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Essential Oils Blog

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My Top Three Oils for Whole Being Balance

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Recently, we discussed the practice of holistic care in “What Does Holistic Have to Do with Our Health.” Essentially, we are caring for mind, body and spirit to bring balance to our whole being for a greater state of wellbeing.

You may recall from “Food for Thought, that our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. Depending on our state of mind, our body and spirit are impacted in chemical messages from the brain created by stress. This distress of the mind, especially over the long-term, can lead to dis-ease due to our body’s inability to compensate and re-balance.

Aromatherapy, in particular, the practice of holistic aromatherapy, is the perfect partner for helping to support harmony on all three levels of our existence. When we can find balance within ourselves and our environment,  we can experience a greater sense of optimal wellbeing.

Each essential oil and extract has its own therapeutic profile and value, often with multiple core applications.

And, often, we blend synergies from a selection of essential oils to create the holistic profile we are seeking as we did to accompany self-balancing activities outlined in Balancing Our Whole Being.”

There are, however, some essential oils and extracts that are just excellent at equally supporting and entire being.

I find myself reaching over and again for three in particular when I want well-rounded and robust support to bring my being back into balance.

The three I love the most for holistic use are: Bergamot, Fragonia and Blue Yarrow. Oh my goodness, do I love the gifts of these oils.

On their own, they are wonderful to bring equilibrium to mind, body and spirit. Mixed in other synergies, they enhance the holistic value. In my opinion, blended together, they create something extraordinary.

Below, you will find why I consider these my top three essences as my very favorites for holistic support on all three levels — mind, body and spirit.

In addition, I have included one of my very favorite blends with the added benefit of a soothing bath. I find this one of the best ways to find balance from within for my whole being.

As always, I  encourage you to consider options that match your own unique needs.

 

Bergamot Citrus bergamia  (bergapten free)

Bergamot is a favorite for its array of uses and its sunny scent. Bergamot is an incredibly uplifting, calming and balancing essential oil.

It is especially helpful when you feel off balance due to nervous tension and when you need to invite in more positive thinking and energy.

Mind:  Balancing to emotions. Uplifting and calming.  Promotes positive thinking while helping to release negative emotions.

Body: Supports the body in returning to a state of relaxation. Soothes the nervous system and smooths nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit: Helps to harmonize the spirit, especially when affected by strong, negative emotions. Supports the ability to receive positive energy and helps our natural energy to flow smoothly.

 

 

Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

Fragonia is highly valued for its uniquely balanced composition. It, too, has a wide array of core therapeutic uses and has a soft, refreshing scent.

It is especially helpful for letting go of old emotional thought patterns and negative energy blocks that are impacting your balance and wellbeing.

Mind:  Helps to release old emotional patterns. Calming and uplifting, it helps to reduce worry and nervous tension.

Body:  Balancing to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving to nervous tension creating discomfort in the body.

Spirit:  Helps to release deep-seated blocks in the energy flow caused by old wounds. Strengthening to the spirit.

 

 

Blue Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Blue yarrow has been prized throughout time for its ability to support wounds on all levels. Though it provides powerful support, it is gentle in nature.

Its “blue” constituents are especially helpful to bring a cooling sense of balance to  heated conditions of mind, body and spirit.

Mind:  Supports emotional equilibrium. Helps to calm worry and nervous tension.

Body: Calming to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving for nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit:  Powerful support in releasing blocks created by repressed strong, negative emotions. Helps to support a smooth natural energy flow. Balanced between opposing energies, it helps to equalize these energies in our own being.

 

Balancing Bath Blend

2 drops Bergamot  Citrus bergamia

2 drops Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

1 drop Blue Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Mix with 2 T natural, unscented body wash

Add 1/2 c of Epsom Salts and mix.

Add to your warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.

Bringing the best of the abilities from my top three oils for whole being balance. This is an especially wonderful immersion experience before bedtime. 

 


Sources:

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health & Well-being. New York: Fall River, 2014. Print.

Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: A Guide to Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London: Gaia, 2005. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending . Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

Reflections of a Summer Lover

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Oh happy days are here!

I am a child of summer.  And, my inner child remains happiest in the season of the sun. This I have learned about myself.

Summer is when my spirit feels most buoyant and unbound. Joy is easier to access as it readily bubbles to the surface.

If winter is the hibernal season, and spring is of renewal, for me summer is a  season of sustenance.

Our mind, body and spirits are nourished by the abundance of sunshine and daylight, the refreshing array fresh fruit and vegetables, the heady scent of summer blooms, and the frequency of the dazzling dragonflies. For many, these beautiful, blessed dragonflies — whose magical beauty shimmers under the summer sun —  represent and remind us of the ability to reflect light for the greater good.

I arrived in this world as a native to perpetually sunny Southern California. Though I was born in December, it was as summer-like, bright, 85-degree-day.

Reflecting back, I realize my spirit has always sought the sun  ever since  to find and create summer for my soul wherever I happen to be.

As a child in Southern California there was joyful abandon playing outdoors and walking barefoot in the grass, especially with the heady scent of the orange groves at the end of our street.

Later, I lived by the beach there and spent every summer day of my teen-age years barefoot in the sand and jumping through the waves.

To this day, I prefer my feet unbound to feel more grounded. If I am not barefoot, then flip flops are the footwear of choice. From my perspective, you cannot have too many pairs.

In my early adulthood, I moved to the Midwest for work. That’s when I quickly realized I needed sunlight and warmth to feel vital and nourished. What I had taken for granted, now needed to be recreated. If it was going to take awhile for summer to come to me where I was, then I needed to go in search of  summer.

Winters breaks became tropical getaways to the Caribbean where the season of the sun was only a flight away.  Immediately upon arrival, my whole being was transported by the soft air, shimmering waters, and the sun in the sky. Not only did my body thaw, but any tension I carried immediately melted away.  Breathing in the sea breeze allowed me to clear the clutter in my head, returning back to real life with a sense of renewed clarity.

Later, I moved to New England with shorter winters, but also shorter summers. This meant ensuring that I savored every drop of summer while it was in season. I joined the tradition of spending idyllic long weekends on Cape Cod. Crossing that bridge from the mainland marked the point where I was able to let go of the go-go-go and relax into loafing.

Now, I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Another west coast for sunsets on the sea and walks on the beach framed by turquoise water and white sugar sand.  And, though actual summer  is a swelter, but most of the rest of the year we live in season as if it  is part of our daily life.  My challenge here is taking the time from daily life to enjoy living in paradise.

No matter where you live, and what your experience, you can always create your own summer for the spirit. Aromatherapy offers a natural opportunity to help create that buoyant and relaxed state of mind.   Even when you can’t break away to chase the sun, a sniff of the synergies evoking the sense of summer can transport you instantly to to a mini-break in your own mind’s eye.

For me, the sensory experiences of the summer season call for a switch to scents that are fresher and cooling  such as citrus and mints.

To help you get started, or to inspire you to create your own experiences, I offer below some summer loving synergies curated from my own collection to evoke favorite seasonal memories.

These were created for inhalation purposes to most readily connect with the mind and spirit. I prefer to make these in a personal inhaler to have with me when needed. You may also choose to use your diffuser, with the exception of the Beach Rose synergy because the rose otto 10% is diluted in vegetable oil, which can damage the unit.

 

I wish you an abundance of sun in your spirit!

 

Inner Child

This uplifting and cheerful blend helps restore my joy of the simple life on a sunny day during my childhood in Southern California.

2 drops Grapefruit Pink, Citrus x paradisi

2 drops Mandarin, Citrus reticulata

1 drop Spearmint, Mentha spicata

 

Mental Mojito

This refreshing and revitalizing scent helps when I need that sense of clear -headed clarity created after a Caribbean Vacation. 

3 drops Lime, Citrus x aurantifolia

2 drops Peppermint,  Mentha x piperita

 

Beach Rose  

This soothing scent is evocative of the slow days, sand dunes, and snow cones of Cape Cod where I crossed the bridge into a state of contentment and relaxation.

2 drops Rose Otto (Diluted at 10%)  Rosa damascena 

2 drops Sandalwood Australian, Santalum spicatum

1 drop BergamotCitrus bergamia

 

Sangria Siesta 

(for Inhalation)

This deeply relaxing and uplifting synergy is reflective of the lazy days of a Florida summer calling for loafing on the lanai for rest and reflection.

