Patchouli Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Hello and welcome to my letter P post in the #AtoZChallenge. The theme I chose for this challenge is aromatherapy and today, I’ll be talking about patchouli essential oil.

The name of patchouli appears to have come from the Hindi word “pacholi”, which means “to scent”. The plant belongs to a family of other aromatic plants, such as lavender, mint and sage. Its grounding, balancing aroma makes it an ideal essential oil to be used in aromatherapy and cosmetics alike.

Even though you might think of patchouli as “the scent of the sixties” if you’ve lived that long, the history of the plant’s use dates back much earlier. It is believed that Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was buried with patchouli essential oil.

Early European traders would trade it for gold too. Patchouli was also used by Asian traders to protect silk and other fabrics.

Patchouli essential oil is steam distilled from the young leaves of the Pogosteman cablin plant. The oil is quite thick and ranges in color from light yellow to a deep amber. The scent can be described as earthy, musky and slightly sweet. The scent is pretty strong and may therefore be overstimulating to some people.

The main constituent of patchouli essential oil is patchoulol. This constituent is believed to give patchouli essential oil its grounding, mood-balancing properties. Other constituents of patchouli essential oil include α-patchoulene, β-patchoulene, α-bulnesene, α-guaiene, caryophyllene, norpatchoulenol, seychellene, and pogostol.

Patchouli essential oil can be used in aromatherapy as a sedative yet also anti-depressant and aphrodisiac oil. It is a great oil to use in skincare products too, as it neutralizes body odor.

Patchouli blends well with many different oils. For example, I like to blend it with lavender and ylang ylang for a calming effect. It also blends well with citrus oils, such as orange, bergamot or grapefruit.

Do you like the smell of patchouli?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 18, 2021)

Hello everyone and welcome to my #WeekendCoffeeShare post for this week. I just had my afternoon coffee. I think there’s still some left, or you can have a tea, fizzy drink or water. We alsso have custard cupcakes if you want one. They’re delicious! Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you about your weather. Ours has been steadily improving over the past week. On Monday, we still had a bit of ice rain, but the rest of the week, it’s not rained much. Today, we have some sunshine and temperatures of about 16°C during the day. It’s still close to freezing at night though.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, on Wednesday, I had a good talk with my community psychiatric nurse. I was able to express some of my anxiety. Then again, Thursday night I ended up in a bit of a crisis again. I tried to reach my CPN on Friday. Unfortunately, by the time she called me at 5:30PM, there was little she could do for me.

Tomorrow, I’ll meet with my nurse practitioner again. I’m considering asking him about my medication, both my daily meds and my PRN tranquilizer. While the PRN med, the atypical antipsychotic quetiapine (Seroquel), works okay for reducing sensory overload, I’m experiencing increasing anxiety, particularly at night. I don’t blame the quetiapine, but I’d really like something to help with this.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I had quite a scary experience yesterday. I was walking outside in the sunshine and suddenly completely blinded. Of course, it is only to be expected that I’ll eventually lose my light perception too, but it’s still scary. My staff interestingly did understand my panic about being blinded. Most people probably won’t, since to a sighted or even partially sighted person, I’m pretty much totally blind.

I also had a pretty nasty headache, so I’m wondering whether I might have experienced a spike in eye pressure. My staff is going to inquire about getting my eye pressure checked by an ophthalmologist. I’ve heard, after all, that glaucoma needs to be treated even in blind people.

This experience did motivate me to finally inquire about getting a pair of NoIR sunglasses again. I had them in the past, but cannot find them in my size at the most well-known low vision shop. My staff E-mailed the occupational therapist about it. For now, another staff gave me a pair of regular sunglasses.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I got a new roller tip for my white cane on Friday too. I now have a marshmallow tip, which I think works better than the large ball tip I used to have.

If we were having coffee, I’d share how happy I am with all the engagement on my blog. It’s truly heartwarming to see how many people are touched by my posts.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that my husband and I went for a walk in the “wolf woods”, as he calls the woods between Raalte and the nearby theme park. A wolf was found in the theme park a few weeks ago. Thankfully, we didn’t spot it.

How have you been?

Orange and Other Citrus Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Hello and welcome to my letter O post in the #AtoZChallenge. I have been looking forward to sharing this post ever since I found out that the letter O in the #AtoZChallenge alphabet scavenger hunt is for orange. Yes, I’m writing about orange essential oil. Oh, and all the other great citrus essential oils too.

