Aromatherapy Oasis
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Archive for September 2012


Scientific Name: Arnica montana

Family: Asteraceae


Arnica is a perennial plant that is native to the mountainous regions of Central Europe and Siberia.  This plant is also cultivated in America.  The name arnica is derived from arnakis which is the Greek meaning for lambskin.  The leaves of arnica are described as lambskin.  Montana means mountains and this is where the second part of the scientific name is derived from because this pant usually grows in the mountains.

According to folklore, arnica has been used for ages by both European and Native Americans to heal wounds, reduce inflammation and to soothe muscle pain.   Arnica can not be made into an oil like almond or olive, so the only way to reap all the benefits of this plant is through maceration.  Maceration is when you add the flowers to oil (usually a proportion of ten parts oil to one part blossom).  The carrier oil is used to extract arnica's volatile oils (properties) by soaking plant parts in it for a specified time period.  There are other methods of maceration but I choose to describe the simplest method. 

Once the arnica plant has been fully infused or macerated it usually contains a host of therapeutic qualities.  When applied in topical applications it has been used as a stimulant, improving elasticity of various tissue, treatment of bruises, contusions, sprains, strains, pain and swelling associated with rheumatism.  It is also used greatly for sport massages for muscles and joints after strenuous activity because of its deep acting abilities.

I love to use arnica when performing custom blends.  I sometimes use the macerated oil of arnica  on its own or by blending it with other macerated oils such as calendula and st. johns wort.  This blend of macerated oils is also known by the name of trauma oil.  Arnica blended with the right blend of essential oils makes a powerful circulatory and pain blend. 

Please note that excessive use of arnica can irritate the skin, resulting in eczema, peeling or other skin conditions.

Price, L., Price, S., (2008), Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy And Massage. 4th Edition Riverhead Publishing.


Black Pepper Essential Oil

Latin Name: Piper nigrum


Family: Piperaceae


Extraction Method: Distilled from partially dried, unripe fruit.


Aroma:  Spicy, Sharp, warm and slightly herbaceous


My first expereince using black pepper (Piper nigrum) was for perfumery.  Black pepper is a top/middle note and I find it amazing in aromatic blends.  I now love to use black pepper for therapeautic blends because of it ability to aide with circulation.  It is a must in most of my pain blends and circulatory blends.  

General Description: When you think of black pepper you would think of  spicy and warm and that is the correct description of this essential oil.  This essential oil may help in getting things moving when talking about circulation and it being a digestive stimulant.  Black pepper possesses analgesic, anticatarrhal, expectorant, stimulant and tonic properties (Price).  According to Aromatherapy for Common Ailments written by Shirley Price; she states that the warming properties of black pepper, sweet marjoram and ginger help to relax muscles and relieve mild pain.

Medicinal Characteristics: Used to treat food poisoning, indigestions, colds, flu, and congested lungs.  It may lower fevers and improves poor blood circulation.  It is antiseptic, antiviral, rubifacient, febrifuge and anti-inflammatory.

Emotional Properties:  The scent of black pepper is emotionally stimulating and some say an aphrodisiac (Keville and Green).  Can be used for fatigue, low energy, depression and weakness. 

Safety Considerations:  Although nontoxic, use at low dilution becasue it can irrate the skin and avoid using in baths.


 Davis P. Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition C.W. Daniel Company Limited, England, 1999

Price, S. Aromatherapy for Common Ailments, Simon & Schuster Inc, 1991

Price,S and Price, L. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Chruchill Livingstone, Fourth Edition, 2012

**Photo courtesy of Steenbergs (

*Please note:  This information is not to replace physician advice or to be used as treatment or diagnose of a disease.