Category Archives: Scents

THE MAGIC OF SMILING

Smile!

Smile!

“When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you”

So the song goes and it’s absolutely true. Smiling is contagious; other people who meet your smile will start smiling as well. Isn’t that a beautiful thing – that we can light up our world with such a simple action. A smiling face sends a message of peace and friendship, it opens to connecting with other people. You’d much rather deal with somebody who’s smiling and you have probably experienced how a grumpy person suddenly became a great deal friendlier when you smiled at them.

Smiling is so much more…

When you smile, the muscle-movement sends signals to your brain, making it release endorphines, the “feel-good-hormone”. The same goes for crying, that’s why you feel relief after a good cry. If you think about it; a picture of somebody crying can sometimes look confusingly like they’re smiling. So even though you don’t feel happy, you will feel better by pulling your face into a smile…Isn’t that great news! It might only be a grimace, but the endorphines will blow some life into that smile, making it wider as you feel better.

If you feel bad or low, try a smile and I can assure you that you will feel, not great, but better. Try using the vowel “e” and keep it long; “eeeeeeeeeeeeeee” and there you have it!

Research also shows that the impact is higher if you watch yourself in a mirror.

Besides, when you smile you use a lot of facial muscles which actually will make your face look better in the long run. As we age, our facial expressions become etched into our faces; worry, anger and disapointment can become your “default” look as well as happiness. Smiles will turn your wrinkles into something attractive and beautiful as you age…

Essential oils to bring some smiles into your life:

Citrus-oils, especially Bergamott, Orange and Mandarin brings sun into a grey feeling.

Ylang-ylang; very good when there is anger involved. Uplifting and euphoric.

Geranium; a great emotional balancer, especially good for irritation.

May Chang, also called Litsea cubeba. Has a sweet citrusy deep scent. Makes tensions fade away.

Lavender; Calming and clearing to the head. Can help dispel negativity.

The best way to use essential oils as mood enhancers is by inhalation:

  • 1-2 drops on a tissue that you can carry around, I usually stuff it in my bra, then I have the scent wafting up to my nose.

  • In an aromalamp or diffuser, be careful not to overdose…A little goes a long way. If you get a headache or in any way feel uncomfortable, breath some fresh air and lower the dose.

  • In a bowl of warm water.

Essential oils disperse into the air with the help of heat and movement (like using a fan). The amounts of drops you use depends on the space you want to scent and your own preference. Always start low, you can add more oil if you want to.

Remember: After 3 minutes your system has adapted to the scent and you can no longer smell it. Don’t add more oils, go outside and breath or smell fresh coffee to clean your “scent-palate”. Another good trick is to inhale through wool, that also helps neutralize your scent.

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VETIVER the oil of tranquility

vetiver roots

vetiver roots

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizaniodes) also called khus khus, is a perennial scented grass. It has a straight stem, long narrow leaves and grows in tufts, reaching a height of 2 meters. It has abundant white scented rootlets.Vetiver is native to South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, but is cultivated in the Comoros Islands, Reunion, Java and Haiti. In India and Sri Lanka the essence is known as The oil of tranquility.

Vetiver handbag

Vetiver handbag

The fibrous grass is used for many different purposes; as protection against soil-erosion during the tropical rainy season, as pest and weed control in fields and to protect domestic animals from vermin. In 19th century Calcutta the rhizomes of Vetiver was manufactured into awnings, blinds and sunshades. During the hot season water was sprinkled over them which cooled the room while perfuming it. This made vetiver a very popular scent in Britain as it reminded the former British dwellers in India of the colonial times. At the time it was also used for perfuming linens and preventing moth. Ground rhizomes were used to manufacture sachet powders.

