Sugar Alcohol Syndrome
Notes From The Field
An Open Letter to Mother
Here's What's New!
The New Aromatherapy
Jonny Bowden Weighs In
It's A Jungle Out There
5 Ways to Beautiful Skin
Make It Low Carb!
Snapshot: Longhorn Steaks
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"The hardest thing in life to learn is
which bridge to cross and which to burn."
— David Russell
Aromatherapy. Just the word conjures, in our minds, hosts of generally negative
images of hippie-type people who avoid shoes and feast on sprout and tofu sandwiches
with their pale, thin fingers.
Actually, aromatherapy and the use of essential
oils for health and wellness is a very old tradition in many cultures and the
principles are biologically sound. When you wear a nicotine patch, you are
participating in a form of aromatherapy. Cleaning-product sickies… Good Ol'
Aromatherapy involves the interaction of natural compounds (essential oils)
with the body. Often, these interactions do proceed through the olfactory
("aroma" therapy) area — this is the only sense that connects directly, via
the limbic region, with the body's inner self. Other senses send signals
through a series of middlemen that muddy up the original message. The
action of aromatherapy involves the deepest, most primal regions of yourself.
Hope you don't have intimacy issues…
Essential oils are compounds derived from various parts of plants. They are
tiny, fat-soluble molecules that evaporate rapidly and quickly penetrate the
skin. In fact, physical application generally requires using a carrier oil —
a nut or vegetable oil that retards essential oil evaporation and allows them
to be spread over a large area of the body. Past the skin, they are carried
by the blood to their targets of action, where the oils work their wonders.
Some oils boost, some suppress, some modify, some balance. Given our complex
(or chaotic) innards, single oils usually have multiple effects and some may
even seem contradictory — lemon oil can act both as a relaxer and a booster.
Called "adaptogens" some oils, such as lemon, function to balance. Lemon
relaxes when the body is over stimulated and boosts when fatigue rules the
Because each body system can influence the others, oils operate holistically
to address conditions and infirmities. Sometimes, a single oil will work to
ease a complaint. A drop of marjoram oil on a pillow can ease insomnia.
Sometimes, a combination of oils is used, with several systems being influenced
at once to produced an overall, net effect — a blend of bergamot, clary sage
and Roman chamomile is also effective in treating insomnia.
For low carb dieters, certain difficulties can be made easier through the use
of aromatherapy. Appetite control, water retention and/or constipation,
cellulite, self-esteem and self-image, self-anger or blame, obsessive/compulsive
behaviors and, even, stretch marks are complaints that have been successfully
treated with aromatherapy. However, as with traditional medicines, the glove
does not every hand fit; different individuals respond with more or less success
to specific blends and experimentation is required to individually tailor the
For individuals seeking to explore the area of aromatherapy to enhance their low
carb lifestyle, choosing the right caliber of oil is critical for success.
Fragrance and flavor oils are not the same as essential oils and do not offer
the same therapeutic benefits.
Essential oils are not necessarily expensive,
but they are not free either. Discount stores, department stores and personal
care retailers at the mall rarely offer true essential oils or blends. Further,
any price that looks too good to be true — is. Often, unscrupulous suppliers
will dilute essential oils with cheap base oils and offer them at cut-rate
prices. Artificial fragrances may be added, or several cheap oils blended to
produce a similar odor to a more expensive oil. Essential oils vary in cost
based on the identity of the oil. Avoid any retailer who offers their essential
oils for a single price. For both essential oils and carrier oils, you will get
what you pay for. Like love, hold out for the real thing. You'll be happier
in the end…
Using Essential Oils
— Many methods exist to successfully use essential oils
and some are more appropriate for a complaint than others. Generally, they
can be divided into 2 categories: airborne transmission and direct
— The essential oil molecules evaporate quickly when
exposed to air or heat and pass through the nasal tissue easily. Taking a
quick whiff from an open bottle or sniffing an anointed cotton ball/tissue
are two quick and effective methods for experiencing the oil's properties.
Diffusers are the traditional method to disperse essential oils throughout
a room. They are easy to use (water, oil, candle) and offer the additional
benefit of aesthetics. They are often nicely carved, formed, sculpted, etc.
into lovely objects d'arts that can enhance any room. Nebulizers work by
attaching a bottle of a single or blended oil to the device, which sprays
a mist of the oil into the room. - more expensive and decidedly homely,
but quite efficient.
For the quick-and-dirty-minded, a few drops of oil
on a cotton ball placed on a radiator or heating pipe will also mobilize
the troops. Light an unscented candle and just as the wax begins to
melt, add a drop or two of oil to the melted wax (do not allow to contact
the wick as the oils are flammable.) Ceramic or metal rings are sold
that fit over standard light bulbs. Add a few drops of oil to the ring
and turn on the light to suffuse the room.
Prepare a room spray by filling
a plant mister with a few drops of oil diluted in water. Essential oils
can even be added to the wood in a fireplace to aromatize the area when
the fire is burning.
— Essential oils are not often used directly on the skin
as (a) some are skin irritants and (b) their already high rate of evaporation
is increased by rubbing. Carrier oils allow for the safe and efficient
application of the oils and offer nutritional benefits to the skin and body,
as well. Massage works the essential oils into the skin and can target
specific areas of affliction. This is a good choice for areas exhibiting
swelling, aches or pains, bruises, rashes, cellulite, etc.
essential oil(s) in a carrier oil and massage into the afflicted area
or over the entire body, as the condition warrants or whenever you're
significant other is looking particularly succulent. Incorporate oils
into homemade or purchased body splashes, hand creams, shampoos/conditioners,
shower gels and lotions. Oils can be applied through baths and showers -
Warm baths or showers allow for quick evaporation and airborne transmission,
while, the oils can move through the skin via soaking or active rubbing.
Storage is important to the life of essential oils. They should be kept
tightly sealed in amber or cobalt bottles, away from heat and light. Cap
the bottle immediately after use to limit evaporation (envision winged
dollars flying out of the bottles).
Proper storage also ensures a long
shelf life. You may wish to purchase empty bottles with or without dropper
inserts. These allow you to create pre-mixed oil blends that you can store
for multiple applications. Make sure to label these bottles with their
appropriate application — mistaking your diuretic blend for your anti-diarrhea
blend will not bring joy to your day.
Even though oils are plant-derived, one should not view them as harmless.
Certain oils are poisonous at even moderate dosages and others are
contraindicated for certain health conditions. Stimulating blend + weak
heart = ambulance ride. Some oils have interactions with prescription
drugs. Also, pregnant women should research carefully using a specific
oil or blend, as little will prevent these oils from crossing the placental
membrane. Further, certain dosages or oils are not indicated for use on
children or the elderly or infirm. Options are available, though, for
almost any special situation.
The Internet and your local library can provide you with many resources
for aromatherapy techniques, recipes, roles of specific oils and
resources for purchases. Software exists for the personal computer
and the PDA. Consult the Yellow Pages for practicing aromatherapists
or holistic healers who may be able to offer advice or provide a
consultation. With a little footwork (or keyboard work), you can work
to remedy some of the problems and concerns that are aggravated by a
low carb life or prompted the turn towards low carb living in the first
So... what's that scent? Hey, its you!
Copyright © May 2004 Cerise Cauthron and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury