Posts Tagged ‘plant medicine’

Wow! I can’t believe it has already been 2 months since my trip to Dublin, Ireland for Botanica 2012. Time has literally flown by! Well, I’m just now getting to sharing some of my experiences there. Luckily, it feels like just yesterday that I was walking briskly along the cobblestone streets admiring the bountiful flower scapes draped out of each window box.

Botanica was organized by an industry top gun, Rhiannon Harris, owner of Essential Oil Resource Consultants and founder of the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, an invaluable resource for clinical aromatherapists world-wide.

Because this event was so rich, I thought that I would break up the posts in parts, in order to share more.

So, Part I:

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles. Photo credit: Wikipedia

The International Celebration of Plant Therapeutics was kicked off with a cheerful Ireland lassie, Vivienne Campbell. She spoke about a variety of the native plants and herbs, including their uses throughout history. One in particular was Stinging Nettles; an iron rich herb common in Irish dishes. Known for it’s detoxifying & tonic qualities, as well as strengthening the kidneys, nourishing to the blood and much more. She suggested using it in the form of tea(steeped 10 min.) or even cooked up with cabbage. I am very interested to try it and more so to wild forge some in my own backyard! Her side note tip: Wear rubber gloves to avoid getting “stung.” If you enjoy using nettles, comment on this post, I would love to hear your experiences.

A couple more of her suggestions: Ballymaloe, An Irish Cookery School, advocating using fresh, local wild herbs.  And, Wild and Free: Cooking from Nature by Cyril O’Ceirin; a great book on wild foraging. Some of their local picks:

  • Tormento-an astringent herb, helpful for IBS.
  • Silver Wheat-nutty flavor, helpful for sore throats.
  • Black Thorn-a type of plum and a traditional, valuable food source.
  • Primrose-good to relax nerves & ease insomnia.

This speaker was so full of life and her enthusiasm for plant medicine just poured out of her. For more information on Vivienne, check out The Herbal Hub.

Irish Wildflowers

Irish Wildflowers. Photo credit: Dennis Flood

During my stay, I had the fortune of traveling from Dublin to Galway, a three-hour tour from the East coast to the West coast, with some of the most magnificent sights(now I know why they call it the Emerald Isle!). Plus, we had an awesome guide sharing juicy tales of myths and legends going as far back as the medieval times. We hiked over the Burren terrain-A one of a kind view of very interesting rock formations along the coast, home of native and rare Irish species. It has even been said that over 70% of Ireland’s wildflowers can be found there in the limestone array, many of which are used in the creations found at The Burren Perfumery. We unfortunately did not have time to stop at the perfumery, Ireland’s oldest perfumery and soap making shop. But, it is definitely on the list for my next visit.

More to follow in Part 2: Coming Soon!

Until next time…
Breathe Joy,

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Who has ever been seduced by scent?  Awakened by the aroma of a fresh squeezed orange?  Pacified by a lingering waft of blooming lavender? 

The sense of smell, olfaction, is one of our most powerful senses.  Aromatherapy is a curative process using aroma.  More clearly, Aromatherapy is a healing modality utilizing the science of plant compounds called essential oils.  Essential oils are extracted from single botanical sources from all over the world by a variety of methods, of which, steam distillation is the most common. Various aromatic plant parts are used depending on the nature of the plant and the richest chemical properties, there in. Examples are:

  • Berries
  • Seeds
  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Bark
  • Resin
  • Wood
  • Peel
  • Roots
  • Rhizomes

The ‘power of the plant’ has the ability to aid healing on a physical, mental, emotional and spirit level.  This gift of nature is truly our “holistic” medicine cabinet!  It has been documented that essential oils have been used throughout time, going as far back as 4500 BC.

The integrity of the essential oil is vital.  High standard Aromatherapy utilizes only the purest grade, unadulterated essential oils, batch tested for quality assurance and scientific data.

So how is the quality of an essential oil tested?

A leading edge technology called Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry(GC/MS) is used to test the purity of the essential oil and decipher the chemical components contained within. Understanding the chemistry of essential oils is crucial when effective, clinical results are desired.  Some components of essential oils are terpenes, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, oxides and ethers(More on the chemistry of essential oils in another post). Each natural chemical component is responsible for various healing actions.  Antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antidepressant & anti-spasmodic, to name a few.

Sound Confusing?

It’s really not!  The power of scent is enjoyed by all, with or without the “background portfolio”.  For example, when smelling a rose can invoke a sense of serenity and the remembrance of a loved one’s ‘signature scent’, or the delicious smell of garlic & onions cooking can magically stimulate the appetite.

How does it all work?

Through the process of smelling, messages are transmitted to the limbic system of our brain.  The limbic system has a direct connection to our central nervous system, an intimate relationship with our emotional set up & memory, and plays a primary role in decision-making.  This unique pathway to the brain is one reason why psychological and physical benefits are experienced rather quickly.

Applications may include one or various combinations, as needed:

  • Inhalation(through facial steam, electric diffuser, inhalers, etc.)
  • Hydrotherapy(through baths/soaks)
  • Topical(lotion/oil/aloe base)
  • Compress(hot or cold)

Aromatherapy, in my opinion, is one of the most simple and enjoyable ways to enhance your life.  It has the ability to connect us with nature and to deeper levels within…. Truly a gift to share.

Until next time,

Breathe Joy…



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