Siberian fir Needle (Abies Sibirica)
Siberian Fir essence boasts an evocative scent, reminiscent of Christmas trees and bracing winter nights. The oil originates from the forested banks of the River Volga and the densely wooded Siberian taiga where, for centuries, it was used by native wise women in a traditional balm to soothe aching limbs and minor wounds. Shamans venerated the tree as the tutelary Spirit of the Forest, a link between Earth and Heaven, a sustainer of life and a source of cosmic energies.
Lavandin (Lavandula Hybrida)
This is a naturally occurring or cultivated modern hybrid of true and spike lavenders. A larger plant than true lavender, lavandin produces a stronger-scented, more abundant, and richer oil which makes it invaluable in the perfume industry. Lavandin’s aromatherapeutic properties are similar to those of its botanical parents, although the addition of camphor to its chemistry gives the intensity and fresh sharpness of its natural fragrance more muscular, botanical notes.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus)
Revered in Aboriginal dreamtime folklore, the indigenous Australian blue gum was first brought to Europe in 1771 by the naturalist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks. Sailing with Captain Cook to observe the Transit of Venus in the South Pacific, Banks, as the expedition’s resident botanist, marvelled at the eucalyptus tree not only for its elegant eerie beauty but for its folkloric properties as nature’s own best-stocked pharmacy. The leaves and tender shoots of this easily sustainable quick-growing tree yield an intensely aromatic oil with a characteristic soothing effect on the airways.
Lemon (Citrus Limonum)
The stimulating, mood-enhancing properties of lemon oil have made it a favourite of apothecaries for millennia. As with the lime, the lemon’s name derives from the Arabic word “limah”. Lemons and lemon trees came to the west from Asia with the early medieval Arab invasions of Europe in the eighth century, hence their extensive cultivation in Spain from whence Columbus exported seeds of the fruit to America. Sometimes used in classical religious paintings as a symbol of faith, the lemon was so prized in Tudor England that a single costly fruit provided the centrepiece of Anne Boleyn’s coronation banquet.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Like juniper, rosemary has a very ancient history. Its beautiful name means “the dew of the sea”, as the leaves and flowers of this wonderful herb glow with all the colours of the ocean and the plant thrives in salty marine air. Sacred to the ancient Greeks and Romans, rosemary was celebrated in De Materia Medica – the earliest recorded pharmacopoeia, written in 50AD – for its soothing and warming. Rosemary also played a key role in one of the earliest known western perfumes, Queen of Hungary Water, first formulated in the 1380s. Medieval folk believed it was a powerful repellent of demons, evil spirits and witches, while Shakespeare’s Ophelia even praised it as an aide to improving memory.
Exotic Verbena (Litsea Cubeba)
Also known as May Chang, this deliciously scented oil is well known to perfumers as well as herbalists. Native to south China and other south-east Asian countries, Litsea Cubeba belongs to the laurel family and yields a fresh herbal odour, with notes of citrus and coriander. The oil derives from the dried cubebs (pepper-like fruits) and has for centuries been revered in indigenous Taiwanese culture for its tonic effect on mind and body, lifting the spirits and promoting relaxation and restful sleep.
True Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Lavender is one of the very few plants we all know and recognise from infancy. Native to the Mediterranean, this modest but powerful ancient herb thrives on sun and dry poor soil. The Romans named it from the verb “lavare” – to wash. They cleansed their bodies with the fragrant oil yielded by the blossoms, and packed their heavy woollen togas in layers of the dried flowers and leaves to repel moths. The scent of lavender is virile and energising, clean, uplifting, and calming, and is traditionally valued as an aid to mental tranquility and restful sleep.
Lime (Citrus Aurantifolia)
Like the lemon, lime is a natural anti-scorbutic formerly prized in the British Navy as an essential source of vitamins, providing vital relief from an enervating diet of salt meat and wormy biscuit. The costliness of pure lime oil added to its reputation, and it was highly prized by herbalists in the court of Louis XIV, who treated his mother, Anne of Austria. The strength and pungency of limes is increased by the heat of the sun: – the fruit is sharper and more intense the nearer it grows to the equator, yielding a zesty scent renowned for its invigorating properties.
Juniper (Juniperus Communis)
Famous for its magical and symbolic appearances in myths and fairy tales, from its ancient associations as symbol of the fertility goddess Ashera, to the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Every part of the Juniper tree yields a fragrant woody oil which is kind to a weakened respiratory system. Juniper grows widely all over the northern hemisphere: you may even have a tree in your garden – a homely link to the religious rites of Ancient Egypt when the oil was burned before the old gods as an essential ingredient of the sacred khyphi incense.
Geranium Pelargonium Graveolens)
The flowering scented plant was first brought to Europe from its native South Africa over 300 years ago. The rose geranium is a member of the pelargonium family, its name derived from the Greek ‘pelargos’, meaning ‘crane’, due to the seed pods’ remarkable resemblance to the bill of this giant bird. Though there are over 700 varieties of rose geranium, less than a dozen yield sufficient oil to make extraction worthwhile, although its uplifting, enervating aroma makes sourcing it well worth the effort.
