Flax Seed Cracker Recipe – with a sprinkle of lavender flowers.

This is a Super Simple Flax Seed Cracker Recipe…

A slightly strange post for an essential oil site but I’m sharing this recipe after several requests because I usually make them for my Perfume and Aromatherapy Workshops to have as a snack during the ‘fragrant’ tea break. They are literally just made with flax seeds and water as follows:

Ingredients
2 cups ground flax seeds,
1 ½ cup water
That’s it!

…but you really need to add some spices and herbs (2-3 tea spoons) to the recipe other wise they would be pretty bland.
I usually sprinkle lavender flowers on mine (which smells amazing when they’re baking!), and a few spices like turmeric and caraway seeds. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds give them a bit more bite. Black pepper and rosemary is a nice combination, but really you can add anything you like – chilli powder, lemon zest, fennel seeds – (Check out my blog ‘The Art of Blending Essential Oils’ for some more tips & inspiration).

Method
♥ Preheat oven to 160⁰ C
♥ If you have whole flax seeds put them in a blender and grind to a fine dust.
♥ Blend the ground flax seeds with spices and herbs (and other seeds) in a bowl and then add the water and mix until it becomes a gooey mess.
♥ Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the seed mixture in the centre. Cover with another baking sheet and flatten with a rolling pin. Try to make it as thin as possible but be quick or the mix will stick to both sheets..
♥ Once flat, you can sprinkle with sesame seeds, lavender flowers etc., press down with your hands so they stick and place in the oven.
♥ After about 5 minutes, remove from the oven and run a knife or a pizza cutter along the tray to score your desired cracker shapes.
♥ Bake for one hour then turn the oven off and leave the crackers in there as long as possible as this dries them out further.

The crackers are tasty on their own but really useful with dips here are some recipes for delicious accompaniments:

Guacamole recipe
Hummus recipe
Parsley, lemon and macadamia dairy free pesto recipe
Beetroot dip recipe

If you have a sweet tooth you could turn them into healthy biscuits by adding things like dried fruit (very small pieces), vanilla or cinnamon powder, desiccated coconut and even orange zest. Let me know how your experiments go…

Click here to see up and coming workshops (which generally include fragrantly themed healthy snacks).

Taking Care of your Clothes with Essential Oils.

A change of season means a change of wardrobe, what ever side of the planet you’re on you are bound to be experiencing the change in seasons, whether it’s time to pack away your warm jumpers and winter coats or say goodbye to summer dresses and cool T-shirts, essential oils are a sweet smelling and practical way to look after your clothes.

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If you’ve ever experienced an attack of moths on your favourite cashmere jumper then you will be sure to take extra care when you store your knitwear and silks away for several months. Here are a few tips to help protect your clothes and ensure they reappear in one piece, smelling fresh when you unpack next Spring/Autumn…

It’s advisable to give everything a wash before you pack them up and as a side note, if you haven’t worn them all season, consider getting rid of them, there are so many benefits to de-cluttering your wardrobe! I add a few drops of lavender essential oil to my washing powder for a little touch of freshness and since lavender oil deters moths it is a great smelling start to the process.

I then take several lavender filled bags or pillows that contain dried lavender flowers, if the scent has faded I add a few drops of lavender oil to freshen them up. I also sprinkle a few drops of cedar wood essential oil as this is another oil that deters moths, (cedar wood oil is dark brown in colour, so you may want to avoid staining the material on the lavender bags, in that case just add a few drops to tissues). Tuck the lavender bags evenly among the clothes in their suitcase or storage bag and close securely.

I don’t think anyone likes the smell of mothballs and even if you’ve never had moths this is still a worthwhile ritual as it keeps your clothes fresh and smelling lovely when you bring them out next season…

If you don’t have any lavender bags you can sprinkle the oils onto tissues and place them in the storage bags. Alternatively, you can purchase some from BySally or Mayfield Lavender.

 

These ones are way too pretty for me to pack away so I generally keep them in my draws, with my bed linen or on hangers in my wardrobe so I can appreciate them daily.

Since lavender has so many other amazing properties including supporting a restful night sleep, I also hang a lavender bag on my bedpost, or under my pillow so that I breathe in the scent as I lay down to sleep.

Click here to read more on how to use lavender oil to support sleep and how to scent your car naturally.

Lav bags group 1 small

For tips on de-cluttering your life check out ‘Simplicity in Living‘.

Essential Oils on Holiday

essential oils on holiday

Inspired by the sprinkling of sunshine over the UK this week, it’s time to share some summertime essential oils, essential for taking on holiday.

