Healing Straight From Nature…

Posts tagged ‘lavender’

Eleven Favorite Essential Oils

I know. It’s usually a number, like ten and not eleven when its about a list of favorites. Not this time. This is not my Top Eleven list; that would be different though some of these essential oils would make another appearance. These are my eleven favorite essential oils– the ones I reach for and think of most when blending for clients, family and for myself. If you include one or more of these essential oils in your blends, its like– you can’t miss! There will be reported measurable benefits!

I happen to like the number ‘eleven’ (11) because it is considered a Master Number (one of two such numbers; the other Master Number being 22) in the study of Numerology, a science based on numbers and their incredible affect on our lives. Some descriptive words associated with the number 11 include: illumination, enlightenment, inspirational, idealism, intuitive, psychic, channelling, poetry, expression, dreamer, revolution, mysticism, catalyst, prophet, celebrity, highly energized, radical, sensitive, visionary, enthusiastic and creative/creativity. I think all of the essential oils to be described possess master attributes in their own right and noted properties. They each offer potential to support us physically, mentally, emotionally and metaphysically in ways similar to these defining words and in other profound ways that are sometimes indescribable by the user. I should also add that the vibrational energy around the number 11 is loving and caring, as are all essential oils, used appropriately.

Here is my current list, deemed my Eleven (11) Favorite Essential Oils with one, or two of my own descriptive words about each and, in parenthesis, I’ve associated each oil with one of the words related to the Master Number 11:

1. Lavender – Lavandula augustifolia – heaven’s scent (idealism)
2. Sweet Orange – Citrus sinensis – happiness (expression)
3. Frankincense – Boswellia carterii – frankly amazing (intuitive)
4. Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile – subtle soother (sensitive)
5. Lemon – Citrus limon – brightening (illumination)
6. Bergamot – Citrus bergamia – blissful delight (creativity)
7. Helichrysum – Helichrysum italicum – resurrecting (revolution)
8. Myrrh – Commiphora myrrha – ageless curative (mysticism)
9. Tea Tree – Melaleuca alternifolia – first aid kit (okay, three words; I think it should be in every first aid kit, really) – (celebrity)
10. Basil – Ocimum basilicum – awakening (enlightenment)

This is my own list given my experience with these oils as an Aromatherapist and as a beneficiary of their varied uses.

Admittedly, it got really tough after listing number ten (10). People, in general, have some exposure to, knowledge of and may have used any of these ten essential oils in some manner; Helichrysum aside. Plant essential oils are used or experienced in some form or another in room misters, deodorant, antiseptic sprays, in cooking indirectly, in drink mixing or when burning incense. Many oils in my list of the ten are therefore, granted; no surprise. I use quality, GCMS tested essential oils regularly in my practice, so there were so many to think about as favorites, particularly with one left to choose. I started by thinking about how nourishing and beneficial Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii) and Carrot Seed (Daucus carota) are for skin; how wonderful Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) is for stress and sleep and inflammation and Eucalyptus (globulus) for respiratory concerns; ahh, stimulating Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Peppermint (Mentha piperita) for headaches… and how many times I have reached for and adored them in one blend after another! It was indeed challenging! I love Sandalwood (Santalum album) that is so balancing, but I use it sparingly as precious as it is! Then again, I swoon at the seductive aromas of Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) and enjoy the evocative presence of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata). So, being the me I am, I finally decided.

Here is my choice for favorite essential oil Number 11:

Cypress Tree

Cypress Tree

11. Cypress – Cupressus sempervirens – high vibe (catalyst).

If you are wondering why Cypress, like it came out of left field or something, I find it to be a powerfully significant oil that is certainly not an underdog in the least! I’ve read that Cypress is linked with the dead and grows in and around cemetarys. I had to nod my head at part of this commentary because I think I have seen Cypress trees in every cemetary I have ever visited. I don’t have a problem with cemetarys; someday I’ll lie there, too. Perhaps, Cypress trees are there to bring comfort to the visiting souls that will leave them, some filled with sorrow, and for the departed ones in the ground because life, as they knew it has ended? It is printed that there are some disquieted spirits in some cemetarys. I hope that the aroma of Cypress keeps them there! The Greek word ‘sempervirens’ from which the botanical name is derived, means ‘lives forever’. It may be that the spirit of the lives we have known and those we’ve loved live forever with us.

