many formulas, therapeutics, and blends — they are widely grown and healing to mind and body. There are many species of one of the evergreen coniferous trees that is called Pine; over 100. In this article, we will cover about half a dozen. Sorry if this article is longer than usual, I just couldn’t stop writing about these favorite trees.

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL ~ Pine trees, Pinus spp., belong to the Family Pinaceae. This family also includes Firs, Spruce, Cedars, Hemlocks, and Larch trees.  The common name, Pine, has been used for several types of trees that are very unlike a true Pine. We are only discussing the resinous, evergreen conifers called Pinus spp.

Family: Pinaceae (resinous trees or shrubs, cone scales numerous and woody or thin)
Genera include:
Abies (Firs or Balsam Trees)
Cedrus (True Cedars)

Larix (Larch or True Tamaracks)
Picea (Spruce)

Pinus (Pine)
Pseudotsuga (False Hemlock)
Tsuga (Hemlock-Spruce)

PINE COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ There are over 100 species of Pine, and they grow worldwide but generally in the Northern hemisphere. There are small pine trees such as the Siberian dwarf pine and very large pine trees such as the Ponderosa pine growing in the Siskiyou Forest of Oregon. There are the longest-lived trees called the Great Basin Bristlecone Pines that live in the White Mountains of California, Pinus longaeva. ‘Methuselah’ is one specimen that is 4600 hundred years old.

ENDANGERED OR NOT: Of the 100 species of Pine, there are some endangered species such as the endangered Torrey Pine, Pinus torreyana, and the Iberian Pine. “Forests worldwide are experiencing die-offs on an unprecedented scale because of fire and acid rain.” So, before you harvest anything from the wild, please check to see if the tree is endangered or not.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES OF PINE, Pine OIL & NEEDLES

I cannot tell you everything that you can do with Pine needles, pine bark, Pine resin or Pine essential oil,

 I can only hint at the subject matter and give you a few of my favorite uses.

Showing a type of Pine leaf cluster
2-bunch leaf cluster

PHYSICAL USES ~ I love taking baths in the infusion Pine and conifer needles, and maybe with a small branch of pine as well. I enjoy distilling the needles for the hydrosol, I like to use the needles as a tea for the vitamin C content; I like the resin to burn for my mental and physical well-being as well as to make a wound-healing salve.  If you can, pick the freshly exuded resin after the sun has warmed it up for a few hours. The scent changes and becomes more floral and fruity-smelling and is sometimes described as smelling like caramel.

APPLICATION AND SKINCARE ~ If you have read my books, you already know that I strongly believe in the power of water and the power of bathing where every part of your part can be sequentially submerged fully in water. Water is life!  Hydrotherapy is the use of water in the treatment of disease. Hydrothermal therapy additionally uses its temperature effects, whether hot or cold, as in hot baths, saunas, wraps, masks, packs, hand soaks, foot soaks, etc. All creatures great and small go into water or SPAs to be restored. The importance of herbs, essential oils and hydrosols is not that they occur in products or product making or in the SPA, but the foundation of this work; water, herbalism, and essential oil therapy, is to revive and restore one’s personal nature and well-being.  Our/your key water words

Detoxify

Purify

Rebuild

Recreate what happens in the womb via pure water/hydrosols/herb or mineral water baths

Rejuvenate

Relax

Restore

Revive

            Please take an herbal bath, add Pine boughs or Pine needles; the scent will restore you and herbal power will improve your skin.

INHALATION ~ Inhale the scent of Pine in steam or use the essential oil of Pine to restore and heal your respiratory system.

DIFFUSION/Burning as Incense ~ Add Rosemary herb to some Pine needles, make tea, and the tea brings with it clarity and mental clearness. These two together or separately simmered gently on the lowest heat of the stove adds crisp forest odor to the air and will fragrance your home. A good simple or combination for the Holidays.

If you have any kind of resin or pine resin in the house, start a small piece of charcoal burning, and place a gob of resin on it.  It will fume and the smoke and odor can be used to waft about your person or home as a spiritual ritual of cleansing and/or to promote knowledge, healing, and wisdom. This is called smudging. This is a ritual way to cleanse a space and purify the environment of negative energy.

Resin chunks of Ponderosa Pine taken 10-15-16
Ponderosa Pine gum for Incense (10/15/16)

EMOTIONAL USE ~ There is great power in the scent of the conifers, particularly live while walking in the forest, it is uplifting and healing to the emotional psyche.  The scent of sun-heated resin wafting through the air is a particular delight and should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.2

CULINARY OR INGESTION ~ Pine honey is a particular type of honey that the honeybees produce, not based on nectar or pollen, as is the case for other types of honey, but by using the honeydew excreted by an insect, an aphid named Marchalina hellenica, which lives by sucking on the sap of certain pine species and leaves the honeydew on the trunks of these trees. Pine honey is produced in western (mainly southwestern) Turkey, in several Greek islands, and in New Zealand.

The pine species on which Marchalina hellenica can be found are the Turkish Pine (Pinus brutia) and, to a smaller extent, Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis), Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), and Stone Pine (Pinus pinea). The insects hide in the cracks and under the scales of the bark of these trees, beneath a white cotton-like wax they secrete.

GENERAL HERBAL USES OF PINE NEEDLES AND RESIN ~  
          Pine needles can be used as tea.  They are loaded with vitamin C, even more than Lemons, and they also contain some vitamin A. This tea will help your circulatory system, heart, veins, and blood, help you to relax and help with fatigue. It is an immune system booster.  Pine needle tea tastes and smells good and is used as an expectorant to relieve a cough and chest congestion.  Adding honey to the tea makes a good gargle for sore throat.  [How to make: take a small bunch of needles, that which you can hold between thumb and forefinger, place in a large cup, add boiling water, steep 5 minutes or more, take out the needles, add (Pine) honey, and drink.]

