Thursday, 10 October 2013

Aromatherapy for Back Pain

Do you suffer from back pain?

Many people experience back pain on a regular or occasional basis.

Back pain results in a lot of sick days, reliance on painkillers and people unable to get on with common daily tasks.

Chronic back pain can be debilitating and depressing.

Your back pain will commonly occur in the lower lumbar area, mid thoracic area or upper back - neck and shoulder area. 

It can involve the bones and joints, soft tissue and fascia. 

It might be due to an injury, a structural imbalance, a condition you were born with, a pathology you have developed, poor posture, repetitive strain from your job or lifestyle (ie driving, standing all day, working at a computer for long hours), stiffness in the joints, general muscular tension due to stress, lack of exercise (poor muscle tone), poor diet (ie mineral deficiencies)
 or be unexplained.

Most people with chronic back pain have a combination of factors that contribute to their back pain, and the stress of living with the pain only makes them feel worse. 

Aromatherapy can help! 

There are several essential oils that are useful that can be diluted and blended together and used in 
  • massage 
  • compress
  • baths 
  • therapeutic creams/gels. 

 Aromatherapy can be used succesfully alongside other approaches to back pain such as myofascial release, trigger point and deep tissue massage, carefully chosen strengthening/ stretching exercise, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, physiotherapy, pilates, yoga etc....
Some useful properties of some essential oils in relation to back pain:

Analgesic - pain relieving 
Rubifacient - warming and increase blood flow
Anti-inflammatory - alleviate inflammation
Antispasmodic - prevents and eases spasm and relieves cramps
Relaxant - aids relaxation of the mind and body 
Antirheumatic - helps relieve rheumatism
Some essential oils to consider:

Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia) 

Soothing oil good for general aches and pains, strains and sprains, arthritis and rheumatism. Can be blended effectively with a variety of different oils according to the nature of the back pain.  
Lavandula latifolia is more energising than true lavender and needs to be used with caution but is excellent in blends for back pain. 

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)

Warming, restorative oil that helps muscles relax. Good for muscular pains, strains and sprains, rheumatism, arthritis and over exertion. Works well with more soothing oils such as Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile Roman for tight muscles or as an evening application. Also works well with more invigorating and rubefacient oils such as Rosemary, Ginger, Black Pepper for a stronger blend. 

Peppermint (Mentha piperata)

 Peppermint is particularly useful when you want to cool an inflamed area in a gel, perhaps with Lavender and German Chamomile. Where there is muscle fatigue, Peppermint can be used with Rosemary or Eucalyptus  pre or post exercise to alleviate aching and pain. 

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) or Eualyptus Globulus
These are invigorating, warming oils, analgesic oils that increase circulation and help bring blood to the affected area. Good to use for low back pain and when the pain is worse for cold, damp weather. Work well with small amounts of the spice oils such as Ginger, Black Pepper, Nutmeg and also Plai. 

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Hot and stimulating, Black Pepper oil has a deeply warming effect and is very useful for muscular aches and pains and stiffness. Black Pepper needs to be well diluted and may cause irritation on sensitive skin or in a hot bath. Ginger (zingiber officinale) is also useful. 
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Begamot is useful to include in any blends where stress and tension are affecting the muscles. Stress can lead to patterns of tension, commonly in the shoulders. By helping to release stress and bring better balance, Bergamot helps muscular tension. Fantastic combined with Lavender and Clary Sage in a salt evening bath. 

Contact Louise:

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Aromatherapy to help you stop smoking

I am writing this blog to co-incide with Stoptober - an NHS initiative in the UK to help people give up cigarettes for the month of October. For more information see

If you are giving up smoking for Stoptober (or at any other time) firstly - well done and good luck; you already know the health, financial & social benefits of quitting. Secondly, you might find that Aromatherapy can help you on your journey. Here's how:

Smokers use cigarettes beacuse
a) they are addicted to niccotine
b) because the act of smoking is a habit 
c) because they feel smoking relaxes them/ reduces feelings of stress/ anxiety
d) they feel they need a pick-me-up at certain times of the day/ in certain situations

Aromatherapy can address these alongside what ever your prefered method of stopping smoking is - ie nicotine replacement, cold turkey, medication etc....