Cypress has an illustrious history that informs us of its capabilities and irrefutable reputation. It was considered a symbol for life after death and was burnt along with Pine and Juniper in the ancient temples of Egypt to cleanse the atmosphere (I assume of potential bacteria and evil spirits). It’s medicinal uses were inscribed on papyri and its wood was often used to fashion the decorated coffins inserted in the stone sarcophagi of the Egyptian aristocracy. These uses were likely those we know Cypress to benefit today. There is also an island named Cypress, in the Meditteranean, where the tree used to be worshipped.

Cypress, the essential oil, is derived from the distillation of tree needles and twigs. The essential oil is opening, moving and wondrous. It calms and soothes the senses when feeling overwhelmed, purifies and cleanses both psychically and physically, eases major life transitions, assists grief, trauma or transition. It supports circulatory concerns, respiratory issues, reduces excess fluid, is anti-spasmodic for muscles and stomach, is astringent, antiseptic; hepatic to help blood flow and can constrict it as well; it helps to support liver functions, soothes rheumatic and arthritic conditions. In short, it can be a life saver in the real world.

In my list of favorites, Cypress is definitely a number 11 oil! No diminshing my favorite ten oils before it. They each possess enormous strengths and are amazing gifts to the universe. Aromatherapy, as we know it, would be minus many exclamation marks without them!

I’ve got a question for you. What are your ten favorite essential oils? Then, really tell me about your number 11 favorite essential oil! For those that reply, I am going to randomly select someone (notwithstanding your oil choice) and send that person sample 4 ml. spray vials of my eleven favorite organic hydrosols on April 1st; no fooling! The identity, by first name of that special individual and his/her 11th favorite essential oil, will be announced on April 2nd. I will also share a list of other number 11 oils.

I already know! It’s hard to choose…

Aromatically yours!

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Sleepless in Jamaica

Rosewood Tree

Rosewood essential oil derived from the Magnoliid Tree

I had a tough week last week. It’s Sunday, the start of another week and time to start all over again. It wasn’t work, or people who made my week so hard. It was that all important factor of TIME and how it’s used!

In today’s busy world, it seems that there are not enough hours in a day. In a week, there are 168 hours. If you don’t make the most of them, you will fall behind somewhere in your busy schedule.

How many of these 168 hours are dedicated to sleep? Many discount sleep since these non-working, non-playing and non-running about hours don’t factor into the business that keeps us buzzing. But, they do count! Immensely. Your body has rights over you and if it doesn’t get its due, then you might not be as effective in those actions to be accomplished that get a higher importance rating. Lack of sleep is attributed to a higher rate of accidents on the job, increased rates of illness, absenteeism, deadly automobile accidents, and I am totally convinced that fuzzy math is in there too. Ask any investment banker how many hours of sleep he or she is getting. It’s entirely possible that derivative formulas and credit swaps that even the most erudite mathematicians can’t thoroughly explain are the result of someone’s thinking without enough sleep! If this were the case, it might be considered an instance where lack of sleep seems to pay– for now, that is. 

Sleeping 8 hours a night, or no less than 7 is the standard recommendation. That adds up to 49-56 hours a week. In quick math, almost a third of the time of a day, a week, a month– your life.  There will never be another April 10th whatever minute it is that you find yourself reading this (whatever day that is), forever. Time is going to pass. You and no one else will stop it. For your body, it’s kind of like that with sleep. The sleep you did not get last night or last week is over. But, it’s not forever. Catching up on sleep is better than continually thinking that sleeping 5 hours a night is enough to get you by. It’s not. Studies have shown that sleeping less than the recommended hours will catch up with you and it won’t be in beneficial ways. One study that really awakened me to understand how I needed to get more sleep indicated that lack of sleep may even shorten your life.

I had so many things still on my mind when I got into bed each night last week that it was not easy to drift off as I usually do. It’s amazing how some people can lay their heads on a pillow, or just back wherever they are and the next thing you know, they are asleep. I am not that person. I recognize the signs of sleepiness and put the book down, lose those thoughts in the darkness of my bedroom after turning off the light or just keep my eyes closed. I know that I can create a sleep environment. I have. There is no media in my bedroom other than a radio that includes a noise reducer (sometimes called a sound machine). I love to listen to that synthetic sound of rain and the ocean lapping against the shore every now and then. I do have books around me. I love to read. When my routine doesn’t go as planned, I reach for the aromatherapy next to my bed. It’s a simple blend of Lavender, Rosewood and Melissa. Some nights, it’s just Lavender, a very soothing essential oil with a wonderful aroma. It’s origin is those tiny lavender colored flowers from the lavender plant. To think about it, the color lavender has a soothing effect on the eyes and registers similarly in one’s mind. I love Lavender for many reasons.

