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.

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

LEMON PEEL OIL

LEMON Peel Oil and Uses

By Jeanne Rose

Showing a photo of Lemon peel oil and the fruit
Lemon Peel Oil and Fruit • Photo by JeanneRose 2-25-21

Synopsis ~ LEMON PEEL OIL and juice contains limonene, citral, and some floral linalool, which gives Lemon Peel its appealing fresh fragrance and the terpenes its tartness. Itis one of the most valuable essential oils and is used in food, perfumery, skincare for oily skin, and for many medicinal purposes.

Common Name/Latin binomial ~ Citrus x limon (L.) Osb or Lemon tree or Lemon oil. There are strict rules on naming and citrus has been examined and analyzed for parentage for quite some time. Citrus taxonomy is confusing and often inconsistent. They are all named with common names,  scientific names called Latin binomials based on Latin grammar and not necessarily with Latinized words.

Family ~ Rutaceae

Other Names and background ~ There are at least 25 varieties of the Lemon and it often uses the name Citrus limon as well as several old and new names. Some varieties are Bearss, Eureka, Lisbon, Meyer, and Verna Lemon.

Farmers Market photo of two types of Lemon
2 kinds of Lemon • Eureka and MeyerSF Farmers Market – 2019

Countries of Origin ~ Lemon oil is obtained from several countries and Prima Fleur #0086 is from the USA. The tree was native to SE Asia, mainly India.

Endangered ~ Not currently.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Lemon trees are cold- sensitive. Grow in warmth or full sun or the south side of a house. They need well-drained soil, slightly acidic. They can be grown from seed or cuttings.  When I lived in Florida, our citrus tree had many varieties layered upon one trunk and we had oranges, lemons,  and grapefruits from one tree. The fragrance of the blossoms was delightful.

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ Lemon peel is either cold-pressed or steam-distilled. Various methods have various yields.

            Yield ~ 0.6-0.8% from the cold expression of the fresh fruit peel.   

ORGANOLEPTICS of LEMON PEEL OIL

Colorcolorless to pale yellow for steam-distilled oil and yellow when  cold-pressed (#086)
Clarityclear
ViscosityNon-viscous
Intensity of Odor2-3 for cold-expressed and 1 for steam-distilled (on a scale of 1-10)
Tastebitter and sour
Tenacity in a BlendLemon peel adds freshness but needs fixatives to hold it in a scent or blend
Organoleptics of Lemon Peel Oil from PrimaFleur Botanicals

Chemistry and Components ~ The varieties of Lemon often have the same parentage but have different physiologic forms or formae often based on terroir (such as Mandarin in Italy and Tangerine from Tangiers) or scent chemistry such as limonene which has a chiral difference — both a left-turning molecule, (S) for sinistral with the sour smell of Lemon or Bitter Orange and a right-turning molecule, ® for right hand or clockwise or dextral, the sweet smell of Oranges. This is the reason we all as lovers of essential oils and aromatherapy need to learn some chemistry along with good taxonomy.

Interesting/Science/Historical ~ There is a study that confirms that the composition of Lemon essential oil undergoes cyclic variations lasting one year1. And that Lemon fruit on the same tree may both smell differently from each other but also have different chemistry.

Two bottles of Lemon oil plus a yellow paperweight and a perfect yellow Lemon.
Lemon Oil and Lemon fruit – Photo by JeanneRose 2-2021

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GENERAL PROPERTIES

Lemon peel constitutes a main valuable source of essential oil that is used in foods and for medicinal purpose. It is used by application in skincare, ingested in medicines and used in blends by inhalation.

APPLICATION AND SKINCARE ~ DO NOT APPLY COLD-PRESSED LEMON OIL TO SKIN PRIOR TO SUN EXPOSURE. It may cause photosensitivity. This means it could cause serious skin damage when exposed to the sun such as redness, itching, burns, blisters, and permanent skin discoloration. Steam-distilled Lemon oil does not contain the plant substance (furanocoumarin) that causes photosensitivity.

 Application ~  The essential oil when applied externally is an antibiotic, antiseptic, astringent, insect repellant, and wound healer. Apply  as an astringent antiseptic on some infections, acne, a cleanser for oily skin, on skin sores, small, infected wounds or insect bites.

            Skincare ~ Lemon peel oil can be used in skincare treatments to balance the pH of the skin, by counteracting acidity on its surface and it acts as a very mild natural bleach or lightener on the skin. It can be used to brighten dull skin color and to calm redness, as well as quell the irritation of inflamed skin. Prima Fleur carries several kinds of Lemon peel oil, organically grown and cold-pressed as well as cultivated and cold-pressed.