         Bathing in a bath of Pine needles, other conifer needles, Rosemary, and Lavender; all or separately is a delightful way to treat soreness of the skin, exhaustion, or to just have a lovely bath. [How to make: 3 cups or 4 oz. of herb steeped in 2 quarts of boiled or boiling water for 20 minutes, strain the liquid into the tub, and soak away your pain.] 

KEY USE ~ Oil of Respiration

a bottle of Pine oil from PrimaFleur.com showing the colorless and clear non-viscous essential oil.
Pinus sylvestris oil by PrimaFleur

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF SOME PINES WITH PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH

GROUP I. PINUS (PINES) Trees of the Genus Pinus have leaves that are persistent and of two kinds, the primary ones are linear or scale-like, and deciduous.  The secondary ones form the ordinary foliage and are narrowly linear, arising from the axils of the primary leaves in bunches of 1-5 leaf clusters enclosed at the base in a membranous sheath. These needles can be as long as 18 inches and narrow as well.

2-needle cluster of pine leaf

Mainly the trees that are harvested for the essential oil called Pine oil are Pinus mugo (Dwarf Pine), Pinus palustris (Long Leaf Pine) and Pinus sylvestris (Scotch Pine).

Pinus edulis, Piñon or Colorado Pinon Pine. Very interesting and historic tree whose needles and gum are steam- or hydro-distilled. Yield is about .05 to .1%.  It is a small to medium sized tree with a furrowed and scaly bark and whose needles come in pairs. The cones are green then ripen to yellow. The edible seeds are from many types of Pinyon Pine. There are many species used by Native Americans depending on the area of growth. The tree was described (about 1848). Pinon Pine is a historic tree of the Native Americans as it was a staple food, the resin was used in ritual, and the pinyon jay ate the nuts, and this was important in the dispersal of seeds and regeneration of the tree.

Pinus jeffreyi, Jeffrey Pine mainly found in California and was named to honor John Jeffrey, a Scottish botanist and plant-hunter who was active in California. He disappeared in the Colorado desert in 1854. Jeffrey Pine scent of leaves and resin is very pleasant and has been described as lemon, Vanilla, and fruits. Pinus jeffreyi wood is like ponderosa pine wood and is used for the same purposes. The resin distilled is of exceptional purity of n-heptane (a solvent) and led it being selected as the zero point on the octane rating scale of gasoline; but this resin is considered a poor source of turpentine.

“Before Pinus jeffreyi was distinguished from ponderosa pine as a distinct species in 1853, resin distillers operating in its range suffered a number of “inexplicable” explosions during distillation, now known to have been caused by the unwitting use of Jeffrey pine resin.” 1

            Jeffrey Pine needles can be used in tea, the resin when warmed in the sun is extraordinarily fragrant and can be collected and used as incense resin and the seeds eaten. (Do Not Distill),

Jeffrey Pine photo in Golden gate Park
Jeffrey Pine

Pinus longaeva, Bristlecone Pine lives in the Great Basin of California and are the oldest species on the planet.  They are fiercely protected, rather hard to get to, and gorgeous to behold. This is an artist rendition that I have of them by Claus Sievert and the entire print includes the tallest tree (Coast Redwood) as well as the biggest tree (Sequoia big trees).

Art by Claus Sievert of the Bristlecone Pine Tree.
The Bristlecone Pine Three Superlatives by Claus Sievert

•Pinus mugo, Mountain Pine, and Dwarf Pine Needle is harvested in the Swiss Alps. It is sturdy and shrub-like and is protected by the Swiss government and is harvested according to very particular rules and only at certain elevations. This oil has a particularly pungent odor reminiscent of both bark and needle oil. Entire branches including the needles are finely chopped up and thrown into the still for this essential oil. This combination of bark and needle makes up oil that is both airy and grounding. Components of Dwarf Pine Needle include l-a Pinene, b-Pinene, l-Limonene and Sesquiterpenes, Pumiliol, etc.

Pinus mugo branch tip
Pinus mugo

              In Europe, this plant is used for diseases of the skin and scalp and particularly at healing spas where it is inhaled for ailments of the respiratory organs, including pleurisy and tuberculosis. This is a powerful adjunct in therapies for all sorts of ear, nose, throat, and lung disorders. Pinus mugo is used as an aromatic stimulant, antiseptic, expectorant, and it can relieve bronchial and nasal congestion by inhalation of the needle infusion or the essential oil;  the tea has been used to treat upper respiratory tract infections, chronic bronchitis; bathing in the infusion treats rheumatism, muscle stiffness by improving blood flow.

 •Pinus palustris, Long Leaf Pine, Turpentine (See also Terebinth) is a tall, evergreen, up to 150 feet with attractive, reddish-brown, deeply fissured bark with long, stiff needles that grow in pairs. Is used mainly for the distillation of American gum spirits of Turpentine. This is a tall, evergreen tree native to the Southeast United States. The main component is Terpineol. It has been considered a powerful antiseptic spray and disinfectant, especially in veterinary medicine.  It has mainly external use in blends as a massage for arthritis, muscular aches and pains, and stiffness, and in the past, natural Turpentine was often inhaled for asthma and bronchitis.  This has been much used in the commercial industry to manufacture paint but has now been largely replaced by synthetic Pine oil (synth. Turpentine).

photo of Pinus palustris
Pinus palustris

 •Pinus pinaster the Maritime Pine contains Mono- and Sesquiterpenes. It is a powerful antiseptic used to disinfect the air locally. Good for chronic bronchitis, chronic cystitis, and anti-inflammatory for the lungs. Can be used externally in massage blends for rheumatism or aching joints. A particular chemotype of Pinus pinaster contains large quantities of terebenthine which is composed of 62% a-pinene and 27% b-Pinene. This oleoresin is used as a powerful expectorant, antiseptic, and to oxygenate the air. It is indicated for infections of the respiratory system. The EO or needle is used in hot water for steam inhaling treatments. Mainly used as an aerosol treatment but with possible allergies if used externally.

