Jasmine – The Essential Oil of Happiness
Edited: July 16, 2018
Guess what, the natural fragrance of flowers makes us happy!
We knew that already, right? Yes, but since 2010 we have known it for sure because the scientists – more specifically, the biochemists of Ruhr University in Germany – told us it’s so. (Yes, a little irony here).
But this really is exciting stuff. Their research showed that the jasmine scent molecules when breathed in are transmitted from the lungs to the blood and then penetrate the brain. The chemicals don’t have to be ingested to be effective. And that came as a surprise to the worthy biochemists – even if aromatherapists have telling people this for years.
Our brain cells send chemical messages across the brain and the nervous system, regulating it by exciting or inhibiting nerve responses through the spinal cord and throughout the body. These chemical messages are carried by neurotransmitters of which GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) is one that regulates the communication between brain cells by inhibiting or damping down of neuron activity.
There has been a great deal of research into the role of GABA in the brain. It helps us to control our behaviour and thoughts by reducing fear, anxiety and stress when the neurons become over stimulated. Lower than normal levels of GABA in the brain have been linked to schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Importantly for anyone interested in aromatherapy and the holistic approach to health, certain fragrances have now been proven by biochemists to enhance the effect of GABA on nerve cells helping to soothe, relieve anxiety and promote rest. Indeed, jasmine proved to be as effective as strong sedatives such as benzodiazepines which are the world’s most prescribed drugs, causing serious side-effects such as depression, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.
In the words of Prof. Dr. Hanns Hatt who discovered that the two fragrances Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) have the same molecular mechanism of action and are as strong as the commonly prescribed barbiturates or propofol.
“Applications in sedation, anxiety, excitement and aggression relieving treatment and sleep induction therapy are all imaginable. The results can also be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy.”
If you or anyone you care for is experiencing the effects of stress, anxiety or insomnia, ask your aromatherapist to make you up a massage oil with jasmine, or put some in your diffuser or oil vapouriser. Even sufferers from neurological conditions such as MS or Parkinson’s who often react badly to sedatives, may be helped by this research.
So, when we fill our house with the divine scent of sweet peas, roses and jasmine, we know we are breathing in happiness and de-stressing in the healthiest way imaginable.
Chicory – wild blue beauty
Edited: July 10, 2018
No-one who has seen the perfect sky-blue flowers of the chicory plant can ever forget them. A tall woody perennial, it is native to Europe where is grows along roadsides and dry field margins and has been a valued medicinal plant for centuries. It now grows happily on every continent where all parts of the plant are used in cuisine and medicine.
Famous as a caffeine-free addition to or substitute for coffee, the chicory root has so much more to offer to the herbalist. It is a valuable digestive aid and can help to reduce stomach acid, soothing acid reflux and aiding digestion. An extract from chicory root called inulin is used in modern medicine as a sweetener valuable in the treatment of diabetes, and as a tonic or cleanser for the liver. Related to the dandelion, chicory is valued for its young leaves and blanched buds which add the bitter flavour prized by Ayurvedic practitioners and so often lacking in the Western diet. The roots of the chicory plant are a treasure trove of prebiotics and biochemicals that treat and balance our bodies. They were traditionally grown as foraging for domestic animals who, like us, benefit from nature’s pharmacy.
This summer look out for the lovely cerulean blue flowers along the roadsides and hedgerows and wonder at all the benefits this common plant has to offer us.
Another reason not to use toxic sprays and chemicals to eradicate our native and naturalised plants.
(A version of this post was first published on our Facebook page in June 2018)
Emotional Release Through Aromatherapy Massage
Edited: July 2, 2018
Hurting minds create hurting bodies.
The strong link between our emotions and our physical bodies has been recognised and acknowledged for centuries.
When we are happy we feel uplifted, light, relaxed. We are ready to dance and sing, our bodies open and prepared to embrace the world.
When we feel depressed or angry our bodies close and retreat, the muscles tighten, and we withdraw into ourselves. We are alert but defensive.
What hasn’t been recognised until more recently is the long-term effect of trauma (including PTSD) on our physical bodies. Loss, anger, resentment, loneliness, even jealousy and rejection: they hurt. We feel it deeply in the very tissues of our bodies and we react instinctively by withdrawing physically and emotionally. And because it hurts us to remember, we suppress those feelings by excluding and trapping them in our minds and in our physical bodies.
Perhaps you have experienced an overwhelming sense of relaxation and peace after massage therapy. Some people are filled with grief or intense feelings of loss or love. It is as though our musculature itself holds memories for us – massage enables us to release those memories and to acknowledge and work with them in a safe space. This is known as emotional release.
Most of us are aware of the powerful effect of fragrance on our brains. The merest whiff of a certain perfume or a cooking aroma can ignite an explosion of emotions and memories.
The signals sent by the unique molecular structure of every oil directly to the limbic system which controls our emotions and memory, combined with our own olfactory memory – this is a powerful combination. Learning to work with it is an important part of our work as clinical massage therapists.
(This post was first published on our Facebook page on 21/6/2018)
Carrot Seed Oil
Edited: July 1, 2018
My mother always told me that eating carrots would help me see in the dark. She was right – she was usually right. Rich in Carotene and Vitamin A, the roots are indeed beneficial to the eyes and are effective antioxidants.
But carrots have so much more to give us. Carrot Seed oil has incredible properties that are only now being understood by modern science. The mild, earthy sweetness of Carrot Seed produces a powerful yet well-tolerated oil with a wide range of healing properties.
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Combining Reiki and Massage
Edited: July 2, 2018
Combining Reiki and massage? At first glance this might seem weird. But it has proven to be a very effective and valuable resource for both client and therapist.
Massage, using the healing touch that comes naturally to us as humans, is written into our DNA. The earliest known textbooks describing this method of healing date back almost 3,000 years to the Chinese doctors who were treating their Emperors and the royal court. Their knowledge of the flow of energy around the body via the meridians and the healing benefits of massage and acupuncture became widespread across Asia. We know that the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used massage in combination with heat, steam and medicinal herbs and there is archaeological evidence showing that many other cultures and civilizations were doing the same before the contemporary era (CE).
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Two Brains are Better Than One
Edited: July 2, 2018
Zoe had always suffered from painful stomach cramps, even as a small child. She would wake up with tummy pain before school or in the days leading up to exams or sometimes even something she was looking forward to like a birthday party or sleepover with friends. Her mother called it ‘worry ache’. Her GP did all the usual tests and told the family that Zoe would ‘grow out of it’. She didn’t. As a teenager, Zoe was diagnosed with IBS. She was told that her gut was ‘sensitive’ to certain foods, stress, lack of exercise or fibre – and that this was a lifelong, untreatable condition that she should learn to accept.
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