Tag Archives: lavender

SENIORS & STRESS

Seniors are a growing but invisible group in society. More often than not do they come to the point of moving into a home where they can be properly looked after. This is an intensely stressful event. Some people choose to move into a home of their choice at the time of their choice, but they are few. Most seniors slide into a solitary life in their own homes until they can’t manage it anymore and then are moved to a senior home. At this point they often become confused, scared, depressed and angry.

From these negative feelings arise many problems; circulatory, emotional, sleep-disorders, appetite and digestion. Sometimes seniors deteriorate very quickly in a home; the older we get, the more loath we become to leave our familiar – and therefor safe – surroundings and when this safety is taken away the world falls apart. When there is also mental confusion, a move at this time in life can become a huge trauma.

AROMATHERAPY:

I have done some work in retirement homes using essential oils and the results are amazing! By using carefully blended oils in proper dosages a lot can be done. Together with massage they work wonders on stressed individuals. Massage can be as simple as stroking somebody’s hand, bringing peace to the person. There is no need for massage-training, all that is needed is care. Scents in diffusers also help with emotional balance and a stress-free environment.  Anxiety, fear, stress, confusion, depression, anger….all schoolbook examples on areas where essential oils are helpful.

  • Emotional disorders: Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Orange (Citrus sinensis), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), Petit grain (Citrus aurantium), Bergamott (Citrus bergamia), Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata). When severe: Neroli (Citrus aurantium ssp. amara var pumilla), Rose (Rosa damascena), Melissa (Melissa officinalis).  Massage, diffusion.
  • Sleeping disorders: Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata). Massage, diffusion.
  • Stimulating appetite: Lemon (Citrus limon), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Diffusion 20 min. before mealtimes.
  • Mental stimulation: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Lemon (Citrus limon), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Seniors are frail in many ways, not least physically. Always contact a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils.

CHASE AWAY THE WINTER BLUES

To many people this time of year brings an all-time low. It gets colder and darker and our energy plummets. This is believed to occur because the hormone serotonin decreases when there is less light.

There are plenty of ways how to bring energy and joy back into life as the nights get longer (and actually start creeping into daytime…).

  • Enjoy the season; This is a time to go indoors; light candles, buy flowers, make your home cozy; this is your space of retreat. Experience the bliss of sitting in the warmth of your home with lit candles, watching the cold darkness outside.
  • Pamper yourself: Take warm baths, create a home-spa; rub, buff, peel and moisturize! Go for a massage.
  • Un-clutter: Go through ”all that stuff”; pictures, books, papers, clothes. Use this indoor-time to clear your living-space and allow yourself the joy of uncluttered living. Believe it or not, but this is a great boost for serotonine-levels in the brain. Clutter creates stress.
  • Meditation: Take time out each day for yourself, 10 minutes is enough. Light some candles, put on relaxing music, lie or sit comfortably, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Really bring the breath all the way down into your belly. Set a timer so you don’t have to worry about the timing. These minutes will feel longer than they are… Great energizer!
  • Get outside EVERY day: Even for only a little while. Your system needs day-light and exercise in order to function. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Just get out there and walk or jump around for a while. It will boost your energy-levels and you will feel great! (then you can crawl onto your sofa with a steaming cup of tea and a good book, or movie…BLISS!)
  • Herbal teas & natural remedies: St Johns wort, Lemonbalm, lavender… Stay clear of too much stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugars.
  • Aromatherapy: Of course. Essential oils are a great help to help with emotions and stress. They also work directly with the hormonal system. Use uplifting oils in a burner or on a tissue to inhale. Great scents for winter are: Citrus-oils (orange, mandarin, lemon, grape…), Lavender, Ylang-ylang, Geranium and/or whatever you prefer. Remember; essential oils are strongly concentrated and only a few drops are needed to have an effect.
  • Thought-patterns: When you feel yourself thinking negatively, change your thoughts, think of uplifting things.

 

Remember: This doesn’t just happen by itself. You are responsible for your well-being. No matter how difficult or un-attractive it might seem to exercise, for example. Just do it and you will notice what an incredible change it makes!

In the times when people still lived in harmony with nature and seasonal changes, this was a time for togetherness and preparation for the hectic spring/summer season. Bedtime came earlier because of the dark.When we remember the rhythm of the seasons and allow ourselves to fit into this rhythm, we handle seasonal changes better. Once spring comes again there will be an explosion of action and energy…then we need to be rested.

For ideas on how to use essential oils, see earlier posts under the “aromatherapy” category.

 

GIVING BIRTH WITH ESSENTIAL OILS

This is the (shortened) story of how I gave birth to my last child at home. It was a beautiful September day and I had worked during the day, giving aromatherapy treatments. In the afternoon my body told me “stop and go home”, so I did. I pottered around the house, cooked dinner for my family and did homework with the children. At 8pm the water broke and I put the 3 children to bed while a storm starting brewing outside. At 10pm my contractions were accelerating quickly, as was the storm – by now trying to take the roof of the house and flatten the forest around us. The electricity was gone so we lit a fire in the living-room and got water from the well (no water without electricity). We called the midwife who said she’d come at once. Considering that she had about 60 km to go in the very bad storm, I prepared myself for giving birth alone with my hubby. The children were sleeping soundly, so I did not have to concentrate on them.

