Welcome to the first of a three-part series on the Lamiaceae plant family relevant to aromatherapy.
The Lamiaceae plant family is also known as the Labiatae plant family. It is the largest of all the plant families and includes many of the well-known herbs. The plants are known for their strong aromas, and in aromatherapy some of the best known and loved oils come from this family.
Plants include: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Melissa true, Clary sage, Sage, Hyssop, Marjoram-Sweet, Marjoram-Spanish, Patchouli, Spike lavender (Lavendin) and Basil.
General therapeutic benefits for this plant family include being good respiratory oils, stimulating, balancing, antiseptic and anti-viral.
Three of the essential oils from this botanical family are:
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
Lavender would be one the most used of all essential oils. It is gentle yet effective and is suitable for all ages – from babies through to the elderly. It is also used in hospitals at times, one of the few essential oils that is.
Lavender is used to assist with stress relief, insomnia and to relieve headaches. It is very good for assisting with colds, coughs, flu, sinus, and other respiratory ailments because of its antiseptic properties.
With the stress relief, lavender works on both physical stress and emotional stress.
Because of its versatility, lavender would be one of the must-have essential oils for the first aid kit.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
It is important to have a good supplier of peppermint oil, so that you know it is unadulterated.
Peppermint is a cooling oil and anti-inflammatory. It is said to be helpful with irritable bowel syndrome and with regulating the ovaries.
It is very good for helping people to become clear-headed and refreshes the spirit. It can be used to help people who have mental fatigue or who can not concentrate. Due to this, it is excellent for oil burners in environments such as offices, meeting rooms, and other areas where people need to be alert and concentrate.
Peppermint is an ideal assistant for all digestive problems such as indigestion, colic, flatulence, stomach pains, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and relief from travel sickness.
It is also used in ointments to help relieve muscle pain, bruises, contusions, joint pain and insect bites.
Because peppermint is a very strong oil it should not be used on very small children. It should also be used in small quantities because of its potency.
There are no known contra-indications to the complete oil. This is why it is important to know that you are getting a good quality oil.
Patchouli (Pogostemon patchouli)
Patchouli has several uses in aromatherapy – it can assist with fluid retention and is also great for healing cracked and broken skin as it has regenerative properties.
It is an oil for emotional balance and can be beneficial in helping with stress-related issues.
Patchouli is non-irritant and non-toxic.
If you're feeling down, mix a little patchouli with mandarin and spearmint!
As always, if in any doubt, it is important to consult with a qualified aromatherapist. Never diagnose yourself – that is what your doctor is for!