Aromatherapy

Fragrant Friday – Black Pepper

So we are back to aromatherapy again! Fragrant Friday (and note this is not every Friday!) is a series of posts that looks at the potential benefit of using aromatherapy in Fibromyalgia and for anyone who may have other ailments they wish to treat naturally and holistically. So far in this series we have already looked at Lavender and Peppermint, and this time we are taking a look at Black Pepper.


I would like the think that everyone is familiar with black pepper. If you cook at all then this spice will likely be a staple in your kitchen. I put black pepper in pretty much everything but it wasn’t until I started looking at treating my fibromyalgia naturally that I considered using it in aromatherapy. The great thing too is that it is pretty cheap to buy which makes aromatherapy affordable.


So while we have all enjoyed the heat and appetising aroma of black pepper in our food, I’m betting not many of us have used it in its essential oil form. Black peppercorns are the dried fruit of the Piper Nigrum plant and in history was considered to be scared and extremely valuable. So much so that merchants even used it to trade it for gold! Nowadays it is easily available and really not valuable at all, but that doesn’t makes it any less special. In fact did you know that black pepper can benefit you in the following ways?

  • Digestive complaints, especially of the windy kind!
  • Antispasmodic
  • Relief of arthritic symptoms
  • Removes toxins from the body by making you sweat more and increasing urination
  • Antioxidant
  • Delays signs of ageing (think wrinkles and loss of vision)
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti cancer activity
  • Ease symptoms of cigarette cravings

I personally use black pepper essential oil for its ability to ease the muscular aches and pains I experience with my fibromyalgia, to aid digestion and to protect me against opportunistic viruses and bacteria. If I do get a cold I find it a very useful decongestant. It is also known to help ease symptoms of anxiety which is particularly useful after a hard day. I typically use black pepper at the end of a challenging day.

There are many ways to use black pepper essential oil, but here are a few of my favourites.

  • Topically – by adding to a massage oil blend with lavender and peppermint, black pepper brings quick and effective relief of muscular pain (especially when someone else does the massaging!)
  • On the chest – dilute a couple of drops of black pepper oil into a little coconut oil and rub onto the chest like vaporub to ease congestion during illness
  • Inhalation – Place a few drops on a tissue and inhale directly to ease symptoms of anxiety
  • In food – Add a couple of drops to a bowl of soup or even into a smoothie to ‘pep’ up the taste and ease digestive complaints.

DISCLAIMER

As with any new method of treating symptoms for any reason, always take precaution. I AM NOT AN AROMATHERAPIST and all thoughts and opinions are my own based on the research I have made and the results I have had. I do however always follow these rules when trying a new essential oil –

  • Some essential oils can have an allergic effect on some people so I always begin using essential oils slowly and carefully.
  • I never put essential oils directly onto my skin without diluting in a base oil first unless it is safe to do so. I test for skin sensitivity by testing on a small patch of diluted oil my inner forearm and if there is no irritation after 48 hours I consider it safe for me.
  • I always check which essential oils are phototoxic (sensitive to the suns UV rays) so that I make sure I have properly rinsed it off my skin before going into sunlight, to avoid burning.
  • Less is more – just a couple of drops diluted into a base oil is enough to carry through to the whole mixture, so don’t get too excited and add too much essential oil, it will be too overpowering and may irritate.
  • If I was pregnant, I would speak to an aromatherapist first to check what is safe to use.
  • I don’t assume that all essential oils can be used in aromatherapy, some can’t, so I always check.
  • I would never ingest essential oils without first speaking to an aromatherapist.
  • And lastly, I keep them out of reach of children and away from fire hazards.

I hope you enjoyed this instalment of Fragrant Friday! As always it has been a pleasure!

Finally, please leave your comments down in the comments section or you can get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all the links are at the top on the right hand side of this page.

This post along with many others from fellow fibro bloggers can be found at the Fibro Blogger Directory.

Toodle Pip!

