Edition 59: September 2013
The Scented Spring
For goodness sake, smell the flowers!
Welcome Spring with plant aroma
OUR NOSES have already picked up transparent traces of spring as the botanical world wakes up; its blossoms emitting invisible odour messages into the warmer air.
We can now appreciate more how aromatherapy has its real roots in Nature. Indeed, the original source of perfume is from live plants growing in the natural world.
Get out into the great outdoors and experience true aromatherapy by imbibing the evocative power that only the scents of nature possess. The unique signature scent of grasses, flowers, mosses and trees in the garden or forest have had millennia to settle into the depth of our psyche.
This is a profound way to breathe in actual archetypes of an ancient olfactory language and speak to our subconscious in a more eloquent and convincing way than regular speech.
We, too, are creatures of smell ...
Consider how this subtle olfactory communication speaks to bees, insects and mammals; bearing in mind that a key purpose of essential oils in the plant is to attract pollinating insects as well as providing defence and healing.
Insects are so sensitive to smell they can pick up a scent at 1/100 the level discernible to a human.
Certain plant smells are in fact so narcotic that they can deliberately create addiction in insects such as the hawkmoth, who is compelled to return regularly to the flower for its ‘fix’.
Naturally, humans are not immune to such potent subliminal messages as we, too, can have our inner mindscape subtly rearranged; our perception and way of being transformed.
Fresh plant scent affects consciousness by relaxing or stimulating the nervous system; it can also vividly recall memories or induce fantasies, dreams and visions. Many effects occur beyond our consciousness, when the nose itself picks up scent that our mind cannot detect.
Sublime olfactory poetry
The entrancing scents of nature have always suggested a connection with ‘the other world’, the non - material world of Gods and spirits.
Good scents were always considered as particularly pleasurable to the Gods, who were thought to delight in sweet, enchanting perfumes.
Beautiful gardens always induce a sense of the sacred and closeness to the creative spirit, who delights in the play of forms, colours and scents of creation.
It is really all quite poetic; the scent of the flowers is without doubt the most sublime smell in the natural world and represents the most elevated human emotions. Inebriant and euphoric, the scent of flowers renders us carefree and joyful and is a fundamental aromatic antidote against stress and the anxiety in a chaotic world; this is psycho-aromatherapy.
Nature: master perfumer
If we take the time to really smell - and that means consciously breathe in the perfume that nature has alchemically constructed for us - a meditative walk through the forest, local park or a fragrant garden can demonstrate to us how the collective warmth of sun, mist of rain, the richness of damp soil collaboratively concocts its own unique perfume that changes from moment to moment.
How skilfully nature has orchestrated a veritable symphony of fragrance; captivating top notes that grab our attention, bold and heartening middle notes that hold us in thrall and the earthy sensual rich base notes that draw us deeper into the mystery.
Blossoms, grasses, bark, fungi, moss and wet earth; mingling and conspiring with the elements into ever-changing, unique perfume.
Labs can’t compete with nature’s own . . .
No human could craft such transcendent, wholeness; such shape-shifting olfactory glory.
The closest we can come to emulating this splendour is through using the botanical pharmacopoeia of pure essential oils. Our noses might then capture the fleeting and elusive scent of exquisite boronia arising from the swamp, or seem as if to press closely to the velvety softness of the ripe rose petals exuding intoxicating sweetness.
Delicate mists of orange blossoms that have basked in the sunlight, summon us viscerally just begging to be smelled, while the flirtatious floral caress of sensual jasmine seduces the parts of us we thought we held in check.
Perfumes that have captured the radiance of real plants using premium quality essential oils and absolutes also have the innate ability to similarly court the senses, illuminating the imagination just like a walk in the wilderness.
Smelling nature like this awakens primordial olfactory memories that come with genetically programmed emotional responses that are part of the learning process, passed on to ensure our species’ survival.
Living beings all possess personal cultural (territorial) and genetic smell memories to which they are involuntarily prompted to respond with certain behaviours and physical reactions.
The limbic part of the brain that receives odour is the seat of memory and emotion, which is the reason why the smell of the oils can trigger powerful feelings and help relieve depression and anxiety. We can use our wonderful essential oils to reprogram any conditioned patterns that impede our ongoing quest for wellness.
Spring clean your essential oil collection
Clear out any old oils that may have lost their efficacy and reacquaint yourself with some of the oils that you might have passed over in favour of those that took your first preferences.
You may find that your olfactory tastes have changed or evolved with your age or the season. Experiment with some new blends and hone your discriminating smelling skills.
Invest in a new oil to add to your aromatic stable and break away from your usual preferences to try something different and unpredictable; black pepper perhaps, curious coriander or litsea cubeba (may chang), the citrusy scent from a pepper.
If you haven’t ventured into the surprising realm of Australian natives yet, that’s well worth exploring.
FRAGRANT CLOTHES DRYING IN THE SPRING SUN: Transform the chore of doing the laundry into a sensual delight.
Construct your own a simple blend of essential oils to inject natural scent into the whole laundry process, as well as the laundry itself, while freshening up the linen cupboard and your clothes drawers.
Several drops of this blend is added to the soap powder section or softener compartment in your washing machine and effectively deodorises as well as combines significant anti-bacterial action to your bedding, towels and undies etc.
What a pleasurable way to enjoy spring; indulging in the marvellous smells that emanate from the washing as you hang it in the sun and the scented experience continues when you bring the laundry inside and put it away, permeating scent through the cupboards until it is eventually worn or used.
Simply add several drops of your blend, thoughtfully designed to not include heavier resinous oils or carotene-rich orange or tangerine that could stain the washing. Your blend could include eucalyptus, lavender, bergamot, cedarwood, geranium, lemongrass, lime, petitgrain, grapefruit, pine, rosemary or verbena.
