The use of plant extracts for healing purposes dates back more than 40,000 years ago and was the basis for modern aromatherapy, which has recently been gaining more momentum in the western world. However, the use of herbs and plants to treat emotional, mental and physical ailments has been widespread for thousands of years and there is evidence to demonstrate its use on almost every continent. Let’s take a trip around the world to see how some cultures have relied on aromatherapy!
The ancient Egyptians began to experiment with aromatherapy in 3500 BC when they burned incense in order to send prayers to their gods. A thousand years later, they began to use plant extracts for the purpose of embalming bodies for mummification, and as important healing medicines to treat illness and disease.
The traditional form of Indian medicine is Ayurveda, and essential oils and incense have been used by Ayurvedic practitioners for thousands of years. Aromatherapy has been incorporated into many different treatments for the purpose of aiding psychological and physical ailments, as Ayurveda practitioners believe that herbal ingredients can be used to prevent infections, to cleanse one’s environment and to rejuvenate the body.
Chinese medicine is the second oldest system of medicine and is still prevalent today despite the rise of pharmacology. Chinese practitioners would use sandalwood to treat cholera, and the earliest document on Chinese aromatherapy dates back to 2000 BC.
The ancient Greeks and Romans took the medicine practices of the Egyptians and expanded on their knowledge. Europeans would use plant extracts to purify the mind and soul as well as to treat physical diseases and illnesses, and the Romans exhibited this through their scented baths and body treatments. The Greek physician Hippocrates incorporated plant extracts into his treatments and even advised people to have an aromatic massage a day for general wellness. I think we could all agree with that.
The indigenous people of Australia relied heavily on native plant extracts such as tea tree and eucalyptus oil in order to treat a variety of ailments. The aboriginals have relied on some of the thousands of plant species native to Australia since approximately 40,000 years ago. They continue to be used today for antibacterial and antiviral purposes as their healing properties are still considered miraculous.
The Aztecs would burn incense for religious purposes and used plant extracts for purification of the mind and soul, which was discovered by the conquistadors when they invaded in the 16th century.
Australia is home to some spectacular plant species and animals that are not found on any other continent in the world. The indigenous Australians had unrivaled knowledge of the land and the flora and fauna which grew from it. Their sophisticated understanding of the properties of particular plants and their uses were necessary for survival- particularly for medicinal purposes. Thousands of years later, people are still using natural medicines native to Australia in order to treat skin conditions, symptoms of colds and flu, viruses and infections. Most people would be familiar with quite a few of them.
Eucalyptus oil has been a notable treatment for the symptoms of coughs and colds for thousands of years. Aborigines would use the eucalyptus leaves to prevent infection in wounds and cuts, and people have been amazed by the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus trees are now grown all over the world for their medicinal purposes.
Tea tree Oil
Many aboriginal tribes along the east coast of Australia have utilised tea tree oil to remedy sore throats, to avoid infection in wounds and for anti-viral means. In more recent times, tea tree oil has been validated as antibacterial and as an antiseptic. Essentially, it has countless uses which is why it has been considered as a significantly important medicine since ancient times. Due to the intensity of the plant, it is not meant for ingestion and can only be applied topically.
Witchetty grubs have been a traditional method to treat burns and wounds. A common use of the witchetty grub was to make it into a paste, spread it over the wound/burn and bandage it up for rapid repair. In addition, they have been eaten as food for the nutrition they provide.
The genus of the plant is Eremophilia, and the leaves have been used by Aboriginal tribes in the Northern Territory to wash and cleanse sores and cuts. More research is being done in regards to its uses, but in Australia it is currently being considered to be applied during surgeries for the sterilisation of implants. This is due to the recent discovery of their antibacterial agents.
Taken from the fats of emus, Emu Oil is a popular treatment for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and may assist in the movement of joints and decreasing arthritis pain. This is due to the potential anti-inflammatory properties as it contains fatty acids, and hence emu oil is often applied to decrease muscle pain. Emu oil may also be used to remove lines and wrinkles due to the moisturising properties. Of course, some argue whether it is ethical to source emu oil for medicinal purposes.
The Gumby Gumby plant is controversial because of the claims that it treats cancer despite the lack of scientific research to validate those statements, and the warning that it could cause intense side-effects such as burning. Aside from this supposed miraculous remedy, the indigenous people of Australia regularly used it in many traditional medicinal applications for the purpose of treating coughs, colds and eczema.
