The Christmas Tree

January 2017

The Christmas Tree

Once upon a time the British Isles were swathed in pine forests, perfuming the air with their uplifting aroma. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), native to Britain, is a particularly special tree. Sporting distinctive red-brown bark this majestic conifer can grow 35-40 metres tall. As its name suggests it has a strong connection to Scotland, where it still grows and traditionally symbolised immortality. For me, Scots Pine is a perfect oil for this time of year, and not just because pines make lovely Christmas trees.

Pine trees are, of course evergreen. Our Pagan ancestors believed that evergreens have magical powers, enabling them to withstand winter’s harshness. This resonates with how I use Scots Pine essential oil – to help fight harsh, winter coughs. Traditionally, Pine has been used to treat respiratory disorders, aching joints, infected wounds and even scurvy; old English and European recipes for cough-busting pine cone syrup sound delicious! I like to add Pinus Sylvestris essential oil to chest rub blends, massaging it into the upper ribs and back when winter coughs take hold. As well as its respiratory action, Scots Pine’s mentally strengthening and uplifting aroma always brings a smile to my face. Don’t let a winter bug ruin your Christmas - if you’re bothered by a cough, try this soothing chest rub.

30ml sweet almond or sunflower oil
Essential oils at a 2% dilution (qualified aromatherapists may wish to increase the dose to 5%, as appropriate).
5 drops Blue Gum Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
4 drops Scotts Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
3 drops Ravintsara (Cinn. Camphora ct cineole)
3 drops Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)

This blend is designed to stimulate the body’s respiratory and immune functions, whilst encouraging the expulsion of mucous. Ginger adds a touch of warmth and the overall aroma uplifts the spirits and encourages mental clarity.

This blend is high in monoterpenes which oxidise easily; when this happens they pose a risk of skin sensitisation. Only blend as much oil as you need, so you’ll use it up quickly. Eucalyptus and Ravintsara are high in the oxide 1.8 cineole which should never applied to the faces (or near the faces) of babies or young children – this blend is for adults.

This year I’m celebrating December’s Winter Solstice - the time of the longest night - by decorating my home with evergreen branches, as our Pagan ancestors did, and diffusing Scots Pine oil. Whether your Christmas tree is pine, spruce or re-usable, enjoy the light and sparkle that our modern day Christmas trees bring to these dark December nights. Merry Christmas!


Materia Aromatica has its own Christmas blend, to add a traditional Christmas aroma to your home, bringing alive the aromas of a pine forest with black spruce, pine, eucalyptus and a touch of laurel.  To use, add a few drops to a burner, or put a few drops on a few cotton pads and hide strategically in your tree. Youl will need to refresh and add a few more drops every so often.
On special offer - Enjoy!
Also available as a candle.

• Dunbar J (2012) The Hedgerow Clock, (self published: Jo Dunbar)
• Hatfield G (2007) The Secret History of British Plants, London: Alleen Lane
• Mojay G (1996) Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, London: Gaia Books Limited
• Mojay G (2015) Aromatherapy & Oriental Medicine Reference Notes (ITHMA course text, unpublished).
• Robinson BA (29/12/00, updated 17/12/15), All About the Christmas Tree, accessed 09/11/16, available from
• The Garden of Eaden Blogspot, Christmas Trees from Garden of Eden, accessed 09/11/16, available from
• Tisserand R & Young R (2014) Essential Oil Safety (second edition), Edinburgh, London, New York et al: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier
• Trees on Line, Scots Pine Tree Pinus sylvestris, accessed 09/11/16, available from

Emma Charlton
November 2016

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