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Humans have been using the power of scent for over 6,000 years. Modern aromatherapy uses the powerful properties of essential oils to balance and enhance mood.
How does it work? Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than the other four senses. The invisible world of scent powerfully affects our memories and our moods. Of the five senses, our sense of smell is the most primitive and most closely associated with our emotions and how our body responds to them. By stimulating the brain, aromatherapy can rejuvenate, cheer, balance, energize, de-stress, soothe, calm, etc. It can also promote meditative and spiritual states, induce euphoria and promote sensuality. Aromatherapy has many uses depending on the aromas used and the intent of the user.
There are several ways to use aromatherapy for stress, depending on the root and type of stress. For example, if you were experiencing hypostress, which is the type of stress caused by boredom or being unchallenged, you’d pick energizing, refreshing and stimulating scents. If you are feeling distress or hyperstress, you’d likely benefit from scents specifically geared to relaxing, soothing and calming.
10 Essential Oils Derived from Flowers for Stress Relief
While most of the following Essential Oils are known for their stress-reducing and calming properties, trust your intuition. You may be drawn to a scent that is associated with vitalizing and refreshing for your own stress relief. By all means, go with what your instincts tell you.
Jasmine Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum officinale
Uses: In the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Professor Hanns Hatt published a study showing that Jasmine enhances GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), a neuro-transmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells and the brain, soothing lab mice to the point that it was as “calming as Valium” (without the dangerous side effects).
Aroma: Heavy, sweet, floral, slightly fruity
Uses: Obtained from the flowers of a tropical tree, this scent is often included in high-end perfumes—but is also taken to alleviate anxiety, headaches, insomnia and muscle tension.
Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica
Aroma: Sweet, honeyed citrus, “like Spring”
Uses: In addition to its topical health benefits, Honeysuckle relieves anxiety, soothes frayed nerves, uplifts the spirit and promotes a sense of well-being (nostalgia for some, especially for those who grew up surrounded by this hardy flowering vine).
Chamomile is not only a stress reliever when ingested, but it also has the exact same properties when used as aromatherapy. There are three different types of chamomile, and all of them calm, soothe and relax.
German chamomile Matricaria chamomilla
Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis
Wild Chamomile Ormenis multicaulis
Aroma: Sweet, earthy, tart, apple-like
Uses: Traditionally used for its refreshing yet calming and soothing properties.
Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
Clary Sage Salvia sclarea
Aroma: Warm, sweet, nutty
Uses: Clary Sage’s inspiring, regenerating aroma is balancing and relaxing. It is especially helpful for women.
Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
Clove Bud Eugenia caryophyllata
Aroma: Strong, spicy, penetrating, warm
Uses: Traditionally used for its powerful and penetrating properties, Clove Bud is useful for those who want to inspire feelings of rest and relaxation.
Caution: Do not use during pregnancy or on children under 2; can irritate skin.
Geranium Pelogonium graveolens
Aroma: Green, rosy, sweet, flowery
Uses: Geranium has a sweet aroma that is balancing, calming and uplifting.
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia
Aroma: Mellow, fresh, clean
Uses: Because of its versatility, has long been considered the wonder oil of essential oils. Lavender’s cool, mellow, peaceful fragrance has traditionally been used for its balancing effects and soothing properties.
Neroli Citrus aurantium
Uses: Distilled from the flowers of the Seville orange, his fresh, floral aroma brightens the spirits and clears the mind.
Rose Bulgaria (aka Damask Rose) Rosa damascene
Aroma: Flowery, earthy, sweet
Uses: It takes over one ton of petals to yield one pound of pure Rose Bulgaria oil. The queen of oils for women, Rose is sensual, balancing and uplifting, as well as calming, relaxing and comforting (especially for matters of the heart).
Note: There are other wonderful oils that help with stress relief (e.g. Lemon, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Peppermint, Marjoram, Bergamot and Frankincense), but on the Flower Witchery blog, I focus only on all-things-floral…so I omitted them from the list. My husband’s personal favorite for stress-relief is Spearmint. Mine? Anything citrus--although I find smelling our honeysuckle bushes quite relaxing!
Caution: This list is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a qualified health practitioner before using Essential Oils to tread any psychological or physical condition.
What are flower essences? Click here for my introductory post.
Eventually, Dr. Bach developed a Flower Essence combination called Rescue Remedy. It is effective in virtually any situation that causes stress or anxiety. If you take it before an event that you think will be stressful, Rescue Remedy will help you stay focused so you can get through it successfully. If stress comes as the result of something unexpected like an accident or sudden bad news, Rescue Remedy is reported to bring about a calming effect that helps put you back into control.
Rescue Remedy can be used by anyone, even pets. The 5 Essences that make up this Remedy are:
Rock Rose – Restores courage and peace of mind.
Star of Bethlehem – Neutralizes the trauma of receiving bad news.
Impatiens – Keeps you calm when feeling impatient, irritable, tense or frustrated.
Cherry Plum – Restores balance when you feel like you’re about to lose control.
Clematis – Keeps you focused when you have difficulty concentrating.
Rescue Remedy works for all stressful situations, but you may want to investigate other Essences for long-term stress relief—especially in conjunction with your unique personality combination.
