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Crafting Wellness: Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy

We all know that magical feeling when a smell transports us to another place. Sometimes it happens unexpectedly when the breeze covers you in a scent it carried from afar or when you get a waft from someones kitchen, but its a special feeling to reconnect with a plant you haven’t seen or smelled in a long time. Aromatherapy is a powerful source of medicine for the mind and for the heart!  There are a lot of ways to use aromatherapy, I will discuss a few options below, but I encourage you to explore…

Essential oils are becoming more and more popular, but unfortunately most people aren’t receiving the proper education on how to use this powerful and potent plant matter–so let’s cover that first. Essential oils are highly concentrated medicine. It sometimes takes thousands of pounds of plant matter to make just one ounce of oil, so consider how much energy is in each drop. I discourage taking essential oils internally and recommend only using them topically when diluted with a carrier oil (apricot is my favorite carrier). 
Using them: You can evaporate essential oils in a diffuser to fill your room with the gentle smells of comfort, you can add a blend of oils to a carrier to use on your skin or smell through the day. You can add essential oils to a bath and really surround yourself with a full exploration of the healing that plant has to offer. You can even put a few drops into a salve and use that whenever its needed, I have a lavender rose balm that I use all the time for those moments when life is moving faster than I am able to. (See my article on infusing oils for more information on salves)

Which scent to use:

There are so many oils and pre-made blends out there already it can be overwhelming. Here is a quick reference for some that I have used successfully and love.

For calming/sleep: think lovely and tender, flowers are great for this! Rose, Lavender, Sandalwood, Chamomile, Vetiver, Ylang-Ylang, Bergamont, Valerian

For grounding: think trees and rooting yourself into the earth.. Spruce, Pine, Juniper, Poplar (my favorite, but be careful with Poplar, it is powerful! Often used for deep trauma)

For Uplifting the spirit: think zest, a little pick me up, a happy scent… Citrus! Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Geranium, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, and Mint

Please Note: Because essential oils are such potent material, many are not safe for use with children or pregnant women!

Dream Pillow: For sleep, burning essential oils is great, but its not your only option. You can place a drop near your pillow or on your sheets. Or you can defer to my very favorite comforting sleep treatment, the faithful Dream Pillow!  Check out Claire’s How to: article for more information on making these! Some herbs I use for mine are Rose, Lavender, Jasmine, Valerian, and Juniper.

Now this is a wild idea, but stick with me here. Aromatherapy comes from plants that grow in nature, so it can be best to get your full dose by actually going out in nature! When you are down sometimes even the idea of getting out of your bed sounds like such a challenge, but even a simple walk around the block will have you discovering smells you had completely forgotten about, just keep your focus on the plants. I know Spring and Summer here in Portland gives us a lot to smell and appreciate! If you see a flower trying to grab your attention, stop and say hi. Maybe there is a tree on your block and you had that same species growing in your yard as a child, sit by it for a moment. Rosemary grows abundantly as do mints and lavender when the season is right. When you are on a walk and need a companion pinch a small bud off the bush and toss it in your pocket. You can roll it between your fingers, waft it under your nose or maybe you will forget about it and find it in your pocket next time you put on that jacket, what a treat that is! The plants have a lot to offer, so feel free to stop and listen.

There are so many ways to use aromatherapy in your daily life. Explore and you will find many scents that are very unique to you and your experiences. For me, the smell of fresh cut wood or dirt on a baseball field makes me feel at ease every time. What smells bring you to your happy place?


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Vicky Madruga

Nothing has ever made me feel quite as accepted as when the plants began to invite me into their family. Working with herbs has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I believe that if we truly listen they will share worlds of ancient secrets and magic with us. My path into herbalism began years ago when I found I had wandered into an herb shop not knowing why or what I was looking for. I spoke with a woman revealing parts of myself I had no intention of letting anyone into and I left with my first plant allies that stay true to my heart this day. Finding comfort in a cup of tea or strength in a formula is like basking in the sun on a warm day or smelling the salt in the air as you approach the ocean. I strive to bring that feeling to those around me through the plants and the energy and body work I perform.

The plants have been with us all through our life, but sometimes we lose that connection and I feel a special gift to offer that back to those who need it. Exploring the world feeds my soul and helps me to better understand where my place in this healing community is. When I traveled through South America, I had the privilege to work with Shamans and participate in many plant ceremonies. I learned to honor the land and honor my body. During this time I also received my first Reiki attunement and began to harness my powers as an energy worker and further develop my meditation and techniques for grounding and healing.

As an herbalist, cranial sacral therapist and energy worker I believe in a holistic approach to treating the body and find that herbal medicine is both gentle and powerfully profound in this realm. I feel lucky to hear the plants and to share their wonders and joys with those around me.

I feel a gift in connecting with people and am so grateful to work in a field that I respect and love so much.

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