Essential oils come in very small bottles so they are a practical addition to your luggage, even if you’re only taking cabin bags. However, it’s still worth considering which are the most useful ones to take with you, so this blog is to help you weedle it down to just a few essentials that will come in most handy.

The main issues or symptoms that are commonly experienced when travelling are: around the journey itself; skin care; insects and first aid, so here I have listed some specific symptoms, some appropriate essential oils and simple, practical ways to use them.

Travel

essential oils on holiday

Travel sickness -cardamom, spearmint, chamomile (roman*)

Jetlag – peppermint, lavender

Anxiety (fear of flying) – neroli, lavender

How to use – make a blend in a ‘rolette’ bottle (see how below) to roll across your wrists and tummy, or sprinkle a couple of drops on a tissue to keep in a pocket or in your bag and gently breathe in as a preventative measure or at the time of feeling the symptoms.

Skin Care

After sun skin care – lavender, palmarosa, chamomile (roman*)

Sun burn – lavender, chamomile (german/blue*), peppermint

How to use – blend in a base of aloe vera gel or add to your aftersun lotion, see my previous blog for Blending every day products – how many drops should I use?

Insects

bee flower yellow

Insect repellent – lemongrass, citronella, geranium, lavender or tea tree -use one or a combination of those you like the most.

How to use – blend in a base of aloe vera gel, add to your aftersun lotion, (see my previous blog for How many drops should I use?) or make a blend in a rolette bottle (see how below). Some of these essential oils combined would double as a perfume – I like geranium, lavender & lemongrass.

Insect bites – chamomile (german/blue*), lavender

How to use – apply directly to the affected area or as a blend in a ‘rolette’ bottle (see how below).

First Aid

Lavender

white lavender

If you only take one essential oil on holiday make it lavender, it’s the most useful essential oil for most minor first aid situations.

It’s antiseptic, anti microbial & cleansing so ideal for first aid, it is particularly effective on burns, so great for skin care and after sun, it’s ‘insecticidal’ so will deter insects and is very relaxing and calming so it helps with easing travel sickness and tension.

It’s also nice to sprinkle a little in hotel rooms if they don’t smell lovely, especially on the pillow.

For more details on how to use lavender essential oil, see my previous blog on ‘Lavender, Essential First Aid’ .

Rolette Bottles

Here’s how to prepare a rolette bottle:

Using a ‘rolette’ bottle (as pictured) is very practical as you can keep it in a pocket or handbag and it is easy to use. It comprises of a small glass bottle (10 or 15ml), a roller ball top (that releases a little oil across the skin when you pass it over), and a cap.

rolette bottle

Instructions

Fill the bottle with a base oil eg. olive oil, then drop appropriate essential oils directly into the bottle, if you have a 10ml bottle, then you will need between 2 and 10 drops of essential oil, see my previous blog for more details on How many drops should I use? Fix the roller ball cap and lid and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly.  Make a label for the bottle so you don’t forget what it contains.

Holiday tip: Rather than take bottles of essential oils you could prepare the blends that you are likely to need in rolette bottles and take these with you instead.

chamomile & blends

* Chamomile roman or blue/german – There are two types of chamomile essential oil: roman chamomile is more gentle, and german/blue chamomile, which is deep blue in colour, is more powerfully anti-inflammatory in action. I have recommended the german/blue chamomile for sunburn and insect bites, but the roman chamomile is also suitable in each instance.

Travel Tips: here’s a blog to help you in general with how to pack your suitcase: ‘Travel Suitcase – What to Pack?

A List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions.

A list of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses & Cautions.

(in alphabetical order)

essential oils

To help you choose which essential oils to use in what ever you’re making, be it bath blend or room scent, here is a list you can refer to with some of their most useful properties and any cautions you need to be aware of.

I will be constantly updating this list, so if there are any essential oils that do not appear yet or that you would like more details on, then please contact me, or comment on the post and I can add to the list.

Basil (sweet basil) ~ Supports digestive problems, another great oil for a tummy balm blend.

Caution ~ Avoid in pregnancy (due to varied methyl chavicol/estragole content). Maximum 2% blend strength. 

Basil essential oil

Black pepper ~ Similar to eucalyptus in effect – powerfully clearing, specifically great for respiratory system, especially lungs. Also great for muscle aches & pains but black pepper is much more warming and gentle than eucalyptus. A lovely oil to use in the evening in a bath blend, or if you feel you are run down or ‘coming down’ with something.

Caution ~ possible irritant to some in high dose.

Cardamom ~ Gently soothing tummy aches and nausea, supports appetite and is refreshing and comforting. A great oil for children, for travel sickness or for morning sickness.

