We are sensuous creatures, our innate ability to sense our environment enhances our ability to survive and thrive. And we thrive on taste, sight and sound. Our culture is pretty much sustained by an abundant variety of food; visual beauty and bright lights; and constant noise, music or conversation. So what about our sense of smell and touch? It would seem that these are just secondary senses, a luxury but not essential to our health and wellbeing. Well this is not true at all, it is simply that these senses are more subtle and yet are essential for our emotional and behavioural development and wellbeing.
“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”
― Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Touch is a basic behavioural need, with it we thrive and without it we suffer. Deprevation of affection leads to depression and or aggression, particlarly in the developmental stages as an infant or child. We know as adults how good it feels to receive an affectionate touch, and how it can alleviate stress and anxiety. The ability to receive a caring touch from a virtual stranger and not feel uncomfortable is the wonderful blessing that a massage can provide. Massage physically improves circulation, lymphatic detoxification, reduces musculoskeletal pain and tension, stimulates the immune system and lowers high blood pressure. However, it is does more than that, particularly when combined with the aroma of essential oils.
Aromas and our sense of smell influences our mood and evokes emotion, in ways that either open us up with pleasure or force us to recoil with repulsion. For now we are looking into pleasurable aromas that effect our mood in ways that uplift, open, comfort, strengthen, invigorate, or relax. The combination of aroma & affection allows an incredibly deep sense of calmness, contentment, and I would even say a magical sense of awe. We are complex human beings, able to experience a plethora of emotions or states of mind, and yet we tend to get bogged down in a particular routine, a daily habitual groove, a familiar and perhaps mundane funk. If only, every now and then, we could step outside the normal time and space continium, and allow ourselves to open up to a new way of seeing. And smelling and feeling for that matter. If only we could be inspired to rediscover the world the way a child does over and over again… Well we can.
AROMATHERAPY & THE OLFACTORY SYSTEM
Olfactory sensory neurons within the nasal cavity are in direct contact with the outside world, therefore when a scent enters the nose it binds to the scent receptors of the olfactory neurons and activates emotions and behaviours associated with previously experienced smells.
HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS
“Aromatherapy is an art and a science which is a skill… The art part is the fun scent crafting where you train your nose to create multi-level aroma profiles for different ailments. Before you get to the fun part… you have to think of the science and the for bioavailability of the different oils, as well as the best method of application for the ailment.” Lauryn Johnston – Aromatherapist & Massage therapist
For muscle tension, joint aches, skin conditions, stress and anxiety. Essential oils must be mixed into a carrier oil which ensure the bioavailability of the essentials oils and lessens the risk of skin irritation. Some essential oils are extremely strong and are know to be skin irritants, such as lemon and clove. There are also many essential oils that are too strong to use in pregnancy, these are often decongestant essential oils such as black pepper, pine, rosemary, wintergreen, thyme, clary sage, clove and cinnamon. To dilute essential oils into a carrier oil you need to use the following guide:
GENERAL maximum 2mL per 100mL
PREGNANCY & CHILDREN maximum 0.5mL per 100mL
The lungs are extremely efficient at transporting small molecules, such as essential oils into the bloodstream and general circulation. Diffusing a few drops of essential oil in a basin of steamy hot water with a towel over the head for 5 minutes is a very effective way to ease coughs and congestion from colds or flu, or to calm the nerves and ease anxiety.
Do no harm…
“I get asked nearly everyday in clinic ‘Is it safe to put a few drops of ‘X’ essential oil in water and drink it? As my essential oil supplier said its food grade’. The short answers is NO it is not safe practice”. Essential oils do not have the same chemical structure as the whole leaf as we would infuse it as a tea, or the juice of a whole fruit that could be diluted into water. “Aromatic medicine [is an] extremely potent tool for treating infection but needs an accurate dose, and to prevent your esophagus being harmed they need to be placed in enteric coated capsules.” Lauryn Johnston – Aromatherapist & Massage therapist
Oral Administration is for trained professionals only. Aromatic medicine is a branch of complementary internal medicine, an aromatic medicine doctor makes capsules and prescribes the internal taking of essential oils. It is important to not get carried away by the latest fad that sweeps over social media – be curious, do your own research and trust your intuition, but when in doubt seek out a trained professional. The only oral administration that we would recommend is as a mouthwash or toothpaste.
Safety first please people.
Now that you have a good grounding in what essential oils are about we can get to the fun part, creating your own alchemic blends! You can visit us at Wellington Apothecary to create your own roll-on perfume blend or simply have a whiff to find out what essential oils tickle your fancy. Here are ten of our favourites…
Open / Fresh / Cheerful
For those who take life too seriously and have forgotten how to laugh.
Strong / Capable / Enthusiastic
For those who tend to worry and feel burdened by the weight of responsibility.
Fresh / Energetic / Youthful
For those who feel heavy with grief or lack of self-confidence.
Grounded / Centered / Strong
For those who spend too much time in their head and are out of touch with their physical needs.
Mature / Confident / Efficient
For those who feel restless, irritable or emotionally hypersensitive.
Invigorate / Refresh / Uplift
For those who feel stagnant, slow or sluggish.
Ease / Confidence / Joy
For those who feel bogged down by negativity, pressures, or unpleasant memories.
Soothe / Stable / Sensual
For those who over-think everything and become detached from their body.
Adapt / Strengthen / Uplift
For those who feel insecure and anxious due to change or lack of encouragement.
Radiant / Confident / Balanced
For those who hide themselves from the world, deny themselves pleasure, or feel extremely frustrated and tense.
Let us remember the otherworldliness of the forgotten senses.
Let us play with alchemic aromas and get lost in time as we take the time to stop and smell the roses.
Let us unfold into the experience of respectful affection and be embraced by the healing hands of another.
* A big THANK YOU to our friends Lauryn Johnston who is an expert aromatherapist, Grace Tully who is a mind-blowing massage therapist, and Stephanie Malcolm who is a deeply healing holistic facialist, all here in Wellington.