Monday, February 11, 2019

Which Vetiver?


 A guest blog from our friend Charlie Banks, who has the best gift for describing our oils that I know. 

A Guide to Nature’s Gift Vetiver Oils

I remember the first time I smelled Marge’s Indian & Haitian Vetiver. I was only a couple of years into my aromatherapy journey and had only experienced one other Vetiver oil that to my nose smelled pretty bad. It was like wet camp fire ashes. I now know that one was distilled improperly. Vetiver typically smells woodsy, grassy, resinous, slightly sweet and sometimes slightly smoky if distilled the right way.  I asked for samples of both of them even though I knew from the description I would connect better with the Indian variety. Even though this was true, the Haitian still serves a purpose for me. As do the Ruh Khus and the newly imported Indonesian. When Marge and her team bring in multiples of one species it can be overwhelming. These four may all be Vetiver, but when you experience them beyond the bottle, and let them tell you their story you’ll find the one that connects with your intention perfectly. Get samples of them all. You might be surprised at what speaks to you!

The Vetiver from Haiti is the perfect single note fragrance.
Vetiver Roots
Right out of the bottle it has somewhat of a sweet, astringent, grassy punch. It’s much lighter and sweeter than the other vetiver oils. While experimenting with this one I’ve found that is much better experienced on the skin. Diluted (always take safety and your personal dilution limits into consideration when making a personal perfume!) in fractionated coconut oil it smells like a very dimensional perfume all on its own. As it dries down on the skin it remains light, but deeper woody notes become present. It will also take on different characteristics depending on your own body chemistry. On me it tends to be more woodsy, resinous, and balsamic. Very clean smelling.  On one of my friends it smells much sweeter and almost powdery. As Marge suggests, I prefer not to blend with this one. It uses more in a blend, and its uniqueness of being light and sweet is lost among the other oils in a blend. Emotionally it’s very uplifting, and not too sedating to use during the day. I find it brings balance and peace.

Indian Vetiver
The Indian Vetiver is what really made me gain great respect for this oil. Not because of it’s scent (which is amazing of course), but because of its versatility. This is the Vetiver you want to blend with. Deep, rich, woodsy, and resinous. A little bit goes a long way, and it ages beautifully. Over time it acquires a sweeter powdery dry down while still rich and earthy.  My favorite way to use it is with citrus oils, florals, conifers, and really any fleeting top notes. It keeps them around longer in blends and compliments them well. Alone it’s a wonderful vetiver, but I find it’s much more useful as a base note for blends. It won’t dominate a blend if used in small amounts. Most of the time I only need one drop maybe two if I’m blending with other strong oils. It also cuts the edge on some of the harder more intense smelling oils such as Eucalyptus globulus. For a real treat blend it with other oils that come from the same region. Kashmir Lavender, Tamil Sandalwood (Santalum album), Frankincense (Boswellia serrata), Indian Patchouli (Pogostemon patchouli),  Golden Champa(Michelia champaca), Rhododendron anthopogon, and Palma Rosa(Cymbopogon martini) are some of my favorites. The energy that develops and comes with working with oils from the same region of the world can really add something beautiful to your blend.

Ruh Khus, green vetiver, or wild vetiver as it is known is a
Green Ruh Khus
special one for sure. Grassy, green, woodsy, and slightly sweet! Not as light as the Haitian, but not as deep as the Indian. It blends well with most things without dominating and is wonderful on its own as well. As it dries down it becomes more green and herbaceous with hints of wood and rose.  This vetiver really shines emotionally out of all of them. Its polite intensity is just enough and not too much to really relax and calm my over active, worry wart brain. If I’m in the mood to meditate with vetiver alone this is my go-to. Energetically, it speaks to me just a bit more than the Indian or the Haitian.  When meditating with any vetiver it tends to balance all my chakras, and with the help of a smoky quartz crystal it pulls wisdom and guidance down to my root chakra from my crown. The beautiful green color and energy of Ruh Khus put a unique focus on my heart chakra. I found it really helpful when meditating on forgiveness (self and others) alone or blended with things like Frankincense, rose, bergamot, geranium, or spikenard.