The conclusion of one scientific study showed that the scavenging action of lemon essential oil could have a practical application for treating human skin against oxidative damage.2

Ingestion: The Lemon peel essential oil should not be taken internally.  The chemistry and scent of essential oil is different than the chemistry and scent of the juice of the Lemon.
Inhalation: Inhale the crisp cheery scent of Lemon oil as a mildly calming  antidepressant due to the cheery scent, or as a mild stimulant, antiseptic, fever-reducer, and depurative for its purifying and detoxifying effects.

Blending for Purpose ~ Lemon peel oil blends very nicely with Bergamot  as a top note in blends and perfumery and then with most florals and woods to complete the blend.

______Diffuse/Diffusion ~ Lemon oil is a good addition to many other oils in your diffusor. It is uplifting, refreshing, and invigorating. For a quiet clear mind, add Rosemary to the Lemon, add sweet Basil or Spearmint to Lemon oil to uplift the spirit, and for a quiet calmness add Lemon oil to Vetivert.

Ritual/Emotional/Energetic Use: Lemon oil is used by inhalation for general fatigue and depression or physical exhaustion. 

 Culinary/Ingestion ~ Drink  Lemon Juice do not use Lemon oil in water. Tiny amounts of Lemon oil can be used as a flavorant in foods.

Herbal ~ Lemon peel, dried or fresh, can be used in baths, facial steaming herbs, most potpourris and herbal mixtures; it is used as decoction for normal to oily hair or in infused vinegar to use as a hair and skin rinse. Diluted Lemon juice can also be used directly on the hair and skin and it acts to reduce the alkalinity of shampoo and to rid the hair of dandruff and the skin of minor irritations.

Lemon and Cucumber Mask
Mash some Cucumber in a mortar, add some Lemon juice, and
Enough Almond meal to make a paste. Apply to face or knees or elbows.
This is mildly astringent and yet soothing.3.
You can also make this mask with Lemon Hydrosol

Hydrosol ~ I have used Lemon Hydrosol from several companies; they were distilled from whole fruit and rind and were each perfect in their own way. The hydrosol is wonderful for slightly oily skin and very soothing and a refreshing tonic for the skin.

Key Use ~ I like to call Lemon oil “the Oil of slimming” as it is effective in blends for this purpose.

2 bottles of Lemon oil showing color difference in different oils from the fruit peel.
Lemon oil

References ~

1.On the genuineness of citrus essential oils. Part X. Research on the composition of essential oils produced from Sicilian lemons using ‘pelatrice’ and ‘sfumatrice’ extractors during the entire 1983/84 production season. A. Cotroneo et al.  March 1986. https://doi.org/10.1002/ffj.2730010206

2.Antioxidative action of citrus limonum essential Oil on Skin. Bertuzzi, et al., https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233850718_Antioxidative_Action_of_Citrus_limonum_Essential_Oil_on_Skin

3.Rose, Jeanne • The Herbal Body Book • Frog Books, 2000. http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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SOME CAUTIONS TO REMEMBER FOR ALL PLANTS & THEIR PARTS

PATCH TEST:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to 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

HYDROSOL — 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.
DO NOT INGEST ESSENTIAL OILS: Although some oils are important flavoring oils in the flavor industry and thus ingested in very small amounts in many foods, especially meats and sausages, it is not a good idea to use them yourself either in capsules or in honey to take internally.
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Do not apply the essential oil neat, especially to the underarms or delicate parts of the body. Most oils are probably not to be used on babies, children or pregnant women. Many aromatherapist suggest that there are some oils not be used at all. However, as with many plants, essential oil chemistry is subject to change depending on species, chemotype, and terroir.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Be moderate in your use of any essential oil. A little goes a long way. Remember to choose the herbal use over the essential oil use normally; an herb tea is milder than the essential oil. There are always contraindications for the excessive use of some plants and for their essential oils in both perfumery and aromatherapy.

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©

Douglas-Fir

DOUGLAS-FIR – Tree and Essential oil

The Douglas-Fir misnamed for all its life as it is more like a spruce than a fir; it is a Christmas tree, and the needles and bark used for life and healing, and an important lumber tree; and the essential oil, refreshing and uplifting and slightly lemon-scented is used for the respiratory system and as a disinfectant.

By Jeanne Rose

photo showing Douglas-fir branch and the essential oil
photo by JeanneRose 2021

Douglas-Fir. Common Name/Latin Binomial ~ Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco aka P. douglasii

Other Common Name/Naming Information ~ Douglas-fir is in a separate genus from either the fir or the pine and more closely related to a Spruce. A Fir is of the genus Abies while a Douglas-fir or Oregon-pine is a falsely named tree. In botany, the dash shows that the person who is writing about the plant knows that it is not a Fir or a Pine or a ‘false Hemlock’  and in fact, Douglas-fir is more closely related to a Spruce.

Family ~  Pinaceae

Countries of Origins ~  It is native to the West Coast of the United States and is now grown elsewhere such as France.

