A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (part 4) by Heather Eggleston

A third law is the law of Minimum, which states too high a dosage causes aggravation in the patient and so it is best to use the smallest dosage possible to effect change within a highly potentiated tincture. This issue of dilutions caused a great deal of fuss for American homeopaths who differed between those who used lower (less dilute) and higher (sometimes infinitesimal) dosages. Because regular doctors derided so-called high dosages as deception and quackery homeopathic theories abounded as to why high doses are so effective. Explanations from the unapologetically metaphysical to Mesmerism to the “new” sciences like chemistry were actively debated. This issue became a split in homeopathy between a more mechanistic, physically oriented school that worked with lower dosages and a far more metaphysical and spiritually inclined school, which accepted infinitesimal dosages (Lockie, 1995, p. 17).

A fourth law is the law of Vital Force, which offers explanation for how homeopathy works. It posits that the diseased body has suffered an attack on its vital force, which is the energy that maintains life, the integrity of the human systems, and defends against disease (a modern eye may look at the immune system as a physiological system for the vital force whereas a more holistic modality may discuss chi with similar functional language). When the vital force is depleted illness occurs whereas when strong the body can withstand attacks. So the goal of homeopathy is to restore the vital force, which it does by introducing an artificial disease state induced by the homeopathic remedy. This artificial disease state incites the natural vital force to rally and bring the whole system back into balance.

A fifth law is the law of Chronic Diseases, which introduces the concept of miasms to the homeopathic lexicon. In this most abstract of theories Hahnemann says that chronic diseases are derivative of three major miasms (psora, syphilis, and sycosis) and may have a generational (genetic) quality (Lockie, 2006 p. 20). He indicates they are the most difficult to cure and that allopathic treatments only aggravate them. This theory was controversial and often ignored by homeopaths who find it too philosophical to be practical. Oliver Wendall Holmes, an outspoken critic of homeopathy, stated the only reason miasmic theory did not cause a schism in the irregular schools was due to its relative unimportance even to homeopathic adherents (Haller, 2005, p. 2447).

A sixth law is Drug-proving, which codifies the proving method. The homeopath uses varying dosages of remedies on a healthy person to test the resultant symptoms and add data to the materia medica. Following his own experimentation with cinchona bark Hahnemann replicated the experiment on other healthy subjects and found the same results in varying degrees based on the constitution of the subject. And as he and his disciples proved more and more substances the homeopathic materia medica was born (Lockie, 1995, p.12). In this codification Hahnemann emphasized symptomatology over pathological theory preferring to understand the whole of the person, not just the differential diagnosis, through long case-taking interviews and observation. He also insisted medicines be proved on the healthy rather than as silver bullets for the ill whose systems were already compromised (Holler, 2005, p. 227).

A seventh law is that of Dynamization, which states that the esoteric qualities of the vital force of the substance itself is made medicinal via a process of succussion (shaking) and dilution. This process potentiates the poison into a powerful medicine. One can imagine the derision the regulars heaped onto this seemingly esoteric doctrine. As with the issue of dosages dynamization was hotly debated in homeopathic circles. The method of succussion, the rhythm, timing, and the exact method of how medicinal properties were extracted was very theoretical. Hahnemann himself adhered to Mesmerism, a school of thought that presumes human beings have their own magnetic quality that impresses itself upon a substance. As the acupuncturist develops chi to transmute to patients via needles the preparation of a homeopathic remedy involves a dynamic individual succussing a substance making it more and more powerful. Benjamin F. Joslin found a more mechanistic answer to this dilemma by theorizing that the succussion process pulverized and tore apart the original material spreading its essence throughout the dilute medicine making it more easily absorbed by the human body (1995, p. 1001).

References

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (part 3) by Heather Eggleston

Following his death the homeopathic school thrived and debate was enriched. Doctors such as Constantine Hering, James Tyler Kent, and many others added their experience and keen insights to the homeopathic lexicon. The American northeast and mid-Atlantic states became hot spots of ideas as significant numbers of regulars converted to homeopathy following positive experiences with its usage. The American south and western territories took longer to embrace homeopathy due to economic and social differences but by the late 1800’s all regions of American had homeopathic representation and societies.

