Essential Oils

Tsuga or Hemlock Spruce Essential Oil

Canadian tsuga
Canadian hemlock spruce

Tsuga essential oil comes from the Canadian hemlock spruce tree (or white spruce) and should not be confused with the poisonous hemlock herb (Conium Maculatum) that contains toxic alkaloids and is not a source of essential oil. Rather, this spruce tree is in the pine family and is found primarily in Canada and Idaho. Its properties are similar to pine, and it is the needles and twigs that are used to distill the oil. It has a fresh, somewhat woody scent. It is considered to be non-toxic and is unlikely to irritate.

Tsuga is a wonderful oil for the winter months. Its antimicrobial, antiseptic, and expectorant properties make is a great choice for inhalation when you have coughs, colds, or the flu because it opens the respiratory pathways for better oxygen exchange and breaks up mucus.

You can use a few drops in a cup of boiling water for a quick steam inhalation or dilute a single drop in a teaspoon of honey for a cough remedy. Just be sure you are using pure, therapeutic grade oils that are not already diluted by a carrier oil. Tsuga should also be steam-distilled and not extracted by solvents to be safe for consumption.

Tsuga is also good for digestive disorders and diseases of the mouth, including cold sores and gingivitis. It is also helpful in kidney and bladder infections and is a mild diuretic when taken internally. Use it as an antiseptic for wounds like blisters. It will sting but helps heal the wound quickly. It is even recommended for pimples and acne. You may find it in OTC treatments for sore muscles, or you can use the essential oil neat or diluted as a muscle rub for rheumatism, arthritis, or over-exertion.

Tsuga blends well with a variety of other oils, including pine, cedarwood, and rosemary, as well as lavender, clary sage, and amyris. When using on the skin, be sure to dilute with a carrier oil like jojoba, but use it without a carrier in your diffuser or aromatherapy necklace. I was unable to find specific information about Tsuga and pets, but because it is in the pine family, I would probably avoid using it in a room where I kept my fur baby.


  • Spastic Cough: Mix 10 drops Tsuga, 3 drops Roman Chamomile, and 4 drops Bergamot into 1 ounce carrier oil. Massage into the chest several times daily.
  • Pain/Anti-Inflammatory Liniment: Mix 6 drops Helichrysum, 2 drops Tsuga, 2 drops Hyssop, 2 drops Peppermint, 2 drops Juniper, 1 ounce carrier oil. Gently massage into sore tissues and joints.
  • Outdoor Fresh Diffuser Blend: Mix 3 drops Tsuga, 3 drops Cedarwood, and 3 drops Balsam Fir into your diffuser tank filled with distilled water. Adjust if necessary for the size of your diffuser.
  • Focus-Boosting Diffuser Blend: Add 3 drops each of hemlock spruce oil, rosemary oil, and peppermint oil to your diffuser. Adjust if necessary for the size of your diffuser.
Essential Oils

Tea Tree Essential Oil


One of my favorite and most frequently used oils is tea tree oil. It’s been called a first-aid kit in a bottle, and I’ve certainly found it to be true.

The melaleuca alternafloria plant is found in New South Wales, Australia, and it yeilds beautiful flowers like the pink and white ones above. However, it is the leaves that contain the healing oils.

The indigenous Aborigines of the area use the leaves of the plant for healing. One way they do so is to crush the leaves and inhale the odor to relieve coughs and sinus stuffiness. Inhalation is the way I most often use tea tree oil myself although I use the distilled essential oil rather than the leaves.

Another way the Aborigines used the plant was to make an infusion from the leaves, which they drank. In fact, that is how the plant got its name. Captain James Cook observed the natives drinking the infusion and gave the plant the name tea tree. You should avoid drinking the essential oil, however.

Research done in the 1920’s found that essential oil from the melaleuca plant was eleven times more potent than the leading antimicrobial of the time. That means it is still powerful antiseptic, a good thing to know in these days of super-bugs tat are resistant to antibiotics. Plus, tea tree oil doesn’t contain the toxicity of manufactured antiseptics.

Tea tree oil can be used to treat cuts and scrapes, burns, blisters, cankers and cold sores, and a variety of skin conditions such as dandruff, acne, athlete’s foot, and Candidiasis.