Although the term ‘aromatherapy’ was only coined in the 20th century, plant extracts have been used for medicinal, fragrant, spiritual and cosmetic purposes for thousands of years. To start from the beginning, there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians in 3500 BC used plant extracts from cedarwood, cinnamon, clove and myrrh for the purposes of embalming bodies, to use as ingredients in cosmetics and as perfume for men and women. The ancient Greeks took the Egyptians’ knowledge of plants and discovered that the extracts could be applied as an anti-inflammatory and to heal wounds, as discovered by Hippocrates who is acknowledged as the ‘Father of Medicine’. Consequently, the Romans gathered information from the Egyptians and Greeks to record the properties of approximately 500 plant species, including their individual medicinal benefits. Knowledge of plant properties continued to grow through-out the ages with the extraction of essential oils through distillation (first invented in Persia), and soon essential oils were recognised through-out most of the world.
Essential oils are still used for a variety of purposes, and more recently they have been identified as an aid to combat stress and anxiety. The power of scent is not something to be undermined, as our sense of smell is directly connected to the parts of the brain that process emotions and memory. This is why essential oils can have the ability to stimulate our moods and emotions, and even assist in improving concentration and sleep.
Specific types of essential oils contain properties that provide some benefit aside from providing a wonderful scent, like the eucalyptus oil which assists in nasal congestion and overcoming colds and flu. Lavender oil helps to relieve tension and is known as a relaxant. Peppermint oil increases mental awareness while lemon oil helps to achieve clarity of the mind. The list goes on. Because there are no negative effects associated with the inhalation and diffusion of essential oils, they have become a popular and natural method to emotionally, mentally and physically treat the mind and body. Some people apply essential oils directly on to their skin, but due to their purity and high concentration it can cause rashes and other skin problems. Hence it is always advised to dilute the oil with a carrier oil first before skin application, as no essential oil is safe to use on skin in its purest form.
So the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were on the right track when experimenting with plant extracts for medicinal purposes. Although pharmaceutical products later became the primary way of treating illness, wounds and disease, people continue to swear by the powerful medicinal properties of essential oils.
With the cold weather in full force, it’s no wonder that our mood starts to reflect the grey, dreary skies. The lack of sunlight and shorter days may have a draining effect on our mental health, which is why people describe having the ‘winter blues’. Although there is a lack of valid science to support this as a legitimate condition, millions of people around the world claim to be a victim of the season-dependent depressive state.
Whether you are experiencing a gloomy state due to the weather or other circumstances, the power of scent can have a significant impact on your mood and emotions. The olfactory system (organs relating to the sense of smell) is directly connected to our limbic structures that process emotions and memory. This is why particular scents may assist in bringing you out of your winter funk by stimulating your mood. Some particular scents, such as citrus, peppermint, jasmine and bergamot, can be particularly helpful in lifting your spirits and relaxing the nervous system.
Essentials In-A-Box has a select few 100% pure essential oil blends that can help overcome the winter blues.
The Vitality, Happiness and Uplifting oil blends (15ml each) all serve the purpose of combating a downtrodden, depressed state.
Vitality specifically targets any exhaustion and fatigue, combining the scents of Lavender, Sandalwood, Clove, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Pink Grapefruit, Marjoram, Spearmint, Lemongrass, Lime and Orange. The citrus oils assist in rejuvenation through their sharp, zesty scents.
Happiness helps to increase overall wellbeing and contentment with Bergamot, Vanilla, Lemon Myrtle, Sweet Orange, Patchouli, Marjoram and Jasmine. Jasmine is known for its antidepressant properties and its ability to conjure feelings of romance and happiness.
Uplifting assists in elevating your spirits using Petitgrain, Pine needle Oil, Bergamot, Lavender, Patchouli, Lime, Lemon and Black Pepper. Bergamot may help with achieving clarity of the mind to counteract depression. Lavender is famous for relieving stress and tension by calming the nervous system.
So don’t let the winter blues bring you down-liven up your environment through diffusing essential oils. There are no side effects of using pure essential oils, and scores of people swear by their healing effects. Never underestimate the power of scent and the effect it can have on our moods and emotions, and even if you’re a skeptic, there is absolutely no harm in trying. I would highly recommend using these three blends which contain the specific ingredients used to help relieve depression and anxiety. Find them at in-a-box.com.au.
The Essentials In-A-Box crew all gathered on a Sunday afternoon for a beautiful high tea in honour of the Pink Ribbon foundation. We made our way to Crown Melbourne and enjoyed a lovely afternoon of food, fashion, and raising much needed awareness and funds for the debilitating disease which is breast cancer.
