Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Aussie Oils 10 - Lemon Myrtle

  We’ve all learned that pink grapefruit is considered “stimulating, energetic, a great way to get   I don’t dispute that description at all, it is a perky scent.  But listen to this description given by Mark Webb of a different oil:  “The best description I can give for my first impression of (this oil) is WOW…what a bright, happy essential oil.”  “More Lemon than Lemon”  (1)
  That would be Mark’s description of Backhousia citriodora F. Muell, commonly known as Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Scented Myrtle, and Lemon Ironwood.  The oil comes from a large shrub that can be found along coastal rainforests of southern to mid Queensland, Australia.  The leaves are nearly 4 inches in length, and the white, clustered, four petal flowers bloom in early summer.   The oil is collected from aerial parts through steam distillation.  (1)
Photo courtesy of Dennis Archer
  How could it be more “Lemon than Lemon”?  Two compounds allow for the lemon scent of essential oils, Citral, and Citronellal.  Both belong to a family of compounds known as aliphatic (non-fatty) aldehydes.  The major chemical constituent of Lemon Myrtle is citral (90%-98%).    Lemon Essential Oil (Citrus limonum) only contains between 3-10% citral. 
Citral is used in the food and flavoring industry as lemon flavoring and lemon-scented products.  It is also used as a raw material when producing aromatic chemicals such as Vitamin A and ionones.  (1)  
   Webb suggests the use of this oil as a diffusion to ‘clear out the cobwebs’, as well as in culinary applications.  He does warn that it only takes one or two drops to get that lemony zing.   The essential oil is said to have properties of being antiseptic, antiviral, carminative, sedative, and decongestive.  Due to the natural actions of citral, this oil must not be used undiluted or unquenched, as it will cause skin irritation.   (1) 
  Tisserand mentions a potential for adulteration with synthetic citral, and warns of drug interactions, skin sensitivity, and congenital malformations.  He extends warnings for those using diabetic medication, pregnancy, hypersensitive, diseased, or damaged skin, and advices not to use with children under the age of 2.  (2)

(1)Mark Webb.  Bush Sense, Australian Essential Oils and Aromatic Compounds, Adelaide, Australia:  Griffin Press, 2000. 
(2)  Robert Tisserand/Rodney Young.  Second Edition, Essential Oil Safety:  Churchill Livingstone, 2013.

My notes: 

My first introduction to this sparkling oil was through Dennis Archer, the founder of Australia's first organic Lemon Myrtle plantation. 
Dennis put a royal respect for this oil's ability to irritate the skin and cautioned me to never use it topically, and we still do not.  He also stressed the antibacterial properties of the oil, and suggested using it in a room or counter spray,  or diffusing it.  Dennis also shared suggested culinary uses.  You may read more, and order your own supply here.

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