Aromatherapy for Summer Sun, Bug, and Sport

Pranarom
June 11th 2019

by Amy Pereira, BS, CHNC, RTY-200, C-MI

No summer-focused skin and body care conversation would be complete without mention of lavender. Organic lavender hydrosol and essential oil (EO) are wonderful to have on hand as temperatures rise, layers are shed and more of ourselves are exposed to the elements; but they’re not the only organic aromatherapy items that may serve us this summer.  While hundreds of organic essential oils, hydrosols, and virgin plant oils exist, let’s look at this short list of EOs and some additional plant-based adjuncts and stand-alone stars in the Scientific Aromatherapy arena!

USDA & ECOCERT Organic Essential Oils

1. Essential Oil of Lavender Lavendula Angustifolia

True French Lavender, from regions like Provence, is among the most prized and top-selling essential oils, thanks to the soil, climate and other factors that culminate in the perfect growing conditions for this fragrant purple-flowered plant. Aesthetics aside, Lavender is rich in phytochemicals like esters and monoterpenols, which can help ease stress and promote emotional balance as well as adeptly assist with healing wounds1, addressing burns, subduing certain rashes, soothing the sting of bug bites and even helping to deter pests and microbes altogether! Lavender’s popularity, today is largely due to French chemist Gatefosse’s use of Lavender to successfully treat a serious burn and associated infection. Lavender is gentle enough for most adults undiluted (neat) use but can still be highly effective even when diluted by a carrier oil.  Next time you forget the sunscreen or miss a spot, try applying a few drops of Lavender EO to the affected area.  Don’t forget to first cool the skin with cool water or compress or by misting the skin with refrigerated lavender hydrosol! Both hydrosol and EO may be used for sunburn or other thermal traumas, including those caused by contact with hot liquids, hot objects, etc. Lavender may even be used for partial thickness burns or burns that penetrate even more deeply through the layers of the skin but, as always, consult with a health care professional on aromatherapy use when medical care is sought for the aforementioned health concerns.


2. Essential Oil of Tea Tree
Melaleuca alternifolia

Once experienced, Tea Tree’s distinct aroma can hardly be forgotten. Slightly sharp or medicinal in fragrance, its high monoterpenol and monoterpene content make this essential oil a ‘must have’ in home pharmacies and cleaning kits, and a natural at supporting immunity and skin health. Further, research validates that Tea Tree’s constituents can activate white blood cells which assist with healthy inflammatory response and fighting infections2. Tea Tree is not only useful for microbes on the body but has also been seen to be effective in addressing fungi in the home and for use in HVAC filters3. Tea Tree may be sparingly applied neatly or diluted into a carrier (such as Lavender essential oil, almond Virgin Plant oil, etc.) and topically applied to feet or other regions of the body to support microbial balance. Tea Tree can serve as an insect repellant, soothe an insect bite, help minimize potential complications incurred by scratching (and introducing bacteria to the site) and may also be useful in diffusers/steam baths to aid healthy respiratory and immune systems.

 

3. Essential Oil of Eucalyptus citriodora

When considering eucalyptus, it’s important to select the correct species for the job. While the EOs of the E. globulus and E. radiata species are mainly composed of respiratory-supportive eucalyptol (aka 1-8 cineole), the EO of the E. citriodora species consists mostly of the aldehyde Citronellal. This lemon-scented EO and its chemical makeup are believed to confer antifungal, cooling, anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to its use for skin care and in muscle massage oil, this EO is also an effective insect repellent. In fact, the Center for Disease Control’s West Nile Disease Prevention webpage lists E.citriodora EO as a safe, non-toxic, alternative to DEET4. To make your own bug spray, consider the dilution guidelines literature that accompanies the product and then properly dilute the EO into a little grain alcohol in a spray bottle before topping off with water or hydrosol. Use not suggested on children under the age of three.

4. Essential Oil of Peppermint Mentha piperita

Mostly made up of monoterpenol, menthol, and ketone, menthone, Peppermint’s sweet, cooling and refreshing aromatic molecules may be especially helpful in supporting circulation, respiration, cognition, and muscular comfort. One research trial showed improvements in comfort and performance in Osteoarthritis knee patients after topical menthol application1 which is why Peppermint EO is often featured in formulas such as Pranarom’s Just Plain Relief formula. In addition to all this, Peppermint may act as a mental stimulant and assist with memory, efficiency, and productivity! Peppermint may be great in the diffuser for easing nausea or headache or for fighting fatigue on long Summer road trips. May help take the “ow” and itchiness out of bumps, bites, and injuries, and may even be diluted into alcohol or witch hazel and then mixed with water or lavender hydrosol to create a lovely cooing skin mist. Avoid use on open or broken skin and always dilute properly before topical application.