The new Indonesian Vetiver has topped the Indian as my personal favorite. The deepest, richest, and most luxurious of them all. It almost smells more like Patchouli than vetiver. The
Indonesian Vetiver
light green notes do not exist in this one. Deep woods, earth, minerals, and sweet smoky resin are words that come to mind when I smell this. Until smelling this one I’ve never understood people experiencing vetiver as an aphrodisiac. This vetiver is seductive, mysterious, tranquil, and nourishing to the soul. It makes me happy just to be around it. This is the vetiver I’ll pull when I want to relax in a warm bath after a long stressful day. This one is proving to be the most anti-inflammatory out of the bunch for me.  It’s more than enjoyable on its own, and great blended with other oils. It makes an incredible base for the more intense florals such as Jasmine, rose or YlangYlang. This one is for a true vetiver fan. It’s unmistakeable and won’t be hidden in blends.

With all of that being said, any of these vetiver oils would be a great choice to receive the many benefits vetiver has to offer, but each one has is own unique specialty and scent profile. Get samples of them before you choose. Experience them. Get them on your skin (safely diluted of course) and see which one feels and smells right for YOU. I really fell in love with vetiver a couple years ago after moving out of state for a new job. I had asked Marge what she would suggest for helping through this new beginning. She and Christi suggested vetiver, among other things, and ever since it has been a staple in my life for many different reasons. It grounds me, lightens my heart, and helps me release negativity and what no longer serves a purpose in my life. If you’ve had limited and possibly bad experiences with vetiver or you’re someone who feels they just don’t like it, I urge you to give it one more chance. Order samples of these four. It will surprise you when you least expect it to. 

While writing and editing this article I’ve been diffusing a blend that really captures some of Vetiver’s beauty and power. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do, and will find the Vetiver that speaks to your soul.

1 or 2 Vetiver (depending on personal taste)
1 Lemon
1 Bergamot.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Beating the Winter Blues: Using Aromatherapy


Guest Blogger, Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist, and one of our Aromatherapists on Call writes:

What is SAD?



Are you feeling blue, trapped in your house during the cold and dreary winter months? You are not alone! However, it might be more than just negative feelings about the weather and inability to get outside. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 10 million Americans every year [1]. Those who suffer from this mood disorder may notice that it typically crops up around the same time each year [2]. Interestingly, the winter season is the prime time most individuals experience symptoms, but its important to note that it may not be the only time these symptoms complicate your life. Some individuals may experience SAD during the summer months as well [3]. It is important to note that working closely with your physician is key to understanding SAD. If you have one or more of the symptoms listed below, make an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss your options[1].

 Symptoms


 Symptoms of SAD vary widely and depend not only upon each individual but also biological factors like gender, age, and family history, as well as other factors like geographical location [3, 4]. The most common signs of SAD are: feelings of depressed mood, changes in appetite, a lack of desire to do the things you normally loved, sleep disturbances or changes in sleep, fatigue or an increase in irritability, and withdrawal from social situations [1, 2, 3, 4].

 Conventional Interventions



While any healthy lifestyle should always start with a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet along with proper amounts of sleep and regular exercise, there are other conventional treatments regularly recommended by physicians to combat the symptoms of SAD. These include[2]:

   Medications: Many similar or identical to those used for depression can help manage the symptoms associated with SAD [1, 2, 3, 4].

   Psychotherapy: Also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or talk therapy [2], psychotherapy may help refocus the mind and provide tools for coping with SAD. This method of therapy is useful to help reduce overall stress and teaches patients to identify their triggers and then how to manage them in a healthier way [1, 2].

   Light Therapy: The use of a light box may reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with SAD. These devices can be found at online retailers and are simple to use. Plug in and spend up to an hour in front of the light box on a daily basis. Consistent use is key, for the duration of the winter season. Best when combined with CBT, but also very effective on its own with few or no side effects [1, 2, 3, 4].

