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!

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.

Eucalyptus Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the letter E post in my #AtoZChallenge on aromatherapy. Today I will share what I know about eucalyptus essential oil.

Let me start by saying that my use of the singular word “oil” when referring to eucalyptus, is incorrect. There are several types of essential oils derived from different species of eucalyptus. These various types of eucalyptus essential oil are similar, but still each have their own somewhat different uses. The most common types of eucalyptus used in aromatherapy are eucalyptus globulus, eucalyptus radiata, lemon eucalyptus and peppermint eucalyptus (eucalyptus dives). I only own eucalyptus globulus.

Eucalyptus oils that contain large amounts of cineole should not be used on children under age ten. These include eucalyptus globulus and eucalyptus radiata. Lemon eucalyptus and eucalyptus dives can be used on children age two and up.

According to Valerie Ann Worwood, in her book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, eucalyptus radiata is the safest essential oil out of the various eucalyptus species to be used by people with chronic health conditions.

Eucalyptus is perhaps best known for its effectiveness in relieving common cold symptoms such as a stuffy nose. However, it also has antiviral and other antimicrobial properties. It also works as a natural pain reliever, particularly for arthritis.

According to Worwood, eucalyptus helps relief sunburn and cools the body in summer. By contrast, in winter, eucalyptus warms the body and keeps infection at bay.

Eucalyptus has a fresh, somewhat sharp scent. The aroma of eucalyptus globulus, the one I own, is described as herbaceous, menthol and camphorous with woodsy undertones. Personally, I never thought of it as a camphorous scent (that reminds me of cinnamon, but I might be wrong). It has deodorizing properties.

Eucalyptus, particularly the lemon variety, can be used as an insect repellant. Eucalyptus essential oil is energizing and helps with focus and concentration.

Eucalyptus essential oil blends well with lemon and other citrus oils, rosemary, peppermint and tea tree essential oil. If you want to sleep peacefully and breathe easily at the same time, blend eucalyptus essential oil with lavender. It also blends well with woodsy essential oils such as cedarwood or sandalwood.

Do you like the scent of eucalyptus?

Blending: Essential Oils in Synergy #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the letter B post in my #AtoZChallenge, in which I discuss aromatherapy and natural healing. Today, I will discuss the principles of aromatherapeutic blending.

Most people who know a bit about essential oils, will know that they often aren’t used singly, but rather in combination. That is, when I first bought essential oils, I used single oils only, because I was clueless about blending. Besides, being blind, I found it hard to count the number of drops I put in my diffuser, so I would just give the bottle a shake and hope something came out.

Now, I rarely if ever use single oils in my diffuser or in my homemade skincare products. However, you may be wondering, why not? What is the advantage of using essential oils in combination?

The simple answer might be that, just as with perfume, combinations of essential oils smell better (when done correctly) than the single scent. However, experience also shows that one oil can complement or strengthen another’s therapeutic benefits. This is called synergy.

According to Jennifer Peace Rhind, the author of Aromatherapeutic Blending: Essential Oils in Synergy, the first known example of synergistic blending of plant components dates back to ancient Egypt, around 1500 BC. The Egyptians used combinations of myrrh and frankincense. So did traditional Chinese healers when treating blood stagnation and inflammation.

Indeed, the author says, synergistic effectiveness of different essential oils has been proven in the lab, at least in some contexts. She said that a combination of frankincense and myrrh was shown to have significantly better antimicrobial properties than either alone.

Similarly, ayurvedic medicine uses combinations of herbs in its traditional treatment of illnesses. Jennifer Peace Rhind says that, indeed, the combination of for example ginger and long pepper has shown to have synergistic benefits. This might be because compounds in one prevent breakdown and enhance absorption of the other.

The first person to describe the effects of aromatic essences on anxiety and depression was Paolo Rovesti in the 1970s. He, however, also noted that combinations of oils work better than one oil on its own.

One of the reasons for this could be that single essential oils when not diluted often have a very strong odor. This may be experienced as unpleasant. When combined, though, essential oils’ odor may be more pleasant. If nothing else, essential oil blends are more pleasing to the senses than single oils and, as a result, contribute to mental wellbeing. After all, no-one is going to feel better when smelling an odor they don’t like!

So is there any evidence for synergy? Well, insofar as there is evidence for aromatherapy, that is. It seems there is, if for no other reason, then because essential oils are themselves a mixture of compounds. Peace Rhind cites a study in which various components of lavender essential oils were proven to work together against anxiety in animals.

Interestingly, essential oil blending is much more complex than the simple idea that certain oils promote one another’s effects. After all, Peace Rhind says, certain oils work together (synergy) at certain doses but work against each other (antagonism) at other doses. The author explains a way of plotting the effectiveness of essential oil blends in a graph. I won’t get into this though, as I barely understand it myself.