Welcome to the first of a three-part series on the Lamiaceae plant family relevant to aromatherapy.
The Lamiaceae plant family is also known as the Labiatae plant family. It is the largest of all the plant families and includes many of the well-known herbs. The plants are known for their strong aromas, and in aromatherapy some of the best known and loved oils come from this family.
Plants include: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Melissa true, Clary sage, Sage, Hyssop, Marjoram-Sweet, Marjoram-Spanish, Patchouli, Spike lavender (Lavendin) and Basil.
General therapeutic benefits for this plant family include being good respiratory oils, stimulating, balancing, antiseptic and anti-viral.
Three of the essential oils from this botanical family are:
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
Lavender would be one the most used of all essential oils. It is gentle yet effective and is suitable for all ages - from babies through to the elderly. It is also used in hospitals at times, one of the few essential oils that is.
Lavender is used to assist with stress relief, insomnia and to relieve headaches. It is very good for assisting with colds, coughs, flu, sinus, and other respiratory ailments because of its antiseptic properties.
With the stress relief, lavender works on both physical stress and emotional stress.
Because of its versatility, lavender would be one of the must-have essential oils for the first aid kit.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
It is important to have a good supplier of peppermint oil, so that you know it is unadulterated.
Peppermint is a cooling oil and anti-inflammatory. It is said to be helpful with irritable bowel syndrome and with regulating the ovaries.
It is very good for helping people to become clear-headed and refreshes the spirit. It can be used to help people who have mental fatigue or who can't concentrate. Due to this, it is excellent for oil burners in environments such as offices, meeting rooms, and other areas where people need to be alert and concentrate.
Peppermint is an ideal assistant for all digestive problems such as indigestion, colic, flatulence, stomach pains, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and relief from travel sickness.
It is also used in ointments to help relieve muscle pain, bruises, contusions, joint pain and insect bites.
Because peppermint is a very strong oil it should not be used on very small children. It should also be used in small quantities because of its potency.
There are no known contra-indications to the complete oil. This is why it is important to know that you are getting a good quality oil.
Patchouli (Pogostemon patchouli)
Patchouli has several uses in aromatherapy - it can assist with fluid retention and is also great for healing cracked and broken skin as it has regenerative properties.
It is an oil for emotional balancing and can be beneficial in helping with stress-related issues.
Patchouli is non-irritant and non-toxic.
If you're feeling down, mix a little patchouli with mandarin and spearmint!
As always, if in any doubt, it is important to consult with a qualified aromatherapist. Never diagnose yourself - that is what your doctor is for!
Aromatherapy - Get To Know The Lamiaceae Family - Part 2
In part two of my series on the Lamiaceae family, I would like to explore five more essential oils in this group.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
This oil needs to be used with caution, as it is neurotoxic. A trained therapist best uses it. Hyssop is said to be anti-inflammatory. It can be helpful for asthma, cystitis and a sore throat. It can also assist with relieving the aggravation caused by scratching eczema.
It has no known contra-indications, but there are many other oils that could be used instead if you are not trained in aromatherapy.
Lavendin (Lavendula hybrida)
Lavendin has a camphor content of about 20%. This makes it very good for assisting with respiratory complaints such as bronchitis and laryngitis. It can also be helpful for muscular and circulatory problems. Lavendin can be very helpful in assisting with relieving symptoms from insect bites and stings. Due to the high camphor content though, it should be avoided in cases of epilepsy and pregnancy.
Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
Melissa is very hard to find and due to this is quite expensive. Some people get confused because some companies sell a product called melissa, but it isn't true melissa. It is generally a blend of oils such as lemongrass and citronella.
True Melissa is recognized as one of the best essential oils available for sickness during pregnancy. It could be helpful for calming hysteria, indigestion, nausea and settling upset stomachs. It has been found to be very antiviral and assists well against viruses such as flu, herpes, smallpox and mumps.
It does have a high aldehyde content, which can cause skin irritation.
