Monthly Archives: June 2010

CRYING SOLDIER

“US Sergeant Ken Kozakiewicz mourns the death of fellow soldier Andy Alaniz, killed by friendly fire.”

Pentagon tries aroma therapy to ease combat stress

Sat May 8, 2010 8:27pm EDT

FORT RILEY Kansas, May 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. military is experimenting with aroma therapy, acupuncture and other unorthodox methods to treat soldiers traumatized by combat experiences, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday.

He said the experiments showed promise.

Gates touted possible treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during a meeting with the wives of servicemen at Fort Riley, Kansas, when one woman asked him to explain why chiropractic and acupuncture therapies were not covered under her military health care plan.

“We have an experimental unit … treating soldiers with PTS (post-traumatic stress) and using a number of unorthodox approaches, including aroma therapy, acupuncture, things like that, that really are getting some serious results, and so maybe we can throw that into the hopper as well,” Gates said.

The Pentagon has seen a sharp increase in the number of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder during and after long deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The disorder can cause flashbacks, edginess and emotional numbness. The risk depends on the type of traumatic events a person is exposed to.

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine in January found that U.S. combat soldiers in Iraq who received a shot of the painkiller morphine within an hour of being wounded were less likely to develop the post-traumatic stress disorder. (Reporting by Adam Entous; editing by Todd Eastham)

Article can be seen here.

During the end of the war in Yugoslavia, groups of aromatherapists flew into the area to assist with shock and trauma relief with the help of essential oils and aromatherapy. If any of you readers have any first-hand experience of trauma-work with aromatherapy, please write me.

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STRONGER THAN YOU THINK – BELIEVE IT!

I have had a client with Multiple Sclerosis. She was diagnosed in her late teens, 20 years ago, so this has been a part of her life most of her life. She was surprisingly mobile considering how long she had been ill, but as it goes with MS, it comes in waves, each time leaving her a little worse. I can’t heal MS with aromatherapy, but I can help with mobility, mind-set/belief and emotions. She went to a physiotherapist (who sent her to me) for mobility and balance. As with all diseases where constant medication is involved, there was a degree of toxicity in the body and she suffered from poor balance, especially on her left side. She couldn’t raise her arms and her ribcage was pushed forward, making her a bit wobbly. The skin on her face and back was hard and closed, with very bad circulation. Her dietary habits were fine and I suggested she add Omega3 and chlorella.

For the first session I did a full-body massage with the oils of Hyssop (hyssopus officinalis) and Melissa, lemon-balm (melissa officinalis). We talked about belief-systems. She had learned to believe that she will get worse by the year and finally die from her disease. Every time she got a “wave” she expected the worst. I told her that there is no known cure for MS and yes, she will probably get worse. But she does have a life and after so many years she is still doing fine, so why not believe the best? She liked the idea and went home with that and an oil-blend for her skin and emotional state: Lemon grass (cymbopogon citratus) and Rosewood (aniba rosaeodora).

Next session after 2 weeks, I had done some research and used Cistus (cistus labdanum), Bay leaf (laurus nobilis) and Black spruce (picea mariana) for a full-body massage. She loved the blend and brought a bottle home to use on her shoulders, arms and feet. She reported feeling wonderful since the last massage; seeing an improvement in balance and skin.

Next session, 3 weeks later, she was low on arrival. She was in a “wave” and feeling very bad. Her balance had worsened, her mobility was down and she was depressed. I gave her a full-body massage with Clary sage (salvia sclarea), Roman Chamomile (chamameleum nobile) and Geranium (pelargonium graveolens). During the massage I worked on relaxing her stiff joints and suddenly she had full mobility in her arms – for the first time in many years. She was deeply relaxed and felt very good. As she got off the table, her balance was better, she could move her arms over her head and her back was straighter. I gave her stretching exercises to do every day to keep and improve mobility even more.

We talked then of belief again: How she actually didn’t have all the problems she thought; she was more mobile and better balanced than she believed. But all her adult life she has been told that this would happen to her and, being a good girl, she “obeyed”. This again points to the connection body & mind and how it is impossible to separate the two. The lady didn’t get worse after her last “wave”, because at this point she found out that she was stronger than she thought. She still has to fight fear and despair every day, but now she has a belief that she can also have a fulfilling life, and this change in outlook has gained her so much ground in physical healing as well as emotional.

Every cure for disease that exists today came from somewhere. There was a time when these diseases could not be cured, when the belief-system said “you will die”. Today people survive and live with all kinds of diseases that don’t have cures; cancer, aids, hepatitis C… I believe it can be done. I believe you need to be honest about a persons condition and not give false hopes, but show them that miracles (albeit small) happen all the time; point out the miracles, the positive and the results will be better. This is such a vital part of healing, I can’t believe it is overlooked. But maybe that is the job of people like me, who can afford to give the time a client needs. Maybe it is time to integrate us alternative therapists in the medical system.