1. Get a Massage (weekly if possible for the first month of quitting) 

  • Massage (especially full-body Aromatherapy massage) profoundly relaxes the whole body mind, balances the nervous sysytem, improves the circulation, boosts the immune system and generally makes you feel better. 
  • Essential oils can be used in your massage oil for their physiological and psychological therapeutic properties most appropriate to what you need.
  • Massage is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress and tension in the body-mind. Giving up smoking is likely to make you feel stressed initially, massage will help you better cope with that stress. 
  •  It is a good idea to have something to reward yourself with and to look forward to when giving up anything. Scheduling regular massage treatments will help.

2. Use essential oils to help you reduce cravings, break habits, feel more relaxed (and less anxious and irritable) and keep you motivated on your goal

You can use essential oils in the bath, in creams, gels and oils applied to the skin or diffused into the atmosphere. For giving up smoking I like to recommend an Aroma-stick inhaler. This is an inexpensive, convenient way to utilise essential oils. As you directly inhale the essential oils they pass through the nasal passages quickly into the lungs and respiratory system, and into the brain, where they act on the nervous system. 

You can also use the inhaler whenever you feel the need to have a cigarette. Just open the inhaler and waft under the nose or carefully insert into one nostril, close the other nostril with a finger and inhale slowly and gently. In this way using the inhaler helps to replace the habit of smoking a cigarette. 


Some Essential Oils (can be combined to make a blend or used alone) 

Consult a Professional Clinical Aromatherapist for advice on using essential oils. Your massage therapist should be able to make you products to use at home and work between treatments. If yoou'd like Louise to make you a blend please see the Aromatic Apothecary service on her website

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Black Pepper has been shown in studes to help reduce nicotine cravings. Its a spicy, warming, motivating,strengthening, energising oil that raises the yang energy of the body. It is a strong oils and needs to be used with caution, particularly on the skin. If you feel like you miss the pick-me-up factor of cigarettes or are flagging in your motivation this is a good oil to try. 

Eucalyptus (Lots of varieties are good but I recommend Eucalyptus globulus or the more gentle Eucalyptus radiata depending on what other oils you are using it with)
Eucalyptus has many useful properties, which vary slightly according to the species you use but is generally clarifying and decongestant. It helps you breathe better! It has strong anti-microbial action, boosts immunity and has an affinity with the lungs - all important when giving up smoking as many people find they pick up colds or chest infections during the initial stages of giving up.

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Bergamot is suggested mainly for its stress-busting and anti-depressant properties. It is an oil that helps to balance and regulate the whole system. It is fantastic at reducing tension, irritability and frustration - all of which people experience when giving something up. Bergamot can also help manage cravings and "appetite" for something generally. 

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
Frankincense is a great oil to keep you calm and reduce anxiety. It encourages optimum breathing and allows deep relaxation. Great to use for meditation (especially with Sandalwood). Frankincense, like Bergamot also helps with irritability and restlessness and like Eucalyptus is an immune tonic. 

Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)

I have included Cedarwood mainly because it is such a strengthening oil. It helps with fortitude in the face of adversity. It is easy to "give up" giving up. Cedarwood is calming and comforting, good for stress, anxiety and tension but it is also grounding, fortifying and really good for motivation. It keeps you strong. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

How to make an aroma-stick essential oil inhaler

Aroma-sticks are a practical, versatile,  and effective way to inhale essential oils and keep a blend on your person, ie in your pocket or bag.

You can find pre-blended inhalers on-line but it is very easy and cost-effective to make your own.

Inhalers are suitable for most people,but as with using essential oils on the skin you should check for contra-indications, especially for the young and elderly, during pregnancy, people suffering from asthma, epilepsy and other serious health conditions. Consult a professional Aromatherapist for advice. 

