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Archive for August 2012

The Effects That Essential Oils Have On Insomnia Part III

Rosewood is another beneficial essential oil and somewhat controversial because of the way it is obtained. Rosewood (Aniba roseodora) was originally distilled in 1875 in French Guiana using wood chips and encourages tranquility (Kelville and Green 208). Because this essential oil is cultivated from trees located in South America, some contribute the use to the destruction of the rainforest.

Rosewood essential oil contains between 80% and 97% of linalol with trace amounts of other chemical components. A study of Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) was conducted to show the sedative effects of this linalool rich oil. The following abstracts shows the aim of study, methods used and results from this study.

Abstract: Aniba rosaeodora is an aromatic plant which has been used in Brazil folk medicine due to its sedative effect. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to evaluate the sedative effect of linalool-rich rosewood oil in mice. In addition we sought to investigate the linalool-rich oil effects on the isolated nerve using the single sucrose-gap technique.

Materials and Methods: Sedative effect was determined by measuring the potentiation of the pentobarbital-induced sleeping time. The compound action potential amplitude was evaluated as a way to detect changes in excitability of the isolated nerve.

Results: The results showed that administration of rosewood oil at the doses of 200 and 300 mg/kg significantly decreased latency and increased the duration of sleeping time. On the other hand, the dose of 100 mg/kg potentiated significantly the pentobarbital action decreasing pentobarbital latency time and increasing pentobarbital sleeping time. In addition, the effect of linalool-rich rosewood oil on the isolated nerve of the rat was also investigated through the single sucrose-gap technique. The amplitude of the action potential decreased almost 100% when it was incubated for 30 min at 100 microg/ml.

Conclusions: From this study, it is suggested a sedative effect of linalool-rich rosewood oil that could, at least in part, be explained by the reduction in action potential amplitude that provokes a decrease in neuronal excitability (J Ethnopharmacol).

To summarize the above study, it demonstrates that subjects experienced extended sleeping time, which could be attributed to less impulses traveling along the nerve cell. So it appears that the less active the brain the more likely a person is to experience prolonged sleep time.

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is another essential oil used in treating insomnia. This essential oil is produced by steam distillation from the flowering tops. Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a excellent remedy when paired with Lavender. This essential oil comes with a warning that it must be used responsibly by a skilled aromatherapist because its sedative properties dull the senses and causes drowsiness and large amounts can be stupefying (Davis 192).

Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) is an oil that most would not think would be a good treatment for insomnia because it is part of the citrus family which one would assume would only have uplifting properties. But this oil that is distilled from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree is very valuable for insomnia, especially when the sleeplessness arises from anxiety (Davis 212). It has been said that this essential oil redirects one's energy into a more positive direction, countering both fatigue and insomnia (Kelville and Green 203). For the science behind this oil, it shows that some of the active principles of Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) include but are not limited to linalol and linalyl acetate; which has sedative attributes (Davis 212).

Bergamont (Citrus bergamia) is a non edible citrus fruit from which the almost ripe rind is cold pressed to obtain this essential oil. Most dominant in this essential oil are its antidepressant and soothing qualities (Schnaubelt 187). Just from sniffing bergamot one can reduce stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia. It also balances emotions (Keville and Green 180). We have previously learned that some of the causes of insomnia have to do with stress, depression and anxiety; so any essential oil that can treat those symptoms will definitely attribute to the successful treatment of insomnia. It has been stated that Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is almost the most valuable oil at an aromatherapist disposal for helping with mental and psychological states. It is considered uplifting which most confuse as an stimulant but in reality it lifts the spirits but is relatively relaxing (Davis 56).

Bergamot is a wonderful essential oil but it does have safety concerns with its use. Some oils are considered phototoxic because it has a constituent called furanocoumarin. If oils that have this constituent are left on the skin and then exposed to sunlight, they can cause the sun’s effect to be greatly magnified. An example of a furanocoumarin in bergamot is bergaptene which is naturally occurring in this essential oil (Suite101). It is recommended to avoid direct sunlight 12 to 24 hours after use of bergamot (Citrus bergamia).

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) essential oil might have originated in China because in the past this fruit was traditionally offered as gifts to the Mandarins. Mandarin and tangerine are both used to describe the same oil but they are actually very different. If you are in Europe it will go by the name of mandarin and if you are in America it might go by the name tangerine (Davis 189). True mandarin is differentiated by the presence of N-methylanthranilate, a nitrogen containing ester with pronounced relaxing qualities. This essential oils soothes restlessness, especially in hyperactive children and calms the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. It also can combat the stubborn pattern of insomnia in combination with orange oil (Schnaubelt 185). You have to obtain the correct oil because tangerine oil does not have the same therapeutic properties of mandarin.

Sweet Orange is another oil from the citrus family and the latin name for it is Citrus sinensis. This essential oil is also cold pressed from the peel. This oil is useful for anxiety and nervousness because its overall essence is relaxing (Schnaubelt 184). Researchers have actually confirmed that orange essential oil reduces anxiety and improves one's mood (Keville and Green 202). Orange essential oil is a good choice for combating insomnia especially when it is alternated with Lavender or Neroli or blended with either of them if long term treatment is necessary (Davis 225).

The last essential oil that will be covered but surely not the last of the oils available for treating insomnia is Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi). Spikenard is distilled from the rhizome; CO2 and relieves emotional tension and insomnia (Keville and Green 210). This herb is closely related to valerian. Spikenard essential oil has the ability to help people let go of old pain or emotional blocks that they are holding inside plus it is useful for those that are tense and suffer from anxiety (Davis 282).