VetiverEssentialOilVetiver is widely used in perfumery. It has excellent fixative qualities (binding and stabilizing more volatile essences in a perfume blend). It imparts a woody, slightly earthy, green scent to the finished blend. The essential oil of vetiver is obtained by steam distillation of the washed, chopped and dried roots and rootlets. It is a viscous oil with an amber to brown, olive colour that deepens and turns reddish-brown with age, the scent is deep, smoky, woody and earthy with a touch of green freshness. The best quality oil comes from Reunion and is called Bourbon Vetiver.

USES.

  • Skin: Acne, oily skin, cuts and wounds
  • Muscle: Anti-inflammatory, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism, sprains and stiffness.
  • Nervous system: Depression, nervous tension, sleeping problems, stress, PMT.

Personal: I love this beautiful oil. It is safe to use with children, elderly or the very ill. It is deeply relaxing without being sopoforic rather, it brings you back into yourself and gives a feeling of calm assurance. I used it together with Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) for a nap when I was pregnant and to this day it was the most glorious sleep-time I ever had 🙂 I use it for clients mainly when they seem to be “outside of themselves” and can’t find peace and balance. Vetiver is deeply grounding and nurturing in nature. It is often well-liked by children and helps them to calm down when upset. I think the deep earthy scent reminds them of playing outside in the park or forest and it brings them to a happy place.

TUBEROSE – queen of forbidden pleasures

Polianthes tuberosa

Polianthes tuberosa

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is native to Central America. Its native name Omixochitl means bone flower and was widely used by the Aztecs 600 years ago for its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Maybe they also used it in their chocolate for its heady and sensual effects? Mmmm, chocolate for lovers…

When first brought to Europe it was cultivated in Grasse for use in perfumery, now it is mainly cultivated in Morocco, China, South Africa, France, Comoros Islands and India. The clusters of flowers grow on a 50 cm high stalk. This is a night-blooming flower which is harvested early in the morning when the buds are closed. The flower gives off its scent over a long time, when cut and put in a room they will scent the entire room. The best way to extract the scent is by enfleurage which is the most time-consuming way of extraction but gives the truest scent. Another, more commonly used method is solvent extraction which gives an absolute. It takes 1 200 kg of flower buds to get 200 grams of absolute, making tuberose one of the most expensive scents.350px-Polianthes_tuberosa

The scent of Tuberose is extremely complex and changes over time; a cut flower will change its scent from sweetly floral with slight campherous notes to earthy and musky notes as the flower matures and finally the scent turns to rot and bloody meat as the flower turns brown and dies.  This dramatic change, thankfully, does not happen with the absolute 🙂 The absolute has a strong heady, sweet floral scent with a musky undertone. It is deeply sensual, relaxing, narcotic and exciting. The scent is considered to enhance emotional strength and depth by centering the mind, bringing peace and serenity. Its exciting and sensual properties makes it an aphrodisiac.

"Innocence" by Arthur hacker (1858-1919)

“Innocence” by Arthur hacker (1858-1919)

During the renaissance, young unmarried women were forbidden to walk in the gardens of tuberose as it was believed that the scent of the flowers would arouse their passions and give them instant orgasms. Women put tuberose flowers under their skirts to attract and seduce men.

Healing scents of nature

I found this article in “The Atlantic Cities”

The Smell of Nature Is Almost As Good As the Real Thing, As Far As Our Brains Are Concerned

  • Bonnie Tsui
  • Mar 07, 2013
The Smell of Nature Is Almost As Good As the Real Thing, As Far As Our Brains Are Concerned
Shutterstock

Researchers have been racking up evidence that when you can’t take a break and get into nature itself, looking at photos of it relaxes our brains in a similar way. Now, scientists in Tokyo are building a case that smelling nature — the bracing scent of forest pine or cypress, for instance — lowers our blood pressure dramatically and increases anti-cancer molecules in our bloodstreams.

