Confessions of an Aromatherapy Convert

Maybe it’s the name—which for no good reason still sort of provokes an inner teenage eye roll—but up until a few weeks ago I’d never given much thought to aromatherapy.

Don’t get me wrong: The switch to clean products in the first place—and away from synthetic fragrance—changed my relationship to smell almost immediately. I’m painfully sensitive to the chemical stuff now, a phenomenon we’ve discussed in the past, and often drawn to (or repelled by) products because of their scents. My nose tends to tell me before my fingers whether or not my face will like a new cream—probably not uncommon.

Studies have shown time and again how powerful this sense is, with its capacities to trigger memory, avoid incest (research has shown that we’re repulsed by the body odor of those from a similar gene pool as our own), find food, chill us out (remember the jasmine study?)—just to name a few.

But I’ve never carried around a scented mist to clear my mind, balance my chi, and create healthy energy barriers. Until now.

Two new brands recently entered my life—in rather quick succession—and all of a sudden I’m spraying, I’m inhaling, I’m rubbing temples, and leaving oil dabs under my nostrils. Here’s how it happened: At the end of the Evolue/EWG event a few weeks ago I got to talking with Katie Hess, the founder of Lotus Wei Flower Essences (that’s her above bewitching Sophie Uliano with her scents!) and her friend and cohort Lisa Reinhardt from Wei of Chocolate (more on these treats in another post). After a long night of nonstop gab, these women were a welcome refuge of calm. I took the visual test that’s also on the Lotus Wei site, and after some deliberation over preference went home with an Energy Mist. Now every time the negative thoughts rise, or my energy dips, I whip it out of my bag and spritz-spritz the pain away—and, to my surprise, it actually works.

But there’s more. The day after the event I met two other amazing women for lunch—it seems women teams attract other women teams, much to our delight—green nail stylist Jenna Hipp and her awesome business partner Vanessa Gualy. We got on like a house on fire (I so wish Siobhan had been there to complete the foursome) and within moments of meeting we were sharing vegan nachos and swapping stories about our hormones, our livers, our skin, our hopes and our dreams. And, also, aromatherapy.

They told me about Hope Gillerman, giving the kind of breathless two-headed review that me and blondie do when we’re completely bananas over something. And now I know why: these oils are incredible. I’ve only had them for a few days—I came home from Montreal to a box of samples—but after just a few whiffs I knew that these would become a regular ritual. As I write this, I am taking periodic sniffs of the Tension Remedy (which supports mental clarity) and last night the sweet smell of the true relaxation Stress Remedy lulled me to sleep.

We talk a lot about the role stress, and thought patterns, play on our health and our looks. And while I’m not implying that these (admittedly pricey) concoctions are a substitute for things like meditation, yoga, and actual talk therapy—I am convinced that the kind of short mental breaks they afford during the day must do something positive for the brain.

Think I’m a flake? Into aromatherapy? Never tried? Tell us about it.

Image via Lotus Wei

Comments
22 Responses to “Confessions of an Aromatherapy Convert”
  1. eva says:

    I HAVE to give a big shout-out to Hope Gillerman’s equally awesome skin care line! It’s super-simple (wash, oil and balm), it’s more affordable than a lot of other stuff out there and she’s put the same kind of principles to work that’s behind her aromatherapy oils! Not only did it clear up my acne and balanced my dry-oily-sensitive skin, the products also smell fantastic! So it’s a little bit of aromatherapy every day! AND you get lovely, lovely oil samples when you order online…I never gave much for aromatherapy either, but now I’m pretty addicted to them, especially the Tension Remedy. It’s a great little reminder to stop up and breathe and I do think it simply creates a kind of short-cut in my brain, building upon itself.

