How to use Essential Oils from Trees to Support our Respiratory System and in Skin Care.

One of the many things I love about essential oils is how the effect on our body is connected to the plant itself and that plants action in life. Trees produce oxygen by their mode of respiration which supports us with our respiration, so, it seems natural for the essential oil to support conditions that affect our respiratory system, like colds and coughs. When you breath in essential oils you can feel it in your body straight away, and this is very prominent with tree oils such as eucalyptus and pine. You can feel them cleaning and clearing as they pass from the tip of your nose deep down into your lungs. I feel my chest expand, even my posture changes and I will naturally be more open and stand taller – just like a tree. Everything is connected so it goes beyond the respiratory system, but it’s a good example of feeling for yourself in your body, how the oils can support.

Frankincense & myrrh have a less fierce action on the respiratory system, much more calming, helping to bring a gentleness back to your breath. They are a great support for conditions such as asthma, panic attacks, stress, anxiety and for use in meditation.

Click here for links to free gentle breath meditation audios, they are quick, simple and a very practical support for real life.

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Image care of Unimed Living

Frankincense is a great oil to scent the room with when you’re taking a moment to breath gently. Myrrh has a much subtler smell so doesn’t work that well in a burner, I prefer to massage this into my wrists to support connection with myself. Click here to read my blog on using myrrh in this way.

Frankincense and myrrh are also examples of how essential oils can act on our bodies in the same way they do so as a tree in life. The essential oil comes from the resin that is produced by the tree when the bark is cut or injured. The resin is a sticky, thick, goo that covers the affected area and then hardens to seal and protect the damaged site, it’s a bit like the way humans form a scab to protect their bodies when the skin is broken.

Can you see why frankincense and myrrh are used in skin care? The resin is healing the tree and the oil that is produced from the resin is used for it’s healing properties on our skin. Frankincense is one of the most popular ingredients in many skin care products. Myrrh is particularly affective in helping festering and difficult to heal wounds, especially in the mouth -it’s useful for mouth ulcers and popular in oral care for this reason (see my blog on gargling with myrrh for more details).  I also like to use myrrh on dry, hard, cracked skin, it’s the base of my blend for scars and usually appears in the skin care products I make -it has recently been working wonders for a client with bed sores.

Benzoin is similar to frankincense and myrrh, it is a tree that produces a resin that is made into an essential oil. It is very protective to the skin but has a very pleasing vanilla like scent that makes it particularly comforting to use for stress and anxiousness as well as in skin care.

I find that even the character of trees confirms how they work on the body. Large, tall strong trees like pines and firs and huge eucalyptus trees with tonnes of leaves are very expansive to the respiratory system, powerfully cleansing and clearing. Whereas the more delicate small trees like frankincense and myrrh work in a more gentle way, supporting reconnecting when you feel out of sorts. Both are very powerful but very different in action, a reflection of ourselves as humans; we all have different strengths and qualities that offer support in different ways.

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Boswellia carteri – the tree that produces frankincense essential oil from its resin.

You could not compare the delicacy of a flower that may last a few days or weeks to the strength of a huge oak that could live for generations. One is not better than another, for each brings a natural beauty that is needed. In this same way, we can appreciate each other for our natural qualities, we all have something to bring to this world of value and it is a true gift for humanity when we share these in full.

How to use Myrrh Essential Oil – Connection and Massage

Myrrh essential oil is a great oil for supporting connection with self, its subtle aroma encourages a level of stillness to allow an appreciation of the scent. Gently massaged around your wrists brings focus to this delicate area of the body. The oil is made from a resin produced by the Commiphora myrrha tree; when the bark of this tree is damaged or cut the resin is released to seal the wound and this action is mimicked by the essential oil which is used in deep and difficult wound care.

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I wanted to share my recent experience of using myrrh essential oil in a cream or an oil and massaging it into my wrists. My wrists feel very delicate and precious, and it becomes natural to do this massage very tenderly and to really take the time to feel my wrists.

My wrists seems to be a piece of my body that in the past I hadn’t given much focus to. A friend of mine, Chris James, made a point of getting people to feel their wrists during one of his workshops (his workshops are an amazing way to really connect with your self).  He literally kept saying ‘Feel Your Wrists’ throughout the entire weekend.  It resonated with me and I started to notice many points through out my daily life that my wrists were being used.  Right now as I type on my key board for example, and when I’m driving in my car, these were initially two very obvious moments that were easy to bring attention to my wrists during the day.  As I began to notice them more, I actually realised how rough and careless I could be with them, the way I picked things up, closed doors or dried them in a hurry and I became aware of aches and discomfort. When I noticed this, I’d consciously take a moment to let go of any tension and let my wrists go floppy. Now, if I’m in  my car and stuck in traffic or at lights, then I often turn my wrists over as gently as I can and then back again or I notice if I’m holding the steering wheel with tension, and let my hold become more relaxed. When I’m at work I have a ‘wrist guard’  and a ‘mouse guard’ which is a foam pad to support my wrists as I’m typing, it lets my hands drop down, which feels more supportive to me.  I have recently incorporated a specific stretch for my wrists and hands during my morning exercises, all very simple ways to support my wrists.

It still took some time before I actually sat down to do a massage though, as there was something uncomfortable about massaging my wrists, it feels like such a tender, sensitive part of my body.  I knew I was avoiding it, so I began with just holding or feeling my wrists and then just massaging them without any cream or oil if they ached.

Eventually I decided I wanted to give my wrists that extra bit of care and attention and I began by mixing a couple of drops of myrrh essential oil into a pot of cream (see my blog on how many drops to use in a blend).  Myrrh is a particularly viscous oil and it takes  a really long time for a drop to fall from the bottle* so this process encouraged me to be present and if I noticed I was impatient, then I’d know I really needed to slow down and let the drop fall naturally.  The massage itself only takes a few moments, and I generally apply a little cream in anti-clockwise circles, when I’m in bed in the evening.  Sometimes they feel tender, sore or achey, and I  just notice this, and except that I have been using them a little too harshly and this awareness generally leads to naturally becoming more gentle when I use them.

I’ve been bringing focus to my wrists (as well as hands and finger tips) for some time now, and looking back over the last year, I can really appreciate how the more attention I have bought to this part of my body, the more gentle I have become with them.  It’s in the way I wash my hands, apply lotion afterwards, the way I close doors, chop vegetables, the way I open boxes or do the washing up. I feel the flow of this gentleness beyond my wrists, it’s up my forearms, across my shoulders and even in the way I use my whole body. I am more aware and more gentle than in the past and it continues to deepen. I can really appreciate how beautiful my wrists, hands and fingertips are and often enjoy moving them with grace and delicacy as if I’m dancing.

See my previous blog posts Taking care of your hands and Essential Oils in Hand & Nail care for more related reading.

Click here to buy Myrrh Essential Oil.

*Please note that myrrh essential oil oxidises very easily -this means that it reacts with oxygen, and it actually becomes very very sticky and stiff, so although you do need to be patient when dropping it from the bottle because it is thick, it is possible that it will oxidise and at some point will no longer drop from the bottle, in fact it can reach a point where you can’t get the lid off. Mine never usually lasts this long, but it would depend on how much it is exposed to the air, or if the bottle is close to empty then there is more air that it can react with.