We were treated to a delicious array of savoury delights followed by scones and decadent cakes. We were entertained by a fantastic fashion show by Two Byrds on Union and listened to the sweet tunes of the Grace Notes Singers. We had a lovely time chatting and laughing together while divulging in the food and raffle goodies available to be won.
The most significant part of the afternoon was hearing the heart-breaking but inspirational stories of breast cancer sufferers, reminding us to continue urging our loved ones and ourselves to attend regular check-ups for early detection of the disease. It is a disease that effects approximately 62,000 Australians and is diagnosed 42 times per day. Although the majority of breast cancer sufferers are females, men also fall victim to the disease as it’s estimated that 150 men will be diagnosed this year. Basically, it’s crucial for both genders to have regular check-ups, because if it’s detected early then there is a higher chance of long-term success with treatments.
We all want to lead happy and healthy lives, and the first step is helping one another.
A couple of months before Christmas last year, I started to experience pain in my hips. It was occurring more frequently and it would tend to happen after doing any form of physical activity. In the beginning, I thought I might have been overworking my body too hard. Maybe I was shaking my hips too hard on the d-floor or running around too much during the long shifts at my retail job. All I knew was that every time I did some exercise or went to work, I wouldn’t be able to move afterwards. Sometimes the pain would become so severe that I would remain in bed all day. I didn’t ever think that as a healthy 19 year-old girl, I would need major surgery anytime soon.
I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia in late January this year, a couple of months after I went to the doctors about my hip problem. After various unsuccessful ultrasounds that displayed nothing, I undertook an MRI that presented me with the root of my sudden pain. Hip dysplasia is a developmental deformation or misalignment of the hip joint that is more common in females than in males. I had never heard of it before, but apparently it is a condition that is checked in babies because it arises during the birth stage. Unfortunately, until only recently they wouldn’t screen babies for this deformation otherwise it could have been rectified immediately if it had been discovered when I was born. One moment my family and I had never heard of this ‘hip dysplasia’ and the next moment our lives were surrounded by it.
Fortunately-and this is the extremely positive part- it can be fixed through a peri-acetabular osteotomy (PAO) surgery, leading to a full recovery. We were told that there was only one surgeon in the whole of Australia who could successfully conduct the surgery and who is a well-respected expert in the area. We were grateful that he resides in Melbourne, where we also live. After an informative and reassuring appointment with the surgeon, we determined that I would need a PAO on both hips which would be conducted on two separate occasion, and in the meantime needed to ensure that no further damage would occur to my bones and ligaments. I organised the surgery to be performed after my exams in July at the Avenue hospital, being six months after I was diagnosed with the condition.
Suddenly my life became all about doctor’s appointments, endless medical imaging and the reduction of all forms of exercise and outings. As an energetic and zealous 19 year old, this has been the most challenging part for me. It meant a lot of time away from university and social gatherings, and a lot of time lying in bed watching Netflix. This doesn’t seem so bad from an outside perspective, but for someone who used to always fill their time with friends, work, uni and other passions, it was a swift and significant change. I kept missing out on days at uni and struggled to keep up with my classes. Living in relentless pain did not help the situation in the slightest, and once I acknowledged how bad the situation became, I met with the surgeon and we negotiated a much closer date for surgery.
I had my first surgery on the 21st May. By this point I had been walking on crutches for the past two months and attending uni and work had become impossible. I was not in the slightest bit concerned about the actual surgery as I had complete faith in my surgeon’s knowledge and experience. Furthermore, I was just grateful that it could be fixed, as there is nothing more important than knowing that eventually I could resume my normal life.
The surgeon operated on the hip that had been causing me the most grief and explained to me that once it recovered, my other hip would be relieved of some pain. I remained at the hospital for a week and was lucky to be visited by friends and family everyday and had some lovely nurses taking care of me. However I was surprised by the pain I was in and my complete lack of mobility, which was worse than I imagined. I had to keep reminding myself that I had just been through major surgery, and recovery was going to be slow but I was guaranteed to get better. I was just impatient to improve immediately so I could go out and do the things I haven’t been able to do for months, but of course it was going to take time.
Four weeks down the track, I am seeing slight improvements on a daily basis. I have just become strong enough to leave the house to see friends, but I will continue on crutches for at least the next few weeks. I’m still on strong pain medication and limited in my mobility, however the worst of it is over! Now the next step is doing my physiotherapy each day (which takes an unprecedented amount of motivation) to become strong enough to walk without crutches. The following step in the long term will be the second surgery, which will be in about six months. Naturally I’m not quite prepared to start thinking about it now!
