Essential Oil Information

The following was a required paper Mary Helen wrote for one of Jeanne Rose’s aromatherapy courses:

Essential Aromatherapy Skills, taught by Jeanne Rose
Healing Earth Resources
Chicago, IL April 2-4, 2004
Mary Helen Lee, L.Ac., Dipl. C.H., Herbalist- A.H.G.


Distillation was invented in 3000 B.C. and used ceramic stills and the sun to separate salt from water.  Between 1000 B.C. and 500 B.C. stills were invented similar to what we use today with a pot, head on the pot, and a gooseneck from the head to the condenser.  In 1150 A.D. the water coil condenser was developed.  A coil is inside the condenser and surrounded by cool water.  The specific gravity of essential oils is less than water.  The condenser made it easier to separate the essential oils from the water.  The condenser was perfected around 1300 A.D.  Distillation collects and concentrates the scent of the plant into its liquid form which is the essential oil. “The act of distillation is the art of making the invisible essential oil visible.”3

            To distill essential oil you can use glass, copper or stainless steel.  Copper distillation is the best because copper is antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral.  Copper makes a sweeter distillate.  Copper ions in the distillation process pull out sulfur ions from the plants; this makes them sweeter and keeps the yeast and bacterial cells out of the solution.  If distilling alcohol for perfume, stainless steel is acceptable.  Stainless steel distills were invented in 1913.  If distilling alcohol for making herbal tinctures, copper should be used.  It’s best to have a copper coil or gooseneck for a stainless steel distiller.

            Sometimes you can tell a color difference in essential oils because of what it was distilled in.  For example, old patchouli was distilled in cast iron and was a darker color.  New patchouli from the past 4 to 5 years is a lighter color because it comes from a stainless steel distiller.

Conifers (Evergreens)

            There are two families of conifers.  The Pinaceae or Pine family consists of pine, fir, spruce, cedars and hemlocks.  The Pine family oils are usually made from the needles and are steam distilled except for cedarwood.  Pine needle oils are clear and inhaled, they cleanse the air and the respiratory system.  Most trees called cedarwood are in other families like the Juniper family, Cupressaceae.  The Cupressaceae or Cypress family essential oils are usually made from the wood, the oils are often colored and applied externally.  Cedarwood oil is used externally to help edema, cellulite, body fat, lymph circulation, and to regenerate arteries from arteriosclerosis.  Cedar needle oil is generally used externally well diluted for skin conditions like fungal infections, dandruff and hair loss, it can also be inhaled for problems in the respiratory system.

Essential Oil Formulae for Health Care

            The main reason I attended this class was to learn more medical aromatherapy.  The following are formulae I learned for physical and emotional imbalances.


            For asthma and wheezing use angelica, lemon, blue tansy or amni visnago essential oils.  For bronchial congestion use cinnamon, inula, rosemary verbana or savory.  For sinus and respiratory congestion make a steam with 1 drop black spruce, 2 drops rosemary pyramidalis, 3 drops eucalyptus, 4 drops pine and 5 drops douglas fir essential oil.  Place in boiling water and inhale through the nose and mouth.

Pain Relief

            For headaches and migraines inhale essential oils that calm irritably and soothe stress like lavender and blue chamomile.  For pain relief use helicrysum and ravensara aromatica topically for bruises and shingles and inhale for pain from chronic fatigue syndrome.  For insomnia from trauma and pain inhale 1 drop Spanish  marjoram and 8-9  drops ylang ylang ##2 or##3, this will help relax you so that you forget about the pain.  For muscle pain use sage, basil, cypress, juniper, eucalyptus and rosemary topically in a massage oil.

Fungal Infections

            For nail fungus mix up 90% tea tree and 10 % litsea cubeba or if tea tree is too irritating mix 50 % blue cypress with 40 % tea tree and 10% litsea cubeba.  Dry nail with a hair dryer and place oils under nail bed.  For a ringworm infection one may use essential oils of either cinnamon, clove or lavender topically.