You can buy inhalers from various aromatherapy suppliers, including Purple Flame and Primrose Aromatherapy. If you buy in bulk they can cost about 50p each. They are a bit like a Vics inhaler, made of 3 plastic components with a cylindrical cotton wad that goes inside that you can add essential oils to. 

Firstly choose the essential oils you are going to use. You can use a single essential oil or a blend  (up to 5 different oils is generally enough). You need neat essential oils, not diluted in oil or anyother medium. I do not recommend fragrance oils as these have no therapeutic value.

The cotton piece will take up to 20 drops of essential oil. You will not necessarily need that many. Some essential oils have a very strong aroma or effect- ie roman chamomile, ylang ylang, vetiver, clary sage and you will only ever use a couple of drops along with lighter essential oils in a blend. 

As with all blends consider how much of each essential oil you want to use before you start. If you are unsure how your inhaler is going to smell you could always make a blend in vegetable oil in a bowl first to test it out.

Hold the cotton piece between your fingers or use a pair of tweezers. If you have sensitive skin it is worth wearing a pair of disposable gloves. 

Put a piece of protective covering underneath where you are working to prevent neat essential oils from staining or harming your work surface. 

Drop half the essential oils drop by drop from the bottle or use a pipette onto one end of the cotton cylinder and then the other. I often put lighter oils at one end of the stick and heavier oils at the other. You can choose which end will be put closest to the nose.

The lighter the essential oil  - ie lemon, eucalyptus etc the quicker it will disperse into the air. The heavier oils, ie sandalwood, patchouli will last longer.

Put the cotton wad inside the inner part of the plastic inhaler (the bit with the holes at one end), and seal the bottom with the little plastic cap.

Screw on the top. Easy as that. Keep the inhaler closed tightly to allow the aroma to last as long as possible. How long it will last will depend on the essential oils used and how often you open it.

To use an aroma-stick inhaler unscrew the cover and hold the inhaler under the nostrils for a or gently insert into one nostril with the other closed. Breathe in slowly and deeply for a couple of breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Using little and often will be most effective. 

For more tips on Aromatherapy and Natural Health follow Louise on twitter @VitalityAroma or like her facebook page VitalityHealthandWellbeing


Friday, 14 June 2013

Aromatherapy Bath Blends for Fathers Day

Epsom Salts

Aromatherapy has much to offer men as well as women.
Help Dads chill out the natural way with a therapeutic soak in an Aromatherapy Bath this Fathers Day. 
Make a gift for your Dad or help the kids make one for your partner.
There are many wonderful essential oils that offer health and wellbeing benefits for men of all ages.

These bath blends of essential oils can be added to bath salts or a natural, unfragranced bath milk or bubble bath.  
The general rule in Aromatherapy is that we add 6 drops of essential oil to a full bath for an adult. As a clinical Aromatherapist I often use a stronger dilution for a therapeutic bath for muscular pain for example but I would not receommend this for home blends.

As always, less is more when it comes to using essential oils. They might be natural and wonderful but essential oils are hghly contentrated and pack a potent punch. Using too much in the bath can cause skin irritation or might interfere with sleep if used at bedtime. Spice oils and some citrus oils can make the skin feel itchy in a hot bath. Use with caution.

Natural Salts can be bought from 

Base bath milk and bubbles can be bought from

You can use a clean Kilner Jar or wide necked bottle for bath salts and a nice PET plastic or glass bottle for the milk/bubbles. If dad likes bath oil I recommend blending sunflower and fractionated coconut oil for a light and easily absorbed blend. Alternatively you can add essential oils to a product called Solubol which will disperse essential oils in the bath. This is available, along with top quality organic and wildcrafted essential oils from

How to make Bath Salts (the simple way):

Take 300g of Epsom Salts and 200g Dead Sea Salts and mix well in a glass bowl. Add your essential oils drop by drop. 
This will fill a kilner jar like the one pictured above. I would use 12 -24 drops of essential oils and recommend that the whole jar is used for 4 baths. (working on a rule of 6 drops max e.o per bath)  Mix the salts well with a spoon ensuring that the essential oils have been distributed well into the salts. Spoon into your jar or use a funnel to pour into a bottle. Close the lid tightly to keep the aroma fresh and to ensure damp doesnt get into the salts (they attract moisture). Finish with a gift tag and instructions. To fragrance a bath you will only need 1-2 tablespoons of the salts but you could use more if there is not too much essential oil in the mix. 