An amazing collaboration has been made by Essentials In-A-Box between the zodiac signs and aromatherapy. Each sign is represented by a carefully crafted pure essential oil blend, which contains specific oils that reflect the characteristics of each zodiac. They are absolutely beautiful to smell, and you may find that you are more attracted to some scents more than others because of your compatibility with that particular sign.
Aries: March 21 – April 19
Aries is classed as the fire sign, evident in the personalities of those born under that sign as they tend to be energetic and full of life with an insatiable desire to seek out challenges and learn new things. They thrive when placed in a competitive situation and are they incredibly ambitious individuals. Sometimes they are quick to become impatient, however that’s just the fire in the personality.
Taurus: April 20 – May 20
This sign is described as being peaceful, adaptable and typically patient with tasks and the individuals around them. Their practical nature makes them successful in business, and people will often share their burdens with Taurians due to their understanding nature. Despite their patience, individuals born under the sign tend to be stubborn and may become volatile when pushed to their limits.
Gemini: May 21 – June 20
Geminis love to socialise and communicate with others, hence why their sign is a pair of twins. They hate being alone and are inquisitive by nature, so they desire to go travelling or try out new activities. They are quick to grasp current situations and can adapt and react accordingly in a positive manner. However, they do possess dual personalities and their temperament can often turn from hot to cold, particularly if they are not placed in the centre of attention.
Cancer: June 21 – July 22
Cancerians love nothing more than to be at home with their family and friends. They are traditionalists to the core, and often will go out of their way in order to avoid confrontations. They are intuitive and reliable friends that will be happy to hear about the problems of others, however they will rarely express their problems to others. On the other hand, they can be moody and frequently need alone time to help them recuperate.
Leo: July 23 – August 22
Leo signs tend to be proud, confident and are natural-born leaders. They enjoy admiration and love to have a following of people in order to validate their ego. If they are ignored or not praised on a contribution they have made, then they will feel hurt. They use their warm and dazzling personalities to bring people near them, and consequently are deemed as social butterflies. At times they can come across as arrogant and self-obsessed, but ultimately they will be the first to help a friend in need.
Virgo: August 23 – September 22
Those born under this sign are described as being analytical, intelligent and are keen observers. They tend to be perfectionists and hence continually strive to be better and do better. This trait can make them fussy and occasionally temperamental or unpredictable in nature. They are constantly keeping their minds busy with assessing and calculating situations which is why they are high-achievers in business.
Libra: September 23 – October 22
Libras love nothing more than to achieve justice. They are the most diplomatic of all of the zodiac signs, and are inclined to put themselves in others’ shoes in order to experience another person’s point of view. They are balanced and peaceful in nature, and are motivated to pursue artistic and creative hobbies and careers. They can be fairly shy and introverted, hence it is difficult to persuade them to come out of their shell which is why they require admiration and validation.
Scorpio: October 23 – November 21
Despite their sign being ruled by water, they often have intense, unyielding and strong-willed personalities that can misrepresent them as being aggressive. They are fiercely independent and enjoy strong positions of power and dislike competition for fear of someone overtaking them. Scorpios are also incredibly disciplined and protective, which can often lead them into becoming jealous or possessive.
Sagittarius: November 22 – December 21
The sign of Sagittarius is known for being independent and the most philosophical sign of the bunch. They are highly intelligent people who crave freedom and new possibilities which can often interfere in terms of relationship commitments. They are incredibly loyal friends, however may be viewed as cold because they refrain from expressing emotions and struggle with patience.
Capricorn: December 22 – January 19
Capricorns have excellent time management skills and are motivated to excel using their need to always improve. They are natural-born leaders and hence make great politicians and diplomats. They despise being wrong about things and often react adversely to criticism. They may appear stern and cold, however this is because they are incredibly self-disciplined and their mind is constantly running on overdrive.
Aquarius: January 20 – February 18
Aquarians are known for being generous with their time and resources. They achieve tasks quietly and usually through unconventional means. Individuals under this sign advocate freedom of thought and typically like to discover other people’s viewpoints in order to retain a well-balanced view. They also tend to come across as rebels in order to shock people and to get their way.
Pisces individuals are wonderfully inventive and enjoy daydreaming up new ideas and plans. They are compassionate beings who simply accept others for the way they are. Their caring and unselfish nature can often cause them to become gullible which allows others to unfortunately take advantage of them. They experience emotions intensely and are the most sensitive of all the zodiac signs.