When referring to orange oil, many people mean sweet orange essential oil. Wild orange essential oil is also often used in aromatherapy. I for one don’t own that oil, so I always substitute it with sweet orange.

Unlike most other essential oils, sweet orange and most other citrus oils are not extracted using steam distillation. Rather, they are extracted by cold pressing the rinds (peel) of the fruit. There are distilled varieties of citrus essential oils, but they are much harder to come by. I, for one, have searched a lot of places to find steam distilled lime and lemon essential oils, but haven’t been able to find them here in the Netherlands.

Sweet orange oil is one of the more skin-safe oils out of the citrus group. It is most likely not phototoxic. However, most other citrus essential oils, such as lime, lemon and also bitter orange, are phototoxic.

Another citrus essential oil I love is bergamot. This aroma and flavor may be well-known to those who drink Earl Grey tea, as bergamot oil is used to flavor this type of tea. Bergamot’s scent is citrusy like orange, but somewhat more floral with bitter undertones too. Be very careful when using bergamot essential oil on the skin, as it is highly phototoxic due to it containing bergaptene. When using bergamot essential oil on the skin, be sure to choose the furocoumarin-free (FCF) variant, which has the bergaptene removed. Still, even FCF bergamot essential oil can be irritating to the skin as well as photosensitizing.

Citrus essential oils blend well with many different essential oils, including lavender, eucalyptus, etc. I also love the combination of several different citrus essential oils in a diffuser blend. For example, here’s a recipe for my keylime pie diffuser blend:


  • 2 drops sweet orange

  • 7 drops lime

  • 1 drop lemon

I also like to blend citrus essential oils with spicy essential oils such as cinnamon and clove bud. However, just about anything goes!

Color Vision

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am blind. I wasn’t always totally blind though. As a child, up to around age twelve, I could see most colors. I could still see some very bright colors until I was eighteen.

When I asked the ophthalmologist at the university medical center to put me on the waiting list for cataract surgery in 2013, some color vision was all I hoped for. The doctor said that the best possible outcome was that I could have hand motion vision, ie. see someone’s hand move from one meter away. I didn’t really care about seeing anything one meter in front of me. If I’d have to hold a colored paper five centimeters in front of me to see its color, that was fine by me. I just wanted to be able to distinguish colors again. Unfortunately, though the surgery was at least a partial technical success, I never regained color perception.

When asked at the rehabilitation program for the blind what we’d be happiest about to regain if we ever regained our vision, most of my fellow clients mentioned some variation of independence. I, though, said that I’d be able to enjoy the colors of nature again. Unfortunately, though technology has come a long way, it will likely never be able to recreate an experience remotely similar to color vision.

I can still, fortunately, see some colors, but it’s in my mind’s eye. You see, I have projected grapheme-color synesthesia. When I touch the characters on my Braille display, they evoke a visual sensation of a color. Each letter corresponds to its own color, though some of the colors are very similar. That probably reflects the fact that I was never able to see the full variety of shades of colors that sighted people can. For example, the V and J are both a light shade of green. I can tell them apart if I see them both, in that the J is a slightly lighter, mintier shade, but it’s hard to describe.

Words also have an overarching color. In case you’re wondering, the colors of color words don’t always align with their meaning. For example, the word “Green” is more red (after the letter G) than green, even though both E’s are green.

I love my synesthetic color perception. It makes up for a loss of appreciation that no amount of technology can compensate for.

This post was inspired by CalmKate’s Friday Fun Challenge with the theme of “Colors”. I’m not really sure whether this rambling piece fits the idea of the challenge, but oh well.

Nonsense?: The (Lack Of) Scientific Basis for Aromatherapy #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to my letter N post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I’m really struggling to find a word that fits my theme of aromatherapy. I mean, I don’t own any essential oils starting with the letter N. I originally intended on using the word “nose” and going into some theories of smell. Then again, I’m really too lazy to dig deep into this. So instead, I decided to talk about the (lack of) scientific evidence for aromatherapy.

Indeed, there is little to no solid, scientific evidence behind the use of essential oils for physical health. One of the reasons may be that it’s hard to create truly controlled studies. After all, a proper trial would use a double blind, placebo-controlled design. This means that neither the patients nor the doctors or staff administering the oil, should know whether they get real essential oil or a placebo. However, obviously most people will be able to smell whether they are inhaling an essential oil oor a placebo.

