The scent of a rose, a freshly baked cinnamon roll, mint tea brewing or an orange as it’s peeled — all of these are distinctively delightful and all come to us thanks to herbs, flowers and fruits. When you stroll through an herb garden or open a bottle of herbal lotion or shampoo, the fragrance is often what most captures your attention and imagination.
WHAT is AROMATHERAPY? Aromatherapy is an ancient therapeutic art of blending essential oils distilled or extracted from aromatic flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. These essential oils can have a broad range of therapeutic effects and actions on the body.
Our sense of smell is powerful, yet under-appreciated. Rudyard Kipling wrote, “Smells are surer than sounds and sights to make the heartstrings crack.”
However, most of us aren’t very attuned to how important our sense of smell is — studies have shown that most people consider smell to be the least valuable of the five senses.
Researchers are now finding that essential oils have measurable effects on both the body and the emotions. Use the suggestions in this blog to help you get reacquainted with your all-important sense of smell.
- Adding eucalyptus to a steaming pot of water and inhaling the steam helps combat a bacterial or viral sinus infection.
- Adding peppermint to an unscented lotion or cream will soothe muscles and ease away pain.
- The essential oils of many herbs, such as peppermint and chamomile, are used to cure indigestion.
- Rosemary and bay laurel stimulate the mind and particularly help memory. One simple trick is to sniff a few leaves when studying for an exam or trying to memorize anything important. Then, sniff them again when you need to recall the information.
- When you’re looking for a way to stay awake, make “energy” salts by adding a few drops of peppermint to a couple tablespoons of rock salt (available in grocery stores) in a small, lidded container. Open the container and sniff as desired.
- If you’re having trouble sleeping or simply need to relax, place a drop or two of lavender oil on your sheets to send you off to dreamland. (Because the oil may leave spots on your sheets, mix the oil with a little water in a small spray bottle, then spritz the sheets.)
It is important to remember that essential oils are very potent. They are far more concentrated than herb teas or tinctures, so be careful with how much and how often you use them. Do not take essential oils internally without the guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Keep essential oils away from your eyes.
As a general rule, don’t apply essential oils directly to your skin undiluted. However, some oils are perfectly safe to apply to your skin — for example, lavender oil on burns or insect bites and tea tree oil on pimples.
SOURCE: Kathi Keville, The Herb Companion