IRONING SPRAY: For those who insist on beautifully ironed clothes, these people can enhance the ironing experience by using pure plant scent while ironing to impregnate the clothes with a pleasant protective aura.
This adds a refreshing touch to your everyday clothes as well as creating a prohibitive environment for moths to settle.
Simply add 10 drops of lavender, eucalyptus or lemongrass perhaps, to 500mL of water and use in a spray bottle, shaking well before each application. Just make sure that you choose the uncoloured oils.
Refresh the murky recesses in your home
After the dampness of winter, all the wet areas in your home tend to be stale, murky and coated with mildew.
To effectively freshen up these gloomy areas and clear away the mould, use the powerfully antifungal and disinfectant essential oils to wholesomely do the job.
For larger areas, put warm water in a bucket and add 500mL of natural vinegar - this is ready now to generously add the potent essential oils.
The oils to choose are clove, lemon, eucalyptus, thyme, or maybe an Australian native such as honey myrtle or lemon tea-tree for a particularly lovely smell. These safe oils are certainly the most mould-inhibiting but need to be applied properly.
Wipe down the grotty areas with a cloth or mop and do not rinse.
For smaller areas, dispense with the water and use only the vinegar and essential oils. You can use a spray bottle and leave it on before wiping with a cloth.
Mirrors and windows shine up beautifully and fragrantly when you use essential oils with water and vinegar. Mix 10 drops of lemon, verbena, geranium or rosemary in a spray bottle with 250mL of natural vinegar and top up to 500mL with water. Shake well before spraying on glass or mirrors and wipe with a damp cloth, wipe dry and lint-free with newspaper.
Protect those woollies
Now that the weather is warming up, perhaps it is time to store away your valued woollen clothes, base merinos, cashmere knits and fine pashmina.
It is unfortunate that moths tend to have expensive tastes and shun synthetics so they inevitably chomp into our favourite jumpers and coats, leaving their trail of infuriating little holes behind them.
Soak any absorbent material, such as a small piece of cloth, chipboard, cardboard or a cotton wool ball, with moth-repelling essential oils and store this away with the woollens to protect them from infestation.
Otherwise, put a few drops of a repellent blend on a damp cloth and wipe out storage areas before folding away your treasured clothes. This will keep them fragrant, fresh and resistant to moths.
Choose blended or individually: rosemary, eucalyptus, clove, lemongrass, cedar wood or lavender. Use undiluted.
Let the grapefruit oil detox begin
Let gorgeous, zingy grapefruit help your body shed excess and up the ante on all the processes of inner cleansing, to detoxify your liver and kick-start a weight loss program.
Simply add five drops of pure grapefruit essential oil (Citrus x paradisi) to your water and drink this freshened water a few times over the day.
The benefits of limonene in citrus oils are well researched as a natural anti-cancer weapon. In addition to limonene they have a compound known as citral, which has been scientifically tested for its ability to increase the metabolism and decrease appetite. If you have serious chronic digestive disorders, check with your health practitioner for suitability.
Energise those legs
Our legs consist of some of the longest bones in the body, which makes them important calcium storage depots; they need lots of movement and the simple weight bearing of walking to keep this vital function optimal. The most distal parts of our body are the feet, and lower legs and we all know how poor circulation is a common problem with the elderly, the bed-ridden and the disabled causing clots, ulcers and conditions that prevail because of lack of healthy blood flow. Due to our too sedentary modern lifestyle, the legs easily become sluggish and tired, slowing us down and holding us back
It’s all about plumbing!
Combining the brisk action of body brushing with essential oil massage can be very helpful to invigorating the legs, increasing circulation and bringing back their vitality ready for action.
Find yourself a quality natural bristle brush and vigorously brush the legs in strong upward strokes towards the heart, not forgetting the buttocks and hip region.
Sustain this brushing for a generous amount of time before getting into the shower and washing off all the dead skin cells and other toxins that have been dislodged.
After towel drying, the skin will be clean, primed and pinkish, with blood at the surface and very ready to absorb the essential oils into the blood stream.
They mix beautifully with the sebum of the hair follicle to which they have an affinity and enter via this interface, seeping deeper into body, transporting their healing actives to improve lymph and blood drainage and irrigation down those long tubes we call legs.
The blend of stimulating essential oils to perform this job should definitely include one or more of the following: juniper, cypress, rosemary, geranium, ginger, pine, lemon or black pepper diluted at 5 per cent in a quality cold-pressed vegetable oil.
After a few weeks of such a disciplined regime, every morning, you will start to notice a marked difference to the dimpled skin’s appearance around the legs and hips as it is rendered smoother and firmer and the body’s general sense of energy and well-being is greatly enhanced.
Working out too diligently?
Whatever your mode of exercise, when you increase your output - which is sure to happen in spring time - the extra burst in physical activity often results in aching muscles, due to lactic acid.
Ninety per cent of lactic acid is removed within one hour of its production, however the residue builds up in working muscle tissue and it is important to clear this away before it impedes our mobility and vitality.
Lactic acid is a partial breakdown product of glucose, as a result of anaerobic metabolism and when it accumulates in the body it becomes quite toxic, adversely affecting muscle function and sometimes leading to feelings of much discomfort, even nausea. Lactic acid is also thought to lead to fatigue by reducing cellular pH and thus inhibiting enzymes involved in muscle activation.
Alkalising our diet and light exercise will both assist in its removal and so can the pertinent use of essential oils, combined with post exercise massage and body brushing. Certainly the essential oils listed previously for energising the legs will be of valid help.