Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): Aromatherapy – the Essentials by Vicki Alford
The Essential Essential Oils – Although there are 200-300 essential oils extracted commercially, there are probably only 50-100 used in aromatherapy. Unless you were going to practice professionally, something like10 essential oils would cover most minor health problems. These few essential oils, together with some simple herbal preparations eg arnica cream or tincture, and Bach’s Rescue Remedy would make a useful repertoire of natural remedies to keep in your first aid kit. Also consider including Homeopathic remedies applicable to you, or your family’s general health, in the home medicine chest.
Below I have listed some essential oils (& their therapeutic action) which may be helpful for the symptoms of CFS or FM. This list is not complete in that different people have different reactions & changing symptoms. There are many more essential oils which could be helpful to CFS/FM. The oils listed below, have other therapeutic qualities & might possibly have a different effect when blended with other essential oils. I have included their Botannical name to ensure the correct species is chosen.
Calming and Restorative
- BERGAMOT (Citrus bergamia) – is almost the most uplifting oil. It regulates the appetite – good for dyspepsia or painful digestion, being anti-spasmodic. Also good for loss of appetite. But be warned, it does increase the skin’s sensitivity to the UV radiation of the sun (ie photosensitizing)
- Citrus reticulata – And just for the sheer pleasure of that fresh citrus aroma wafting through your house – MANDARIN, (which is actually a digestive stimulant, anti-spasmodic, insomnia, general physical & nervous debility or mental instability, sedative, calming, uplifting and moderates the sympathetic nervous system – I just love it!
- YLANG YLANG (Conanga odorata) – tachycardia, intestinal infections, sedative & calming, antiseptic, anti-depressant, harmonizing, anti-spasmodic.
- MARJORAM (Iriganum marjorana) – anti-spasmodic, calmative, increase the tone of the parasympathetic nerves, dulls the senses & can cause drowsiness, insomnia, migraines, general physical and nervous debility, mental instability.
- LAVENDER (Lavendula officinalis) – (my favourite) is calming, sedating, anti-spasmodic (better for sharp aches & pains), bactericide, tonic/restorative/cardiotonic, anti migraine, hypotensive, together with many more properties. A good all round essential oil, not too expensive, & blends with most other oils. It rarely causes an allergic reaction & in very small dilute doses can be used for babies & the elderly.
- LEMON BALM (Melissa officinalis) – the overriding property of Melissa is that of soothing & calming the body & mind. Melissa has a beautiful citrus smell and, as with other oils containing citral & citronellal should be treated with respect and used in low, diluted doses to avoid skin irritation. The mental & emotional actions of Melissa are also uplifting, important in chronic & debilitating health conditions.
- ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) – general debility, physical & mental strain, glandular disorders, disorders of the liver, colitis, excess of cholesterol in the blood, rheumatism, gout, migraine, disorders of the nervous system, vertigo, fainting, muscular pains & stiffness, general fatigue.
- SANDALWOOD (Santalum album (Indian) or Santalum spicatum (Australia)) – antiseptic, tonic & aphrodisiac, chronic bronchitis, obstinate diarrhea, lymphatic and venous, calms the nervous system, grounding of nervous types, anxiety, depression & excellent for dry skin
- LEMON (Citrus limonum) – strong bactericide & antiseptic, activates the white corpuscles in the defence of the organism, cooling, refreshing, tonic for the nervous & sympathetic nervous system. Combats excess gastric acidity, rectifies mineral deficiencies & an alkalising agent. Good for epidemics & infectious diseases, arthritis, gout & gallstones. I have used a hot lemon drink many times for clearing the pain & inflammation of an inflamed gall bladder. Good for hepatic & pancreatic deficiencies.
- EUCALYPTUS (Eucalyptus globulus (Australia)) – (which I use for both it’s pain relieving properties as well as cleaning & disinfecting) is a very strong bactericide, parasiticide, insect repellent, general antiseptic, antirheumatic, febrifuge, stimulant, antineuralgic & works on eradicating intestinal parasites. Used on dressing aids for burns (which I have never tried because lavender oil is so perfect for burns) where it aids the formation of new tissue. It eradicates lice & a whole host of other uses. I sometimes rub “neat” eucalyptus oil on my painful hip before I get dressed for work in the morning. (I also keep eucalyptus oil in my desk drawer to clean & disinfect my desk & keyboard from time to time. I might pour a couple of drops on a handkerchief if I have a cold).