The first societies of homeopathy were formed as alliances of primarily medical doctors. These societies were safe havens for the exploration of ideas, philosophies, and became rich sources of empirical evidence, provings, and discussion. The societies initially seemed to thrive on the American ideals of freedom of thought and democracy and many of the doctors practiced homeopathy within their regular practice and did not see it as an either/or model. Lay healers were included in the societies as respected members. It was not until resistance from hostile regulars forced homeopaths to form their own licensing organizations that a true rift between allopathy and homeopathy occurred in the States (2005, p. 740). By the turn of the century there were homeopathy schools, hospitals, journals, and many devoted adherents.

Due to Hahnemann’s insistence on simplicity the homeopathic principles are fairly clear although the American societies had heated debates and were not afraid to split with Hahnemann’s doctrines. Dr. Constantine Hering, the Father of American Homeopathy, adhered to the Oragon only as far as “like cures like” and left all other laws subject to empirical proof and vital debate (Haller, 2005, p. 943). The first and inviolate doctrine of homeopathy is the law of similars, like cures like. This law was discovered with the first proving of cinchona bark. Hahnemann wrote in 1796:

One should imitate Nature which at times heals the chronic illness by another additional one. One should apply in the disease to be healed, particularly if it is chronic, that remedy which is able to stimulate another artificially produced disease as similar as possible and the former will be healed. (Lockie, 1995, p. 14)

A second law is the law of Simplex, which states that the healer uses the one remedy that best matches the patients overall symptom portrait. Through exhaustive case-taking the healer chooses the medicine that best matches the most peculiar and unique symptoms and uses only that remedy until either symptoms change and another more appropriate remedy is chosen or a cure is effected. This one remedy at a time solution is elegant and allows the homeopath to monitor the symptoms carefully and to adjust fluidly as needed. If the healer uses too many remedies at once it is impossible to tell what is working and what isn’t. Because homeopathy relies on observation and interaction between homeopath (medicine) and patient (symptom) healing is an eloquent conversation. Contemporary classical homeopaths adhere to this prescription of one remedy at a time however there is a trend towards combination medicines for specific issues (for stress, sleep, or a sore throat without regard to the broader patient portrait). These combination remedies are not formulated with the patient-centered approach of the classical homeopaths but in the more disease-model approach of allopathy. Although non-specific they can be advantageous in emergency as they are easily accessible at drug and natural food stores and do not require extensive consultation.

References

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

Therapeutic Massage as the art of Unwinding (by Heather Eggleston)

Healing is a gentle process of unwinding from a state of old, uncomfortable defense mechanisms, postural deviations, and discomfort into a more authentic state of simple being. As we learn to recognize our Selves in the cacophony of jumbled voices we’ve absorbed during our lives, suddenly we find ourselves more naturally aligned with the primary heartbeat and those external fears we’ve swallowed are cleansed from our inner waterways. Suddenly we are unwound enough to know who we are and how to simply Be.

Therapeutic massage has a long list of benefits. It increases circulation, lowers heart rate, re-sets the hormonal soup of the body, liquifies fascial tissue, and on and on. Each of these characteristics is vitally important for their interrelated physiological reasons. However they all point to a more artful underlying benefit of therapeutic massage and that is the gentle unwinding process. As the compassionate and skilled therapist holds space the guest is allowed a space to recover their natural rhythms. Movement is very much a part of massage. It is, ideally, an interactive dance in which the massage therapist works and the guest is given permission to shift ever so subtly as tense, traumatized fascial tissue loosens and the binds on the body release. As the physical binds release the mental-emotional and spiritual binds are given permission to follow.

Healing is a labyrinth and when we step into it we (therapist and guest) have no idea where it will ultimately lead. It is the process of following the natural rhythms of the body that draws us deeper into a space of primary reality and Deep Healing.

 

A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (part 2) by Heather Eggleston

The development of homeopathy was originally based solely on the experiments and writings of Hahnemann himself. He was born to an impoverished household but his academic acuity earned him opportunities to study languages and eventually to be trained as a physician at the University of Leipzig and as a clinician in Vienna. He was fluent in eight languages, had a keen philosophical mind, and delved into the complex theories of illness in his time. However the more he practiced the more concerned he became with the harm caused patients and perceived the practice of medicine to be fundamentally unscientific and ultimately damaging. Haller (2005) quotes Hahnemann’s letter to a fellow doctor:

“It was painful for me to grope in the dark, guided only by our books, in the treatment of the sick… To become in this way a murderer or aggravator of the sufferings of my brethren of mankind, was to me a fearful thought (p. 196).”

It was at this point that Hahnemann left the practice of medicine and dedicated himself to translating medical texts and stumbled on the homeopathic watershed moment.

