Hope amid crisis

A few days ago, during demonstrations against the new financial measurements a very tragic incident took place in Athens. Three people that had the misfortune to be working in a bank at the area of demonstrations lost their lives in a tragic way. One of the victims was four months pregnant.
The news have already traveled around the globe and many international media are adding to the recent murky characterizations about Greeks one more.

Combating cellulite

The season of summer baths is coming closer. Unfortunately for many women exhibiting their bodies in common view is an unpleasant ordeal due to cellulite. It is estimated that approximately 90% of women in the developed countries have cellulite while its symptoms are starting to show up in some men also.

Change: Fight or fly?

Most people do not like changes. Changes cause uncertainty, fear and disturbance.
Certainly not all changes in a person's life are positive. Loss of beloved persons, undesirable changes in professional life and many other unpleasant events happen everyday. However, according to psychologists even changes that are considered to be positive developments in life (marriage, becoming a parent, moving in a new house, promotion) are experienced by many people as sources of big stress.
Isn't it contradictory that the main prerequisite of evolution, change, is causing so often negative feelings?
We are the most intelligent creatures on planet Earth. This makes us forget that we are nothing but mammals and as such we still bear deeply rooted primitive instincts. One of them is the instinct of survival. Depending on the circumstances that particular instinct is causing two reactions: either fight or fly.

Basil for clear mind

The examination period for schoolchildren and students is coming close.
Although there has been some time since I last had to study hard for an exam I do remember how difficult it is sometimes to achieve the required concentration. Even many professionals find it hard to focus on readings relative to their jobs and keep in mind useful information.
The enormously big information flow available nowadays and the everyday family or personal obligations that add extra worries and food for thinking are wearing our minds. Symptoms like memory voids, confusion, headache and mental fatigue are not rare. 
Whenever mental sharpness and clear mind are required one herb is ideal...

Spikenard

According to the orthodox Christian Holy Wednesday is dedicated to Magdalena, the sinful woman that showed repentance and washed the feet of Jesus. According to researchers the oil used by Magdalena was derived by a plant called spikenard.
Spikenard (lat. nardostachys jatamansi, greek ναρδοστάχυς) is a plant that flourishes in the Himalayas at a height of 3000-5000 meters. The essential oil of spikenard was widely used in ancient times. It was a basic constituent of Kyphi (a compound incense used in ancient Egypt for religious and medical purposes) and the Ayurvedic botanical medicines used in India. The Romans used spikenard to produce the fragrance called nardinium.
Today the use of spikenard essential oil is restricted due to its rareness and high price. It can be used as fragrance, incense, sedative and botanical medicine.

Internal tourism

The days of Holy Week are suitable for body and mind detoxification. Irrespectively of whether you are religious or not, those few days you could adopt a diet rich in natural, non processed food, accommodate your organism’s functions by eating less, restrain all “small sins” (alcohol, sweets, coffee, smoking) and come in deeper connection with your mental and emotional world. It is an ideal period to practice “internal tourism”, as Mafalda (renowned comic character) used to say.

Protection against the sun

Do you remember the thin red-white ribbon we used to wear as kids from the first days of March until Easter? According to tradition “March” (name of the ribbon) is offering protection against the first intense spring sun rays. If you forgot to wear a “March” this year, don’t worry. There are many natural materials you can use to make your own products in order to relieve and hydrate the skin after exposure to sun.

Relieving allergic rhinitis (hay fever)

Spring is here, although temperature those days remains low. Even in a city like Athens you can understand it from the thin film of pollen formed on pavements, cars and balconies.
Although this season urges for outdoor activities and contact with nature for many people it signals the start of a tormenting period. It is estimated that 15% of developed countries population suffer every year from the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Persistent sneezing, red and swollen eyes, itchy nose, intense catarrh, headache and respiratory problems are the main symptoms of this seasonal allergy that is mainly caused by increased pollen concentration in the atmosphere. When raised temperatures and aerial contaminants of a city are added the conditions become really unbearable.
Many essential oils are suitable to relieve the above mentioned disturbing symptoms. You can clean the air in your house or office and keep your respiratory tracks open by adding in a diffuser or simply a ball with hot water juniper, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon and/or peppermint. If you are suffering from intense nasal congestion do inhalations with one of the above essential oils. A light massage with lavender and chamomile (diluted in base oil) around the nose, the forehead, the temples and the nape will help you cope with headaches.
Spring is the season of rebirth. Enjoy it!

