Aromatherapy – Alliance of International Aromatherapists http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:04:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A 5 Element Approach to Understanding Essential Oils: The Wood Element http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/a-5-element-approach-to-understanding-essential-oils-the-wood-element/ Mon, 18 Apr 2016 19:21:19 +0000 http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/?p=6575 Continue reading ]]> Article by Marc J. Gian, L. Ac, LMT

 

5 Elements

 

There are as many ways to classify Essential Oils as there are to use them. As we use essential oils for “holistic aromatherapy” we need to become clear on what holistic means. All too often, the term holistic is thrown around for the use of treating symptoms without allopathic medicine. However, to accurately be holistic practitioners the inclusion of the emotional/mental aspect of our client is paramount. The philosophy of the 5 Elements is one system that can lead to sincere holistic treatment.

 

The 5 Elements or Wu Xing is a leading paradigm used in Chinese medicine and is a solution for the aromatherapist eager to understand the root of illness. The 5 Elements are used to describe many of the phenomena of the natural world including the human condition. Each element gives birth to another and then cycles back again, just like the seasons.

 

Let’s take a look a look at the basics of the 5 Elements:

 

5 Element Chart

 

We are all born with a predominance of one or two elements that make up our being. During certain situations and times of life one elemental trait will dominate. This can be equated to an essential oil blend. When blending, quantity and function/personality of essential oil determines dominance of one oil over the other.

 

As the seasons cycle towards spring, it suites that this article focus on correlating the Wood Element and Aromatherapy/Essential Oils. The organs that are associated with the Wood Element are the Liver and Gall Bladder. The mother of the Wood Element is the Water Element, the Wood Element gives rise to the Fire Element.

 

The Water Element is associated with the winter time and dormancy. The Water Element can be seen as those aspects of our lives that have not been experienced or have brought into the world. Quite often, this can be the expression of our emotions, an idea that has been in the works or the deepest purpose in life.

 

Naturally, in order to emerge from inactivity (Winter) to a state of renewal (Spring) and then to full expression (Fire) the directionality of energy needs to be in an upward and outward direction. In Chinese medicinal terms, this correlates to the function of Promoting the Movement of Qi. This function helps to maintain the movement of energy in our being and move dormant/suppressed Qi. For the purposes of this writing and to comprehend our energetic cycles we need to be clear that upward and outward direction or promoting the movement of Qi is used in all seasons, it is dependent on what is happening to with the individual.

 

From the above we can correlate that movement forward is associated with the Wood Element. As a matter of fact, symptoms associated with “sciatica” or “piriformis” and other forms of muscle tightness are associated with the Wood Element. Quite often, the emotional cause of pain in this area is a result of either not moving forward in life or suppressing our emotions or the direction we want to go. The Wood Element is associated with direction in life and the expression of anger. If our anger or direction in life does not progress outward it gets suppressed and moves downward. This is the opposite direction of spring.

 

This perverse flow on Liver Qi is an actual cause of physical pain and may also be a contributor to the western medical diagnosis of depression. Therefore, from the basics we already know, the proper essential oils to use would be those that have the function to Promote the Movement of Qi to unblock this dormancy (Winter). Essential Oils that are classified for the Wood Element and have this function include: Rosemary, Lemongrass, and Lavender angustifolia.

 

All of the above oils are associated with moving stagnant Qi yet do so in different ways. Naturally, when we experience irritation and frustration, our muscle tense. The Liver controls the sinews. Lemongrass the “tendinomuscular oil” is key in Promoting the Movement of Qi in the hips, legs and ankles. Consequently, Lemongrass is an excellent choice for muscle tenderness due to emotional suppression, i.e sciatica pain/piriormis syndrome. This warming oil has the ability to move stagnation in the muscle layer especially in the hips and legs. Treating physical pain is often the first step in the freedom from emotional stagnation.

 

Rosemary is commonly used with Lemongrass for the above symptoms. Yet, its spring like nature can also be seen in its ability to strengthen our digestive system. Our digestive system (Earth Element) becomes deficient for many reasons including diet and emotional experience. A common diagnosis is what is called Wood (Liver) Overacting on Earth (Spleen) Common symptoms of Wood Overacting on Earth include; irritability, bloating, alternating diarrhea and constipation and fatigue. In addition to being associated with the Wood Element it also has an affinity with the Earth Element. This dual association makes Rosemary the premier essential oil for treating this condition.The two functions that Rosemary has to treat this are Promoting the Movement of QI Upwards (the expression of self) and Raising the Spleen Qi.

 

The rising nature of Wood engenders the Fire Element (Heart and Small Intestine. Lavender is an oil that has an affinity with both the Wood and Fire Element. Similar to Lemongrass and Rosemary, Lavender promotes the Movement of Qi. However, Lemongrass and Rosemary are both warming in nature, while Lavender is cool and is distilled from a flower. As it is a flower, it calms with a cooler, softer and gentler quality. Lavender is a principal oil to be used when there are emotional issues of the Fire Element, such as anxiety, restlessness and nostalgia.

