Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sweet Smell of Success

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  It's the same every time: when I'm choosing soap or shower gel, I choose grapefruit or lemon. Or sometimes, coconut.

Roses? Melon? Not so much. 

I've worn the same fragrance for years--I still love it every time.

My favorite candles? Vanilla.  And cinnamon.

What's your favorite scent? Why do you choose it? And maybe.. there's more to it...

The Healing Power of Aromatherapy

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

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


  1. Hhhmmm . . . So many favorites . . . cinnamon . . . daffodils . . . lilacs . . . roses . . . raspberry . . . . On the other hand, I'm not particularly fond of coconut, vanilla, or melon . . . .

  2. Sent is very important to me, and my favorites are also often grapefruit and lemon, as well.

    In the 90's I got into making potpourris, so I still have a carefully preserved collection of real essential oils and other botanical. It's amazing how well fixatives like orris root keep those scents from fading, even after many years. I have one made for the holidays that can still perfume a room with bayberry, cinnamon, star anise, and pine. But good essential oils are harder to find these days. Thank you for the link.

    I also grow lavender, with four huge plants that get cut back twice a year. I put a handful of buds in a fabric rice bag, and warm it in the microwave. It is the best for sore muscles. And since coffee is forbidden now, lavender tulsi tea is my hot beverage every morning, instead.

    Really looking forward to reading this book.

  3. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite scent, although citrus is usually pretty high on my list. This book sounds great--both for the mystery AND because of the aromatherapy.

  4. Many scents get my sinus' clogging and sinus headaches. I can't go into many stores around the holidays because of that. I can get away with vanilla and probably for that reason I like it best. I also like lavender if it is not too strong. Dee

  5. Welcome Chrystle! Definitely lavender for me.

    Does your heroine use her knowledge of scents and aromatherapy to solve the crimes in each book? Or is that more in the background?

  6. Citrus all the way for me. Orange soup. Mmm.

    Chocolate chip cookies! Now there's a weloming smell.

    And what about those scents that are too strong, too cloying... like day lilies or paperwhite narcissus. ICK. Funereal.

    Do you get into the 'bad' smells, too, Chrystle?

  7. I really like rose, lemon,grapefruit, sage, rosemary, and cinnamon. Coconut and lavender not so much. I always have rose and cinnamon candles going in my house.

  8. Orange soup sounds good, too, though, Hallie..

    And yes, good question--does the knowledge of scents play a role in solving the mystery? .

    And I keep trying to like lavender, but I just..don't.

  9. Oh, my -- I love this post. Definitely lavender. I have been to a lavender farm on Long Island (take the ferry from New London & drive toward NYC), and have several plants in front of my house.

    I saw a medium yesterday who suggested that I consider learning one (or more) of the healing arts. Aromatherapy! My reaction had been that giving massages is NOT my idea of fun.

    Thank you, thank you.

  10. I am highly allergic to many perfumes so I too have stuck to the same colognes for years. And I too adore citrus, especially grapefruit for my bath scrubs etc.

    I've tried aromatherapy from time to time. Lavender oil in my bath is lovely. I also tried a lavender pillow when I had trouble sleeping.
    Isn't it interesting how we're going back to the old ways?

  11. I have avoided scented products and perfumes for years. I even asked my students to use my unscented lotion while in my classroom and save their expensive products for other times -- free lotion, sure, they were happy to comply.
    I discovered I could tolerate citrus scents, and then when Better Life added natural lavender and sage to their cleaning products, those were fine also . . . florals and chemical scents, not so much . . . it seems that results are much better when we stay closer to nature.

  12. Lavender. And freesia. And rose. And bergamot, and ylang ylang... I've never tolerated artificial scents very well, so have been interested in essential oils for years. For a while I made my own soy candles, and still have most of my essential oils. Must remember to put some in the bath!

    And I LOVE aromatherapy massages!

  13. I'm a sucker for anything with lavender, but rose-scented things tend to make me sneeze.

  14. Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by. Denise Ann - I must know where that lavender farm is! I live in Greenport on the East End of LI where my mysteries are set so would like to go.

    As for how aromatherapy plays a role - there are tips at the beginning of the chapter and scattered throughout the book and lavender does play a role in the murder! I don't focus on scents I don't like because I want to focus on the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy and other natural cures.

    Willow's background as a holistic doctor does play a part in her crime solving. In naturopathic medicine the goal is to bring things back into balance. In a significant way, this is a driving force for Willow when it comes to solving the mysteries she encounters and making things right again.

    I'm so glad to meet you all! You are all entered in the giveaway too! I'll be back later on to chat some more. Thank you for being here! Chrystle

  15. Lavender. Thyme. Citrus. French lavender deeper than English. Dislike? That old perfume my mother won't get rid of.

  16. I love real freesias... but not bottled.

    As for perfume..remember Youth Dew? There was never anything heavier and more cloying..until--what is it? Opium. Ick.

    And I'm really not fond of that "clean cotton" scent they're trying to foist off on us.And oh--that baby powder scented deodorant. (Forgive me for being..whatever.) I can smell it across the room.

  17. And is your nose getting more sensitive? Sometimes I can smell it if someone has eaten one Dorito.

  18. Welcome, Chrystle! Your series sounds great. Scent is so evocative--in life and in novels. Visual and auditory sensory descriptions usually dominate in our stories, so I'm looking forward to sinking into a world of smells with your novel!

    I love the fresh scents. In Ireland, I found an essential oil that included moss! Yes, moss! It was lovely. I like cucumber medleys too. And ylang ylang and bergamot too. My favorite bubble bath is lemon verbena. And I love my lavender-scented eye pillow.

