Tag Archives: stress

The Health Benefits of a Walk in the Bush

The Health Benefits of a Walk in the Bush

We ought to take outdoor walks, to refresh and raise our spirits by deep breathing in the open air.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

There has been a lot written about shinrin-yoku a Japanese term meaning “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” In Australia we’d probably call it “bush bathing.’

The idea is to take a slow walk through the forest, bush or any natural area stopping to admire anything that takes your fancy. This could be a leaf, tree, flower or rock. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, 15 or 20 minutes is often enough to benefit from the calming and restorative effects a walk in the bush can bring.

Rock formation at Salt Pan Creek

There are many reasons why a walk in the bush or forest can be beneficial for your health but the main reason given by researchers is that many trees give off compounds that support our immune system. Although this fact wasn’t known at the time, there were doctors in the past that set up sanatoriums in European pine forests to treat tuberculosis with great success.

Another reason to try shinrin-yoku is its stress relieving benefits that include lowering blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, headache relief, improved sleep, greater creativity, improved mood and increased energy. Simply breathing in deeply during your walk can help you experience these benefits.

symptoms of stress

You don’t need to find a long bush track to experience these effects. You could get the same benefits in a small park by sitting under a tree and taking the time to admire its leaves, flowers or bark while inhaling deeply. On one of my walks to the next suburb there is a small grove of eucalypts that I could walk through in 2 minutes or less but I take the time to slow down and admire the way each is different. It only takes a few minutes but is very uplifting. I’m also very lucky to have a bush track and river minutes from where I live.

Park bench

As shinrin-yoku is at its core taking the time to admire nature and slow down you could also spend time in your garden admiring the trees, flowers, herbs or whatever else you maybe growing there. Taking this time to slow down  helps to relieve your stress and the symptoms that accompany it.

But what if you don’t live near any nature and don’t have a garden you can retreat to? Essential oils can come to your aid. You can bring the scents of the bush or forest into your home and enjoy the benefits these little power houses bring.

Essential oils

Choose 2 or 3 essential oils from those below and place 6-8 drops in total in a diffuser to bring the bush or forest to you. You can also add them to a personal inhaler that you can take with you whereever you go. In addition to the benefits above these oils are very beneficial for the respiratory system.

Buddha wood – Eremophila mitchellii – uplifting, muscular aches and pains

Cajeput – Melaleuca cajeputi – lethargy, focus, respiratory issues

Cedarwood – Cedrus atlantica – grounding, courage, respiratory issues

Cypress – Cupressus sempervirens – emotional and physical transition, respiratory issues

Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus radiata – hemmed in, overwhelm, respiratory issues

Eucalyptus Staigeriana – Eucalyptus staigeriana – uplifting, anxiety, respiratory issues

Fragonia – Agonis fragrans – anxiety, stress, focus, muscular aches and pains, respiratory issues

Juniper – Juniperus communis – cleansing, worry, arthritis, mental fatigue

Kunzea – Kunzea ambigua – nervous tension, emotional and physical pain, muscular aches

Lemon Myrtle – Backhousia citriodora – stress, focus, uplifting, respiratory issues

Lemon scented tea tree – Leptospermum petersonii – concentration, air purifier, respiratory issues

Niaouli – Melaleuca quinquenervia – stress, mental fatigue, respiratory issues, muscular aches and pains

Pine – Pinus sylvestris – self-worth, self-confidence, respiratory issues

Australian Sandalwood – Santalum spicatum – contemplation, stress, respiratory issues

Silver Fir – Abies alba – clarity, anxiety, stress, respiratory issues

Spruce – Picea mariana – mental fatigue, clarity, centring, burnout, respiratory issues

Tea Tree – Melaleuca alternifolia – tolerance, positive outlook, respiratory issues

Source:
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. Third Edition, Vol.1The Perfect Potion, Australia (2018)

Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var.amara)

Petitgrain header

The spirit of petitgrain is embodied in gentle strength encouraging positive resolutions and outcomes at difficult times.
Valerie Ann Worwood

Family: Rutaceae

Synonyms: Bigarade oil, Citrus bigaradia

Aroma: Fresh floral, woody, herbaceous aroma with a hint of orange

Colour: Pale yellow or amber

Petitgrain treePlant: An evergreen up to10 metre tall tree with dark green, glossy, oval leaves and white flowers producing green fruit ripening to yellow.

