Tag Archives: insomnia

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

patchouli header

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Synonyms: P. patchouly, patchouli oil

Aroma: Rich, sweet, herbaceous, aromatic, spicy and woody balsamic. Patchouli gets better with age.

Colour: Deep orange red

Patchouli flowerPlant: Evergreen herb with large fragrant leaves and hairy square stems that grows to a metre tall. On axillary and terminal stems flower spikes of clusters of tiny white to purple flowers form. As these fade fine brown seeds form in small capsules like tiny knots on the spikes.

Main Growing Areas: Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, India, Mauritius, East and West Indies, Paraguay, Vietnam

Major Constituents: patchouli alcohol, alpha and beta patchoulene may contribute to anti-itching properties of the oil, beta-caryophyllene – anti-inflammatory, beta-elemene – antitumour

Interesting snippets: In the 18th and 19th centuries Chinese traders travelling to the Middle East used patchouli to treat carpets and fabrics to prevent moths laying their eggs in the cloth and fungal deterioration.

In the 1960’s hippies used patchouli to cover the smell of burnt cannabis.

During the Vietnam War, American soldiers used patchouli to mask the smell of the graves of enemy soldiers killed in combat.

Dried patchouli leaves were placed amongst the folds of Indian cashmere shawls in Victorian times to protect them from moths.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Dried fermented leaves by steam distillation.

Therapeutic actions: nausea, headaches, colds, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, haemorrhoids, cracked sore skin, eczema, psoriasis, tinea, acne, impetigo, herpes

Emotional and Spiritual: depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, nervousness

Patricia Davis writes that patchouli is especially valuable for dreamers and people who tend to neglect or feel detached from their physical bodies. Patchouli helps to ground and integrate energy and keep us in touch with our physical selves.

Robbi Zeck writes that the rich, musty, wood scent of Patchouli awakens within the soul a deep yearning for the comforting presence of peace, bringing Spiritual insights to all realms.
Patchouli’s slow peacefulness brings about a state of mind and wholehearted feeling where unification occurs with the soul on all levels.

Gabriel Mojay writes that patchouli is good for those who, due to excessive mental activity and nervous strain, feel ‘out of touch’ with their body and their sensuality.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Patchouli Insight card

UNITY
Feeling trapped in one of many areas of your life and feeling like those areas are not working together? Patchouli unites all levels of your existence, allowing you to focus and bring heart and head to work together, rising above self-imposed barriers and enjoying all that life presents. Patchouli awakens a sense of peace that reaches into all areas of your life. Don’t get ruffled and caught in the false ego. Stay self-assured, and realize your real strength lies in being you.

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I feel a sense of peace in all areas of my life.

Contemplations for the Soul:

Patchouli CFTS

Is your mind on a continual loop making you unable to think clearly due to worry?
Have you imposed limits on what you think you can achieve?
Do you feel you have to be someone else to achieve your goals?
Do you long for peace in your life?
Realize that worry will not improve the situation and will banish peace from your life.
Try grounding yourself by going outside and putting your bare feet on the ground.
Breathe slowly in and out until you feel calmer then look at what action you can take to reduce your worry.
Know that you can be yourself and still achieve your goals.
Peace be with you.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Davis P, Subtle Aromatherapy. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1992)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Jefferies J, Patchouli Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.39 (2007)
Jefferies J, Osborn K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

 

Caring For The Carer

caring for the carer

There are many men and women who are full time carers. They may be looking after someone who is physically or mentally ill. The person being cared for maybe a child or adult and is usually a family member.

There can be many challenges in looking after another but many rewards as well. The trick to remaining healthy so you can continue as an effective carer is to make time for yourself and ask for support when you need it.

I will talk about some of the physical and emotional challenges you may face and how to deal with them.

PHYSICAL CHALLENGES

Muscular Aches and Pains
Helping the person you are caring for with everyday tasks like getting in and out of bed, going to the toilet, showering, dressing and sitting in a wheelchair can all take their toil in back, neck, shoulder, arm and leg pain if not done correctly.

Carer

Learning correct manual handling techniques and the use of mechanical lifters can help prevent injury.

Massage can help relieve aching muscles. Investing in a monthly massage can help by relieving the physical pain and giving you time for yourself. If you are unable to book a massage you can make the following blend yourself and massage the affected muscles.

relaxing aroma massage

Relief for Aching Muscles
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) 3 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops, rosemary 1 drop in 10mls cold pressed  vegetable oil.

Aches and pains
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) 5 drops, peppermint (Mentha piperita) 5 drops, ginger (Zingiber officinale) 5 drops in 30 mls of cold pressed vegetable oil.