 

The system of the 5 Element deepens the understanding of essential oils and provides a framework to connect emotions and physicality. When practitioners start to use this structure they will observe the whole person and be able to treat in deeper and more efficient manner.

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AIA Becomes “Contributing Producer” for Aromatherapy Documentary – Uncommon Scents http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/aia-becomes-contributing-producer-for-aromatherapy-documentary-uncommon-scents/ Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:14:45 +0000 http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/?p=6443 Continue reading ]]> Uncommon Scents Thanks AIA

 

The world of aromatherapy is a complex one. There are everything from home users who use essential oils through oral traditions, people who self-study, and others that receive formal training to understand the chemical makeup and actions of essential oils. Aromatherapy pioneers such as Robert Tisserand, Sylla Shepherd-Hanger, Jeanne Rose, Colleen Dodt, and Marge Clark have been studying the art and science of aromatherapy for 30-40+ years. Millions are just beginning to study aromatherapy.

 

Social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram have made the sharing of information about essential oils easier than ever. Aromatherapy pioneers generously contribute to the discussion and provide valuable insight.

 

While there is a vast amount of information about aromatherapy available online, it is not all reliable, and in many cases is misleading, incorrect, or dangerous. This range of information has set up a divide in the aromatherapy community and caused finger-pointing and leaves many scratching their heads to find a way to bring the aromatherapy community together to move forward united with a common goal of sharing sound information to make responsible aromatherapy available to as many as possible.

 

Two women seek to tell the story of aromatherapy and to contribute to uniting the aromatherapy community. Executive producers and trained aromatherapists, Angela Jensen Ehmke and Kristina Bauer, debuted their idea for the full-featured aromatherapy documentary, Uncommon Scents, at the 2015 AIA conference. Since then they have been working tirelessly to vet interviewees and raise funds to make their dream a reality.

 

While many have a narrow view of aromatherapy based on where they live, Uncommon Scents aims to share a global perspective as has never been done before. They will travel around the world to tell the story of aromatherapy that has been missing up to this point. Interviewees so far include Patricia Brooks, Andrea Butje, Lora Cantele, Marge Clark, Dorene Petersen, Ann Harman, Nyssa Hanger, Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, Ixchel Leigh, Rhiannon Lewis, Gabriel Mojay, Dr. Robert Pappas, Jade Shutes, Robert Tisserand, and Mark Webb.

 

The film will tackle topics such as aromatherapy history, chemistry, applications, safety, adulteration sustainability, as well as concerns about the marketing and monetization of essential oils. They will share insights about threats and controversies facing the industry and community including challenges surrounding regulation, licensing, and education. They will also talk about why protecting essential oil sources and reducing risk are key to aromatherapy’s future.

 

AIA recognizes this as an important documentary for the aromatic world. This film must be made. AIA has made a contribution and will be listed as a Contributing Producer of the film. Now it’s your turn! Every penny counts and Uncommon Scents has until February 18th to raise enough funds ($60,000) to begin production.

 

You can contribute as little or as much as you’d like. Many perks such as aromatherapy books, classes, and essential oils are available to entice you to give at a level you are comfortable with. What’s the next bottle of essential oil or next aromatherapy book you were thinking of buying? Why not wait a little longer and contribute to this film instead. The entire aromatherapy world will thank you!

 

Learn more about the film and donate at Indiegogo.

 

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Visiting the home of Fragonia™ http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/visiting-the-home-of-fragonia/ Wed, 23 Dec 2015 03:59:09 +0000 http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/?p=6253 Continue reading ]]> by Priscilla Fouracres

 

I recently had the privilege of visiting the only place in the world where Fragonia™ (Agonis fragrans), is grown and produced into essential oil. The 46-hectare property (114 acres), owned and operated by John and Peta Day, is about two hours from Perth, the capital city of Western Australia.

John and Peta Day in a field of Agonis fragrans (Photo courtesy of the Paperbark Co.)

John and Peta Day in a field of Agonis fragrans (Photo courtesy of the Paperbark Co.)

 

The ‘farm’, as the Days call it, has a sense of serenity that emanates from the well-cared for and highly-loved piece of land they began developing 15 years ago.

 

A mud-map is required to find the farm and even then it is easy to drive past the unassuming property in a low-lying marshland where paperbark trees, a common name for some species of Melaleucas from the Myrtaceae family1, grow naturally.

 

Situated in a farming community and region better known for its citrus fruit, beef production and vineyards than native plants, the farm is virtually unknown in its own backyard by the general population. Yet, it is well-known and reputed for its quality oils and hydrosols among aromatherapists and essential oil suppliers worldwide who understand the significance of the Day’s work in bringing a brand new essential oil to an international market.