It is often found in cleaning solutions such as household cleaners, soaps, hand sanitizers, shampoos, toothpastes and mouthwashes; in antibacterial and antifungal ointments; in baby wipes; and in makeup and skin care products. It has even been used to treat the bacterial and fungal infections of pet fish!

It is good for keeping insects away. It makes a great natural mosquito repellent. One of my clients recommends it for treatment of lice. It is much safer than the OTC remedies, and it works.

One of my favorite uses is in the inhalation oil recipe below. It is relatively inexpensive and is an oil no medicine chest or first-aid kit should be without.

Safety caution: Tea Tree oil is generally used externally. You may need to dilute it with a carrier oil if you have sensitive skin. Furthermore, you should not put it on your pets. If they lick it, it could make them sick. It has been reported to be fatal for cats.

Recipes using tea tree oil

Chief Two-Trees Infusion Oils for Sinus Congestion and Headaches
• 3 drops Eucalyptus EO
• 3 drops Peppermint EO
• 3 drops Tea Tree EO
Boil a cup of water and remove it from the stove. While it is still steaming, add the oils. Immediately cover the cup and head with a towel and inhale for 3 minutes. Keep your eyes closed.

Nail Fungus
• 4 tsps. apple cider vinegar
• 1/8 C. distilled water
• 6 drops tea tree EO
• 10 drops lavender EO
Mix well and apply to nails with a polish brush or cotton. Store in a glass bottle.

Disinfectant/Spray for Mold
• 2 tsps. tea tree EO
• 2 C. distilled water
Put in spray bottle and spray on problem area. Do not rinse.

Skin Care/Vaginal Ointment
• 1 T. aloe vera gel
• 6 drops tea tree
Mix tea tree and aloe vera gel together. Apply to affected area

Essential Oils

Patchouli Essential Oil

leaves mortar and pestleA couple of summers ago, I bought a patchouli plant at Little Green Things in Hildebran. I looked for one this year, but didn’t find it. I love the earthy, sweet aroma of the leaves and was surprised to learn it is a member of the mint family. The plant flowers reluctantly, but even if you don’t get blossoms, you can use some of the fragrant leaves in potpourri and to make sachets to repel moths in my off-season clothes. It smells so much nicer than moth balls.

The essential oil is made from the leaves, which need to be aged before the oil is extracted by steam distillation. Then the oil itself needs to be aged. It thickens, changes color and smells better as it ages.

I first smelled the exotic scent of patchouli in incense, perfumes and soaps, but I’ve started using the essential oil for a variety of other benefits besides just the wonderful aroma.

Patchouli essential oil is good for fungal infections, including athlete’s foot, ringworm, and dandruff, and for bacterial infections. It makes a great-smelling insect repellant and relieves the itching of insect bites. It rejuvenates cells and is thus helpful in healing wounds and scars. It is a good topical remedy for other skin conditions, too. Use it for acne or eczema and for inflamed, cracked, chapped and irritated skin.

Patchouli essential oil helps to reduce anxiety and nervous tension and eases insomnia. Its uplifting fragrance is grounding and provides a connection to the earth that gives us emotional support. Many meditators use it to center and quiet the mind. It is even said to be useful as an aphrodisiac.

Patchouli is often used in essential oil blends. I have a cream that I use and sell in my massage practice from Natural Options Aromatherapy that blends lavender and patchouli. It smells heavenly, and is really relaxing on the table you can get a whole body massage with it for $5 extra, or you can just ask for it for the back or feet as a treat at no extra cost. (You can also buy it for at home use for $16.)

You can make your own patchouli blend using the recipe below. This recipe comes from Aura Cacia and is said to adapt to your own body chemistry to produce a unique personal essence and to be balancing in its effects..

Personal Essence Oil
Ingredients: 10 drops bergamot essential oil; 4 drops rose essential oil; 6 drops patchouli essential oil.
Directions: Mix the base oils in a dark-colored glass bottle. You can vary the aroma with the addition of other oils. Aura Cacia suggests that “the rich, floral aroma can be lightened with the addition of complementary topnotes like lavender or lemon. The rose heart of the essence can be developed into a more complex floral note with the addition of neroli or jasmine. Clove and cinnamon will produce a more spicy fragrance.”

I hope you’ll give patchouli a try. It’s not just for hippies anymore.