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Ginger, Star anise, Anise, and Nutmeg

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ginger

Ginger is a flowering perennial grown for it’s medicinal and delicious rhizomes. The plants themselves are actually highly decorative with beautiful flowers and showy foliage. The plant is related to turmeric and galangal, it grows to about 3 feet in height before blooming. Originally native to Southern Asia and the Indian subcontinent, it was one of the first spices to be brought to Europe through the spice trade. In its native range there are wild species that show considerable genetic variations, these areas still provide the bulk of commercial crops today. Eastern North America does have a plant commonly called wild ginger which is native and has similar aromatic qualities however it contains a toxic compound that can cause permanent kidney damage and is better avoided. In food, the west typically uses ginger for sweets like ginger snap cookies and ginger ale. Throughout Asia the rhizome and leaves may be used in a variety of dishes that can be savoury or sweet in nature. In aromatherapy ginger essential oil is useful for digestion, pain relief, and painful menstruation.

Uses:

Diffused;

Colds, flu, catarrh, congestion, coughs, sinusitis, nausea, energizing.

Topically;

Rheumatism, arthritis, bruising, carbuncles, nausea, hangovers, catarrh, skin sores, sore throat, diarrhea, cramps, chills, fever.

Cautions:

Can cause skin sensitivity in high concentrations.

Makes skin photosensitive at high concentrations.

First aid:

If skin irritation has occurred apply cornstarch or similar to absorb excess.

If gotten in the eye rinse with clear water for 15 min, seek medical attention immediately as permanent damage may occur.

essential oil benefits
star anise

Star anise has a similar flavour to liquorice just like anise, it’s also produced in much higher quantities than anise because unlike the previous annual we covered, while star anise comes from a tree. Native to southwest China and Vietnam, the tree grows to 5-10 meters tall with attractive foliage and flowers. Being a tropical tree it will not like temperatures that go below 15f (-10c), they prefer relatively rich in nutrients but not swamped in water. The fruit (pictured above) will not be produced before 6 years of age, they are picked while still green and left to dry until they turn red-brown in colour. In food it’s used widely as a replacement for anise due to the lower production costs. The west uses it in the production of multiple alcohols and baking. India uses it as a key ingredient in masala chai, other regions of Asia use it in a myriad of local dishes. In aromatherapy star anise essential oil is useful for pain relief, digestion, and insomnia.

Uses:

Topically;

cramps, lower back pain, muscular pain, arthritis.

Diffused;

opening the lungs, lowering anxiety and stress.

Cautions:

Make sure the product is pure Chinese star anise. Japanese species are toxic.

First aid:

If skin irritation occurs absorb excess product with cornstarch or similar.

If gotten in the eye rinse with clear water for 15 min.

If a baby or young child has ingested even trace amounts of the oil call emergency services immediately, seizures can and do occur.

essential oil benefits
anise

Anise is a flowering annual plant native to Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean regions. The plants grow to 3 feet or taller and the foliage provides larval food for some species of moths and butterflies. They grow best in soil that is light and fertile, as well as free draining. Anise was brought to Europe from the Middle East and Egypt for it’s known medicinal values in ancient times. The flavour of the seeds is like liquorice and gets used in a similar way in food. The essential oil is used for making candies, drinks, and entire dishes. Despite having very similar flavour profiles star anise is cultivated on a much larger scale than this annual plant. In Britain, during the age of the steam engine, builders would add anise seeds into the white metal plain bearings so they could smell when they were overheating. In aromatherapy anise essential oil is useful for digestion, anxiety, and as a decongestant.

Uses:

Topically;

muscle pain and cramps, gas, difficult menstruation.

Diffused;

anxiety, difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea.

Cautions:

Can irritate skin so must always be properly diluted, also phototoxic, avoid sun exposure for 24hrs.

Those with liver disease and cancer should avoid this oil.

Excess use may cause dizziness and stomach ache.

Do not use if pregnant.

First aid:

If skin irritation has occurred apply cornstarch or similar to absorb excess.

If gotten in the eye rinse with clear water for 15 min, if irritation persists for more than 30 min seek professional help.

If a pregnant woman has come in direct contact monitor closely.

essential oil benefits
nutmeg

Nutmeg trees actually produce 2 spices most of us are familiar with at least in name; nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the seed of a fruit while mace is a red coating found around the seed. The trees are native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia. They are now cultivated commercially in places like Kerala, Grenada, and Penang island of Malaysia. A nutmeg tree will not produce its first crop before the age of 7-9 years of age and only female trees will produce fruit, additionally full production levels will not be reached until a tree is 20 years old. Because growing from seed yields 50% male trees grafting is the preferred method to increase an orchard’s size. In regions where it is grown the fruit portion of nutmeg is used for jams, juice, and chutney. In aromatherapy nutmeg essential oil is useful for inflammation, anxiety, and menstrual cramps.

Uses:

Diffused;

Encourages appetite, reduces nausea, stimulates the mind.

Topically;

Nausea, chronic vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, encourages menstruation, muscular aches, rheumatism.

Cautions:

Large doses can be toxic.

Should be avoided during pregnancy due to emmenagogue properties.

First aid:

If skin irritation has occurred apply cornstarch or similar to absorb excess.

If gotten in the eye rinse with clear water for 15 min, if irritation persists for more than 30 min seek professional help.

If a pregnant woman has been exposed monitor closely for signs of labour or miscarriage.

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Comments

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