Aromatic Waters

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Aromatic Waters

 A booklet explaining the uses of
        aromatic waters
     for health and beauty

         Produced by Avicenna
         Bidarren, Cilcennin, Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales SA48 8RL
         Tel/Fax:01570 47 1000          e-mail:

Background                                                             3
What are Aromatic Waters?                                              7
How are Avicenna’s Aromatic Waters Produced?                           7
Advantages of Aromatic Waters                                          8
Applications and Dosage                                                9
Shelf Life and Storage                                                 9
Materia Medica                                                         10
     Latin Name                English Name
     Achillea millefolium      Yarrow Herb                             10
     Anethum raveolens         Dill Seed                               12
     Angelica archangelica     Angelica Root                           13
     Boswellia carterii        Frankincence Resin                      15
     Calendula officinalis     Marigold Petals                         17
     Chamaemelum nobile        Roman Chamomile Flowers                 19
     Chamomilla recutita       German Chamomile Flowers                20
     Cinnamomum zeylanicum     Cinnamon Quills                         23
     Citrus aurantium          Bitter Orange Flowers                   25
     Commiphora mol-mol        Myrrh Resin                             27
     Coriandrum sativum        Coriander Seed                          29
     Elettaria cardamomum      Cardamom Pods                           31
     Foeniculum vulgare        Fennel Seed                             33
     Hamamelis virginicus      Witch Hazel Bark                        35
     Hyssopus officinalis      Hyssop Herb                             37
     Juniperus communis        Juniper Berries                         39
     Laurus nobilis            Bay Leaf                                41
     Lavandula officinalis     Lavender Flowers                        43
     Melissa officinalis       Lemon Balm Herb                         45
     Mentha X piperita         Peppermint Leaves                       48
     Pellargonium graveolens   Rose Geranium Herb                      50
     Pimpinella anisum         Aniseed                                 52
     Rosa damascena            Damask Rose Petals                      54
     Rosmarinus officinalis    Rosemary Herb                           56
     Salvia triloba            Greek Sage Herb                         59
     Valerian officinalis      Valerian Root                           61
     Vitex agnus-castus        Chaste Tree Berries                     63
     Zingiber officinalis      Ginger Root                             64

References and Bibliography                                            66

                                                          Joe Nasr D Phyt, DO, MNIMH

I have used aromatic waters for many years in my practice as a herbalist. My
first experience of them was in Lebanon, my mother country; aromatic
waters have been employed in the Mediterranean region for hundreds of
years for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes.

My friendship and fascination with plants began at quite an early age. The
old terraced village of Kafarshima, my childhood home, stands on a slope
facing the Mediterranean in the heart of Mount-Lebanon. This area of the
world is distinguished for its outstanding natural beauty and abundant and
diverse flora.

As children, our playing fields were the olive and orange groves, the hills of
pine, lavender and sage, and the valleys of wild orchids, cyclamens and
anemones. We snacked straight from the trees on green almonds, figs,
apricots, sweet carob pods, pine kernels and many more natural ‘fast foods’.
When we were thirsty, we simply drank from the streams of mountain spring

Many householders in the village were the proud owners of a small distilling
apparatus. In autumn, fermented grapes would be distilled together with
aniseed to produce a popular spirit locally known as Arak (Raki in Turkey or
Ouzo in Greece). With the arrival of spring however, many villagers put
their stills to the service of aromatic plants. Aromatic waters would be
carefully and lovingly distilled to produce an abundant supply for the year.
In Lebanon, three very precious aromatic plants were harvested and distilled
for this purpose: Bitter orange flower, Greek sage herb and Damask rose.

March would bring the initial warmth of spring, rousing the sleeping buds of
the bitter orange tree. Out came the Stills from their winter snooze to be
loaded with handpicked bitter orange blossom, mixed with a little quantity
of the tree’s fresh scented leaves. The cherished aroma of neroli and petit

grain would permeate the alleyways for the good part of three weeks.
Precious orange flower water would be stocked in glass bottles for the year.
Before storage, the experienced distiller would always expose these bottles
to the strong rays of the sun for a whole day. This transformed the clear
water to a faintly orange-yellow colour, and was said to improve its quality
and prolong its shelf life.

This aromatic water found its way into people’s diet as a delicious
flavouring added to various deserts and to create a refreshing homemade
lemonade. In Lebanese and Mediterranean folk medicine, it is unrivalled as a
calming nervine. I have witnessed many occasions where its soothing action
is summoned in situations of acute anxiety and distress. Its classical
application is as a facial splash for fainting due to emotional shock or
psychological strain. ‘Run!! Fetch the bottle of flower water!’ is the first
response in such situations. In milder cases, an egg cupful of the water with
added sugar is sipped slowly to calm an agitated person – it always works.

In April, the glorious purple flowers of Greek sage expose themselves to the
strengthening sun of late spring. The locals climb the steep pine-wooded
hills to harvest this most vigorous of medicinal plants. The harvest is usually
dried in the shade before being distilled, to produce the highly esteemed
Greek sage water.

This remarkable healing water is a popular first aid remedy, sipped in
dosages of 20-30mls, for relief from griping pain and bloating. It is a first
class carminative, which instantly corrects digestive dysfunction and dispels
wind. Sage water’s great antiseptic and locally healing properties make it a
useful mouthwash and gargle in many afflictions of the mouth and throat.
And it has acquired a reputation for reducing high blood pressure, fortifying
the memory, and as a general tonic and blood cleanser. This all reminds me
of the old Greek saying: ‘How dieth a man who has sage growing in his

Around the first week of May, the delicately scented Damask rose starts to
unfold its queenly beauty. How fortunate that this divine scent may be
captured in a bottle as rose water to enjoy the whole year round! The newly
unfolding pretty pink flowers would be picked very early in the morning
before the heat of the day robbed them of their delightful scent. Then, they
were put straight into a copper still to hand over their essence to water. As

distillation got under way, the ‘spirit’ of the rose would infuse the
surrounding air with a heavenly aroma.

Delicate rose water was employed externally as a cooling astringent. I
remember occasions when my mother would make a paste from starch and
rose water, and spread it over our sunburnt skin. Although of olive
complexion, we were prone to sunburn at the beginning of the beach season
when formerly concealed flesh is suddenly exposed to the roasting sun of
June. The rose water paste was most welcome indeed; it soon cooled the
skin and evaporated away with the pain, leaving the dried up starch to
simply flake away.

A few years after I left the Lebanon for England during the outbreak of the
civil war in 1974, I started a diploma in Herbal Medicine at the School of
Phytotherapy in Kent. During this time, I learned about the Western
tradition of Herbal Medicine, although there was a large overlap with my
Lebanese Materia Medica, I did put some of my traditional knowledge on
the back burner for a time. For many years thereafter, as a practitioner of
herbal medicine in England, I prescribed plants mainly in the form of
tinctures as I had been instructed. However, my traditional Lebanese roots
constantly nagged me: ‘These cold-macerated tinctures feel lifeless without
heat’. And I began to recall all my experience with aromatic waters. This
rekindled interest grew and led me to develop a new method of making
tinctures from aromatic plants.

Most tinctures are prepared by the method of cold maceration, which simply
involves soaking the plant material in a solution of water and alcohol for two
weeks, and then pressing the tincture out. I felt this to be an inadequate
method of extracting the volatile principle or essence of an aromatic plant.
Heat, I felt was somehow missing from the standard process of tincture
making. If one looks back at the traditional history of herbal prescribing,
heat has been universally applied to all forms of herbal extraction. Herbal
tinctures came into being relatively recently, in the wake of modern
pharmaceutical preparations of orthodox medicine. It was as though herbs,
which were stepping out of fashion then, were relegated to energetically
deficient brown liquids stored on the back shelves of the then modernizing

My idea was to reintroduce heat to tincture-making by including distillation
in the overall process. The way I have achieved this is by first distilling the

aromatic herb, which produces an aromatic water. More of the plant is then
soaked in this water to carry the process of cold maceration. This produces a
superior tincture, not only far richer in volatile principles, but also
containing essential components, which are missing from the cold macerated

For example, through the process of distilling chamomile flowers, steam
converts the relatively inactive matricine found in the essential oil, to the
highly therapeutic chamazulenes. The same conversion, but to a lesser
degree, occurs when infusing chamomile flowers with boiling water in a
teapot. There is a strong tradition in the use of chamomile tea (hot infusion)
as a soothing remedy in inflammations and as a symptomatic relief in states
of visceral spasm. Chamazulenes are both strongly anti-inflammatory and
superb spasmolytics; they are certainly missing from the cold macerated
tincture. I am not ascribing the therapeutic value of chamomile exclusively
to these compounds, but I do feel that their virtual absence from the cold
extract renders its action somewhat incomplete, and certainly different to
that experienced through traditional preparation.

This is how I started producing what I call ‘distilled’ tinctures. I found them
to be therapeutically more effective, as subsequently did many of my
colleagues. Soon after making these tinctures available, it dawned on me that
aromatic waters are complete medicines in their own right and ought to be
prescribed as such. There was certainly ample traditional evidence for the
medicinal benefit of these wonderful healing waters, which I shall allude to

When I first started to distil Aromatic Waters, I felt entirely alone in my
enthusiasm for these waters. No other practitioners in this country seemed to
be aware of them, or use them. But I am glad to say, that in the last two
years, Aromatic Waters are beginning to receive their deserved recognition,
and nearly every week, I receive wonderful feedback from practitioners and
therapists about their success in using particular waters. Books such as
Suzanne Catty’s, Hydrosols – The New Aromatherapy, are also beginning to
raise people’s awareness and soon, hopefully, we will see an explosion of
research about the chemical composition of hydrolats and aromatic waters.
This is most desperately needed, for although they do have the benefit of
centuries of traditional usage behind them, we are now, of course, entering a
new era in herbal medicine , where traditional wisdom is no longer enough
on its own.

What are Aromatic Waters?
Aromatic waters are highly therapeutic distillates, which harbour the lighter
essence of an aromatic plant. They constitute a very safe and effective way
of prescribing the volatile principles and vital essence of a plant internally,
an essential element that is missing from the present practice of herbal
medicine and aromatherapy in the UK.

An aromatic water is water enriched with both the essential oil and the
water-soluble volatile components of a plant. The essential oil is finely
dispersed through the water in a low concentration, giving each aromatic
water its individual smell. The water-soluble volatile components are
actually in solution, and give the aromatic water additional properties not
possessed by the essential oil alone. They include substances like hydroxy
acids, carboxylic acids and many others, which modify and balance the
action of the pure oil. These water-soluble volatile constituents provide the
aromatic water with a more wholesome action, which is more like that of the
whole plant when compared to the action of the pure oil.