Aromatherapy

Fragrant Friday – Peppermint

Welcome back to the next edition of Fragrant Friday, I am sorry it has taken me so long to post in this series again. For those of you unfamiliar with this series of posts, they are dedicated at taking a closer look at the use of aromatherapy and potential health benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy in Fibromyalgia. However, these posts aren’t just beneficial for those who live with Fibromyalgia but for anyone who may be looking to treat minor ailments with aromatherapy. This Friday we are exploring the popular herb, Peppermint.

I personally choose Miaroma brand of essential oils as they are easily available in high street health shops and inexpensive

I’ve been friends with peppermint in many forms for a long time. From enjoying that fresh mouth feeling (I promise this isn’t and advert) from chewing gum and toothpaste as a child, through to herbal teas with peppermint and essential oils as an adult, we have forged a lifelong alliance. Peppermint both tastes and smells great, is readily available in health shops (in essential oil and tea form), cheap and also easy to grow (but a bit of a bully to other plants if you don’t keep them in check!).

The peppermint growing in our garden

Many people will be familiar with peppermint in its tea form which is renowned to easing digestive complaints, such as bloatedness, nausea and vomiting, and also for its ability to ease water retention, particularly in pre menstrual women. It its oil form it not only smells glorious, but is incredibly versatile, and has the most amazing health benefits-

  • Promotes healthy respiratory function
  • Increases energy
  • Heightens mood
  • Relieves stress
  • Suppresses appetite (great if you are intentionally losing weight healthily)
  • Relieves headaches
  • Pest control – natural alternative to ant powder
  • Anti bacterial
  • Anti fungal
  • Relieves muscle aches
  • Relieves fatigue

Again, as with my lavender post a few weeks ago, I could go on and on but these are a few of my favourite benefits, and most people at any one time will suffer with these symptoms for various reasons, peppermint to the rescue!

For me, I use peppermint to increase my energy, relieve muscle soreness, heighten my mood and relieve headaches. When I have a bad cold and sore chest, worsened by my asthma, I use peppermint to relieve congestion and this helps me to sleep. I also still religiously drink peppermint tea daily for water retention at that glorious time of the month, and to aid digestion.

As with most essential oils there are so many ways you can use peppermint, but these are the ways in which I have found them useful with my fibromyalgia symptoms.

  • In the bath – I find peppermint oil, mixed with a base of sweet almond oil, useful in the bath in the evenings when my muscles are sore and tired and I’ve had a difficult day. The oil on my skin, along with the steam from the bath and warmth of the water, really helps me to relax my muscles and mind which in turn aids my sleep.
  • In the shower – mixed with some water in a cup and poured over my head during a steamy shower really helps me to feel energised and alert, perfect if I know I have a challenging day ahead.
  • Inhalation – Either over a bowl of hot water with a towel over my head or in a hot and steamy bath with the door closed relieves congestion from the many colds I seem to get these days. Applying peppermint oil to a handkerchief or a tissue is good for if I am needing to get about and can’t keep my head over a bowl all day long.
  • Topically – If you find yourself reaching for the pills as soon as you get a headache, try reaching for peppermint oil instead. It is much more cost effective and research shows that it works effectively as a natural alternative to resolve headaches. Just a couple of drops applied directly across the forehead, on the temples and at the base of the skull can relieve a headache, I tend to apply it shortly after the headache has started and then again 15-20 minutes later. It doesn’t always work and some headaches are really nasty, but on those horrible little niggling ones it works a treat. I also sometimes use it on my abdomen when I have IBS type symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.