While translating a text on cinchona bark for the treatment of malaria he puzzled at why quinine would be so effective for malaria when other equally antiseptic substances were not. And so he experimented by dosing himself with quinine and found that with each dosage he would develop the symptoms of malaria. So the medicine that was used to treat malaria produced the same symptoms as malaria. This, then, was the first homeopathic proving, the meticulous recording of the symptoms caused by dosages of particular substances and the establishment of the primary law of similars (see below) (Holler, 2005, p. 227) .

In 1810 Hahnemann published his opus, The Organon. In this text, which had six editions total, Hahnemann laid out his theories in the final form of 294 aphorisms. The substance of these aphorisms include indictment of allopathic medicine, the philosophy of his laws, dosages, how to conduct case-taking observations, his theories of vital force, artificial and natural diseases, miasms, and more. Following the publication of the Organon Hahnemann continued to write, debate, conduct provings, and correspond with students. In his 80s he remarried and moved to Paris where he and his wife shared a clinic. In his old age Hahnemann became increasing dogmatic and resistant to any criticism from within the homeopathic movement and his ideas became rigid  until his death in 1843 (2005, p. 511).

References

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

A Survey of Homeopathic Medicine (Part 1) by Heather Eggleston

Homeopathy is a methodical, evidence based form of medicine developed by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) and practiced widely throughout the world today. From its inception homeopathy styled itself as an alternative to the now prevalent allopathic medical model and thrived in many segments of the American population including the upper classes, women, and the churches. Its principles were laid out by Hahnemann and his philosophy is the heart of Homeopathy. After his death students expanded homeopathic theory and enriched the practice. Contemporary homeopathic doctors and lay practitioners still further it and, despite continued attempts by mainstream medicine to discredit it, there appears to be a revival of homeopathic medicine as a viable alternative to allopathic interventions. And now in the 21st century the integration of homeopathy within the larger context of medical intervention finally seems possible.

Hahnemann was born in 1755 in Dresden, Germany and was a dedicated doctor in the medical world of his day. But the more he practiced medicine the more disillusioned he became and so protested the medicine of his times eventually giving it up entirely.

It is important to understand the medical milieu with which Hahnemann became so disenchanted. In Hahnemann’s time there was a growing schism between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ doctors. According to Cuellar’s interview with medical historian James C. Whortan (2006, p. 2-8) homeopathy, and the broader category of complementary and alternative medicine, derived from this schism. Embracing complicated philosophical theories of pathology and illness the regulars used such methods as purging, bloodletting, burning, toxic medicines, and other dramatic (sometimes traumatic) techniques often leaving their patients weaker and sicker or dead. The conditions of life contributed to poor public health with pandemics like cholera and yellow fever, unsanitary conditions, industrialization, and ever increasing environmental toxicity.

The irregulars employed techniques to spark the human being’s natural ability to self-heal via a whole person approach including nutrition, exercise, fresh air, and rest. Rising contemporaneously with homeopathy other irregular movements explored techniques based in observation, stimulation of patient vitality, and gentle curative methods that empowered the patient. Mesmerism, although conceived the previous century, was popularized during this period and emphasized manipulation of the vital force and was clearly an influence in Hahnemann’s thought. Also contemporaneous with Homeopathy was Thompsonism, which used botanicals for healing, and Priessnitz’ Hydrotherapy (water therapy) applications.

The split highlighted today between the treatment of disease as opposed to the healing of the whole person is built on the foundation that is the division between homeopathic and allopathic philosophies. Hahnemann himself coined the term allopathic meaning “other than the disease.” The term was intentionally derisive indicating the regulars treatments were meant to evoke reactions different than the disease as opposed to homeopathically, which used treatments like the disease. Roughly a third of Americans were using some form of irregular medicine prior to the discovery of antibiotics and Whortan points out that the irregulars were a political movement who fought for their own licensing against the medical monopoly of the regulars. The irregular schools, led by homeopathy, had their own educational standards and hospitals. Women were welcomed more readily than in the regular schools and homeopathy became a vocation for many female healers aligned with the suffrage movement. Homeopathy resonated with a particularly American attitude of independence and self-help books and home use kits were used by the general populace. It was not until the regular (allopathic) doctors won the public’s trust upon the discovery of biomedicines such as sulfa drugs and antibiotics that they embraced the once derogatory title for their medical philosophy (2006, p. 3).    