To conclude you can see there is a trend with majority of the essential oils that are used to treat insomnia. Most are more than sedatives; they treat many of the emotional problems that we experience in our society on a day to day basis. They deal with anxiety, stress, depression, are uplifting, soothes the body and the mind. I will not declare that essential oils should replace seeing a licensed professional but used in conjunction with a doctor for extreme cases and for short-term; insomnia will prove beneficial to an individual overall well being. To obtain the desired results depends on the actual essential oil because there might be several different chemical types which changes the whole structure of the oil entirely.  You must keep that in mind when using essential oils that you know the correct genus and species and chemical type and realize that it is trial and error. Through reading several aromatherapy books and journals it appears that inhalation is one of the preferred methods of treatment for insomnia. I would assume it is due in part because of our olfactory membrane. Immediately upon smelling a scent,  that message is transported to your limbic system.  The limbic system is a part of the brain and it is the seat of our emotions. So once a aroma is inhaled it immediately takes affect and can alter emotions almost simultaneously.






Cooksley, V., (1996), Aromatherapy: A Lifetime Guide To Healing With Essential Oils. Prentice Hall


de Almeida, RN., Araujo, DA., Goncalves, JC. Rosewood oil induces sedation and inhibits compound action potential in rodents. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 30;124(3):440-3. Epub 2009 Jun 6


Davis, P., (2005), An Aromatherapy An A-Z. Edbury Publishing.


Golden,W and Hopkins,R, (2005), Insomnia.;col1


Green, M., Keville, K., (2009), Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide To The Healing Art. Second edition Random House, NY (2011) What Is Insomnia?, Insomnia In-Depth Report.


Linck, VM, da Silva AL, Figuerio M. Inhaled linalool-induced sedation in mice. Phytomedicine. 2009 Apr;16(4):303-7. Epub 2008 Sep 27.


Nihon, R, Concept and definition of insomnia. Japanese journal of clinical medicine. 2009 Aug;67(8):1459-62.


Price, S. (1991), Aromatherapy For Common Ailments: How to use essential oils such as rosemary, chamomile, and lavender to prevent and treat more than 40 common ailments. Fireside, NY


Price, S., Price, L., (2012), Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. 4th Edition Elsevier Ltd.


Schnaubelt, K. Medical Aromatherapy: Healing With Essential Oils. Frog Ltd. (2008) Phototoxic Essential Oils


My Nephew Demonstrating Using An Organic Aloe Vera Facial Blend

I love blending and making wonderful products.  Recently I made a facial blend with a base of organic aloe vera gel with a blend of the following essential oils: Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia, Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus, German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita, Orange, Citrus sinensis, Palmarosa, Cymbopogon martini var motia and Tea Tree, Melaleuca, alternifolia.

Sometimes it is hard to get teenagers to use a product especially for their face but I was very suprised to get a video email from my Nephews Xavier and Isaac showing how Xavier has been using the blend.  He just recieved the blend and it has been less than a week, but I can not wait until I can hear the results.  I just wanted to share what has meant so much to me.  The ending of course added that special teenage touch.  I hope you enjoy.


Aromatherapy Certification

The Science Behind Essential Oils

Recently I completed my aromatherapy certification course.  What I learned from the experience can not be summed up in a dollar amount.  I have read many books concerning essential oils and their therapeutic properties but it did not go into the science behind it.  Of course science can not explain all aspects of essential oils because as stated in a previous blog and it will be stated a million times more by me; part of aromatherapy still remains a mystery. 

Essential oils are made up with many molecules which consists of mainly carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.  I will not scare you off with the technical side but I just want to give you an example about the chemistry aspect.  The structure of these molecules will determine the chemical component.  Essential oils can have hundreds of different components and these components can change depending on where and how a plant was grown.  This is why testing (GCMS) of essential oils are so important; because no two essential oils can be alike.  A plant grown and harvested in Bulgaria will have a different chemical makeup than that same plant that was grown in Turkey.

Majority of these components will belong to a chemical family.  These chemical families have certain therapeutic properties and essential oils fall into certain chemical families.  What is so amazing is the fact that some essential oils fall into more than one family; such as Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia).  Tea tree is a monoterpene and a monoterpenol.  So what is the importance of knowing the chemical family?  Chemical families helps in determining safety concerns and sometimes we can generalize a chemical family therapeutic properties.  It is a must to know for making blends for a certain concern.  Of course blending can go a lot deeper than knowing the chemical family but it is a start.

Below is a chart to that list only a few of the chemical families.  The chart also shows one of many essential oils that belong to that family and only one of the therapeutic properties along with the safety concerns.  For example Aldehydes also consist of Lemongrass (Cymbogon citratus).  The inclusion of the chart is to demonstrate that chemical families have certain therapeutic properties and concerns which requires training to make blending as safe as possible.  It would not be a good thing to formulate a blend using an oil that should only be used at 1% and without proper knowledge it could be incorrectly used at a much higher percentage.

Chemical Families and Their Therapeutic Properties
Chemical Family Therapeutic Property Essential Oil Safety Concerns
Aldehyde Sedative Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) Use in low dosages
Sesquiterpene Varies depending on the essential oil.  Some are anti-bacterial Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) If oxidized
Monoterpene Rubifacient
Orange (Citrus sinensis)
if oxidized

To summarize, quality oils must be used and testing of these oils are a must.  I have many tested essential oils in my tool box.  I know that when it is time to replace an oil;  I must have a analysis of that oil because the properties may be slightly different and I want to make sure that the oil is pure and not adulterated.  I have really generalized the science behind essential oils because I wanted to paint a understandable picture for those that are unaware of the value of aromatherapy.  Following this blog will be sample case studies and videos to help people gain a better understanding about aromatherapy and know that it is more than just a wonderful scent.