 

Clinical trials on Fragonia™ are nearing completion and will be another step forward in confirming the efficacy of the oil along with scientific work that has already been done.2

 

Sold under the trademarked name of Fragonia™, laboratory tests have shown it has antimicrobial activity similar to Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), and Oregano (Origanum vulgare).3 Therefore, Fragonia™ is a good substitute for people who are not fond of the smell of tea tree.

 

Steam distilled from leaves and twigs, Fragonia™ has a middle note.

 

A typical GC/MS analysis of Fragonia™ will show the following range of components4.

 

Monoterpenes 30 – 40%
a-pinene 22 – 27%
b-pinene 1.5 – 1.8%
myrcene 1.4 – 2.2%
limonene 2.3 – 2.5%
p-cymene 1.6 – 2.9%
y-terpinene 1.3 – 3.3%
Oxides 26 – 32%
1,8-cineole 26.6 – 32.5%
Monoterpenols 23 – 30%
linalool 10.9 – 12.4%
terpinen-4-ol 3.2 – 4.3%
a-terpineol 5.4 – 4.5%
myrtenol 3.1 – 4.5%
geraniol 0.5 – 1.6%

 

The oil’s 1,8 cineole content offers expectorant and mucolytic properties, making it useful for respiratory issues.5, 6

 

As a monoterpene-rich oil with a high percentage of alpha-pinene, Fragonia™ would be expected to have analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral, and decongestant properties.7 Tisserand and Young8 recommend the addition of an antioxidant to preparations containing Fragonia™ because of its high alpha-pinene content.

 

Fragonia™ is a favorite with many Western Australian aromatherapists because of its aroma and calming properties. The camphoraceous, balsamic, citrus and sweet smell is attributed to its myrtenol content, while its well-known calming properties are due to linalool.9

 

Fragonia™ can easily stand alone in a diffuser and could be mistaken for a blend.

 

I have used it in liquid hand soap and blends to alleviate muscle and joint pain. I also diffuse it when I’m alone but want the company of a heart-warming friend.
You will no doubt hear more about Fragonia™ in the weeks ahead when results from the clinical trials are released.

 

References

  1. Brophy J.J., Craven L.A. and Doran J.C. Melaleucas: their botany, essential oils and uses. Canberra, ACT: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Monograph No. 156; 2013: 415.
  2. Day P. and Day J. Personal conversation. Paperpark Co.; 2015
  3. Robinson C.J. A new essential oil – Agonis fragrans: chemotype selection and evaluation. Publication No 06/090. Barton, ACT: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation; 2006:73.
  4. Webb, M.A. Aromatic Toolkit – Materia Medica. Two-day workshop. Perth, WA: AromaMedix Pty Ltd; 2015.
  5. Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd ed. Brisbane, QLD: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; 2003:34.
  6. Price S. and Price L. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. 4th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2012:27.
  7. Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd ed. Brisbane, QLD: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; 2003:76.
  8. Tisserand R. and Young R. Essential Oil Safety. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014:287.
  9. Webb, M.A. Aromatic Toolkit – Materia Medica. Two-day workshop. Perth, WA: AromaMedix Pty Ltd; 2015.

 

Priscilla Fouracres

Priscilla Fouracres

 

Priscilla Fouracres is a writer and certified aromatherapist. She has a B.A. degree in Communications and has worked as a journalist and public relations consultant for the health sector. She is an American expat living in Perth, Western Australia, and AIA member.

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What is Aromatherapy? http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/what-is-aromatherapy/ Sun, 09 Dec 2012 02:18:49 +0000 http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/?p=2162 Continue reading ]]> Aromatherapy is a true holistic therapy, offering simultaneous healing possibilities on physical, emotional and energetic levels. Aromatherapy works by simply taking a deep breath: the aromatic molecules enter our blood stream and travel to all parts of our body. The wide range of aromas available can gently help any mood or emotion.

 

The essential oils used in aromatherapy are highly concentrated substances, extracted most commonly by steam distillation from a variety of flowers, herbs, trees, roots, and fruit. Each oil offers its own unique chemistry of healing qualities. Lavender, geranium, spruce, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon and myrrh are oils commonly used in aromatherapy.

 

Each essential oil has its own distinct chemical profile that offers therapeutic properties. Each is classified as stimulating, balancing, relaxing, or more specifically, as antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, decongestants, analgesics, antiinflammatory, digestives, to name a few.

 

A typical example is shown by the use of lavender, one of the most versatile and widely used oils. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is known to soothe tension headaches, reduce inflammation and pain, cleanse wounds,aid in tissue repair for burns and cuts, and relax you to sleep.

 

Today, aromatherapy is widely used in various health care settings: in hospitals for stress, nausea and cancer care; in senior care environments for reducing agitation, improving sleep, and improving indoor air quality; and in massage therapy for relaxation and reducing body pain.

 

To begin receiving the benefits of aromatherapy-find an aroma you love and enjoy all the gifts provided by nature’s healing gifts.

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