DISCLAIMER

As with any new method of treating symptoms for any reason, always take precaution. I AM NOT AN AROMATHERAPIST and all thoughts and opinions are my own based on the research I have made and the results I have had. I do however always follow these rules when trying a new essential oil –

  • Some essential oils can have an allergic effect on some people so I always begin using essential oils slowly and carefully.
  • I never put essential oils directly onto my skin without diluting in a base oil first unless it is safe to do so. I test for skin sensitivity by testing on a small patch of diluted oil my inner forearm and if there is no irritation after 48 hours I consider it safe for me.
  • I always check which essential oils are phototoxic (sensitive to the suns UV rays) so that I make sure I have properly rinsed it off my skin before going into sunlight, to avoid burning.
  • Less is more – just a couple of drops diluted into a base oil is enough to carry through to the whole mixture, so don’t get too excited and add too much essential oil, it will be too overpowering and may irritate.
  • If I was pregnant, I would speak to an aromatherapist first to check what is safe to use.
  • I don’t assume that all essential oils can be used in aromatherapy, some can’t, so I always check.
  • I would never ingest essential oils without first speaking to an aromatherapist.
    And lastly, I keep them out of reach of children and away from fire hazards.

I hope you have enjoyed this Fragrant Friday post and can find some use for it in your daily life. Remember you don’t have to be unwell to get use out of aromatherapy.

As ever please leave your comments down in the comments section or you can get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all the links are at the top on the right hand side of this page.

Toodle Pip!

Aromatherapy

Fragrant Fridays – Lavender

Welcome to a new part of The F Word blog, Fragrant Fridays, exploring the use of aromatherapy in the treatment of Fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain illnesses.

I’ve used aromatherapy all my adult life. In fact, it was ever since my grandad brought me a stoneware oil burner back when I was 16 (long time ago).

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This little burner has travelled everywhere with me, wherever I settle, my oil burner comes. It’s been broken and glued back together twice (in fact last time I didn’t do the best job because now it has stuck to the bookshelf from all the tea light wax that seeps from the bottom), but it still serves me pretty well. I enjoy the strong scent that comes from burning an oil, and that with the right oil you can close your eyes and be transported somewhere far away, like a Turkish bath, or a lavender field in the countryside on a warm summers afternoon.

Since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I have been researching and testing different essential oils and methods that can be used to ease some of the terrible symptoms that plague me each day. I’ve had mixed results, but as fibromyalgia isn’t easy to treat, it was never going to be a quick fix. This section of the blog will be for exploring aromatherapy, and the possible benefits different oils/methods may have for anyone, not just chronic illness warriors.

This week I though it would be best to start with an aroma most people are familiar with, is cheap, and is easily accessible, Lavender.

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For me, lavender is easily the most nostalgic aroma, bringing back memories of playing in gardens, and making perfume with an ice cream tub full of water, some flowers and a wooden spoon. It reminds me of warm summer afternoons with the sun on my skin, and fills me with calm the moment I even catch a waft of its pleasant fragrance. It is pretty to look at with its vibrant purple flowers standing tall above its feathery green foundations. I have always had a lavender bush in my garden, it is usually the first thing I plant, and throughout the autumn, winter and spring, I leave the dried lavender heads on the bush to harvest for floating in warm baths, or stuffing inside a tiny homemade cotton pouch to put in my drawers or pillowcase.

However, Lavender is so much more than just a pretty purple flower that smells nice. Most people are familiar with its association with relaxation and sleep, but it can be used for so much more. The list is endless, but here are just some of the other reasons lavender, particularly in the essential oil form, may be beneficial to you –

  • Antidepressant
  • Analgesic
  • Antiseptic
  • Decongestant
  • Relief of anxiety and stress
  • Aching and tired muscles
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Wound healing
  • Skin disorders such as acne/eczema
  • Relief of digestive symptoms
  • Headaches

I could go on, but I won’t! I am sure however, that from this modest list alone, you could associate yourself with one of the symptoms and lavender may be able to help you. I personally use lavender, amongst many other oils , to calm my mind and to relax my muscles and joints on days my symptoms have been particularly bad. I also use lavender to help me sleep and when I have the occasional crappy headache. It isn’t a miracle worker, but it does help to varying degrees depending on how I use it and what symptoms I use it for. For example, last night I had a headache and I used it directly by placing a few drops on a handkerchief, and within half and hour it had eased enough to go to bed and go to sleep. I also slept relatively well for me.

