There is much to read and hear about essential oils. Unfortunately there is also a lot (and I mean a lot!) of misinformation. Anecdotal evidence may be something to keep in mind, but in my opinion it should be taken with a grain or two of salt.
I am putting together pages that will provide you with basic information about most of the essential oils I use and sell.
I make NO medical claims and give NO medical advice. Having said that, let’s start our review of the plants that provide us with their essences.
Here are two the look very similar: the Melissa plant and the Peppermint plant. The first picture shows the Melissa plant, also known as “Lemon balm”:
Melissa (Melissa officinalis) is particularly effective in cases of depression and insomnia. What I especially like about it is its strong antiviral properties. For example, a few topical applications will end an outbreak of herpes, with the blisters drying up within a few days.
NEVER use Melissa without diluting it first! (Actually NO essential oil should be applied to the skin undiluted, with the exception perhaps of lavender). Suppose you are trying to alleviate a case of herpes. You may want to try using one part of melissa oil, 1 part of lavender oil, 1 part of geranium oil, and 10 parts of tea tree oil. This blend may be applied to the affected area 3 times a day.
NOTE: Before using ANY essential oil, please consult with your medical practitioner, especially if you have any type of allergy or medical condition. This includes pregnancy and psychiatric conditions. For example, melissa oil may lower blood pressure; so if you are taking medications for high blood pressure, you must tell your medical care provider (you don’t want to “bottom out!).
The essential oil of melissa is rather expensive. The high cost of many essential oils is due to various reasons, including availability, amount of raw material needed, mode of extraction, companies that are essential involved in MLM practices, etc. Think of this: in order to obtain approximately one pound of melissa oil, it takes roughly 1.5 tons of plant material!
As previously noted, always dilute your oils. Melissa can be irritating for some people. I would not use more than 4-5 drops per ounce of carrier oil. Some of you asked which carrier oils should be used. I prefer light carrier oils, such as avocado, fractionated coconut oil, and grapeseed oil, but you are free to use whichever oil you prefer 🙂
The second plant I want to mention is Peppermint (Mentha piperita). Please DO NOT use this essential oil on young children (3 years and under)!
The peppermint oils you buy are not all alike. For aromatherapy purposes, the best oil varieties are those coming from France or the UK, mainly because they are produced for the sole purpose of aromatherapy. The oils derived from other regions, especially China and the USA are cultivated mainly for the purpose of extracting menthol, with most of the US oils being standardized blends of different oils of varying qualities from the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. These US and China peppermint oils are great to use in home-made cleaning products and for other applications, but if your interest is strictly in aromatherapy, make sure the peppermint oil is from one of the European countries I mentioned. Below is a picture of the familiar peppermint plant:
See the leaf similarity with the melissa plant?