O is for Olfactory

So, as part of the AtoZChallenge, we have so far looked at essential oils from A to M, we have discussed how to dilute and blend essential oils with a base oil, depending on the time of day you are going to use them, we have looked at marsupials in the Antipodes, but we have not yet looked at how aromatherapy works at the human level.

It is all down to our Olfactory sense. Have you heard of it? Probably not! It is our sense of smell, which is  very primitive, very definitley linked to our sense of survival, a very basic need for the species. Think about it………….! Long before we can hear or see anything, our sense of smell alerts us to something there, for us to decide whether it is safe or not. Think of the smell of gas, the smell of dog poo? How do you feel? Have you been alerted that something not nice, or even dangerous needs avoiding. So that’s how unpleasant smells, even the thought of them, can evoke an emotional response, and for some a physical one. The thought of dog poo wants to make me heave, and as far as I know there is no dog poo within at least 50 yards of me, but just the thought of that smell makes me have a physical reaction.

Now let’s look at the pleasant side of our olfactory system. Imagine that someone has just walked in the room, wearing the perfume or aftershave of your first boy/girl friend. What comes to mind? Are you suddenly reminiscing in your head of all those places you visited, the fun times you had, have you been transported back in time? That is the power of smell and the association with memory, in what is known as the limbic system, which is in the part of the brain which is referred tolfactory nerveo as the Reptilian brain. It is the most basic part of our brain, where things get processed at the very basic level. There is no logic here, as with the neo-cortex. This part of the brain is where we survive. Think early man out on the Plains, needing to keep clear of the predator that he is hunting………. hunt or be hunted. Our scent carries on the breeze long before we can be seen or heard, and we could pick up the scent of an animal too.

An essential oil has the abilty to excite and stimulate the olfactory nerve endings inside the nose, as shown in the diagram above. The receptors will be activated by the molecules of the aromatic oil, when it is wafted under the nose. It is the eddy current of the waft, not the direct sniff, which excites the nerve endings. There are 50 million or so receptors, and they are all bare nerve endings, which means there is no barrier between the outside world and the Reptilain brain via this cranial nerve. This connection to the limbic system, which is the seat of the control of emotions, may be the reason that scent can have such a powerful impact on our psyche. This makes the sense of smell the oldest and most primitive of our senses.

So next time you find yourself thinking of another time and place to the one you are in, it will be the aromas and scents that are around you, that are taking you there. Happy Smelling!

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Thank you for reading this post, which is part of the AtoZChallenge.

Blessings Joy

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N is for Notes

We have looked at blends and dilutions and I have mentioned that different essential oils are of  a different “note”. There are 3 of them, top, middle and base. As with all things though, there are no clear and fast rules, some essential oils are Top to Middle, or Middle to Base. To describe them, think of your favourite perfume or aftershave. The initial smell that you get is the top note, which evaporates off quite quickly. They are generally stimulating.

The middle note is the main scent of the perfume and is balancing, being neither stimulating nor sedating in general, although some middle notes can be quite relaxing, such as Lavender.

The base note is the aroma that is left on the clothes days later, if you don’t wash them. They are often sedating, think of Patchouli, Cedarwood and Sandalwood.

The following chart organises the oils in their notes. It was helpful for me when I was learning, to colour code them, using the colours of the rainbow to help me learn.

TOP NOTES
Basil Bergamot Cajuput Citronella Eucalyptus Galbanum Ginger Grapefruit
Lemon Lemongrass Niaouli Orange Peppermint Rosewood Spearmint Ti-Tree Verbena
TOP to MIDDLE
Clary Sage Fennel Mandarin Petitgrain Rosewood Tangerine Thyme
MIDDLE
Black Pepper Chamomile Cypress Geranium Hyssop Juniper Lavender Marjoram Melissa
Myrtle Pine Rosemary Rosewood Violet
MIDDLE to BASE
Cypress Frankincense Jasmine Neroli Rose Ylang-ylang
BASE
Benzoin Camphor Cedarwood Myrrh Patchouli Sandalwood Vetivert Violet

I hope this will help you to mix a balanced blend. Refer back to B is for Blends to see how they might be combined depending on the time of day.

Next week, we start the week off with O! Oh! What’s in the air?