2 drops Davana, Artemisia pallens

1 drop Lemon, Citrus x limon

1 drop Lime, Citrus x aurantifolia

1 drop Orange SweetCitrus sinensis

Balancing Our Whole Being

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


In our last blog, “What Does Holistic Have to Do With Our Health” from the Essential Education series, we discussed the meaning and impact of of holistic health practices on our whole being. Essentially, we are caring for our whole person – bringing balance to mind, body, and spirit – for a restorative sense wellbeing.

We also discussed a specific self-care practice combining massage, hydrotherapy (through bath or shower) and aromatherapy to create a synergy for our senses. This allowed us to support our whole health at home in the tradition of Hippocrates, the Father of Western medicine, made modern by aromatherapy pioneer, Marguerite Maury.

Holistic health practitioners continue to incorporate another teaching of  Hippocrates:

 

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.”

To sustain optimal well being our mind, body and spirit consistently strive for balance. In Eastern Medicine and Energy Medicine, we think of balance in our natural energy flow. In Western Medicine, we think of this as homeostasis. This is the natural healing force within each of us.

Chronic disruption to our equilibrium can challenge our whole being beyond its ability to compensate and rebalance. This impacts our capacity to heal and can lead to dis-ease.

 

In addition, to the “aromatic bath and scented massage” as discussed in “What Does Holistic Have to Do With Our Health,” we have available to us many other self-balancing techniques from both ancient and modern traditions to incorporate into our self-care routines.

Because many of us experience nervous tension and worry that takes us out of balance, I’ve offered three options to help restore our mind, body and spirit in this situation.  I encourage you to  explore and experience what works best for you. Know you can begin with the mind, body or spirit after determining which area is of most concern, but each option can help to restore balance to our whole being.

All are designed as options for when we are on the go. We may not always have the time to be in a quiet space, but we can always create our own inner quiet space regardless of where we happen to be.

As always, aromatherapy can play a significant supporting role by creating a synergy with our other self-care practices. As we discussed previously, the intention of holistic aromatherapy is to help bring balance to mind, body and spirit to encourage our own natural healing process. With this in mind, we are going integrate aromatherapy with the practices below for a more expansive experience.

 

CALMING THE MIND

Experiencing meditation, along with aromatherapy, can help quiet our busy, repetitive, or anxious thoughts allowing us to balance the physical and subtle bodies. This also allows us to be in the present moment, go inward for introspection and hit the reset button.

Quiet Mind

This helps to quiet busy thoughts and expand our ability to go inward.

6 drops Basil Linolool (Ocimum basilicum)

6 drops Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

3 drops Sandalwood (Santalum album)

Add to a personal aroma inhaler

 

Aromatic Meditation in Seven Simple Steps:

(Adapted from Yoga Journal June 2014) [1]

  1. Choose an aromatherapy blend and inhale deeply in each nostril. (see above)
  2. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably
  3. Gently close your eyes.
  4. Notice your breath, without trying to control it.
  5. Breathe gently through your nose and bring your focus to each inhalation and exhalation.
  6. Count each breath
  7. When you find thoughts coming to the surface, simply notice them like clouds floating by (without judgment) and return your attention to counting your breath.

 

 

RELAXING THE BODY

Manual tension release provides support for the physical body to relax and rebalance. This aromatic head massage, adapted from the ayurvedic experience, can relieve tight discomfort in the head and neck to create a cascade effect throughout the body helping to ease your mind, body and spirit back into a state of relaxation.

Heads Up

This is also helpful if you experience excruciating head and neck tension that can side-line you feeling unwell.

4 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

3 drops Marjoram, Sweet (Origanum majorana)

2 drops Basil Linalool (Ocimum basilicum)

2 drops Helichrysum Italicum (Helichrysum italicum)

2 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

2 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis ct 1,8-Cineole)

Add to a 10 ml roller bottle and top with jojoba oil. Note, this is a 5% blend meant for spot treatment and short-term use.

 

Aromatic Ayurvedic Head Massage

(Adapted from Massage Bodywork Magazine Sept/Oct. 2008) [2]

  1. Apply your aromatherapy blend (see above) to your temples. Gently massage with your fingertips in circular pattern. Continue for at least one minute.
  2.  Next,  you may wish to apply a small amount of the aromatherapy blend to your fingertips.  Gently “shampoo” your entire scalp in small circles with your fingertips. Begin at the temples and move toward the back of the head. Continue for at least one-minute.
  3. Finish by gently “combing” the scalp with your fingertips. Begin with fingertips above the forehead, at the hairline, and comb over the top of the head and toward the neck and shoulders. Repeat up to 10 times

 

 

SOOTHING THE SPIRIT

Reflexology is the practice of bringing various aspects of the body back into balance by working through corresponding reflex points on the foot. These steps are intended bring our energy back downward from our head toward our feet soothing nervous tension felt in our physical and emotional bodies and regrounding us into a present calming state.

 

Balance Points

In practicing yoga, you become aware of centering your weight on the four corners of your feet so that your posture is in balance and you feel firmly balanced. This blend creates that sense of feeling squarely centered and grounded. 

2 drops Fragonia (Agonis fragrans)

2 drops Sandalwood (Santalum album)

1 drop Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

1 drop Ginger CO2 (Zingiber officinalis)

Add to 1 oz unscented lotion.

 

Soothing Scented Reflexology Release

  • Apply only the smallest amount of lotion to cover the first foot, without being slippery.
  • Warm up the foot with gentle massage of the sole and top surface using gliding stroke with your fingertips and thumb.
  • Next, you are going to work with the Solar Plexus Point, known as the “panic button.”
  • The Solar Plexus Point is located just under the balls of your feet, in the very center of the two. Often you will feel tension when it is pressed.
  • Practice deep breathing by gently and slowly inhaling into the lungs and exhaling completely.
  • Gently press your thumb into this point and and circle in a clockwise direction until you feel a release of tension.
  • You may finish using both thumbs in a “diaphragm spread” by simultaneously pulling each thumb under the balls of the foot, from the center outward toward the edges.
  • Repeat other foot.

 


Sources:

[1] Quinn, Corina. “Reset Your Health.” Yoga Journal June 2014: 22. Print.

[2] Weber, Kristine Kaoverii., and Neil Sutherland. Healing Self-massage: Over 100 Simple Techniques for Re-energizing Body and Mind. London: Collins & Brown, 2005. Print. cited by  Smith, Laurie Chance. “Soothe Stress With Self-Massage || Massage Therapy Articles.”Massage Therapy: Everybody Deserves a Massage. Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals, Sept. 2008. Web. 23 May 2017.

What Does Holistic Have to Do With Our Health?

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Those of us attracted to natural health and healing often hear, and use, the word holistic, as in “holistic health” and “holistic aromatherapy.” But, do we really understand the true essence of its meaning?

What exactly does holistic mean? And, what does it really have to do with our health?

Does it mean:

Natural health?

Alternative health?

Eastern medicine?

Something else?

So, let’s discuss. I believe it is important we understand its historical and present significance so that we may make informed choices about how to use and practice holistic health within its intended context.

The word holistic is derived from the Greek “holos,” which means “whole, entire, or complete.”[1] When we look at something holistically, we are viewing the “whole” entity made up of interconnected and interdependent parts, rather than focusing parts themselves as independent elements.[2]

Distilled down to its fundamental level, holistic health and healing very simply means we are looking at our “whole person,” or “whole being.”

So what does that mean?

In holistic, or “whole person” health, we see our whole being made up of mind, body and spirit. And, these interconnected elements of our existence must be in balance within ourselves, and with our environment, for us to experience optimal wellbeing.

Eastern traditions of healing have been approached care of the whole person for more than 3,000 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), originating in China, and Ayurveda from India, both stress the mind, body and spirit connection, as well as the need for balance in our natural energy flow for optimal health.

Ayurvedic medicine utilizes diet, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and massage as means to support balance.[3] In TCM, acupuncture, diet, herbal remedies, and gentle movement such as Tai Chi are used to restore a state of harmony.[4]

 

What is considered the advent of modern western medicine also began as a holistic approach more than 2,500 years ago. Hippocrates, acknowledged as the Father of Western (or Modern) Medicine, is credited with taking medicine out of the supernatural and into the natural world among western health practitioners. Rather than a punishment from the deities, he believed that disease was a result of imbalances within our mind, body and spirit, as well as environmental factors.

