Healing Straight From Nature…

Posts tagged ‘wellness’

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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Green Gold For Shingles!

Leaves and green fruit (ballnut) of the Calophyllum inophyllum Tree

A friend, who later became my client, was in so much pain he went to the hospital, staying a few days. He had thought he had a bad cold. Then he started experiencing pain that became excruciating. He couldn’t take it!  He was the third person in as many months to be diagnosed with shingles and to reach out to me.

Shingles, medically known as Herpes Zoster, is a virus that affects the roots of nerves and appears as blisters, generally in a band on one side of the body. It is also a disease that affects individuals who have already had the chickenpox. Once one has had the chickenpox, the chickenpox virus can remain dormant within cell membranes for years, or forever. If the virus flares up again, it will appear as the Herpes Zoster virus, more commonly known as Shingles.

Shingles occurs most in individuals over the age of 50, although it can strike at an earlier age. The first person I can recall having a case of shingles was Magic Johnson of NBA fame, now a successful entrepreneur. At the time I thought it was a complication of his positive HIV status announced many years ago, both occurring that long ago. Magic Johnson was not 50 years old at the time. Shingles typically also occurs when one has an auto-immune illness, is experiencing high levels of stress, both of which are somewhat more likely as one ages or has sustained an injury.

The three persons that contacted me did so seeking some relief from the pain the illness brings with it. They could not sleep; one complained that he couldn’t eat and could barely think–which is why he went to the hospital not realizing initially that the sudden onset of blisters could result in so much pain. The other two clients were being treated as out-patients by a physician.

In my research as to how I was going to assist my first client, I came upon a common blending component, a carrier oil named Tamanu Oil (Foraha to some) or known by its botanical name Calophyllum inophyllum. Calophyllum means “beauty leaf.” It is native to east Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific. A member of the Mangosteen botanical family, it has been widely planted throughout the tropics and is naturalized in the main Hawaiian islands. To obtain the oil, the seeds of the plant are dried for several months and cold pressed.  It takes 100 kilograms of Tamanu fruit, the amount produced by one tree annually, to yield just 5 kilograms of cold pressed oil!  

In the Polynesian and Melanesian Isles Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu Oil) is also known as Green Gold! It is cicatrisant, anti-inflammatory, anti-neuralgic, antimicrobial, antibiotic and also possesses antioxidant properties. Tamanu oil is well researched as a skin healer. One item I came upon highlighted its use to treat leprosy in the 1930s. It is a thick oil possessing a nutty aroma, a somewhat translucent green color and is exceptional enough to generally be among the more costly of carrier oils. For the relief I have witnessed it achieve, it is worth it!

Calophyllum (Beauty Leaf)

I have learned that the choice of a carrier is very important to effective aromatherapeutic blending. When I research chemical components of the essential oils I will select from, I make sure to provide just as much concern to the carrier I select. It is important that the manner of delivery be spot on whether an oil, gel, salt, diffusion blend, etc., and all of the primary ingredients should all serve to make the blend as effective as possible.

As my clients were all is so much pain and could not bear to touch the area or have anything against their skin in the affected area, there was no choice to consider anything other than a spray application. In each case, I selected the same three essential oils:  Niaouli (Melaleuca  quinquenervia ct 1,8 cineole), Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) and Melissa (Melissa officinalis), each receiving a dilution of no less than 5% with a determined amount of Tamanu oil in an aromatic organic Lavender hydrosol to heighten the efficacy of the blend from the start. Other essential oil options considered included Bergamot, Tea Tree and Roman Chamomile.

In each case, I reached out the next day to see how each was feeling and to ascertain that they were all, in fact, using their blends. The satisfaction and relief expressed by each was rewarding to hear. In two out of three instances, the pain medication that had been prescribed was not necessary as the blend provided adequate relief from the pain. In the other instance it took three days before my client conveyed likewise that she felt it was unnecessary to take the pain medication anymore. In all instances, I stressed the requirement that each complete the oral antibiotics that had been prescribed by physicians that were treating each one of them. The blistering effect of shingles can be a horrifying image. I observed numerous blisters larger than 1/2 inch in diameter on the trunk of the male client (they appeared smaller but were just as numerous for the two female clients). Needless to say, all are concerned about potential scarring. I plan to transition to a topical oil blend containing Tamanu and Jojoba as carriers and a few carefully selected cicatrisant organic essential oils for my most recent client as was successful with the prior two. When they see me, they can’t thank me enough for “getting them through it.”

Maintaining my own health and helping others as a result of knowledge gained, as in other circumstances in my life, serve as primary motivating factors regarding my interest and effort to study and use aromatherapy. I love hearing positive results. I am always grateful about the bounty and blessings in plant life that serve our needs in  miraculous ways. While I would insist that anyone diagnosed with shingles be treated by a physician, I would not hesitate to promote the use of aromatherapy to support the need to alleviate pain, and once the external healing has begun, calm the itch and anxiety that accompanies a shingles diagnosis.

With a rise in compromised immune systems and stress as factors for the onset of shingles, in addition to the benefit of living longer among growing segments of the general population, I expect to see more clients presenting shingles as their introduction to aromatherapy. I full expect to utilize more Green Gold (Calophyllum inophyllum) to assist and relieve their physical and emotional discomfort.

Aromatically Yours.

Dried Calophyllum inophyllum fruit (seed)

To read more about Tamanu (Foraha) Oil, please use these links: Aromatics International http://www.aromaticsinternational.com/aromatherapy-other-products/tamanu-oil-foraha

Agroforestry: http://www.agroforestry.net/tti/Calophyllum-kamani.pdf (amazing pictures of this wondrous plant)
Fascinating chemistry of Calophyllum inophyllum and study of its use on scars in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science article (2002): http://www.dweckdata.com/Published_papers/Tamanu.pdf

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

Peace and Healing Straight From Nature….

Finally, an opportunity to give voice to the power of plants! 

There are so many to choose from… in this blog I will sample from the bountiful world of plants and share my love of them. We will look at their energy, aromas, beneficial characteristics and their beauty. I for one, take no plant for granted! They, like the human species, are so different. So vibrant! So alive! There are those that are alluring and some that are truly creepy. So much for how varied they are, as are we. Yet, even the creepiest of plants can provide some medicinal benefit.  

In “The Lost Language of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines to Life on Earth,” by Stephen Harrod Buhner, the author alludes to how plants speak to us. I agree. They do. From their physical appearance they lure and beckon us to come closer. They make us curious. Think about a desert. Now think about a park lush with trees and flowers. Is there not a stark difference here?

There is something about the color green. It is powerful! It blankets the earth where there is water and sun. Plant a seed and give it some time… something will grow there.

I hope you will grow with me as I share my thoughts, knowledge and experience with plants, more specifically, their qualities, characteristics and essential healing powers!

Aromatically Yours.Flowers on a Lemon Tree