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.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Aussie Oils 9 - Lemon Tea Tree

For today’s entry of Australian Essential Oils, I share one that I have grown very fond of.  After
reading Bush Sense, I immediately ordered this take- no- prisoners oil.  My sinuses have been miserable this year, to the extent that I finally went to a specialist to find out what exactly I was allergic to.   With Mark’s guidance, I was able to decrease the horrid pressure and breath like a normal person once again.  Without desensitization therapy or major expense of reverse airflow, I will never be totally free of my allergy – dust mites, for Heaven’s Sake!!  So this oil is not something I will be without, prepared for flare ups.
Leptospermum petersonii F.M. Bail.  Lemon Scented Tea tree, or Citratum.  A shrub with bright green, narrow, oval- shapedleaves with a strong lemon or citronella scent, depending on the chemotype.  In the summers of Australia, this bush produces white or pale pink flowers.   Steam distraction of leaves and small stems is used to produce this wonderful oil.  (1)
Photo Courtesy of the Paperbark Company
    Per Mr. Webb’s research, the Major Chemical Constituents in a typical analysis of the oil are:
Constituent                                          Average %                                                 Range  %
Geranial                                                       24                                                            22-30
Nerol                                                            29                                                            23-37
Geraniol                                                       2.8 
Citronellal                                                    21                                                          9-28
Citronellol                                                    0.46            
Previously, Leptospermum petersonii was referred to as Letospermum citratum.  Discovered in 1918 by challinor et al, it was described as having a “pleasant lemon-scented odour.”    Rich in citronellal, neral and geranial, this is as one would expect.   Commercial plantations now produce this oil in abundance.  (1)
In Australia, the Lemon Scented Tea Tree has been found to be anti-infectious, anti-viral, antiseptic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and a digestive stimulant.  Used alone or in combination, it is a natural insect repellent.  Web notes that in small quantities, the oil is stimulating, but at normal strength, sedating and calming.  As well, it is used in the treatment of oily skin and acne.  In a blend, it aids in relieving mucous lining inflammation, relieving respiratory issues.  (1)
Robert Tisserand warns of congenital malformations and skin sensitization with this, and with all high citral oils. As well, he cautions use in combination with some drugs, especially diabetic medication, due to cardiovascular effects, as well as damaged skin, pregnancy, and children under the age of 2.  In addition, he advices a dermal maximum of 0.8%.  IFRA recommends a dermal limit for citral of 0.6% for body oils and lotions in order to avoid skin sensitization.  (2)
  I had a difficult time identifying the scent.  Yes, Lemon, but…   My friend Li Wong asked if I’d ever smelled Murphy’s Oil Soap.  THAT is spot on to what this oil smells like.    I appreciate this oil in my aromastone when I'm feeling stuffed up.
(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.

(Marge's comments)
Years ago, Dennis Archer, who first introduced me to many of the Australian oils we have made available over the years taught me the most effective use for this new (to me) essential oil - it appears to be the BEST mosquito repellent we have encountered.   It is the secret of our SkeeterBeater suite of products, apparently effective against mosquitoes, flys, fleas, and, in Africa, against the Tsetse fly.   When the government approved Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) as an "approved" insect repellent, we experimented one year.  We replaced 50%  of the Lemon Teatree oil in our formula with Lemon Eucalyptus.  Our clients were not happy.  The new formula was less effective.  Please be forewarned it is NOT a tick repellent.  But for mosquitoes, flies, and tsetse flies (if you are going on Safari), it's amazing. 
You may read more about, and order your own Lemon Tea Tree oil here.