Pinus pinaster in Golden Gate Park
Pinus pinaster in Golden Gate Park

Scots Pine or Pinus sylvestris.

•Pinus sylvestris, Scotch Pine, Norway Pine is a tall, evergreen, up to 150 feet with attractive, reddish-brown, deeply fissured bark with long, stiff needles that grow in pairs. The essential oil is produced mainly in the Baltic states. The components are greatly influenced by geographical origin and consist mainly of Monoterpenes, Pinene, some Limonene.  Pinus sylvestris is considered to have hormone-like, cortisone-like qualities. It is indicated for convalescence, inhaled for bronchitis, sinusitis, and asthma. and is used to tone the respiratory system, balance the hypothalamic/pancreas axis as well as the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal). It is a hypertensive, tonic stimulant.

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PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS, AND YIELDS ~ It is the needles and sometimes the resin that is hydro-distilled. The yield can be quite good.

•• Please read the caution with Pinus jeffreyi.••

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Pine oil showing color and clarity against a white background.
Several Pine Oils

ORGANOLEPTIC PINE OIL CHARACTERISTICS ~ Pine oil from most species when distilled is clear, colorless, non-viscous, and with a powerful and oftentimes medicinal turpentine odor that is green, vegetative, and herbaceous. There are some species with a fruity back note.

downward arrow to the organoleptic chart of Pine oil
The basic 7 - Vocabulary of Odor copyrighted chart for two Pine oils. by JeanneRose
Basic 7 Vocabulary of Odor chart for two Pine oils

BLENDING FOR PURPOSE ~ I particularly enjoy blending various conifer needle essential oils together. I use the blend in a diffusor to scent my home, or I use it in an inhaler to cleanse my sinus, or I use the blend in certain body-care lotions for smoothing and healing.

HYDROSOL ~ Hydrosol Use of Pine: Most hydrosols have not yet been tested as to what components they do or do not contain. Contrary to what several well-known aromatherapy experts say, hydrosols do not contain the same components as their essential oils but in less quantity. In the case of Pinyon Pine, the EO contains mainly alpha and beta-pinene while the hydrosol contains alpha-terpineol, terpinene-4-ol, and borneol.  Using hydrosols is easy: baths, compresses, facial sprays, wound cleansers, etc.

            Spray hydrosols to refresh the air as the small airborne molecules disperse readily, particularly in cars or airplanes (don’t use too much), rinse to disinfect your hands, a slight spray on clothes after removing from the dryer creates a nice refreshing change, use in fingerbowls with a few pine needles after your formal dinner, use in small amounts in creams and lotions to add pine therapy to the product.

            PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

INTERESTING AND HISTORICAL INFORMATION ABOUT TURPENTINE ~ There is plenty of very interesting information about natural turpentine online.  Here is one source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemical-engineering/turpentine.

References:

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_jeffreyi

2https://www.npr.org/2009/08/17/111803772/ponderosa-pines-rugged-trees-with-a-sweet-smell

Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.

Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999

Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992

Precautions for all essetial oils.
Precautions for all essential oils

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

The biggest Pine tree in California before it crashed to the ground some years back.

Nasturtium

NASTURTIUMNasturtium is Garden Medicine

 By Jeanne Rose 1980 – present

Nasturtium in the garden showing colors and leaves

Introduction ~ The Nasturtium is in full flower in my yard at this time of year (July/August).

 Common Name/Scientific Name & Family ~ The Latin name is Tropaeolum majus, and it is from the Family Tropaeolaceae, the Nasturtium. The name Tropaeolum is from the word trophy. Linnaeus named it from the Latin word, which was defined “as a sign of victory in war helmets from captured warriors who were once hung on posts.” The leaves of the plant climbing posts are compared to the shields and the flowers to the bloodstained helmets.  The plant first arrived in Spain in 1569 thanks to Spanish botanist Nicolás Monardes, who wrote extensively about all the plants and animals he discovered during his trip to South America. The name Tropaeolum majus was given to the plant by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

Other Names and background ~ The common name of Indian Cress from its pungent flavor of leaves is like name-related watercress (N. Officinale). These are two different plants from two very separate families.

Chart of the difference between Nasturtium and Watercress
Nasturtium name confusion

General Description of Plant habitat and Growth ~ This plant is native to Peru, South America. It has big edible leaves, brilliant and edible flowers. It is an easy plant to grow and does best if not over-watered or over-fertilized. It will grow in full sun and part-shade and climbs up the nearest fence or plant.  The flowers mature, fall off, and the seed pods form. These pods can be collected and immersed in vinegar and make a tasty substitute for capers.

A single Nasturtium flower peaking through the fence
photo by JeanneRose, 1995

Seeds and Leaves – The seeds yield a high percentage of a drying oil that can be used in making paints, varnish, etc. The growing plant attracts aphids away from other plants. Research indicates that aphids flying over plants with orange or yellow flowers do not stop, nor do they prey on plants growing next to or above the flowers. An insecticide can be made from an infusion of leaves and soap flakes.

Countries of Origin ~ Native to South America

Endangered – Not endangered

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION – The entire plant can be used: leaves, flowers, seed pods. It is sometimes used as a flower essence remedy and in homeopathy and in various other forms of alternative therapy.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of Nasturtium

Physical Uses ~ Nasturtium has long been used in Andean herbal medicine as a disinfectant and wound-healing herb and an expectorant to relieve chest conditions.