10 Recommended Essential Oils for men:
(These oils are all considered safe for general use by healthy people)
  • Bergamot  - stress busting, regulating and uplifting. Excellent oil for tension. Used in Eau de Cologne. Blends well with most essential oils. Unisex fragrance.
  • Sweet Marjoram -  Soothing and warming to tense muscles and helps ease a mind that is afflicted by worry and churning thoughts. 
  • Lavender - Soothing and calming, blends well with other herbal oils and woody fragrances and helps mind and body unwind.
  • Atlas Cedarwood - Strengthening, empowering, tonic oil. Reputed to stimulate the breakdown of accumulated fats. Beautiful deep woody aroma.
  • Juniper - Warming and cleansing, a well known diuretic. Can help reduce levels of uric acid in the body so can be helpful for gout. Brings positivity
  • Sandalwood - calming and cooling. Aids meditation, relaxation and sleep. 
  • Frankincense - can be help to alleviate anxiety, nervous tension and stress related conditions and works really well with Sandalwood.
  • Ginger - warming, stimulating and a tonic. Good for the immune system, improves circulation, boosts poor digestion and helps ease muscular pain.
  • Black Spruce - (or use Pine) Refreshing, positive with a feel of the forest, good for adrenal exhaustion. Gently energising. Lightens woody blends.
  • Vetiver - Deep rooty oil that grounds, nourishes and re-connnects us. Invaluable for burn-out when we are tired and tense. Aids sleep. 

Suggested Blends (based on 12 drops total essential oil)
Deep Calm: 
Frankincense (5), Sandalwood (5), Vetiver (2)

Mind and Muscle Soother:
Lavender (4), Sweet marjoram (4), Bergamot(4)

Stress Buster:
Black Spruce (4), Bergamot (4), Cedarwood (4)

Juniper (6), Ginger (3), Cedarwood (3)

Happy Blending! Louise

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Aromatherapy for Exams and Studying

I have timed this blog to coincide with May - the month when many students in England are revising, studying for and starting their exams for school, college and university. It can be a diffcult and stressful time for the students (and their parents if they are living at home!) 
The essential oils mentioned are also relevant to anyone engaged in mental activity who are generally in good health. Please see the cautions at the end of the blog - particularly if you are pregnant/ suffer from epilepsy.

There are three main reasons why Aromatherapy can be helpful during studying and exams.

  • Essential oils can be used via inhalation at home in diffusers/ spritzers/on a tissue whilst studying for their beneficial effects on the mind and the brain. 

Useful esential oils for studying have a wide range of action:

 - Some are stimulating such as Rosemary 
 - energising and motivating like Ginger
 -  clarifying like Peppermint or Eucalyptus
 - refreshing such as Black Spruce or Lemon 
 - tonic and grounding like Cardamon 
 - morale boosting like Orange
 - calming and good for focus such as Frankincense
 -  strengthening such as Cedarwood or
 -  confidence boosting such as Laurel

There is a benefical essential oil or blend to suit everyone. 
  •   A bespoke therapeutic blend of essential oils can be taken into the exam room in the form of an aroma-stick and used without affecting anyone else. Using aromas you have inhaled whilst studying can act as an anchor to aid memory and recall of what you learnt.
  • There are many essential oils that can help you relax and switch off after studying. Letting your brain rest during a prolonged period of study is crucial to ts optimum function. Rooty and woody oils such as Sandalwood, Vetiver and those that alleviate stres and nervous tension such as Bergamot and Lavender are invaluable and can be used in baths, foot soaks, massage oil and pulse point roll-ons.