Chamomile (german) ~ Very anti-inflammatory, so perfect for any condition with inflammation from bumps and bruises to arthritis and gout. It’s also good for skin inflammation especially bites, but Roman Chamomile ay be more suitable if it’s for delicate sore skin, as it’s more gentle.

Caution ~ Sensitisation possible, avoid with ragweed allergy.

Chamomile

Chamomile (roman) ~ Gentle, soothing and calming, great for very delicate skin, and skin conditions. Relieves itching, and allergies.  See my blog on Chamomile for Skin Conditons  for more details. A great oil for children.

Caution ~ Potential sensitivity to those with ragweed allergy.

chamomile

Clove ~ Very powerful pain reliever, especially where there is nerve pain. Useful for toothaches and for warming and releasing aches and pains.

Caution ~ Maximum blend strength 1%. Sensitisation possible. Caution with hyper sensitive, diseased or damaged skin. Not suitable for children under 2 years.

Eucalyptus (globulus) ~ Powerfully clearing, specifically great for respiratory system, especially lungs. Also great for muscle aches & pains.

Eucalyptus radiata ~ this species of eucalyptus is more gentle than the globulus, so I would use it with children, elderly, or if someone feels the globulus is too fierce.

Frankincense ~ A fantastic skin oil, very good for dry and mature types. Also good for calming and focusing on breathing so very useful in a burner to scent the room and to help calm anxiety.

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Geranium ~ Very sweet and feminine, balances the endocrine system, a great oil to use to support females cycles and any hormone related issues, including irregular periods and menopause. A very lovely, sweet and fresh oil for young women.

geranium essential oil

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) ~ Powerfully cleansing and clearing. Helps clear stress and tension. Great for supporting sleep. Very anti-microbial and great natural antiseptic. See my blog on Lavender Essential First Aid  for more details.

Caution ~ There are no cautions with Lavandula angustifolia, it is a very user friendly oil, but just ensure you buy a pure, good quality oil, especially if you intend to use it neat on your skin -you don’t want to be using a synthetic perfume quality oil on a spot or graze.

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Lemon ~ Cleansing and detoxifying, ideal for using in a face cleansing balm (with lavender). Fantastic oil to use in a burner to cleanse and brighten the atmosphere especially when someone is sick.

Caution ~ Phototoxic, meaning it reacts with sunlight (and sun beds), so avoid use on skin if exposed to sunshine. Citrus oils have a shorter shelf life, meaning they react with oxygen much quicker and can cause sensitisation and irritation.

Lemon essential oil

Mandarin ~ Very gentle to the skin, soothing and calming, a lovely one to add to an evening blend or for use in a blend for stretch marks. A great oil for children.

Myrrh ~ Deeply healing skin oil, especially for festering, difficult to heal wounds.  Great for connecting to and supporting breathing very gently. See my blog on Myrrh Essential Oil for more details and Gargling with Myrrh for oral problems.

Caution ~ Avoid in pregnancy, although can be useful in 3rd trimester to prepare for birth -seek professional advise here though.

Myrrh

Neroli (orange blossom) ~ Apart from smelling completely beautiful and delicate, it is very soothing and calming to the nervous system, and so has an amazing effect on all that the nervous system controls, so this would include digestion, muscle tension & emotions. It is a great oil for melting stress, and anxiety.

Peppermint ~ Great for muscle aches and pains, sometimes has a tingling sensation, great for refreshing feet. Supports digestion, would make a great tummy or foot balm.

Caution ~ Do not use if cardiac fibrillation. Maximum blend strength 3%. Avoid use with babies.

Rose (Rose otto – Rosa damascena or Rose absolute – Rosa centifolia)~ Deeply nurturing, great for those self-loving moments. Very supportive for women and men. A gorgeous oil to use in beauty and skin care, particularly for mature and dry skin.

Leonardo da vinci flower study

Thyme (Mild – Thyme linalool)~ Powerfully anti-microbial, and anti-fungal, great for coughs, especially deep chesty ones. A fantastic oil to include in a blend for athletes foot.

Caution ~ Use this mild version of thyme. Avoid use on hyper sensitive or damaged skin. Do not use with children under 2 years. Maximum blend strength 2%.

herbs

Yarrow ~ this unusual bright ink blue oil is highly anti-inflammatory and is great for any conditions where inflammation is present e.g. gout, arthritis, allergies, pain, breaks, strains. See my blog on Yarrow Essential Oil for more information.