ROCK ROSE

Cistus, Labdanum (Cistus ladaniferus)

A perennial shrub up to 3 metres high which grows wild in warm sheltered places on some mountainous Mediterranean islands and in the Middle East. The leaves are lance-shaped with white furry undersides, and the flowers are yellow with purple splashes at the center. The parts used for extraction are leaves and twigs.

Cistus produces 5 products:

  1. Crude gum of Labdanum: Dried leaves and twigs are boilde in water. The gum is skimmed off the surface of the water and dried. This is used as a herbal substitute for ambergris.
  2. Resinoid of Labdanum: The crude gum is mixed with alcohol and filtered.
  3. Oil of Labdanum: Essential oil by steam-distilling the crude gum. This oil is used by aromatherapists. It is also a highly valued raw material for perfumers.
  4. Concrète & Absolute of Labdanum: The dried leaves and twigs are extracted with the help of a solvent. This is widely used in cosmetics, perfumes and soaps as a warm balsamic scent with excellent fixative properties.
  5. Oil of Labdnum: Essential oil by steam-distilling dried and fresh leaves and twigs. This is of little use for either perfumery or aromatherapy.

The oil has been used since the middle ages for infected wounds, skin ulcers, skin and soft tissue disturbances. The gum was used for catarrh and diarrhoea.

The scent is warm, deep, musky, soothing and dry. Yang.

In aromatherapy its used for:

  • Lymph drainage: When added to a massage oil for a full body massage. Or locally as warm compresses on swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Menstrual pain: In combination with Marjoram (origanum majorana) as a massage oil or warm compresses over the abdomen.
  • Skin: Mature, wrinkled skin, rough, scarred and hard skin. Use for healing of wounds and scars; with Lavender (lavandula augustifolia), Imortelle (helichrysum italicum) or Frankincense (boswellia carterii). It might be helpful for eczema, inflamed skin and psoriasis. Remember to use lower doses on sensitive/inflamed skin.
  • Respiratory: As an inhalant for coughs and bronchitis.
  • Emotionally: After shock or trauma when the emotional system is cold or empty. Also to sooth and heal past or buried memories. It fills the individual with warmth and strength.

Do not use during pregnancy.

BODY AWARENESS

I listen to many young people, and what is becoming more and more evident is this constant, incessant talk of body and weight. I am seriously disturbed by this. Like so many other girls, I grew up with a weight-fixated mother and that left me with disturbed body-notions. I was – of course – always thin, no matter the price. At the time anorexia / bulimia was not spoken about, but many girls had a “light” version of one or the other…remember Twiggy? So this problem is nothing new. What has happened is that it has become a bigger issue than just weight; now it’s about eternal youth. As someone said: “Youth is wasted on the young”; so true, youth is inherently beautiful but we don’t become aware of that until we are past “the prime”, as it were.

When I was in my 20’s it was all about weight, most people were thin and obesity was hardly known – in Europe at least. Over time, almost as a protest, people got fatter – and started showing it with skin-tight clothes. This would NEVER have happened in the 70’s or 80’s. And I like it, it’s giving the finger to the starved, sad “Twiggy-look”, taking back the right to owning your body. But then it got out of proportion and it has become unhealthy. So now girls are either starving or eating themselves to death! What is going on?

Then came the Eternal Youth-thing. We can all become eternally young – well parts of us; plastic surgery has become such a common practice that many people find it completely normal. I know old women who are “eternally young” in this way; they look very scary…wouldn’t want to run into them un-prepared in a dark room….but they probably looked fine to start with? I know old women who look like old women and they are beautiful and stylish, wearing their age as a trophy, refusing to succumb to the shame of age.

There is a new look – the “surgery-look”; The corner of the lips pulled up in a perpetual half-smile, the look of surprise in the lifted eyebrows, the forever perky bosom that will point straight to the sky even when lady is lying on her back. Also; the wrinkled necks, spotted old hands, the slightly skeletal look of the face….Still, it can be oh, so tempting sometimes. I watch myself age in the mirror, the bad fit between me on the inside and me on the outside. But then I look around at all the gorgeous, proud and amazing old women that one finds it so easy to respect, and I know that I want to be one of them. I had youth and beauty for a long time, and I was too stupid to enjoy it fully, but I did enjoy it, and now it is another time. I am a woman, not a girl, and my beauty lies today in who I am, in my pride. And I shine!