Pure essential oils act in a mode that is more akin to that of isolated
principles. However, essential oils, when naturally dispersed within the
complex of an aromatic water, are moderated and balanced by the water and
its water soluble volatile components. Furthermore, the composition of the
essential oil which is dispersed into the aromatic water varies considerably
from that of the pure essential oil which separates and floats on the surface
of a freshly distilled aromatic water. The dispersed oil contains a higher ratio
of the gentle-acting, water-loving components like alcohols, and a lower
ratio of the harsher, water-hating components like ketones.

Aromatic waters capture a broader range of both the water and fat-soluble
volatile constituents of a plant, and this contributes to their efficacy and

How are Avicenna’s Aromatic Waters Produced?
Many related products on the market are produced by adding an essential oil
to water (floral waters) or are by-products of the steam distillation of
essential oils (hydrosols). This is not how I produce aromatic waters. I
employ a specific water distillation in a specially designed stainless steel
still. The plant material is totally immersed in spring water and then brought
gently to the boil. The steam that rises carries with it the essential oil and
water-soluble volatile components, which disperse and dissolve in the water
respectively. After many years of experimentation and trials with various
still designs I have carefully designed a unique still, which saturates the
water in a gentle and complete manner, and prevents the damaging effects of
reflux. Hydrosols are by-products of large-scale steam (not water)
distillation of essential oils. The speed and harshness of this process produce
a different product when compared to aromatic waters. Aromatic waters are
primary products of a specific, prolonged and gentle distillation. This
method of distillation is completely unfeasible at a commercial level, as it
requires more heat and time. This is why there can be such variation in
quality and price between Aromatic Waters and Hydrosols.

Advantages of Aromatic Waters over Tinctures and Ess Oils
Aromatic waters have some advantages over pure essential oils and tinctures
which can be summarised as follows:
1. A more gentle and balanced action – Both the volatile oils and the
   water soluble volatiles contribute to the medicinal effect of an aromatic
   water, which is therefore more akin in its action to that of the whole
2. Presenting the essential oil in an aqueous medium – The fact that the
   essential oil is physically dispersed in the aromatic water improves
   its uptake and utilisation by the aqueous medium the body fluids.
3. Traditional support for safety and efficacy – Aromatic waters have
   been used internally to treat a wide range of ailments safely and
   effectively for many centuries and by many civilisations. For example the
   aromatic water of Salvia triloba is liberally taken internally in many
   Mediterranean countries, to great benefit and with unknown side effects.
   This in contrast to the internal usage of the essential oil of Salvia spp.

   which is not backed by any tradition and may readily lead to harmful
4. The convenience of a tincture without the alcohol – Aromatic waters
   can be used instead of a tincture where alcohol is not permitted or is
   undesirable, and where the essential oil component of the plant is of
   primary therapeutic importance, yet still retain the convenience of a fluid
   preparation. For example, they are ideal for children, for those whose
   religious beliefs do not permit the use of alcohol, or for those dealing
   with alcohol dependency.
5. A gentle but effective external application – Aromatic waters are ideal
   for external application where the drying and stinging properties of
   alcohol are undesirable, for example, as a lotion for cuts, grazes and
   rashes especially for children and babies and in creams for dry, sensitive
   and inflamed skins. Many herbalists tend to mix tinctures into cream
   bases; the alcohol in tinctures is drying and irritating to inflamed skin,
   and destabilises the cream with separation of the liquid phase. Aromatic
   waters are much more compatible with a cream base and are highly
   effective soothing and healing topical agents.
6. A highly convenient preparation – Unlike infusions, lotions, essential
   oils and tinctures, which all need a level of preparation before the patient
   can use them, aromatic waters are mostly instantly available for a range
   of internal and external uses. For example, a sprayer bottle of chamomile
   water in the handbag or kept at home can be sprayed over itchy rashes,
   urticaria, sunburn, used as a facial toner, can be taken internally for it
   relaxing properties or for GIT upsets, may be inhaled in hot water, or
   added to a babies bath….

Applications and Dosage
Aromatic Waters present a safe and effective way for prescribing the volatile
principles of an aromatic plant internally.
The average adult dose of most waters is 10ml three times daily which may
either be taken neat, or diluted with a little water.
To enhance the therapeutic influence of the waters through the sense of
smell, the daily dose (30ml), may be added to 500ml of water and sipped
throughout the day, or sprayed through an atomiser into the mouth – Four
sprays deliver about 1ml.
Aromatic waters like chamomile, lavender, rose, rose geranium, rosemary,
and witch hazel, make outstanding topical remedies for afflictions of the

skin and mucous membranes. This is related to their soothing, astringing,
anti inflammatory, antiseptic, and cooling actions.
Various modes of external application include: lotions, sprays compresses,
inhalations, facial steaming, added to clay in facial packs, added to creams
or a base cream, mouthwashes, gargles, added to therapeutic baths.

Shelf Life and Storage
No preservatives or any other substances are added to Avicenna’s
Aromatic Waters as they may interfere with their therapeutic properties.
Some waters like rose, rose geranium, bitter orange flower, rosemary and
bay keep for years, and indeed improve with time when stored properly.
Other waters like chamomile, and lemon balm have a short life of around 6 –
8 months. Most waters have a shelf life of about 18 months.
They must be stored in glass containers in a dark cool place.

                          Achillea millefolium
                           Yarrow herb water
Latin Name
Achillea millefolium

Common Name
Yarrow herb, woundwort, staunchwort, thousand leaf, carpenters weed, milfoil,


Parts Used
Flowering tops

History & Folklore
The name Achillea commemorates the Greek hero Achilles who used yarrow to
heal the wounds of his soldiers. It has been used throughout history up until the
First World War for treating wounds on the battlefield. It has long been used as a
herb of divination and ceremonial magic.


According to Culpeper it is ruled by Venus. Cold in the first degree, dry in the
first degree, cools kidneys and bladder.
In TCM, it is also considered cool and dry, and is linked to the wood element. It
stimulates the Liver, clears heat and can break through painful obstruction.

Azulenes are produced during steam distillation.
The most prevalent constituents of the oil are camphor, sabinene, 1,8-cineole,
alpha-pinene, beta-pinene and camphene.
The water is much less bitter than other preparations of the herb, so it is
debateable to what extent the water has a strong bitter action on the GIT.

Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-allergic (will reduce
histamine induced tissue reactions). Antiseptic, cholagogue, bitter, vasodilator,
hypotensive, diaphoretic. Yarrow is also an astringent, haemostatic and styptic

Internally for hay fever, allergic rhinitis, urticaria. Poor circulation, high blood
pressure, varicose veins and venous insufficiency. Gentle diuretic and urinary
antiseptic. Relieves indigestion (bloating and wind when not associated with
acidity), IBS. Heavy periods.
Wounds, skin infections, thread and varicose veins, piles.
Preparations & Dosages
The water is produced by gentle water distillation. Like chamomile, it has a faint
blue tinge due to the azulenes. The taste is much less bitter than other
preparations of the herb, thus the bitter action is much less pronounced.
Aromatic water for internal use – sip from 5 to 15 mls, diluted in 500 ml of water.
Use up to 20% in creams with other astringent herbs for weeping conditions,
wounds, varicose veins and with other anti-inflammatory waters such as
chamomile for inflamed skin conditions. Can also be used as a compress.
Combine with peppermint water as a styptic aftershave toner.
Combine with rosemary, or witch hazel waters in creams for varicose veins and
thread veins.
Combine with chamomile water as a lotion or compress for inflamed or irritated
skin, or in a spritzer to spray on irritated facial skin during the hay fever season.
Combine with juniper water internally as a detoxifying mix, or use the
combination externally in lotions/creams for areas prone to water retention.
Add to a Sitz bath for haemorrhoids or postpartum healing.


Pregnancy, epilepsy and kidney disease due to the presence of thujone. Take care
during breast feeding and children under 2 years. Do not sunbathe or go on a
sun bed for 12 hours after external use and take precautions in the sun if regular
internal use.

                          Anethum graveolens
                              Dill water
Latin Name
Anethum graveolens

Common Name


Parts Used

History & Folklore

Dill was used in a painkilling mix in Ancient Egypt, whilst the Greeks are
believed to have covered their eyes with fronds of the herb to induce sleep. Its
name comes from the Norse ‘dylla’, meaning ‘to sooth’.

According to Culpepper, it is governed by Mercury.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains carvone mostly. Other constituents are flavonoids,
coumarins, xanthones and triterpenes.

Anti-spasmodic, mild diuretic, gentle expectorant, galactogogue.

Colic, IBS, griping, halitosis, coughs and colds, dysmenorrhoea, poor breast milk

Preparations & Dosages
Dill water is the main constituent of gripe water used to settle colic in babies. The
best way to dose babies is for the mother to take the water regularly if she is
breast-feeding. Combine with fennel, aniseed, chamomile, cinnamon,
peppermint or ginger as required for IBS and bowel spasm.
Combine with cardamom water to freshen breath.
Sip with angelica, hyssop or aniseed water for coughs and colds.
Combine with valerian, cinnamon or ginger water for spasmodic period pains.


                          Angelica archangelica
                           Angelica root water
Latin Name
Angelica archangelica

Common Name
Angelica, Angel’s herb, Root of the Holy Spirit.


Parts Used

History & Folklore
As the name suggests, angelica has long been associated with angels and in
particular the Archangel Michael. It comes into bloom near his feast day and has
been connected to the Christian observance of the Annunciation. This so called
root of the Holy Ghost or Spirit has also been considered to protect against evil

Ruled by the Sun under the domain of Leo.
Hot in the third degree, dry in the third dgree, heats the heart, stomach and

Constituents & Pharmacology
Very little data on the constituents of the water, especially the water-soluble
aspects. The EO contains the following oils: Alpha and Beta-pinene, alpha and
beta-phellandrine, p-cymene, limonene, myrcene, camphene, beta-pinene,
sabinene, d-3-carene, bornyl acetate, cryptone, terpinolene, copaene, terpinene-4-
ol, ocimene, cryptone, beta bisabolene, rho-cymen-8-ol, humulene monoxide,
tridecanolide, pentadecanolide.

Relaxing and restorative nervine. Circulatory stimulant and heart tonic. Immune-
system stimulant. Expectorant, diaphoretic, and febrifuge.
Antispasmodic, warming carminative, aromatic and digestive.
Depurative, emmenogogue and diuretic.

This is a relatively new water and its usage seems to relate more to the nervous
system, where it has a calming and grounding action, useful for anxiety states,
stress, nervous exhaustion and debility.
However, it may still be considered for its other more traditional uses including,
coughs, colds, any cold conditions, bronchial asthma, pleurisy, and respiratory
catarrh. Poor circulation with cold peripheries. Intermittent claudication.
Poor digestive function, flatulence, gastro-intestinal tract spasms, and lack of
appetite. However, the water does not contain the same bitterness as other

Preparations and dosages – (Internal use only)
Best to keep dosages low. Its use is mainly internal; 5 - 10mls may be sipped in
cold water two to three times daily.
Sip in a little cold water after meals to aid digestion and relieve bloating and
wind. Mixes well with fennel, dill and cardamom for this.