Caution ~ yarrow can contain a varying amount of camphor in it, which means it is advisable to avoid with epilepsy, in pregnancy, and could cause sensitisation in ragweed allergy sufferers.

yarrow essential oils

Note: Always ensure you buy good quality essential oils from a trustworthy source. I will be launching my own range of essential oils very soon, in the meantime you can contact me to purchase: laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.uk

Go to Sleep with Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is often used to help with difficulties in sleeping, it has a very clearing effect in general which is useful  as quite often people struggle to sleep because they are stressed, tense or their mind is racing, and lavender can help to clear and ease these symptoms.  There are some great ways to use lavender as part of a wind down routine before bed, to support the body in preparing for a restful night.  You could simply use lavender oil in a burner to scent your bedroom before you get into bed; taking a bath with lavender oil in the evening is a great way to really relax your body and let go of any tension held from your day; it can be as simple as sprinkling a few drops of essential oil onto your pillow at night or on a tissue placed under your pillow.  It’s more about the way you do it, rather than what you actually do -so having a bath isn’t going to be better than a drop on your pillow, it’s all about the quality.  The preparation for bedtime before your head hits the pillow, will support the body greatly, compared to an evening of distraction (TV, computer, etc.), and waiting until you feel really tired and then getting into bed and hoping you’ll sleep because you’re so dog tired.  Bringing lavender into your evening rhythm can be much more effective at easing the stress of the day, and a busy mind.  It’s worth experimenting to see how you like to use it, it maybe that you use it in a face cream that you apply in the evening and this is the way you really love to use it, or you might have a lavender bag that you hang by your bed, and you sprinkle a drop on each night so you can enjoy the scent.  It’s important that it is something for you, rather than something you ‘do’ to try and make you sleep ‘better’… if you’re intention becomes about supporting yourself, rather than to fix the sleeping issue, it can be so much more effective, especially in the long term.

The cleansing action of lavender makes it very appropriate to use in washing powder and fabric conditioner.  Just add a few drops (5-10) of lavender essential oil with the fabric conditioner to the washing machine (you can also add it to the washing powder/liquid if you prefer) and your wash will come out smelling heavenly.  It’s such a simple touch but actually brings plenty of health benefits as well as the lovely smell, because lavender essential oil has an anti-microbial action, your lovely smelling bed sheets and clothes will also be fighting off germs as you wear them.

You could also add lavender floral water into the iron rather than just water when ironing bed sheets, this is such a treat when you get into bed and your whole body feels lovely under the sheets. Make sure you don’t use the essential oil in the ironing water, as the oil may leave a stain on your clothes. Floral water has had the essential oil filtered out so it won’t leave any marks.

Make sure you use a good quality essential oil and not just a perfumed synthetic oil.  You can still enjoy benefits and effects from the perfumed smell, but a good quality essential oil will be more beneficial, (a synthetic version will not have anti-bacterial properties) and the natural scent will probably smell much nicer.

Click here to buy Lavender Essential Oil.

For more uses for lavender essential oil see Lavender, Essential First Aid.

Lavender and Chamomile for Hay fever

white lavender
I had a lovely email from a friend last week who was inspired by a previous blog (‘Lavender, Essential First Aid) to use lavender essential oil when suffering symptoms of hay fever.  I asked if I could post it here since it was so timely for me, as I’m sure it will be for others, so thank you Catherine Jones for sharing your experience.
‘I felt to share how lavender oil is helping me right now, as it has taken me by surprise.  I have hay fever, and so have very itchy eyes, an itchy & runny nose, and my face is generally congested and reactive all over. I don’t have any drugs yet, and last night I felt to try dabbing some cool wet cotton wool on my eyes to calm them down. I added a drop or so of lavender oil, and it made such a difference. I used it a few hours ago, pretty much all over my face, but paying attention to the area around my eyes, and across my cheeks, and down the gall bladder lines from nose to chin. It was amazing. I often use lavender in things, but it had never occurred to me that it might ease an allergy. Right now I am not sneezing, nor itching, and I am breathing freely. ‘
Chamomile
Her message inspired me, as I was experiencing similar symptoms at the time, and I have since tried the same technique using roman chamomile essential oil, as it is specifically good for allergies and particulary soothing and calming.  For more details on chamomile essential oil see ‘Soothing Chamomile for Skin Conditions’.

Soothing Chamomile for Skin Conditions

Chamomile

I had a request to write a blog on skin conditions from a friend recently, and when I began to consider this, I immediately thought of chamomile, so I decided to focus this particular post on using chamomile essential oil to treat a variety of skin conditions, although there are many other oils that are incredibly useful, I will bring focus to them another time.  There are two main types of chamomile essential oil one is called Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) which is the oil I would recommend here for use with skin conditions, it has a fresh, smooth, appley, summery scent.  The other type is known as German or Blue chamomile (Matricaria recutita) which is more intense, inky blue in colour and incredibly anti-inflammatory.