    I’m so glad to see Hope Gillermann get some attention on this site, I absolutely love her products and she seems like an incredibly nice person as well, answering my questions via email etc. Also, the packaging is adorable (yes, that matters to me…)

  2. Kimberly says:

    I too love aromatherapy. I never really cared about the artificial scents they were always trying to spray on you in the dept store. I have always had allergy and sinus problems and so discovered eucalyptus and peppermint scents I use with my steam inhaler which I use often to help with a stuffy nose. Being curious about all the essential oils at whole foods I purchased The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood and have been referring to it ever since. Essential oils help your emotional, spiritual and physical well-being and it is just plain fun to research their uses and make your own concoctions. When I have a burn for example, I mix up lavender with some tea tree and some aloe vera and the burns heal up more quickly and there is less scarring. Hurray for essential oils and aromatherapy!

  3. Rebecca says:

    Wow, so on this same wavelength…About a week ago I heard of Lotus Wei (wish I could remember how), went to the website, picked a flower, and was directed to the exact thing I need right now. Got my order in a flash. My top pick was the Inspired Action energy mist and elixer, and I also tried the mist sampler. Loved the Pure Energy and Inner Peace mini mists, so I put in another order for more of those. I’m committed to giving this aromatherapy thing a solid try, because I clearly need something beyond my yoga, etc.

    I too am super scent-sensitive. The right scent is glorious and feels essential to living, the wrong one can instantly set off negative emotions and uncomfortable physical responses.

    And here’s a weird bit of info…pink lotus is common to both my fav Lotus Wei scents. It represents wisdom, insight, and spiritual understanding. Things I once felt I had a handle on but I’m currently thrown off. I’ve been looking to get a new tattoo for a long while, and now I’m inspired to get a pink lotus! Well, I guess I haven’t looked much into the idea of a clean, non-tox tattoo (anybody know anything about that?), but at least I got a great pic and am using it as wallpaper on my iPhone and laptop.

  4. Stancie says:

    Big time aromatherapy believer here! Hope Gillerman’s products are some of the absolute best I’ve ever used. Pricey – yes, but that’s because they’re such high quality *and* effective. I don’t travel without her Sleep Remedy (I have a difficult time sleeping in hotels by myself). She’s a very sweet lady too and her skin care is awesome as well. Great post!

  5. Joy says:

    I just started putting peppermint oil on my temples and voila – headache be gone! And my new favorite scent now is lime oil. Yay aromatherapy!

  6. Rachel says:

    Aromatherapy is awesome! I work for a company in the UK that use only organic essential oils to scent the products. A lot of people use essential oils for the scents but fewer people take advantage of the therapeutic properties of certain essential oils when they are used on the skin, such as geranium for balancing oily skin/hair, neroli for nourishing (great for scars and stretch marks!) and rose for soothing red, inflamed skin and helping clear redness and broken capillaries.

    Hooray for essential oils!!

  7. Jody says:

    I wound LOVE for you to experience the aromatherapy mists I create. They are known to be quite addicting!! I created my company out of a love & passion for essential oils. Education is powerful. The synthetic stuff = bad. I’m allergic & it has really negative effects on me. Welcome to the wonderful world of aromatherapy!

  8. Siobhan says:

    @Jody We’d love to! Email us!

  9. Ashley says:

    I’ve heard people caution about potential problems from natural essential oils – I heard some are hormone disrupters. Any tips on making sure the harmless relaxation stays non-toxic?

  10. Siobhan says:

    I have dabbed lavender under my nose before bed for many years. A friend used to call it my sleep juice :) It works really well for me and as I keep saying, being into ritual in general, it’s especially soothing. I also love Tata Harpers anti irritability treatment. It smells so good! And as a pre-wedding gift to my friend I have her some stress zapper aroma http://sumbody.com/products02.php?pID=216&scat= from Sumbody, and we huffed it on the big day together. Very soothing!

  11. Rebecca says:

    @Ashley, I know there are some oils that shouldn’t be used during pregnancy (just do an internet search for a list), and maybe some of that has to do with hormones. And some people have sensitivity to certain oils. For example, while I LOVE lavender, I have a chemically sensitive friend that finds that scent particularly harmful, even the all natural stuff. But overall, unless a plant is itself toxic, I don’t think there is harm in using the essential oil in diluted form.

