Ignite Your Wellbeing

An Ancient Art Approach to Good Health

Aromatherapy an Overview

Where do you find stillness? How do you ease your racing thoughts in your life? The physical and mental body is adversely affected by stress, pollution, unhealthy diets, and hectic yet sedentary lifestyle.

One of my favourite ways to create calmness in my life is through Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is a complementary holistic therapy that uses natural plant oils in the form of essential oils. The value of natural plant oils has been recognised for more than 6000 years, not only for the sheer pleasure of their fragrance but mostly for their healing, cleansing or mood-altering properties. Today’ science validates all of the above mentioned properties and so much more.

Aromatherapy aims to enhance and/or balance a person’s physical, spiritual, emotional and mental capacity. Although it can act as a preventive to disease state, Aromatherapy ignites your wellbeing by improving mental and physical health. It does that through the specific qualities of the essential oils being used either through massage or inhalation. Although these qualities aim to stimulate, refresh or sedate an individual, in rare cases they may also lead to adverse reactions.

Essential oils are highly potent and in some cases may cause allergic skin reaction. That is why at BIBI Therapy we always take your health history before your aromatic treatment as well as we skin patch test for possible allergic reaction to the essential oils to be used.

Historical Perspective

Historically, the origins of aromatherapy use can be traced trough the religious, medical and social practices. It is believed that the remarkable medicinal powers of plants have been discovered in ancient China around 4500 B.C. However, the Egyptian hieroglyphs and current research indicate that the ritual of mummification using plant-based oils aromatic preparations was very well established by 4500 B.C. (Jones et al, 2018).

Since then, great herbalists as well as scientists throughout the world have uncovered many stunning uses of plants in the form of essential oils. The application of aromatherapy from embalming to beauty and ultimately to health and well-being is constantly evolving as contemporary research makes use of novel technologies and increased understanding of human body.

Why Do We Feel so Good after Having an Aromatherapy Session?

Is there such a thing as good health (Fred, 2013)? An ancient quote on best health is attributed to Agamemnon:

There is a limit to the best of health: disease is always a near neighbor.”

For me the absence of pain is essential for wellbeing as pain is often debilitating both physically and mentally. The antinociceptive or pain reducing qualities of essential oils have only been recently validated by modern science.

The power of touch during a massage session has inestimable values. But it is our own brain that transforms the touch into feel good sensation. All those tight muscles, tension and stress melt away all because the brain, through its autonomic nervous system. This system engages in involuntary processes that calm down the mental activity, decreasing the blood pressure, slowing the pulse rate and ultimately leading to relaxation and tranquillity. Furthermore, there is a healing effect that is induced within the body during an aromatic massage therapy:

Here are some well researched and documented reasons as to why aromatherapy massage is effectively enjoyable:

  1. Massages stretches and pulls muscles accelerating the healing process (Crane et al, 2012);
  2. The combination of gentle massage and essential oils ameliorates the effects of arthritis (Bahr et al, 2018)
  3. Back and foot massage effectively improves blood pressure and sleep quality (Arslan et al, 2020);
  4. Manual therapies, including but not limited to massage therapy, for migraine sufferers may be equally effective as medication treatment (Chaibi, et al, 2011);
  5. Aromatherapy massage alleviates psychological and physiological responses for older women suffering from anxiety and depression (Bahrami et al, 2017)
  6. Abdominal aromatic essential oil massage is an effective way to relieve throbbing pain in primary dysmenorrhea (Ou et al, 2012; Sut et al, 2017).

Resources

Arslan, G., Ceyhan, Ö., & Mollaoğlu, M. (2020). The influence of foot and back massage on blood pressure and sleep quality in females with essential hypertension: a randomized controlled study. Journal of human hypertension, 10.1038/s41371-020-0371-z. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41371-020-0371-z

Bahrami, T., Rejeh, N., Heravi-Karimooi, M., Vaismoradi, M., Tadrisi, S. D., & Sieloff, C. (2017). Effect of aromatherapy massage on anxiety, depression, and physiologic parameters in older patients with the acute coronary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. International journal of nursing practice, 23(6), 10.1111/ijn.12601. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijn.12601

Bahr, T., Allred, K., Martinez, D., Rodriguez, D., & Winterton, P. (2018). Effects of a massage-like essential oil application procedure using Copaiba and Deep Blue oils in individuals with hand arthritis. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 33, 170–176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.10.004

Chaibi, A., Tuchin, P. J., & Russell, M. B. (2011). Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review. The journal of headache and pain, 12(2), 127–133. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10194-011-0296-6

Crane, J. D., Ogborn, D. I., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., Bourgeois, J. M., & Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2012). Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage. Science translational medicine, 4(119), 119ra13. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3002882,

Fred H. L. (2013). In good health: an opinion at best. Texas Heart Institute journal, 40(1), 13–14.