Hippocrates also believed the body contains its own natural self-healing mechanism that seeks and requires balance for good health. Thus, he saw the role of the health practitioner was to help bring the whole person back into balance, as well as looking at sources that may be the cause of imbalance.[5] In treating the individual rather than the disease, Hippocrates employed natural healing therapies such diet, hydrotherapy, movement and massage.[6]

By the 17th century, the belief that mind, body and spirit existed as one interconnected aspect of our being fell out of favor. Due to religious doctrines of the time, this concept created interference in the advancement of medicine. Rene Descartes, credited, as the Father of Modern Philosophy, argued the mind and body were separate entities.

This revised view of the body as a biological collection of mechanical parts allowed for the study of anatomy and physiology paving the way for many medical advances we benefit from today. Today, this biomedical approach is still the primary practice, more than 300 years later, where health is defined as the absence of disease with a focus on how to eliminate biological factors that cause disease. But, it is also argued this view has created limitations in in our understanding and advancement of healing the person as a whole.[7]

Any practice that did not fit within the parameters of the biomedical approach became mistrusted and marginalized. Once outside the mainstream, holistic medicine became synonymous with alternative medicine. Worse, alternative medicine became the recipient of an even greater negative connotation due to those who preyed upon the desperately ill from the shadows by promising false cures that stemmed from neither modern medicine nor ancient traditions.

In 1998, Congress founded the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to test the efficacy and safety of treatments available to patients who were pursuing them outside of mainstream medicine.[8]

As research showed many modalities, such as massage and acupuncture, to be safe, soothing and not interfering with conventional treatments, they began to find acceptance under the now coined “complementary” health status. This implied a treatment considered “in addition to” conventional medicine vs. the alternative “instead of.”

With continued study validating the efficacy of these natural approaches, the newly renamed Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in 2015 renewed efforts to encourage increased research into holistic modalities and new study methodologies to suit their nature.  [9]

While scientific exploration continues to verify, explain and reveal new information about efficacy and safety, it may take time to unlock the many mysteries of the natural healing arts. In the meantime, many argue the documented use and effectiveness handed down through the ages creates a valuable body of historical evidence based upon trial and error and replicated empirical demonstration.

When it comes to holistic health, we seem to have come full circle from Hippocrates to Harvard. Whole-person healing is enjoying a resurgence of research across our major academic medical centers under the headings such as mind/body medicine, systems biology and functional medicine. And, many top teaching hospitals offer natural healing modalities as part of their clinical practice for their patients. Holistic healing combined with conventional medicine is referred to as integrative health or medicine creating a sense of working together in synergy.

In the meantime, holistic health practices continue to thrive on their own, offering either Eastern and Western approaches. Whole-person approaches such as acupuncture, massage, yoga and aromatherapy have become mainstream for the masses as people experience the benefits of balancing their beings.

One modern, yet historically familiar, definition of a holistic health practitioner is as follows:

Holistic health practitioners believe that the whole person is made up of interdependent parts, and if one part is not working properly, all the other parts will be affected. In this way, if people have imbalances (physical, emotional, or spiritual) in their lives, it can negatively affect their overall health.”

With this in mind, practitioners may call upon both conventional and natural methods of healing from both the Eastern and Western traditions, not only to treat symptoms, but most importantly to look at source issues that may be leading to health concerns.[10]

 

Where does aromatherapy fit in?

Aromatherapy is the perfect partner in caring for your whole person. Approached in a holistic way, these aromatic essences can impact the wellbeing of our whole being – mind, body and spirit – putting nature in our hands to use as support for coming back into a healing state of balance.

In “The Wonderful Wide World of Aromatherapy,” we discuss dynamic and diverse ways  in which aromatherapy is practiced. The modern approach to holistic aromatherapy was introduced in 1961 by Marguerite Maury. Drawing upon the practices of both Eastern and Western holistic health, Maury sought to integrate aromatherapy in a way that would impact the psyche, physiological and psychological needs of each unique individual.[11]

Today, the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy defines the practice as:

The art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.  It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.”

Maury’s use of aromatherapy to enhance our whole being through aromatic massage echoes the often-quoted dictate of Hippocrates.

The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day.”

It is with this holistic health advice in mind, from historical to modern perspective, that we can recreate our own whole-person restorative experience. We will combine aromatherapy with hydrotherapy and massage in a self-care routine as outlined below.

No worries if you don’t enjoy the bath. Benefits can also be enjoyed under the sensory-soothing spray of the shower. Bonus if you have a massaging-type shower head.

 

 

1) Choose a Synergy (or, use these as inspiration to create your own)

 

Balancing Bath Soak

2 drops fragonia

2 drops bergamot

1 drop ho wood

Helps to soothe and balance the mind, body and spirit.

 

 Bathe the Day Away

2 drops ho wood

2 drops palo santo*

1 drop rose otto 10%

Helps to harmonize the mind, body and spirit with a sense of inner peace and overall wellbeing.

*Palo Santo was a recent offering through the Oil of the Month club.

 

Fresh Awakening

2 drops bergamot

2 drops rosemary

1 drop spearmint

Relaxing to the body, awakening to the mind, while inviting joyful energy to the spirit.

 

Revitalizing Rain

2 drops frankincense carteri

2 drops spearmint

1 drop eucalyptus globulus

Uplifting and invigorating to the mind, while soothing to the body. Calming and clarifying, while promoting inner-contemplation.

 

2) Create a Bath or Shower Blend

 

For a Bath Blend:

5 drops (total) essential oil blend

1-2 T unscented, natural body wash

Mix well. Then, add:

½ c Epsom salts

Add to running water and soak. 

 

For a Shower Blend:

5-10 drops (total) essential oil blend

1 oz unscented, natural body wash

PET plastic squeeze bottle

Shake vigorously

May multiply blend per ounce based on the ratio above

 

3) Experience a Self-Massage in Bath or Shower:

  • You will need a natural bristle bathing brush (I have one with a long handle for the shower and detachable brush for the bath).
  • In the bath, apply unscented soap or body wash, while soaking in your aromatherapy blend.
  • In the shower, apply your shower gel with essential oil blend.

 

Self-Massage Steps:

  • Use comfortable, circular strokes
  • Apply your strokes so the flow of circulation moves toward the heart.
  • Start at the top of an area first, working upward toward the heart then move to the areas below to work upward.
  • Start with the left side, then work the right side in the following order:
  1. Upper Arm. Lower Arm
  2. Upper Leg. Lower Leg
  3. Switch Sides.
  4. Then, move to:
  5. Chest. Abdomen
  6. Upper Back. Lower Back (Don’t forget the buttocks)

This will provide you with a full body massage. Bonus if you massage your head with your fingertips. A head massage could also be completed while washing your hair.

 


Sources:

[1] “holo-“. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 3 May. 2017. <Dictionary.com

[2] “Holistic.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.

[3] “Ayurvedic Medicine.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

[4] “Traditional Chinese Medicine: In Depth.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

[5] “Hippocrates.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Apr. 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

[6] Osborne, David K. “HIPPOCRATES.” Greek Medic2007. GreekMedicine.net, 2007. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

[7] Mehta, Neeta. “Mind-body Dualism: A Critique from a Health Perspective.” Mens Sana Monographs. Medknow Publications, Jan. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.

[8] “NCCIH Facts-at-a-Glance and Mission.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 03 June 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.

[9] “Objective 1: Advance Fundamental Science and Methods Development.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 03 June 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.

[10] “What Is Holistic Medicine?” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

[11] Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending and a Reference Manual for Essential Oils and Base Materails. Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

 

An Achilles Heel to Healing

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


 

We are told “when life gets tough, the tough get going.”

What does that really mean? Generally, we interpret that to mean we “toughen up” to persist in working through adversity.

Most often, persistence is a trait we are taught to admire. But, is it a trait that helps us be whole? What if this persistent state of armoring is actually an Achilles Heel to our healing?

Greek mythology depicts Achilles as one of its greatest warriors during the Trojan War. Yet, for all his armor and strength, he was killed by a poisoned arrow that found its mark on his heel. That vulnerable spot came to be known as the Achilles Heel. Even one who is heroically strong can meet his downfall through a poisoned weak spot.[1]

In the modern world, we are often met with constant sources of stress that can feel like an army of arrows flinging at us. We armor up and soldier on to persist on our path while trying to prevent or push back the adversity coming at us.

By definition persistence is “the firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” [2]

Yet, when we heroically persist in armoring up, we also create a rigid pattern of holding that can impact our overall wellbeing on all levels. This very armor against stress tends to repress its toxic effects binding it into our whole being and creating our own poisoned Achilles Heel.

Emotionally, physically and energetically, continued persistence can put us in a state of fighting a continuous battle, which can eventually erode our strength and stamina. This unrelenting sense of distress can create dis-ease on all levels by impacting our ability find a healing balance.

 

As we read in “Food for Food for Thought,” and “Take and Breath and Cool Your Jets,” distress of the mind, unchecked, also creates a stress response in the body. In therapeutic bodywork, we say your issues are in your tissues. You know that feeling of discomfort from the knots in your shoulders and neck where many hold their stress. This is the body armored and ready for battle. But, this unrelenting state of distress also can lead to chronic and serious conditions through the stress cocktail that impacts our body’s ability to find a healing balance.

In energy work, we say this sense of armoring, or holding, creates blocks in the natural energy flow of our subtle body. From this perspective, left unreleased, these blocks can become a deeply suppressed source of dis-ease that eventually manifest as physical health conditions, most especially where weak spots have developed.

In my own healing journey, a colleague recently pointed out my persistence in working to heal a chronic lower back condition. In fact, I was so persistent, that I tried pushing forward with the same therapeutic modality for a year.  And, though I made some progress, I wasn’t making a breakthrough.

In retrospect, I needed another approach, but I was not willing to flex to some other options because I was certain this was the answer if I just gave it enough effort and time. Yet, the more I persisted the more frustrated I became with my body leading to some distress in the mind, creating more stress in the body, which affected the pain I was experiencing through a state of dis-ease and back to the frustration and stress of the mind. What a cycle, huh?

The breakthrough came, when I eventually broke down. A few months ago I “suddenly” had an issue with intense acute back pain that impacted my ability to fully function. What I thought had been under management morphed into requiring much more intensive therapeutic work. I had missed the message in my persistence to progress.

What also made itself known was a major jump in my blood pressure into a very high and concerning range indicating I was holding stress under my “can do” persistent armor. My acupuncture physician had also been warning that my liver meridian was way out of balance indicating a holding of anger and resentment. Whether you practice western or eastern medicine (or both like me), the modalities were in agreement. I was holding in frustration that was turning toxic.

The very act of persistence became my Achilles Heel, blocking my continued healing of lingering issues, and creating new chronic conditions.

While we never want to be sidelined by injury or illness, if it happens it is always an opportunity to stop and “take a look.” What I discovered about myself was that I persisted in getting through the last nine years, after the life-altering accident, by armoring up and toughing it out. In fact, those were skills I likely learned early in life and had sourced within to get through. And, they did in fact get me to a certain point. But, now, it was time to let go of persistence and learn something new that would take me farther in my journey.

So, then, what else can we do when the stressors of life are zinging at us?

We learn to bounce through resilience vs. battling through persistence.

Researchers have found that healthy people are more resilient in nature and that resilience is a key factor in greatly improving the healing process. From a wellness perspective, psychologists define resilience as the “the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.”[3]

As it relates to our wellbeing, researchers have this to say:

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.” [4]

Key factors identified in resiliency are the ability to keep a positive outlook, manage our emotions, and adapt. “Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.” [5]

Rather than pushing forward through adversity with the obstinate rigidity of persistence, the practice of resilience is a softening of our stance allowing us the flexibility to regroup and respond.

Here was a novel concept. I could armor up, absorb the reverberations of the stress I was creating, experiencing holding in as my personal poison — or, I could relax into a buoyant stance, taking care with self-care after the fact to ensure I had not overlooked any arrows to my heel.

Aromatherapy excels in supporting this softening of our being so necessary to a healthy resilience. So often, when I open my spirit to working on a certain place of healing in my being, the absolute perfectly necessary essential oil shows up in my space to support me just at precisely the right time. Blue Yarrow is no exception. It came to me at just the right time to help calm the mind, relax the body and soothe the soul.

Blue Yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, is named for Achilles. The herb was traditionally used in battles for wounded warriors. [6] And, so for those of us who have learned to battle forward through persistence, blue yarrow is wonderful companion in learning to remove the self-inflicted stress poison of own Achilles Heel.

Blue Yarrow essential oil also is considered wound healing for blocks in our natural energy flow created by deeply repressed negative emotions, such as the anger, rage and frustration that so often accompany chronic stress and impact our overall wellbeing.[7]

It can be used when you need greater emotional support and insight during significant life changes, when you feel challenged by your weak spots, and when you seek stay balanced while keeping your sense of integrity.[8] Blue Yarrow has also been used in ancient cultures to promote intuition and divination.[9]

 

If you are having a day, week, month or moment that feels like you are coming in from a battlefield, blue yarrow is a wonderful support to any self-care routine you have that allows you to slow down, soften up and relieve your stress as practice resiliency. If you would like some ideas for some mindfulness approaches that would support steps toward a resiliency practice, to start, take a look at “Take a Breath and Cool Your Jets” and “M is for Meditation.”

Below are two of my new favorite mini-master blends working with blue yarrow to support my journey toward a softer stance and bouncing back. I like them both in personal inhalers to have with me on the go. You can triple the blend to use them that way, or you can use as is in your diffuser.

 

Blue Bliss

2 drops bergamot

2 drops coriander

1 drop blue yarrow

This is a great blend for calming the mind, body and spirit. It is clearing and cleansing, especially for repressed emotions such as tension, frustration and anger, and helping to balance our natural energy flow. It encourages optimism and enthusiasm, while uplifting and calming to mind, body and spirit.

 

Blue Skies

2 drops elemi

2 drops grapefruit, pink

1 drop blue yarrow

I love this blend as support for healing meditation. It is grounding and strengthening while opening our mind to our intuition and the Divine with greater clarity and inspiration. Helps to clear and move deeply held, negative energy blocks such tension and frustration. Promotes a sense of peace while uplifting and the mind and spirit.

 


Sources:

[1] “Achilles’ Heel.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

[2] Persistence.” Google. n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[3] “Resilience.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[4] “The Road to Resilience.” Pardon Our Interruption. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

[5] “Resilience.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.

[6] “Achillea Millefolium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

[7] Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London: Gaia, 1999. Print.

[8] Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

[9] Achillea Millefolium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Aromatic Medicine Making. Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

 

My Top Five Workhorse Oils

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Welcome back to Essential Education. I hope you are finding this series is encouraging greater confidence toward exploration of your essential oils by distilling down some basic information. At the same time, we want to encourage you to continue your education through reputable books and classes. This is just a start to help support you on your way.

So far, we have discussed:

Aromatherapy – The Wonderful Wide World of Aromatherapy

Learning Your Essential Oils – Welcome to Essential Education

Choosing for Your Concerns – Getting to Know  Your Essential Oils — Part 2

Basic Blending – Beginning Blending, 1, 2 3

With that under our belts, I now want to address another question we are often asked. As aromatherapists, folks want to know our list of favorite oils. This is actually a hard question to answer for a few reasons.

First, ask a bunch of aromatherapists the same question, and you very likely will not ever get the same two lists. Maybe some overlap, but that’s it. Even if you limit the sample group to the Plant Therapy aromatherapy team and the essential oils Plant Therapy stocks you likely will get some shared oils, but the not the same two lists.

Why?

  • First, because choosing essential oils is a very personal choice. Look at patchouli for example. Goodness! Talk about a polarizing oil based on scent. The patchouli lovers will sing its praises while the patchouli haters will be running for the hills. It doesn’t matter how wonderfully patchouli works for various wellness concerns, you won’t get a patchouli hater on board.
  • Second, choosing essential oils must be matched to the concern and the unique needs for whom you are choosing it. What you choose to ease soreness and stiffness at bedtime in an adult might be very different that what you choose for a child during the day. And, there are very often multiple choices. Added to that, see #1 above.

What that means is that, while there are multiple choices of essential oils available within the world of aromatherapy, the best are those that match the unique needs of each individual. Once you distill this down, the lists become shorter and varied, not only from person to person, but even for the same individual at different times.

So, when you ask us about our list of favorites, it is really just that. A list of favorites that we love because we are drawn to them and they suit our personal needs.

What you really might want to know is why certain oils have made our favorites list(s).

If we can frame it this way, then, you can explore if the choices others make might match your needs as well. This is really important when you are reading a recipe, getting a recommendation, or reviewing a list of possible essential oil choices.

 

Within this framework, I am going offer My Top Five Workhorse Oils, and I am going to tell you why. My intention is that by sharing some insight about why they made my list, it will provide inspiration to build your own, much like you would take inspiration for home decor, or fashion from design pages in a magazine. If some of these essential oils suit your personal needs and preferences, great! If not, I hope it will give you a boost to build your own list!

So, what do I mean by workhorse oils? I mean these little powerhouses can pack a punch by pretty much covering all the basic bases. They are well rounded in their application with very few safety concerns. If could only choose five to cover my needs, these would be it.

Here they are and here is why.

 

BergamotCitrus bergamia

This is an all-around favorite essential oil for it’s many uses, its uplifting scent, and it’s ability to infuse a joyful spirit into any blend. 

Bergamot can be used for relaxing the mind, relaxing the body, releasing tight knots and tension, lifting the mood and spirit, helping to balance the nervous system,  supporting the digestive distress, soothing the skin, and as support during times of seasonal threats.

Cautions: I choose bergamot that is bergapten-free so it is sun safe and Kidsafe. Bergamot that contains bergapten is highly phototoxic.

  • Calming to the mind
  • Relaxing before bedtime
  • Eases worries
  • Relieves nervous tension
  • Eases sadness and grief
  • Uplifts the spirit
  • Supports a balanced nervous system
  • Powerful support for smoothing tight knots in the body
  • Excellent at reducing muscle tension, tightness and soreness
  • Soothing to digestive distress
  • Calms oily skin issues and eruptions
  • Cleanses and clears the air
  • Supports the immune system during seasonal illness

 

 Chamomile, Roman Chamaemelum nobile

This is one of the most powerful, yet gentle, essential oils for relaxing mind and body.

Roman Chamomile is strongly supportive for easing into sleep and for easing tight knots in the muscles. It is very soothing to the nervous system for children and adults, alike. Wonderful for easing tension around the head and neck, especially if the feeling is intensive enough to make you feel unwell. Wonderful for soothing the skin, especially if you’ve experienced too much sun, have reddened or irritated conditions,  or have itching or stinging from bug bites.

Cautions: None known. KidSafe.

  • Cleansing and clearing
  • Calming and relaxing
  • Provides a powerful assist before bedtime
  • Strongly supportive in reducing intense worrying
  • Soothes nervous tension
  • One of the best at smoothing tight muscle contractions
  • Helps to soothe discomfort of the head and neck.
  • Eases tired, tight and aching muscles and joints
  • Soothing to the skin, especially for reddened, irritated and itching conditions, including bug bites and stings

 

FragoniaAgonis fragrans

Cautions: None Known. KidSafe

This is, by far, my favorite nurturing go-to. This is a sweet little powerhouse with an amazingly wide range of potential uses due to a uniquely balanced composition. 

Fragonia  recently replaced both tea tree and eucalyptus on my short-list of workhorse oils for its comparable applications, but with a more gentle approach and softer scent.  This is my go-to for all things respiratory during times of seasonal illness, whether I’ve been exposed, or the yuckies have already boarded. It is also my go-to for tired and overworked muscles that need some support to relax. It is wonderfully relaxing before bed and emotionally supportive.

  • Broad-spectrum support for clearing and cleansing
  • Powerful support for respiratory health for seasonal pollen or illness
  • Promotes clear breathing when congested
  • Supports the immune system, especially during convalescence
  • Soothing to irritated skin and eruptions
  • Helps to alleviate discomfort for overexertion of muscles and aging joints
  • Balancing to the nervous system
  • Promotes relaxation before sleep
  • Helps to reduce worrying and nervous tension
  • Uplifting to mood, especially during times of sadness and grief

 

 

LavenderLavandula angustifolia

This oil has been revered for years as the workhorse of all workhorses. 

Oh my goodness. For many of us, lavender is what drew us in. It might not be the most powerful in some situations, but it covers the bases and is a supporting oil in many blends. Balancing to the nervous system for a wide range of distress, soothing before slumber, a workhorse for all things related to discomfort of the muscles and soft tissue discomfort and distress, and broad-spectrum applications for supporting the skin.

Cautions: None known. KidSafe

  • Promotes calm
  • Helps to reduce nervous tension
  • Helps to reduce worry and fear
  • Soothing before slumber
  • Balancing to the nervous system
  • Helps to soothe aches, discomfort and stiffness of muscles and joints
  • Helps to smooth tight knots in the tissues
  • Helps to soothe discomfort with tension around the head and neck
  • Helps to soothe digestive distress
  • Soothing to the skin after sun exposure, minor burns and bug bites.
  • Reduce the appearance of scars and bruises
  • Soothes red, irritated or itching skin
  • Uplifts the spirits

 

 

PeppermintMentha x piperita

This powerhouse packs a potent punch whether you need to calm down problems in the body, or stimulate the mind. It can be either warming or cooling topically depending on how it is applied.

Peppermint is my power tool of workhorse oils for the boost it brings blended into synergies for the mind and body. Powerfully stimulating and focusing to the mind, powerfully supportive for digestive distress, powerfully supportive for a congested respiratory system, and powerfully relieving for an achy and weary body, or tension around the head and neck.

Cautions: Do not apply near the face of infants or children. Maximum dilution of 5% for topical applicationsIf you want to use a KidSafe oil, you can replace with Spearmint (mentha spicata) from the same family, which provides more gentle, but similar actions. 

  • Eases discomfort and aches in the muscles and joints
  • Powerful support in reducing muscular contractions
  • Reduces tension around the head and neck
  • Soothes spastic digestive distress, a queasy stomach and general upset
  • Helps to clear congested breathing during seasonal illness
  • Cooling when feeling overheated, or in hot weather.
  • Mentally stimulating.
  • Supports alertness and concentration
  • Uplifting to the spirit

 

So, now that I have provided some information about why I have chosen my Top Five Workhorse Oils, I am hoping you will take inspiration for the following challenges should you choose to accept the mission:

 

  1.  Create your own list of Top Five Workhorse Oils.
  2. Practice some simple blending from the last Essential Education Blog, Beginning Blending 1, 2, 3. (Using this list or your own).
  3. Compare notes by sharing what you have crafted and why.

 

Looking forward to seeing what you create!

 


Sources:

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Aromatic Medicine Making. Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health & Well-being. London: HarperThorsons, 2014. Print.

Worwood, Valerie Ann. Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant … Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home an. Place of Publication Not Identified: New World Library, 2016. Print.

 

 

 

Beginning Blending 1, 2, 3

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


By now, I hope you have had the opportunity to review the following information, especially if you are new to essential oils.

The next step is beginning to explore blending your essential oils.

Here a some baseline concepts before we begin:

 

Blending 1, 2, 3 is just a beginning:

The intention of this Essential Education series is to help instill some confidence with basic information to help you move from memorization to exploration. The method described here is just one method of blending, with some basic parameters to help keep things simple, yet effective. Once you learn more, you will find what works best for your style and needs as an aromatherapy enthusiast.

 

Blending varies by type of aromatherapy practiced:

 As you begin to explore more, you will see many different methods to blending. For example:

  • By chemistry/constituents – often used in clinical aromatherapy
  • By scent/notes – often used in perfumery
  • By therapeutic action – using historically known applications for a remedy of a wellness concern of body, mind or spirit.

For most home enthusiasts, blending by therapeutic action most often suits personal aromatherapy concerns. You will find many of the home reference books written in this way.

 

Blending is an art:

As you study more about blending you will see, even within areas of specialty, aromatherapists have their own way of going about it. Aromatherapy is indeed a natural healing art, and blending is a big part of the art.

 

A blend of undiluted essential oils is called a synergy:

The concept of an essential oil synergy is that the outcome of the blended oils is going to have greater value than the essential oils working alone. If you blend more quantity than for a single use, you will also see the synergy referred to as a master blend, or a stock blend.

Ok, ready to get started?

 

Step 1: Planning Your Blend

Before we begin blending, it is important to know what you are seeking to accomplish by answering some key questions. This list is not all inclusive, but is outlined to give you some idea of the planning needed before you even begin to prepare your blend.

What concern are you looking to support?

  • It is best to address one primary thing at a time.
  • Your blend can have some supporting effects, which we will address.

For whom is this blend being made?

  • A healthy adult?
  • Child?
  • Someone who is pregnant or nursing?

How is this blend going to be used?

  • Inhalation?
  • Topically?
  • Short-term?
  • Longer-term?

Are there any safety concerns?