  12. Naomi says:

    I hate synthetic fragrance – even before switching to clean products I felt nauseus when I smelled everyday perfumes and I have stopped using skincare or haircare because of my overwhelmingly negative response to the smells. Only when I wend “clean” did I start to appreciate smells again, I am guessing the natural stuff doesn’t trigger whatever left me feeling sick / headache-y. I LOVE the smell of everything Tata Harper! I tried a sample of the serum and the smell alone made me want to use it every day. I use a Buddha Nose spray which I really like, but it doesn’t have a real lasting power. I have a vase of dried lavender beside my bed and a sachet of the same under my pillow. I’m really excited to try some of the lines you’ve mentioned – thanks for this!

  13. I agree with Alexandra on the word AROMATHERAPY!!!!
    I prefer AROMATIC HEALING to separate out the true therapeutic work from beauty products that pay lip service to EO’s benefits but are really using synthetic scents and not enough of the real thing (industry standard is below 2%). Since the true efficacy of an EO blend depends on quality and selection of oils used, the formulation and finally the correct application, many of us haven’t experienced the heart of Aromatic Healing.

    For those who are just learning about essential oils – here is some basic stuff that is always good to know.

    Essential Oils are the MOST concentrated essence found in nature.
    Essential Oils are ingested through our skin and our lungs into our bodies. They affect us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, chemically, physiologically.
    Essential Oils must be organic and wild-crafted to receive their true healing benefits.
    Essential Oils are all anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, detoxifying.

    The most effective way to apply essential oils – usually diluted in a botanical oil – is topically! You apply them right on the area where you need them. Example: got a tension headache? Most headaches are caused by excess neck tension blocking blood flow to the brain. So put on an essential oils blend (yes peppermint is great) on the back of your neck.

    Essential oils are actually ingested into the lungs when you inhale them, and from there the tiny particles go into your blood stream and at the same time, the particles are going to your hypothalamus where they affect your autonomic nervous system and the part of the brain that controls body temperature, fatigue, sleep, and circadian cycles. Double blind studies show that just inhaling an oil can lower the amount of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your blood stream.

    Here’s something you can do with any blend (I don’t recommend using oils one at a time — use them in blends of 2-8 oils): for a quick mood shift, put a few drops in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together and then cup them over your face and inhale 10-15 deep breaths. You will feel so chilled out you will be able to go back to whatever you are doing without the feeling that you have too much to do or that you have to rush. And then, once you are really focused and not rushing, you will be using your time efficiently.

  14. eva says:

    This is in particular @ Naomi.

    AS far as lavender goes, it IS indeed a endocrine disruptor and shouldn’t be used while pregnant or by pre-pubescent boys. Here is a link to a widely sited study by the New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa064725
    Basically exposure to lavender (and tea tree oil) in topical products (soap, scents, lotions as well as a sachet under the pillow ) caused boys to develop breasts (prepuberty gynecomastia). Lavender inhibits the effects of androgen, the hormone that controls male characteristics. Of course women have far less androgens to repress but it’s still worth. My hormones were out of whack for a long time which is why I ended up with this weird nice knowledge of 10-year old boys with cleavage and how diet coke can confuse your hormone receptors..

    In general I want to make the (not surprising to this crowd I think) point that just because a compound is “natural” and “clean” does not mean that it’s inherently healthy or beneficial to every body at any time and can be used totally freely under all circumstances.

    As Hope points out, aromatic oils are the most concentrated essence found in nature and nature kicks some some serious, serious ass!
    So, do your research and of course, always get your aroma healing products from very knowledgeable, experienced holistic providers like Hope (or Lotus Wei) who will answer your questions and really know what they’re talking about!
    That was just my two cents, the whole subject of endocrine disruptors is a pet subject of mine for ranting :)

  15. Lotus Wei says:

    @Ashley, you might try organic geranium oil, or a blend with geranium in it. It’s been known to be an oil that works with the adrenal cortex where hormones are produced, and helps to balance hormone production in other organs–if your hormone levels are too high, it will bring them down and if they’re too low it will bring them up. It has also been known to balance the skin’s natural oils: if you have oily skin, it slows down the oil production and if you have dry skin it increases production. Like Hope said, organic is the way to go with essential oils, because that not only insures that it will be free of pesticides, but also that it’s free of artificial and synthetic fragrances and chemicals that are sometimes cut with natural essential oils (without being on the ingredients label).

    In general you can trust your body’s reactions to the oils themselves, especially if you’re using organic oils. Your sense of smell will give you immediate feedback on whether or not those essential oils are appropriate for you at that moment or not. That’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years is that when you really need certain essential oils, you’ll LOVE the way they smell, and when you don’t need them as much, they won’t be as interesting and you might even feel resistance. Trust your sense of smell. It will give you messages loud and clear as to whether or not what you’re using is doing creating balance in your body and mind.

  16. Lindz says:

    @eva- I have hormone issues. Have since I was 13 (am now 31) and they are still messed up. Do you mind If I ask how you managed to straighten yours out (if you have)? I just can’t seem to get a handle on them, after seeing a few different doctors. Hormones are so complicated. One problem leads to another problem, which leads to another problem. If you want to private message me, I can give you my email address. Thanks for your help.

  17. Ayurvedah1 says:

    Great article, I love aromatherapy as well, amazing a practise that has been around for thousands of years is finally gaining some traction. Let’s hope this time with integrative medicine on the lips of hospital practitioners that it will be here to stay. Can’t wait to try these products, as I also use the ElanVeda products that are incredibly awesome as well. They have just a few products, but I have found they are incredibly effective. Thanks and can’t wait to try your products!

  18. I’m sort of shocked to see you advise to “just do an internet search” when it comes to safety and the use of essential oils. Random googling will lead to all kinds of false claims, seriously dangerous practices, and medical information based on nothing but the game of telephone – you tell someone then they tell someone then on and on until the result bears no relationship to reality!

    The practice of aromatherapy is serious; if you want to learn more visit http://www.naha.org; http://www.aromaweb.com; http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org; aromatherapycouncil.org; http://www.cropwatch.org; roberttisserand.com and http://www.aromaticplantproject.com.

    Beware of companies who make outrageous claims such as using essential oils neat (undiluted) on the spine to cure scioliosis; selling EOs from plants that don’t even produce aroma-chemicals like or saying things like theirs are the only “therapeutic grade” (no such thing…there is no US or international grading system for EOs).

  19. Sue Apito says:

    You are posting misinformation about Lavender essential oil! That story about pre-pubescent boys has been debunked over and over again. Here is an article from an expert — not google!

    http://roberttisserand.com/2011/07/lavender-oil-and-pregnancy/

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. [...] Customers—FitPerez.comKate and Pippa: Great Fashion Icons, Dangerous Body Icons—Blisstree.comConfessions of an Aromatherapy Convert—No More Dirty Looks6 Easy Tips to Keep Your Nails Healthy and Strong—Self.comView to a [...]

  2. [...] See, last week we told you about a new obsession with flower essence brand Lotus Wei. But today, being that it’s Monday and all, we want to talk about sister company Wei of Chocolate. See, founder Lisa Reinhardt uses delicious vegan dark chocolate as the delivery mechanism for the same powerful flower essences used in the Lotus Wei sprays and serums. [...]

  3. [...] use of flower essences before: Katie at Lotus Wei incorporates these healing wonders into her incredible scented serums, mists and elixirs, while Lisa at Wei of Chocolate blends them into delicious and meditative (vegan) chocolates. Today [...]



Leave A Comment