            For teenagers who are hyper or have ADHD use essential oils that help to focus and calm such as a blend of 99% orange and1% nutmeg.  Other oils for calming kids and teenagers include lemon, grapefruit, lavender, Roman chamomile, owhyee, bergamot, clary sage, and spikenard.  For depression use bergamot, orange, Australian sandalwood and grapefruit.  The blend that I combined for mental and physical fatigue was a mix of 1 drop vetivert, 2 drops ylang ylang complete and 3 drops rose geranium, inhaling this really picks me up.


            For hypertension and symptoms of high blood pressure such as a rapid pulse, swollen ankles, nose bleeds, dizziness, vision disturbances, sweats and a red face use essential oils such as birch bark, melissa, rosemary, lemon, bergamot, Roman chamomile, owhee, clary sage, frankincense, juniper, ylang ylang ##3, delicate lavenders and cypress.  The best blend would be one of lemon, cypress, and rose geranium.  For  edema  and varicose veins create a circulatory tonic of cypress, rose geranium and yarrow in calendula infused oil.  For low blood pressure use clary sage, sage, motherwort and rosemary.  To warm and stimulate circulation use essential oils such as black pepper, rosemary verbana and ginger, add these to blends rather than using them on their own.


            For high blood pressure use hydrosols such as cypress with elecampane or juniper berry, or alternate between cypress, melissa and scotch or lodgepole pine, switch back and forth adding 2 tsp. in a liter of water a day.   For edema use juniper.  For antiviral properties and for use in treating Chrohn’s disease use melissa.  Lemon Verbena hydrosol also help Chrohn’s disease.  For fibroids use a bayleaf hydrosol daily for a while, stop treatment for a bit and start again.

Clary Sage, Salvia Sclarea

            Clary Sage belongs to the Lamiaceae or mint family.  It originated in the Mediterranean region and is cultivated today in Spain, Russia, Italy, and Yugoslavia as well as other places worldwide.  The highest quality oil comes from France, Bulgaria, Britain and Morocco.  The plant can grow from 2 to 6 feet in height with a straight, slightly pink stem and large wrinkled downy leaves that grow opposite each other.  The flowers are white, pink, violet, lilac, or blue and the petals end in a point.  The flowering tops and leaves of the plant are gathered from May to September.  The best soil to grow Clary Sage is on the alkaline side, not too rich or moist.  It can be a perennial or biennial.

             In the 16th century Clary Sage was used to brew beer instead of hops in England.  In Germany it was used in wines to increase the euphoric effects of intoxication.  The name Clary comes from Clarus which is Latin for “clear,” the herb may have been used to clear mucus or obstruction from the eyes.  Sclarea refers to the sclera or white of the eye.  Salvia is rooted in the Latin words salvaro or salveo which mean “whole, sound, or to save,” which may come from it’s heal-all properties.

            Clary Sage is used a lot in perfumery in a synthetic form.  This is used to adulterate poor quality oil so one must be careful to obtain the natural, pure essential oil.  Clary Sage is made into a concrete and absolute, containing up to .14% essential oil.  A good quality organic essential oil should cost about $13 to $15 for 1/3 oz (10ml.).  The oil is clear and colorless with a scent that is woody, green, herbaceous, conifer, strong and heavy.  It is non-viscous and has a sweet taste.  The essential oil is steam distilled from the green leaves and flowering tops, and is used medicinally, in cosmetics and in perfumery.

            The chemistry of Clary Sage contains alcohols, esters, ketones and sesquiterpenes such as L-linalyl acetate, linalol, L-nerolidol, neroliacetate scareol (a di-terpenalalcohol), cineole, and caryophyllene.  There are many properties and uses for Clary Sage essential oil such as the following.  Psychological properties range from an antidepressant used for acute or hormonal depression, a narcotic and sedative for insomnia from pain, and a nervine for stress and anxiety.  It can bring vivid dreams  and help to recall dreams.  As a euphoric it encourages inspiration and creativity, and as an aphrodisiac helps with low libido and impotence.  It is mildly intoxicating and can be used for relaxation and during hypnosis.  It also helps with fear, guilt, paranoia, performance stress, and the emotional sensitivity of PMS.