Mix with ginger and cinnamon for a warming digestive and circulatory tonic.
Sip alone or in combination with other waters at times of stress when a
grounding effect is required.
Sip in combination with bitter orange flower or cardamom to promote appetite.
Combines well with hyssop for coughs and catarrh.

Contraindicated in Pregnancy. Do not apply the water externally.

                           Boswellia carterii
                          Frankincense water
Latin Name
Boswellia carterii

Common Name
Frankincense, olibanum


Parts Used

History & Folklore
Frankincense has been used since ancient times in religious ceremonies and is
still used in many churches today. It has probably been the most important
incense ingredient since history began. It is mentioned 22 times in the Bible, and
was, of course, held in high enough esteem to be one of the gifts offered to the
baby Jesus. Frankincense gum was charred to produce kohl powder, used by
Egyptian women to paint around their eyes. Dioscorides mentions the use of the
plant to treat skin problems, haemorrhages and pneumonia. A 16th Century
surgeon treated soldier’s wounds and noted that it stopped bleeding and
facilitated healing.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is considered to be cool and dry in nature,
associated with the Earth element.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains octyl-acetate, octanyl, alpha-pinene, incensyl acetate,

Relaxing nervine, anti-depressant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, possible
immune-system enhancing qualities, analgesic, anti-catarrhal, astringent,
carminative, cicasitrant, expectorant, tonic, diuretic, vulnerary, emmenogogue.

Anxiety, chest infections, respiratory catarrh, bronchitis, asthma, menorrhagia,
skin infections, oily skin, mature skin.

Preparations & Dosages
A new water, which requires further experimentation. It combines well with
myrrh water as a superb antiseptic. It may also be mixed with hyssop, thyme or
aniseed waters for chest infections, asthma and catarrhal conditions. Use as a
calming and centering nervine. Frankincense has strong associations with
spiritual practice and meditation, and the water may find many uses in this


                        Calendula officinalis
                        Marigold petals water

Latin Name
Calendula officinalis

Common Name
Pot marigold


Parts Used
Flower petals

History & Folklore
The English name marigold refers to its old use in Church Festivals in the Middle
Ages, being one of the flowers dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Because marigold
flowers open at sunrise and close at sunset, it has always been associated with
the sun. It has a strong tradition of treating conditions of the eyes and enhancing
magical vision.

According to Culpepper, ruled by the Sun under the domain of Leo

Constituents & Pharmacology
Triterpenoid saponins, resin (calendulin), carotenoids, bitter glycosides, essential
oil, sterols, flavonoids, mucilage.
The resins and some of the water-soluble constituents make this remedy locally
astringent. It is a powerful healing agent, with a reputation for increasing speed
of regranulation of wounds. The hormonal actions of marigold most probably
stem from the sterol fraction.

Astringent, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (active against fungal, amoebic,
bacterial and viral infections including ‘flu and herpes viruses), antispasmodic,
lymphatic stimulant. Regulates menstruation and has an estrogenic effect in
relative oestrogen deficiency states.

Gastritis and peptic ulcers and any inflammatory bowel complaint. Marigold’s
reputation as a great detoxifying herb is probably due to its action on the liver
and lymphatic system. It can be used internally to treat gut dysbiosis and
Nothing surpasses marigold as a healing agent externally. It will reduce bleeding
and weeping and its healing and antiseptic action make it ideal for ulcers and

It is also indicated for irregular periods, mastitis and breast cysts. It has a
reputation for treating lumps and cysts of the female reproductive system.

Preparations and dosages
The distilled water of marigold is a recent development. Take internally up to
15mls daily. Apply as a lotion to cuts, grazes, fungal infections, insect bites. As a
gargle for mouth ulcers and oral thrush. Include in eczema creams.

Pregnancy as it promotes uterine contractions.

                        Chamaemelum nobile
                       Roman chamomile water

Latin Name
Chameamelum nobile

Common Name
Roman chamomile, garden chamomile


Parts Used

History & Folklore
Similar to German chamomile

Same as German chamomile.

The volatile oil components include the ester isobutyl angelate; the ketone
pinocarvone. Also cineole, alpha and beta-pinene, carophyllene.

Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, (though less so than German chamomile).
Roman chamomile is probably more of a relaxant than German. Analgesic,
antiseptic, carminative, cholagogue, digestive, emmenogogue.

Children’s ailments, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, period problems.

Preparations and dosages
Sip 5-10 ml, three times daily for anxiety, anxiety related digestive upsets and
Take internally for PMS.
Dilute and rub onto babies’ gums during teething.
Dilute and add to babies/children’s bottles when they are overtired, irritable or


The essential oil is contra-indicated in pregnancy, so care should be taken with
the water during pregnancy until more data is available. Rare reports of
sensitisation to the oil has been reported in sensitive individuals.

                         Chamomilla recutita
                       German chamomile water

Latin Name
Chamomilla recutita

Common Name
German chamomile


Parts Used

History & Folklore
In Ancient Egypt, chamomile was dedicated to the sun God Ra. Chamomile was
one of the 9 sacred herbs of the Saxons. In addition to helping people, the plant
has also been used to cure sick plants and was known as the plant’s physician.

According to Culpepper, ruled by the Sun, hot in the first degree, dry in the first
degree, heats the head, liver and joints, purges choler
Mainly ruled by the Wood element in TCM, cool and of neutral moisture.
Regulates flow of Qi energy and clears heat.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil components include: proazulenes, bisabolol, farnesene: and
terpenes such as pinene, anthemal, spiroether, angelic and tiglic acids. The
sesquiterpenes lactones are bitter and are responsible for the cholagogue and
choleretic activity of chamomile. There is also evidence for liver regenerating
properties. Other constituents are flavonoids; bitter glycoside; coumarin; malic
acid; tannins.
The azulenes and bisabolol are anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. They will
reduce histamine-induced reactions such as anaphylaxis, hay fever, allergic
asthma and eczema. Spiroether is also strongly anti-spasmodic


Anti-inflammatory, visceral and general relaxant; carminative; uterine relaxant;
peripheral vasodilator; anti-allergenic; vulnerary; antiseptic.

Chamomile is well known for its use in anxiety states, spasmodic or colicky pain,
vertigo, and especially children’s ailments of a nervous origin. It is also ideal in a
cream or as a lotion for nappy rash or added to the bath to soothe irritable,
overtired and fractious children and promote a restful sleep.
It is unsurpassed as a digestive remedy in nervous dyspepsia, peptic ulcers,
gastritis (bisabolol has been shown to speed up the healing of ulcers both
externally and internally), IBS, gastro-enteritis, diarrhoea; in fact there is hardly
any digestive problem where chamomile would not be helpful. Although a
carminative, chamomile has an appreciable bitter action, ensuring adequate bile
flow. This produces an overall very balanced action ensuring that digestive
‘depression’ does not occur.
Chamomile water is hardly surpassed as an external agent. It is indicated for any
inflamed, irritated skin condition such as eczema, urticaria, acne rosacea, acne
vulgaris, and varicose ulcers. It may also be used as an inhalation for catarrh,
sinusitis and hay fever where its actions are much more anti-inflammatory and
less irritant on the mucous membranes than eucalyptus for example.
The anti-allergy properties of chamomile water make it a key treatment
internally for allergic conditions such as, asthma, eczema or hay fever. It is also a
diaphoretic making it useful in colds and upper respiratory tract infections
(probably best taken as a hot tea in this case, although this could be fortified with
10ml of the water). As with other volatile oil containing plants, constituents in
chamomile are excreted via the kidneys, making it useful as a gentle urinary
The generic name of chamomile is Matricaria deriving from matrix, meaning
mother or womb, underlining the early prominence given to the plant for female
reproductive problems. It is useful in morning sickness and vomiting in
pregnancy, some menopausal symptoms, premenstrual headaches and
migraines, amenorrhoea of nervous origin, painful periods, mastitis, and PMS.

Preparations and dosages
Chamomile water is made by gentle water distillation of the flower heads. The
water has a faint blue tinge due to the presence of chamazulenes. The aromatic
water can be taken internally up to 40mls daily.
Apply as a lotion or spray liberally on any inflamed or irritated skin condition.
Use as an inhalation (about 30mls added to a bowl of hot water at the last
moment to retain the steam).

Add about 50mls to a warm bath just before entering.
Chamomile combines well with chickweed in creams for itchy, inflamed skin
conditions, and marigold for healing ulcers and wounds. Add up to 20% in a
cream base.
Carry in a spray for instant relief if prone to urticaria, sunburn etc.
Use as a facial toner in acne rosacea, or as an aftershave toner for men with
sensitive skin/folliculitis etc.
Combines well with lavender and rose waters for any inflammatory skin
Use as a part of a baby’s nappy changing routine, especially where nappy rash is
Use as a facial spritzer during the hay fever season.
Ideal as a cosmetic toner/make-up remover for sensitive skin.

The essential oil is contra-indicated in pregnancy, so care should be taken with
the water during pregnancy until more data is available.

                      Cinnamomum zeylanicum
                        Cinnamon bark water

Latin Name
Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Common Name


Parts Used

History & Folklore
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices and was one of the most valuable items in
the spice trade. For centuries the source of cinnamon was kept a close secret by
the Arabs, but it is said that when Alexander the Great was at sea, he knew he
was near the coast of Arabia from the spicy scent of cinnamon wafting from the
distant shore. It was brought to Western Europe by the Crusaders to enhance the
flavour of bread, fish, salt and meat, and was also valued for medicines,
perfumes and love potions.

Hot and dry

Constituents& Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains cinnamaldehyde (40-50% in the EO), eugenol, linalool,
1,8-cineole, carophyllene, benzyl benzoate. Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for
the sedative, hypotensive and analgesic properties of cinnamon.


Carminative, antispasmodic, hypotensive, anti-microbial (active against bacteria
and fungal infections), aperient.

Indications – (Internal use only)
Dysmenorrhoea, poor circulation, colds, ‘flu, nausea, indigestion, IBS, griping,
myalgia, rheumatism, bacterial and parasitic infections. Stimulating and
restorative nervine.

Preparations & Dosages
Sip 5 ml in warm water to instantly relieve bloating, colic and IBS type
Ideal first aid remedy for gut infections.
Combines well with ginger water for a warming digestive and circulatory mix –
could also be used for period pains.
Cinnamon water makes a delicious addition to coffee.
Sip 5 mls or so in a little cold water when concentration and mental stimulation
are required.
Combine with yarrow water as an over all digestive tonic.
At the first sign of a cold or chill, add 5mls of cinnamon and 5 mls of ginger
waters to hot water, add a little honey (a dash of brandy is optional!) and drink
as hot as possible to promote a sweat.
Use in cooking, especially good added to mince meat in mince pies and
Christmas cake. May be added to brandy etc for making sauces and other
cooking purposes.