Skin conditions can be unpleasant, annoying and stressful, I experienced eczema as a child and again more recently as an adult, so I have a strong relationship with the issues surrounding this condition.  Many other conditions that affect the skin, for example psoriasis, insect bites, rashes such as those caused by measles and chicken pox, will show the same or similar symptoms, and it is the symptoms that chamomile is particularly appropriate for alleviating.  Chamomile is very soothing and calming on a physical level and really helps with symptoms like itching, inflammation, pain, weeping, redness, irritation.  Chamomile also soothes and calms your disposition. It has a strong anti-inflammatory action and anti-allergic action, so it is ideal for things like bites, spots and rashes. The symptoms themselves in turn cause a feeling of stress and discomfort and general irritation, so chamomile is perfect to help calm and soothe these internal feelings as well as the outside physical ailments.  Chamomile is also very gentle, and does not have any contraindications, so this makes it appropriate for use on delicate skin, that may be damaged or sensitive, and for young children.

One very annoying symptom of skin conditions is the itching sensation, and of course the worst thing to do is to scratch, yet scratching seems to be the only thing to bring relief.  Alas, the after effects usually mean your skin is left in a much worse state.  I remember being able to resist the urge to scratch more easily during the day,  but in the night, I wouldn’t really be conscious enough to have control, and I would scratch until I drew blood.  One of my best pieces of advice here is to cut your finger nails down to the absolute minimum which will help minimise damage.  I did consider scratch mitts, but the lack of finger nails really made a difference.

Many skin conditions can leave the skin very dry, so it is important to keep the skin hydrated, hydrated skin will bode better under a scratch attack than dry.  Drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated from the inside out.

Treatment & Application: I would recommend applying chamomile essential oil diluted in either a simple cream, lotion or in a plain aloe vera gel, as they are easy to apply, address the hydration issue, and can feel soothing and cooling in themselves when massaged into the affected area.  See my recent blog on ‘Blending Every Day Products with Essential Oils’ for details on mixing and the appropriate number of drops to use when blending yourself, my recipe for making your own natural cream, or see some recommendations for products below.  Make sure you use a base that is very natural and avoid harsh products with nasty chemicals, as they can sting, or cause the skin to react and make it worse.  A cream can be applied to large areas of damaged or affected skin, or just dabbed onto spots or bites.  I would recommend using this for acne when it is very sore, red and inflamed, although treating first with lavender or tea tree would be more suitable because of their powerful anti microbial and cleansing effects, chamomile would then be ideal to apply afterwards for it’s more soothing gentle action.

An important point to note is that a lot of skin conditions that are not caused by an obvious outside influence (a wasp sting, nettles or allergies) are caused by stress.  Stress is a word that can literally mean anything, so it needs to be looked at on a personal level, some might experience stress in traffic on their journey to work, or when trying to get the lid off a jar that is really stiff; some may be dealing with a life crisis for example the death of someone close or a relationship breakdown.  What ever the situation is, the body can still be reacting in the same way, and often it can be several months after the upheaval that the skin condition arises.  It may be worth keep a diary so you can become more aware of your symptoms, and notice what has an effect on them.  Although there may be many things that effect it such as foods, or products that your skin comes into contact with, there is usually an emotional issue which is the root cause.

It wasn’t until I was having a conversation with a friend that I made the emotional connection.  I was struggling to manage eczema at the time and she asked me a question about an uncomfortable subject for me at the time -relating to a difficult relationship.  Whilst I was speaking, she said to me “Do you realise that you started scratching when I asked you about…..”   It was a real ‘ah ha’ moment, and has now become a great marker for me, as whenever I begin to scratch my skin, I know that I must be feeling stressed about something, and having that awareness helps me to question what is going on.  When I notice this, I know I need to be more gentle with myself, and look at what is happening in my life to make me feel stressed or overwhelmed.  I also like to make time to massage a little chamomile cream into the area on my body that is itching.  At the moment I often get an itch and a little patch of eczema on various parts of my hands, so I have a bottle of chamomile cream by my bed, and massage it into my hands at night, which helps calm and prepare me for sleep too.

Whilst putting this post together, I have been chatting to a few people about skin conditions, and a conversation arose where we discussed how the sea and sun often helped to clear up eczema and psoriasis, but of course the sea and sun also usually mean holidays, and inevitably less stress!

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If you are not confident blending your own essential oils into a base of cream or aloe vera gel, or it isn’t convenient, then you can contact me to order a bespoke cream: laura@essesntialoilsandyou.co.uk