Flower Power: Essential Oils and Flower Essences for Healing
Essential oils and flower essences are two great ways to take advantage of nature’s healing qualities. Did you ever notice how a scent can transport you back in time, right to the very place where you first experienced it? Or how the smell of apple pie brings your grandma right back to you? Aromas can affect the body and the mind in more than just a pleasant way. Essential oils, also known as aromatherapy, can have a significant effect on your physical and emotional well-being.
Flower essences are similarly powerful. They are great for healing from emotional and mental conditions of all types, from the simple to the complex. Since our emotions can affect us physically, they can also aid in recovering from physical conditions. Let’s explore these two healing tools!
Essential oils are extracted from aromatic plants for medicinal purposes. The oils can be present in various parts of the plant, like the leaves, seeds, flowers, roots, and bark. Steam distillation is one of the most common methods for extracting the oils from the plants. If done properly, it will retain the character of the oils in their full potency.
Essential oils are therapeutic-grade oils and are not to be confused with perfume. Ancient cultures actually made perfume from essential oils, but modern perfumes are generally chemical imitations. In fact, any skin or beauty product that lists the term “fragrance” without specifying what the fragrance comes from is a chemical imitation, or has chemical boosters to “stretch” the scent. These boosters often include dangerous chemicals like phthalates that are known hormone disruptors.
The quality, purity and authenticity of essential oils should be of prime importance to anyone using them to achieve a desired effect. The quality starts with the plants themselves. The plants must be strong, healthy, and thriving in their natural habitat. They must be harvested at the correct time of year and even the correct time of day. The best extraction process needs to be determined for each type of plant. The oils must be carefully stored—bottled in glass and protected from heat and light. Essential oils made with these methods will be higher in price, but far better in quality.
Certain natural chemical constituents of essential oils including phenols and ketones can be hazardous if used incorrectly. Phenols are powerful antiseptics and bactericides and oils containing them should be used in small amounts for short periods of time. Some oils that have phenols are basil, clove, oregano and thyme. Ketones are cell-regenerative and break up congestion and fats. They may have safety considerations and so should be used in small amounts and avoided during pregnancy. Some oils that have ketones are sage, cedar leaf, peppermint and fennel. Quality oils can be very potent so should always be kept out of the reach of children, used with caution around pets, and kept away from the eyes.
Pure, undiluted oils can be kept for years if they are properly stored in a cool, dry place and kept tightly capped. Improper storing of oils can cause them to oxidize and go rancid.
Essential oils is can be used in a variety of ways. You can disperse the aroma with a diffuser that has a cool stream of air or a gentle warming of the oil. Oils can also be directly inhaled from the bottle. If the oil is not too strong, you can put a few drops on a cotton ball, put it in a baggie, and opened to sniff it. The oils will retain their potency for about a week this way.
Some oils can be applied directly to the skin, but make sure you check a knowledgeable source before you do this. More commonly, oils are diluted in a carrier oil such as grapeseed, jojoba, almond, apricot kernel, coconut, or other oil. It is important to use a quality oil that is nourishing to the skin. The combination can then be used for massage, a chest rub, foot rub, or as body oil. Oils can also be used in the bath, sauna or even as a foot bath. Many of the oils can also be used as perfume.
The best thing about the oils is they have therapeutic properties in addition to their beautiful, comforting scents. Below are some common conditions and the oils that are recommended for them. This is just a sampling:
Antivirals—Tea Tree, Ravensara, Thyme, Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lavenders, or Bay Laurel.
Antibacterials—Oregano, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Clove Bud, or Cinnamon Bark.
Stress Relief—Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Sandalwood, Rose, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Fir, Ylang Ylang, Cedar, Geranium, Jasmine, Orange Sweet, Patchouli, Basil, Black Spruce, Vanilla, or Vetiver. Some great combination oils for stress are Anxiety Rescue, Balancing, Meditation, Peace & Quiet, Peace of Mind, and Stress Relief by Oshadhi.
Fatigue—Rosemary, Black Pepper, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Black Spruce, Ginger, Tea Tree, Lemon, Pine, or Thyme.
Motivation—Rosemary, Clove, Tea Tree, or Thyme. The combo Morning Motivation and Prosperity will also get you going.
Mental Clarity/Concentration—Basil, Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus Globulis, or Thyme. A great combo oil is Clarity, which helps with studying and focus.
A flower essence is exactly what it sounds like—the essence of a flower. They are liquid, potentized plant preparations that impart the direct imprint of a flower. Flower essences work on the emotional or energetic body rather than the physical body as a vitamin would. There is a flower essence for literally any emotional or mental issue that exists. They were originally created by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930’s. Some people may be familiar with the Bach essences, but there are many other lines of flower essences as well.
Flower essences are made by collecting flowers at their peak blossom and making a water infusion from them as they are laid in water in the sunlight. This way the energy of the flower is transferred to the water. A mother tincture is made and then diluted to stock level. It is then preserved with alcohol.
Flower essences are extremely gentle. They work on the emotional body in a subtle way. They can be used with any vitamin, herb, homeopathic remedy or prescription drug without interaction. Because they are so gentle, they are also appropriate for children.
People, especially children, are very good at choosing their own flower essences. Children are generally more in tune with their intuition and are great at this. You can choose an essence by looking up a particular issue and seeing what essences fit with that issue. There may be more than one essence that resonates with you. You can combine as many as 7 essences together. There are also pre-made combinations that help with issues like grief, motivation, and opening the heart.
You can put flower essences under your tongue, or put them in your water and sip throughout the day. It is important to repeat the essences at least twice each day, as well as to be mindful of why you are taking it.
Be sure to finish the bottle when taking a flower essence unless you just have a sense that you are done with the issue. Many times the progress on an issue is very subtle, but once a bottle is completed you should feel the effect.
As I mentioned above, there are literally hundreds of essences that can assist with virtually any mental or emotional issue you are dealing with. Here is just a sampling:
Buttercup—Calms feelings of low self-worth, the inability to honor your own uniqueness, and the release of the need for outer recognition or fame.
Elm—Helps those who feel unequal to the task of personal or work obligations. Alleviates a feeling of being overwhelmed and allows you to have the faith and confidence to get through.
Gorse—Enhances the positive qualities of conviction and hope, and increases optimism. Especially helpful for those who are worried about the world and have trouble imagining positive outcomes.
Impatiens–Alleviates impatience, irritability, intolerance, and always thinking there is not enough time. Helps us to be harmonious with daily rhythms, life events, and the pace of others.
Pretty Face—For those who feel rejected based on physical appearance. Increases focus on inner beauty.
If you want to learn more about using essential oils and flower essences, come to one or both of our October programs: Aromatherapy for Gift Making or Flower Essences for Emotional Well-Being. You can sign up for either on our events page.