Essential Oil Spotlight: Birch

Birch (Betula lenta) essential oil is steam distilled from the wood of the birch tree. This oil has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, disinfectant, diuretic, stimulant (bone, liver), and warming health properties.

Primarily, birch is used to help with cartilage injury, muscle aches, muscle development, muscle tone, and whiplash. This oil can also be helpful in treating the following conditions: acne, bladder infection, eczema, fever, gout, infection, kidney stones, obesity, skin diseases, ulcers, and urinary tract disorders.

Birch is also known to help alleviate bone pain. It has cortisone-like action due to the high content of methyl salicylate.

Application and Safety Data

Topical: Birch can be applied neat (undiluted) or diluted 1:1 (1 drop essential oil to 1 drop carrier oil) for children and for those with sensitive skin. Apply to reflex points and/or directly on the area of concern. Use neat only in small amounts and over a small area. Dilute with fractionated coconut oil for application on larger areas.

Aromatic: Diffuse, or inhale aroma directly. Aromatically, birch opens, elevates, influences, and increases awareness in the sensory system.

Internal: Not for internal use.

Safety Data: Avoid using birch oil during pregnancy. Not for use by people with epilepsy. Some people are very allergic to methyl salicylate. Test a small area of the skin before continuing use.

Ways to Use Birch Essential Oil

Diffuser Blends: Diffusing your favorite oils is a great way to take in their wonderful aromas. Birch oil has many aromatic benefits that can be emotionally and physically supportive. Here are a couple of stimulating blends to get started.

Arthritis: Because of strong effects for bones and muscles, birch can be helpful in relieving arthritic pain. In a 1/3 oz. (10 ml) roll-on vial, combine 5 drops eucalyptus, 5 drops birch, 3 drops peppermint, 10 drops lavender, and 5 drops rosemary. Fill the remaining volume with your favorite carrier oil. Apply to areas of pain as needed, and gently massage the oils into your skin.

Headaches: Birch can play a powerful part in pain relief, especially when it comes to headaches. In a 1/3 oz. (10 ml) roll-on vial, combine 30 drops peppermint, 30 drops lavender, 10 drops frankincense, 10 drops wintergreen, and 10 drops birch. Top off the remaining volume with fractionated coconut oil. Apply to the temples, forehead, and back of neck.

Sore Feet: If you spend a lot of time on your feet, birch will prove highly beneficial for you. Simply rub a few drops onto the soles of your feet after running or standing for extended periods. For maximum benefit, cover your feet with socks after rubbing in the essential oil to allow it to soak in further.

Source: Modern Essentials®: The Complete Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 10th Edition, p. 42.

Essential Oil Spotlight: Fennel


Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) essential oil is steam-distilled from the crushed seeds of this plant. Fennel can be easily identified by its sweet, somewhat spicy, and licorice-like aroma. This essential oil contains the following health properties: antiparasitic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, and expectorant.

Fennel was historically used by the ancient Egyptians and Romans when they awarded victorious warriors with garlands of fennel as a sign of praise. They believed that fennel would bestow these warriors with strength, courage, and longevity.

Common uses of fennel essential oil include blood clots, bruises, digestive system support, gastritis, kidney stones, lactation, pancreas support, parasites, skin revitalizing, tissue cleansing, and wrinkles. This essential oil primarily affects the digestive and hormonal systems.

Other possible uses of fennel essential oil include colic, stimulating the cardiovascular system, constipation, digestion (supports the liver), balancing hormones, nausea, obesity, PMS, and stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.

Application of Fennel Essential Oil and Safety Data:

Topical Application: This oil can be applied neat (with no dilution), or dilute 1:1 (1 drop essential oil to at least 1 drop carrier oil) for children and for those with sensitive skin. Apply directly to the area of concern or to reflex points.
Aromatic Application: Fennel increases and influences longevity, courage, and purification. Diffuse, or inhale the aroma directly.
Internal Application: Fennel oil is recognized by the FDA as safe for human consumption and serves as a powerful flavoring agent.
Safety Data: Repeated topical use may lead to contact sensitization. Use with caution if susceptible to epilepsy. Use with caution during pregnancy. This oil should not be taken internally by children under 6 years old, and should be used with caution and in greater dilution for children ages 6 and older.

Ways to Use Fennel Essential Oil:

1. Digestive Problems
Fennel essential oil has beneficial digestive properties. It can quickly alleviate bloating, gas/flatulence, and diarrhea. Combine 5 drops fennel essential oil with 1 tsp. (5 ml) carrier oil in a 5 ml roll-on bottle, and apply over your stomach as needed.
2. Cooking
Fennel has a strong licorice-like flavor and serves as a valuable ingredient in many spices and other recipes. It can be strong, so start small when adding it to your recipes; you can always add more later. Here are a few recipes using fennel essential oil!

3. Bath Oil
This essential oil is known for its ability to revitalize the skin, cleanse tissue, and smooth wrinkles. For this reason, fennel makes a beneficial addition to bath oils and soaps. For a silky-smooth feel after your bath, combine 8 drops jasmine, 8 drops fennel, and 2 Tbsp. (25 ml) jojoba oil in the palm of your hand, and hold under warm running bathwater. Swish the water around with your hand to disperse the oils.
4. Diffuser Blends
With its strong aromatic influence, fennel can serve as a nice addition to a diffuser blend. Its sweet yet spicy aroma can uplift you and fill you with courage. Here are a couple blends for you to try out.

5. Air Freshening Spray
Air fresheners should not only smell great, but also be emotionally uplifting. Combine 10 drops fennel, 8 drops lemon, and 6 drops juniper berry with 1 tsp. (5 ml) carrier oil in a 1 oz. spray bottle. Fill the remainder of the bottle with distilled water, and shake to combine. Spray the mixture around the room, and breathe in the emotional support.

Sources:
Modern Essentials™: The Complete Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 9th Edition, pp. 63–64.
Aromatherapy Blends & Remedies by Franzesca Watson
Organic Beauty with Essential Oil by Rebecca Park Totilo

Essential Oil Spotlight: Helichrysum

Helichrysum italicum is a flowering plant from the daisy family. Helichrysum is known for the strong “curry-like” smell of its leaves, although it has no relation to the curry spice mix (Wikipedia).

Helichrysum-Field

Historically, helichrysum was said to help treat asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, headaches, liver ailments, and skin disorders (Modern Essentials, 71).

The French have used helichrysum for blood cleansing, viral colitis, detoxification, gallbladder infection, hematomas, hypo-cholesterol, liver cell functioning, lymph drainage, pain reduction, sciatica, sinus infections, skin conditions, stomach cramps, and as a natural sunscreen (Modern Essentials, 71).

Aromatically, helichrysum is said to be uplifting to the subconscious and able to help calm feelings of anger (Modern Essentials, 71).

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helichrysum_italicum

Modern Essentials, 5th edition, 2013, p. 71