The 38 Bach Flower Essences
In brief, here are the 38 Bach Flower Essences and what they generally govern:
Agrimony For when you put on a cheerful face to hide problems.
Aspen For when you have unexplained fears and worries, and are nervous and anxious.
Beech For when you are critical of others.
Centaury For when you have difficulty saying “no” and are anxious to please.
Cerato For when you doubt your own judgment, constantly seeking advice from others.
Cherry Plum For fear of losing control.
Chestnut Bud For failing to learn from experience and repeating the same mistakes
Chicory For being overly possessive and expecting others to conform to your values.
Clematis For daydreaming and a general lack of interest in the present.
Crab Apple For when you have a poor self image, or are ashamed or embarrassed by physical symptoms, features or characteristics.
Elm For when you feel overwhelmed or burdened by responsibility.
Gentian For when you are easily discouraged, hesitant and despondent.
Gorse For when you feel hopelessness, despair and pessimism.
Heather For when you are self-absorbed, dislike being alone, or are overly talkative.
Holly For when you have feelings of extreme jealousy, and are envious and suspicious.
Honeysuckle For living in the past and feeling homesick and nostalgic.
Hornbeam For the “Monday morning” feeling and for doubting the ability to face the day’s work.
Impatiens For impatience and when you’re easily irritated.
Larch For lack of self-confidence and feelings of inferiority.
Mimulus For fear rooted in known causes (e.g. flying, spiders, heights, closed spaces, death, etc.).
Mustard For unexplained deep gloom.
Oak For when you are driven by a strong sense of duty and struggle on though exhausted.
Olive For when you feel exhausted in body and mind.
Pine For when you feel full of guilt, and blame yourself for the mistakes of others.
Red Chestnut For when you are over-anxious or over-concerned for others
Rock Rose When you’ve experienced terror, frozen by fear, and feel helpless.
Rock Water When you are inflexible and set very high standards for yourself.
Scleranthus For when you suffer from indecision and uncertainty between two choices.
Star of Bethlehem For when you’ve experienced trauma, grief or a fright.
Sweet Chestnut When you are at the limits of endurance and in deep despair.
Vervain For when you’re over-enthusiastic, high-strung and argumentative with rigid principles and ideas.
Vine For when you are strong-willed with a tendency to be domineering or inflexible.
Walnut For when you face major life changes and are in need of protection from the influences of others.
Water Violet For when you prefer to be alone, or are proud and aloof.
White Chestnut For unwanted thoughts, preoccupations and worries.
Wild Oat For when you can’t decide which path to follow and are dissatisfied with your current lifestyle.
Wild Rose For when you are apathetic and make little effort to improve situations.
Willow For when you are resentful and have feelings of self-pity and a “poor me” attitude.
For more information on each Bach Flower Remedy, visit the Bach Flower Foundation here.
What are Flower Essences? Let me start out by saying what they are not. They are not liquid herbs, nor are they aromatherapy. Flower and Vibrational Essences are subtle treatments that address the energetic root of emotional and physical distress and illness. Bach Flower Essences are probably the best known, but there are others like Australian Bush Flower Essences and Crystal Essences.
Edward Bach, a medical doctor, bacteriologist and homeopath, was a pioneer in the area of Flower Essences in the late 1920s and early 1930s. His intention was to develop a method of healing which would treat the emotional and spiritual imbalances which lead to physical disease. He discovered the 38 Bach Flower Essences for this method of treatment by “tuning into” certain wildflowers.
Bach believed that the root of all illness was mental and emotional issues. Flower Essences are not extracts of flowers, and are safe for everyone—including children and pets. Dr. Bach intuitively discovered that certain flowers correlated to different psychic and emotional issues, and that by treating a person holistically, suffering was relieved. The Flowers are soaked in water, thus transferring their "vibration" to the water. It is then combined with brandy, glycerin or other preservative. It can then be taken under the tongue, or added to water. Creams are made of Essences, as well. Flower Essences are often given in combinations, since there is usually more than one mental/emotional issue connected to a physical ailment. Bach remedies does not claim to heal diseases, but rather, to treat psychic and emotional roots to the suffering.
As far as my personal experience, I have a friend overseas who’s a Bach Flower Essence practitioner. When she recommended that I take them, I was skeptical. However, many years ago, I had an immediate reaction to my “constitutional essence” (an essence that matches your personality)—and I’ve been a believer ever since. I’m continually amazed at how these subtle healing Essences gently bring me back into balance, no matter what I’m experiencing.
I adore flowers.
Smitten with their beauty, mythology, smell and healing properties, I also use flowers as part of my spiritual path (I've not been vocal/public about this...until now).
This blog is dedicated exclusively to flowers, and includes my personal photography, original poems, magical practice, folklore, etc.
A word about the title of my blog: as you may know, the word "witch" has been maligned for centuries. However, an Oxford Etymologist posits that "witch" (and wicce) may very well have its roots in the Old English words wita, witega and witga--variations that connect to the verb wit, which means to know.
If you're curious about anything related to my blog's topic--flower magic, history, mythology, horticulture, literature, incorporating blooms in ritual, Victorian language or sentiments, art and so on--just ask, and I'll be glad to answer in the comments below or via a post (or let you know if I just can't find the information for you using my extensive library).