Yarrow Essential Oil and How to make a Balm

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Many people are unaware that yarrow, Achillea millifolium, a common plant growing abundantly in British country side, actually produces a very powerful, useful and rather beautiful essential oil.

It’s an oil that stands out when you see its striking, ink blue colour, which is very unusual for an essential oil. The plant itself is made up of an umbrella of little white flowers, sometimes pink, but during the production of the essential oil a chemical called chamazulene is produced during steam distillation which gives yarrow essential oils its bright blue colour.

Most essential oils come in tinted glass bottles as they are sensitive to light, so it’s rare to see such amazing colours as in the below photo.

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Bright blue yarrow essential oil.

Chamazulene is also the particular component that makes yarrow so useful as it is anti-inflammatory in effect and therefore useful for any condition where inflammation is present, for example:

  • arthritis,
  • allergies,
  • bumps & bruises,
  • breaks,
  • gout,
  • skin rashes,
  • strains & sprains.

Even conditions such as period pain and back ache can be helped by using yarrow because of the presence of inflammation.

Yarrow & Lavender Balm Recipe – for pain and inflammation.

A balm is a very practical method of application for areas of inflammation. I would recommend applying this simple balm, made with yarrow and lavender essential oil, twice daily. Massage in very gentle anti-clockwise circles to the affected area, if the area is too tender to touch, or is an open wound then apply the balm as close to the site as is comfortable.

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Ingredients ~ to make 100 ml pot:

  • 10g beeswax
  • 10g shea butter
  • 80g or ml of base oil, e.g. Olive oil or Almond oil
  • yarrow essential oil – 40 drops (2ml)
  • lavender essential oil – 60 drops (3ml)
  • vitamin E (optional)

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.

See my blog on ‘How to make a Massage or Body Balm’ for full recipe instructions.

Blue chamomile essential oil, Matricaria recutita (also known as German chamomile) also appears blue in colour, it contains the same anti-inflammatory agent chamazulene and would be suitable for all of the above inflammatory conditions. Click here to purchase this essential oil.

See my blog on Lavender & Chamomile for Hay fever for more details.

How to make a Massage or Body Balm

A balm is a great way to use essential oils on the skin, it’s simple to make, easy to apply and feels lovely. It can also be used in a variety of ways, I have included recipes for ‘chest’, ‘pain’, ‘cleansing’ and ‘beauty’  balms below but you can tailor the essential oils in the recipe to suit you personally, (see my webshop for tips on essential oil properties and uses for help choosing).

The following recipe makes a good consistency for general use.  It is fairly soft, so ideal for massaging into the skin on your face and body as a nourishing treatment and as a massage balm to lubricate the skin and nourish during massage.

Recipe for a basic Balm – to make 100g  (for 2 x 50ml pots).

  • 10g Beeswax
  • 10g Shea butter
  • 80g or ml of base oil, e.g. Olive oil or Almond oil
  • Essential oil(s) of your choice (up to 2.5ml, see below for inspirations and how many drops to use)
  • Vitamin E, 5 drops (optional)

About the ingredients:

As well giving the balm it’s consistency, beeswax gives a protective and nourishing feel.  Shea butter gives it a creamy smoothness. And then there are the base oils, I usually use almond, apricot or olive oil, which all give it a lovely nourishing feel, but feel free to substitute with what ever you have handy or to experiment with various types, (see my shop for carrier oil properties & uses for help choosing). Vitamin E is a natural preservative so will help your balm last longer (approx.18 months), I use a soy (GMO free) derived version.

You can buy most of the ingredients from myself, except for the beeswax, which I buy from local bee keepers or honey sellers. I would recommend buying the beeswax in pellet form or sheets, as it’s easier to manage, solid blocks are difficult to break up and get the correct amount.

You can adjust the ingredients to suit you as you wish, if you want it softer (for a cleansing balm*), use less beeswax (5g), and if you want it harder (for a lip balm) then use more beeswax (15-20g).

