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Aromatherapy: More Than Just a Pleasant Scent? – US News and World Report


Tea Tree Oil

It’s touted as helpful in relieving tension, anxiety and more, but it’s not risk-free

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) — Aromatherapy is beginning to enter the medical mainstream, with groups as diverse as the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs touting the use of fragrance as a therapy that can complement traditional health care.

There’s little evidence to suggest that aromatherapy can directly cure illness, but research has found it can help reduce a wide range of symptoms and side effects in some people.

“Many specific ailments can benefit from aromatherapy blends and treatments,” said Monika Meulman, president of the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists. “For example, insomnia, nausea, headaches and migraines, and aches and pains are often improved with aromatherapy — just to name a few.”

Aromatherapy involves the use of what are called essential oils, which are very potent distillations of the fragrant portions of plant life such as flowers, roots and bark, said Dr. Hal Blatman, medical director of the Blatman Pain Clinic in Cincinnati and a past president of the American Holistic Medical Association.

These oils are either applied topically to the body, through a cream or a soaking bath, for instance, or are inhaled after they’ve been diffused into the air in a room, Meulman explained.

Researchers believe that the oils trigger smell receptors in the nose, prompting the transmission of chemical messages along nerve pathways to the brain’s limbic system, Blatman said. The limbic system is a part of the brain closely associated with moods and emotion.

“It’s easy to see smells have an effect on the body,” Blatman said. “Smells have deep emotional triggers in people.”

Aromatherapists recommend using different oils for different effects. For example:

  • Lavender and rosemary oil are suggested for relieving muscle tension and anxiety.
  • Peppermint and ginger oil may relieve nausea and help perk up a fatigued person.
  • Eucalyptus oil is considered helpful in treating respiratory ailments — something known by the legions of kids who’ve had Vicks VapoRub smoothed onto their chest.

The oils also can be layered on to get a combination of effects, Blatman said.

“There are all kinds of specific conditions and specific remedies,” he said. “There are a number of reference books for how to use the oils.”

The potential plusses of aromatherapy, however, come with possible drawbacks, too.

For instance, people who decide to pursue aromatherapy on their own need to be careful because the essential oils used are very strong, Meulman and Blatman said. The oils can cause an allergic reaction when touched or inhaled and can prompt an asthma attack in some people.

The quality of essential oils also can change over time.

“Often the oils sitting on the shelf in a health food store are no longer viable — they break down with time — and may no longer have active compounds in them,” Meulman said. “Many essential oils are only effective for several months to a year. By the time they get to an end user, they have oxidized to the point of not being useful and, in some cases, may be harmful.”

People also should be aware that the oils can have an internal effect even if applied to the skin.

“Some essential oils can accumulate in the liver,” Meulman said. “For example, eucalyptus is broken down slowly by the body and tends to accumulate in the liver. If used daily in large amounts, within a few weeks a person can experience signs of toxicity due to this buildup.”

For these reasons and others, Meulman and her association recommend that people interested in aromatherapy consult with a professional aromatherapist.

“For do-it-yourself use, one can use some oils for ambiance, room spray experiences and other such occasional uses,” she said. “For daily aromatherapy use and self-treatment, professional aromatherapist guidance is strongly advised.”

More information

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy has more on aromatherapy.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Aromatherapy: More Than Just a Pleasant Scent? – US News and World Report.

Grow an Herbal Garden for Your Dog—10 Medicinal Herbs for Dogs | The Natural Living Site


©2011 Shanna Ohmes

It is well documented that animals in the wild have natural instincts for picking and choosing the herbs they need for not only the healing properties, but also to promote health. My goats would browse herbs (weeds) in the pasture and canyons when we went on our hiking trips with them, nibbling and tasting and choosing which plants were at the right growth phase for their needs.

Dogs in the wild are able to do the same thing. I’ve seen them consume large quantities of wild sand hill plums, cactus fruits and grasses.

The Gypsy people, in their many travels, became experts on herbal medicines for man and beast alike. Juliette De Bairacli-Levy learned herbalism from the Gypsies and helped many farmers and pet owners bring their animals back from the brink of death to full health.

Our dogs today do not have access to the many herbs of the field like their wild cousins, but you as the owner can learn what their needs are and grow your own Dog Herbal Garden! Herbs used in addition to a species appropriate diet, will promote the health of your dog.

Here is a list of basic herbs that you can grow in your garden. You can add many of these to your dog’s diet daily to promote health and prevent disease.

10 Herbs to Grow in Your Garden:

Garlic—Fresh garlic wards off disease and is potent enough to kill fungi and bacteria. Garlic has antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and even anticancer properties. It also regulates blood sugar levels.

Dandelion—Use the whole plant as a nourishing herb for the liver and kidneys. Dandelion is an excellent source of potassium and is used as a powerful diuretic. As it removes excess fluid from the body, it replaces potassium that is lost in the process.