  19. Am I the only person who doesn't like lavender? It gives me such a headache. and I hate that 'cause everyone in world seems to love it.

    I'm attracted to vanilla scents and it seems whenever I fall in love with a fragrance there's a vanilla "note."

    I also enjoy the men's fragrances that have a leather note. yum.

  20. Hank, I went through a huge Opium phase in my 20s. Hah!

    I have a friend who is a perfume blogger, and she nodded sagely when I told her this. She said that scents like Opium are beginner scents -- i.e. for the not-so-discerning nose. (Maybe like Riesling is a wine that not-so-discerning wine drinkers prefer. :-))

  21. Top of my list is lavender. I also
    love clary sage, verbena, lily of the
    valley. Vanilla is mostly too strong-almost nauseating.

  22. Verbena--in French vervaine. I love it and always choose it for bath.

    Last year I read Damage Control by Denise Hamilton and was completely captivated by the perfume motif. Haven't used perfume in years, but started buying, sampling, etc. At Christmas I sampled one that was way too expensive, but got a little vial of it as a sampler. Ran out of it last week and couldn't stop thinking about it. Yesterday I said, "You can have it." And went to Tail of Yak and bought it as a gift for me!

    It will be my signature scent!

  23. I love carnation scent and it is so very hard to find these days. So instead, I use a variety of scents, depending on the day but have recently found a perfume I like to wear (lightly) and that my husband doesn't complain about!

  24. I'm allergic to scents so I'm really not a fan of many. The only ones that don't seem to bother me are fruit scents - lemon, orange, strawberry. Anything else and I'm coughing, stuffy, dizzy. I use unscented whenever I can. I use fruit scented soaps in the bathroom for hand washing but my beauty bar, shampoo, conditioner I try to find unscented.

  25. I raise herbs and make my own essential oils, potpourris, and herbal teas. Lavender, lemon verbena, citrus, lilac, rosemary, and vanilla are some of my favorite scents. I'm not a perfume girl. I like mine natural.

    Hank, I, too, find myself becoming more sensitive to scent as I grow older. Other people's perfumes never bothered me (unless they were ridiculously over-lavish with them), but some strong ones can really leave me unable to breathe or ready to start choking and coughing now.

    I had no idea there was a mystery series dealing with aromatherapy. How exciting! I can't wait to try it out.

  26. Hank, you've made me spit coffee into the keyboard--one dorito???

    When I was in my postgraduate training, I had a friend who had a crush on another student--a man. He gave her a gift of perfume at Christmas. I think Oscar de la Renta. But then he spoiled it by saying that he liked to give it to all his women.

    All his women? I wouldn't have used that perfume if it was the last scent on earth.

  27. I use unscented everything to avoid headaches and my eyes from itching and swelling up. But I do love the smell of fresh baked bread, just mowed grass among others.
    However, books about Aromatherapy/scents are delightful!

  28. ALL HIS WOMEN? Classic, Lucy. Really.

    (And yeah, one dorito, I got into the car, and said to Jonathan--have you been eating Doritos? And he was so astonished--"ONE dorito!" he said.)

    And as for fragrance--how about the Cinnabon stands in malls? Whoa. Too bad a Cinnabon is about fifty million calories. But they couldn't taste was good as they smell!

    And Karen B, yes, bread. YUM. Although some people don't like the yeasty smell. Ro, remember when we went to that pizza place?

  29. Spicewise I love cinnamon. As for florals, gardenia sends me over the moon. I can't have roses in the house; they make me sneeze. So my husband accuses me of being unromantic. Huh.

  30. AND THE WINNER of Donald Bain's book is--


    Maura, email me at h ryan at whdh dot com and we will get you your book!

  31. Well, the wonderful Bains have asked me to choose yet an additional winner--to get a Jessica Fletcher! And that is: KAren B!

    Karen, you know the deal--email me your address!

  32. Hallie, I thought the orange soup sounded good! I was going to suggest chocolate chip cookie croutons to go with it. So good made with orange milk chocolate M&Ms. Van Houten's would be better, but it seems they do not make it anymore.

    So my favorite scents are light citrus and chocolate– citrus por moi and chocolate for environmental purposes, to which Auntie-Mom asked me to add that the smell of bread baking is very good for those surprise calls from social workers. I have no idea what she's talking about, but I am sure she is right.

  33. I can't believe I misspelled scent above. Sheesh.

    Kaye, lavender can be really strong. When I process a lot of it at once it gives me an awful headache. There are different kinds, though, and they smell so differently.

    Linda R, you must grow a ton of lemon verbena to make essential oils from it. One of my favorite candle scents.

  34. Hank, it's called Panache, made by a company in San Francisco. Just thinking about it makes me feel good.

    Lucy, that was a great story. All his women, indeed.

  35. Thanks interesting!
    Checking it out.

    Winner to come soon!

    And tomorrow--an amazing prize if you're a writer! And a terrific blog if you're a reader.

  36. Thanks to everyone for stopping by! I really enjoyed hearing from everyone!

    Now, the winner of the giveaway of SCENT to KILL: A Natural Remedies Mystery! Drumroll please....Congrats Linda Rodriguez! Please send your address to me at!

    You can learn about more giveaways of SCENT to KILL by following me at: @ChrystleFiedler! Thanks Hank!

  37. Hurray! I won SCENT TO KILL. How exciting! Thank you, Chrystle! I'll send my address to you right away. :-)