I had a blend to use for massage during the contractions to help relax me; Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata) and Mandarine (Citrus reticulata). Hubby massaged my lower back during the contractions, and in between we danced. Dancing is a brilliant way of helping baby down the passage and it keeps mum moving and happy. The more you move your hips, the easier the baby comes.

At 11.30pm the midwife and her assistant came, dodging falling trees all along the way – midwives must be amongst the bravest people on earth! By now we had moved into birth-state in the living-room; candles, a fire and Neroli (Citrus aurantium ssp amara var. pumilla) in the diffuser. The ladies hugged me and moved into the kitchen to leave us alone until it was time for Baby to come. Right before midnight they came back into the room, just in time to sit by while Baby exited. (Apparently they could hear that it was time by the sounds I made) That’s all they did, they sat in the other end of the room while we had our baby. Not once did they touch Baby, they guided hubby through the clearing of passages and cutting of cord. Then they made us tea, changed the linen in our bed and sang a welcome song for Baby. Since the baby came at precisely midnight, we decided on the next day for her birthday. Finally, with Baby in my arms, I slept until it was time to get the other kids up for school.

Magic, pure magic.

INVISIBLE STRESS

(Escher: Labyrinth)

I am working with a young woman who suffers from an invisible, high-level stress. Her stress comes from inside and even though she’s plenty busy, this is not the source of her problems. The first signs were head-aches that over time became both more frequent and painful. Then she became aggressive and worried. After 4 months she was seriously ill with constant migraine, nausea, constipation, mood-swings and night-mares. One day she fainted in the street and was brought to the hospital where she underwent all the tests in the book: Brain-scan, neurology-tests, blood-analysis – the works. Nothing could be found. The doctors diagnosed migraine and gave her different kinds of medication, constantly increasing the strength but nothing helped, the girl was seriously ill.

At this point enter the complementary forces:

After talks with her it is obvious that she has an enormous need of controlling her world, everything must be perfect – which is also mirrored in her appearance and surroundings. She helps her friends with everything she can and is always available when needed. The feeling I get is that her head is stuck in a labyrinth box. There is such tremendous mental pressure that it has turned into pain, she can find no clarity and when she tries to figure things out she gets confused. She is angry and negative towards her state and scared that it will not go away.

  1. Going over her diet and taking out all stimulants; sugar, tea, alcohol.
  2. Teaching her about mind-mapping (see an earlier post) and how to find clarity. At this point she gets angry and can not find any “clues” in her mind-mapping. I take her through a mind-game and she relaxes as an “inner door” opens. When she feels the results, she is pleased.
  3. Brain-movies: In a guided meditation I take her to a nice place which is her own and where she feels happy. This place is where she will go to heal. I make sure she remembers the path to this sacred place and tell her to do this every night until falling asleep there.
  4. Breathing exercises and how to control the mood-swings by recognizing signals.
  5. physiotherapy for the tension in head, back and stomach – 3 sessions in 2 weeks.
  6. Full-body massage once a week and home-massage of face and neck twice a day with essential oils.
  7. A small roll-on phial with pure essential oils to be carried in hand-bag and used at first sign of headaches; massage temples and nape of neck.

Used oils:

  • Geranium (pelargonium graveolens) Emotional balance.
  • Ylang-Ylang (cananga odorata) Anger-control.
  • Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) Clarity of mind.
  • Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) Lighten up the inner child.
  • Sandalwood (santalum album) Spirituality and cooling energy.
  • Roman Chamomile (Chamameleum nobile) Deeply relaxing on all levels. Safety
  • Pepper-mint (mentha piperita) Head-aches.
  • Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) Head-aches and clarity.
  • Lavender high altitude (lavandula augustifolia) Head-aches, calming and relaxing.

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.

DERMATITIS

(picture from: www.medical-look.com/Skin_diseases/)

Many people suffer from dermatitis (eczema) on small or large areas of their bodies,very often on the hands and arms.  (You can read more about dermatitis here.) One type of dermatitis, contact dermatitis, is a reaction to a substance which the body part is in contact with for a prolonged time. This can be brought on by most any substance that can be an irritant to the skin, even essential oils – especially in high doses. Over the years, two of my aromatherapy pupils have developed contact dermatitis to essential oils after 2-4 years of exposure and this condition seems to be irreversible. I am not saying stop using the oils, just be aware of the fact that they are strong substances and need to be used with care.

The skin-cells have a life-span of about 28 days. They are “born” in the lowest level of the skin, epidermis, at which point they are round and plump, filled with fluid. On their journey up towards the surface they get flatter and drier, depositing the protein keratin which  cements the cells together and creates the upper, protective layer of skin, epidermis. When this “journey” is out of balance, it will show as skin-problems – dermatitis.