Jones, J., Higham, T. F.G., Chivall, D., Bianucci, R., Kay, G. L., Pallen, M. J., Oldfield, R., Ugliano F., Buckley S. A. (2018). A prehistoric Egyptian mummy: Evidence for an ‘embalming recipe’ and the evolution of early formative funerary treatments, Journal of Archaeological Science, 100, 191-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2018.07.011.

Sut, N., & Kahyaoglu-Sut, H. (2017). Effect of aromatherapy massage on pain in primary dysmenorrhea: A meta-analysis. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 27, 5–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.01.001

Ou, M. C., Hsu, T. F., Lai, A. C., Lin, Y. T., & Lin, C. C. (2012). Pain relief assessment by aromatic essential oil massage on outpatients with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. The journal of obstetrics and gynaecology research, 38(5), 817–822. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0756.2011.01802.x

Secrets of a Sticky Weed

Spring is here and with it Weeeeeeds!

They are everywhere.

I hate them! I love them! I hate them I …..use their secrets holistically!

You guessed, I have again the Herbalist Hat on.

Today I choose one weed that used to bother me a lot in the past.

It turned out that it was the weed that my body needed the most in the process of recovering from some serious autoimmune illnesses I have been blessed with.

This plant, Cleavers (Galium aparine), is known under many different names including sticky weed, Velcro plant or goose grass. It grows everywhere in my garden and I cannot say it is my favourite. Every time I collect it, inevitably I also get a little skin irritation.

The plant is edible, leaves, stems as well as the fruits, mostly cooked. Due to its clinging nature (Auld B.A. and Medd, 1987) it is less palatable when attempting to eat it raw.

This sticky plant harbours many secrets. The ancient Greeks used the stems in the form of a coarse colander to strain milk. In Anatolia the plant is known these days as the Yogurt plant, because of an enzyme that curdles the milk. Similar uses of the plant are in practice in Sweden as well.

Benefits. Current research on Cleavers and its use for human consumption is sparse. However, the very many chemical constituents, including but not limited to monotropein, asperuloside, tannins, flavonoids or polyphenolic acids (Deliorman et al, 2001) demonstrate that the plant pharmacological properties are yet to be demonstrated by the modern science. Therefore the secrets this plant possess are about to be unveiled by modern science.

Given the lack of substantiated evidence I will mention only the very well-known applications of Galium aparine (Maud, 1971), as outlined below:

  • Slimming effect: possible due to the asperuloside component, known to increase metabolic rate in mammals;
  • Supports the lymphatic system
    • Promotes lymphatic drainage;
    • Breaks up lymphatic congestion (enlarged lymph nodes) especially in the pelvis,
    • Acts in general as a lymphatic tonic;
  • Diuretic;
  • Choleretic: it stimulates the flow of the bile;
  • Can be used as a coffee substitute: dried and roasted fruits of the cleavers;
  • Its medicinal effects are great if used in soups;
  • Cosmetic benefits
    • Hair tonic : rinsing the hair with cleavers tea infusion;
    • Facial rejuvenation and anti-wrinkles action.

The plant has no known toxicity and has no contraindications.

Best ways to use the plant is to drink a stronger infusion during the day.

Harvesting the plant: should be performed while the plant is in the growing stage with its bright green foliage.

How to use it: Teas and facial cleanser

#1 Diuretic Cleavers Infusion Tea

  • 3 table spoon of dried plant
  • 500 ml boiling water ;
  • Let it sit for a good 20 minute;
  • Strain and drink throughout the day.

This tea is useful to stimulate the lymphatic flow. It has a gentle purgative action due to a chemical in the plant called asperuloside. It also aids the bile. Drink small quantities during the day.

# 2 Natural Facial Cleanser

Cleavers makes an excellent facial cleanser and wash. The chemical components in the form of acids, polyphenolic, tannic and citric acids help tightening the skin. Excellent against those wrinkles and sags we all want to get rid of as the skins matures due to aging.

  • 1/3 cup of dried Galium aparine
  • 500 ml boiling water
  • Let the plant steep for a good hour
  • Wash the face as you would any other facial cleanser.
  • To be effective it has to be used several times a week.

So what are we all waiting for? Let’s gather Galium aparine before going to seeds and enjoy a detox cuppa!

What a great secret gift we have with this sticky weed.

Disclaimer: I am a qualified holistic wellness, herbalist aromatherapist and nutrition guide; I am not a medical doctor or nurse and do not play one on the internet. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.

References

Auld B.A. and Medd, R. W., Weeds – an illustrated botanical guide to weeds of Australia, 1987, (2nd Ed), Melbourne, Inkata Press. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/9658129?selectedversion=NBD4476220

Deliorman D. et al, Pharmaceutical Biology, 2001:39(3):234-235, Iridoids from Galium aparine. https://doi.org/10.1076/phbi.39.3.234.5928

Grieve, Maud , 1971. “Clivers”. A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folklore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses, Volume 1. Dover Publications. p. 206. ISBN 9780486227986