In July 2012, I took a much anticipated aromatherapy study trip to France. In today’s post, I thought that I would share with you some of the plants from the region that I visited that are farmed and distilled into essential oils, hydrolats or used medicinally. These plants are found in the Pays Diois region in the south-east corner of France. Here’s a quick introduction to some of those plants!
Cornflower as a Hydrolat
Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) belongs to the Asteraceae plant family and is therefore related to plants such as sunflower. It is a small, blue flower which grows annually. It is hard to believe but this beautiful little flower was once considered a weed, as it was commonly found growing in fields of corn, barley and rye.
In aromatherapy practice, it is used as a hydrolat (hydrosol). It has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as a tonic for dry skin or tired eyes (do not put directly into the eye).
Peppermint as an Essential Oil
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) belongs to the Lamiaceae plant family. It is a perennial herb with dark green, aromatic leaves. It also has tall spikes of purple flowers when in season. Peppermint is commonly used in aromatherapy practice as an essential oil. It is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, digestive, antiseptic and astringent. Due to its high menthol content, it is not recommended for use with babies, young children and in pregnancy.
Echinacea as a Medicinal Plant
Echinacea belong to the Astaraceae plant family and are easily recognizable by their purple, daisy-like coneflowers. Echinacea are herbaceous, perennial plants. Although not used as an essential oil in aromatherapy practice, echinacea have a history of use in traditional medicinal practice. In addition, echinacea can be macerated in alcohol and distilled for use as a maceration. Echinacea are reputed to have properties that are useful for protecting the body’s immune system.
Learn More About Aromatherapy
If you are interested in learning more about the plants used in aromatherapy and in making essential oils, check out the Sedona Aromatherapie courses page over the coming months for relevant courses on this topic.
Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy
Natalie Portaz, Aromatherapy Study Trip in France, 2012