The Greek God of healing was called Asklepios and his attribute is a staff around which a snake curls. The Asklepios-staff remains to this day a symbol of medicine and healing.
When the Roman Empire fell, so did a lot of the knowledge about herbs and aromatic substances. What was left moved into the cloisters of Europe. Plants were grown and cultivated in the gardens of the monasteries, monks, and later nuns, made medicinal potions, wines, vinegars, liquors, infusions and other herbal extractions.
The art and knowledge of distillation was rediscovered by the Persian physician Avicenna (Abu Ali Ibn Sina, 980-1037) who had a passion for roses. He published his book “Canon of Medicine” in the 11:th century, which remained a standard work until the mid-sixteenth century. The Arabs were great explorers and colonizers and were responsible for introducing many new herbs and spices from the East, such as ginger and pepper amongst others. They created their main medical training center in Italy to which monks and nuns were sent from all of Europe. One of these nuns, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) wrote the much known herbal “Physica“. Her work is still referred to today.
During the Plague or Black Death, it turned out that the glove-makers and perfumers seemed less susceptible to contamination, both these groups worked on a daily basis with essential oils. This knowledge was used by thieves who doused themselves in an aromatic vinegar to be able to rob the corpses. The essential oils used were: Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), Camphor (cinnamomum camphora), Lavender (lavandula augustifolia), Nutmeg (myristica fragrans), Sage (salvia officinalis) and Cinnamon (cinnamomum ceylanicum). These were mixed with pure garlic in vinegar.
The doctors wore full-fitting leather-robes and gloves, over their heads and faces the “bird-mask” was worn. The mask was doused with amber, nutmeg, cinnamon and other herbs, oils and spices, and they washed themselves twice daily with aromatic vinegars. Though this seemed to work well enough not to get contaminated, once the disease kicked in there was no cure or help.
In 1492 Columbus landed in what he thought was East Indies, but in reality was the Bahamas. This opened a channel for new plants and plant-matter from The Americas, such as Coca leaves that were chewed by the Incas, and balsams of Canada and Peru. These plants now entered the European pharmacopoeia.
Posted in Aromatherapy, Scents
Tagged Aromatherapy, Asklepios, Avicenna, balsam of peru, coca, Columbus, distillation, doctors, essential oils, herbs, Hildegard von Bingen, history, monasteries, plague, potions, scent, Scents, spices, vinegar, wine
Stress eats us alive and we don’t even notice it. Our warning-systems have been working overtime for so long, we don’t hear them anymore. A stressed animal tends to move continuously and endlessly in the same pattern without too much awareness of its surroundings. People find this horrible to watch; at the zoo for example. Little do we realize that we react much in the same way.
The pattern needs to be broken, and I will present you with some fast, easy and basic ways of doing this:
Do something nice; take a walk in the park or around the block, put on some music and dance. These activities create a positive hormonal reaction in the brain and you will feel that the air around you gets slightly less dense and the cobwebs in your brain lighten up a bit.
Keep it short and easy so it is do-able. You will find that this takes only a small portion of your time while releasing you from some of the stress.
Find a quiet spot where you can relax for a little while. Again; keep it short and easy.
Depending on where you are: Either lie or sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Concentrate on your breathing and feel it slowing down and deepening. You want to breath all the way down in your abdomen. If your thoughts start wandering, allow them, but don’t get caught up. Just watch the thoughts as though they are detached from you, like being at the movies. Or you could create beautiful and relaxing visualizations for yourself.
Set an alarm for 10 min so you can truly relax, knowing that there is a limit and you don’t need to check the time. Remember to also cover yourself with a blanket or put on a sweater since circulation slows in relaxation and you don’t want to feel cold.
3) Thought-patterns and emotion
First question: Is this really important right now? Can I do anything about this right now?
If the answer is no; let it go and concentrate on what is important here & now.
One of the strongest emotions that hits us in times of stress is anguish and fear. Usually these feelings are accompanied by thoughts of what should have been done, what has not been done, what can go wrong and why.
The only way to handle this is by reconstructing the thought-patterns as above. Classify the ifs and hows in order of importance, do some little thing that will make a difference right now and take a walk or relax.
I use the notion of “normalizing activities”: This is an activity that gives a sense of achievement without creating stress = de-stressing. (One of the most important “healers” when stressed is the feeling of achievement; a job well done. This will immediately lower the pressure in our system, creating the positive hormonal reaction in the brain.)
Normalizing activities can be: Cooking, sewing, ironing, gardening, cleaning, sorting…anything that is done with ease and gives a sense of accomplishment. Don’t choose something you hate, but you do not need to love it either.
What I call positive hormonal reaction in the brain is a kind of reward-system; relaxation and peace. Amongst these hormones are: serotonine, endorphine, oxytocine.
On the “action”-side are adrenaline and cortisole amongst others. They are the “kickers” that make things happen. These chemicals need to be “used up” by movement. If not, they create an imbalance that we know as stress. Another way to disperse these chemicals are by massage.
Avicenna (Abu Ali Sina Balkhi 980-1037) was a Persan physician and philosopher. “The book of healing” and “The canon of medicine” were his best known written works. In “The canon of medicine” he writes:
“Massage is used to disperse matter that was not dispersed by movement.
He knew his business and nothing is new under the sun