Main Growing Areas: Italy, Morocco, Egypt, France, Haiti, Paraguay, Spain

Major Constituents: Linalyl acetate and linalool – sedative, alpha-terpineol soothing antibacterial, Methyl N-methyl anthranilate- euphoric and mood lifting

Interesting snippets: Petitgrain was originally distilled from small unripe oranges no bigger than a cherry hence the French name petitgrain meaning small grains. As the production proved uneconomic with unripe fruit the name was transferred to the oil extracted from the leaves of the bitter orange tree.

Essential oils obtained from the leaves of other species of citrus for example, lemon, bergamot and mandarin may also be labelled petitgrain.

A major ingredient of many colognes and perfumes.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: Leaves by steam distillation. 500 kgs of leaves produces 1kg of essential oil. Distillation takes about 2-3 hours.

Therapeutic actions: Muscular spasms, insomnia, digestive problems – dyspepsia, nausea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain.

Emotional and Spiritual: Mental clarity stimulates the mind, uplifting, refreshing, calms anger and panic. Nervous tension and frustration, irritability and excessive anger, and mental fatigue with feelings of depression

Deborah Eidson writes that petitgrain helps acknowledge and overcome obsessive and addictive behavioural patterns. Numbing self from the anguish of life, and feeling the shame of not taking responsibility for one’s power and actions often contributes to addictive behaviours. Petitgrain imparts an awareness of these patterns.

Robbi Zeck writes that your memories create the blueprint of your individual expression. Petitgrain opens the memory gaining entrance to the place within consciousness where far memories reside. Surrender to the awareness that is beyond conscious thought. Let this frontier bring new insights to illuminate your path through life.

Gabriel Mojay writes that petitgrain’s uplifting, antidepressive effect is suited in particular to individuals who are perceived by others as inherently strong and resilient, and who find it difficult to accept their vulnerable side. They tend to ‘soldier on’ in emotionally difficult circumstances, and are often loathe to share with others feelings of rage or disillusionment.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Petitgrain Insight cardCONSCIOUS MIND
Fresh and stimulating, Petitgrain helps you access stored thoughts and memories that you may not have been using. Stay fluid when moving between conscious and subconscious states. Access the information you require to achieve success in your life. You know what you need to do, it is time to trust the knowing.

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I have the answers within. I only need to trust and act on my inner knowing.

Petitgrain Fragrant Change Healing CardContemplations for the Soul Card:

Petitgrain Contemplations for the Soul CardHave you been seeking answers to a question, ignoring something or in denial over what is happening around you?
Do you appear emotionally strong to others but hide from them and yourself how vulnerable you really feel?
Sit quietly and go within allowing your inner awareness to gently guide you to the answer you are seeking.
You have all the answers within you, simply trust and act on your inner knowing.
Know that you don’t have to be emotionally strong for others all the time.
Look within to see why you find it difficult to admit your vulnerability even to yourself.
Allow others to support and be strong for you on occasion.

Note: Often adulterated with synthetic chemicals such as nerone. May also be adulterated with limonene and rectified orange terpenes. Petitgrain itself is used to adulterate neroli essential oil.

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

Sources:
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. Third Edition, Vol.1The Perfect Potion, Australia (2018)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Eidson D, Vibrational Healing, Frog Books (2000)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Jefferies J, Osborn K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Kerr J, The Aromatherapy Tree. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.5 (1998)
Mojay G, Petitgrain Class notes (1999)
Worwood V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

Finding Inner Peace

Finding inner peace header

Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.
Jawaharlal Nehru

As the quote above states peace is not a relationship of nations but a state of mind. It may feel difficult if not impossible to feel inner peace especially if you are under a lot of stress. Continual stress is not good for your mental or physical body. There will always be stressful situations; a sense of inner peace will help you deal with them more easily.

Try to find little pockets of time throughout your day to cultivate a sense of inner peace. If you are unable to instil a sense of peace into yourself and your children even for short periods of time you will never truly feel at peace with yourself, the world or those around you.

Ideas for Finding Inner Peace
Below are some ideas and essential oils that can aid you in your quest for inner peace.

Meditation is one way to develop a sense of inner peace. Taking the time to slow and deepen your breath allows you to reach a deeper place of relaxation so you can feel at peace with yourself and your world. Meditation doesn’t need to be sitting cross-legged for hours or minutes at a time. Simply going for a walk or sitting in your garden and noticing the flowers, plants, stones and nature in general can bring a sense of peace.

Sitting in nature

Listening to Music that soothes and uplifts you is another way to find inner peace. Take time out to allow yourself to become immersed in the music.

listening to music

Gratitude for all that you have in your life, your family and friends, is important for a sense of inner peace. Feeling envy or wishing for what others have will always keep inner peace at bay.

grateful

Affirmations can also help. For example, I feel calm and peaceful. No matter what is going on around me I remain calm and centred.