Equipment

  • Scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Bain marie (a sauce pan for heating water with another pan on top so ingredients are heated gently by the steam to avoid heating ingredients directly).
  • Pots (2 x 50ml glass jars)
  • Chopstick for stirring and blending

Instructions

  • Sterilise the pots by putting boiling water in them for a few minutes, then empty and ensure they are completely dry. This is important as the balm can go rancid if mixed with water.
  • Weigh out the beeswax and shea butter using the scale and weigh or measure out the base oil.
  • Use a bain marie to melt the bees wax and shea butter, then add the base oil.  As soon as it’s completely melted remove from the heat.
  • Let it cool a little before adding essential oils and vitamin e, so they are not affected by the heat.  If it begins to solidify give the mixture a stir.
  • Pour the mixture into the containers and leave to cool and set.
  • TIP: I often pour the mix into the jars before adding essential oils, so I can make each pot a different flavour. Decide on which oils  and how many drops to add in advance, as the mix will solidify quickly once in the pots.

Useful Balm Recipes:

Here are some recipes for common uses,  just use the balm recipe above and add the following essential oils.

Chest Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above) this recipe is not suitable in pregnancy, get in touch for a more gentle option.

  • 2.5% blend strength for application to chest to support colds, coughs and chest infections.
  • Thyme – 10 drops (0.5ml)
  • Eucaplyptus – 10 drops (0.5ml)
  • Lavender or Spike Lavender – 10 drops (0.5ml)
  • Myrrh – 20 drops (1ml)

Pain & Inflammation Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above)

  • 2% blend strength for use on specific effected areas.
  • Chamomile (german) – 20 drops (1ml)
  • Lavender or Lavandin – 20 drops (1ml)

Cleansing Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above)

  • 0.5% blend strength for use on the face
  • Lavender – 5 drops (0.25ml)
  • Lemon – 5 drops (0.25ml)

You can use this balm to cleanse your face, remove makeup and grime, just rinse with warm water or a warm cloth afterwards and your skin will be left feeling silky soft.

Beauty Balm (to add to the 100ml balm recipe above)

Use at 2.5% blend strength for stretch marks and scars, and 0.5% to use as a night time nourishing facial treatment.

  • Rose – 10 drops (2.5%) or 2 drops (0.5%)
  • Myrrh- 20 drops (2.5%) or 4 drops (0.5%)
  • Lavender- 20 drops (2.5%) or 4 drops (0.5%)

You can pick as many or as few oils as you like, but just ensure the total blend strength is appropriate (see blend strength charts below).

How much essential oil to use

1% Delicate blend strength (for face, damaged, sensitive skin & children)
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 2
30ml 6
50ml 10
100ml 20
2.5% General blend strength
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 5
30ml 15
50ml 25
100ml 50

*Coconut oil is also useful for a cleansing balm as it’s very greasy and lifts dirt and grime gently from your skin, it’s great to use on its own for removing eye make-up.

Essential Oil Christmas Workshop

Essential Oil Christmas Workshop with Laura Hoy & Heather Hardy Logo

  • Venue: The Edge Community Centre, 85 Pankhurst Avenue, Brighton, BN2 9AE, UK.
  • Date: Sunday 7th December 2014
  • Time: 10am-12.30pm
  • Cost: £25
  • Discount: £20 if you book and pay by 1st December
  • Price includes a pot of balm and edible treat to take home (both made by you), morning tea, snacks and a hand massage.

A fun, festive and practical workshop open to all. We will be sharing how you can use essential oils to support yourself to nurture, cherish and adore your self in day to day life. This is especially important around this time of year as we can get so caught up in the rush and stress of Christmas.  This morning workshop will be a chance to focus and care for yourself, offering practical tips to bring support though out the crazy month of December and beyond. We will be making a balms for you to use on your body (these can be tailored to you personally),  some edible snacks flavoured with essential oils (to take home too), and giving and receiving hand massages.

Neave and Laura hand massage

Morning Tea and Snacks will be provided.

For more information and to book a place, please contact Laura by email laurahoy26@gmail.com or telephone 07828954020

Read this fantastic blog exposing Christmas and it’s effects on our health: The Silly Season and its effects on Health

Note: Free parking is available around the venue.