There are a large number of documented ways all over the internet in which you can use lavender to maximum effect. I haven’t tried them all, but have tried a few as follows.

  • In the bath – this has a two fold effect on me, the heat and weightlessness of being in a bath, along with the properties of lavender filling the bathroom through the steam from the hot water. This helps to relax my tired muscles, particularly my legs, eases my joint and back pain, and relaxes my body and mind, which in turn helps me to manage my symptoms of fibromyalgia better. If taken in the evening it also helps me settle better for the nightly battle with sleep.
  • In the shower – I personally prefer to have a shower as they are less time consuming in the mornings. If the morning has been a bit of a rush with getting the kids to school and generally being a mother with all of the demands children make before even the birds get up, then a few drops in a capful of water tipped over my head with the hot shower running is enough to help calm me down and recenter myself for the rest of the morning. This works especially well for me when paired with mindfulness, which can be done at the same time just for a couple of minutes, in the shower, with the door locked!
  • In massage oil – using a bland base oil like sweet almond oil, can help to maintain the powerful fragrance of lavender. When diluted oil is massaged directly into the muscle area affected it can have a quick and long lasting effect, especially when mixed with other muscle relaxants. Its delightful when somebody massages you, but you can also use it for self massage. I may even take a little premixed bottle into work with me when I return in a few weeks for emergency self massage. We also use this for one of our daughters who gets terrible growing pains, and this has a quick and long lasting effect on her too.
  • On a handkerchief – the great thing about popping lavender onto a hankie, is that you can pop it in your pocket or bag to take with you wherever you go for emergency use when thing gets a bit stressful or manic. You can also pop it into you pillowcase to aid a restful nights sleep.
  • In candles – my husband and I (okay more him, but I like to think I am helping) have got into the art of making our own beeswax candles, which is incredibly easy and cheap. Adding Lavender to a candle helps to fill the whole house with a calming and welcoming aroma, and I like my flat to smell nice! I tend to do this more in the evenings when the little ones are asleep, to calm my body and mind ready to attempt a nights sleep.
  • Lastly, but by no means least, in my oil burner, this makes the smell of lavender even stronger, in fact you can smell it from outside our flat, and the aroma lasts much longer than a candle. Again, I tend to do this in the evenings.

DISCLAIMER

As with any new method of treating symptoms for any reason, always take precaution. I AM NOT AN AROMATHERAPIST and all thoughts and opinions are my own based on the research I have made and the results I have had. I do however always follow these rules when trying a new essential oil –

  • Some essential oils can have an allergic effect on some people so I always begin using essential oils slowly and carefully.
  • I never put essential oils directly onto my skin without diluting in a base oil first. I test for skin sensitivity by testing on a small patch of diluted oil my inner forearm and if there is no irritation after 48 hours I consider it safe for me.
  • I always check which essential oils are phototoxic (sensitive to the suns UV rays) so that I make sure I have properly rinsed it off my skin before going into sunlight, to avoid burning.
  • Less is more – just a couple of drops diluted into a base oil is enough to carry through to the whole mixture, so don’t get too excited and add too much essential oil, it will be too overpowering and may irritate.
  • If I was pregnant, I would speak to an aromatherapist first to check what is safe to use.
  • I don’t assume that all essential oils can be used in aromatherapy, some can’t, so I always check.
  • I would never ingest essential oils without first speaking to an aromatherapist.
  • And lastly, I keep them out of reach of children and away from fire hazards.

I hoped you enjoyed the first instalment of Fragrant Fridays. Next time we will be exploring Peppermint.

Please feel free to share, on Facebook, the Twitters, or over on Insta. Also, please leave your comments down below on what you find lavender (or any other oil) is useful for and share your wisdom!