Guest Blog Post – Dana Keller
For me, fresh coffee means early mornings at my grandmother’s house; a specific brand of deodorant recalls springtime and my first serious teenage crush; and jasmine has me strolling a foreign countryside and being stopped in my tracks by the sublimely fresh aroma of jasmine flowers. Vivid sensory experiences like these are a common response to scents, and a key reason why aromatherapy can be such a powerful tool in your self-care toolbox.
Before starting Glynnis Osher’s Aroma 911 online course at the Vancouver School of Healing Arts, I’d had some prior experience with aromatherapy – namely lavender oil to help with sleep and anxiety, tea tree oil for acne, and a peppermint oil blend to relieve my chronic headaches. Other than that, I knew little about aromatherapy and even less about blending essential oils for therapeutic purposes. I’m ashamed to admit I’d just blindly filed aromatherapy under pseudoscience, despite my first-hand experience of its efficacy.
Taking the Aroma 911 course has not only broadened my perspective on alternative and complementary therapies, but it’s also empowered me to apply my essential oil knowledge to a variety of situations, including muscle aches and pains; respiratory issues; digestive upset; emotional troubles such as stress, anxiety, and low mood; and just general preventative wellness (e.g. beauty blends, or meditation oils to uplift, calm, and ground).
I know that even science isn’t a perfect science, but I’ve done a bit of digging into studies that expound on the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy:
– What are essential oils? Essential oils aren’t just scented oils: they’re aromatic compounds extracted from plants that provide many of the same benefits as said plants. For example, ingesting ginger root helps with nausea, and studies suggest that inhaling ginger essential oil can do the same.
– How are essential oils used? Essential oils are used in a variety of ways, but the two most popular methods are to apply the oil to your skin (generally neat or with a carrier oil) or to inhale the oils (hand/palm inhalation and diffusers are most common).
– How do essential oils work? Essential oils stimulate areas of your limbic system, which affects your emotions and behaviour – a common example is lavender for sleep. Essential oils can also have anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties – for instance, tea tree oil has been found to be comparable in efficacy to 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion in treating mild to moderate acne.
In short, scientific research shows that aromatherapy can provide effective treatment in mild to moderate cases of certain ailments. It’s worth noting, however, that essential oils are recommended as a complementary therapy, as opposed to a first line of treatment, when dealing with serious illnesses. Glynnis reminds us throughout her Aroma 911 course that if you are dealing with a serious medical condition, or even if your milder symptoms do not go away for a long period of time, you should see a medical doctor. As someone who’s experienced the benefits of both traditional and modern medicine, I found Glynnis’s realistic approach to aromatherapy reassuring.
You’re not going to cure cancer with aromatherapy, but making essential oils part of your everyday self-care routine will enrich your life – at least, it’s enriched mine. As an example, thanks to Glynnis’s Aroma 911 recipes, I can choose between uplifting and grounding meditation blends to help guide my morning yoga and meditation practice depending on how I feel when I wake up. I’ve also improved my sleep with oils and blends that I learned about in the course. One of my favourite things has been learning to make bath and body products (i.e. bath salts and oils, hair and face masks, muscle rubs). I’m deriving great pleasure from creating bespoke blends, perfectly tailored to my own specific needs and tastes.
I’ve been building an aromatherapy kit since starting Aroma 911 several weeks ago, and I now feel like I have an instant spa at my disposal. There is so much information about essential oils both online and in books, that it can be overwhelming. In the Aroma 911 course Glynnis uses her vast knowledge and decades of experience to distill all of that information into a digestible format that covers the fundamentals and then some – all infused with Glynnis’s wonderful personality and contagious curiosity.
With some online courses it can be a lot of material without much guidance, but Aroma 911 feels like a weekend workshop you could attend in person. Glynnis talks you through all of the course materials and builds on them in her videos. For the full details on what’s covered in the course, click here. In the next three blog posts, I’ll be detailing how I prepared for the course, sharing some of my favourite oils and blends, and reflecting on how incorporating aromatherapy into my daily routine has affected my life.
Essential oils used while writing this post: Glynnis’s 5 Star Ease the Pain Muscle Rub (a blend of six essential oils, with Rosemary being my favourite discovery).
About the Author
Dana Jeanne Keller is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, and marketing consultant who lives between Scotland, Canada, and Germany.
Her specialties are book publishing, film, folklore, the occult, and spirituality. Among other things, she enjoys yoga, meditation, and disappearing into nature.
Learn more: danajkeller.com