When I add Rosewood I create a blend. It is an essential oil that is derived from the wood of a species of the Magnoliid tree known as Aniba rosaeodora. The use of two oils blend to enhance the desired effect by virtue of the combination of chemical components that begin a therapeutically marvelous duet. Mixing essential oils creates a conversion that is more powerful than using a single oil, kind of like two heads (thinking minds) being better than one. Both Lavender and Rosewood possess a chemical constituent called linalool, Rosewood having the higher of the two. It’s linalool that provides the calming sedative effect of these oils. I like to blend these two essential oils that work very well together to promote sleep.

But, last week was a different kind of week. I needed to invite an exceptional and precious essential oil named Melissa to complete the concerto. Also known as Lemon Balm, it has a top/middle note to it. A note can be defined as an aroma signature that is also related to the evaporation rate of an essential oil. Melissa’s fragrance is radiantly warm, sweet and lemony.  The aroma lifts out the bottle easily compared to the scent of Rosewood, a middle/base oil with a deeper, reflective and lingering aroma. Distilled from the flowers and leaves of the plant, it’s known to reduce anxiety, calm emotions and thereby is effective against insomnia. It is the more potent of the three oils and provides the “kick” that I know makes this blend work, for me. It’s nights when I can’t wind down from the spin of the day that Melissa brings the now you are going to get it shut-eye! One drop in synergy with Lavender and Rosewood makes a totally different blend. The nose knows. When using Melissa, it is important to respect that it can be a skin irritant in some instances. It should always be used in a carrier when applied to the skin.

I used these three essential oils sparingly in an ounce of organic aloe vera gel, but they could be used in an organic carrier oil like jojoba just as easily. I’ve also combined a 3-2-1 diffusion of Lavender, Rosewood and Melissa for use in the bath or deeply inhaled the combination of the three straight out of a small bottle. When I apply the blend to my skin, usually my upper arms, shoulders, behind the ears, I always clasp my hands together afterwards and deeply breathe in the beautifully soothing fragrance. Sleep, or the Sandman as I use to call it as a child, is only minutes away… 

I hope that the plant world continues to provide these precious essential oil gems. Lavender is fairly plentiful and grows in abundance in France, England or in your garden in a place where you have full sun– it’s that simple. I have some growing in mine. It won’t be like the lavender from elsewhere because conditions vary. It will be all yours to nurture and enjoy.

The tree that brings us Rosewood is found in the tropical rainforests in South America, specifically in Brazil, Columbia, Guyana, Venezuela and a few other countries in that part of the world. It is a threatened species. It’s a special oil that should be used in special instances, and like I use it, sparingly to support my need for restive sleep. Sleep is a necessity! Ho Wood, an essential oil that is similar in therapeutic properties to Rosewood, can be used in its place.

Here is to more sleep this week! It’s comforting to know that if it’s not as planned– you know, stuff happens, that I will have reliably safe and wonderful to use aromatherapy to get me through it!

Aromatically yours.

Choose from a selection of articles about the results of lack of sleep at WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/search/search_results/default.aspx?sourceType=undefined&query=lack+of+sleep&navState=6176

Source: Aniba rosaedora (Rosewood) on the Endangered Species List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.  http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/33958/0

Just A Little Stressed Now? Plan Ahead!

Fragrant Lavender growing in a field

Lavender growing in a field

No one is immune to stress! You can say so, but it just ain’t true!

A recently released study highlights how even mild stress can contribute to future disability. Just how much stress is bad for you we can not quantify here, however research is finding that even small amounts of psychological stress is not good for you. If you are not paying attention to how you manage stress, since it is impossible to avoid in today’s world, the study implies why you should. If you are already paying attention– it may be time to improve upon what you are currently doing to relieve stress. Even change involves stress. The implication of not changing how you cope with or manage stress may get costlier over time.

Why all this stress about stress? 

Stress is the body’s instinctive defensive response. Physiologically, your body is reacting even when your mind may not noticeably register it. Try this exercise: raise both arms high and make a fist with both hands. Squeeze them tightly. Hold them squeezed for about a minute (if you can) and then very, very slowly, keeping your arms held high, begin to loosen and unclench your fingers and gently shake them loose. Now, slowly lower your arms. Did you feel tension? What you just felt is similar to what stress feels like and the effect it has on your body. It is likely that your stress level is somewhere in the range of what you just felt. It just isn’t readily acknowledged or motivating you to do something about it. It’s become normalized. We have all been conditioned to some level of stress. Did you feel relieved when the exercise was over? That is what relaxation feels like. Not only are many of us stressed, we also don’t recall what it feels like to feel relaxed.