Contraindicated for external use onto the skin or mucus membranes. Do not
spray directly onto the face. Avoid in pregnancy. Until more data is available on
the level of cinnamaldehydes in cinnamon water, do not use high doses
internally over long periods of time.

                            Citrus aurantium
                       Bitter orange flower water

Latin Name
Citrus aurantium

Common Name
Bitter orange flower, orange blossom, Seville orange.


Parts Used

History & Folklore
The bitter orange was first cultivated in the Mediterranean by Arab conquerors
in the 10th and 11th Centuries, but it was not till 1563 that the distilled oil of the
blossom (Neroli oil) is recorded by the Italian naturalist della Porta. The
blossoms were often used in weddings, as they are associated with virginity,
romance and fertility. Many believe that the golden apples of the Hesperides
(Priestesses of the Greek Gods) were in fact bitter orange fruits.

Cool and of neutral moisture

The main element is Fire in TCM; clears heat and stabilises the Shen (Heart and

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains alpha and beta-pinene, camphene, alpha-terpinene,
nerol, neryl acetate, farnesol, geraniol, linalool (35%), nerolidol, linalyl acetate
(mainly found in the leaves), methyl anthranilate and indole.

Sedative, tranquilliser and anti-depressant. Hypotensive. Antispasmodic, bitter,
carminative, cholagogue, astringent, antiseptic.

Internally, taken for anxiety states and as a natural tranquilliser for shock. Useful
in insomnia, GIT upsets, and diarrhoea of nervous origin, anxiety related
palpitations and high blood pressure.
GIT spasms, anorexia, and diarrhoea of nervous origin.
Externally, it is suitable for skin prone to broken capillaries, inflamed and
sensitive skin. It improves the skin’s micro-circulation and promotes cellular
regeneration. Due to its strongly astringent properties, bitter orange flower water
is ideal for greasy skin, or for a tightening effect on lax skin.

Preparations & Dosages
Avicenna bitter orange flower water has a faint orange colour as it is made in the
traditional way by exposing it to sunlight for a week or so. This is said to
enhance its quality and prolong shelf-life.
It is used with children suffering ADHD.
Sip 5 to 10 mls mixed with cold water at times of stress, including emotional
shock where it can also be sprayed or splashed over the face too.
Sip if suffering anxiety related anorexia, or any other stress-related GIT problem.
Sip throughout the day if prone to cardiovascular related stress symptoms such
as high blood pressure and palpitations.
Add to mineral water (5 to 10mls or so to 500mls of water) and drink up to 2
litres of this mixture daily.
Keep a dropper bottle and take as required if attempting to quit an addiction
such as cigarettes or alcohol.
Use as a facial toner for oily/sensitive skin. Mixes well with rose geranium for
Mix up to 20% in a cream base for oily skin.

In many Mediterranean countries, it was traditionally understood that anyone
with a heart condition involving a level of cardiac insufficiency (such as heart

failure), should avoid bitter orange flowers because of their strongly sedative
effect on the heart. Do not give this water when there is hypotension from any
cause. Can be too drying for those with dry skin.

                          Commiphora mol-mol
                           Myrrh resin water

Latin Name
Commiphora mol-mol

Common Name


Parts Used
Dried gum resin

History & Folklore
Myrrh is one of the oldest known medicines, extensively used by the Ancient
Egyptians as a medicine and for embalming. In the Greek myths, Myrrha,
daughter of the King of Syria Theias, is turned into a Myrrh tree by the Gods to
protect her from the wrath of her father. Ten months later, the bark peels off and
an infant emerges who is given the name Adonis. Myrrh is also associated with
the Phoenix, being cast into the fire out of which this legendary bird is reborn. It
has many associations with death and providing access to the mysteries of death

and rebirth. Myrrh is, of course, famous as one of the three gifts offered to the
infant Jesus by the Three Wise Men, and is still a major ingredient in incense.


Constituents & Pharmacology
Alpha-pinene, cadinene, limonene, cuminaldehyde, eugenol, m-cresol, acetic
acid, formic acid and various sesquiterpenes and acids.

Stimulating expectorant, strongly anti-microbial and disinfectant, anti-catarrhal,
astringent, carminative, vulnerary, uterine stimulant.

Respiratory, gastro-intestinal and skin infections, as an astringing gargle or
mouthwash for mouth ulcers, stomatitis and pyorrhoea. Externally on ulcers,
chronic wounds, weeping eczema, fungal infections and in creams for deeply
cracked skin/fissures.

Preparations & Dosages
Apart from the tincture and essential oil, myrrh aromatic water is the only other
way in which this resin can be prepared, and offers a much gentler, but no less
effective, alternative. Myrrh water is ideal for mouth, throat and gum infections
and problems. Use as a gargle, mixed with cold water, alone or with other
suitable waters such as Greek sage. Alcohol free preparations are much more
suitable for mouth rinses.
It is ideal mixed in cream bases for weeping skin conditions, cracked skin and
Use as a lotion or compress with marigold for pressure sores.
Use as a facial toner for skin prone to acne.
Sip 5mls in a glass of cold water, three times daily, as a first aid remedy for gut
infections - combines well with cinnamon for this purpose.

Contraindicated in pregnancy

                           Coriandrum sativum
                            Coriander water
Latin Name
Coriandrum sativum

Common Name


Parts Used

History & Folklore
The name ‘coriandrum’ is derived from the Latin ‘koros’, meaning ‘bed-bug’,
due to the odour of the fresh leaves resembling the smell of this particular insect.

It may have been one of the first herbs used in cookery; more than 5,000 years
ago the Chinese ate boiled roots and used the seeds for flavouring. It is
mentioned frequently in the Bible, by early Sanskrit writers, the Greeks and in
medieval medical texts. The Ancient Egyptians steeped it with fresh garlic in
wine and drank it as an aphrodisiac. Coriander was compared by the Ancient
Hebrews to the manna provided by God to the children of Israel, and was one of
the bitter herbs eaten at Passover. In Ancient China it was thought to promote
longevity and ease pain. In the Middle Ages, coriander seeds were put into the
popular drink, hippocras, so-called from the strainer through which the cordial
was filtered. It was drunk at weddings and Royal occasions. Arabic women take
it to ease labour pains.

According to the Western tradition, it is under the domain of Saturn
According to TCM, it is warm and dry, associated with the Earth element. It
circulates Qi-energy in the Stomach and intestines, strengthens the Spleen-
pancreas and will disperse cold in cases of painful obstruction.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains the alcohol linalol and thymol; the ester Linalyl acetate;
the terpene carophyllene.
Analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive tonic
and stimulant, aperient.

Nervous debility, mental fatigue, depression and worry. IBS, colic, anorexia,
mild constipation, indigestion, flatulence and bloating. OA, neuralgia, rheumatic

Preparations & Dosages
Mix with other carminative waters for indigestion and bowel spasm.
Apply as a lotion or in creams for muscle aches and pains.
Sip 5 mls in a little water, three times daily, at times of mental fatigue and over
worry. Mix with rosemary, sage or frankincense.


                       Elettaria cardamomum
                       Cardamom seed water

Latin Name
Elettaria cardamomum

Common Name


Parts Used
Seeds/Seed pods

History & Folklore
Another ancient spice, cardamom was extensively used in Ancient Egypt to
make perfumes. Cardamom has been associated with love spells and used as an
aphrodisiac throughout the ages and by many cultures. It was combined with
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pyrether, gillyflowers and other ingredients in an
elaborate aphrodisiac by the famous Arab physician Al Razi.

Ruled by the Earth Element in TCM, stimulates the movement of digestive Qi.

The volatile oil contains borneol, limonene, 1,8-cineole, camphor, alpha and beta-
pinene, humulene, caryphyllene, carvone, eucalyptene, terpinene, sabinene

Carminative, antispasmodic, warming digestive stimulant, relaxant, anti-septic,
nervous tonic, expectorant, orexigenic, antiseptic.

IBS, indigestion, nausea, griping, bad breath, anorexia, nervous exhaustion, a
reputed aphrodisiac!

Preparations & dosages
Sip 5mls in a little cold water, three times daily after meals, for bloating and
wind. Combines well with fennel, dill, and aniseed waters for this purpose. Mix
with angelica and ginger water for a warming digestive tonic.
Use as a mouth freshener, either mix with cold water and gargle or simply spray
into the mouth as required.
Mixes well with Greek sage as an antibacterial mouthwash.
Add to black coffee for instant Turkish coffee.
Add to hot punches and spiced wines.
Mix it with a little honey and hot water for a bedtime tea.
Cardamom will stimulate the appetite if taken before meals. Sip 5-10 ml in a little
water, half an hour before a meal.


                     Foeniculum vulgare
                      Fennel seed water

Latin Name
Foeniculum vulgare

Common Name


Parts Used

History & Folklore
The Greeks were the first to recognise fennel’s value as a gently diuretic
slimming aid, naming the herb ‘Marathron’ from ‘maraino’ to grow thin. The
seeds were eaten by athletes whilst training for the Olympic games. The Romans
ate them as part of an after-meal seed cake to aid digestion. Similarly, it was the
favourite ‘weight watcher’s’ herb of the 16th Century, ‘much used in drink or
broth…to make those lean who are fat’. Fennel was traditionally used to make a
soothing eye wash, and was considered for centuries to improve eyesight and
hearing. Fennel is a constituent of the famous gripe water for babies,

Ruled by Mercury, under the domain of Virgo
Warm and dry
Ruled by the Earth element in TCM, stimulates Qi-energy in the Stomach and
intestines, and disperses cold phlegm.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains: trans-anethol (oestrogenic), fenchone (toxic at high
doses), methychavicol, alpha-pinene.

Carminative, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, warming digestive, urinary antiseptic,
galactogogue, anticatarrhal, diuretic, aperient, hepatic.

Colic, bloating, nausea, flatulence, constipation, coughs, bronchitis, and
menopausal symptoms. In creams for dry, aging skin and for vaginal dryness.
Has a long tradition for weight loss. A gentle remedy for cystitis.

Preparations & Dosages – (Internal use only)
Mix with dill and aniseed water in equal proportions to make gripe water and
add 1 to 5 drops in a feeding bottle (depending on the age of the child).

Add 5 to 15mls to 500mls of water and sip throughout the day for cystitis.
Combines well with juniper for this.
Breast-feeding women can add 5 to 15mls or so to 500mls of mineral water to
promote milk flow and ensure adequate water intake. Will also help the babies’
Sip alone, or mixed with other suitable waters, for colic, bloating and wind.
Combine with angelica and/or aniseed water for coughs and catarrh.
Combines well with juniper as a general diuretic for oedema and premenstrual
water retention (add rose geranium for PMS symptoms).
Add up to 10% to base cream for a hydrating and softening cream.
Use as a hydrating facial toner.