Forgiveness is important in order to feel inner peace. You cannot feel peaceful if you are continually thinking of the wrong someone did to you.

Essential Oils to Help with Inner Peace
Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) brings inner strength.

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) deepens and slows your breath calming and centring the mind.

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) helps to bring a sense of balance

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is an oil of forgiveness and helps instil confidence and a sense of peace

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) helps to ease stress. Please note that the cold pressed oil is photosensitive while the distilled is not.

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) brings a sense of joy

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) brings a sense of peace on all levels, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) quietens mental chatter, helping to still the mind, allowing it to move into a deep meditative state. stress

You can use a combination of 2 or 3 oils in a diffuser, a personal aroma inhaler or a massage blend to help bring a sense of peace to your world.

Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Pine header

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
Helen Keller

Family: Pinaceae

Synonyms: Forest pine, Scotch pine, Scots pine, Norway pine, pine needle

Aroma: Strong, fresh, resinous

Colour: Clear

Plant: Tall evergreen tree with reddish brown deeply fissured bark and a flat crown. The needles are 2.5 to 5cm long and 1-2mm broad, a glaucous blue-green turning darker green to dark yellow green in winter.

Main Growing Areas: Northern Europe, North America

Major Constituents: Borneol, borynl acetate, a- and β-pinene, limonene, delta-3-carene

Interesting snippets: Hippocrates recommended pine for pulmonary problems and throat infections.

The city of Venice in Italy has been sitting on a bed of pine since 810.

Pine trees typically live for 150 years but may live as long as 300 years.

In Japanese myths, ‘The Tree of Life’ is sometimes associated with the pine.

Spirit lovers are said to inhabit pine trees and live to a very old age.

In classical Kyogen theatre the image of a large pine tree always provides the stage backdrop.

pine cone and needlesPart of Plant used /Extraction: Fresh, young needles, pine cones, tips of the bough / steam distillation

Therapeutic actions: Pine eases colds, flu, coughs, laryngitis, bronchitis, catarrh and sinus congestion. Helpful for rheumatic, neuralgic and muscular aches and pains

Emotional and Spiritual: Feeling helpless and unworthy. Mental fatigue, promotes feelings of energy and well-being. Instils feelings of confidence, courage and clarity. Clear a healing or meditation space when feeling depleted on all levels, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Robbi Zeck writes that pine validates and strengthens your own unique gifts and talents encouraging a simple knowing and belief of your self-worth.

Gabriel Mojay writes that pine is indicated where there is a weakness of ‘boundary’ and of self-identity – where one cannot distinguish others’ responsibilities from one’s own. Pine works to dissipate both a negative self-image and feelings of remorse, replacing undue guilt with forgiveness and self-acceptance.

Valerie Ann Worwood writes that pine teaches that it is love and generosity of spirit that endures – in the hearts of those we have loved and known and in our children.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Pine aromatherapy insight cardSELF WORTH
It is time to stop rescuing others and rescue yourself. Be strong but flexible, managing the knocks in life, living your own life and letting others live their own journey. Protect your boundaries; be true to you, treating yourself with honour and respect. Let go of negative experiences and move forward to a place where you feel fantastic about yourself. Remember you cannot rescue others; they need to do it for themselves. Allowing them to grow their way allows you to grow.

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I have the self-confidence to stand tall and allow the world to see the unique person I am.

Pine FCHC

Contemplations for the Soul Card:

Pine CFTS CardDo you feel worthless or not worthy of having all you wish for?
Do you put everyone’s wishes and wants before your own?
Why are you denying or hiding your unique gifts and talents?
Do you feel the need to take responsibility for other people’s mistakes?
Stop hiding! Stand tall and accept that your opinions matter and that you are good enough to reach your goals.
Value and have confidence in yourself and others will too.
Ignore everyone or thought that tells you you are not good enough to attain your dreams.
Don’t allow others to overstep your boundaries and stop feeling responsible for the mistakes or choices other people make.

Safety: Non-irritating, non-toxic, skin sensitising when oxidised. May be adulterated with turpentine oil or mixtures of pinene, camphene and bornyl acetate.