Works cited:

Boericke, William. (2007). Boerkicke’s new manual of homeopathic materia medica with repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Cuellar, Norma G. (2006). Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Hahnemann, Samuel. (2007). Organon of medicine. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.

Haller, John S. (2005). The history of American homeopathy: the academic years 1820 – 1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press. Kindle version.

Lockie, Andrew. (2006). Encyclopedia of homeopathy. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Lockie, Andrew & Geddes, Nicola. (1995). Homeopathy: the principles and practice of treatment. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Rowe, Todd. (1998). Homeopathic methodology: repertory, case taking, and case analysis. Berkley, California: North Atlantic Books.

Homeopathy Intensive

I just returned from a three day case analysis intensive on classical homeopathy and am increasingly impressed with its power to heal the whole person through an unlocking of the individual’s vital force.

Homeopathy speaks to my inherent understanding of energy medicine templates and to my great appreciation for the power of the Earth’s animal, mineral, and plants not as resources for humans to use for our own healing but as energetic templates that stimulate us to heal.

It (in many ways) speaks my language. It is philosophical in its methodology, medical in its terminology, methodical in its usage, symbolic in its layers, holistic in its approach, and lovingly humane at its core.

The empathic grid, group heart, and a different kind of yoga (by Heather Eggleston)

Today is: 1/15/2013

1+6+6=13

4

4 balances the creative energy of 3 and its potential is grounded, made useful, and becomes form. And so the symbol is squared/closed as potential energy is harnessed. Mother Earth.

Four is the beginnings of physical life itself and where actual manifestation occurs. The heart of humanity is born here. The foundation of the group mind and its empathic nexus routes exist within four.

The glue of things is its empathic connections. When I connect with you we create a nexus. And then you connect with another person, which creates another. Eventually all the hearts of humanity are linked in an interlocked pattern of empathic connection. This, then, is the human group-heart. The better known term is group mind but a deeper link is from the group heart. This grand palace with its many rooms looks rather like a three-dimensional and ever-rotating flower of life. Recall (please, no human hubris) humanity is only one layer of this multidimensional webbing and there are other layers of this interwoven pattern who may participate in a very different layer of being. Because each human heart is linked to the All we participate within the consensual reality “bubbles” closest to our heart’s immediate nexus. And so the human world with its rushing cars, financial anxieties, and the glimmers of a powerful seeding of something different, is the result of a shared dream held into place by this empathic grid. 

220px-Seed-of-Life

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_of_Life

It is the role of the dreamers, healers, rebels, and mystics to push the edges of that consensual reality bubble and stretch us to a more All space in which we recognize we are not separate beings existing in isolation. This is not accomplished by individual thoughts or actions only. It is through the connections in (and of) our Hearts. One person meditating alone is significant but our realm of Light changes as we cleanse our links with others.

There is a different kind of “yoga” that seems to be lost. The transcendent ideal of enlightenment in which the yogi ascends to formless Light is polarized by an equally powerful imminent ideal of enlightenment in which the adept fully imbues the physical body with the Soul’s Light (thereby transforming form). What goes up must come down and we must have both paths in balance. The secrets of this “other” path were guarded and encoded within the flesh of the Earth herself, shared symbolism, myth, and alchemy. On this path the seeker melds completely with the Light of the Mother and pulls the Light of our full Soul potential into the magical creative Earth here and now.

We are not fallen, diseased, nor original sin in flesh. Eve’s apple is not damnation but an encoded secret of a feminine (yin) Union. The Light of our Mother is not secondary but is in perfect balance with the Breath of our Father. We do not need to ascend from this place but may instead transform it as we kiss the soil of our Mother and become Light in form.  

aromatherapy for mood and emotion (part 5) by Heather Eggleston

Concentration is the ability to focus through any number of distractions, external such as phones, dog’s barking, and children crying, as well as internal brain chatter, web surfing, and procrastination. It’s an immensely useful skill (or gift!) and fortunately there are traditional ways it can be enhanced with essential oils. Worwood suggests the following oils as useful for concentration: Lemon, Lemongrass, Cardamom, Orange, Rosemary, Peppermint, Basil, Bergamot, Cedarwood, and Eucalyptus (1996, p. 99).