Do not exceed recommended dose. Contraindicated in pregnancy, epilepsy,
oestrogen dependent cancers, and endometriosis. May be sensitising externally
in some individuals. Do not use on very sensitive or damaged skin.

                          Hamamelis virginicus
                           Witch hazel water

Latin Name
Hamamelis virginicus

Common name
Witch hazel, snapping hazel


Parts Used
Leaves, twigs and bark

History & Folklore
Witch hazel’s medicinal qualities were well known to native North American
people, who used poultices of the decocted herb externally to treat tumours and
inflammations, and took the plant internally for haemorrhages. Witch hazel’s
fame as a medicinal herb was spread to Europe by the European settlers during
the 18th Century. Because hazel was used in divining rods in Britain, it became
known as ‘witch’ hazel in the New World


Constituents & Pharmacology
Tannins, flavonoids, volatile oil in leaves, bitter principle. Tannins are not carried
into the water during the distillation process, thus the astringing actions of witch
hazel must be attributable to some other volatile constituents, as yet to be

Astringent, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cicatrisant, antiseptic.

Burns, swellings, weeping eczema, varicose veins, thread veins, phlebitis,
varicose ulcers, bed sores, bruises, sprains, muscle strains, and insect bites. In
skin lotions as a toner for oily/lax skin, to refresh eyes and reduce puffiness
(dabbing around the eye). As a mouthwash for bleeding gums and mouth ulcers,
and in ointments for piles. Internally for diarrhoea and catarrhal conditions.

Preparations & Dosages – (mainly for external use)
The most notable aspect of high quality witch hazel is that it has a lovely delicate
woody smell, unlike commercially distilled witch hazel products, which don’t
smell of anything!
Take on holidays in a sprayer bottle, and blitz insect bites for instant relief – can
be combined with chamomile for this.
Combine with lavender and use as an after sun spray.
Add up to 20% to creams for soothing eczema, psoriasis, cracked or blistered
skin. Combines well with chamomile and yarrow for this.
Use in compress form for sprains and muscle pains. Could be combined with bay
for this purpose.
Combine with rose water in a cream base for an excellent cream for aging,
damaged and mature skins and skin prone to thread veins, and to use around the
delicate eye area.
Keep the water in the fridge, soak two cotton wool pads and place over the eyes
to refresh tired eyes – rose water could also be added.
Use as a wash on wounds.
Add 20ml to a small glass of water and gargle for sore throats – may be
combined with 5ml of Greek sage for this. Use as a mouthwash for spongy gums,
mouth ulcers and gingivitis.
Can be used in a cream or as a compress for varicose veins and piles.
Spray over the face and décolleté daily for its astringing effects, or use as a toner
for aging, mature or damaged skins.
Mix with rose geranium or bitter orange flower water for an astringing facial
toner for oily/blemished skin, or mix in a cream base for an oily/blemished skin

More suited as an external remedy.

                          Hyssopus officinalis
                          Hyssop herb water

Latin Name
Hyssopus officinalis

Common name


Parts Used
Flowering tops

History & Folklore
Hyssop has a long tradition of use as a purification herb in ceremonies and
rituals; the word ‘hyssop’ derives from the ancient Hebrew name ‘ezob’,
meaning ‘holy herb’ (it is possible, however, that hyssop has become confused
with Greek sage). The Greeks used it in purification incense ‘Purge me with
hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow’, say David
in the Bible. It was used in the Water of Purification that God commanded Moses
to prepare. Indeed, hyssop was used for the consecration of Westminster Abbey.
Hyssop was a key ingredient in eau de cologne, Chartreuse and was used as a
strewing herb during the middle ages.

Hot and dry
In TCM, main element is metal, strengthens the lungs and defensive-Qi and is a
yang tonic.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil mostly contains: pinocamphone, isopinocamphene, and camphor.
Pinocamphone is toxic in large amounts and may cause epileptic seizures,
although hyssop was actually used to treat epilepsy in the past.

Stimulating decongestant, expectorant, anti-viral, diaphoretic, stimulating
nervine. The EO has a reputation as a hypertensive. Carminative, aperient.
Restorative nervine. Antiseptic and vulnerary.

Colds, ‘flu, bronchitis, catarrh, recurrent infections and immune deficiency. Will
liquefy viscid mucus. Gargle for sore throats. Cold and ‘flu prophylaxis.

Preparations & Dosages
Earlier herbalists undoubtedly saw hyssop as a most important cure-all, bearing
in mind, however, that they may in reality have been referring to Greek sage. The
potential toxicity of pinocamphone in the essential oil has placed a question
mark over its previously unquestioned safety. Probably a water best used in
smaller doses, over the short-term, until we have more information regarding the
levels of the various constituents of the volatile oil present in the water.
Add 20 mls to hot water for a gentle inhalation for catarrh, bronchitis, ‘flu, colds,
asthma and hay fever.
Sip 10mls in water, three times daily, during times when mental clarity and
steady nerves are required. Combines well with rosemary water for this purpose.
Combines well with angelica water for bronchitis. Sip 5 mls 2 to 3 times daily in
cold or warm water with honey if desired.
Apply as a lotion or compress to cuts, sprains, bruises or swellings. Would
combine well with witch hazel for this purpose.

Contraindicated in epilepsy, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Take care with
hypertensive individuals. Best avoided with small infants.

                          Juniperus communis
                           Juniper berry water
Latin Name
Juniperus communis

Common Name


Parts Used
Ripe berries

History & Folklore
Juniper is one of the first plants to be used by Homo erectus – remains of the
berries have been found in pre-historic dwelling sites in the Swiss Lakes. The
Ancient Greeks, Tibetans and Native Americans frequently burned it as a
fumigant and ritual incense. Its anti-septic qualities were employed right into the
19th Century when French hospitals burned the berries to prevent the spread of

Ruled by the Sun according to Culpepper
Hot in the third degree and Dry in the first degree, heats the heart, stomach,
kidneys and bladder.
Water element in Chinese medicine
Tonifies and stimulates kidney-yang

Constituents & Pharmacology

The volatile oil contains alpha and beta-pinene, sabinene, terpineol, myrcene and

Powerful diuretic, antiseptic (especially of the urinary tract), detoxifier, anti-
inflammatory, carminative, emmenogogue.

Urinary infections, urine retention in prostate enlargement. Gout, arthritis, water
retention. Externally for oily and toxic skin conditions (e.g. acne)

Preparations & Dosages
Add lemon juice to juniper aromatic water to improve taste and the cleansing
properties of the water.
Sip 5 mls diluted in cold water, three times daily, for cystitis. Combines well with
yarrow fro this purpose.
For a cleansing, detoxification mixture for internal use, combine with fennel,
peppermint and Greek sage waters.
Use undiluted as a toner or mix with face-mask clay for oily and acne prone skin.
Apply with oat bran and salt for a stimulating thigh/cellulite rub – rinse off with
cold water and follow with massage of appropriate oils.
Can be used in cooking – add to sauces, marinades and gravies.

Pregnancy, kidney disease and infection, ‘irritable’ bladder. Best avoided
internally by women prone to heavy menstrual bleeding.

                                 Laurus nobilis
                                 Bay leaf water

Latin Name
Laurus nobilis

Common Name
Bay leaf, sweet laurel, laurel


Parts Used

Ruled by the Sun, under the sign of Leo
Hot and dry
In TCM, its key actions are to circulate and regulate Qi-energy and to clear cold

History & Folklore
The Ancient Greeks dedicated Laurel bay to Apollo. At Delphi, the site of
Apollo’s oracle, laurel was one of the visionary herbs burnt by the temple
priestess as part of her prophetic ritual. It was also seen as a herb of protection,
and it became traditional (and still is to this day) to plant a laurel bay by the front

door of the house. The plant’s botanical name indicates the high esteem in which
it was held – ‘laurus’ from the Latin meaning praise, and ‘nobilis’ meaning
renowned or famous. It was the classical garland tree and great men were
crowned with its leaves and to be awarded a wreath was a sign of academic
distinction – hence the terms ‘baccalaureate’ and ‘poet laureate’. Roman soldiers
would carry a sprig to denote victory if a battle was won. In 1629 Parkinson
wrote the Paradisus Terrestris in which he said of bay: ‘Bay leaves are necessary
for both civil use and for physic, yea, both for the living and to stick and deck
forth the bodies of the dead, so that from the cradle to the grave we have use of
it’. Bay was one of the 400 simples used by Hippocrates and was very favoured
by Culpeper.
It has been used in perfumery and the making of bay rum, which combines an
extract of the leaves blended with cloves, cinnamon and pimento to make up a
well-known hair tonic and a refreshing aftershave lotion.
Unfortunately, the use of sweet bay has fallen somewhat out of fashion in
modern herbal medicine.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains: eugenol, myrcene, chavicol, cineol, linalool, alpha-
pinene, and alpha-terpineol.
Carminative, digestive stimulant, rubefacient, analgesic, astringent, antiseptic,
circulatory and lymphatic stimulant, diuretic, hepatic, anti-catarrhal.

Lymphatic congestion, viral infections, digestive after rich/fatty foods.
Gingivitis, throat infections etc as mouthwash/gargle. deodorant spray, dandruff
and greasy hair rinse, bath for muscle aches and strains and chills, lotion for oily
skin and acne.

Preparations & Dosages
Bay is a superb remedy for all manner of cold conditions, characterised by
lymphatic congestion, catarrh, sluggish digestion and inability to deal with fatty
Combines well with coriander for sluggish digestion and abdominal bloating.
Sip 5 – 10 mls in cold water, three times daily.
Sip in cold water where there is nervous debility and poor concentration.
Combines well with rosemary for this purpose.
Add 30 ml to hot water to make an inhalation for catarrhal respiratory problems
such as bronchitis. Could be taken internally with hyssop, aniseed or angelica
waters for this purpose.
Use as a lotion, compress or in the bath for aching muscles and rheumatic
conditions. Combines well with rosemary and ginger for this purpose.

Add up to 20% in a cream for a warming muscle/joint rub.
Combine with peppermint water for an invigorating after exercise muscle rub.
Use as a sweet-smelling underarm deodorant spray.
Can be used in cooking – sprinkle over cooked pasta, add to sauces, soups with
fish or meat.

Do not exceed recommended dosage.

                         Lavandula angustifolia
                            Lavender water

Latin Name
Lavandula angustifolia

Common Name


Parts Used
Flowering tops. If the flowers alone are distilled, the water has an unattractive

According to Culpeper, it is ruled by Mercury, and is hot in the third degree, dry
in the third degree, and heats the head

In TCM it is cool and dry, ruled by the Fire and Wood elements. It supports Qi
energy, especially to the Heart and cools the Liver.

