Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Sweet Smell of Success
I’ve been learning, researching and writing about natural remedies for the past decade or so. The more I learn, the more I want to know. Recently when I was researching my newest mystery, I delved into the practice of aromatherapy, which is the practice of using essential oils to improve health and well-being. Aromatherapy can ease stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, aches and pains, and more.
It’s fascinating to discover how aromatherapy works. You see, plants produce essential oils for a variety of reasons to attract pollinators, to protect against bacterial and/or fungal invasion, to deter pests, and to inhibit other plants from growing near them. Through a process of distillation these essential oils are removed from plants.
Essential oils can be extracted from the leaves (eucalyptus), grass (lemongrass), seeds (fennel), fruit/zest (mandarin), flowers (rose), wood/trunk of tree (cedarwood), roots (ginger), resins (frankincense), and herbs (rosemary). Three of my favorite scents are lavender, jasmine and roses, so I thought I’d share a few simple tips on how to use them today.
Not only does Lavender (the Latin verb lavare means “to wash”) smell terrific, it’s calming and soothing and good for cuts and burns, insomnia, diaper rash, tension headache, PMS and cramps (use with clary sage and Roman chamomile). The phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals linalool and linalyl acetate) in lavender are absorbed in the skin and in the membranes inside your nose, slowing nerve impulses, and reducing stress. An easy way to start using lavender is to put five to ten drops of essential oil in your bath. Add the oil after you have filled the tub so you can enjoy the full benefits of this wonderful aroma.
The aroma of jasmine (Jasminum officinale v. grandiflorum) is intoxicatingly sweet, exotic, and floral. It’s also incredibly therapeutic for a variety of conditions. Jasmine essential oil eases mild depression, anxiety, and tension. It also balances energy and helps you feel more optimistic. It calms coughs and laryngitis, soothes sore muscles, stiffness, and sprains. You can apply it topically, use it on a warm or cool compress, put it in the bath, inhale it from your palm, or put it in an electronic diffuser to disperse small aromatic particles into the air.
I love the rich, sweet floral bouquet of roses and the approximately 275 compounds have a myriad of therapeutic uses. For example, if you apply it topically, rose oil can help banish eczema, wrinkles, and acne. If you feel blue, rose essential oil will naturally lift your mood. If you have painful periods, it helps to balance hormones (just put the oil on a warm compress and apply to your lower abdomen). Rose oil also eases nervousness, anxiety, anger, sadness, and grief and can be helpful if you have respiratory problems such as allergies and hay fever. You also use rose oil to help you sleep better and feel happier. For all these conditions, simply put some on your palm and inhale it or put rose essential oil into a diffuser. Your bedroom will smell like an English garden.
To make an aromatic spritzer with any of these scents, just add 10 to 25 drops of essential oil per 4 ounces of water in a squirt bottle. Be sure to shake it each time before you use it.
The effectiveness of aromatherapy depends on the quality and wholeness of the essential oils you use, so it's important to use the very best essential oils possible. You'll want to avoid any synthetics, reconstructions, perfumes, and other adulterated versions. One of my favorite places for essential oils is Floracopia www.floracopia.com.
Start with one essential oil that appeals to you and see how you feel after using it. The wonderful thing about natural remedies like the practice of aromatherapy is that they are usually very safe and easy to use (don’t take internally though, and keep away from children) and the varieties are endless. Enjoy!
HANK: What's your favorite scent? Is there any one you just can't bear? Tell us...for a chance to win a copy of Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery!
Here’s the scoop on Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery
Willow McQuade, naturopathic doctor, along with her hunky ex-cop boyfriend Jackson Spade, attend a party for a psychic TV show that is filming on Long Island’s idyllic East End. However, Willow is much more interested in visiting the estate’s lavender farm, seeking inspiration for the new aromatherapy workshops she'll be holding at her store, Nature’s Way Market & Café.
Before the party is over, Roger Bixby one of the producers is dead and the police suspect murder. Roger was working on the show, MJ’s Mind, with Carly Bixby, his ex-wife and the new girlfriend of Willow's ex from L.A., TV writer/producer Simon Lewis.
After Willow leaves the party, she gets a frantic text from Simon asking for her help. Since Simon had a fight with Roger earlier in the evening, and because of his death is now the primary shareholder in Galaxy films, Willow's ex becomes the prime suspect. Simon begs her to crack the case and clear him of the murder. MJ McClellan, the psychic and star of the show also asks Willow for help. She hires Willow to provide natural remedies, including aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga to soothe the agitated crew of her show.
To find the killer, Willow has to deal with ghosts in a haunted mansion, a truly dysfunctional family, death threats and “accidents,” while trying to untangle a homicide identical to one committed during prohibition. Thankfully, Jackson has been hired to provide security and is there to watch her back and help Willow solve this spooky mystery.
As a bonus, you’ll find dozens of natural aromatherapy cures throughout the book that can improve your health. I think you’ll be surprised as how much they can help you feel better in mind, body and spirit!
Chrystle Fiedler is the author of SCENT TO KILL, (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster) the second in the NATURAL REMEDIES MYSTERY series, DEATH DROPS: A Natural Remedies Mystery, the non-fiction title THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO NATURAL REMEDIES (Alpha, 2009), co-author of BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW! (Fairwinds Press, 2010), currently in its fourth printing, the BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW!COOKBOOK (Fairwinds Press, 2012) and THE COUNTRY ALMANAC OF HOME REMEDIES (Fairwinds, 2011). Chrystle’s magazine articles featuring natural remedies have appeared in many national publications including Natural Health, Vegetarian Times, Better Homes & Gardens and Remedy. Visit www.chrystlefiedler.com.