I suppose I was most influenced by one of my mom's worst life-altering episodes. It happened when she came down with some sort of leg infection that became so dire that it called for an amputation but the doctors were understandably too busy with wounded soldiers. As my grandmother carried my mom back to their home, an old woman called out to my grandmother and asked what the problem was. (Oh those old Russian/Ukrainian babushkas always had to be in on any action going on!) Upon hearing what had happened, the old woman nodded sagely and after my grandmother swore to carry out the instructions to a T, she was given a secret recipe of herbs to pull out all the gory stuff from my mom's leg. Within a certain amount of time (weeks, months, this my mom doesn't remember, as other problems were taking their attention away from the leg crisis) all the tissue was rejuvenated and my mom was left with only a scar that showed where the puss and rot had come out.
Likewise, I doubt that there is a Russian or Ukrainian, here in the States or back in the "old country" who doesn't know that if one gets a wound of any sort, they simply need to find some "podorozhnik," a weed that grows "by the side of the road" (plantain, I believe it's called) and stick it on. There's no scar left if it's used until the healing is over. Even a "new" Russian arrival, a doctor at the "major medical center," swore by podorozhnik - that made me really laugh! The only thing that keeps me away from podorozhnik these days is that I know that there's none that hasn't tons of pesticides drowning it.
So, when I first heard about aromatherapy, I was fascinated. Plus, there's that tiny thing of having a nose that's infamous for its sense of smell. To me aromatherapy and my nose seemed to be a match made in heaven and I became almost obsessed with aromatherapy. I discovered it in an English pharmacy. I love to visit pharmacies and grocery stores when I travel. Why? Because to me they are what I call "contemporary museums." How better to get a good view of what a country and its people are like?
According to history, it was WWll that brought essential oils to the fore. A medical doctor began his own research on the properties of essential oils, taking over the work a previous doctor who had started experimenting with essential oils during WWI when there was a shortage of supplies and medicines. During the second World War, when supplies and medicines, including the new antibiotics, had run out near battlefields and in field hospitals he tried essential oils and the wounds healed rapidly, infection was reduced and often completely arrested - much like what happened to my mom, though through different "old world" means. It's said that many soldiers were saved because of his treatment with essential oils.
"Dr. Jean Valnet has written extensively about essential oil therapy and in 1964 published The Art of Aromatherapy and the movement in Europe had rebirth. Around the same time, a Frenchman, Albert Couvreur, published a book on the medicinal uses of essential oils and Madame Marguerite Maury, a French biochemist, developed a unique method of applying essential oils to the skin with massage and established the first aromatherapy clinics in Paris, Great Britain, and Switzerland, and studied the rejuvenating properties of essential oils. Her research was published in English as The Secret of Life and Youth (1964). Micheline Arcier studied and worked with Maury and Valnet and their combined techniques created a form of aromatherapy that is used around the world." ~From AromatherapyNaturalHealing.com
I've had some dramatic results with aromatherapy. I was lucky enough to go back to London a few times and get work done at Micheline Arcier's aromatherapy center in Knightsbridge. For a few years I had a local massage therapist use blends I made up myself. I would also use the essential oils for various symptoms and health problems that came up, with great results.
Although I could go on and on about many oils that I love, these are my favorite three, aside from the obvious ones such as lavender and tea tree oils. And just to state the obvious, please remember to only go for organic and well-established sources for essential oils. Can you imagine the concentrations of toxins in a single drop if you're using an oil that's been grown under non-organic conditions? (Yikes!) And please keep in mind that I'm not a doctor, nor a professional aromatherapist. Finally, bear in mind that if you're on any medications, they need to be cross-checked with a physician of some sort. I've not had problems, but I've also done "my research" before using any oils and run them by my doctor, who is quite open-minded about these sorts of things if I bring him my research. At any rate, these are just three of my favorites that have worked wonders for me.
- Clary Sage: I think of this oil as the one that lifts you up when you are down but brings you down if you're too up and running on jittery nerves. I absolutely love this oil. Its properties are that of an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, deodorant; it decreases gas and indigestion, brings on menstruation, relaxes muscles and nerves and lowers blood pressure.
HOWEVER, WARNING: Large amounts can make one giddy, cause headaches and raise blood pressure. Never use it with alcohol or if you are pregnant, suffer from breast cysts uterine fibroids or other estrogen-related disorders!
- Neroli: Oh, I love the smell of this oil and it is my choice for falling asleep if the stars happen to line up in the sky correctly. (I'm kidding about the stars: sort of!)
Neroli Oil uses: this is an oil that produces relaxation and is although it is often compared to lavender, this is by far the preferred choice. It's calming properties allow it to to alleviate anxiety, depression and stress. It helps promote sleep and relieve restlessness.
- Pink Grapefruit: Oh, my. If you're exhausted, this will pep you up, but in a calm way, not as jerky and hyper as peppermint (IMHO).
It has a brightness to it that gives you energy and uplifts the spirit. (I really don't mean to sound too much like a hippie: but other language evades me!) I once surprised my son by arriving in Australia unannounced (oh yeah, there goes all my credibility!) and was absolutely dead from the long trip. In order to make it to the surprise "Hi, how are you doing?" as he almost dropped dead from a heart attack, ("Mom, what are you doing out of bed?") I used this oil and suddenly freshened up, despite the shower that was supposed to give me a boost, but suddenly started putting me to sleep instead. I've been in love with this oil since!
It's said that the oil enhances self-esteem and I agree! Dare I say that it also gives one "a sense of empowerment"?
Here's another tidbit: it supposedly diminishes people's appetites. (I'm ordering this very soon - I can't find any of my oils in the house since the remodeling began. Oh well, they were all past expiry dates anyway!)
Pink grapefruit uses: applied topically, it can benefit toning and have astringent effects. It's also known to stimulate the lymphatic system and helps the body remove toxins. Furthermore, it's said that it stimulates liver and gallbladder function (well, that boat has sailed: too late!). It's an excellent body tonic in that it increases circulation and tones skin cells. Ancient medicine says that the sour taste of grapefruit was used to balance and regulate conditions such as constipation, anxiety, worry, restlessness, PMS and insomnia. The sour taste is also known to improve a sluggish digestive system. (Does anyone remember the grapefruit diets?)
One "how-to" use of pink grapefruit oil tip which I came across: place one to three drops in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together vigorously. (Adjust the amount to your satisfaction, less or more, according to what appeals to you.) Breath in the scent 5-20 minutes before a meal. Important: drink 8 oz. of "real" water after inhaling the oil.
It's said that if one blends a wild patchouli essential oil with the pink grapefruit essential oil, the grapefruit oil's properties will be enhanced in the appetite suppressant category. (I've not tried this, but I may well do so!)
A beauty tip: add a drop or two into a shampoo bottle to enhance the shine to your hair. It's also been shown to eliminate oily scalps and other skin and hair conditions.
Finally, my favorite thing to do is to use it as a room freshener and deodorizer. I've also used it to mist the air. It has a "delicious" smell that just makes one feel as light and fresh as a sweet-smelling child who's been out in the fresh air. And what a feat! I'm not a fan of grapefruit, so it says a lot that I turned my opinion in its favor.
There you have it: a bit of history along with a bit of hope and optimism which comes naturally, encased in little delightfully fragrant bottles which, believe it or not, our sensitive noses can actually benefit from. It certainly works for MY wacko system!
As always, I hope everyone's feeling their best, only better. Ciao and paka!