Using Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has been around for centuries!  Using herbs, flowers, essential oils, and resins is how many early medicines where made.  Frankincense and Myrrh, two of the three gifts given by the Magi, are known world wide for their healing and antiseptic qualities.

Using essential oils, herbs and resins have recently had a huge impact on the modern world.  It's almost like we have rediscovered some of the tried and true "home remedies" and folk crafts of yesteryear.

My interest in aromatherapy  and herbs actually goes back to my Great-grandmother.  It was said around "these parts" that she was a great "shaman".  She used plants and herbs as rubs,  poultices and mini-steam saunas to help cure "what ever ailed ya".  She was frequently  called upon more often that the town doctor.

This article is going to examine the role aromatherapy, in particular essential oils and herbs, can play in assisting you to cope with the ups and downs of Bipolar Disorder. 

I recommend that you purchase books on the topic and several oils to practice with. Oils are available at most health and "natural" stores, or sometimes in the mall.  

The following books are ones that I have used in my research:   "The Essential Aromatherapy Book" by Carole McGilvery and Jimi Reed;  "The Complete Book of Chinese Healing & Health" by Daniel Reid;  "The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy" by Valerie Ann Worwood; and "The Healing Energy of Your Hands" by Michael Bradford.

Let's Talk Oils and Herbs

Essential oils are sometimes very expensive and other times very affordable.  It all depends on the processing, how much material or herbs it takes to manufacture the oil, and how rare the plant or source material is.  True essential oils are made in a variety of ways, but, be sure to buy pure oils.  Though they are more pricey, oils are measured by drops when used, so it is worth the "extra".

Oils can be used in a variety of ways: body and facial oils, room sprays, storage areas like closets and shoe racks, compresses, wood fires, scented candles, pomanders, perfumes, foot soaks, hand soaks, shower and baths, saunas both large and small, inhalation therapy, therapeutic massage, dropped on pillows and carried on handkerchiefs or cotton balls in your pocket, atomizers and most essential oils are NOT for internal consumption, however, if you use the edible oils they can be added to teas, baking etc. 1

One of my favorite ways to use oils is on scent rings.  They can be bought at department stores and fit on the light bulbs of your lamps.  Anytime you turn the lights on a wonderful aroma fills the room.  Another favorite is to coat white navy beans in essential oils and soak overnight.  Put them on a flat baking pan in the oven for 3 hours on 200 degrees F to dry.  After that I use tube socks and stuff them full of the beans.  This can be put either in the freezer or the microwave and used as either a cold pack or hot pack.  When heated they release the wonderful aroma you started with.  Great for a visit from your monthly "cousin" when heated or muscle strains.  Cold, I use on the back of my neck or forehead to relieve headaches.

Try mixing oil and herb combinations.  Remember, when using oils a few drops will do the trick.  There is a huge market right now on bath and lotion products.  They include oils and scents that help relax or rejuvenate you.  One I highly recommend is Johnson's Bedtime bath.  You'll find this in the baby section of your favorite department store or grocery.  I bought this for my grandbabies, but found  I liked the scent so much I use it myself.  It contains lavender and chamomile.  They also have other scented baths that help with stuffiness from cold etc.  There are other brands available in your drug stores and malls. I find, however, the Johnson's is very affordable.

Many of the herbs mentioned below are commonly available at your local garden shop.  Grow them both outside and indoors for year round benefits.  You can eat them, use them in your cooking, or just crush some of the leaves in your hands.  One of the things I do is grow an indoor herb garden in my kitchen.  I not only have fresh herbs for cooking, but often will just visit my little indoor garden and crush some of the leaves in my hands and breathe in deeply.  It's amazing how much better just one deep breath can improve my outlook on life!

Please Note:  I am not recommending that you use oils and herbs in place of your medication or current treatment.  I only suggest these alternatives in CONJUNCTION with your current treatments.  Before you take ANYTHING internally, please check with your psychiatrist, therapist and pharmacist.  Most PURE essential oils do not cause an allergic reaction, but, to be sure place a small amount of the oil on your inner arm near your wrist.  If redness develops, DO NOT use this oil on your skin in lotions, baths or oil rubs.

Oils/Herbs That Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Basil,  Bergamot,  Chamomile,  Cypress,  Geranium,  Hyssop,  Jasmine,  Jonquil,  Juniper,  Lavender,  Marjoram, Melissa, Narcissus,   Neroli,  Orange,  Osmanthus,  Palma Rosa,  Patchouli,  Peppermint,  Rose,  Rosemary,  Sage,  Clary Sage,  Sandalwood,  Thyme,  Ylang-Ylang. 1, 2   


Oils/Herbs That Help Depression

Basil,  Bergamot,  Chamomile,  Cypress,  Geranium,  Jasmine,  Lavender,  Lemon,  Lemongrass,  Neroli,  Orange,  Patchouli,  Rose,  Rosemary,  Sage,  Clary Sage,  Sandalwood,  Ylang-Ylang. 1


Oils/Herbs That Help With Mental Fatigue

Basil,  Eucalyptus,  Juniper,  Lemon,  Lemon Grass,  Melissa, Orange, Pine,   Rosemary,  Sage, Clary Sage,  Thyme. 1   


Oils/Herbs That Help With Memory

Basil,  Black Pepper,  Cardamon,  Geranium,  Ginger,  Lavender,  Rose,  Rosemary. 2


Oils/Herbs That Help Insomnia

Benzoin,  Cedarwood,  Chamomile,  Cypress,  Frankincense,  Hops,  Hyssop,  Lavender,  Marjoram,  Neroli,  Nutmeg,  Roman,  Rose,  Clary Sage,  Sandalwood,  Valerian,  Vetiver. 1, 2


Oils/Herbs That Help with PMS

Basil,  Bergamot,  Chamomile,  Cypress,  Fennel,  Geranium,  Grapefruit,  Jasmine,  Jonquil,  Juniper,  Lavender,  Melissa,  Narcissus  Neroli,  Nutmeg,  Roman,  Rose,  Rose Bulgar,  Rose Maroc,  Rosemary,  Sage,  Clary Sage,  Sandalwood,  Thyme. 1, 2



Oils/Herbs That Help With Sensuality

Cedarwood,  Cinnamon,  Geranium,  Jasmine,  Patchouli,  Rose,  Clary Sage,  Sandalwood,  Ylang-Ylang. 1


Oils/Herbs That Help With Post-Natal Depression

Angellica,  Bergamot,  Clary Sage,  Geranium,  Grapefruit,    Immortelle,  Mandarin,  Narcissus  Neroli,  Rose. 2  

 

On-Line Essential Oil Links

(Here's a few...here are many more...do a web search for Essential Oils)

http://www.mothernature.com/shop/sections/index.cfm/s/98606

http://www.aromaweb.com/ 

http://www.essentialoil.net/ 

http://www.dreamingearth.com/ 

http://www.naturesgift.com/ 

http://www.essential-oil.org/ 

 

References:

1.  The Essential Aromatherapy Book, 1995 Anness Publishing Limited, London, Carole McGilvery and Jimi Reed.

2.  The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy,  1991 New World Library, San Rafael, CA,  Valerie Ann Worwood.

 

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