How much do we know about happiness?

You will find an interesting quiz about the feeling of happiness here.

Night cream for better sleep

Some time ago I had made a cream containing essential oils of lavender and chamomile for a friend that suffered from dry skin and light eczema on his hands. Today he told me that he found out the cream helped him sleep better! He is putting a small amount at the area between the nose and the upper lip. The relaxing and sedating properties of its components guarantee him sweet dreams.
A use of night cream I had not thought of!

Lemongrass

“In 2006 a research team from the Ben Gurion University in Israel found that lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) caused apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Through in vitro studies, the researchers examined the effect of citral, a molecule found in lemongrass, on both normal and cancerous cells. Using concentrations of citral equivalent to the quantity in a cup of tea (one gram of lemon grass in hot water), the researchers observed that citral induces programmed cell death in the cancerous cells, while the normal cells were left unharmed.”
Lemongrass is used for a long time in the cuisine of Asia, especially Thailand and India. It gives a slightly spicy, citral flavor in tea, soups, dishes with chicken or fish, sweets, etc.

Due to its strong, pleasant smell and low cost the essential oil of lemongrass is used in the production of soap, beverages, fragrances, deodorants and numerous other products. It is also used as insect repellant and pesticide.
Lemongrass has fungicidal and microbicidal properties. In traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) and in aromatherapy lemongrass essential oil is used against fever, depression, nervous problems, muscle pain, rheumatism, digestive problems, skin irritations and headache. It can be utilized through massage, footbath, inhalations and compresses. Mixed with apple vinegar it produces a conditioner beneficial to oily hair.

Don’t you think it is worth planting lemongrass in your garden or balcony


Therapeutic herbs

In the mid 20’s the scientists started to discover how many vitamins, metals, amino-acids, lipids, enzymes, endophrines and neurotransmitters are required to maintain optimal function of the human brain which gives the orders for all biochemical body processes. However even today many people do not comprehend that mental and physical health depend greatly on the adequate concentration of basic natural components in our bodies.
Apart from the main nutritional groups, especially rich sources of such useful nutrients are herbs and spices.

Essential oils for ecological households

The use of essential oils is not restricted to therapy and beauty. If you want to limit the use of some health and environment aggravating substances (for example ammonia and petroleum derivatives contained in window, oven, silver cleaners etc.) there are some essential oils and other materials (baking soda, lemon, vinegar) found in our kitchens which can be used for the preparation of many household cleaners.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu. This word was chosen as name for the free, open source operating system based on Linux which is distributed free of charge and can be improved by any programmer wishing to participate in the development team. Ubuntu in the language of the African tribe Zulu means “I am what I am because of what we all are”. At the following video one of the most known and charismatic personalities of Africa, Nelson Mandela explains the meaning of the word ubuntu and speaks about its message. Solidarity, respect, sharing, offer, care, trust, unselfishness are concepts embodied by the word ubuntu.
Aromatherapy is governed by these concepts.

Do detergents contain essential oils?

You are asking my opinion about the product series called “aromatherapy” advertised by some companies producing clothing detergents and softeners. I couldn’t know if those particular companies use in their products pure essential oils which are the only ones having beneficial properties.
I have to admit that I was positively impressed by the website of Unilever which has a list of ingredients for all its products. For example, at the list of ingredients of the product “OMO with jasmine and lavender essential oils” there is no clear reference to pure essential oils. Geraniol is contained but this is only one of the 28 components of lavender oil that act in synergy. If you search the web or contact the rest of the companies you may find similar constituent lists.