Headaches
The stress and worry that can come from always being on the alert to the needs of another can lead to tension headaches. Indian head massage is an easy and effective way to lessen the build-up of stress and tension headaches. Massaging the area with an essential oil massage blend is also effective.

Woman with Headache

Tension Headache Be Gone
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 2 drops, peppermint (Mentha piperita) 1 drop in 10mls  cold pressed vegetable oil. Massage neck, shoulders and temples with the blend. You can then massage the scalp without the blend if you wish.

Physical exhaustion
Driving to doctors and other appointments, lack of sleep, shopping and preparing special foods, making sure medications are taken on time and the other myriad of things that must be done when caring for another can all take their time and lead to physical exhaustion.

It is really important that you make time for yourself throughout your busy day. Do something just for you even if it is only for 10, 15 or 20 minutes. This could include going for a short walk around the block or garden, listening to your favourite music, having a massage, drinking a cup of tea or coffee in your garden really slowly and enjoying it, reading a few pages or chapter of a book or newspaper. If you are feeling physically exhausted the following blend along with getting some sleep may help.

listening to music

Wake up and Go
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) 2 drops, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) 2 drops, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) 2 drops in a diffuser.

Lethargy blend
Blend rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) 2 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 2 drops and peppermint (Mentha piperita) 1 drop in a burner or vaporiser.

Sleep
It can sometimes be hard to get to sleep or stay asleep when caring for another. They may need you during the night or you may be physically exhausted but still find it difficult to sleep. Stress and worry is another reason for sleeping difficulties. It is important that you get enough sleep so you can stay resilient and able to cope with caring for another.

Some tips to help you get to sleep.

  • Try drinking a warm glass of milk or a cup of chamomile tea an hour or two before bed time.
  • Visualization – Imagine a very relaxing scene. Make sure you involve all your senses.
  • Have a warm bath with 3 drops of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and 2 drops of geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential oil in a half cup of full fat milk added to the bath. Play relaxing music to further relax you.
  • A chest massage using 3 drops of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and 2 drops of geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) essential in 10mls of cold pressed vegetable oil.
  • Place a few drops of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) or other relaxing essential oil on a tissue and leave near your pillow so you can breathe in the aroma.

Sleep easy blend
Add sandalwood (Santalum album) pure essential oil 1 drop, frankincense (Boswellia carterii) 1 drop and lavender  (Lavendula angustifolia) 8 drops to 10 mls cold pressed vegetable oil and massage your neck, shoulders and chest.

Lack of exercise
If you are lifting the person in and out of bed, showering, dressing and sitting them in a wheelchair and doing other physical work connected with caring you may be getting plenty of exercise.

If your caring doesn’t involve a lot of the above you may not be getting enough exercise. Exercise is important to help you maintain strength and flexibility, reduce stress, sleep well at night and keep up your energy levels.

Exercise

You don’t need to go to a gym. Walking, swimming, tai chi, yoga or gardening done 3 times a week for 30 minutes maybe all that you need to keep you healthy.

Eating Well
It may be a challenge at times to eat well but a healthy diet is essential if you are going to be able to have the energy and stamina to do all you need as a carer. Take time out occasionally to have a relaxing meal or catch up with family and friends.

Healthy diet

EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES

Stress and anxiety
Perhaps the biggest emotional challenge for the carer is dealing with the emotional feelings that can arise from caring for an extended period of time. There may be feelings of never having a moment for themselves, the idea that this will never end and they are stuck in this role for life, suggesting ways the person they are caring for can help themselves and being ignored and feeling guilty for wanting things to change.

Stress may show up as frustration, sadness, feeling unable to cope with everyday things, loss of hope, poor or no appetite, restlessness and difficulty in sleeping. Other symptoms may include tiredness, apathy, digestive problems, headaches, impatience anger and resentment.

Tips to help with stress
Difficult as it maybe accept that this is the way things are now and look for ways you can get help and support.

Ask your family and friends for support. Perhaps they can take over your role for a few hours while you take time for you. It may be so you can go to the hairdressers, have a massage, play a round of golf, see a movie, sit in the park or simply doing nothing and enjoying that feeling. It doesn’t matter how you spend the time. All that matters is that you spend it just for you so you can rejuvenate yourself.

support

Know that whatever comes your way you have the strength and ability to cope. You may need to look at another way of doing something but you will get through it.

Take care of yourself physically, eat well, make time for exercise and get a good night’s sleep.

Spend time with family and friends. If you don’t have time to do it in person, speak to them on the phone.

family support

Ask for assistance from charities, government agencies or your local council with showering and looking after some of the physical needs of the person you are looking after if appropriate.

Use essential oils in the form of massage or in a room vaporiser to help you relax. Make sure you choose pure essential oils to get the benefits.

Anxiety blend
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops, palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) 2 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 1 drop in 10mls cold pressed vegetable oil for massage or in a diffuser to vaporise.

Calm anxiety down blend
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) 3 drops, geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 5 drops, cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) 3 drops in 20 mls of cold pressed vegetable oil. Use as a body massage or to massage the solar plexus (where the rib cage makes a V-shape).

De-stress blend
Add sandalwood (Santalum album) 1 drop, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 3 drops and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) 2 drops to a vaporiser to help calm you down.

Stress relief blend
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) 3 drops, sandalwood (Santalum album) 3 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 2 drops in a vaporiser.

Uplifting blend
Blend sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) 4 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 3 drops and geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) 2 drops in 20 mls of cold pressed vegetable oil. Gently massage a small amount of the blend into the back of the neck, onto the chest and over the solar plexus (where the rib cage makes a V-shape).

Fear and anger
Cedarwood atlas (Cedrus atlantica) 4 drops, sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) 3 drops, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) 3 drops in 20mls cold pressed vegetable oil or in vaporiser.

Caring for Yourself
Too often as a carer you are so busy caring for another that you neglect your own needs and health.

Once you begin caring for a parent, spouse or child the relationship between you can change. This can result in more conflict and frustration on both sides. One may feel they are being told what to do and have little say in their treatment and life. The other may feel their advice is being ignored or they are being taken for granted with little or no time for themself.

They may both worry about finances and how they will pay for doctors, medication and other bills connected with their illness and living expenses.

medication

Following the advice above about eating well, exercising regularly, getting a good night’s sleep and getting help when you need it will all help you cope with the demands placed on you by caring.

Find someone you can talk to when it all gets a bit too much. This could be a family member, friend or professional counsellor. Join a Carer Support Group in your area where you can talk over your experiences and get tips and support from others who are going through similar experiences.

Most importantly give yourself the gift of time for yourself to do the things that you love or need. One of the fears that carers have is losing themselves and forgetting who they are on a deep level. Another is putting their life on hold. By taking sometime for yourself each day you stay in touch with you and your wishes and desires. You can remain strong whatever happens as you are nourishing yourself on a deeper level emotionally and spiritually.

young-woman-on-mini-retreat

Being a carer is not easy but the challenges you overcome can strengthen your relationship with yourself and the one you are caring for.

Some carer resources in Australia

https://www.carersaustralia.com.au/
https://www.carersnsw.org.au/
https://www.carersvictoria.org.au/
https://carersqld.asn.au/
https://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/benefits-and-payments/carers\
https://www.carergateway.gov.au/what-is-respite-care?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIy6OQ26qF1wIVUh9oCh0ThgL-EAAYAiAAEgKgXPD_BwE

Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

Myrtle

Family: Myrtaceae

Synonyms: Corsican pepper.

Aroma: Clear, fresh, camphoraceous, sweet, herbaceous.

Colour: Pale yellow to green.

Blue_myrtle_berriesPlant: A large bush or small tree with many tough but slender branches, a brownish red bark and small sharp pointed leaves. It has white flowers followed by small bluish black berries.

Main Growing Areas: North Africa, Mediterranean.

Major Constituents: Myrtenyl acetate, 1,8 cineole, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol.

Interesting snippets: The ancient Egyptians macerated myrtle leaves in wine to counteract fever and infection.
In Ancient Greece myrtle incense was burnt on Aphrodite’s (the goddess of love and beauty) altar.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Leaves and twigs by steam distillation.

Therapeutic actions: Coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, muscular aches and pains, arthritis, inflamed skin, bruises, psoriasis and eczema. Helpful for stress and insomnia.

Emotional and Spiritual: Uplifting, refreshing. Eases anxiety and tension and soothes feelings of anger, greed, envy and fear.

Provides protection during major life transitions and promotes harmony, love and respect.

Susanne Fischer-Rizzi writes that myrtle maybe helpful for people who have had experiences that have made them temporarily unable to see their own beauty and for those with addictions and self-destructive behaviour.

Robbi Zeck writes during dark times, when you are in pain, struggling or feeling disheartened, gentle myrtle with its air of beauty and purity brings comfort and an elemental return to the source. When you are experiencing feelings of separation, use myrtle as a reminder that we are all born connected. Walk in your own beauty and be at one with all things. May there always be beauty around you, above you, below you and within you. Know that you are the gift who shines beauty and light out to others.

Valerie Ann Worwood writes that its spirit is energetic truth, and forgiveness, giving support to the unsupported and teaching that divine love embraces all living beings

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic.

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Fischer-Rizzi S, Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Essential Oils for Radiant Health Sterling Publishing Company (1990)
Keim Loughran J, Bull R, Aromatherapy & Subtle energy techniques, Frog Books (2000)
Worwood, V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

Header image photo of myrtle by Forest & Kim Starr.