All parts of the plant appear to be antibiotic; an infusion of the leaves can be drunk to increase resistance to bacterial infections and clear nasal and bronchial catarrh. The remedy seems to both reduce catarrh formation and stimulate the clearing and coughing up of phlegm.

The leaves are antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, aperient, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, laxative, and stimulant.

Application and Skincare ~ Externally, it makes an effective antiseptic wash and is used to treat baldness, minor injuries, and skin eruptions. Any plant part can be used; it is harvested during the growing season and used fresh. …http://www.pfaf.org/database/

Emotional Use ~ A essence is made of flowers and used as a tonic for the lower body organs to energize and bring hope after a significant loss and life changes. This flower remedy was made in the Spring when it brings forth new life after the Winter season. Nasturtium brings hope after a significant loss, upheaval, or life change. The yellow, orange and red colors of the flowers relate to the three lower chakras. It also reflects the cleansing of the bright inner star that you are, removing the dross accumulating over many lifetimes, so you can shine more brightly. –FlowersforHealing.com

FLOWER REMEDY ~ AS a flower remedy or elixir, “Nasturtium is said to bring in more joy and spontaneity and to be used whenever life starts to feel dull or routine. Nasturtium helps us add more spice to life.” ‑ Lotuswei Nasturtium will enhance a feeling of contentment and happiness. It also helps you see where and how you are unique.

CULINARY OR INGESTION ~ All parts of the plant can be eaten. Nasturtium flowers contain mustard seed oil, so flowers and young fruits can be used for seasoning and pickling, leaves can be used for a peppery taste in salads. These green seeds can also be pickled in vinegar, flowers, and seeds can be mashed into sweet butter for a tasty spread. The flowers can be used as a wrap to roll around small canapes as an appetizer.

Nasturtium growing up  on the fence
Nasturtium on the fence

HERBAL ~ All parts of the plant appear to have antibiotic effects. Nasturtium has long been used in Andean herbal medicine as a disinfectant and wound-healing herb and an expectorant to relieve chest conditions.

The flowers are used in bath herbs mixtures as a colorful astringent, in hair rinses for dark blonde to red hair; the leaves and flowers can be used in bath herbs or teas and salads for a tasty ‘bite.’ I also like to collect and dry the flowers to add color to a potpourri. Hummingbirds sip from the flowers.

An infusion of the leaves can increase resistance to bacterial infections and clear nasal and bronchial catarrh. This remedy seems to both reduce catarrh formation and stimulate the clearing and coughing up of phlegm.

            The seeds yield a high percentage of a drying oil that can be used in making paints, varnish, etc. And Nasturtium can be used as a trap crop for aphids.

HYDROSOL ~ I have never had a hydrosol of Nasturtium flower or leaves and wonder what it might be like.  I think the best use of Nasturtiums is as a garden and culinary plant.

Key Use ~ As a food.

Chemistry and Components ~ A glycoside found in the plant reacts with water to produce an antibiotic. The plant has antibiotic properties towards aerobic spore-forming bacteria. Extracts from the plant have anticancer activity. The plant is taken internally to treat genito-urinary diseases, respiratory infections, scurvy, and poor skin and hair conditions.

INTERESTING/SCIENCE/HISTORICAL ~ Nasturtium is symbolic of patriotism. … The round leaves reminded Linnaeus of the shields of warriors and the flowers of their blood-stained helmets, hence the symbolism of patriotism.

References

http://www.pfaf.org/database/
See FlowersforHealing.com for more flower essence information
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Body Book. www.jeannerose.net/books.html
http://www.lotuswei.com
This is an interesting article. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/nasturtium

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Moderation in All Things.

Be moderate in your use of essential oils, as they are just not sustainable for the environment.

Be selective and more moderate in your usage.

Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

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CARNATION (Gillyflower, Clove-pink)

The true pink Carnation (gillyflower or clove-pink) Dianthus caryophyllus was my wedding flower in 1972. It is a flower of fascination, scent, and love. The flower is edible and is used to scent and flavor many foods.

CARNATION, Gillyflower, Clove-pink)

Research by Jeanne Rose 1970 – to the present

A Clove-pink flower with the carnation absolute.
Clove Pink

DIANTHUS CARYOPHYLLUS, CARNATION OR CLOVE PINK

Absolute of Carnation

Carnation absolute is an amber-colored liquid sometimes a greenish-brown viscous liquid with an herbaceous, bitter-honey-like, and spicy back note and a bitter taste. In natural perfumery is used in floral blends (rose, lily, narcissus, jonquil, Cassie, white ginger, honeysuckle), spice accords, etc. There is any intensity of the odor that is best expressed when a drop of spicy clove oil plus a drop or two of sweet cinnamon oils is added and it is diluted with 95% grape spirits and allowed to age for several weeks.

Pinks photographed in golden gate park in 2016
Pinks in the Park

These were photographed in Golden Gate Park in 2016.

Pinks have a sweet and spicy fragrance and charming, frilled flowers.

These are the Organoleptic (Sensory) and Odor Characteristics of Carnation Absolute
(Description of color, clarity, viscosity, taste & intensity of Odor.

ColorDark rich brown, sometimes green
Clarityopaque
Viscosityviscous
Tastebitter
IntensityWorks well with many florals, fruity, citrus and wood scents
TenacityHas a rich tenacity and presence in a perfume
Organoleptics of Carnation absolute 2021

Odor description ~ The odor of Carnation absolute is absolutely unlike any Carnation, gillyflower, or sops-in-wine that I have ever smelled.  It is dark and dank and needs to be fluffed up with spicy clove and sweet cinnamon to work in a perfume.