Sources: Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Davis, P, Aromatherapy An A-Z. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1996)
Hodges C, Fragrant change Healing Cards (2015)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Jefferies J, Pine Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.42 (2008)
Jefferies J, Osborn. K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Keim Loughran J, Bull R, Aromatherapy Anointing Oils, Frog Books (2001)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014 Pages 398 – 399
Worwood, V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)

 

 

 

 

 

Davina (Artemisia pallens)

Davana header

Davana (Artemisia pallens) is an oil that is used extensively in Panch Karma clinics in India but is not well known in the West. In addition to its therapeutic uses davana is used in perfumery and as a flavouring in cakes, tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

Botanical Family: Asteraceae (Compositae).
Other oils in this family include the chamomiles, everlasting (Helichrysum italicum), inula (Inula graveolens) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Aroma profile: rich, fruity, sweet and balsamic. The aroma is due to the presence of davanafurans.

Davana Essential OilEssential Oil: dark yellow to golden orange becoming viscous as it ages

Plant description: The plant which is indigenous to Mysore, India grows in the red soil that is characteristic of that part of India. It reaches a height of 2 feet (60 meters) has bluish green aromatic leaves with numerous small, yellow flowers along its stems.

Distillation: The plant is harvested in bright sunlight and air dried before steam distilling the flowers and leaves.

The oil yield on average after 6-8 hours of distillation is 0.2%

Chemical Constituents: According to Tisserand and Young (quoting Lawrence, 1995) the key constituents are (Z)-Davanone at 38%, Nerol at 10%, unidentified furans at 6%, (E)-Davanone at 5%, geraniol at 5%.

Farida Irani has davanone at 50% along with nordavanone, artemone and davana ether whose percentages she doesn’t state, while Tisserand and Young write that the davanone content can be as high as 55%.

The above differences show that it would be wise to check with your supplier to see how much davanone your oil actually contains.

Therapeutic properties and uses:
Antifungal
Antiparasitic – has been found effective against tapeworm and roundworm in vitro
Antiseptic
Aphrodisiac – has been used in the Middle East for millennia

Colds, flu and upper respiratory tract infections because of its antiviral, expectorant and mucolytic properties – use as an inhalation or chest rub.

Regulates and balances menstruation, helpful for dysmenorrhea because of its antispasmodic properties and for menopausal women.

Used in Indian clinics as a compress and douche for ovarian and uterine cysts.

Headache
Insect repellent
Nerve tonic
Helps soothe skin irritation and rashes.

Emotional:
Davana is a good anti-stress oil that can help with anxiety, nervous tension and insomnia.

The oil has antidepressant properties and is uplifting so could be useful in cases of depression.

Davana can help one deal with anger, disappointment and failure by working with the emotions and encouraging a sense of peace and a positive outlook.

Davana is useful for people dealing with shock and trauma.

Energetic:
Chakras: Davana works with the following chakras offering support, grounding and with its connection to the 6th chakra trust in your intuition.

1st – survival, safety and feeling supported
2nd – sexuality, passion and creativity
6th – connect with and develop trust in your intuition

Spiritual:
The flowers are dedicated to the Lord Shiva a Hindu God and are placed on his altar daily as a sign of love and devotion.

Davana can be used in your spiritual and devotional practices along with other oils like frankincense (Boswellia carterii) and palo santo (Bursera graveolens). One drop is usually sufficient as this oil has a strong aroma.

Suggested oil combinations:
Dysmenorrhea – davana, black pepper (Piper nigrum) and/or clary sage (Salvia sclarea)

Shock & trauma – davana and cistus (Cistus ladaniferus)

Colds and flu – davana, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) and/or tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and/or ravensara (Ravensara aromatica)

Depression – davana, palo santo (Bursera graveolens) and/or lime (Citrus aurantifolia) or other citrus

Safety Issues:
Tisserand and Young write that the oil was tested at 4% on 25 volunteers and was neither irritating nor sensitising. They also write that no hazards or contraindications are known. Irani on the other hand suggests that one use caution in the first trimester but the oil is ideal for the last trimester of pregnancy and labour.

References:
Berkowsky B, Davana Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential oils 1998 -2008
Irani F, Davana in Aromatherapy Today, Vol 51, August 2011
Irani F, The magic of Ayurveda Aromatherapy. Subtle Energies, Don Bosco Press, Mazagaon 2001 Page 105 & 106
Nakhare, S. Garg, S.C., Ancient Science of Life, Anthelmintic activity of the essential oil of Artemisia pallens Wall, Quintessential web base, 1991
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014 Pages 267 – 268

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of AromaCulture Magazine (www.aromaculture.com) and has been adapted for use here with permission from the publisher.

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

http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/
https://www.carersnsw.org.au/
http://www.carersvictoria.org.au/
http://carersqld.asn.au/
http://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.