9 Essential Oils to Help You Sleep

9 EO's to help you sleep

There may be times in your life when you have trouble sleeping or may get to sleep but wake throughout the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep.

There can be a number of reasons for not being able to sleep which include worry, stress, exams, pain, fear, overtiredness, caffeine, eating too late at night, shift work, noise, a new baby, depression and being too excited to sleep.

Missed sleep, especially if it is cumulative, can affect your concentration and efficiency. You may also become more irritable, tired, exhausted, worried and stressed thus creating a never ending cycle.

If there is no medical reason for your insomnia you may like to try the following
1. A warm glass of milk or a cup of chamomile tea an hour or two before bed time.

2. Some visualization. Imagine a very relaxing scene. Make sure you involve all your senses.

3. A warm bath. Add 6 drops in total of one or two of the relaxing essential oils below in a half cup of full fat milk and add to the bath. Play relaxing music to further relax you.

4. A back massage using 5 drops of 1 or 2 of the following essential oils in total in 10mls of vegetable oil. You could also gently massage your chest so you are breathing in the aroma during the night.

5. Place a few drops on a tissue and leave near your pillow so you can breathe in the aroma. An ultrasonic diffuser could also be used.

9 Essential Oils to Help You Sleep
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) a balancing oil that helps to calm the mind and ease nervous exhaustion due to stress.

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) the classic oil for relaxation and sleep.

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) helps to calm and soothe you.

Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) helps to calm the mind and ease anxiety allowing you to sleep.

Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) a very calming relaxing oil. Along with mandarin it is safe for young children but use only 2 or 3 drops of essential oil to 10mls of vegetable oil in a massage blend.

Sandalwood (Santalum album) or Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) helps to quiet the mind and bring a sense of calm so you can sleep.

Sweet marjoram (Marjorama hortensis) is useful if you can’t sleep because your thoughts keep going round and round in circles.

Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) helps to ease stress and irritability.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) is very calming and grounding.

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis / Chamaemelum nobile)

Roman chamomile

I have written about German Chamomile previously.  Roman Chamomile is considered a safe oil to use on children and excellent for emotional issues.

Family: Asteraceae, Compositae

Synonyms: English chamomile, garden chamomile, true chamomile

Aroma: Sweet, hay-like, herbaceous scent with a hint of apples.

Colour: Pale yellow.

Roman chamomilePlant: Bushy feathery leaves on a 25cm long stem containing a single flower. The flowers are larger than those of German chamomile.

Main Growing Areas: Italy, France, England, USA.

Major Constituents: a-pinene, camphene, sabinene, methallyl angelate.

Interesting snippets: Roman chamomile has a long history as a healing herb. It has been used by the Greeks, Romans and Moors.
In Tudor England it was known as the ‘plant’s physician’ as it was believed to encourage the good health of nearby plants.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Flower heads / steam distillation. 5kg of fresh flowers yields approximately 1kg of dried flowers. This yields about 1% oil when distilled.
Roman chamomile is an expensive oil because it is very labour intensive. The harvest season lasts about two and a half months with the flowers being harvested every two weeks. The percentage of oil obtained from each distillation is also very low. You can buy good quality Roman chamomile in a 3 to 5% dilution in jojoba. This makes the oil very affordable.

Therapeutic actions: Teething pain and colic in children. Menstrual pain, muscular aches and pains. Indigestion and nausea. Use in a blend to massage the abdomen / stomach.

Emotional and Spiritual: Nervous tension, stress, tension headaches, anxiety and insomnia. Considered a calming and relaxing oil. Helpful to settle children who have nightmares or insomnia. Try combining with lavender or mandarin.
Joni Keim Loughran and Ruah Bull write that Roman chamomile gives us a calm acceptance of our own limitations.

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I treat myself gently and lovingly especially when those around me don’t.

Roman chamomile FCHC

Contemplations for the Soul Card:

Roman chamomile CFTS card

Are you feeling let down by someone or impatient like a child waiting for something to happen?
Are you feeling grumpy, discontented or frustrated about some issue in your life?
Perhaps you have let others walk all over you in an effort to win their love or approval.
It’s time to let go of the worry, tears, pain, hurt, resentment and anxiety that has been plaguing you.
Consider if it is worth keeping those people in your life who do not respect you and if not let them go.
Forgive and be gentle with yourself for being fooled by someone or something.
It’s time to trust again and ask for the help and support you need.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitizing although there have been rare cases of contact dermatitis.

Sources:
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Keim Loughran J, Bull R, Aromatherapy & Subtle energy techniques, Frog Books (2000)
Kerr J, Chamomile Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.6 (1998)