By Dawna Matthews
I have been playing in my garden quite a bit lately — smelling herbs and flowers, feeling the sunshine, and watching my daughter laugh and run with wild abandon. Oftentimes, we will cut flowers, vegetables and herbs. Chloe and I always take a moment to bring the cuttings close to our nose and smell. The scents of these natural goodies always take me to the present moment or even to a memory, always leaving me feeling positive. My own aromatherapy in the palm of my hands!
With a long history, aromatherapy was used by several societies and empires, from the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to Native Americans. These empires used aromatherapy to uplift emotions, to purify, to anoint, and more. The art and science of using essential oils instigate healing on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
Essential oils are distilled/processed essences from specific parts of plants and are the most concentrated form of herbal energy. Every essential oil has its own unique fragrance or personality. It is this unique fragrance or essence of the plant that is used in aromatherapy healing. As the fragrance enters our system, the effects are felt on different levels, depending on the method used.
Compress – This is especially useful for headaches or minor skin irritations. Use drops of essential oil in hot or cold water. Dip a cloth or gauze into water, squeeze out the excess, and apply to affected area. Try peppermint, rosemary,lavender.
Diffusion – This is the easiest and most rapid way to benefit from aromatherapy. There are several diffusers to use such as a light bulb ring oraromastream. This can create an energizing or a relaxing environment, depending on the fragrance.
Massage – Use essential oils in a base oil (almond, jojoba, sesame, etc). This holistic treatment is enhanced with the aromas of the oils and can be used to benefit specific tissues and emotional conditions as well as to stimulate detoxification.
Baths – Mix 5-10 drops with water or add to bath salts. This method results in a soothing, sensual cleansing treatment for body, mind and spirit. I like rose or lemon balm in baths.
Steam Inhalation – This method is wonderful for facial treatments, colds or sinus issues. Place 2-3 drops in water and allow it to heat (but not boil) in apot. Remove the pot from heat. Cover your head with a towel, bend over the pot and inhale the steam. Or use the essential oil on a wash cloth placed on your chest while in a steamy shower.
Blending – This uses 2-3 oils to create a formula to support one another. Blending can be used in facial treatments such as cleansers, masks or toners.
Depending on the fragrance and the method used, healing can take place on a subtle or very physical level. Essential oils offer a wide variety of uses, from stimulating to relaxing, and stabilizing, to being used as antidepressants. Plants and their essential oils, the soul of the plant, have a life force that dances with ours. There is an essential oil for all of us. Just as I can be either awakened or calmed by the scent of a flower or herb from my garden, you too can find something for yourself.
Lavender – helps to balance, stimulate and regenerate, as well as calm, the nervous system
Lemon – cleansing, uplifting
Jasmine- creativity, harmony, aids in anxiety or depression
Tea Tree- antiviral, antibacterial
Sandalwood- harmonizing, warming, calming
For more information on aromatherapy: