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Aromatherapy Grows: Not Just For The Girls Anymore

Aug 17, 2007
Aromatherapy, like many other natural treatments, is growing more powerful in Dallas, Houston and throughout Texas. Once thought of as just so many pretty scents, the populace is becoming more aware of how powerful this therapy can be in changing mood, relaxing muscles, even relieving migraines.

Pain relief, decrease in stress, improvement in medical conditions, and better sleep have all been reported, and all show a positive affect on immunity. With better health, you may even get a better deal on that individual health insurance premium. That's right, boys, chamomile isn't just for the girls anymore.

While working in a perfumery, the great, early twentieth century French chemist, Renee Maurice Gattefossee, badly burned his hand. Searching for any available cold liquid, he found a quantity of lavender oil, and in plunged his digits. Astonishingly, the burn healed very quickly, with little or no scarring, and inspired his further research.

Essential oils naturally occurring, powerfully scented plant substances are at the heart of aromatherapy. Each plant part often produces unique oils with different properties. For example, orange peel generates what is known as orange oil, while the leaves produce petitgrain, and the blossoms make neroli.

What is even more fascinating is that no one is sure what essential oils are exactly. While certain constituents have been chemically identified, all that is really known is they are volatile, extremely concentrated, oily plant substances with healing properties. They're not an "oil" in the traditional sense, nor are they anything else we've identified in a plant. Ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Persians integrated them into important rituals, Native Americans throughout what is now Texas and the Southwest were quite familiar with use of concentrated scents, and massage therapists depend on them as a critical part of treatments.

Extracting the essences often require at least several pounds of plant material for every gram obtained. Price of the finished product depends on the amount of labor and raw product required. Eucalyptus oil, for instance, is fairly inexpensive, while rose oil (considered an absolute) is a luxury. Approximately one ton of rose petals are required to manufacture a single ounce of essential oil!

But many species used to produce therapeutic oils are common. Even residents of dry climates like Texas can grow their own bay, eucalyptus, sage, ginger, marjoram, or rosemary plants. For most, buying essential oils is more practical, but those in the congestion of Houston and Dallas can still benefit by growing box gardens in their windows. The herbs, then, can be used for cooking, making small quantities of home products, cleansing the air, and scenting the home.

Very basic knowledge is all that's needed to start applying the power of essential oils. A few drops on a cotton ball, dropped into a vacuum collection chamber, will fragrance the home while cleaning. A sprinkle on a handkerchief, or in bathwater, can provide much needed stress or sinus relief. Cold and hot compresses are just as easy to make, a multiplicity of home products are only a few minutes away, and, if all else fails, inhaling the aroma from the bottle is a great form of therapy. Finally, something all Americans can do to keep healthy and without needing individual health insurance to cover it!

Because essential oils are so powerful, direct application to the skin should only be done with certain oils and, of course, pregnant or nursing women, or those who suffer from any chronic conditions (including allergies), should consult a knowledgeable practitioner first. Never ingest them, and use only oils labeled "pure essential oil" from a quality company. Perfume oils and lower-quality products just won't do the trick.

(1) Stress Relief. Between work, kids, and any glimmer of a credible social life, the "everyday" takes its toll. To relax and relieve tension, use lavender, neroli, chamomile, and vetiver. A back massage with geranium oil is a wonderful remedy for mood swings, and frankincense can restore normal breathing patterns during sensations of panic. Chamomile and marjoram oils are proven remedies for tension headaches, and even some migraines will respond to a few drops of lavender rubbed into the temples and forehead. Rose and lavender oils will send most to dreamland, even with Austin's traffic in the background. Two or three drops on the pillowcase will do the trick, as will a sachet under the pillow...Of course, the ultimate evening is a warm, essential oil bath and relaxing massage before falling into a rose-scented bed. Ahhh.

(2) Aches and Pains. Most of us experience muscle aches and pains from time to time, and, for those with particularly physically-strenuous jobs, it's more often. Eucalyptus is easy to grow throughout Texas. Chamomile, cypress, and rosemary oils are the top choices for complaining muscles. Ten drops in a warm bath, or used with a therapeutic massage, can be excellent remedies. Clary sage, pine, and jasmine oils are also good choices, and a few drops of ginger oil will improve circulation to the area.

(3) Cuts, Scrapes, and Bites. Even minor cuts, scrapes, rashes, and insect bites can be treated with essential oils, common problems in warm, Southwestern climates like Texas. Tea tree is an excellent anti-fungal, anti-viral and antiseptic topical treatment, great for everything from cuts and scrapes to bee stings. Violet oil soothes rashes and sore, irritated skin, while patchouli and chamomile act as effective anti-inflammatory and antiseptic treatments. Peppermint oil is traditional for insect bites, and lavender shows up, yet again, as a great skin healer.

(4) The Dreaded Flu. We all dread it, we all fight it, but at some point, it always happens: the flu. Not to worry. Heat eucalyptus in a vaporizer, to ease breathing and disinfect the air. A few drops of eucalyptus or cedarwood on the pillow at night will help congestion, as will applying a chest rub, so long as it is properly diluted with a carrier oil, such as almond or jojoba. Myrrh is a great expectorant when used with steam inhalation, and pine oil is an age-old remedy for bronchitis, colds, and congested nasal passages. Apply a few drops of ginger, lavender, or peppermint oil on a cloth and inhale for nausea.

With all the media surrounding the health care crisis, it can be easy to forget how everyday, simple measures can really improve our health. But most of us don't need a comprehensive health insurance plan in order to soak in a hot bath, decongest our sinuses, or prevent minor cuts from turning into infections. Relax! You'll ease stress, sleep better, and increase immunity. Take care of that sore back with a therapeutic massage, and don't neglect, of course, to stop and smell the roses.

Instructions for Use:
- For massage, mix 3 drops of oil in 1 1/2 tablespoons of almond or jojoba oil.

- To enjoy a therapeutic bath, sprinkle 6 to 10 drops of oil into warm bath water and soak for at least 15 minutes.

- For steam inhalation treatments, pour boiling water into a large basin and add several drops of essential oil. Cover your head with a towel, lean over, and inhale.

How you treat your body when you're young will certainly affect your health when you get older. Eventually, it will also affect your wallet.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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