Endangered or Not: The population is stable and there is little concern with this tree in California.

Historical Uses ~ Native Americans made much use of Douglas-fir leaves and twigs in medicine.

General description of Plant habitat and growth ~  In Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, the leaves are spirally arranged, but slightly twisted at the base to lie flattish on either side of the shoot, needle-like, 2–3.5 cm (0.79–1.38 in) long, green above with no stomata, and with two whitish stomata bands below. Unlike the Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, coast Douglas-fir foliage has a noticeable sweet fruity-resinous scent, particularly if crushed.
            Abundant resin ducts throughout the trunk and branches of healthy trees is vital to survive freezing winters and to retard the invasion of bark beetle larvae. During prolonged summer drought conditions, stressed trees produce less resin and are more vulnerable to bark beetles. In fall of 2003, this drought stress was especially evident throughout mountainous areas of San Diego County where thousands of pines were dying.

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Portion of plant used in distillation, how distilled, extraction methods and yields ~ Wild-grown and certified organic, the leaves and twigs are distilled, usually from fallen or logged trees.
           Yield was 1-gallon EO per ton for oven-dried branches in one study.

Douglas-Fir – Organoleptic Characteristics of Essential Oil

 Color:Colorless
 Clarity:Clear
 Viscosity:Non-viscous
 Taste:Bitter, aromatic, umami
 Intensity of Odor: Scale is 1-10 with  1= lowest5

Odor Description/Aroma Assessment of Douglas-Fir ~ Green, herbaceous and citrus.

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General PROPERTIES AND USES:

Douglas Fir essential oil is strongly antiseptic and indicated for respiratory infections. It can be used as a local disinfectant. This is one of the most lemon-scented of the ‘Firs’, with a powerful sweet, fresh, refreshing odor, well-liked as a room refresher or scent in soap blends.

Physical Uses & How used (IG or AP):    Douglas Fir essential oil is strongly antiseptic and indicated for respiratory infections as an inhalant. It can be used as a local disinfectant. It is a wonderful oil to wake up to at that particular time of year.

Application & Skincare ~  It can be used as a local disinfectant when used in lotions for the skin, in a massage for sore muscles and  Jeanne loves this oil in soaps and prefers it to many other types of conifers.

Inhalation ~ For all respiratory problems. This EO as a respiratory inhalant and I have ‘invented’ a process called, “Sequential Inhalation” for colds and flu. [email me directly for the article]

Diffuse/Diffusion ~ The essential oil is used as a respiratory inhalant to ease breathing; in the home to purify the air and in products for a great uplifting odor. If you diffuse this oil in late November and early December, you are sure to inspire the “Christmas spirit” in even the grouchiest of scrooges!

Blends Best ~ Blends Best with any other conifer oil as well as the Mediterranean plants such as Spearmint and rich deep oils such as Vetivert.

Emotional Use ~ Refreshing and even slightly stimulating by inhalation.

Ingestion ~ We do not recommend ingestion of EO; however, the leaves can be used as tea for the vitamin C. I use the needles in a tea to flavor other herbs and for colds.

HYDROSOL: The Douglas-fir hydrosol is organically grown from a USA source. It can be used in any skincare product for its refreshing quality, as a skin toner; and especially nice to be sprayed about a room to refresh the air.

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.

Key Use: Jeanne Rose calls this the “Oil of Clean Air” in her course for its refreshing healthful qualities. The key use as an Air freshener and breathing tonic.

Chemical Components: ~ The leaves are steam distilled to create the essential oil whose components vary considerably. The French oil contains large quantities of ß-Pinene and smaller amounts of Citronellyl acetate and b-Phellandrene. USA grown and distilled Douglas Fir is organically grown and contains terpenes and some limonene giving it a citrus note. “Chemistry of the hydrosol of one sample was mainly 30% monoterpenols, 12% esters, 10% borneol, other alcohols and a small amount of aldehydes and camphor ketones —Harman.”

Comparison of Main Components ~ The main compounds found in the Serbian EO were bornyl acetate (34.65 %), camphene (29.82 %), α-pinene (11.65 %) and santene (5.45 %).

Douglas Fir twigs – JeanneRose photo 2017

Interesting Information/Science Abstract: Dripping pitch from the trunk of a Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) can be collected. Conifers such as this ignite like a torch during a fire storm due to the combustible terpene oleoresins.  

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Contradictions ~ Caution use of conifer oils on children under 5 years.
Safety Precautions ~ Dilute as needed. No known precautions.
Patch Test ~  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to 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.

 References:
Harman, Ann. Harvest to Hydrosol, 1st edition, 2015, IAG Botanics
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.  North Atlantic Books. 2000:
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose .2015 edition. San Francisco, California

This work was sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

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©

Douglas-Fir Essential Oil – photo by JeanneRose 20121

JR