Less is generally more when it comes to using essential oils for studying. 
A few drops of a single oil or a blend is enough for each study session. Choose the oils that you feel wil benefit you. Use the oils as you study regularly in small doses. Inhaling large amounts of essential oils (especially stimulating and clarifying ones) will probably over stimulate the brain, leaving you feeling jittery and ungrounded and may be dangerous. 

Here are some blends to try: 

These blends are given in doses of 6 drops as an example of blending proprtions and enough for a burner/ diffuser.Adjust the quantities according to the medium that you are using. 
Use about 3 drops a pice of thick tissue/kitchen paper, 24 drops diluted in floral/ spring water in a 50ml spritzer, 18 drops in an aroma-stick.

If you are lacking motivation to get going and lethargy has taken over:
Rosemary (2), Ginger (2) and Lime (2)

If studying is making you feel claustrophobic and you need refreshing:
Eucalyptus (2), Black Spruce (2) and Lemon (2)

If you feel congested and sluggish with a fuzzy head:
Peppermint (2), Lemon (2) and Lavender (2)

When you need confidence in your own abilities:
Eucalyptus (2), Laurel (2) and Ginger (2)

When you are "over-thinking" and need calm focus:
Frankincense (3), Cardamon (1) and Orange (2)

When you need strength to carry on: 
Cedarwood (3), Frankincense (2), Ginger (1)

When studying gets too much and you need a break or want to wind down later try using essential oils to help you relax. Dont use too many different oils straight after each other or you will further tax your system! If you have used oils in the morning for example to energise you, try a different blend an hour or so before you go to bed.

6 drops to a full bath (diluted in a spoonful of vegetable oil such as sunflower or a handful of epsom/ dead sea salts) or a foot bath. 6 drops in 10ml of oil/ cream/ gel rubbed into the abdomen, feet, neck and shoulders or in a pulse point roll-on.

Some nice relaxing blends to try:

Vetiver (2), Sandalwood (2) Lavender (2)

Bergamot (2), Orange (2), Lavender (2)

Frankincense (2), Bergamot (2), Sandalwood (2)

Louise Green is a Clinical Aromatherapist who can formulate and make therapeutic Aromatherapy products for you for studying and many other situations, problems and conditions. Please see her Aromatic Apothecary section on her website: Consultations carried out by phone/email or home visits in the North Essex area.

Some important cautions to be aware of: 
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) should not be used by people suffering from epilepsy or high blood pressure. It is also recommended not to be used during pregnancy.
Peppermint is also generally best avoided during pregnancy and should not be used on the face, particularly the nose of young children. If you get neat peppermintoil in your eyes it will really sting! Always use in moderation.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Pamper Yourself with a Home Spa (recipes included)

We all like a bit of pampering. If finances are tight why not take some time to create your own spa break in the comfort of your home? With the simple recipes provided you can make indulgent natural beauty treatments to leave your skin smooth, scrubbed and soft. Allowing yourself some important me-time gives you the chance to relax and forget everyday stress for a while.

You will need to make the bath melts, salts and pumice foot scrub in advance. These are fun and easy to make, and you will have enough products for a few pamper sessions or to give as gifts.

Light a scented candle in the bathroom about 30 minutes before you begin your home spa to let the aromas fill the room.

Make the face pack of your choice that will suit your skin by simply mixing the ingredients together until you have a consistency you can apply to the face and neck.

Kitchen Cupboard Face Packs

Dry/ Normal Skin

¼ avocado mashed

1tsp runny honey

1 tsp ground almonds/ porridge oats

1tsp oil such as Argan, Almond or Olive (optional)

Oily/ Combination Skin

Strawberries (approx 10) crushed

2-3 tsp thick Natural Yoghurt

1 tsp runny honey

1tsp ground almonds

Avocado: nourishing, rich in lecithin, plumps and firms skin

Honey: humectant, softens skin and keeps it supple

Natural Yoghurt: cleanses the skin and refines and tightens the pores

Strawberries: refresh the skin, remove impurities, brightens the complexion

Ground Almonds: a gentle exfoliant that leave the skin soft and smooth

If you prefer you could use any of the first 4 ingredients alone; the ground almonds just need to be mixed with a little water or can be added to any cleanser or mask to create a gentle face scrub.