Aromatherapy while ironing!

Do you know that you can enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy even during housekeeping?
Some time ago I started using essential oils in ironing water, approximately 6-7 drops per 150 ml. The results are amazing! Lavender is giving a wonderful scent to my clothes while at the same time it has antimicrobial and antifungal action. I also noticed that the use of lavender essential oil prevents the concentration of salt on the iron plate even when tab water is used instead of distilled. And do not forget that the difused vapour inhaled when ironing is bearing all the beneficial properties of the essential oils used.If you do not like the scent of avender you can use orange (especially for children's clothes), eukalyptus, or juniper (very beneficial if you are ironing while having a cold).
Experiment with the essential oils of your preference and ironing will no longer be a dull household activity!




(Picture found here)

Baby massage

If you are a parent, a wonderful way to enhance the emotional bond between you and your baby is to incorporate into its everyday treatment routine a relaxing massage. Your caress can offer your baby calmness, relief if it is suffering from colic aches and/or constipation, muscle and nervous system strengthening, enhanced blood circulation, better quality and longer duration of sleep.

Which is your environmental footprint?

Would you like to know if you are environmentally conscious?
Here you are given the opportunity to find out what is the effect of your way of life on Earth's natural resources stock through an original questionnaire. Fill it in, see the result and you may reconsider many of your everyday habits.
If after this test you feel the need to come closer to nature but conditions do not allow that, light up the diffuser, drip 5-6 drops of essential oils cypress, juniper or eukalyptus and feel the reinvigorative power of forests in your room!

Happiness aroma!

The current period is for many people one of the less pleasant and carefree. However do not let difficult circumstances and negative feelings weigh you down!
There are ways to lift your mood after a difficult day and one of those is of course aromatherapy.
Other essential oils that will make you feel more optimistic are neroli, ylang ylang, bergamot and jasmin.

Methods of using essential oils

In order to enjoy the beneficial properties of aromatherapy use one of the following methods:
  • Massage (with a blend of essential oils and base oil): relaxes the muscles, calms and rests the mind, helps release depressed and negative feelings, acts effectively against cellulite, improves blood and lymph circulation and enhances detoxification of the body.
  • Bath (a few drops of essential oils in the tub or on the sponge are adequate): relaxes and refreshes the body, lifts the mood.
  • Inhalations (add essential oils in a bowl with hot water or a special diffuser): beneficial for respiratory problems, colds and cough. The method of warm vapors can be used for cleaning the face skin.
  • Compress: effective for dealing with headaches, relieving muscle pains and skin irritations, lowering fever.
  • Room fresheners: create pleasant atmosphere at home or your office, enhance concentration and creative thinking, act as natural insect repellants and microbicides.
  • Production of natural cosmetics: body and face creams, shampoo, hair conditioner, oils for cellulite treatment, bath gels, perfumes, lip balms etc.
There are many essential oils from which you can choose and ask your aromatherapist to create your own personal blends that will cover your unique emotional, spiritual and body needs.
It is important that you always insist on the use of certified, top quality essential oils.

Counter indications of essential oils

The use of essential oils is indicated for treating and alleviating the symptoms of many body and mental problems. However when essential oils are not used properly they may be harmful. For that reason prior to using any essential oils, especially when intending to apply them on the face or body, please consult a certified aromatherapist.
Some cases where the use of essential oils is prohibited or special caution is required are:
  • Infants under 6 months old,
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding periods,
  • Epilepsy,
  • Diabetes,
  • Heart diseases,
  • High or very low blood pressure,
  • Asthma,
  • Recent surgical operations and wounds,
  • Heavy mental disorders,
  • Chronic disease such as cancer.
Essential oils must be kept out of reach of children and pets. They do have expiration date and in order to ensure their quality and effectiveness they must be kept in a cool and dark place, in glass, dark coloured bottles.
When you are buying essential oils check if on the label is explicitly written that they are pure – and preferably organic. Unfortunately many adulterated with chemicals or second class essential oils are sold which offer no benefit. On the contrary they could be very aggravating for the body.