History & Folklore
The name ‘lavender’ is derived from the Latin ‘lavare’ meaning to wash, and was
the herb of choice by the Ancient Romans to scent their bath water. It was
recommended by Dioscorides for ‘ye griefs in ye thorax’ and was highly
regarded by St Hildegarde of Bingen who recommended it for maintaining a
pure character. In fact she dedicated a whole chapter to lavender in one of her
books. Gerard in 1597 wrote that a conserve of the flowers with sugar was good
for migraine, faintness and ‘doth help the passion and panting of the heart’. This
was echoed in 1660, when Richard Surflet wrote that the distilled water of the
flowers ‘restoreth the lost speech and healeth the swooning and disease of the
heart’. Another reference to distilled lavender water was made by William
Langham in the ‘Garden of Health’ in 1579, ‘Shred the herbe with the flowers
and distil it and drink two ounces of the water to help giddinesse of the head and
rub the head all over with it and let it dry by itself’.
During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, lavender was the favourite strewing
herb to keep off the plague. It was used to repel moths and insects.
Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains esters such as linalyl acetate, lavanduyl acetate, alcohols
include linalol and terpineol; cineol, linalool, borneol, nerol, camphor, limonene,
cadinene, cardophyllene. Other constituents include flavonoids, tannins and

Antidepressant, relaxant, balancing nervine, analgesic, antispasmodic, vulnerary,
carminative, cholagogue, antiseptic, cicasitrant, insecticidal.

Anxiety, depression and stressful situations, insomnia, high blood pressure,
palpitations, PMS and general irritability. Headaches and migraines (internally
and as a compress), as a compress for rheumatic pain and neuralgia, hot flushes
as a spray. Stress related asthma. Externally on sun/burns, wounds, razor burn,
useful on almost any skin problem.

Preparations & Dosages
Lavender water is unsurpassed as a skin remedy for any skin type and any skin
condition, and this earns it a well-deserved place in the first aid kit. The added
bonus is that it is so pleasant to use. It is worthwhile keeping a sprayer of

lavender water on hand in almost any situation, especially when travelling in hot
Use as an after sun sprayer. Mixes well with witch hazel for this purpose.
Helpful sprayed on insect bites – combine with chamomile or witch hazel again
if desired.
Use as a general purpose toner and make-up remover for any skin type.
Use as a spritzer during hot flushes. Combines well with rose water for this
purpose. To keep the mind focused, combine with sage water.
Use as an aftershave spray, to cool razor burn.
Spray over itchy skin conditions such as eczema for an instant cooling effect, or
add up to 20% to a cream.
Use in children’s baths to calm them before bedtime. Combine with chamomile
and use during nappy changes as a cleanser, to help prevent and treat nappy
Use as a lotion to clean children’s cuts.
Mix with rose geranium and use as a PMS mood enhancer.
Use a cold compress of lavender water over the eyes and forehead during
headaches and migraine.
Spray clothes in the wardrobe and in draws regularly with the water to repel
moths and delicately fragrance clothes.
For the ultimate luxury, use as a spray during ironing.
Internally, lavender has a rather soapy taste, and although it is perfectly safe to
use internally, the taste can put some people off unless it is blended. It may be
used to ease colic and spasm, and sipped by those suffering asthma or tension
headaches. Average adult dose is 10 – 15 ml three times daily.


                            Melissa officinalis
                            Lemon balm water

Latin Name
Melissa officinalis

Common Name
Lemon balm, Melissa, balm


Parts Used
Flowering tops and leaves

History & Folklore
The name Melissa is derived from the Greek ‘melittena’ or ‘honey bee’, because,
as Dioscorides noted, ‘bees do delight in the herb’. Beekeepers still rub their
hives with the plant, knowing that their bees will never leave and hoping that
other bees will come. The plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean, and the
Arabs were the first to extol its virtues. The Romans introduced the plant to
Britain. Both Dioscorides and Pliny noted the plant’s analgesic, antispasmodic
and vulnerary properties. Avicenna in his 11th Century materia medica ‘The
Canon of Medicine’ wrote that ‘balm maketh the heart merry and joyful, and
strengthens the vital spirits’. This reflects the herb’s ancient reputation for easing
cardiac and nervous disorders, and above all, for counteracting melancholy. It
was widely considered to promote longevity. John Evelyn (1620-1706) said;
‘Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening memory and powerfully chasing
away melancholy’, and Paraclesus called it ’The Elixir of Life’. Thomas Coghan, a
16th Century Oxford Don, said ‘It is an hearbe greatly to be esteemed of students,
for by a special property it driveth away heaviness of mind, sharpeneth the
understanding and encreaseth memory’. In the 17th century the Carmelite monks
in Paris made a distillation of balm leaves called ‘Carmelite water’ which was
used as a perfume. It also includes lemon peel, nutmeg and angelica root.

According to Culpepper, Melissa is ruled by Jupiter under the domain of Cancer.
It is hot in the second degree, dry in the second degree, heats and dries the lungs,
heart and stomach. Purges melancholy.
In Oriental Medicine, it is associated mainly with the Fire element and is cool
and dry in temperament. It is indicated for stagnation of Qi-energy, for heat in
the liver and Heart and disturbance of the Mind (Shen).

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains geranial, citronellal and neral aldehydes; terpenes
include carophyllene and germacrene; citral, limonene, linalol. Other
constituents include flavonoids, triterpenes, polyphenols and tannins. The
volatile oil, in particular the constituents citral and citronellal, is responsible for
the plant’s calming effect on the limbic system within the brain, and for its anti-
spasmodic action. The water-soluble polyphenols are anti-viral and these
constituents are present in the AW, but not the EO.

Relaxant, antidepressant, antispasmodic, carminative, hypotensive, vasodilator,
cardiac relaxant, spasmolytic, nervine, anti-viral, gentle cholagogue, diaphoretic
(when taken as a hot infusion).

Anxiety and depression, hypertension, insomnia, palpitations of nervous origin,
cardiovascular over activity associated with an over active thyroid, and other
symptoms of cardiac irritability. Herpes simplex and zoster (internally &
externally). Gastro intestinal tract spasms, nausea, flatulence. Asthma with a
strong nervous component. Headaches, Premenstrual syndrome and menstrual

Preparations & Dosages
True Melissa oil is very expensive and hard to come by; the water offers a good
alternative with many of the added advantages of the tincture/infusion.
Probably one of the nicest waters to take internally. It is very light and refreshing
and can be added to iced summer drinks or simply diluted with water or drunk
on its own.
Ideal as a regular addition to drinking water. Add 10mls to a large glass of water
or 20mls to 500mls of mineral water.
Sip 5-10 mls in a little cold water 2 to 3 times daily for a relaxing/uplifting effect,
and to help with anxiety related high blood pressure, headaches and GIT upsets
and spasms.
Make your own version of Carmelite water by mixing melissa and angelica
waters, with a little lemon peel and nutmeg, as a remedy for palpitations of
nervous origin. Melissa, angelica and rosemary waters make a strengthening
and uplifting cardiac tonic for elderly people.
Add 30mls to 1 litre of water for children with attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) and drink throughout the day. Double the dose for adults.
Ideal for use during pregnancy for morning sickness, GIT upsets and as a general
nervine. Add a small amount of cinnamon and peppermint waters for morning
sickness. Use during the last few weeks of pregnancy to help prepare for labour
and act as a reassuring nervine.
Sip in a little water regularly for menopausal depression. Combines well with
rose water for this. Mix with rose geranium for premenstrual tension and sip
during period pain.
Take 10mls of the water 2 to 3 times a day at the onset of herpes simples and
apply the water liberally. Take regularly as a herpes prophylactic.
Dab onto cuts and insect stings. Helpful for allergic skin reactions too – combine
with chamomile or yarrow water.
Add to the steaming water when steaming vegetables or fish.

Add the water to jellies, jams fruit salads and stewed fruit. Flavour delicate teas
with a splash of the water rather than lemon. For a refreshing summer drink, add
lemon peel and sugar to diluted Melissa water. Chill and serve with ice.

An immensely safe water.

                            Mentha x piperita
                            Peppermint water

Latin Name
Mentha x piperita

Common Name
Peppermint (probably a hybrid between spearmint and water mint)


Parts Used

History & Folklore
According to hieroglyphics found in the temple of Edfu, mint was used by the
Ancient Egyptians as a ritual perfume and was the ingredient of the sacred
incense ‘kyphi’. In Ancient Greece, athletes rubbed it into their bodies before
competitions and the Arabs have drunk it for centuries to stimulate their virility.
Both the Romans and Greeks used it to perfume their bodies and bathwater, and
felt that it stimulated clear thoughts, concentration and inspiration. Pliny
declared that ‘the very smell of it alone recovers and refreshes the spirits just as
the taste excites the appetite’. The essential oil was used as early as the 14th
century to whiten teeth and later to mask the smell of tobacco. Peppermint only
really became popular in Western Europe in the 18th Century, despite its ancient

According to Culpeper, mint is under the domain of Venus. It is hot in the third
degree and dry in the third degree. Heats the stomach and womb.
According to TCM, it is cool and dry and associated primarily with the Earth and
Wood elements. It circulates Qi-energy, especially in the Stomach and intestines,
and clears hot phlegm.
Peppermint has a paradoxical warming and cooling effect on the body,
depending on how much is used. Small amounts are considered cooling, whilst,
larger amounts are felt to be more heating.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains the alcohol menthol; the ketones menthone and
piperitone; the oxide cineole; menthyl, 1,8-cineole, methyl acetate, methofuran,
isomethone, limonene, beta and alpha-pinene. Other constituents include
flavonoids, phenolic acids, and triterpenes.

Cooling externally (in small amounts), anaesthetic, diaphoretic, anti-spasmodic,
anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-catarrhal, anti-parasitic, carminative,
cholagogue, cephalic, fast acting stimulating nervine.

Flatulent dyspepsia, IBS, nausea, dyskinaesic gallbladder, flatulence, Crohn’s
disease. Colds and ‘flu. Mental fatigue. Hot itchy rashes or insect bites,
mouthwash, as a compress for muscle and nerve pain, bruises and contusions.

Preparations & Dosages
Sip 5 to 10mls of the diluted water 2 to 3 times daily or as required for IBS,
flatulence, sluggish liver or digestion. Can be combined with fennel, yarrow, or
chamomile waters as required.
Mix with sweet basil water to normalise bowel motions in IBS.
Combine with Roman chamomile for a good GIT antispasmodic.
Add 20-30mls to 500mls of mineral water and drink throughout the day – ideal
as a hot weather drink. Dilute with water, add ice, sugar and fresh mint leaves
and serve as a cooling summer drink.
Combine with rosemary water for an alternative to morning coffee, for people
who are sluggish in the morning.
Sip peppermint water for an instant ‘pick–me-up’.
Add the water to hot water to make an inhalation for colds, catarrh and sinusitis.
Use as an after exercise rub for sore, tired muscles. Could also be added to a
cream for this purpose and mixed with bay, ginger and rosemary.
Makes a great after-shave spray.
Ideal as a mouthwash – combine with cardamom or Greek sage as required.
Spray over the feet or face for a delightfully cooling effect in hot weather.

