Friday, March 12, 2010
Essential Oils and Relaxation
This week, I would like to discuss the use of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy to treat stress.
Everyone from time to time goes through stressful times. We have all been there. Whether it is something temporary--such as worrying about an upcoming test, or longer lasting such as an unhappy relationship, financial troubles, etc.--stress affects our bodies on so many levels.
If I were to ask you what the main symptom of stress is in terms of health, you might say "a headache." Tension headaches are a very common sign. Other signs, though, is a rapid heart rate, an increase in blood sugar levels, decreased energy, skin troubles ranging from paleness to breakouts, insomnia, and depression.
When I am stressed out, my skin just looks tired. My heart will race. My shoulders will tense up and have knots. I think we've all experiences these symptoms before. Then there's insomnia. If I am stressed, I go to bed and then my mind starts zooming from issue to issue and I cannot relax. Then I worry that I'll be tired the next day for not sleeping well. It's quite a cycle. It's at that time when I experience those symptoms that I realize I really need to get more in touch with my tranquil side once again.
Using Essential Oils can help relieve the symptoms of stress and find our way back to that peaceful and relaxed state. Ideally, you'll also be using exercise, meditation, and healthy eating to help things along as well.
The most well known oil for relaxation and stress relief is Lavender.
I am beginning with this oil because it is, perhaps, the most well known of the Essential Oils.
Lavender, or Lavandula Angustifolia, is commonly grown throughout Europe, particularly in Bulgaria, France, and England. It can be grown here, though. I live in New York and our climate really isn't the best for growing an abundance of beautiful lavender. That is not to say it cannot be done, though. This fragrant herb is just lovely. It works well on its own or can be used in blends to enchance its effects.
Lavender, though, does much more than smell nice. A scientific research team at Texas A & M University conducted a study to measure a human's response to odor. Study participants were asleep and given EEG tests. This study was conducted in 1992 and had interesting results. It showed that Lavender Essential Oil essentially lulled the participants to sleep sooner.
Lavender, though, isn't the only beneficial Essential Oil when it comes to relaxation.
Chamomile is another. Chamomile, or Anthemis Nobilis, is distilled from dried flowers of the chamomile plant. Its usage dates back to ancient Egypt. Chamomile usually is found in England, North America and in most southern parts of Europe. You often hear people saying to have some chamomile tea if you need to relax a bit. Why? This Essential Oil has been shown to calm nervous personalities, anger and irritability, and anxiety. It is very soothing. I'll talk more about this another week, but just as it calms the mood, it calms even troubled skin.
Lemon Essential Oil is another relaxing oil. This is surprising to many people, as Lemon (Citrus Limonum) can also be energizing. When combined with other Essential Oils, it can be wonderfully stress-relieving. It improves mental clarity and can even "lift" heavy emotions when used in conjunction with oils in a blend. Lemon calm help relieve the symptoms of tension and migraine headaches as well. Lemon Essential Oil originated in India.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is said to have originated in India. It also comes from the West Indies, Africa, and China. This warming oil is often used to treat muscle aches and pains and I have personally found it helpful to me when I had knots in my shoulder blades and back and need to relax and de-stress. I have found it to be particularly helpful in a recipe I am going to share with you today down below.
Cedarwood is another beneficial oil, but isn't talked about as much as the others. Cedarwood, or Cedrus Atlantica, is commonly grown in Morocco, among other countries in the area. While it is woodsy and not something you'd think of as a relaxing oil, it actually is known by aromatherapists as a gentle sedative and can help to calm symptoms of anxiety.
How can you reap the benefits of the Essential Oils I have mentioned?
You can gently and carefully add some of them to a handkerchief and take a small sniff. You can put some in a carrier oil and apply a dab or two to the skin. Personally, I like an aromatherapy spray.
Today I would like to share a recipe with you. It is for a popular product I once offered in my skin care line. Dreamland Pillow Mist combines stress-relieving essential oils into a synergistic blend and will provide the great benefits of aromatherapy.
You can spray this right on your linens. I spray it on my pillowcases, sheets, and curtains. I spray it on unscented dryer sheets and even place it underneath my mattress pad. This recipe is gentle, so you can even spritz a bit on (spot test for sensitivity first, please) and enjoy its effects.
One of my favorite relaxation ideas is to spray this on my towels, pop them in the dryer while I am in the tub, and then when I come out I have warm towels and aromatherapy.
Here is the recipe:
2 ounces of distilled water
2 ounces of witch hazel hydrosol/distillate (this is alcohol free)
15 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops ginger essential oil
4-5 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
Combine in a bottle. This makes just over 4 ounces. You can divide it into 1 ounce or 2 ounce bottles with misting spray tops.
Enjoy...and be well rested!
Karley Ziegler Mott
Editor, Chic & Green™:
Chic & Green™ is a TODAY Show (NBC) Network Blog, an MSNBC Going Green Blog, and has been named a "Best Green Blog"!
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***The beautiful Aromatherapy Necklaces pictured are by by Galleria di Giani.. Visit this great shop on Etsy for more information on these and other wonderful necklace designs.
Introduction to Essential Oils