For the past eight years, Qing Li, an immunologist in the department of hygiene and public health at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School, has been studying phytoncides, the essential oils and aerosols emitted by plants and trees, and their salutary effects on the human body. Studies had shown that nature visits reduce stress on the nervous system, overloaded as it is in the modern urban environment with its dense living conditions, industrial-grade fumes, and honking horns. Li’s early work showed that walks in the woods boosted natural killer immune cells that helped fight infection and cancer; eventually, he came to suspect that it was the natural scents of evergreens and other trees that did the bulk of the work.

While testing his theory — by sequestering subjects in hotel rooms, some with the benefit of cypress aromatherapy, some without; those who sniffed the phytoncides experienced significant drops in stress hormones and boosted immune cell activity — Li and others founded a Japanese organization to study forest medicine more formally. A few years later, it went global as the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine; last year, it held its first international symposium on the research and trends on forest therapy worldwide. Following the lead of the Japanese in using phytoncide therapy and other facets of “forest bathing” to boost health are the Finns — led by Liisa Tyrväinen, the Finnish Forest Research Institute is conducting a multi-year research program on forests and human well-being — and the South Koreans, who are opening a new $140 million National Forest Therapy Center in 2014. The wisdom is old: get outside when you can; when you’re stressed, aromatherapy can help. But now the hard science is finally backing it up.

Top image: Pakhnyushcha/Shutterstock.com

Essential oils – therapy or perfumery?

Aromatherapy is basically an empirical knowledge handed down and perfected through the centuries. Certain empirical traits of essential oils have later been correlated by science. Perfumery is the twin of aromatherapy where scents are used to enhance, seduce and heighten awareness.

Essential oils are both medicines and perfumes. At one time the line between the two was more or less non-existent.

When essential oils are used for aromatherapy or medicine, there are special criteria; the EO’s have to be fresh, unadulterated and organic or wild. Chemistry is important when using EO’s therapeutically or medically since the chemistry in oils change with age and oxidation, therefore changing the effects of the EO’s. The fresher and purer an oil is, the better it will work.

For perfumery there are other criteria, scent is the name of the game. Each single scent as well as what they become in a blend. Chemistry isn’t really important unless you want to reconstruct chemically (which is impossible to do). With natural fragrances there is a marriage that happens between the oils in a blend and this can only be discerned by the nose. Aged or oxidized oils sometimes have a deeper and rounder scent such as rose and patchouli for example, making them more suited to perfumery.

Essential oils are useful in so many different ways; sometimes they can heal an infection, and sometimes they are a voyage of discovery through their gorgeous scent. To me EO’s are magical; I make medicine, skin-care, perfume…Whatever, they are always part of my life and after more than 20 years of living and working with them, unlocking their secrets and learning how to use them, I find myself with more questions than when I started; it is wonderful to constantly find new dimensions within this beautiful world of natural scents.

THE NOSE – such a powerful tool

Last night I was sitting with a lady who asked me what I did…What is aromatherapy? I explained the oils and how scents are extremely evocative. She was silent for a while and then she started talking about scents: The scent of the eucalyptus that you find in American shops around christmas time. The scent of horses (she works with horses); how it is different in summer than in winter. How the best scent ever is when the horses have eaten a specific herb in summer and then get warmed up by the sun. (She still hasn’t been able to figure out exactly which herb creates this amazing scent)

Listening to this wonderful lady, I realized that she runs her whole horse-business somewhat by scent. She smells her horses and knows if something is not right. Her sense of smell is so attuned to what she does that she doesn’t even realize it, it naturally guides her in her communication with her horses.

Finally I looked at her and said; “This is what I do, scent”. And she nodded her head, completely understanding my work. This led me to think about people and how they perceive scents, since scents influence us on such a subtle level; it is all about emotion. Scents will evoke memories long forgotten, bringing back the memory as clear as day, every detail burned into our emotional center. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are smelling something, memory just kicks in with such force that it, literally, takes our breath away. Only thing is, most people are not aware of smelling, it passes by the rational mind and lodges where we feel. This sense of ours, the sense of smell, is the least studied, the least known or understood and the most powerful of all our senses. We should train ourselves to recognize and understand what we smell and how it influences us since this is a very powerful tool for awareness of our surroundings.