Orange Absolue (Citrus Sinensis)
According to ancient Greek myth, the citric staple was once a golden fruit belonging to the Nymphs of the West, guarded by a 100-headed dragon in a garden at the end of the world. More conventional historians, however, suggest the sweet orange was first cultivated in China during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, where it was prized by historical physicians for clearing both congested airways and groggy minds. The tree was swiftly exported along the Silk Road, where its calming, cleansing, and antiseptic properties were as celebrated as its heady scent.
Olibanum (Boswellia carterii)
Perhaps better known as frankincense, one of the three gifts of the Biblical Magi – although it has been central to religious, mystical, and medicinal rituals for over 5,000 years. Olibanum is the antimicrobial resin obtained from the bark of Boswellia trees, native to North East Africa and the Middle East. Now more commonly steam-distilled, this aromatic sap – warm, rich, earthy, and sweet – could only be harvested at certain times of the year, using specialised husbandry techniques, making it once more valuable than gold. A bastion of perfumery and aromatherapy, Olibanum’s exotic scent helps to combat fatigue, anxiety, and stress, fostering a feeling of concentrated calm mindfulness.
Bergamot (Citrus Bergamia)
The clean, fresh, energising scent of bergamot makes it a popular aromatherapeutic antidepressant. But bergamot has a well-earned reputation as a natural first aid kit among ancient cultures.
The tree first took root in southern Asia, where Ayurvedic practitioners used the oil to treat a range of skin problems, including acne, rashes, and eczema. It was later transplanted to Europe by the Romans, who valued it as an antiseptic, calmative, and muscle relaxant. Despite its tropical origins, the tree thrives in the volcanic micro-climate of Reggio di Calabria in northern Italy, where the finest oil is produced to this day.
Atlas Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
Native to the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, these ancient trees yield an oil which was used prolifically in worship, embalming and medicinal practice by the Egyptian Pharaonic civilisations.
A natural preservative and pesticide, King Solomon later used cedar timbers to construct, perfume and protect the great temple in Jerusalem. Cedarwood remains an important part of Sowa Rigpa, the folk medicine established in pre-Buddhist Tibet – known as the Kingdom of Shang Shung – and one of the world’s oldest traditional healing practices. Said to relax the mind while elevating mood, cedarwood is still used as an aid to meditation in Tibetan temple rituals.
Sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum)
A perennial byword for sensuality and opulence, sandalwood is one of the most expensive essential oils to produce in the world. Sandalwood oil is sourced from the magnificent slow-growing hardwood, traditionally used to create ever-fragrant sacred carvings and temples, and has been used in Indian religious ceremonies for over 5,000 years. But the tree has been widely venerated in traditional medicine. The leaves and bark were used by native Hawaiians to treat skin and scalp conditions including inflammations and dandruff. The intoxicating scent, meanwhile, is considered an aphrodisiac among many cultures. As a high performance skincare agent, sandalwood is regarded as the perfect base oil, with an unparalleled ability to capture and preserve the most delicate elements of other flower oils.
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)
A tall wild grass native to Asia whose tough intricate fibrous roots yield a fragrance which saw it hailed as a holy herb in the Bhagavad Gita. At the time this was written, vetiver oil was already in use as a medicine to aid the healing of wounds. To this day, in India, window screens woven from vetiver are drenched with water in the hot weather to perfume rooms and verandahs with its sweet, cooling aroma as the grasses dry in the breeze.
Sometimes known as ‘the oil of tranquility’, Vetiver’s soothing, calming qualities earned it a reputation as a traditional treatment for insomnia, chronic fatigue, stress and aching limbs. Vetiver is also ideal for cleansing, strengthening, and toning the skin, and its stimulating effects on skin’s natural healing properties may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, stretch marks and blemishes.
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
Gentle, refreshing petitgrain is extracted from the leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree. Petitgrain contains the compounds linalool and linalyl acetate, both of which are associated with promoting feelings of calmness and relaxation. It’s little surprise, then, that this is one of the most popular oils in perfumery and aromatherapy. Like many essential oils, petitgrain also acts as a deodorant and antiseptic, cleansing and disinfecting the skin and hair.
Ho Wood Oil (Cinnamomum camphora ct. linalool)
Ho wood has been a jewel in the therapeutic crown for centuries. Its benefits and voluptuous fragrance are even immortalised in Song Of Solomon, the Tanakh’s poetic hymn to human sensuality. This is little wonder, given its luxuriant skinfeel. As part of a beauty routine, Ho Leaf is an unbeatable regulator, bringing balance to oily skin and hair, while nourishing dry or delicate skin types.
But it was the oil’s medicinal qualities which made it a favourite of ninth century Arab philosopher-scientist al-Kindi, the founder of pharmacology and contemporary of the prophet Muhammad. One of the most potent essential oils, ho wood contains unique topical actives which stimulate blood flow in the skin. In concert with its analgesic properties, this characteristic tingle provides an enveloping sensation of deep tissue relaxation. Meanwhile its menthol-like vapours penetrate stuffy airways to aid meditative deep breathing.