Generally speaking, essential oils do not effect physiological signs of the body. For example, lemon and lavender oil were tested in a study on pain control. They were not found effective on any of the physical signs of pain (heartrate, pain ratings, stress hormone levels, etc.).

However, the oils did improve mood. One reason for this may be that smells are strongly connected to emotions and memories. In fact, when a smell signal is transmitted from the nose to the brain, it reaches the limbic system as well as the olfactory cortex. The limbic system, particularly the amygdala, is responsible for emotions and emotional memories. For this reason, smells can directly trigger positive (or negative) emotions.

Besides, the placebo effect can be really strong. This means that, if you expect something to work, it is likely to help at least somewhat. I’ve even heard, though not specifically in aromatherapy, that the placebo effect can alter brain chemistry. For example, people’s brains respond to fake painkillers by producing endorphins, which are the body’s own pain-relieving chemicals.

All this means that, even if there’s no scientific evidence behind aromatherapy, it can still be useful. Like, when you believe that, say, lavender essential oil will help you fall asleep, it actually will. If for no other reason, it will aid in your bedtime routine, and a set routine is always helpful.

Mint Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Hello and welcome to my letter M post in the #AtoZChallenge. My theme for the challenge is aromatherapy and today, I’ll be talking about minty essential oils. The most well-known oils in this category are peppermint and spearmint. I don’t own spearmint, though I want to someday. I do own peppermint essential oil and also field mint (also known as corn mint), which is very similar.

Peppermint essential oil is far stronger than most other essential oils. Though it is generally safe to use peppermint essential oil in massage and skincare products, you should very much dilute it into a carrier oil. I, for one, prefer to use at most 0.2% peppermint essential oil. This means two drops of essential oil in a 100ml bottle of carrier oil. Don’t use peppermint essential oil in a bath or in whole-body massages. Field mint is somewhat safer to use.

Besides concentrated peppermint essential oil, there also are peppermint extracts, which are less concentrated. You can also buy enteric-coated capsules, which contain a tiny amount of peppermint oil in a special coating.

Peppermint can be used to lessen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The menthol in peppermint supposedly helps block calcium from moving across the intestinal membrane, thereby lessening symptoms of intestinal spasming, which are the main cause of IBS-related discomfort and pain.

Peppermint essential oil, when inhaled, may also be able to reduce indigestion and nausea. However, it may actually contribute to reflux, so do consult your doctor when you experience persistent heartburn or acid reflux.

Minty essential oils, along with eucalyptus essential oil, are well-known for their refreshing properties and can be used to relieve cold symptoms.

Spearmint essential oil, unlike peppermint, is safe to use on children. It is also more skin-safe than peppermint. It doesn’t have as strong an aroma, but still is refreshing. It can be used to stimulate the senses and clear the mind.

Spearmint essential oil blends well with many different oils, including citrus oils such as bergamot and orange, lavender, ylang ylang, etc. It has a unique combination of uplifting and stress-reducing properties.

Peppermint oil blends well with oils like lemon and eucalyptus. It is more stimulating and energizing than spearmint.

Do you like the smell of peppermint? If you’ve tried spearmint, do you like it?

Lavender and Lavandin #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the letter L post in my #AtoZChallenge series on aromatherapy. Today, I’ll share about one of my favorite and most commonly used essential oils: lavender. I will also discuss its cousin, lavandin.

True lavender essential oil is distilled from the flower spikes of the plant Lavandula angustifolia. It has a sweet, floral yet slightly herbal scent. Lavandin comes from a hybrid between true lavender and Lavandula latifolia. Lavandin’s scent is more herbaceous and camphoraceous than lavender, but it still retains some of lavender’s floral scent. I like to describe it as “lavender light”. Lavandin was originally introduced to the cosmetic industry in the 1970s because of it being more affordable than lavender. For this reason, some essential oil profiteers adulterate true lavender essential oil with the less expensive lavandin.

Lavender essential oil is very well-known for promoting relaxation and sleep. There are no controlled clinical trials of lavender essential oil in people with anxiety, but some less well-designed studies show that lavender may definitely help lessen anxiety as well as improving one’s mood. A study I found reported that internal use of lavender might work as well as lorazepam in treating anxiety. However, please note that I do not recommend using essential oils internally. Besides, this study was done over a time of six weeks, which is enough time for people taking lorazepam to have developed tolerance.

Lavender, when consumed as a tea (not the essential oil, but the herb itself!), is reported to help with digestive issues such as nausea, intestinal gas, an upset stomach and abdominal swelling.