Blessings Joy

M is for Massage, Mandarin, Melissa & Myrrh

Massage couch

My Massage Couch in A Joy of Health Clinic

Massage

One of the most common ways to use aromatherapy is to massage the oils in, once a blend has been made up according to the results that you want to achieve. The effect of a massage with aromatherapy blend is two-fold. Firstly the very act of massage will relax the individual, easing out tired and aching muscles. The second effect is the one that the oils will have, we call this a systemic effect. If you have an aching muscle you may want to have massage directly on that muscle, but the oils are going to be absorbed into the bloodstream and have a therapeutic effect systemically.

We have spoken about Blends and Dilution in previous posts. It is not easy to write a method of massaging for you to follow from a blog post, but there are 1 or 2 pieces of advice that I am going to write here, in case you want to experiment for yourself with a partner.

First of all, the room needs to be at a comfortable temperature for the recipient to remain warm. There is nothing worse than trying to have a nice relaxing massage, and all you can think of is shivering. Keep the parts of the body that you are not working on covered, it is wise to be wearing old clothes that you don’t mind if oil gets onto them, this is also wise to note if you are going to a spa or salon to have a treatment.  Ambient music is helpful too. Try to pick something that you can chill out to, you don’t want to be singing along in your head if you can help it.

When massaging your partner, you are hopefully comfortable enough with each other, to give feedback. There is nothing worse than being “tickled” or equally having pain inflicted upon you when you are supposed to be relaxing. Be firm, stroke with the flat of your hand and follow the contours of the body, to begin with. As you get more acquainted with the bones that you can feel, explore around those bones, can you feel tension “knotty” parts, gently use your finger tips to apply pressure, be aware of their reaction, if they tense up, take the pressure off a tad. My advice is to start with the back, as this is a nice large area to start exploring your partners body. Begin with applying enough oil to the whole area, so that you can get a rhythm going without breaking off mid-way.

There are a few things to be aware of. Obviously you don’t want to be massaging over broken bones, if someone has had an accident, be aware that they may have broken something, especially if the pain is acute. Believe me they will yelp if something is broken. Don’t massage over broken skin, and be aware of massaging too heavily if the skin has spots or pimples. The essential oils may be useful in such instances, but it is probably better that the individual does this themselves, as they are far more likely to use the right pressure. Make sure you wash your hands before and after too.

I would love to know how you get on.

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Mandarin                       Citrus madurenisis                                                 Keyword: Uplifting

Amphora mandarinThis is one of the few oils that can safely be used on young children, along with Lavender and Chamomile. It has similar properties to orange but milder. It calms the digestive system, so useful where a baby may have been diagnosed with colic or reflux, although I would highly recommend that you take a baby who has been diagnosed with either of these to see a Chiropractor or cranial sacral therapist, as in my experience these baby’s are suffering from birth trauma, and need adjusting.

Mandarin is photo-toxic and is therefore best not used just before going out into strong sunlight.

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Myrrh                                      Commiphora myrrha                                   Keyword: ResAmphora myrrhinous

It is one of the oldest known oils and has religious significance often used for annointing in Biblical times. More will be revealed about annointing in U.  Priests used it for exorcisms in the past. Greek soldiers used to carry myrrh into battle for their wounds. Still used by Soul Midwives today, along with other sacred oils, more in S.

Not to be used on children of any age, or when pregnant.

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Can you believe we are halfway through this AtoZChallenge, how are you all doing?

Tomorrow we will be looking at “Notes” how to choose your oils for blending depending on the time of day that you are using them.

Blessings Joy

L is for Lavender, Lemon & Lemongrass

Lavender                      Lavandula officianals                     Keyword: Immune stimulant

This oil is probably the most well known of all the oils. It is an excellent oil to have in the first aid kit. If you have anything that stings, burns or itches, bites scratches burns, apply directly onto the area . It is  one of the few oils that can be used neat, without dilution. If you haven’t got this oil in your arsenal, I seriously suggest that you get some. Keep 1 in your kitchen, close to the cooking area, to use on those burns that so often happen when we are putting something into the oven. Keep a bottle handy to pop into the luggage when you are going away, for all those sand-fly or insect bites. Amphora Lavender

Add a few drops to the bottom sheet (to avoid the eyes on the pillow) for sleep problems. I used to use Lavender in hospital when I was on night duty. I would just place a few drops about the ward, they said that they had the best night’s sleep when I was on duty, nobody ever knew why.