- TI TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia (Australia) – Has a long history of use by the Aboriginal People of Australia. An unusual oil in that it is active against all three categories of infectious organisms: bacteria, fungi and viruses. It is a very powerful immuno-stimulant, so when the body is threatened by any of these organisms Ti-Tree increases it’s ability to respond. Cardiac fatigue, nervous depression, stimulates local circulation, Chronic Fatigue syndrome, general fatigue. Used either side of spine a week before an operation protects against anaesthetic toxicity (so they say). Once again, care is needed in contact with the skin.
- THYME (Thymus vulgaris) – stimulates the production of white corpuscles, so strengthening the body’s resistance to invading organisms. Antiseptic & bactericide, parasiticide. Particularly good for people who are fatigued, depressed or lethargic & stimulates the appetite. Helps to strengthen & stimulate the brain and improve memory. Good for insomnia (in it’s balancing effect) One of the best remedies for sore throats. (I often cook white fish fillets in the oven on a bed of lemon thyme, a small amount of olive oil & the juice of half a lemon – surprisingly delicious considering thyme has a woody taste).
- FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare) – Detoxifying oils such as Fennel are helpful in clearing the body of toxins which have accumulated over a long period of time. (also intestinal parasites). Fennel, like many essential oils has a balancing & normalising effect.
- LEMONGRASS (Adropogan or Cymbopagan citratus) – powerful tonic & stimulating effect, stomachic, gastric stimulant, colitis, antiseptic. Regulator of the parasympathetic system. Can be irritating on the skin if not diluted enough. Use only two to three drops in baths (and preferably dilute in milk or vodka before adding to the bath water in case of skin sensitivity)
The Art of Blending
There is an art to blending oils together. Blending several oils together usually has a synergistic effect. This means the combination of oils has a markedly greater therapeutic effect than a single essential oil would have, if applied separately.
This does not mean you throw a cocktail of these oils together. You would need some knowledge of their suitability for the individual, knowledge of blending & application, before using them yourself. Helpful books are listed at the end of this article. I believe several of these oils have significantly improved some on my own symptoms.
All essential oils have blending factors which deal with the aromatic intensity of the essential oil. For example, Basil, which is highly aromatic has a blending factor of 1. Bergamot which is on the other end of the scale has a blending factor of 10. In this case, if you mix 1 drop of basil with 10 drops of bergamot, you will create a blend smelling equally of the two oils. These blending factors are not absolute law and can be adjusted.
If you were going to start blending, then I suggest you consult a book (some listed at the end of this article in Part III) to learn the correct methods, blending factors & proportions. But in general most floral essential oils blend well together & most woody essential oils can be blended together.
Creating an aromatically harmonious blend which would be balanced and attractive, would probably include having a combination of top notes (which are volatile & evaporate the quickest), middle notes (which are moderately volatile) and base notes which are the slowest to evaporate. Base notes are used to “hold back” the more volatile notes. Once again, a good book will give you some idea of companionable oil combinations
There are several essential oils that act as natural balancers or adaptogens. They instigate a reaction in the body that is appropriate to achieve a state of homeostasis (or balance). For example hyssop normalises either high or low blood pressure. Lemon works on the nervous system acting as a sedative when needed or as a tonic. Peppermint is another oil which could be both a relaxant and a stimulant. The herbs, mint & ginseng have been researched for this reason.
Vicki Alford is a person with Fibromyalgia who has used aromatherapy and other natural remedies to markedly improve the quality of her life. She lives in Australia.
Dig Deeper! To Aromatherapy Part III: Using Essential Oils / Back To Aromatherapy Part I: Introduction
The Phoenix Rising website is compiled by a layman. It is not a substitute for a physician and is for informational uses only. It does not present complete information on this drug. Please discuss any treatments in these pages with your physician.