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Sweet basil header

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Synonyms: Sweet basil, true basil

Aroma: Sweet, herbaceous, refreshing

Colour: Colourless to pale yellow

Plant: An annual herb with dark green leaves and white flowers that grows to 60cm.

Main Growing Areas: France, Italy Egypt, USA, Bulgaria

Major Constituents: Linalool, 1.8 cineole, limonene, a-terpineol, methyl chavicol (estragole)

Interesting snippets: Basil is considered one of the sacred herbs of India where it is dedicated to Krishna and Vishnu.

In Ayurvedic medicine basil is combined with black pepper for malarial fever.

In Italy, basil was associated with love but in Greece it was associated with hate and misfortune and is a symbol for mourning.

Basil leaves and flowersPart of Plant used / Extraction: Flowering tops by steam distillation which lasts around 1½ hours and yields an average of 1% oil.

Therapeutic actions: respiratory congestion, bronchitis, flu, muscular cramps, nausea and vomiting menstrual cramps food poisoning

Emotional and Spiritual: mental fatigue, stress, gives the mind strength and clarity, fear, sadness and depression.

Gabriel Mojay writes that basil is indicated for those in whom despondency and dejection are coupled with a heightened need for emotional support and reassurance.

Basil can be helpful when you are at a crossroads in life or going through a spiritual death. She supports you in overcoming doubt, worry and anxiety allowing you to trust in spirit and renew your zest and enthusiasm for life.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Basil Aromatherapy Insight card

SELF – EXPRESSION
Basil increases self-expression by opening the heart and mind. The herb of love is for those in life who are able to utilize their intuition and express themselves in a straightforward manner, allowing them to move from a place of fear and live a life of positivity and clarity. Speak with enthusiasm and act with integrity from your heart, and then you speak your truth. Stop worrying just for the sake of it and get on with life.

Fragrant Change Healing Card: I speak my truth with love and integrity.

Basil Fragrant Change Healing card
Contemplations for the Soul:

Basil Contemplations for the Soul cardAre you belittling and putting yourself down or are you speaking positively to and about yourself? Have you been wounded deeply by the words or actions of others?
It’s time to speak your truth with love and integrity.
You may have been hiding the truth from yourself and others because of feelings of low self-worth, low self-esteem or from fear of what others will think of you.
It’s now time to reveal your true thoughts and not say what you think they wish to hear.
This does not mean using your words to wound but simply expressing your point of view in a calm manner.
Take note also of the way you speak to and about yourself. Remember your words have power, use them wisely.

Safety: Avoid using on individuals with hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin. There is a low risk of skin sensitization. Some sources also recommend not using basil during pregnancy or on children under 2 years of age.

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)
Eidson D, Vibrational Aromatherapy. Revealing the essence of nature through aromatherapy’s use of essential oils. Frog Ltd, Berkley, California (2000)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Jefferies J, Osborn K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Kerr J, Basil Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.12 (1999)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014

Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora)

Rosewood header

Family: Lauraceae

Synonyms: Bois De Rose, Pau Rosa.

Aroma: Warm, woody, sweet, floral.

Colour: Colourless to pale yellow.

rosewoodPlant: A slow growing evergreen tropical tree with a reddish bark and heartwood.

Main Growing Areas: Brazil.

Major Constituents: a-pinene, linalool, alpha-terpineol, 1,8 cineole, cis-linalool oxide.

Interesting snippets: Most rosewood timber goes to Japan to make chopsticks.

Part of Plant used / Extraction: The trunk wood from 30-40 year old trees is reduced to chips which are then steam distilled to produce the essential oil. 500 kg of chips produces 5 kg of essential oil.

Therapeutic actions: Dry, sensitive inflamed skin, acne, headaches accompanied by nausea.

Emotional and Spiritual: Tiredness, nervousness, stress.
Robbi Zeck writes that rosewood enables a greater receptivity to different kinds of awareness, sensory perceptions and energy streams that roam within the labyrinth of your unconscious mind. If you are feeling blocked in some area of your life, then seek interior guidance and make a request for what you need to experience in order to see the truth behind things.

Aromatherapy Insight Card:

Rosewood

RECEPTIVITY
Grow in life with balance by being receptive to all that is possible. Rosewood helps you to trust your sometimes-unused wise feelings, heightening perceptions and enabling you to “see past the trees”. Utilize all of your senses to help you grow. Open up and be receptive to the abundance of the universe.

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

Sources: Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Davis, P, Aromatherapy, An A-Z. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1996)
Jefferies J, Osborn. K, Aromatherapy Insight Cards. Living Energy, Aust. (2nd Ed. 2005)
Kerr, J, Rosewood Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.7 (1998)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)