The Amazon rainforest is supposed to cover some 5.5 million square kilometres. (1) One in ten plant and animal species in the world are said to be found in the Amazon forest, and to date around 40,000 plant species have been classified.(2) As a source of bio-diversity, this region is unparalleled in the world. In fact, according to one study, one square kilometre of rainforest in Ecuador is said to support over 1100 tree species. (3) Potentially, this region is most likely to store cures to most of mankind’s diseases and ailments. Added to this bio-diversity is the thousands of years’ worth of knowledge held by local medicine men, shamans and curanderos (healers). Unfortunately, as the region is being rapidly de-forested, the peoples of the rainforest are also disappearing. From a population of approximately 10 million Indians, some 5 centuries ago we have today a mere 200,000 left. And with each healer that dies not having passed on his art, the world loses that local knowledge.(4)
Hence, time is running out to save what remains of the Amazon basin and its people. It’s against this backdrop that a number of plants and in particular their essential oils, have started to come out of South America and are making their way into Western homes. There are 5 essential oils that I’m going to refer you to in this post and most of them originate from Ecuador:
Copaiba, also known as Copal, is is probably one of the only essential oils that is tapped directly from the tree and not distilled. It’s approved as a food additive in the U.S. and has considerable research on its anti-inflammatory benefits. Traditionally it’s been used by the curanderos for all types of pain and inflammatory disorders, including stomach ulcers, but also skin disorders and insect bites. In Peru, it’s been used as remedy for sore throat, by adding 3 to 4 drops of Copaiba to some honey. While in Brazil, the locals used it as an antiseptic gargle and expectorant for the respiratory tract, including conditions such as bronchitis.
Some suggested uses:
Apply 3 drops to the back of the neck and temples to relieve head tension.
Add a few drops in your bathwater to soothe tired muscles.
Dorado Azul, sometimes known as “bushmint” (because of its minty aroma) is a native plant of Ecuador. It grows to a height of 4 metres and the oil is distilled when the leaves turn a purple hue. Until 2006 it was regarded as a weed in Ecuador. D Gary Young was the first to analyze and distil the plant for its oil. Some of its medical properties include: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-bacterial and as a respiratory stimulant.
Some suggested uses:
Rub a few drops on your chest and upper back to assist a healthy respiratory system.
If you have a sick child, try diffusing it in a room for 30 minutes, 3 times a day.
Try massaging a few drops on your joints to aid in movement.
Eucalyptus Blue (also known as Blue Gum) is a cross between Eucalyptus Globulus and Eucalyptus Citriodora. It grows in the wilds of the Ecuadorean Andes. The locals have traditionally used it repel insects and cover wounds. It is the only Eucalyptus in the world to not create an allergic reaction in people who suffer an allergy to Eucalyptol. It is an excellent essential oil to use for respiratory ailments and as such it makes a natural complement to Dorado Azul.
Some suggested uses:
Massage this oil after exercise to restore tired muscles.
Add a few 3 drops of Eucalyptus Blue to 3 drops of Lavender to create a wonderfully sweet blend for your skin.
Put 15 drops inside a small atomiser bottle filled with water to create a natural insect repelling spray.
Try diffusing this in your living room or work space to create a fresh and invigorating aroma in the air.
Ocotea is related to the Cinnamon species and in fact is known as ‘false cinnamon’ or ‘false cannella’ by the locals. It grows on the western side of the Andes Mountains. Historical use of the ocotea goes back over 500 years, when it was apparently used in sweets and cakes. Ocotea has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and disinfectant properties, but it is also being used by diabetics to manage their blood sugar levels.
Diffuse it as a natural disinfectant in a room
Add a drop to a glass of water to help support digestion or to combat an overactive appetite.
Inhale the aroma when you are feeling agitated or irritable.
Palo Santo, means Holy Wood and the Incas used it to clear spaces of negative energy. It belongs to the same family as Frankincense and it’s been referred to sometimes as the “Frankincense of the Americas”. Only the branches that have fallen naturally from the tree can be gathered and distilled. It has anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-blastic and anti-fungal properties.
Apply to pulse points to aid in meditation.
Use 2-3 drops on minor bumps and bruises.
Use in conjunction with Dorado Azul to promote healthy joints.
Add a few drops to your moisturiser.
Try diffusing it in a room when you want to clear the space of negative energy.
I’m quite certain that over time we’ll hear of more essential oils from this amazing part of the world.
If you have any questions regarding these oils please contact us through our website.
Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.
Essential oils of Ecuador – Palo Santo (Jan 23, 2011)
Essential oils of Ecuador – Copaiba (Feb 18, 2011)
Essential oils of Ecuador – Eucalyptus Blue (Sept 18, 2011)
Essential oils of Ecuador – Dorado Azul (May 6th, 2012)
Essential oils of Ecuador – Ocotea (Jul 29th, 2012)
(2) Da Silva, Jose Maria Cardoso et al. (2005). “The Fate of the Amazonian Areas of Endemism”. Conservation Biology 19 (3): 689–694. DOI:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00705.x..
(3) Wright, S. Joseph (October 12, 2001). “Plant diversity in tropical forests: a review of mechanisms of species coexistence”. Oecologia 130: 1–14. DOI:10.1007/s004420100809.