When you go for the odd massage every once in a while, who doesn’t enjoy a lovely scent in the massage oil that also helps set the mood for a heavenly experience? Massage therapists will often incorporate essential oils into their massage oils for physical, emotional and spiritual purposes, not to mention that fact that it naturally smells wonderfully pleasant. The benefits of massage combined with essential oils provide a therapeutic effect on the skin and muscles, in addition to assisting in the relief of emotional stress. It is well known that the inhalation of an essential oil may influence emotions and attitudes, however it may also assist individuals with physical ailments. This can be experienced through aromatherapy massage, where the essential oil is rubbed into the skin with a carrier oil, which can promote relaxation, improved circulation and reduce pain or inflammation.
The following products are body oil mists from Essentials In-A-Box which have been therapeutically formulated to assist in the way the label says using carrier oil and pure essential oils. They are designed to naturally enhance the massage experience.
A number of essential oils are known for their benefits in helping to speed the regeneration of skin cells, making them useful for slowing and repairing the effects of ageing, as well as serving to help heal skin injuries. Various essential oils also have noted anti-oxidant effects, reducing the ‘free radical’ damage suffered by the skin from excessive UV exposure and other lifestyle factors. The essential oils in Anti-Aging Body Oil Mist all share these benefits in promoting a healthy and youthful appearance.
Comprising a blend of the finest essential oils of Myrtle Sweet, Lavender True, Rose Damask, Cistus, Frankincense, Patchouli, Geranium and Calendula extract, in a base of pure Almond Sweet oil and Coconut oil fractions.
This fragrant essential oil blend will help to calm and cool stressed and frayed nerves. Calming Body Oil Mist helps to relieve nervous tension, stress, and can help with difficulty in sleeping and tension headache.
Comprising a blend of Lavender True, Mandarin, Bergamot, Marjoram Sweet, Ylang Ylang, Chamomile German, Chamomile Roman and Sandalwood Australian, in a base of pure Almond Sweet oil and Coconut oil fractions.
An invigorating blend to stimulate, refresh and awaken the body, mind and spirit. Invigorating Body Oil Mist is a blend to use wherever a boost is needed after too much work, sport and mental fatigue, whenever one needs to be refreshed and revived. Invigorating Body Oil Mist can also be used in preparation for whenever physical or mental challenges are to be met.
Comprising a blend of Rosemary Moroccan, Pine Scotch, Lemon, Tea Tree, Peppermint and Cinnamon Leaf, in a base of pure Almond Sweet oil and Coconut oil fractions.
Massage these body oil mists all over your body after a shower or before bed in order to allow the oil to seep into the skin and assist any muscle aches or pains, inflammation or stress. When you realise the benefits of aromatherapy incorporated into massage, you will never want to have a normal massage again!
If you are a frequent visitor of this blog, you would know that I’m constantly talking about the ways we can use aromatherapy on-the-go in order to manage ourselves and our hectic lifestyles. There is no doubt that the scent of a pure essential oil can have an impact on our moods and emotions, and for some people it has a particularly powerful effect on their mental state. Although rest and relaxation naturally needs to be included in your daily routines, it’s also important to recognise the benefits of aromatherapy and how it can be used outside of the home so that it’s available anytime. Fortunately in this day and age we have the option of using aroma pendants, USB car diffusers and other devices, but what appears to be more beneficial are the aromatherapy spray mists.
What exactly are aroma spray mists, I hear you ask? The spray mists contain essential oil blends that are designed to assist you in the way the label says. Mostly relevant for women, they are easy to stash away in a handbag and serve the function of hydrating your skin and setting your mineral make up for an enhanced, longer-lasting effect. It is also important to note that the essential oils used are of the highest quality and especially diluted so as not to cause any unwarranted skin reactions or to dry skin. Some people tend to apply pure essential oils onto their skin undiluted, however this is not advised because it can sometimes burn or dry out the skin if it reacts negatively. The spray mists are completely safe to spray on your face or body, delivering moisture to your skin plus a therapeutic scent that stimulates the senses. Basically it is the ultimate multi-tasking device for women everywhere, and (you guessed it!) is so easy to use. Spray it a couple of times onto your face or body in a time of need, and it will instantly be absorbed into your skin. They can even be used as an air freshener in your car or home to deliver a beautiful, fresh fragrance.
Essentials In-A-Box Australia has a range of face and body mist sprays containing specifically blended essential oils to help you through every moment of the day. Each spray retails at $29.95 AUD.
Just as a recap, the functions of spray mists are:
Hydrates the skin
Sets and enhances makeup
Stimulates the senses
Safe to use on your face, body and as an air freshener
Stored in a conveniently-sized bottle that can be stashed in your handbag
Now that you know all about the amazing functions of aromatherapy spray mists, its your turn to try it! Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!