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CARNATION ABSOLUTE PROFILE

By Jeanne Rose from my original 1969 notes and old books

Carnation – abs … Portion of Plant Used in Distillation, How Distilled, Extraction Methods & Yield ~ Dianthus caryophyllus, the common garden carnation flowers are extracted with solvents and the result is a hard, green concrète then washed in alcohol for the absolute. In France and in many books, it is called ‘absolue d’œillet’. The brown viscous liquid was sweet-scented of honey, spice, and herbs, somewhat like the flower. This scent mixed well with other floral notes and fixatives such as Castoreum and Oakmoss. This product was produced in Europe. My original bottles have a more representative scent of Carnation flowers of old, rather than what is grown today.

Name of Oil ~ Carnation absolute (Dianthus caryophyllus)

Carnation probably comes from the Italian dialectal carnagione (flesh color) from the Late Latin word carnationem. Carnations were mentioned in Greek literature 2,000 years ago. Dianthus was coined by Greek botanist Theophrastus and is derived from the Greek words for divine dios and for flower anthos. Some scholars believe that the name carnation comes from coronation or corone (flower garlands), as it was one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns. Others think the name stems from the Latin carnis (flesh), which refers to the original color of the flower, or incarnation of God made flesh. In Romanian, the word for carnation is garoafa, it is also surnamed “flower of royalty”.1

            These plants that we love so well are called Pinks, Carnations, Sweet William, or Dianthus.  They vary according to the variety wanted, or the breeder decided to grow.

Countries of Origin ~ Natives of Europe, the absolute produced in France, Egypt, and Holland.

This is an old ‘sops in wine’ from the Fenbow garden of Elizabethan times, as described in the book “Old Carnations and Pinks” by C. Oscar Moreton.

old drawing of Nutmeg Clove
Nutmeg Clove

The Nutmeg Clove Carnation from “Old Carnations and Pinks” by C. Oscar Moreton

GENERAL DESCRIPTION ~ THE BOTANY OF CARNATION

Carnations are flowers that are widely recognized by most people. They are classified as Dianthus caryophyllus, when translated, means “flower of love” or “flower of the gods”. There are approximately 300 species in the genus. They are native to the Eastern Hemisphere and are found naturally in the Mediterranean region, although modern varieties are grown both in greenhouses and in fields around the world. With such widespread commercial production available, there is not a limited season of availability. Because of their long-lasting qualities and fragrance, carnations are often featured in arrangements at holidays celebrated with flowers, at special occasions such as weddings and parties, and in sympathy arrangements.

Essential carnation oil in its absolute form is both rare and expensive. Many varieties produce a clove-like scent, and the aroma is said to be both uplifting and motivating. It was called ‘Clove-Pink”. Carnations and other flowers such as Stocks were also called Gillyflowers and Girofle. Not only are people attracted by their scent, but carnations also have an extended vase life from 7 to 21 days depending on the cultivar, harvest stage and flower food.

>>Many of the commercially produced varieties have flowers up to 3 inches in diameter and have very little odor. Colors especially red colors are on the same chemical pathway as scent. So, the more color or complexity of color often the less scent. Most flowers are double forms with ruffled petals. Remember that the same chemical pathways carry scent and color; if you breed for color and size, you will have less scent.<<<

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS OF THE OIL- ISOEUGENOL ACETATE. Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus L.) are popular ornamentals and are mainly used as cut flowers. Their scents are composed of benzenoids, terpenoids, fatty acid derivatives, and other minor components (Clery et al., 1999; Hudak and Thompson, 1997; Schade et al., 2001; Zuker et al., 2002). Classical fragrant carnations possess a spicy and clove-like odor caused mainly by benzenoids (Clery et al., 1999).2

400-year-old illustration –

HISTORICAL USES OF THE OIL AND THE HERB

In Odorographia, p. 260 The perfume of cloves blended with a trace of that of methyl-salicylate (wintergreen oil) or a compound organic ether, is conspicuous in several species of Dianthus or ” Pink “: Plants belonging to the extensive order Caryophyllaceae. Most of the species are natives of Europe, temperate Asia, and North Africa. Dianthus Caryophyllus or ” Clove Pink ” is the original of the garden Carnation.

            According to a Christian legend, “Carnations first appeared on Earth as Jesus carried the Cross. The Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus’ plight, and Carnations sprang up from where her tears fell” pink Carnation becoming the symbol of a mother’s undying love1. The history of the flower is fascinating. It was called ‘sops in wine”

HISTORY ~ Gillyflower. any of several scented flowering plants, especially the carnation, or clove pink (Dianthus caryophyllus), stock (Matthiola incana), and wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri). However, the gillyflower of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare was the carnation. Other plants that are types of gillyflower are dame’s gillyflower, also known as dame’s violet (Hesperis matronalis); mock gillyflower, also known as soapwort or bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis); feathered gillyflower, also known as the grass or garden pink (Dianthus plumarius); and sea gillyflower, also known as the thrift or sea pink (Armeria maritima).

To this day, carnations remain a favorite flower choice for many different occasions. They are immediately recognizable flowers, and they possess a charm and allure that continues to captivate people around the globe. In fact, in many parts of the world, the popularity of carnations surpasses that of any other flower including roses. The powerful sentiments these flowers can express are a perfect complement to their classic beauty and long-lasting freshness. By retaining its status as a floral mainstay for such a long time, the carnation has proven itself to be a lasting flower in more ways than one. – Proflowers.com

Clove Pink

THERAPEUTIC VALUE OF CARNATION ~ Hilda Leyel mentions that the Carnation has cordial properties and enlivens the heart through the senses.  Gerard uses a conserve of the flowers with sugar to comfort the heart. Ms. Leyel continues that the pinks and carnations of all kinds have a cleansing effect on the blood, correct disorders of the head and the heart, and rejoice all the senses by their spicy scent and flavor.  A water distillate from pinks was said to be a cure for epilepsy and another says: ‘if a conserve be composed of them this is the life and the delight of humanity’ [this sounds like Gerard is being consulted again].