Essential oils, the basis of aromatherapy, provide amazing properties to decrease one’s stress level and provide a path to relaxation! They don’t take much time, are generally affordable, and are fairly simple to use appropriately.  One of my favorite essential oils to relieve stress is Lavender.

Lavender is a renown essential oil with a marvelous history. While the use of lavender plant essences dates back thousands of years, used by the Egyptians during their Dynasties for mummification purposes and by the Romans in their bath houses, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, also known as the  father of modern aromatherapy, discovered an initial and amazing benefit of lavender upon thrusting his burned arm into what he thought was a vat of water but instead was filled with lavender oil. The healing that occurred was what might be described as miraculous. Lavender is believed to have crossed Arabia into Europe, Greece and France where lavender fields are abundant. During the 17th century it was believed that to wear a bunch of lavender at your waist might spare you from the plague that swept through London. Also known by its botanical name Lavandula augustifolia, Lavender is a steam distilled essential oil derived from the flowers and buds of the lavender plant. Lavender is calming, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, analgesic, antispasmodic, cicatrisant i.e., helps the regeneration of skin cells among many other profound uses.

Lavender is known for its balancing and healing effect on the nervous system in addition to its profound effects when used on the skin as in the case of Gattefosse. Lavender has been useful in the treatment of stress-related illnesses and disorders like insomnia, anxiety and depression. It’s seemingly boundless and multi-purpose therapeutic properties assists so many healing processes that it is easily among the short list of must-have essential oils! I use it to de-stress, refresh and soothe my mind any time of the day. I include it in oil rubs for tired or tight muscles. I love its fresh, sweetly dreamy and pulsing aroma.

Some other essential oils associated with stress reduction include sandalwood, frankincense, jasmine, ylang ylang, rose, bergamot and chamomile. There are many others and many ways in which to combine essential oils for synergistic effects that are even more beneficial than using single oil applications. There are numerous ways to obtain the benefits of essential oils e.g., in room sprays, bath products, diffusers and using oils in an inhaler, particular for emotional or mental stress. In these instances, you can simply place one or two drops of an organic essential oil on a tissue and inhale. It doesn’t take anything special to accomplish a little less stress with essential oils.

Psychological and physical stress are related. If you are not aware of the mind-body connection, a discourse about stress is a good place to start.

There is a lot of science involved in explaining stress and how the body responds. It’s good to know some of that science, but for right now, doing something to effectively reduce your level of stress is most important! To emphasize why, let’s look at some points from the study conducted in Sweden over the course of five years and recently posted on the Businessweek.com website. It may get you motivated.

The study included over 17,000 employed adults in Stockholm, Sweden (ages 18-64). At the start of the study in 2002, the participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess their mental health and stress levels, and the researchers tracked their health through 2007.

During the follow-up period, 649 of the participants began receiving disability benefits — 203 for mental health issues and the remainder for physical health problems, the investigators found.

Study participants who had initially been assessed as having higher levels of stress were much more likely to start receiving long-term disability benefits during the follow-up period, the findings showed.

After taking into account other factors that might affect the results, the team found that even mild levels of stress raised the risk of receiving disability benefits by up to 70 percent, according to the report published online March 23 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The conclusion drawn by the study is that mild psychological distress may be associated with more long-term disability than previously acknowledged and its public health importance may be underestimated.

The study underscores the importance of monitoring stress levels, even mild stress, and finding ways to reduce stress on a regular basis. Many of us are so busy we can hardly find the time to relax. It does take time to unwind or turn stress levels down in order to relax. 

Stress has cumulative effects. Many illnesses are stress related. Doing a little something everyday is my strategy to reduce stress. That’s why incorporating the use of organic aromatherapy in everyday activities makes sense. Even little lifestyle changes can make a difference in how you’ll feel and how, over time, you manage your overall long-term health outcome.

When searching for that affordable bottle of Lavender essential oil be sure that it is organic or wildcrafted so there is no concern about pesticides. A little will go a long way on your less stressful days ahead!

Aromatically Yours.

Source: Even Mild Stress Can Lead to Disability, Study Says http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/651149.html

Source: Psychological distress and risk of long-term disability: population-based longitudinal study (Journal of epidemiology and Community Health)  http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2011/03/08/jech.2010.119644.abstract

Source: Stress: How to Cope Better With Life’s Challenges http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/mentalhealth/stress/167.printerview.html

Source: The History of Lavender http://www.lavenderfarm.com/history.htm

I recommend two online sources for high quality organic and wildcrafted essential oils (that I trust):                             Aromatics International, Inc. http://aromaticsinternational.com                                                                                        Stillpoint, Living In Balance, Inc. http://stillpointbalance.com