Lavender and lavandin essential oils blend well with many other oils, including clary sage, citrus oils such as bergamot and orange, ylang ylang and patchouli. I like a blend of eight drops of lavender oil and two drops of geranium essential oil to promote sleep.

Do you like the scent of lavender?

Keeping Your Essential Oils Safe #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter K post in the #AtoZChallenge. I focus my challenge posts on aromatherapy. Today, I want to talk about how to keep your essential oils safe.

First, essential oils, unlike carrier oils, don’t go rancid. This, however, doesn’t mean that they last indefinitely.

After all, essential oils may change composition under the influence of air, temperature and (sun)light. By this I mean that some components of the essential oil will start to evaporate and the concentration of others might increase. One study even found that, after exposure to ultraviolet light (such as rays of sunlight), an essential oil may start to contain components that weren’t in the oil before. In other words, it is no longer the same oil.

It is therefore recommended that you keep your essential oils away from direct light. I have a container with space for each bottel of essential oil and I keep the lid closed when not using it. Also do keep your essential oils away from sources of heat, such as the radiator. It may even be recommended to keep your essential oils in the fridge during the hot months. Lastly, screw the lid tightly onto your essential oil bottles when not in use, because oxygen in air can damage your oils too.

How long will essential oils last? It depends on the oil. For example, citrus essential oils are the most volatile and can be used about two to three years after opening. Other oils, such as clary sage, are much more stable.

The only surefire way of knowing whether your oil is still of good quality, is to retest it. Since this isn’t really possible for consumers, I recommend replacing your essential oils every several years. Don’t pour essential oils down the drain or throw them in the garbage. Rather, get them to the chemical waste depot.

Reading Wrap-Up (April 12, 2021) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. It’s a cold, windy and rainy Monday here. Perfect for reading. Not that I’ve done a huge amount of it, but I’d still like to join in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR. Let me share some of my bookish thoughts.

Life Update

I’m feeling okay today. Not bad, not great. I am loving looking through my tons of writing prompts, but none seem to inspire me right now. That is, I did open the app Drafts on my iPhone again yesterday and discovered a number of freewrites and poems I’d written. That did inspire me a little.

What I’m Currently Reading

Well, honestly, too many books to count. I’ve mostly been reading bits here and there and then putting down a book again.

I picked up the second book in the Church Dogs of Charleston series by Melissa Storm a few weeks ago, as it was free. It’s a cute read.

Then I’m still reading The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. I finally read a bit in this novel again a few days back, but well, I don’t think I’m in the mood for complicated adult novels at this point.

Finally, I was somehow interested in reading abuse survivor memoirs again, so downloaded the preview of You are Mine by Isabelle Eriksson. I haven’t yet decided whether I’m going to buy the actual book.

I’ve also been paging through a ton of books on journaling, but I don’t think that counts as actual reading.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I got Abby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart off Bookshare in an impulse a few weeks ago and raced through it. I wrote a review last Tuesday.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

Both Casey Watson and Maggie Hartley have a foster care memoir out this Thursday, so probably one of those. I also have been asking around in a Christian book group on Facebook about realistic contemporary fiction. I got a lot of replies and am still sorting through them, so I may want to buy a book by one of the recommended authors.

What have you been reading lately?

Juniper Berry Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter J post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I will talk about juniper berry and its essential oil.

Juniper berry (juniperus communis) is probably most well-known for being the tree that gin is made out of. Gin is made out of the dark blue, waxy seed cones or “berries”. The essential oil I’ll discuss here is also derived from the berries through steam distillation. There are also CO2 extracts from juniper berry, as well as essential oils derived from other juniperus shrubs, such as cade essential oil. I don’t own these though.

Juniper berry can be used to help with restlessness, especially when blended with other oils that have sedative properties, such as clary sage or lavender.

Juniper berry essential oil can also be used in massage oils to reduce aches and pains. In fact, juniper berry needles and berries used to be used in natural medicine infusions to deal with joint and muscle pain.

In addition, juniper berry can be used in helping relieve gout attacks. After all, it is a circulatory stimulant and can help rid the body of excess uric acid. It also helps rid the body of excess fluids.

Juniper berry blends well with many different oils, including geranium, grapefruit, eucalyptus, lavender, etc. I prefer to blend it with another strong smelling essential oil, because I personally don’t really like the gin-like smell of juniper berry.

Juniper berry is not safe during pregnancy. It should also not be used by diabetics or those with kidney disease.