            Clary Sage has even more physical properties and uses.  Gynecological medicine has dozens of proven remedies using Clary Sage because it has estrogen like properties.

It helps with PMS, hot flashes of menopause, ammenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, delayed and irregular cycles, labor pains, migraines, fibocystic breasts, lactation, infertility, endometriosis, vaginal infections, polycystic ovaries and postpartum depression.  It acts as an emmenogogue, uterine tonic, anti-spasmodic, and natural balancer of the endocrine system.

            Clary Sage essential oil contains a large quantity of linalool (linalol) which helps it to act as an antiseptic and antibacterial.  It can be used in a mouthwash, sore-throat gargle, and for respiratory disorders such as colds, bronchitis, asthma, croup, and whooping cough.  It is an anti-convulsive and reduces epileptic attacks, acts as a neurotonic for nervous fatigue, and helps balance adrenal disorders and hot flashes for people on steroid drugs.  It acts as an astringent and helps with wrinkled skin, acne and hemorrhoids.  Clary Sage is a digestive stimulant, carminative, and stomachic.  It helps with liver, gallbladder, intestinal and stomach pain, weak digestion and gas.

            Clary Sage is energizing and relaxing at the same time and can be taken orally for internal problems and hormonal imbalance: 2-3 drops, diluted, 2-3 times a day.  It is a mild analgesic and helps ease headaches, toothaches, cramps,  and other pains as a compress or massage oil and eases tensions both physical and emotional in a hot bath.  It is used in skin care products for acne, oily skin, skin infections and inflammations and as a deodorant.  It encourages hair growth and limits the production of sebum to help dandruff and greasy hair.

            Clary Sage stimulates circulation of the cardiovascular system, strengthens the nerves, and soothes stress in heart patients.  It is a hypotensive reducing stress, anxiety and blood pressure.  It helps clear internal toxicity from chemical stress.

            Clary Sage is used in perfume blends as a top to middle note for both feminine and masculine products and is yang in character.  Clary Sage essential oil is easily available at most health food stores.  After trying 6 different brands my favorites were AromaVera which is organic from France and Wyndmere, an organic from Bulgaria.  I have used Clary Sage for myself and my clients.  I recently gave it to a woman who has hormonal imbalance including uterine fibroids, dymenorrhea, depression, anxiety, heavy bleeding, fatigue and many other symptoms and stresses.  She has been on synthetic iron because of anemia but has only been on an herbal iron and blood tonic herbs for several months now.  I have only had her inhale the oil and she finds it keeps her calmer and helps her have a better outlook on life.  For years I have diffused clary sage, fennel and mugwort, the Feminine Energy blend from AromaVera for all my clients with gynecological problems during their acupuncture treatments, everyone loves this smell immediately.

            Cautions for using Clary Sage essential oil include:  never take with synthetic iron, don’t use with alcohol or it can cause nausea, it can be very sedative and reduce concentration so don’t use before driving, large doses may cause headaches, be careful during pregnancy until labor is advanced.

            Clary Sage is similar to Common Sage but it is not as toxic because it contains less thujone.  Both plants have a history of use for infertility in both males and females.  Sage was used in ancient Egypt to cure infertile couples.  The Greeks and Romans used sage to increase life span.  In the Middle Ages sage was known as oculus christi, meaning “the eye of Christ.”  Clary Sage is used for it’s rejuvenating effect for people in mid-life crisis or older people.  Sage and Clary Sage help heal respiratory infection by inhalation.

            Clary Sage is such a great healer and really helps lift the spirit, I love its mind altering effect.  It helps to open psychic intuition and artistic inspiration, what a magical plant!  Blessed Be!