Winterize with aromatherapy: Pamala Jurek gives prescriptions essential for curing your winter blues.
Aroma is the "essential oil" of a plant, or the plant's life force, that is distilled from its flowers, roots, berries, trees, pieces, herbs and resins. The oils are unique and have varied therapeutic properties that have been used for over 5,000 years for beautifying and natural healing. Essential oils from roots are grounding, trees are for strengthening, fruits for emotional uplifting, and flowers fill us with joy.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The uses of natural therapies pre-date the recorded history of every culture. Archaeologists' evidence shows that Neanderthals used plants for food and medicine over 60,000 years ago. Aromatics were found in tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, and it's thought that the famous Cleopatra, a fragrance fanatic, drenched the sags of her ship to attract Mark Anthony.
Over time, aromatherapy was forgotten, but the last few centuries have brought a renewed interest throughout the world. In 1937, a French cosmetic scientist, Rene Maurice Gattfosse, severely burned his hand in an explosion and used lavender to treat it. He had immediate pain relief, and the wounds healed with no sign of infection or scaring (see the sidebar at right for more information on the scientist). Today, cultures all over the world are giving attention to the healing effects of essential oils, as the scientific community conducts research attempting to learn more about the effects of aromas.
With winter here, along with our desire to hibernate from the cold, we can look to warming oils like ginger, marjoram, clove, birch and cajeput for cozy comfort. But, as much as we would all like to go into a cave and sleep this time of year, life's responsibilities aren't hibernating. When we need to go beyond relaxation, we can turn to more stimulating oils, like peppermint, rosemary, juniper berry, geranium, patchouli and bergamot, and refreshing oils, like eucalyptus, grapefruit, lemon, pine and spearmint.
These essential oils, and most other oils, have more than one healing or helpful property. Take lavender, for example, which is antifungal, antiseptic, antiparasitic, and an antidepressant. So, let's take a closer look into the wonderful gifts of these winter-ally essential oils and ways to use them this season--whether on your skin or in the air.
Lavender: universally and traditionally known to balance the body and to work wherever there is a need. It blends well with most other oils.
Geranium: an antidepressant that is refreshing and relaxing. Regenerates tissue and nerves and lifts the spirit to foster peace, well-being and hope. Caution: Geranium has a very strong odor, so use very small amounts.
Bergamot: an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, digestive tonic that is uplifting and great for anxiety, depression, and cold and flu.
Grapefruit: an antidepressant, disinfectant, antiseptic and stimulant that is good for anxiety and depression, cold/flu, chills, muscle fatigue and balancing and uplifting the mind. Caution: Do not use immediately before tanning due to photosensitivity.
Ginger: an antiseptic, laxative, antioxidant with warming properties that is good for indigestion, as well as muscular aches and pain. Caution: Ginger may irritate sensitive skin.
Birch: an anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, tissue-firming, warming oil good for reducing discomfort in joints. Caution: Birch is not for use by people with epilepsy.
Cajeput: a powerful antiseptic for muscular aches and pain and stiff joints.
As winter rests upon us and brings a good time for inward reflection and healing, may the oils warm and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit.
BUILD A LIBRARY
The basic descriptions in this article reflect only a small portion of oils and possible applications and redoes. I encourage anyone who is drawn to the use of essential oils for natural healing to research and collect a library of aromatherapy books. A few must-haves are Aromatherapy an A to Z, revised edition, by Patricia Davis and the Complete Aromatherapy Handbook: Essential Oils for Radiant Health by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi. For more information on Rene Maurice Gattefosse and the history of aromatherapy, check out Gattefosse's Aromatherapy.
A REFRESHING, SOAKING, SINK-YOUR-FEET-INTO ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND Ingredients: 3 drops eucalyptus 2 drops grapefruit Instructions: Add to your footbath and soak. A REJUVENATING, UPLIFTING, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, COLD/FLU GET-YOU-THROUGH-THE-WINTER ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND For Massage: Ingredients: 2 oz base oil such as sunflower or grapeeseed 10 drops lavender 7 drops grapefruit 5 drops bergamot 3 drops geranium Instructions: Massage into chest, neck and feet. For Bath: Ingredients: 4 drops lavender 3 drops grapefruit 3 drops bergamot 2 drops geranium Instructions: Add to bath water. * Or, use this combination as a room mist by mixing the blend with 4 ounces of water in a spray bottle. A COZY, SNUGGLING, WARMING SIT-BY-THE-FIRE-AND-READ-A GOOD-BOOK ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND For Massage: Ingredients: 2 oz base oil 15 drops birch 10 drops cajeput 5 drops ginger Instructions: Massage into chest, shoulders, upper back, hips, knees and feet. For bath: Ingredients: 5 drops birch 3 drops cajeput 2 drops ginger Instructions: Add to bath water. * Or, use this combination as a room mist by mixing the blend with 4 ounces of water in a spray bottle.
Pamala Martin Jurek is a certified Reflexologist and licensed Massage Therapist in NC, a CE provider through the National Massage Board, and an instructor at Center for Massage in Weaverville, NC, where she teaches several classes, including Introduction into Aromatherapy. For more information, call 828-712-6069.
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|Title Annotation:||herbal healing|
|Author:||Jurek, Pamala Martin|
|Publication:||New Life Journal|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2007|
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