  • Does it need to be KidSafe?
  • Are the oils phototoxic?
  • Maximum dermal applications?
  • Health concerns?
  • Potential medication interactions?

Other considerations?

  • Time of day to be used?
  • Scent preferences or aversions?

 

Step 2: Choosing Your Essential Oils

Now that you have answered questions such as those above, you can begin to choose your essential oils. There may be a variety of choices, but some oils work better together either synergistically, and/or how they smell.

This is where being familiar with your oils (what they do, how they smell, what their safety considerations are), as well as which oils best address your concern may be. If you need help with this, please review Welcome to Essential Education and Getting to Know Your Essential Oils – Part 2.

 

To begin, we are going to keep blending simple. And, we are going to blend by therapeutic action as a starting point for this exercise.

I learned my preferred process for choosing my oils to blend from Jade Shutes, an aromatherapy educator, and author.  When you are ready for more complexity, I highly recommend her manual “The Dynamics of Blending,” for learning blending in far more detail and depth .  Jade advocates a three-step approach to choosing your oils, summarized below:

  • First Oil/Primary – addresses primary concern
  • Second Oil/Supporting – supports the first oil for the primary concern
  • Third Oil/Enhancing – brings the blend together and enhances the effects of the synergy

A few more additional oils could be added to enhance the overall synergy, but let’s start with the basics. I have created many effective blends using simply three oils. Once you get going and gain your confidence and more education, you could certainly begin to branch out to more complex methods and synergies.

 

Step 3: Creating Your Blend

 To help get you started, you will find a worksheet below to help record your progress and process:

 

Download and Print Blending 1, 2, 3 Worksheet Here

  

 

1)     Choose Your Essential Oils for the Synergy

Select Your First Oil  — to address your primary concern, ensuring it meets the criteria in the planning phase.

Select a Second Oilto support your primary concern and to support the first oil.

Take the caps off the two bottles and hold them together. Gently waft the caps together under your nose (note: you don’t want to touch your nose or take a big sniff. Just a gentle inhale as it passes by).

How is the scent? Is it generally pleasing?  If you like it, proceed. If not choose another oil you want to go with your first choice oil and start again.

Select a Third Oilto bring together the overall blend

What enhancing effect do you want to add to your blend? Do you want to enhance the scent? Do you want to enhance the overall action? Do you want to add a supporting action? All the above?

Hold the cap of the third oil with the caps of other two oils and do the wafting experiment again. Is the scent generally pleasing? Are you happy with the combination of the three in general? If so, then you are ready to proceed.

 

2)      Make Your Blend

For this you will need:

  • Cotton balls or fragrance test strips
  • Scratch paper and a pen or pencil
  • It is also good practice to wear gloves

 

Try This 3 Oils + 5 Drops Method

This method keeps things simple, and it makes for a blend that is easy to use immediately, or to scale up or down with minimal math.

For example, with a 5-drop mini-master blend, you could easily add the following within safe and appropriate guidelines:

  • 5 drops in a diffuser (per 100 ml)
  • 5 drops on a cotton ball at your bedside, or desk (this is what I do with my tester samples)
  • 5 drops (mixed with appropriate carriers) in a bath
  • 15 drops in a personal inhaler
  • 1 drop x 5 uses in aroma jewelry
  • 20-40 drops per ml for a master blend stock bottle.

 

Choose the Ratio of Oils

  • Grab your scratch paper and a pencil.
  • Write down the name of each oil you have chosen.
  • Add one drop of the first oil to your cotton ball or scent strip.
  • Mark down a hatch mark next to that oil written on your paper.
  • Add one drop of the second oil and record it.
  • Add one drop of the third oil and record it.

(Trust me, marking each drop immediately is critical. If you think you will remember what you did when you are done, ask me how many times I have lost my place with which oil I just dropped, or how many recipes I have forgotten by the time I finished dropping and smelling my oils!)

  • Now, take a smell of what you have so far. How do you like it? What would you like to increase or mute?
  • Add one drop of the next oil you choose. It can be any of the three. Don’t forget to write it down.
  • Smell again.
  • Add the final drop of any of the three oils you choose and smell. How do you like it? Love it? Great! You have your blend. Don’t love it? Start again, adjusting the choice of which oils to bring out more in the blend and which ones you want to stay in the background.

 

3)    Record your Recipe

  • Once you are finished, be sure to write down your synergy recipe and store in a safe place.
  • Recipes are written in descending order of volume (which oil you used most first, and then, alphabetically.
  • It is good practice to also include the Latin names, so you remember which variety you used.
  • Be sure to write down the purpose of the blend.
  • If you created a synergy that is larger in volume than for single use, be sure to label the bottle.
  • If you created a master or stock blend, also be sure to date it. Your shelf life will be determined by the essential oil in the synergy with the shortest shelf life when stored properly.

 

Examples of sample blends using the 3 Oil/5 Drop Method

These are all mini-master blends to sample if you are looking for some inspiration to get started.  Feel free to change the amount of each oil in the synergy suited to your own personal sense and needs should you wish. If you have gotten to know your oils, you can even play with making substitutions that better suit you.

 

Australian Awesomeness 

 2 drops Kunzea (kunzea ambigua)

2 drops Blue Cypress (callitris intratropica)

1 drop Fragonia (agonis fragrans)

This is soothing to aching muscles and joints. Soothing to mind and spirit. Helps to release blocked pain and emotional scars to the spirit.

 

Sensationally Soothing

 2 drops Ho Wood (cinnamomum camphora)

2 drops Rose Otto 10% (rosa damascena)

1 drop Lavender Fine (lavandula angustifolia)

This is a sweet soother to the mind, body and spirit when needing to significantly relax nervous tension on all levels.

 

Refresh

2 drops Peppermint (mentha x piperita)

2 drops Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis ct 1,8-cineole)

1 drops Lime (citrus x aurantifolia)

An invigorating blend. Supports focus and clarity.

 


Source:

Shutes, Jade. “The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending and Reference Manual for Essential Oils and Base Materials.” N.p.: East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. N.d. Print.

An Eternal Spring in Your Step

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


With the advent of the Spring Equinox this Monday, March 20th, we begin to shake off our hibernal urges of deep winter and celebrate the season of renewal.

What a joyous time it is when “Spring has Sprung.”  And, the perfect time to create new beginnings in our being about how we might keep an eternal spring in our step.

With this in mind, what I would like to share with you are some Lessons from Lucy.  She did a lot of joyful living in the 15.5 years she traveled this Earth. We were together for nearly 15 of those years after she adopted me when I met her at the animal shelter in New Orleans.

I could write a whole blog post on the wellness benefits of pets, but today, I am inspired to share the inherent wellness wisdom I learned from one of my most gifted teachers about her way of being in the world that supported a good life.

Lucy was a 50-pound border collie and black lab mix. Her head was all border collie and heart was all lab so I always said she tried really hard to be good, but found it difficult. Upon meeting her, the vet proclaimed “she had a BIG personality.”  Lucy had a rough start to life. Abandoned. Left short tied. Beaten and shot with BB’s. Yet, her zest for life never wavered.

Lucy was more than a beloved companion. As a working dog, she needed a purpose, and she appointed herself as my guide dog to be sure I was ok and on track. As such, she was passionate about getting me through some of the biggest challenges of my adult life.

She was at my side during a hellish divorce, unexpected job changes, several health challenges, and surgeries.  With a deep empathetic connection, she comforted me in ways that were profound, got me out of bed when life seemed a bit overwhelming, dried my tears, and always made me laugh out loud with her comedic antics. But, mostly, she had the most amazing ability to actively listen. We had a lot of talks about deep stuff and she kept my secrets safe.

Throughout her lifetime, she was also very adaptable. We made many moves through several states. If she had her favorite bed and toy, she was willing to go with positive outlook and a sense of adventure for whatever awaited us.

Lucy was willing to forgive. We were inseparable except for two occasions. After I broke my neck, I remain eternally grateful to the friends and caregivers who kept her safe and well for those first six months away from our home. And, though Lucy was clearly ticked at me when I could finally retrieve her, she forgave me after a short bit and a long hug.  And, then, she became an emotional support dog thereafter before I knew what that was — really illuminating the lessons of unconditional love. Three years ago, this summer,  it was finally her time finally time to pass into the great beyond for a well deserved eternal rest. And, for her sake, I learned the grace of letting go.