The most used substance to deal with dermatitis is cortisone which is a steroid hormone. By suppressing the immune system, cortisone reduces inflammation, pain and swelling. It is extremely effective but it only suppresses, it doesn’t heal. Once you stop using cortisone the problem re-occurs. Over time cortisone causes the skin to become very dry.

ALTERNATIVES: (always see a therapist if your problems are serious or get worse. Don’t use essential oils if you are not sure that they won’t irritate your skin.)

  • Castor oil (ricinus officinalis) A client of mine, a builder, told me that he always had problems with hardened skin and deep cracks on his hands. Then they started keeping the bolts for the scaffolding in jars of castor oil so they would not rust. Since then his hands were much better. I started using castor oil on cracked, dry skin with great results. Very heavy texture, needs to be blended.
  • Shea butter (butyrospermum parkii), Shea butter oil. Anti-inflammatory & protective
  • Coconut oil (cocos nucifera) more a butter, solid in room-temp, melts on skin.  Protective film on skin, softening
  • Macerations (herbal infused oils) such as Marigold (calendula officinalis), St Johns Wort (hypericum perforatum)
  • Jojoba-oil (simmondsia chinensis) resembles the skins sebum and helps protect the skin.
  • Bees wax (cera alba) Protection, creates a protective film.
  • Cocoa butter (theobroma cacao) Solid in room-temp. melts on skin. Softening & calming.
  • Vegetable oils with anti-inflammatory properties; Andiroba oil (carapa guianensis), Argan oil (argana spinosa), Borage oil (borago officinalis), Cashew nut oil (anacardium occidentale), Evening primrose oil (oenothera biennis), Kukui nut oil (aleurites moluccana), Olive oil (olea europaea).
  • Vegetable oils with calming properties that can be used as bases for blending: Apricot kernel oil (prunus armeniaca), Peach kernel oil (prunus persica), Sunflower oil (helianthus annuus), Walnut oil (juglans regia)
  • Essential oils; Lavender (lavandula augustifolia), Chamomile (matricaria chamomilla), Yarrow (achillea millefolium).

When working with beeswax, you need to melt it in a bain-marie together with butters or fats such as shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter and vegetable oils. Add special vegetable oils last, together with essential oils (if you use them), when the liquid starts to cool. You can see a basic recipe for a balm here.

IMORTELLE / EVERLASTING: Helichrysum Italicum

Immortelle or Everlasting is the popular name of the plant Helichrysum Italicum /H. augustifolium. One of the reasons for the name is that the flowers of the plant retain their color and shape after drying, making them a popular flower for long-lasting natural flower arrangements, also called eternelles. Helichrysum means Gold Sun in Greek, and the flowers do resemble small golden suns as they grow on bushy, grey-green stems. The stems are woody at the base and the plant can reach  a height of 60cm or more. The flowers grow in clusters during the summer months. It grows on rocky sandy ground around the Mediterranean and is now also cultivated in the Balkans. The scent has herbaceous notes, reminiscent of warm hay, floral with a hint of honey.

The plant is steam-distilled to obtain the essential oils. Some of the best EO come from Corsica where only the flower-heads are distilled after being hand-picked. Over one ton of flower-heads is needed for about 1 liter of EO. In other places the whole plant above ground is distilled, creating a nice and useful oil but without the high and fine energy of the Corsican flower-oil.

PROPERTIES:

When meditating on this oil, what came to me was this: “The healing of mortal wounds on every level.” And it is a healing oil, especially for skincare and wounds. In Grasse, France, tests were carried out in the hospital using Helichrysum Italicum for broken skin tissue. There was rapid healing with very little scarring and no redness or infection. Research shows that by  multiplying the natural collagen count in skin cells, Helichrysum diminshes wrinkles. It is used to diminish bruises, heal skin-tissue, minimise scar-tissue (even old scar-tissue). It is anti-inflammatory, regulates cholesterol levels (for more info go to visit K-G Stiles), loosens mucous in the airways (inhalation). On an emotional level it can help reduce stress, is soothing and anti-depressant. On a deeper level it can help to unravel and heal emotional wounds.

  • Wound / bruise, try this recipe: Helichrysum italicum 2dr + Lavandula augustifolia 2dr. Apply 4 times/day for 1-2 days, then 2 times/day for 2-3 days. Then blend the EO in 5ml vegetable oil or Marigold (Calendula officinalis) infused oil and use 2 times/day until healed.
  • Mature Skin: Helichrysum 2dr + Carrot (Daucus carota) 2 dr + Rose (Rosa centifolia) 2 dr in 30ml blend of following vegetable oils: Sheabutter oil  (Butyrospermum parkii), Macadamia nut oil (Macadamia ternifolia) and Rosehip oil (Rosa rubiginosa), Apricot kernel oil (Prunus armeniaca). Massage into skin morning and night.
  • Emotional trauma: Make a blend of Helichrysum 4 dr + Myrrh (Commiphora myrrah) 4 dr mixed in 30ml cold-pressed vegetable oil. Massage stomach and forehead each evening when going to bed. If this blend disturbs your sleep, you can exchange Myrrh for Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) which will be more balancing or Rose (Rosa Centifolia) which is more comforting.