How do essential oils act

The use of essential oils covers a vast field and can be applied either as a deep and penetrating treatment method or as an art for producing fine perfumes and other beauty and relaxation products.
Main objective of aromatherapy is to enhance the self-curing functions of the organism by stimulating the immune system.

What are essential oils

Plants contain aromatic, high concentration, volatile substances that are called essential oils. These substances perform various functions. For example some are part of the plant’s immune system or the final metabolic product. It is said that essential oils are a plant’s hormones. They define the distinctive scent of each plant and contain all therapeutic essences. Essential oils contain hundreds of orgnanic matter in very small amounts; hormones, vitamins and other natural elements that act in various levels. Essential oils are 75 to 100 times more concentrated than oils derived from dried herbs.
Microscopic secretory glands containing essential oils are situated in various parts of a plant. Therefore the essential oils can be extracted from the leaves (eucalyptus, geranium, peppermint, thyme), the seeds (juniper, lemon, bergamot), the blossomed tops (lavender), the petals (rose, jasmine, chamomile), the roots (vetiver, iris, ginger), the fruit peels (orange, bitter orange), the resin (myrrh, frankincense, pine) and the bark (sandalwood, cedarwood).
Essential oils can help modern people find and maintain mental, physical and emotional stability and equilibrium in the most natural way. They constitute essence of Nature and bear all its wisdom, balancing and healing powers. In a very short time essential oils can infiltrate your body and arise senses, regulate functions and relieve stress and pain.
The chemists of the 18th century used the following symbol for essential oils:


What is aromatherapy

Aromatic plants where used for their therapeutic, preservative and pleasing properties throughout the entire history of mankind. The systematic study and recording of plants and their use has led to the art of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural aromatic essential oils in order to enhance and maintain good physical, emotional and mental health. It is part of a holistic approach and has better results when affecting simultaneously body and soul. For that reason its main methods of application are massage and inhalations.
One characteristic that makes aromatherapy fascinating is the endless potential of choosing and mixing essential oils. Aromatherapy is thus a field of inexhaustible experimentation and an enchanting journey of senses, where everyone is invited to find his/her unique combination of pleasant scent and therapeutic effectiveness. Most first records of Aromatherapy uses have been found in Egypt’s temple and pyramid ruins. Ancient Egyptians had created an extensive commercial network for importing vegetable raw material which they used to produce essential oils, therapeutic and beauty blends which they then exported all over the world. The popular blend Kyphi, used in the temples of ancient Egypt,contained spikenard, the essential oil of a plant growing only on the Himalayas.
Aromatherapy was introduced into modern era by the French pharmacist Rene Gattefosse in the 1920s. While he was working in the lab he incidentally burned his hand. Instinctively he seeked comfort in a bowl containing lavender essential oil. The soothing effect of lavender on his hand led Gattefosse to further research and experiments concerning essential oils. The persons who carried on with Gattefosse’s research where Dr Jean Valnet, a doctor that used essential oils for treating wounded soldiers in the 1st World War and Marguerite Maury who introduced essential oils in beauty treatments. The modern practice of aromatherapy as a combination of essential oils and massage techniques was developed in the 1960s.

New Year Aroma!

Year 2010 has arrived and along with it the idea for a new blog named Aromatherapy Cosmos. As stated by its name main theme of this blog is aromatherapy, which has gained great popularity over the last years. Print and electronic media usually refer to aromatherapy as mainly a method for relaxation and cosmetic treatment. Those are however not its only uses. Aromatherapy is also a natural therapeutic method – always used complementary to medical science – which acts in a holistic way benefiting the body, the emotional world and the energy of a patient.
I came across aromatherapy a few years ago and I can say with certainty that my involvement with it enriched my life in various ways.
The objective of this blog is to attract you to aromatherapy’s fragrant and enigmatic world.
Enjoy your reading!