Do not give to children under 3 to 5 years. Take care on sensitive skins. Avoid in
large amounts during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding.

                        Pelargonium graveolens
                         Rose geranium water
Latin Name
Pelargonium graveolens

Common Name
Rose geranium


Parts Used
Leaves and flowering tops.

History & Folklore
Native to South Africa, rose geranium was introduced into Europe in the late 17th
Century and it became a popular garden plant. There is little reference to the
herb in old manuscripts. The French chemist Recluz was the first to distil the
leaves in 1819, and since then it has become an important ingredient in perfumes
and is often use as a substitute for rose oil.

In TCM, it is considered to be cool and moist, mainly associated with the water
element. It encourages the circulation of Qi and Blood, reinforces Qi-energy of
the Spleen and Pancreas and promotes yin energy of the body as a whole.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains the alcohols citronellol, geraniol and linalool; the ester
citronellyl formats; aldehydes include geranial.

Anti-depressant, astringent, styptic, haemostatic, cicatrisant, vulnerary,
balancing nervine, tonic, antiseptic, insect-repellent, anti-inflammatory, anti-
spasmodic, strengthens blood vessels, analgesic, pancreatic stimulant, lymphatic
stimulant, adrenal tonic, detoxifier, aphrodisiac.

PMS, menorrhagia, premenstrual water retention, anxiety and depression,
menopausal mood swings. Hypoglycaemia, especially premenstrual blood sugar

swings. Neuralgia and joint pain. Blemished and toxic skin conditions, suitable
for all skin types including sensitive skins, balances sebum production, useful in
acne and oily skin, scars, acne rosacea. Astringent action ideal as sore throat
gargle and in weeping eczema. Haemorrhoids, varicose veins.
Preparations and Dosages
The beauty of rose geranium water is that it is a total pleasure to use, both
internally and externally. It is the skin care water and can be blended with the
likes of rose, lavender and witch hazel, or used alone, to produce beautiful facial
creams and toners. It is superbly balancing to the skin with both astringing and
moisturising properties, and to top it all, it is strongly anti microbial and has
good scar healing properties – this really is the water for those suffering
blemished and combination skin.
Add 20-30mls to 500mls of mineral water and drink throughout the day as a
refreshing, calming and uplifting drink. Mixes well with rose water as a drink.
Sip 5 to 10mls 2 to 3 times daily for PMS, menopausal problems and any
hormone related mood swings. Can be combined with Vitex water for this.
Superb in a base cream and as a toner for problem skin and for treating acne
rosacea (could be combined with chamomile in the latter case).
Excellent in eczema, haemorrhoid and varicose vein creams and for treating
broken veins. Could be combined with witch hazel, yarrow, or rosemary waters
as required.
Use as a lotion for washing out cuts and wounds.
As a mouthwash for bleeding gums. Combine with witch hazel or myrrh waters.
Apply as a compress or cream for nerve pain and hot, inflamed joints and
Spray over heavy, tired legs.
Use as a spritzer for hot flushes. Combines well with rose for this.
Use liberally in clay or oatmeal facemasks
Use neat as a makeup remover.
Add to deserts, fruit salads, jellies and martini.

Very safe water

                           Pimpinella anisum
                             Aniseed water
Latin Name
Pimpinella anisum

Common Name
Aniseed, anise


Parts Used

History & Folklore
Native to the eastern Mediterranean, western Asia and North Africa, anise was
cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians and Romans; at Roman weddings a cake
flavoured with aniseed was part of the marriage feast. Powdered and mixed with
honey, anise was considered to have aphrodisiac properties. Dioscorides in the
1st Century AD wrote that anise ‘warms, dries and dissolves; facilitates
breathing, relieves pain, provokes urine and eased thirst’.

No data available in Western terms; would most probably be categorised as
warm and dry.
In TCM, it increases Qi, restores cardiac and respiratory functions and expels

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil includes anethole, methyl chavicol and other terpenes. Other
constituents include furanocoumarins, flavonoids, fatty acids, phenylpropanoids,
sterols and proteins. Anethole has an oestrogenic effect

Relaxing expectorant, carminative, digestive, circulatory stimulant, urinary
antiseptic, antispasmodic, insecticidal, galactogogue. Weiss states that the

expectorant action of aniseed is greater than fennel or caraway, but that the
carminative action is less than these two herbs.

Bloating, wind, colic, cramps, dysmenorrhoea. Coughs, asthma, whooping
cough and bronchitis. Poor breast milk production. Low libido, nervous
exhaustion, nervous headaches, anxiety, insomnia. Externally for lice and

Preparations & Dosages –
Aniseed is one of the constituents of gripe water (the others being dill and
fennel), and may be sipped for a wide range of digestive upsets. Combines well
with ginger, bay, fennel and peppermint.
Breast-feeding women may sip 5mls, 1 to 2 times daily to enhance breast milk
flow and to pass on the anti-spasmodic action of the water to the baby.
Sip 5 mls for coughs as required, and up to three times daily. Add to hot water,
honey and other waters such as angelica.
Add 10mls to hot water along with other suitable waters and oils for a soothing
inhalation for respiratory tract infections.
Sip diluted in water with ice for a non-alcoholic Pernod drink.

Contraindicated in Pregnancy. Do not exceed recommended dosage.
Anethole can cause dermatitis in some individuals – therefore external use best
avoided in allergic and inflammatory skin conditions.
Avoid in therapeutic doses if suffering from endometriosis or oestrogen-
dependent cancers.

                          Rosa damascena
                       Damask rose petals water

Latin Name
Rosa damascena

Common Name
Damask rose, gallica rose, Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose.


Parts Used

History & Folklore
The rose has always been associated with love, compassion, perfection and
beauty, and is sacred to Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. In Ancient Persia
it was considered a panacea. The damask rose was the first to be used for making
rose water by Avicenna in the 10th Century. Pliny listed 32 medicines that could
be prepared from roses. The rose has also been associated with secrecy – it was
suspended from the ceiling at meetings which were held in the strictest of
confidence, placed by the confessional in Roman Catholic churches and used as
symbol (placed at the centre of a cross) by the secret Rosicrucian society, founded
by philosophers and alchemists in the 15th Century. Culpeper used rose as an
anti-inflammatory remedy.


According to Culpeper, ruled by Jupiter and Venus. Cold and dry in the first
degree, cools the head, heart, lungs and stomach.
Ruled by the fire element in TCM, cool and moist, restores yin energy (especially
heart yin), clears heat in liver and stimulates stagnant Qi-energy.

Constituents & Pharmacology
Geraniol, nerol, citronellol, stearpoten, phenyl ethanol, farnesol, eugenol, geranic
acid, myrcene.

Calming and uplifting, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, cardio-active, hypotensive,
cooling astringent, aphrodisiac. Tonic with particular affinity to the heart, female
reproductive organs and liver.

Anxiety and depression, bereavement, heartbreak, menopausal mood swings,
functional infertility, irregular periods, and pelvic congestion. For anxiety related
palpitations. Conditions of heat relating to the liver and circulation. Gastro-
intestinal ulceration. Suitable for all skin types especially dry, mature, sensitive
skins. Will restore the skin’s pH. Use in eczema creams. Superb in cooking.
Combines well with Melissa for herpes simplex and zoster (internal and external

Preparations & Dosages
The roses grown for Avicenna rose aromatic water are grown at high altitude in
Mount Lebanon. They are distilled in the field, to produce a divine water. Rose
can be used liberally, both internally and externally.
Use up to 20% in cream bases.
Add 20-30ml to 500mls of mineral water to give a subtle flavour and calming
effect. Drink up to 1 litres daily. Ideal for people who find it difficult to drink
plain water, or work in stressful office situations. Take regularly for depression
and anxiety.
Menopausal women can keep a spritzer on them for use during hot flushes.
Ideal as a toner for dry, mature skin. Can also be used in face masks, steams and
Ideal as a face spritzer during travel, especially on dehydrating plane journeys.
Pregnant women can sip the water and use it as a lovely spritzer during labour.

Rose essential oil is contra-indicated during pregnancy, so care should be taken
by pregnant women with the water until more data is available.

                         Rosmarinus officinalis
                            Rosemary water

Latin Name
Rosmarinus officinalis

Common Name


Parts Used
Flowering tops

History & Folklore
The name rosemary is derived from the Latin ‘ros marinus’ meaning ‘rose of the
sea’ or ‘dew of the sea’. It was dedicated by the Ancient Greeks to the solar deity
of Apollo, and it has associations with Venus, Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary. In
ancient Egypt, the sprigs were burned as ritual incense, and placed in the tombs
of the pharaohs to help them recall their former life. To the Ancient Greeks and
Romans, the plant was sacred, symbolic of loyalty, death, remembrance, and
scholarly learning. At weddings and important occasions, garlands of rosemary
were worn as an emblem of trust and constancy. Rosemary’s association with

remembrance has persisted for centuries. Culpeper certainly recognised it as a
cephalic when he said: The decoction of rosemary in wine, helps….’diseases of
the head and brain, as the giddiness and swimmings therin, drowsiness or
dullness, the dumb palsy, the loss of speech, the lethargy, the falling sickness, to
be both drunk and the temples bathed therewith…It helps a weak memory and
quickens the senses’. Dioscorides recommended it as a powerful remedy for
stomach and liver problems. Similarly, Hippocrates said it should be cooked
with vegetables to overcome liver and spleen disorders. Galen prescribed it for
jaundice. The whole character of the plant was expressed by William Langham in
‘The Garden of Health’ in 1579 when he wrote; ‘Seethe much Rosemary, and
bathe therein to make thee lusty, lively, joyfull, likeing and youngly’. It was first
distilled in the 13th Century. One of the earliest known perfumed waters is
Hungary water, made from a recipe given to the 72 year old Queen Elizabeth of
Hungary by a hermit in 1370. It is said to have been made by distilling the tips
and flowers of rosemary with ‘aqua vitae’ – the first mention of the employment
of alcohol for extracting the essential oil of a plant. After one year of using the
preparation internally and externally, she is said to have recovered her health,
strength and beauty to the extent that the King of Poland wanted to marry her!
Rosemary is also one of the ingredients of eau de cologne.

According to Culpeper, rosemary is ruled by the Sun, under the domain of Aries.
Hot and dry in the second degree. It heats the head, heart and joints.
In TCM, it is warm and dry, ruled by the fire element. It is a yang tonic,
promoting circulation of Qi-energy, especially of the Heart, and blood.

Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil includes the oxides cineole; the terpenes pinene and camphene;
the ketones camphor; the alcohol borneol; also limonene, linalool.

Circulatory stimulant, cardiotonic, antidepressant, adrenal support, cephalic,
nervine, aphrodisiac, anti-oxidant. Rubefacient, analgesic, antiseptic, anti-fungal.
Anti-inflammatory, carminative, mild choleretic, astringent, anodyne, digestive.
Mild diuretic. Expectorant. Emmenogogue. Rosemary water does not contain the
same bitterness as other preparations of the herb.

Depression, poor memory and concentration, poor circulation and lethargy, low
blood pressure, arteriosclerosis. Nervous debility, ME and PVF. Headaches and
migraine. Dyspepsia, flatulence, abdominal distension, liver and gallbladder
problems. Menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, irregular periods. Compress for nerve

and muscle aches, and rheumatic pains. Externally for oily hair, dandruff, and as
a toner for normal to oily skin.

Preparations & Dosages
Sip 10-15ml in water three times daily, at times when mental alertness is required
e.g. at exam time.
Excellent as a gentle heart and circulatory tonic for older people, especially
where there are signs of cardiac insufficiency. The strong aroma helps to revive
fading senses too.
Sip or rub onto the temples for headaches, migraines, fainting fits, vertigo
attacks. Would combine well with lavender, sage or lemon balm waters in these
Take over the long-term for nervous exhaustion, physical exhaustion and ’failure
to thrive’. Ideal as a tonic for those who are convalescing.
Use as a coffee substitute if withdrawing from caffeine, and sip 10mls in a little
cold water for an instant lift.
Combine with peppermint as a stimulating after exercise rub, or apply as a lotion
or cream over painful joints and muscles. Particularly good combined with
ginger for joint/muscle conditions which respond well to heat.
Rub into the scalp to stimulate hair growth and spray onto hair and leave to dry
to promote a glossy shine. Ideal as a rinse for greasy hair. Add to shampoos and
Add to creams and lotions for varicose veins.
Use as a toner for normal to oily skin.
Can be added to savoury and sweet dishes. The flavour of the water is quite soft
and floral.

Avoid in epilepsy (although rosemary has been used to treat epilepsy) and
pregnancy. Take care with hypertensive individuals.

                  Salvia triloba
                 Greek sage water
Latin Name
Salvia triloba

Common Name
Greek sage


Parts Used

History & Folklore
This plant has tradition reputation as a cure-all, which will promote longevity.
Greek sage is most probably the sage referred to by Dioscorides and other
Ancients. It is unclear which types of sage are being specifically referred to in
historical texts and folklore. However, in general the name sage is derived from
the Latin meaning ‘salvere’, meaning ‘to be saved’. It is possible that Hyssop has
become confused with Greek sage and that it is actually Greek sage that was
referred to in the Bible and by the ancients as a purification and longevity herb.

According to Culpepper, common sage is ruled by Jupiter, hot and dry in the
second degree. It heats the stomach, liver, spleen, womb and joints.

Constituents & Pharmacology
Similar in composition to Salvia lavendulaefolia (Spanish sage). The volatile oil
contains cineole, linalool, alpha pinene, camphene, camphor, borneol, thujone
(0.72-1.86%). The most notable aspect of Greek sage is its much lower levels of

Outstanding antimicrobial properties against klebsiella, Streptococcal,
Staphylococcus and Candida albicans infections. Nervine, adrenal tonic, anti-
depressant, circulatory stimulant, hypotensive.     Anti-inflammatory, anti-
spasmodic, digestive tonic, hepatic, carminative, astringent. Emmenogogue.
Expectorant, febrifuge.

Nervous exhaustion, stress related conditions. Fungal infections, thrush, boils,
ulcer/wounds, gingivitis, gargle for sore throats. Dandruff, acne. Bloating, wind,
colic, indigestion, sluggish liver and jaundice. Asthma, colds, coughs, fever and
laryngitis. Amenorrhoea and dysmenorrhoea. Excessive sweating.

Preparations & Dosages
Sip 5-10mls in a little cold water 2 or 3 times daily to combat nervous exhaustion.
Combines well with rosemary for this.
An ideal tonic remedy for older people, again, excellent in combination with
rosemary and Melissa waters.
Combines well with yarrow, fennel and juniper for general detoxifying and
cleansing purposes. A course of the water can be taken to support and cleanse
the liver.
Apply as a lotion or in creams to infected skin, boils, acne and fungal infections.
Mix with myrrh water for thrush.

Sip before the period to promote menstruation, for scanty periods and to relieve
period pain.
Sip in cold water to alleviate menopausal symptoms hot sweats, and anxiety
related sweating.
Dilute in water and take for IBS symptoms. Could be combined with German
Apply in lotions or creams on muscle aches and pains.
Mix with cardamom and myrrh as a mouthwash for gingivitis.
Use alone or with rosemary as a hair tonic and shiner. Rub into the scalp and
spray over wet hair after the final rinse. Massage into the scalp to treat dandruff.
Use in sauces, pastas, marinades and meat dishes.

Pregnancy. Epileptics may be advised to avoid in therapeutic doses. Greek sage
is much less stimulating and toxic than common sage. Although traditionally
viewed as a hypotensive, monitor hypertensive individuals.

                           Valeriana officinalis
                           Valerian root water
Latin Name
Valeriana officinalis

Common Name
Valerian root



Parts Used
Root and rhizome

History & Folklore
Valerian is derived from the Latin meaning ‘powerful’. It has been used as a
relaxing remedy since Roman times, and was given the name ‘phu’ to reflect its
smell. However, in the East, it was used as a perfume. It was known as ‘all-heal’
in the middle ages.

According to Culpeper, it is under the domain of Mercury, hot in the first degree,
dry in the second degree. It heats the heart, bowels and kidneys.

Constituents & Pharmacology
Volatile oil constitutes up to 1.4% of the plant and includes bornyl acetate, beta-
carophyllene, borneol, pinene, camphene, and methyl-2-pyrrole ketone.
Valerianic acid, isovalerianic acid, sesquiterpenes, valepotriates, volatile

Tranquilliser, antispasmodic, hypotensive, carminative, hypotensive. The oil is
credited with killing the typhoid bacillus within 45 minutes of contact.

Insomnia, anxiety and irritability, premenstrual tension, period pain, visceral tension such
as IBS, hypertension, palpitations, migraine.

Preparations & Dosages
A very new aromatic water, which requires greater feedback on its specific
applications. It provides a good alternative to the tincture for those who wish to
avoid alcohol, whilst still having the fast effect of the tincture. Sip 5-10mls in
water as required, and up to three times daily, to alleviate, anxiety and nervous
tension. Take 5-10ml in a little water for insomnia.
Combine with Melissa to treat hypertension.
Combine with any carminative water to treat stress related bowel problems.
Should be considered for any condition with a large stress-related component.

A small number of people may be stimulated by valerian. Avoid if taking
sleeping medication.

Vitex agnus-castus
Chaste-tree water

Latin Name
Vitex agnus-castus

Common Name
Vitex, agnus-castus, chaste tree berry


Parts Used

History & Folklore
Vitex was thought to reduce unwanted sexual desire and was chewed by monks
to reduce sexual desire. It is native to the Mediterranean area and western Asia.


Constituents & Pharmacology
The volatile oil contains: cineol; also alkaloids, flavonoids and the iridoids
aucubin, agnoside and eurostoside.

Hormonal regulator – possibly progesteronal, galactogogue.

PMS, irregular or short menstrual cycle, infertility, premenstrual migraine,
premenstrual acne and acne in men.

Preparations & Dosages
Another new aromatic water, which still needs more information regarding its
specific actions as compared with the tincture or other preparations.
Sip 5mls every morning in a little water to regulate periods etc. Combines well
with rose geranium for this purpose.

Avoid in relative progesterone deficiency states. May not be suitable in
polycystic ovarian disease. Women taking progestogen therapy should seek

                            Zingiber officinalis

                              Ginger root water
Latin Name
Zingiber officinalis

Common Name
Ginger root


Parts Used
Fresh root

History & Folklore
Ginger is mentioned in the writings of Confucius as early as 500BC, and in
Chinese medicine texts of 200 years ago. The Ancient Greeks used it after it was
brought to Greece by Alexander the Great. Both Hippocrates and Dioscorides
recommended it in cooking and to treat stomach problems. At the medieval
university of Salerno in Italy, the famous medical school there promoted ginger
as a herb to ensure a happy life in later years.

In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger enhances fire in the body

Constituents & Pharmacology
Volatile oil contains geranial, neral, geraniol, geranyl acetate, zingiberene, 1,8-

Analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, carminative, antemetic, antiviral
and antibacterial, vasodilator, diffusive circulatory stimulant, aphrodisiac, tonic,
anti-coagulant in high doses.

Any cold condition will benefit from ginger, both physically and emotionally.
Ideal for dysmenorrhoea associated with scanty periods. It has an application for
almost any digestive upset – take care in conditions associated with heat and
inflammation. Travel sickness and morning sickness or nausea of any cause. It
will alleviate coughs and colds, especially those associated with chills and
shivering, and is useful in any catarrhal condition. Can help in high blood
pressure and poor circulation. Clotty, scanty periods, dysmenorrhoea. Include in
treatment regimes to improve fertility in women.

Preparations & Dosages
Sip 5mls of the water diluted in a little cold or hot water as required to alleviate
indigestion, nausea, travel sickness and almost any digestive upset. Could be
combined with fennel, cinnamon, angelica, cardamom, aniseed, chamomile, dill,
melissa or valerian.
Mix with honey, lemon, Greek sage, hyssop, bay or yarrow water and hot water
for a comforting drink at the onset of coughs, colds or other viral infection.
People with ‘cold constitutions’ should take ginger regularly. Combine with
rosemary, yarrow or cinnamon for improving poor circulation.
Combine with valerian and cinnamon waters for period pain.
Combine with valerian and melissa waters to treat high blood pressure.
Add to creams and lotions for applying to arthritic joints and aching muscles.
Can be combined with rosemary or bay waters.

Avoid taking in therapeutic doses if taking anti-coagulant therapy. May rarely
cause skin sensitisation.

                           References and Bibliography

         Title                   Author             Publisher          ISBN

Hydrosols – the Next        Suzanne Catty         Healing Arts     0-89281-946-4
Aromatherapy                                      Press

The Complete Floral         Anne McIntyre         Gaia Books Ltd   1-85675-0671-1
Aromatherapy for Healing    Gabriel Mojay         Gaia Books Ltd   1-85675-099-X
the Spirit
The Complete Guide to       Salvatore Battaglia   The Perfect      0-646-20670-2
Aromatherapy                                      Potion
A Country Herbal            Lesley Gordon         Webb & Bower     0-907408-81-8
Culpeper’s Medicine         Graeme Tobyn          Element Books    1-85230-943-1
Culpeper’s Complete         Nicholas              Magna Books      1-85422-332-1
Herbal                      Culpeper
The Encyclopedia of         Andrew                Dorling          0-7513-0314-3
Medicinal Plants            Chevallier            Kindersley
Case Notes                  Joe Nasr


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