Lucy was hale and healthy keeping a spring in her step right up until the end when nature just finally took its course.  Her life expectancy was 10-12 years, and yet she lived a quality life for several years beyond. And, I think, this was in large measure because of her optimistic outlook, zest for living and joy in small things daily.  She didn’t dwell on the past, or worry about the future. She lived in the present and taught me how to get the most out of how to be.

When we lived in New England, spring was one of Lucy’s favorite seasons. There was always an extra spring to her step, especially when the sunshine was melting the last of the snow and just as the daffodils — those happy, hardy harbingers of spring — were making their reappearance.

What was best of all was that the squirrels were once again active. In her later years, chasing the squirrels became more of a game. She didn’t have an expectation of catching them, she just used them as incentive to run short sprints (with me attached at the end of the leash). She didn’t get frustrated at the outcome, but rather, took joy in the madcap journey of the moment.

On another March day four years ago, in what turned out to be her last best spring season, we made her annual checkup visit to the vet.

I recently came across her exam notes and am reminded how profoundly she shifted my awareness about how to live the good life. I had recorded them to share someday.

It feels like that perfect someday is now — a synchronicity to reviewing them again this March as gift during her birthday month for us during this season of renewal.

Notes from the visit:

Today was Lucy’s 98,000 mile check up. She turned 14 this week (98 in dog years)! Her vet continues to be amazed at her excellent health. Heart and lungs pronounced “gorgeous!” Strength excellent. A bit of arthritis — just a little creaky in the back hips. No pain management needed at this time. Loss of peripheral vision, but otherwise ok. Some possible hearing loss, but had wax cleaned out of ear. Hearty appetite and digestion excellent, but adding some Pepcid for some occasional reflux at night. May have a possible touch of dementia, but it could also just be her big personality coupled with age. A few skin tags and fatty tumors, but muscle tone excellent.”

So, in observing her lifetime of near perfect health here are:

Lessons from Lucy

  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take your supplements.
  • Enjoy yummy, guilt-free treats on occasion and be excited about them.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Generally at the same time, and get at least 8 hours of sleep.
  • Take naps.
  • Get outside in the sunshine.
  • Have structure to your day, but allow flexibility.
  • Exercise at least 15 minutes daily.
  • Engage in a brain game daily.
  • Be curious about the world around you.
  • Use your noggin to sort things out.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Be bold but know when to retreat.
  • Give and receive love unconditionally.
  • Find your purpose and live it. It’s OK if it changes over life stages.
  • Be in social relationships with others and understand the boundaries and roles of each.
  • Smile.
  • Manage your stress by having outlets for it.
  • Push yourself to do more, even if you are unsure if you can.
  • Ask for what you want or need.
  • Accept loving help from others.
  • Be yourself.
  • Allow your personality to shine.
  • Don’t grow old because of your chronological age, or physical limitations.
  • Live in the present and treat each moment as a gift.
  • Enjoy the world around you.
  • Spread happiness, laughter and joy.

As a nose hound, scent was incredibly important to Lucy.  She literally took in the world by smelling everything she passed. A jogger’s dog she wasn’t, because she stopped so frequently, suddenly, and randomly to be able take long and deep sniffs of whatever pleased her senses. Though she loved to be active, the best part of her walks were to  “stop and smell the roses” all along our path.

Though Lucy is no longer physically here, her spirit and teachings remain. In this season of renewal I hope you find the Lessons from Lucy helpful in keeping your own Eternal Spring in Your Step.

I have included these blends to support you on your path. You can add to your diffuser, triple the recipe to add to an inhaler stick to take along, or add a drop to a diffuser necklace to always be with you.

 

Lucy’s Love of Life Blend

2 drops mandarin

1 drop bergamot

1 drop coriander

1 drop elemi

This is playful, joyful, zesty blend that also helps us support peace and clarity.

 

I have also included a repeat of a crowd favorite from a previous blog, The Sunshine State. 

 

Inner Child

 2 drops grapefruit

2 drops mandarin

1 drop spearmint

This blend helps lifts the spirits with child-like joy and optimism.

 


Sources:

Kein, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Can Pre-Blended Synergies Be Used for Other Purposes?

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Ok! By now, I hope you are comfortable with your single essential oils and how they can help support your wellness concerns. If you are just now jumping in, here is where we are so far in this introductory series of Essential Education:

The Wonderful Wide World of Aromatherapy — How essential oils and aromatherapy support our wellbeing

Welcome to Essential Education — Getting to know our essential oils

Getting to Know Our Essential Oils – Part 2– Choosing the most appropriate oils for our concerns

Another question we often get asked is:

“Can pre-blended synergies be used for other purposes?”

 

The short answer is “it is possible.”

Once you are familiar with the effects of essential oils, and how to match those effects with your concerns, you can create a roadmap to your answer, ensuring it works with your unique needs.

I always start with the concern I want to address. So the question I ask is “what pre-blended synergies do I have on hand that could address this issue?” Yep! Even aromatherapists “cheat” now and then when you have some wonderfulness already in your arsenal for times of need.

Here is a real-life example from my recent experience.

Recently, very late into the night, the muscles of both legs were tight and aching. I also had a great deal of discomfort from some very tight knots in certain spots, and my low back was throbbing. I needed some relief and wanted to take a hot bath with a blend that would support relaxation of not only my body, but also my mind, so I could get in a good restorative sleep for the night.

I happened to have Calming the Child on hand and, after checking a few key things, I knew it was perfect as my “grab-and-go.”

Here’s the description of Calming the Child from the Plant Therapy website:

“Calming The Child is absolutely wonderful and a delight for little ones. Calming The Child was created to help promote a tranquil atmosphere during the day or before bedtime. Used by adults and children alike, Calming The Child can help anyone feel more calm.”

 The essential oils in this synergy were specifically chosen and blended for the purpose as described above, and it does an amazing job.

 

 But, remember, what I needed was a remedy to support relaxation of my body and mind so I could get some rest.

So, here is the checklist I went through to assess whether I could repurpose this-pre-blended synergy to suit my specific needs. You can use your worksheets from Welcome to Essential Education and Getting to Know Your Essential Oils – Part 2 as advance guides to map out potential multi-purposes for your blends when you are making purchasing decisions, or after they arrive. Even with a Plant Therapy blend, you may need to research through other reputable resources such as those recommended in Getting To Know Your Essential Oils – Part 2

 

What are the ingredients?

You can check:

  • The label (all reputable companies list the essential oils used)
  • The website (see the product details box, under “ingredients”); or
  • The product template sheet (open and/or download from the website)

Here are the essential oils used in the blend:

 

Do these essential oils address my concerns?

  • Lavender – relieves muscles tension, stiffness, aches and tight knots. Calming and soothing for restlessness. Relieves nervous tension.
  • Chamomile, Roman – powerful support for relieving tense muscles and tight knots. Soothing to the nervous system. Promotes calm and supports relaxation before bedtime.
  • Mandarin – Helps to soothe nervous tension. Eases the mind and body before bedtime. Mild support for tight knots and muscles.
  • Tangerine — Mild support for tight knots in the muscles. Helps to clear the mind and reduce nervous tension. Relaxes the mind before bedtime.

 

Are there any safety considerations?

We already know this synergy is:

  • KidSafe; (marked on the website and the label); and
  • Safe for topical use as well as inhalation (either by reading the product template sheet on the website, or because we can see the product also comes pre-blended for topical use).

 

Are there other considerations?

Since it was way past bedtime, anything stimulating would be no-go. It would be a bonus if the ingredients would to also help calm the mind and support sleep.

 

Bingo! Calming the Child met all of my needed criteria, plus the bonus round of supporting a good night’s rest. I was able to quickly mix Calming the Child into an epsom salt bath, soak, relax and crawl into bed. It worked beautifully for the much needed relief and the restorative night I required. With this awesome result, Calming the Child remains in my rotation for those nights when I need a “go -to” to “grab and go.”

 

Calming the Child Bath Soak

Soothing to Mind and Body

Mix Calming the Child with the body wash to completely disburse the essential oils. Add the epsom salts to the body wash and mix. Pour under running water for a warm bath. Soak, soothe, and sleep!

 

I hope this helps walk you through how to answer the question about whether your pre-blended synergies can be used for other purposes. The key is really knowing your essential oils and how they can best address your concerns. If the ingredients meet that criteria, in addition to safety and other considerations, it can be considered a go. You can explore and experience for yourself to determine whether your pre-blended synergy becomes a “go-to grab-and-go” for other purposes.