Chamomile—A calming herb, chamomile is beneficial for the nervous adolescent stage of your dog’s growth. Made into a tea, it eases teething pain in puppies and can help older dogs sleep more peacefully at night, when they are prone to pacing the house. It’s a soothing digestive aid, cleanses the blood, heals skin rashes and speeds wound healing.

Calendula—A magical wound healer, calendula’s antibacterial properties work better than many antibiotics. Reach for calendula to reduce inflammation and for first aid treatment. Make an infusion of the leaves to treat itching and hot spots.

English: Purple Coneflower

Image via Wikipedia

Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)—The Native Americans revered Echinacea for treating fevers, wounds and snakebites. Purple coneflower is a popular flower in garden landscaping for its beauty, but it’s also a powerful immune system builder. Echinacea is best taken at the beginning of a fever or infection to use the medicinal properties effectively.

Fennel—Fennel seeds are an excellent digestive aid and are used for expelling intestinal parasites. Fennel nourishes and cleanses the cells and tissues in the body. The whole plant can be added to your dog’s meals to enhance health.

Parsley—Parsley prevents disease by maintaining proper pH levels. Parsley is mineral rich and also aids digestion. It nourishes the kidneys and bladder and even freshens the breath!

Rosemary—Rosemary is wonderful for the skin—it has antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. This fragrant herb also aids digestion. It makes a wonderful rinse for your dog’s bath to promote hair growth and enhance rich luster and color tones in the fur.

Sage—Sage has been referred to as a “heal-all” herb since ancient times. Sage can be added to your dog’s meal everyday to promote health. Sage has a rich history in healing the body of many diseases.

Lavender—Lavender reduces the buildup of excessive skin oil—a perfect remedy to use on greasy and smelly dogs. Lavender inhibits the bacterial growth in the greasy coat that causes the odor. Make a lavender rinse for your dog’s coat to help with skin irritations and inflammation. Lavender also heals wounds and regenerates tissue.

This year, plan to grow an herbal garden for your dog. In fact, expand the herb garden a bit and you’ll have plenty of herbs for your dog and your family too! Use the herbs daily in your dog’s species appropriate diet to prevent disease and promote health.

via Grow an Herbal Garden for Your Dog—10 Medicinal Herbs for Dogs | The Natural Living Site.

Make Your Own Natural Lavender Dryer Sachets | Organic Soul


Natural Lavender Dryer SachetsDryer sheets can be expensive! They are only good for one load, and they can also be filled with chemicals and unnatural fragrances. Why would I want to infiltrate my clothes with chemicals my family is wearing all day? I decided it was high time to give them a toss into the trash instead of my dryer. My solution was to sew my own dryer sachets filled with fragrant, not to mention natural, lavender buds. They are oh-so-easy to make and can be reused over and over again, up to ten loads. Once they start to lose their fragrance, simply add a few drops of lavender essential oil on the sachet and you’re good to go!

Below I have included my pattern for lavender sachets along with a few eco-friendly and sustainable tips for making this project fun and unique.

Supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Cardboard template
  • Ruler
  • Ballpoint pen or disappearing pen
  • 100 percent Cotton Fabric
  • Organic Lavender
  • Needle and Thread (or sewing machine)

Prewash your fabric and iron. Measure and mark a 5-1/2”x5-1/2” square on a piece of cardboard. Using scissors, cut out your sachet template. Trace around your template onto the wrong side of the fabric. (You will need two fabric squares for your sachet, one for the front and one for the back.) Carefully cut along the traced lines. With right sides facing, sew along three sides of the squares staying about 1/4” from the edge, which is your seam allowance. Turn your sachet inside out and fill with lavender buds. Be careful not to make it too full because it will be hard to sew shut, especially on a sewing machine, but at the same time, don’t be skimpy.

You want your sachet to look like a plump little pillow. Turn the raw edges down into the sachet and sew both sides together so you have a clean finished edge. I also like to sew around the outside perimeter, about 1/8” to 1/4” from the edge to give my sachet a finished look and to ensure that no buds escape in the dryer.

Gifting:

These sachets make excellent gifts. I like to give two or three together tied with a ribbon or raffia. I also like to include a little gift tag explaining how to use them. You could include a small vial of lavender essential oil to refresh the sachets after several uses.

Up-cycled Sachets:

There are other sustainable ways of up-cycling fabric for this project too. Go through your closet and find a few flannel shirts that are out of style or somewhat grungy and re-purpose them as fabric for your sachets. No one will know the difference and you’ll be doing something good for the environment. You could also check out Goodwill and local yard sales for more material. Just keep your eye open for 100 percent cotton for its natural breath-ability, which will mean more aromatherapy for your clothes in the dryer!

Tip: I recommend using “extra lavender” which means that it is grayer than the blue and more expensive than “ultra lavender.” Extra is more cost-effective, since no one will be seeing the color of the buds and they carry the same strong scent.

Make Your Own Natural Lavender Dryer Sachets | Organic Soul.

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