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
Helichrysum oil has an association with luxury which stretches back to the Roman Republic, where it was used a dye to ‘turn silk into gold’. The therapeutic properties of helichrysum oil were documented by Pliny The Elder, who noted its efficacy as a curative for inflammations and bronchial conditions, in humanity’s first encyclopaedia, the Naturalis Historia. Modern science has since proved that helichrysum oil contains compounds known to enable inflammatory enzyme inhibition, helping control outbreaks of conditions such as psoriasis, and aiding in the repair of dry skin and sore muscles. Helichrysum is also able to prevent the degradation of hyaluronic acid, the skin’s own natural plumping agent.
Otherwise called the immortelle (or everlasting flower), it is commonly – if less glamorously – known as the curry plant on account of its rich, smoky-salty, spicy scent. Aromatherapists consider it an effective natural antidepressant, which combats exhaustion, stress, and lethargy, while sharpening flagging concentration.
Cistus Absolue (Cistus ladaniferus)
Considered an indispensable cure-all in the ancient world, CISTUS was used to stop bleeding, heal wounds, disinfect the sick, and boost the body’s ability to fight off disease and infection.
Combined with its musky, softly herbaceous scent, this made it one of the legendary aromatic resins of ancient Egypt. Indeed, it was considered so valuable that goatherds would comb the gum from the beards of their flocks which grazed the cistus bushes, selling the product at vast profit.
Technology for harvesting the oil has fortunately moved on, as has our understanding of rock rose oil’s chemistry, which is packed with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant compounds which can provide relief to painful stiff joints while tightening, firming and cleansing the skin. Crucially, cistus is a valuable natural source of scent fixative labdanum, making it a sustainable alternative to sperm whale byproduct ambergris traditionally used by many perfumiers.
Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini)
Native to Asia, the finest palmarosa was to be found in Bhutan, perhaps the spiritual home of aromatherapeutic traditional medicine. Palmarosa was one of the most highly prized plants of the territory then known as Lho Men Jong, meaning ‘southern land of medicinal herbs’. A tonic for the soul, its freshly floral, rose-like scent is comforting, reassuring and uplifting to flagging spirits.
It is an especially valued ingredient of OLVERUM as a penetration enhancer, helping our other oils and actives sink into the dermis to provide deeper nutrition, relief and relaxation.
But Palmarosa's own moisturising and restorative effects are invaluable for the maintenance of healthy skin. Due to its potential to aid the production of sebum, the natural lubrication and waterproofing of the skin, it is widely used in treatments to reduce the appearance of scars and fine lines.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
This modest-looking but powerful Asian herb has been variously employed through the ages as a disinfectant, deodorant, sacred incense, and aphrodisiac. The dried leaves first came to Europe from India 200 years ago, when they were originally used to protect textiles from moths on the long sea voyage home. Fashionable westerners soon fell in love with the woody, refreshing and effortlessly exotic scent in its own right. Thus patchouli oil rapidly became a staple of the Italian and French perfumery industries, then at their creative peak. Refreshing, calming and relaxing, patchouli restores equilibrium to a weary, anxious mind and stressed body. As a balm, meanwhile, patchouli also boasts the ability to soothe skin and muscle inflammation, boost the immune system and tone the skin.
Galbanum (Ferula galbaniflua)
Highly valued by modern perfumiers, this earthy, sharp-scented and costly oil is a gentle decongestant, as well as a calmative and organic antidepressant. Originally harvested by Persian apothecaries carefully milking the shrub for its rich gum resin, this umbelliferous plant was celebrated throughout the ancient world. Galbanum was recommended by Hippocrates, 'the Father of Medicine', considered a gift from Osiris by Egyptian embalmers, and is even specified in the Book of Exodus as a divine offering from Moses to Jehovah.
All these cultures revered galbanum for its healing powers, soothing and disinfecting wounds and abrasions. The oil is especially good for damaged skin as a source of phytosterols, compounds which aid cell regeneration, revitalising skin and helping to improve the appearance of scars and blemishes.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
The vivacious scent of lemongrass is instantly recognisable. Citric, fresh and faintly earthy, its cool fragrance is simultaneously invigorating and calming. Known for easing anxious minds and relieving tension headaches, Amazonian cultures have used lemongrass extract as a natural stress reliever and sleep aid for centuries. Its storied ability to relax, revive and rejuvenate the body and mind also made it a blockbuster treatment of the European spa renaissance in the early 20th Century.
Today, lemongrass oil is popularly used in sports massage due to its reported benefits as an analgesic, relieving sprains and soothing aching post-gym limbs. remains a staple of skincare, Its astringent properties, helping to tighten skin and reduce greasiness, ensure it will long remain a staple of skincare.
Don’t forget, you can also learn about our other active ingredients here.