SPIKENARD

Spikenard or Narde (Nardostachys jatamansi / N. grandiflora): It belongs to the Valerian family and has similar properties as its cousin Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). A flowering plant that grows to a height of about 1 meter, the rhizomes are distilled to produce the essential oil. It is native to the Himalayas; China, northern India and Nepal, mostly cultivated in Nepal and India. The best quality oil comes from Nepal. Spikenard is a slightly viscous, greenish-brown oil, darkening with age. The scent is deep and fresh, reminiscent of earth after rain, with a hint of fruity overtones.

History: Nard was (and is) used in the Indian tradition of Ayur veda. In ancient Egypt it was a luxury perfume and upon investigating the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1926, small alabaster vessels were found with a solidified, scented unguent (ointment, solid perfume) which turned out to be perfumed with spikenard and frankincense. Spikenard was also one of the ingredients in the ancient Egyptian perfume “Kyphi” that was burned at dusk to make sure the life-giving sun would return the next day. It was an important part of the Hebrew traditions where it was a component of the sacred incense, HaKetoret, wich was burned in the Jewish temple of Jerusalem. Spikenard in Hebrew is Nard and translates as Light. Most people recognize the name due to its mention in the bible (Song of Solomon, Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9). Spikenard was the oil used by Mary Magdalene to anoint the feet of Jesus at the last supper (John 12:1-10). At the time, spikenard was extremely costly and Judas Iscariot was outraged by the fact that it was used, seeing as the amount used was worth about a year’s wages for an ordinary working man. The Greek word for Spikenard means genuine and pure.

With such an illustrious history from ancient times, Spikenard is bound to tickle the imagination. Many believe that its claim to fame is due to the high cost it carried, but spikenard was not the only costly scent at the time; myrrh and  frankincense  were also extremely costly – even more so than gold. On researching the oil I find a red thread which points to the spiritual properties of the scent; Spikenard connects us to the divine.

USES:

  • SKIN: Balancing, regenerating and healing. Mature skin, psoriasis (1% blend), allergies, itching, skin-problems. Healthy skin maintenance.
  • DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: Antispasmodic and digestive: nausea, constipation, colic and cramps.
  • CIRCULATION: Harmonizes & stimulates circulation. Haemorrhoids, varicose veins. Regulates heartbeat.
  • NERVOUS SYSTEM & EMOTIONAL: Balancing, calming, grounding, harmonizing: Insomnia, migraine, stress, nervous tension, insecurity, anxiety. Deep emotional wounds. Can be of use in working through addictions, especially drugs.

Spikenard works on the solar plexus in a deeply calming manner. It is liberating and profoundly soothing. It releases emotional tension and being  at the same time grounding and opening it bring us in touch with our inner spirituality.

Personal: The word that comes to me is surrender. Spikenard brings us to a place of such peace and tranquility, enveloping us in a deep sense of safety. In this place we can allow ourselves to let go of emotional wounds, fears and insecurities. It connects us to the divinity within and lessens the stresses of the outside world. It shows us the way to heal from within. I mainly use this beautiful oil for emotional work. Its wonderful skin-care properties make it easy to incorporate as a releasing agent in the every-day life. Used as a facial oil you have the healing emotional benefits as well as excellent skin-care.

This oil resonates deeply within me. The first time I met Spikenard I was in the midst of a tremendously painful and difficult period of my life. It transported me to a place of such calm serenity, that all the difficulties fell away and I could see – for the first time –  solutions and possibilities. This moment brought me forever out of the worst trauma of my life. Till this day Spikenard is my doorway to assurance, peace and spirituality. It is probably the one oil I would always carry.

Considered a safe oil to use. As it has a ovary-stimulating action, I avoid using it during pregnancy. Spikenard is sometimes used in natural perfumery as a fixative.