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LAVENDER: A "SCENTSIBLE" ALTERNATIVE

A-ro'ma-ther'a-pe - the use of essential oils for therapeutic andrestorative effects e-sen'shel oil - the vital life essence of aromatic plants and flowersproduced by plant metabolism and stored within cells of the plant

Aromatherapy is a modern term for a healing art that is ages old. ReneMaurice Gattefosse, a French perfume chemist, created the term in the 1920'swhen he published a scientific research paper titled 'aromatherapie.'

Gattefosse encountered the healing properties of lavender when he plungedhis arm into a vat of lavender oil. He had obtained a 3rd degree burn duringa laboratory accident and intended to submerge his arm in water; however, hesynchronistically mistook the lavender for water. The lavender not onlyreduced his pain - through several repeated applications his arm healed withno scarring. The rest is history, as they say. The influence of research byGattefosse and others in France spawned a ripple effect and today essentialoils are used in conjunction with mainstream medicine in France.

Worldwide essential oil production is now booming as more of us choose toexperience the healing effects of aromatic plants and flowers. Chemists tooare working their wonders in replicating the fragrance of aromatic plantsand flowers. But remember - it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

For best results you will want to use essential oils that are produced fromthe complete aromatic plant or flower. Most essential oils are obtainedthrough steam distillation. The hot steam causes the essential oils to bereleased by the plant. The oils do not dissolve in water and will float tothe top. They are then skimmed from the top and you have a pure and naturalessential oil.

Nature creates essential oils from basic hydrocarbon molecules. The type ofmolecules that make up the essential oil determines the range of effects theoil will have. The familiar adage "the whole is greater than the sum of itsparts" is a true statement about essential oils. For example, Lavender(Lavandula officinalis) is generally made up of 40-50% of the functionalgroup Esters. Some of the properties of Esters is a direct effect on thecentral nervous system, anti-inflammatory, healing to the skin, anti-fungaland anti-spasmodic.

The aromatic molecules of essential oils come in contact with the only partof our brain that is exposed outside our body - the olfactory bulb, which isresponsible for the sense of smell. You simply have to breathe the essentialoil for an effect to be produced in your body. Though not proven, it isbelieved the molecules of an essential oil can also permeate the skin and becarried by the body's lymphatic system for healing.

Now that you have knowledge - what do you do with it? Wise ones say "youcan learn little by words, you have to have the experience." Here's how Ihave experienced lavender essential oil.

One cold winter evening, I was adding wood to the woodstove and sustained aserious burn on my finger. I immediately put straight lavender on the burn.I too experienced the miracle of Gattefosse. The pain stopped within momentsand my finger did not blister. Lavender is one essential oil that can beapplied directly to the skin without diluting it in a carrier oil. Mostother essential oils should be diluted first.

I've experienced nights where my mind determined I was not going to sleep -even though my body needed sleep. For those special moments - I've used amist spray of lavender in distilled water. Add about 40 drops of lavenderto 1 ounce of water to create your own mist spray. I spray my pillow andaround my bed generously. My mind loses this battle every time and I amasleep within 15 minutes.

I once experimented by wearing lavender and patchouli together as a perfume.I got so many compliments that day I've been wearing it ever since.

After a day full of every imaginable frustration - there just weren't enoughminutes to the hour, I filled my tub with water and added 15 drops of purelavender. Within 10 short minutes I was totally relaxed. And not only that- my skin was soft and wonderfully scented!

Now it is your time to experience what lavender can do. A few drops are allyou need. One drop of essential oil can be equal to an ounce of the plant.Lavender has many traditional therapeutic uses. It can be useful for eczema,psoriasis, burns, thread veins, cuts and wounds, abscesses and ulcers. Itcan be helpful for colds and bronchitis, for rheumatic pain, muscle spasms,balancing blood pressure, and not least as a sedative to the central nervoussystem, for headaches, relieving tension and anxiety, mild depression andinsomnia.

You can use Lavender essential oil as I have in a bath, or a mist spray, bysimply breathing it from the bottle, placing it directly on your skin wherehealing is needed, in a massage or a room diffuser. You can even put a fewdrops of lavender on a tissue and place it on top of your computer monitorwhere the heat from the monitor will disburse the molecules. Takingessential oils internally is not advised unless you are under the care of acertified aromatherapist.

Please don't take my word for it - try it. You might be able to clear out anentire shelf in your medicine cabinet if you do!

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