Useful for all types of muscular aches and pains. Use in a compress on painful joints.

1 of the few oils that I would recommend for use with children.

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Lemon                             Citrus limonum                                     Keyword: Refreshing

This rAmphora Lemonefreshing oil is obtained from the rind of the fruit. It has a reputation for banishing veruccas and warts. It stems bleeding from wounds, I keep a bottle handy in the bathroom for when I am shaving my legs.

A good oil to use in a burner or diffuser to use with oils which are what I would refer to as medicinal. It adds some “texture” to them. Oils such as frankincense, eucalyptus, tea tree, camphor, myrrh…

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Lemongrass                       Cymbopogon citratus                                Keyword: StrengtheningAmphora Lemongrass

This oil is obtained form the wild grass, and has a distinct lemony aroma. Often used in Thai or malaysian cooking in the stick form. It is a great insect repellant, and can be used in place of citronella. If you have a dog, or like to go walking where ticks might be present, this is a great oil to add to a lotion and smoother yourself before going out. In Scotland we have midges, which although don’t carry any disease as far as I am aware, can be annoying and bite some people. Lemongrass is good for keeping them away. Candles with lemongrass or citronella are often found for use in the garden, for the same reason.

Not to be used on children of any age.

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J is for Jasmine & Juniper

Jasmine:                              Jasminum officinale                              Keyword: Aphrodisiac

This is one of the most expensive oils and is often referred to as the King of Oils. It’s heady exotic aroma and makes a luxurious massage oil. It is one of the essential oils that I would recommend buying already diluted in oil, due to the cost. 5% in base oil puts it in most people’s pocket. Use as mentioned in blends, or add to runing water in the bath.

Amphora jasmin diluted

5% Jasmin in Grapeseed

Jasmine

Jasmine

Unrivalled in childbirth for it’s abilty to strengthen contractions and give pain relief. Use in massage blend from 37 weeks. Useful post-birth to give a lift to the spirit’s to deal with PND.

Not to be used on children.

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Juniper:                               Juniperus communis                  Keyword: Toxin elimination

Distilled from the Juniper berry. The main qualities are in it’s blood cleansing and detoxification. Useful in urinary problems such as infections. Also useful in cases of arthritis. Amphora Juniper

Personal testimony of dealing with sluggishness brought on by eating Chinese food. Used to feel really lethargic the day after a Chinese takeaway until I stumbled upon Juniper oil and used it in a burner when eating my Chinese take-away. Lethargy the day after is now a thing of the past.

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Tomorrow K is for Kernels and Koalas

 

I is for Intention

This past weekend I have had the absolute priviledge to hear Dr Sondra Barrett PhD speak about the Intelligence of our Cells. If you have an interest in health and healing and want to know what is going on at a cellular level, I suggest you take a look at this lady’s work. She has taken some wonderful photographs of our cells, this is just 1 example.Strings of Our Cells

It was fascinating, and has set me on a mission to do some work with Sondra if she will accept my offer to work in collaboration together. I don’t want to say too much at this point, but I am stating an intention, so watch this space.

 

Blessings Joy

 

G is for Geranium & Grapefruit

Geranium:                     Pelargonium odorantissium              Keyword: Balancing

The scent of this lovely oil is floral and sweet, quite heavy, it’s lighter sister is Rose Amphora rose geraniumGeranium.

Useful for most skin conditions for it’s balancing nature, as well as good for PMT for the same reason. Balances on both the physical and mental levels.Amphora Geranium

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Grapefruit:                         Citrus paradisi                                             Keyword: Releasing

Grapefruit has a wonderful tangy uplifting aroma. Use in your shower gel in the mornings, puts a zing into the start of the day. Energising, cleansing and refreshing.Amphora Grapefruit

Helpful for those who are dithering about moving forward in their lives.

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Tomorrow we look at using aromatherapy in the home with recommendations for a starter kit and a code to get 10% off from my webshop.

Blessings

Joy