“earth laughs in flowers.” ralph waldo emerson
hi beloved readers. i am posting about aromatherapy because i use essential oils on a regular basis to heal myself and my family members. i am presenting a bit of information about what aromatherapy is, descriptions of a few of my favorite oils and how they’re used, and some sources to get you started in aromatherapy, or to enhance wisdom you may already have about the powerful effects of scent on the human psyche, energy body and physical body…. and the brilliance of aromatherapy is that you are going to resonate with oils that work with your body’s chemistry and olfactory system – and the best way to figure out what oils you love, is to experience them.
the art and process of using scents to affect the mind, body and spirit is an ancient practice. aromatherapy is a technique that uses natural oils extracted from flowers, roots, leaves, bark and stems to enhance physical and psychological well-being. aroma has a distinct affect on the limbic system in the brain. scents can trigger memories, projections, moods and feelings.
before the invention of steam distillation, plant materials were macerated in oil. then the oil was heated and the plant material was filtered out. these anointing oils were some of humanity’s first attempts to extract precious aromas – and refinements in the techniques of extraction are still being sought and discovered today. once steam distillation came into existence in the 11th century, it became, and often still is, the preferred method of acquiring essential oils. the distillation process uses heat, steam and condensation to produce a pure product. during distillation, plants release their oils through evaporation. a distiller can then separate the essential oil from the lightly scent infused water (called a hydrosol).
there are a few other methods of extraction besides distillation. these include: cold expression (like your cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil) and solvent extraction. cold expression method is used mainly for citrus oils, in which the citrus peel is squeezed and pressed to release its oils. using chemical solvents to extract essential oils has made it possible for very delicate plants to release their oils. however, this method is controversial because of the toxicity of the solvents that are often used including: petroleum, ether, hexane and acetone. it is claimed that once the essential oil is produced, there are no traces of the solvent left in the product. basically, you must do your research to find out the extraction methods of your favorite essential oils. and on that note, the aromatherapy industry is unregulated, you cannot be certain that the essential oil you purchase is of high quality and purity, as opposed to a synthetic essential oil, unless you trust the people who are selling you the product.
so, now is the fun part! you will sniff out many different essential oil brands and types of oils. unfortunately, i cannot recommend many of the brands of essential oils that you find in your local health food store. aura cacia brand is sub-par in my opinion. the oils do not smell fresh or pure – they seem to have an irritating chemical smell that lingers. wyndmere and starwest brands are a bit better than aura cacia….but, still not great. when you smell great essential oils, you will know it! there is a brand of oils that i highly recommend. the company is called: floracopeia. they are based in nevada city, california. http://www.floracopeia.com – their website is beautiful and easy to navigate. i have ordered numerous products from them and i have been exceptionally pleased. in fact, every time i receive an essential oil produced by floracopeia – i smell it – and it is the absolute best quality of oil i have ever smelled. the aromas are distinct and pure smelling. furthermore, floracopeia is wholeheartedly committed to the production of artisan quality oils created by a network of distillers and producers who follow the principles of ecologically sound agriculture practices, forestry initiatives and educational programs. they work to economically support and uplift local farmers around the world by purchasing aroma products from producers and distillers in south africa, british columbia, indian sub-continent, ethiopia, ecuador, fiji, israel, vanuatu, and the sangre de cristo and san juan mountains of colorado. they are a company you can feel good about supporting.
i like to use essential oils everyday. i usually pick a scent to suit my mood (or alter my mood) that i wear as a perfume. my favorite scents for this purpose are: clary sage, jasmine, patchouli, or bergamot. i also own a nebulizer/diffuser that i can fill with water and the essential oil of my choosing to waft scent throughout my home. my favorite scents for this purpose are: lime (my kids say: mom! it smells like candy!!), peppermint, and this time of year….a holiday blend that contains cedar, orange and cinnamon. if my kids have an earache, i tear off a little piece of a cotton ball, dab it into a carrier oil (sweet almond oil, jojoba oil or olive oil) and put a few drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil onto the cotton ball – and place it in the child’s ear. this always works. none of my children have ever been on anti-biotics. awesome, huh!? finally, for breathing difficulties caused by the common cold, cough, or allergies, i prepare a steam inhalation with my precious essential oils. i boil a pan of water. remove it from the stovetop. add a few drops of a lung support blend of essential oils that includes: eucalyptus, silver fir and white sage. and then place a bathtowel over your head and the steaming pot of infused water – and breathe. beware! this is a powerful and effective remedy. keep your eyes closed to prevent them from stinging and be prepared for lots of mucus.
there ya have it. a brief overview of the reasons why aromatherapy is so cool. furthermore, i encourage you to seek and try exotic oils….stuff you’ve never heard of. davana is a beautiful smelling (woodsy/sweet) aphrodisiac oil from india. brett loves an exotic oil, also from india, called jatamansi (himalayan spikenard). it is said that mary magdalene anointed jesus’s corpse with spikenard oil. jatamansi has grown on me – at first i thought it smelled like medicinal vomit. alas, to each his/her own.
have fun experimenting with scents for pleasure and healing. let me know what you discover!