Prepare a simple exfoliating body wash. Pour a generous squirt of shower gel into a bowl, add a tablespoon of ground olive stones and stir well until combined. Ground olive stones are an inexpensive effective natural exfoliant sometimes known as “washing grains” that cleanse and polish the skin. It is great value to buy the grains and use with your own shower gel once a week.

Bring everything you need in to your bathroom; put up a “do not disturb” sign if necessary!!

 Once you are undressed use a dry skin brush to brush firmly from the toes, up the legs towards the heart and then from the fingers up the arms. This boosts the circulation of blood and lymph, detoxifies the body, improves the appearance of cellulite and will leave you glowing!

Enjoy a quick shower, using the exfoliating body wash you made. Remove any make-up and cleanse the face while you run a deep warm bath. Pour the Natural Bath Salts and/ or drop 1 or 2 Luxury Melts (depending on their size) into the water. Apply your face mask and enjoy a relaxing soak for at about 20 minutes. Take some time to listen to music, read a magazine, have a glass of wine or whatever feels like a treat.

Luxury Bath Melts

Cocoa Butter 50g

Shea Butter 25g

Coconut Oil 10ml

Dried Rose Petals (optional)

Silicone moulds or flexible ice cube tray

Melt the butters in a heat-proof jug on a low heat using the bain marie method or microwave, add coconut oil and stir. Allow to cool slightly while you sprinkle a few pieces of dried rose petals in the moulds you are using. Put the moulds onto a flat tray or plate and carefully pour the melted butter into the moulds. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until solid and then remove the moulds.

If you don’t have a bath, these melts can be used as a moisturising body bar. Simply massage over warm damp skin after a shower instead of your usual cream or oil.

Natural Bath Salts

Dead Sea Salt & Epsom Salt OR

Pink Himalayan Bath Salt (approx 200g)

Dried Rose Petals (optional)

Essential Oils (optional)

Measure out your chosen salts into a bowl, add 6-8 drops total essential oil and petals and mix well.

A nice relaxing blend would be 3 drops Mandarin, 3 drops Bergamot and 2 drops Ylang Ylang or try Geranium 2 drops, Lavender 3 drops and Rose Absolute 3 drops.

If you have an empty wide necked bottle or a kilner jar you can make double and enjoy another therapeutic bath. To turn the salts into a body scrub simply add a spoonful of light oil such as coconut, apricot kernel or sunflower and stir well. Using un-fragranced salts is perfectly fine.

The salts are fully of beneficial minerals and aid detoxification and relaxation.

The melts are intensely nourishing and will leave your skin feeling super soft.

Once you have enjoyed a good soak use a pumice stone and then pumice foot scrub, massaging well into each foot.

Pumice Foot Scrub

Shea Butter 70g

Coconut Oil (Solid) 50g

Coconut/ Other light oil 25ml

Ground Pumice 85g

Dead Sea Salt 85g

Peppermint Essential Oil (do not use if pregnant) 20 drops

Mix the ground pumice and Dead Sea Salt in a bowl and add the Peppermint essential oil if using. Melt the butters using the bain-marie method or microwave and stir in the liquid coconut or light oil. Allow to cool slightly and then pour into the pumice and stir well. Put the scrub into a clean container such as a kilner jar or plastic tub as you will have plenty for a few applications. Put the scrub into the fridge to allow the butters to firm up. Before using just stir up again with a spoon.

Wrap yourself up in a big soft towel and remove the face mask with warm water.

For a final touch of luxury spritz your face and body with some fragrant, cooling Rose Water.

You might like to shape and paint your nails before floating off to bed!

Ground Pumice and Olive Stones can be purchased from

Natural Salts for the bath and for scrubs are available from

Butters, oils and essential oils are available from Aromatherapy suppliers. I use

Aromatherapy Soy Candles are available from my website