• • •

CARNATION … PHYSICAL USES AND HOW USED APPLICATIONS

The pink is an ornamental plant known. As aromatic species, it follows that its composition must find a very fragrant essence, and indeed it can be found, even in small amounts, different for different varieties of carnations that exist. In the herbaceous plant parts it is also possible to find active saponins and some minor. As for its medicinal uses, there is little to say. There is a plant that is characterized by intense possess medicinal properties because its main job rather falls within the field of perfumery. If it is included here because once the water (hydrosol) was used as eye drops – carnation eyewash – for tired or damaged eyes. This application is a clear example of the theory of the sign: in fact, once the flower the carnation compared it with the eyes, because in the center of it appear certain that resemble paint the apple of the eyes of Hence it was proposed to extract the spirit of carnation, to soothe tired eyes or damaged, and began to prepare distilled water garden carnations. “. …http://www.mtplantas.com/eng/plants/E35153.htm

•••

Emotional/Ritual Uses ~ Clove Pink ~ Dianthus caryophylatta ~ The favorite flower of Henry IV of France and still very much cultivated. This flower was introduced into France by French missionaries and soon assumed a double form in France in 1719. It has a lovely clove-like spicy and floral odor. Pinks and carnations of all kinds can be eaten and have a cleansing effect on the blood, head, and heart. Distill the flowers for a ‘cure’ for epilepsy; the hydrosols and waters can be drunk for nervous disorders. The absolute is a delight when used in small amounts in perfumer. – from Leyel

Interesting Facts ~ So popular were the clove gillyflowers in the 17th and 18th-century that they were used in soup, sauce, syrup, and cordials. The flowers were candied and preserved, made into kinds of vinegar, decorated salads, and always used as sops in wine and floated in the drinks of engaged couples. The actual Carnation known as ‘sops in wine’ or the clove gillyflower was a particular variety sometimes dried and powdered, but more often made into syrups and conserves. – from Leyel

From Victoria in Perfume Notes, 2005 – “Dianthus is derived from Greek, meaning di, Zeus and anthos, flower, “the flower of Zeus,” indicating its importance in the religious context of Ancient Greece. In Italy, Bologna in particular, the plant has been associated with Saint Peter and celebrated widely, with a special day at the end of June dedicated to carnation. In the Middle Ages, it was one of the most popular flowers for fragrance gardens. No monastery herb garden would be complete without carnation, the medicinal uses of which were referenced as early as the Han Dynasty texts (23-206 A.D.). In European herbal medicine tradition, carnation flowers have been prescribed for the nervous and coronary disorders. However, its probably most interesting usage has been recorded in the late 1600s, when the Countess of Dorset, England, made her own love potion, including carnation, lavender, bay leaf and marjoram. It is rather ironic that the flower of the most licentious of all Greek gods is supposed to have powers to cure wayward lovers. Interesting to note is that carnation signified devotion and loyalty in a variety of traditions, from European to Asian.”

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Nerve Tonic made of Clove July flowers in Mountain wine

3 oz. Clove July flowers
Infuse into a quart of Mountain wine for 10 days
Shake every day.
On the 10th day filter through clean white blotting paper.
Drink a wineglassful 3 X/day as a nerve tonic. (a wineglassful is 2 oz)
From a Hilda Leyel book

Dianthus barbata – JeanneRose backyard

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BLENDING & Perfumery ~ Blends well with  Ambrette seed EO, CO2 and abs; Basil EO and abs; Bergamot EO; Buddha wood EO and CO2;  Cassie abs; Champa flower EO and CO2; Clary sage EO and abs; Coconut CO2;  Fir balsam abs; Rose Geranium EO and abs; Genet (Spanish Broom) abs; Hay abs; Jasmine abs; Jonquil abs; Lavender EO, CO2 and abs; Lime EO; Lemon EO; Mandarin and Tangerine EO; Massoia EO and CO2; Neroli EO; Osmanthus abs; Rose abs, CO2 and abs; Sandalwood EO, CO2, and abs; Tonka abs; Vanilla abs and CO2; Ylang EO and abs; Violet leaf abs; and Tuberose abs.

Symbolic Meaning ~ Carnation is love, affection, fascination, and health. I used the Carnation flower on my wedding announcements in 1972.

            Carnation Meaning. The carnation means fascination, distinction, and love. According to a Christian legend, carnations grew from the Virgin Mary’s tears as she watched Jesus carry the cross. This is how they became associated with motherly love.

The meanings of carnations include fascination, distinction, and love. Like many other flowers, different messages can also be expressed with the flower’s different color varieties. Light red carnations, for example, are often used to convey admiration, whereas the dark red version expresses deeper sentiments of love and affection. White carnations are associated with purity and luck, and pink carnations are often given as a sign of gratitude. In the early part of the 20th century, carnations became the official flower of Mother’s Day in addition to finding particular significance in many other cultures worldwide. – Proflowers.com

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KEY USE ~ The absolute for scent and the flower petals in food and drinks.

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•FORMULAS for Perfumes•

Formula for Mock Carnation Scent

Mock Carnation ..

WEST OF MIDWAY

Another formula Using Carnation Absolute

…….Alphabetical order …………….IN DROPS ……………………………. IN NOTES

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Reference

  1. Scientific Papers Series Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and Rural Development Vol. 18, Issue 2, 2018 PRINT ISSN 2284-7995, E-ISSN 2285-3952 107 RESEARCH ON THE EUROPEAN FLOWER MARKET AND MAIN SYMBOLIC VALUES OF THE MOST TRADED SPECIES
  2. J. Japan. Soc. Hort. Sci. 82 (2): 145–153. 2013. Available online at http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/jjshs1 JSHS © 2013 Analysis of Scents Emitted from Flowers of Interspecific Hybrids between Carnation and Fragrant Wild Dianthus Species by Kyutaro Kishimoto, et al

Biography:

Leyel, Hilda. Cinquefoil

Leyel, Hilda. Elixirs of Life

Leyel, Hilda. Herbal Delights

Moreton, C. Oscar. Old Carnations and Pinks. Published by George Rainbird with Collins, 1955.

Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Body Book, p. 63

Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things, p. 247

Rose, Jeanne. Natural Perfumery Supplement. P. 132

Clove Pink – Dianthus – in Golden Gate Park Arboretum

WAFT for Scent and Health

RAVINTSARA

Ravintsara

A Study in Identity Confusion and Confliction

By Jeanne Rose – Summer 2021

4 bottles of Ravintsara oil, in the author's possession.  Photo by JeanneRose
several bottles of ravintsara oil – photo by JeanneRose

Introduction ~ Ravintsara #163, Cinnamomum camphora, is organically grown and not to be confused with Ravensara. Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) and Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) are two essential oils distilled from 2 very different trees, often misnamed from two separate botanical family, as well as two different countries. The leaves and wood of the tree are used for different essential oils and often also have different names. It is imperative that all who use essential oils, and any company that sells them, begin to label these oils using both common and scientific name, as well as part of the plant used, and country of origin.

NAMING AND DESCRIPTION ARE CONFUSING.

Naming & Background ~ Cinnamomum camphora, the tree, has different oils with different names depending upon whether you are talking about leaves or wood and whether you are discussing the tree from Madagascar or elsewhere.  The leaves of the tree from Madagascar, CT cineole, are called Ravintsara and they are used in products as an application for fatigue, and postpartum infections. The essential oil from the leaves/stem, and bark has different therapeutic benefits. Often, it seems, when using the term C. camphora, camphor laurel, we are talking about the tree that grows in China and whose seeds have been studied as an anti-bacterial and whose wood is distilled and releases a solid, white, waxy substance called ‘camphor’.

Names and part and country as follows:

Cinnamomum camphora, CT cineole, leaves, Madagascar is Ravintsara oil

Cinnamomum camphora, CT linalool, leaves, China is Ho leaf oil.

Cinnamomum camphora, CT linalool, wood, China is Ho Wood oil

Cinnamomum camphora, CT linalool, wood and leaves, China is Shiu oil

Cinnamomum camphora, CT camphor, wood, China is called white camphor, yellow camphor, and other names.

Ravensara aromatica, CT methyl eugenol, leaves, Madagascar is Ravensara or Hazomanitra oil.

Ravensara aromatica, CT methyl chavicol, bark, Madagascar, is Anise wood oil aka Ravensara anisata.

Sometimes the leaves are picked with stems and when distilled, have that anise-scent of R. aromatica type anisata, bark, Madagascar is called Anise wood oil, and called Ravensara anisata. –– this from Material review 2005 [https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hector-

Also, some scientific sources call this tree and another, Ravenala madagascariensis which is family Strelitziaceae, a palm-type tree. There is much confusion and Ravensara aromatica (the old name) is still confusing in the literature.  Ravenala madagascariensis Sonn. (Family STRELITZIACEAE), a palm tree whose leaves are used for asthma and the stem used for hypertension.

I remember these essential oils by scent and even that has changed over the years.

Family ~ Family Lauraceae – Cinnamomum camphora – Ravintsara. The essential oil of leaves, Cineole type, from the Madagascar tree is commercially known as ravintsara. The leaves are steam-distilled and depending upon terroir there are different chemical families represented.  The main ones are linalool and cineole. This tree with a common name of Camphor laurel has different names depending upon the six different chemical variants called chemotypes. These are camphor, linalool, 1,8-cineole, nerolidol, safrole, and borneol.

Countries of Origin ~ Ravintsara is a product of Madagascar.

Endangered – Probably, it depends upon to whom you are speaking and what plant and plant part they are discussing.  Even in the scientific literature, often the plant part being discussed is missing as evidenced from many articles in the literature as well as any book discussing essential oils.

  If you are using the leaves only of the R. aromatica, the tree itself is not endangered; however, if you are using the bark of this same tree [but called R. anisata], this tree is endangered.

General Description of Plant habitat and Growth and Confusion ~ I am unable to provide a proper description of the tree, only that at this writing this essential oil still causes confusion. Obtained from the leaves of a tree (Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl), which was introduced from Taiwan as an ornamental tree and now grown widely in Madagascar and with increased demand from the international market. This essential oil has often been misreported and traded as ravensara, or Ravensara aromatica. The true ravensara (R. aromatica) essential oil is extracted from the leaves of an endemic species locally known as “havozo,’ or “hazomanitra, which means “aromatic tree” in the Malagasy language.”1

“Another source of confusion with Ravensara species is that R. aromatica and R. anisata (a synonym for R. aromatica) were considered different species producing different essential oils, whereas the plants were one and the same. Both essential oils come from the same plant, but the oil of R. anisata usually refers to the bark oil of R. aromatica (rich in methyl chavicol), while the essential oil of the true R. aromatica is extracted from the leaves. The species that was first described by Sonnerat was further renamed as R. anisata by Danguy.”2

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ Ravintsara Essential Oil is steam distilled from leaves of Cinnamomum camphora CT cineole in Madagascar during the months of September through December.  The bark yields another product. Always carefully analyze the odor of the essential oil as there are certainly different grades and scents.  Wood, leaf, bark produce different essential oil by SD. See above.

Yield ~ I was unable to find the specific yield of essential oil of leaf of Cinnamomum camphora from Madagascar.

