Well, I certainly received a lot of feedback from last month’s newsletter, Me First Darling. It seems I’m not alone in feeling this Spring has been a high stress time and some of us needed a reminder to slow down, and even permission to put our own needs first! Along those lines, I have some more to share this month about ways to self-care.
Now that Summer is here and we are taking time to relax andput ourselves first (see last month’s newsletter) I’m going to share some natural healthy ways to self-care through this season.
The natural healing benefits of Aromatherapy can be used by all. Many of us are apprehensive about using essential oils as they are strong chemicals, but there are safer and easier ways for the general public to benefit from the healing power of aromatics. One thing I love to do when in Ottawa is visit the Experimental Garden. This month the rose garden is in full bloom. Roses are my personal favorite flower, so often after work I’ll stop by the gardens to literally take time “to smell the roses”. This is a wonderful way to change gears between work and home time. The scent of roses brings in a natural peace and harmony. In fact, I use roses as part of my Quit Smoking Program with clients. And in the organic gardens you can enjoy the aroma of herbs, which has me then racing home to dinner!
In Vancouver, I like to go down to the water and breathe in the uplifting aroma of cedar wood. In fact, when you step out of the airport the smell of cedar fills the air. This clean aroma always lifts my spirits and I always feel energized after getting off the plane!
Around the home I use hydrosols. The water that remains after producing an essential oil via steam or water distillation is known as a hydrosol. Hydrosols are sometimes referred to as floral water, distillate water or hydrolats. Hydrosol is a chemistry term meaning ‘water solution’. The plant matter used in essential oil distillation imparts a wonderful aroma to the water. These hydrosols also offer therapeutic benefits and are sold for aromatherapy and cosmetic use. Their properties are not identical to the essential oils, but do resemble them closely. Examples of commonly available hydrosols are rose, roman chamomile, neroli, lavender, melissa, rosemary, sage, juniper, and thyme. There are many others available including such unusual varieties such as black spruce and sweet-grass.
So, how can you use them? Hydrosols may be used in place of water in creating facial toners and other skin care products. You may have guessed by now, that I use rosewater as a facial toner. Put rosewater on a cotton pad or ball and wipe your face after cleansing and before you use your moisturizer. If you have oily skin, use witch-hazel hydrosol. Sensitive or mature skin will enjoy the benefits of neroli or orange blossom.
Hydrosols may also be added to the bath and used as a light cologne or body spray. The florals are preferred for this. Hydrosols or floral waters may also be used as the basis of a room spray. Check out student Aromatherapist Denise’s recipe, ”A Walk in the Woods” in our Recipes section. Emma Fairbrass, Certified Aromatherapist, likes to use rosewater (diluted in ordinary tap water) in finger bowls and float a few petals in each bowl for elegant dinner parties. With barbeque season, it may be fun to put out some finger-bowls with a little hydrosol in the water. Perhaps something like rosemary and float a little piece of the herb in. Don’t forget to have some small hand-towels or face clothes available!
Hydrosols may be bought in specialty stores or on-line. However I will often pick-up floral waters from middle-eastern super markets. I use quite a bit of rosewater and this way it is very affordable.
A couple of summers ago I carried a bottle of neroli hydrosol spray with me and found it to be a fabulous cool down when having hot flashes! A number of clients tried it and found it effective too, plus it smells great. Neroli is orange blossom, so in the middle-eastern stores look for the label “orange flower water”. A teaspoon of either rose or orange blossom floral water in your iced-tea is delicious and your friends will wonder how you prepared this elegant drink!
Note that hydrosols are best stored in the refrigerator and used within one year of distillation. Old hydrosols lose some aroma and some of their therapeutic value, so don’t throw them out. You may be use in the bath or in room fountains.
I trust you will enjoy having fun with flowers in all sorts of ways this summer. Let us know at SCT how you brought the benefits of natural easy aromatherapy into your summer routines. And don’t forget; if you have any questions about aromatherapy, please contact us and if your question is chosen, we’ll answer in the Ask the Aromatherapistsection of the Newsletter.
Keep in touch,