   Vitamin D: Though not a stand-alone treatment for SAD, research shows that people who typically suffer from SAD do have low levels of vitamin D. The jury is out on whether this is an effective treatment--some say its highly effective while others find little or no effect [2].


Aromatic Interventions


 While traditional methods are helpful to many people, perhaps you prefer a holistic approach along with traditional interventions, or you want to explore complementary things you can do at home to improve your wellbeing!


Lets explore the ways aromatics may be able to assist your healing journey. Its widely known that the large, light molecules found in most monoterpenes are uplifting to the heart and mind. These include perennial favorites like citrus essential oils (Sweet Orange, Lemon, Mandarin, Grapefruit and the like). Other useful aromatic choices for SAD are listed below (keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list)


   Bergamot: Encourages and balances the spirit while also combating fatigue due to stress, tension and anxiety. Bergamot is a powerful antidote to the blue mood during the deep, dark days of winter.

   Neroli: Provides an uplifting and peaceful feeling and is lovely by itself, or blends well with rose, bergamot, or other citrus oils. Emotionally, Neroli is the specific for anxiety and can ease depression. It is a key ingredient in our anti-anxiety blend Reunite

   Rose Absolute: What else could evoke such beautiful memories of a sun-drenched summer garden than a whiff of rose? Soothing to both the spirit and the mind, while calming any irritable emotions, rose is a perfect way to be lifted up out of the dreary days of winter.

   Frankincense:  Frankincense has been used by cultures around the world for spiritual growth and meditation. It is believed to have a centering effect on the emotions. It can slow respiration, thus helping your body calm and center itself.

   Bay (Laurel): A wonderful, masculine scent for the men in our lives who may be struck with a bit of the winter blues. Blends well with citrus oils for extra brightness. Bay Laurel is a great way to perk up but be mellow and grounded at the same time.
   
   Lavender: It is ubiquitous in the area of self-care, and well-known for the relaxation and mellowness it can afford the user, Lavender is said to calm anxiety and/or hysteria. It is a valued addition to any sress-relieving blend of oils, whether the stress is physical or emotional. Lavender helps balance almost all extreme emotions.

Are you not confident in your blending skills, or pressed for time and want a simple solution? Dont worry and take the guess work out by trying our [3] Citrus Smile Blend--the perfect pick-me-up for those seasonal blahs!

   Citrus Smile offers a pleasant lift to the spirit and provides a wonderfully bright aroma certain to improve mood. Its called Citrus Smile because you cannot help but crack a big grin when the aroma hits your nostrils!

Next you may ask--what are the best methods of use for aromatic interventions? Inhalation is truly the best route to combat SAD. For the most versatile option, we recommend using a blank inhaler & creating a blend to suit your needs or preferences. These are perfect for use at home, at work, or on-the-go in a pocket or purse! If you spend a lot of time at home, then a diffuser or warmer may be a good option.

 Putting it all together


Arming yourself with information is key; action is the next step.  A visit with your primary health care provider is always a great place to begin. Next, make small changes over time, instead of large ones. This helps reduce being overwhelmed by lifestyle changes. Change one thing a week until youve implemented your new plan. Be gentle with yourself and remember that spring is just around the corner!


Finally, visit us at www.naturesgift.com to explore our selection of aromatics, learn more from our blog or email one of our Aromatherapists with a question! Wishing you a warm and cozy late winter season!

Resources (accessed 1/18/2018)
[1] Season Affective Disorder. Psychology Today. March 6, 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder Accessed Jan. 18, 2018
[2] Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Joseph Goldberg, MD. WebMD. April 13, 2018.  https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/seasonal-affective-disorder#1 Accessed Jan. 18, 2018
[3] Seasonal Affective Disorder. National Institute for Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml Accessed Jan. 18, 2018
[4] Seasonal Affective Disorder. Mayo Clinic staff. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651 Accessed Jan. 18, 2018




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