(The 2 first pictures in this post come from health-related ads, the next 2 were sent to me and the last one is mine)

TOO MUCH PARTY IN THE COLD

I went to Sweden over the weekend to celebrate my daughters graduation. This event is always outdoors, which is fine when (if) the sun is shining – it wasn’t. At least the rain stopped in time. In cold, drizzly and gray weather I have stood outdoors dressed in a pretty summer-dress with only a thin jacket and a scarf – an entire day til late night. To make matters worse I slept by a wide-open window 2 nights in a row and then took the horror-flight (Skavsta-Hahn) home. Of course the week-end was party-time and I didn’t eat/sleep/exercise properly…but I had lots of wine and champagne! Once home my throat felt the way a bull-frog sounds and a cough had started. My head was aching, I had a fever, everything hurt – especially my throat – and I was exhausted.

Beautiful Stockholm…see how cold it was!

Immediate thing to do (should actually have been started already at first sign): Gurgle with Tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia). This oil is amazing on bacteria; you know when you have this disgusting taste in your throat/mouth? That’s bacteria, and if you start tea tree at the first tiny sign, it might not even break out! Then I went to bed and slept 16 hours.

I was so ill I couldn’t do more than the gurgling, and this is the problem with aromatherapy; it takes effort. When you feel horrid, you don’t have the energy to do anything except sleep and if you don’t have anybody to care for you, it’s easier to take an aspirin and hope for the best. Once I had slept I felt a little better; head-ache gone at least. I have a blend of pure essential oils that I use for colds; they can be mixed in oil or cream to be rubbed on chest and neck or used for inhalation. This is as close to simple as you can get with aromatherapy, and, trust me, it is a lot more effective over time than aspirin.

  • Thyme ct thymol / red thyme (thymus officinalis ct thymol) 20 drops
  • Benzoin (styrax benzoin) 15 drops
  • Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) 20 drops
  • Lavender (lavandula augustifolia) 20 drops
  • Lemon (citrus limon) 20 drops

This makes about 5 ml of pure essential oil. Store it cool and dark and it will keep for up to two (2) years.  Mix 5-8 drops in 10ml (2 teaspoons) of cold-pressed vegetable oil for a rub. Use pure for inhalation. If you are really weak; stick to the gurgling of tea tree and sniff out of the cold-blend bottle. A blended veg. oil for rubbing will not keep for so long, so you need to make that up when needed.

Yesterday (day 2) I stayed in bed and did the gurgling + inhaling. Coughed a lot. Today my nose is a bit runny and I sneeze. Cough is almost gone, throat-ache as well. Am up and working. Tomorrow I will be back on track. The first days you can apply oils (gurgle, rub, inhale) once an hour until the mounting of symptoms stop (usually after day 1). Then continue with treatment 3-5 times/day until well. Stay warm and sweat a lot, that always help. Do not shower or get cold.

PEONY or CHINESE ROSE

I have an ever increasing love for these flowers. When I was a child my grandmother grew deep-red peonies that used to bloom around midsummer. They were always used to crown the midsummer-pole – The Queen of Midsummer.

There exists about 25-40 varieties. They are heavenly scented with huge flowers ranging from white and yellow over many pink hues to deep red. The leaves are dark green, pointed with clear tracings of nerves. There exists about 25-40 varieties and they are native to Asia,  Europe and north America. They are perennial and reach a height of about 1m, but there are some that become small trees, reaching a height of about 3 m.

Peony is named for the mythical Greek figure Paeon, who was said to be a student of Aesculapius, the great physician. Paeon used the peony plant to heal a wound for the god Pluto. This earned Aesculapius’s jealous wrath, but Pluto saved Paeon from death by turning him into a peony plant.

In China the roots (and sometimes bark of the peony tree) of peonies have a long history of medicinal use, often in combination with licorice root, for cramps, spasms, fever. In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) peonies have often been used for women’s health problems. For more in-depth information on peonie’s use in alternative medicine look here.

  • The Chinese name for the peony is sho yu. This means “most beautiful.”
  • The peony is the traditional flower symbol of China.
  • In Europe the peony has been called “The rose without thorns”.
  • The history of the peony in China and Japan spans more than 4 000 years.
  • In Asia the peony is a symbol of wealth, good fortune and prosperity.
  • The peony is an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage.
  • The peony is the state flower of Indiana USA since 1957.
  • Mischievous nymphs were said to hide in the petals of the Peony thus causing this magnificent flower to be given the meaning of Shame or Bashfulness in the Language of Flowers. (So if you find me hiding in the petals of a Peony, just pretend you didn’t notice)

Yun Shouping, 17th century

THE GUEST HOUSE

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~