The chemical composition of R. aromatica bark is in all cases characterized by a high amount of methyl chavicol (83–98%), whatever the chemotype.

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A bottle of  Prima fleur Ravintasara oil showing the color or lack of and the clarity.
Ravintsara showing color/clarity

ORGANOLEPTICS ~ The organoleptic, physical, and chemical profiles of the essential oils of ravintsara (C. camphora) and ravensara (R. aromatica) oils showed that both essential oils can also easily be differentiated using chemical fingerprinting. It has been proposed that new standards for their botanical and essential oil authentication and species identification be written.

Ravintsara – Cinnamomum camphora CT cineole, leaves, Madagascar

Color – colorless
Clarity – clear
Viscosity non-viscous
Scent Intensity – 6
Taste – bitter and aromatic

Tenacity – very good
Description of scent – The leaf oil is herbaceous, woody, spicy, and green and more suitable to therapeutics than perfumery.
Aroma Description – Ravintsara has an odor much like Eucalyptus due to the same chemical component of Cineol. It is pleasant and refreshing, fruity, herbaceous, and spicy. Waft the scent enough times to remember it by its odor.

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of Ravintsara CT cineole

Properties of Ravintsara ~ This essential oil is considered anticatarrhal, decongestant, and expectorant. It is helpful and useful for rhinitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, and sinusitis (by inhalation).

BLENDING RAVINTSARA FOR PURPOSE ~ This robust and pleasant oil is best used in blends for the respiratory system and in massage blends, to refresh and uplift the body.  It blends well with herbaceous oils such as Rosemary and Marjoram, the citrus oils such as Lemon and Bergamot, and spicy oils. Included in this list are some resins and some grasses such as Frankincense and Palmarosa. Try very tiny amounts in perfumery to make the perfume sparkle.

>Formula for rhinitis ~ For perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR), the essential oils of Ravintsara, Geranium, (Pelargonium graveolens), Eucalyptus and Niaouli, used together, release their decongestant, tonic, and anti-infectious properties, and can be used in a base of saline solution and rosemary hydrosol, and provide great benefits in case of a blocked nose, (loss of sense of smell), and irritation of the ear, nose, throat (ENT) tract.3

Formula:

1 oz Rosemary hydrosol
+  1 oz double strength saline solution*
+ 3 drops Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora, CT cineole, leaves, Madagascar is Ravintsara oil
+ 1 drop each of (Frankincense or Rose Geranium), Niaouli, and Eucalyptus.
Place all in a 2 oz nasal spray bottle, shake vigorously to use.

            *[Double strength saline solution is made by bringing to a boil 1 cup of water covered for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Add 1 t. salt and a pinch of baking soda. Stir until dissolved. Store in the refrigerator no more than 2-days.]

>Another formula for rhinitis is the inhalation of a combination of EO that include Sandalwood, Ravensara aromatica, and Frankincense.2

>Sore throat Formula ~ For the beginning of a sore throat, I have used Ravintsara, a drop on a sugar cube, to slowly dissolve in my mouth.  I have found this to be very helpful.

HERBAL ~ A tea of the leaves of Cinnamomum camphora in Madagascar is used for fatigue and post-partum infection.

Chemistry and Components ~ We have discussed this in the beginning.  It is important for the consumer to look at the GCMS; if you want Ravintsara it must be from Madagascar and have high levels of cineol, 50-70%.  The scent will help guide you.  I have seen a product called this name (from a well-known essential oil company) that had a high percentage of linalool and that is NOT Ravintsara but Ho Leaf oil.

Key Uses ~ Ravintsara is the oil of the Respiratory system. Just like the citrine in the opening photo, ravintsara is a powerful cleanser.

Ravintsara oil - different sized bottles
Ravintsara oil

References

  1. Searching for the Real Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica Sonn.) Essential Oil. Perfumer & Flavorist, vol. 30, Jan-Feb 2005
  2. “Effect of inhalation of aromatherapy oil on patients with perennial allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, Article ID 7896081, 7 pages, 2016.
  3.    Effect of the Use of Intranasal Spray of Essential Oils in Patients with Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: A Prospective Study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32961531/

This examination of the latest information about the essential oil Ravintsara

was sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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Cautions to Remember chart
Cautions

Ravintsara exploration written by Jeanne Rose 2021

Moderation in All Things.

Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.

Be selective and more moderate in your usage.

Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014

Ravensara aromatica Sonnerat is a tree endemic to Madagascar. The essential oil extracted from the leaves is used in aromatherapy. Previous chemical studies have generated some confusion about the chemical composition of this essential oil. To eliminate this uncertainty, we undertook a systematic evaluation of the chemical composition of essential oils from leaves of this species. The study focused on 28 individual samples formally identified as R. aromatica. The essential oils were obtained by hydrodistillation and analyzed by GC and GC–MS. It was possible to distinguish four groups of trees through principal components analysis and agglomerative hierarchical clustering analysis of the seven chief molecules identified in their essential oils. Two groups were characterized by a prevalence of compounds with an aromatic structure: methyl chavicol (representing more than 90% of the essential oil) in the first group and methyl eugenol (74–82%) in the second group. The predominant compounds of the other two groups proved to be of the monoterpene type: α-terpinene (25–28%) and limonene (15–22%) in the third group, while sabinene (25–34%), linalool (7–21%) and terpinen-4-ol (6–12%) were the primary constituents of the essential oils in the fourth group. The importance of these results for the commercial production of the essential oils from this species is discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Intraspecific chemical variability and highlighting of chemotypes of leaf essential oils from Ravensara aromatica Sonnerat, a tree endemic to Madagascar. By Hanitriniaina Sahondra AndrianoelisoaChantal MenutPhilippe Collas de ChatelperronJérôme SaraccoPanja RamanoelinaPascal Danthu