Marjoram - Sweet (Origanum marjorana)
Sweet marjoram can be very helpful to assist with insomnia, especially with high blood pressure. It is a good oil for warming and comforting the heart, so might be useful in cases of grief or loneliness. As it is a warming oil, it can be used for muscle spasms, rheumatic pain, strains and sprains.
Sweet marjoram might also be helpful for digestive complaints such as colic, flatulence, constipation and spasmodic indigestion.
It has anti-spasmodic and emmenagogue properties which are good for painful and scanty periods. It can also be used in a hot compress over the abdomen to help relieve period cramps.
It should not be used during pregnancy.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil can be used to assist with most circulation and heart problems, including arteriosclerosis, hypotension, irregular heartbeat and varicose veins. It can also be helpful for uterus congestion, painful periods and fever.
Basil is a very good oil for assisting with the respiratory system. It could be helpful for sinus congestion, asthma, bronchitis, and flu.
Digestive complaints such as vomiting, nausea, hiccups, dyspepsia and gastric spasms can be assisted.
Basil is excellent for helping with mental fatigue, clearing the head, and for nervous disorders.
Basil should be avoided during pregnancy.
It is important to note that several of the above essential oils are to be avoided during pregnancy. There are many essential oils that are safe and gentle to use so it can be easier to use them. Please consult with a qualified aromatherapist if you have any questions, and do not forego your medical professional's advice.
Aromatherapy - Get To Know The Lamiaceae Family - Part 3
In the final of my three-part series on the Lamiaceae family, we will explore the remainder of the essential oils.
Marjoram - Spanish (Thymus mastichina)
The properties of Spanish marjoram are similar to those of sweet marjoram, although Spanish marjoram has a higher cineole content. This makes it more effective for assisting with respiratory tract infections.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage needs to be used with care as it can bring on epileptic fits and can be toxic to the central nervous system in large quantities.
Sage could be helpful for tiredness, depression and grief. It can be soothing to the emotional (parasympathetic) nervous system and calming to the nerves.
It is an oestrogen mimic so can be used to assist in regulating the menstrual cycle. It can also be used to assist with menopausal problems.
Sage can also used for digestive problems, and aches and pains caused by rheumatism.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Clary Sage has oestrogen mimic properties which makes it good for assisting with female hormonal disorders, from menstrual problems through to menopausal symptoms.
It could be very effective for treating fear, nervousness, paranoia and depression. It stimulates, revitalizes and regenerates.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
There are three main chemotypes of rosemary: camphor-borneol, 1,8-cineole, and verbenone.
Specific to the chemotypes, the camphor-borneol type is best for helping with muscular aches and pains, the 1,8-cineole type is best for helping with pulmonary congestion and to help with elimination of waste from the liver and kidneys. The verbenone type is non-irritant and is very good for assisting with quality skin care.
In general, rosemary is good for assisting with lifting the spirits and for stimulating the mind. It can be effective in helping with fluid retention, liver and spleen disorders, and jaundice, along with blood circulation and low blood pressure.
Rosemary is one of the most effective essential oils for the central nervous system. It can help with mental clarity and awareness. It is a very good brain stimulant and can help improve memory.
It can assist with many respiratory problems, including coughs, asthma and sinusitis, and it can be used to help relieve pain caused by rheumatism and arthritis, and stiff and overworked muscles.
As it is a highly stimulating oil, it is not suitable for people with epilepsy or high blood pressure. It is also to be avoided during pregnancy.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Spearmint can be used as a digestive stimulant, and can be helpful for nausea, flatulence, constipation and diarrhea. Spearmint is more suitable to use with children than peppermint. It can be helpful for respiratory complaints due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-catarrhal properties. Spearmint can be uplifting for the spirits and for mental fatigue and depression.
It is not to be used during pregnancy. It is not a skin irritant and is non-toxic.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about the very versatile essential oils in this botanical family.
It is most important that if you have any questions you consult with a qualified aromatherapist, and it is most important that you consult with your medical professional.