In our next blog, we will discuss some simple steps to creating our own blends.

 

 


Sources:

Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health, & Well Being. San Francisco, CA: Conari, 2013. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending and a Reference Manual for Essential Oils and Base Materials. N.p.: East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, n.d. Print.

Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2016. Print.

 

 

A Crazy Little Thing Called (Self) Love

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Ah! The Season of Love! We are reminded to express our love to those we love.

So, while you are handing out all those Valentines to others, let’s also include ourselves. A Crazy Little Thing Called (Self) Love is another opportunity to practice conscious wellness.

Do you love yourself unconditionally?

If you answered in the affirmative, that is awesome! Many of us, however, are on various forks in the path still working our way there.

Some never learned how. Some believe they aren’t worthy. Some learned love was conditional.

Well, let me share one ginormous Valentine that was shared with me by a gifted healer, teacher and mentor, Dr. Dorothy Martin-Neville:

“You are worthy of love simply because you exist.”

Think about that for a moment. Not because of what you do for others, or how you look, or how smart you are, or how well you do your job, or what a great spouse or parent you are.

“You are worthy of love simply because you exist.”

Oh man! If we could all just get through life with that understanding intact, I do believe we would have world peace. But, alas, what we learn in our lives along the way can get in the way.

There might be those voices in your head telling you otherwise. In Food for Thought we discussed how the voices we mind may not be your own. So, you can’t believe everything you think.

We discussed how our chronic negative emotions can become self-limiting beliefs and how over time that becomes how we see the world. That world includes how we see ourselves. And, well, when we don’t love ourselves, it can affect our sense of self.

 

My ex-husband was emotionally abusive.

I believed that marriage wasn’t easy. That it took hard work over the long haul. Not to be so sensitive. To be a good girl. To be tough and shake things off.

I had also believed that I earned love by what I did for others and how well I performed. I had low self-esteem and I didn’t know how to love myself. And, I was disconnected from my authentic self. And, so, I felt affirmed and worthy when that love and acceptance was bestowed on me by others.

This was the manifestation of my self-limiting belief system that I perceived as reality. And, I didn’t understand that all those mixed together made an unholy gumbo for someone who needed that on which to feast his own fears.

I share this part of my story because it was the start of my journey to whole–heartedly work toward healing my whole being. And, that includes learning to love myself simply because I exist. When we don’t know how to love ourselves how do we feel worthy of love from one who is worthy of sharing it with us?

I discovered, through therapeutic work and the support of others, that it was simply chronic negative emotions and self-limiting belief systems masquerading as my reality through the window with which I viewed the world. What a gift when I discovered that they were beliefs that can be changed. And, I myself, held the power change them by learning how to love myself.

When we are able to look through the window inward, we can begin to see our core essence – who we truly are and came into the world to be. The soul that is worthy of love simply because we exist. And, when I began to connect, with that part of my self – my true self, I felt love.

The trick is staying connected. When I get up in my head (where I am prone to go when I am not grounded), I disconnect from my seat of love and those voices can start to pull me toward the fear, anxiety and stress of not being worthy. It is a journey for sure, perhaps my life’s lesson, but I know longer live in that unreality.

I don’t have a magic bullet to offer. For me, it has been a lot of work, and a work in progress, with the support of many gifted healers and teachers over the years. And, while I have sought the support of professionals along certain steps, I also seek to tap into my own sense of self-support.

This is one of the reasons that mindfulness work is so important to me. It is a practice that brings me back to the path of healing. It is part of the work of learning and staying connected to and believing in the unconditional love of myself. Mindfulness techniques such as journaling and meditation, affirmations, being aware of negative self-talk and emotions are wonderfully self-empowering.

As always, aromatherapy provides a wonderful companion on my journey toward optimal wellbeing, whether it is in the moment, or providing support for a healing practice. They say when the student is ready the teacher appears. That is very true for me in aromatherapy. At a time in my life when I have renewed my greater focus on freeing whatever heart constraints remain, I have been very drawn to the beautiful rose otto.

For time immemorial roses have been the language of love. We think of them when we give to another. But, what a wonderful gift we can give to ourselves, for rose offers a beautiful support for the spirit for those seeking working on wounds of the heart.

In our subtle body, our core essence and our natural energy flow — the heart center is seated at the place where our physical self and spiritual self meet. Its purposes are to regulate love and balance in our being. Yet, the heart is often the seat of heartache, emotional pain, grief and loss. When blocked by these imbalances, it is difficult for us to experience love and acceptance either for self or for others.[1]

In subtle aromatherapy, rose is also one of the first choices for healing the heart and promoting love of self. Robbi Zeck, in “The Blossoming Heart” recommends rose for times when you feel unloved to help embrace your own divine love within.[2] Gabriel Mojay in “Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit,” recommends rose for repair of love, trust and self-acceptance when the heart has been hurt.[3] In “Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques,” Joni Kein and Ruah Bull indicate rose to provide comfort for heartache and to support love compassion, acceptance for self and others.[4]

A decade and a half later, I am in a much happier and healthier place. While I appreciate and feel uplifted and affirmed by the love of others, I have learned to love myself simply for who I am – simply because I exist.

There is still work to clear out some of the webs woven into the spiritual level, to clear out old hurt, grievances and programming, but I have also learned what lies beneath. A pureness of heart that can radiate unconditional love in such a way that it can bring balance not only to our own wellbeing, but also a whole-heartedness to others.

As I continue brighten my heart light, these are some of the blends that beauty in a bottle, rose otto, has inspired. I hope they inspire and support you should you be working to heal your heart as well.

From my heart to yours, on this day of love and beyond, I wish you unconditional and whole-hearted love!

 

“You are worthy of love simply because you exist.”

 

Notes on Rose Otto 10%:

  • These synergies all use rose otto 10%. Plant Therapy offers organic rose otto undiluted, or pre-diluted to 10% in carrier oil. I’ve used the diluted version. Precious rose otto is not only rich to the budget, it is rich to the nose. It is a very fragrant flower. While I love rose, I am not fond of floral scents that “take over.” I find the proportion in these synergies plays nice with others.
  • Diluted rose otto is not appropriate for a an electronic diffuser. But, these blends are for highly personal work and best reserved for personal inhalation.
  • Cautions: Rose otto is not considered KidSafe and the maximum topical dilution recommended is 0.6%.

 

These mini-master blends are perfect for personal inhalers, passive diffusion such as aromatherapy jewelry, or anointing blends diluted to 1% in roller bottles to use as companions to your healing practices.

 

Beloved Beach Rose

2 drops rose otto 10%

2 drops sandalwood

1 drop bergamot

Balancing to mind, body and spirit. Opens the heart center to love. Eases grief and heartache. Supports healing on all levels. Invites positive, optimistic energy. Quiets the mind and promotes a sense of wellbeing and serenity. Uplifting and calming. Encourages acceptance of self and others. Helps to connect to our inner essence. Grounds while opening to a higher state of consciousness. 

 

Hearts and Flowers

2 drops lavender fine

1 drop neroli

1 drop rose otto 10%

1 drop mandarin

Balancing to body, mind and spirit. Promotes sense of peace and wellbeing. Invites positive energy. Uplifts the heart and encourages joyful love for self and others. Calms and comforts the heart. Eases grief, sorrow and heartache. Encourages compassion, acceptance and forgiveness.

 

Sunshine of My Heart

2 drops lime

2 drops rose otto 10%

1 drop coriander

Restorative and uplifting. Invites positive energy and promotes a sense of wellbeing. Encourages emotional warmth and passion. Encourages love and compassion for self and others. Eases and comforts the heart. Helps support the healing of heart wounds.

 

Precious Peace of My Heart

2 drops yuzu*

1 drop melissa

1 drop rose otto 10%

1 drop sandalwood

Balancing to mind, body and spirit. Restorative supporting healing on all levels. Encourages an overall sense of wellbeing. Supports acceptance, peace and serenity. Encourages unconditional love. Invites positive energy, hope, love and compassion. Supports love and patience for self and others. Helps to connect to our inner essence. Helps to ground while linking to a higher consciousness.

*Yuzu was recently featured as an Oil of the Month. If you do not have yuzu, you might try bergamot, mandarin or lemon to suit your senses. 

 


Sources:

[1] Judith, Anodea. Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1996. Print.

[2] Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

[3] Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 1999. Print.

[4] Kein, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2016. Print.

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