5. Essential Oil of Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum

Rich in esters, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, Helichrysum grows only in a few regions and is typically hand harvested, resulting in limited annual production and premium pricing of its EO. Prized for its facial care benefits, this precious EO has also been seen to help promote healthy inflammatory response and wound healing through inhibiting tissue-remodeling proteins5 and may be a great choice for brushes with poison oak/ivy/sumac. Helichrysum also may help minimize bruises and ease nerve challenges. Despite its price, a little bit of this precious EO can go a long way in skin and body care products so use neatly when needed or dilute into other beneficial EOs or organic virgin plant oils to help it pack its punch. For burns, try mixing a few drops of Helichrysum and a few drops of lavender into aloe vera gel and apply to the affected area throughout the day as needed.

Bug Bite EraserIf you’re an EO collector, then you likely already have the above, but if you’re new to EOs, then you may appreciate knowing that these are available in a variety of pre-blended, ready-to-use wellness formulas such as Pranarom’s:

  • Sinus Formula (and Sinus Spray coming soon)
  • Scar Rescue
  • Skin Clarity
  • Rose Regenerative Facial Oil
  • Immunity Boost
  • Bug Repellent Concentrate
  • Bug Bite Eraser
  • Yeast Relief
  • Just Plain Relief Roller
  • Aromalgesic Muscle Rescue Oil
  • Heavy Head Rescue Roller

 

Aromatic Hydrosols

While EOs are often are the first products to come to mind when we think of Aromatherapy, Aromatic Hydrosols are no less lovely or useful. In certain situations, hydrosols may even be far more useful. Just like EOs, hydrosols are products of the distillation process. However, EOs contain the fat-soluble chemicals and are easily diluted by fats or virgin plant oil carriers whereas the hydrosols primarily contain the plant’s water-soluble constituents and do not mix completely with the plant oil. This is why fats can be used to remove EOs in the case of an accidental application or insufficient dilution and why hydrosols may be considered gentler and safer for babies, sensitive individuals and elders. Hydrosols have a more delicate fragrance than their more highly-concentrated EO counterparts but are far more hydrating and also able to help balance the pH of the skin. This summer, try trading out your alcohol-based toners for botanical hydrosols to experience their soothing and hydrating benefits without stripping or drying the delicate skin of the face and décolletage. Hydrosols may also be used in the diffuser (think rosemary and peppermint combo for mental stimulation) and as cooling mists (think peppermint) or can be chilled in the refrigerator or cooler to make after-sun care a cool hydrating breeze (that’s safe for the entire family)!

 

Organic Virgin Plant Oils

Lastly, let’s not forget the Organic Virgin Plant Oils (OVPOs). OVPOs are the certified organic oils obtained from the first cold pressing of the nuts, fruits or oily seeds of an organically grown-plant. Although OVPOs are excellent carrier oils for diluting fat-soluble EOs, they are so much more than that and totally righteous on their own! While most essential “oils” float on water, it is not because they are laden with fatty lipids but, instead, due to their density and hydrophobic nature. OVPOs, however, are composed of fats and are extremely adept at locking in moisture (especially when applied after misting with hydrosols or bathing). OVPOs are highly nourishing to the skin and helpful in creating protective barriers against the elements and promoting skin cell health and collagen production. For after-sun care, try applying some Argan, Apricot Kernel or carotenoid-rich Carrot-infused oil. For a baby or sensitive skin care, try a Calendula-infused oil in or after a bath. For relief from overexertion in the garden or summer sporting, try Arnica-infused olive oil. And when seeking a great oil for facial or body care for dry or mature skin, try Evening Primrose, Rose Hip Seed, Jojoba or Tamanu. Of course, the list of OVPOs goes on and the possibilities for DIY lotions and potions are nearly endless, but the above handful have earned their reputation and are the perfect final layer in a three-part skin care regimen that begins with hydrosols and essential oils.

Best wishes for a safe, enjoyable and healthy summer ahead!


For more tips and tricks on ways to use essential oils, hydrosols, and virgin plant oils in your Scientific Aromatherapy applications, join us for one (or more) of Pranarom’s monthly webinars. Even if you cannot attend, day of, you can still register and access the replay. To register, email Education@Pranarom.us to be added to the list of invitees. You can also visit Pranarom’s website here.

 

References:

 

  1. Mori, H., Kawanami, H., et.al. (2016, May 26). Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-β in a rat model. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4880962/
  2. Hart, P., Brand, C., et. al. (2000, November). Terpinen-4-ol, the main component of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil), suppresses inflammatory mediator production by activated human monocytes. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Terpinen-4-ol, the main component of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil), suppresses inflammatory mediator production by activated human monocytes
  3. Rogawansamy, S., Gaskin, S., et. al. (2015, June 02). An evaluation of antifungal agents for the treatment of fungal contamination in indoor air environments. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4483703/
  4. Prevention | West Nile Virus | CDC. (2018, December 10). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html
  5. Xuesheng, H., & Beaumont, C., et. al. (2017, April 26). Chemical composition analysis and in vitro biological activities of ten essential oils in human skin cells. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214008517300123