With the exception of the citruses (lemon, orange, and bergamot) the oils are distinctly different than those recommended to treat depression. The tonic effects of terpene hydrocarbons in the citrus oils make them naturals for the stimulating warmth required for concentration. So we’ll review the constituents of the most common oils recommended for focused alertness and concentration: rosemary, peppermint, and eucalyptus.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has three main chemotypes. The most common in aromatherapy is the cineole type. Its main component is cineole, an oxide. Oxides are known for their expectorant properties and 1.8 cineole found in rosemary is cited as the constituent “responsible for rosemary’s CNS-excitatory properties” (Battaglia, 2007, p. 83) and terpene hydrocarbons, which are known for their tonic effect. Traditionally rosemary is said to stimulate the mind and help with memory. A UK study recently validated this in the lab: “Rosemary produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors, but also produced an impairment of speed of memory compared to controls” (Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P., 2003). And in regards to mood: “both the control and lavender groups were significantly less alert than the rosemary condition; however, the control group was significantly less content than both rosemary and lavender conditions. These findings indicate that the olfactory properties of these essential oils can produce objective effects on cognitive performance, as well as subjective effects on mood” (Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P., 2003). So, indeed, rosemary does aid memory and enhances mental clarity.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is composed principally of menthol (up to 46%) with the associated alcohol tonic effect. The above referenced study (page 3) by Moss, et al indicated peppermint stimulated cognitive functioning as opposed to ylang-ylang, which slowed processing time (Moss, Hewitt, Moss, & Wesnes,2008). Not entirely unrelated to concentration peppermint is also shown to relieve headaches and: “prevent congestion of blood supply to the brain” and cold compresses of peppermint oil are recommended to reduce headache and migraine (Battaglia, 2007 p. 247). While headaches are not directly related to concentration they can certainly distract! By including peppermint oil in a concentration blend the unfortunate occasional by-product of focused work, the headache, can be avoided.

Eucalyptus has at least 600 different species and at least 13 different essential oil types. For our purposes we’ll review Eucalyptus radiata, which is 65-75% cineole content (Battaglia, 2007, p. 192) with the remaining principle components terpene alcohols. Like rosemary cineole oxide stimulates and terpene alcohols tonify. Aside from Worwood’s list eucalyptus is rarely indicated for mood but more often for its expectorant and antibacterial qualities. However its distinctive, clearing odor may well serve to bring the mind to rapid attention regardless of chemistry.

So while the essential oils traditionally associated with depression have euphoric, sedative, and calming effects via their ester, ether, and alcohol contents the essential oils associated with concentration are heavier in oxides and terpene alcohols. The aromas of florals are rich, warm, and gently supportive whereas cineole-rich rosemary and eucalyptus are crisp and clearing. Citrus oils are useful for both depression and concentration with their stimulating uplift.

Much of aromatherapy’s elegance is the synergy between different oils. Blending lemon with clary sage and jasmine creates a different effect (uplifted euphoria) than blending lemon with rosemary and eucalyptus (crisp awareness) and yet the component ‘lemon’ is an integral part of each blend.

This synergy offers more freedom than the pharmaceutical approach to treating ‘disease’. Pharmaceuticals for mood are suddenly common as candy and many client intake forms are filled with lists of anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and pain relievers. While pharmaceuticals have their place often they’re unnecessary and evidence of a cultural reliance on chemicals to “fix” us. With laboratory studies suggesting the efficacy of traditional remedies, including aromatherapy, we can explore viable alternatives to pills. This encourages active engagement of the client/patient in his/her own health and well-being. And aesthetically the application or inhalation of a blend of essential oils pleases the senses and engages the imagination while the chemical constituents work their “magic” to alter mood and promote well-being. That’s good medicine. 

Works cited:

Battaglia, Salvatore. (2007). The complete guide to aromatherapy. Brisbane, Australia: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.

Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. (2003). Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. Int J Neurosci. 2003 Jan: 11.3(1):15-38. Abstract obtained from http://www.pubmed.gov.

Moss, M Hewitt, S Moss, L, Wesnis, K. (2008). Modulation of cognitive performance and moods by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Int J Neuroscience. 118:(1):59-77. Abstract obtained from http://www.pubmed.gov.

Schnaubelt, Kurt. (1995). Advanced aromatherapy: the science of essential oil therapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Worwood, Valerie. (1996). The fragrant mind: aromatherapy for personality, mind, mood, and emotion. Novato, CA: New World Library.

 

 

 

aromatherapy for mood and emotion (part 4) by Heather Eggleston

So while the floral oils are useful for soothing the nerves, inducing euphoria, and reducing stress the citrus oils have very different constituents and effects. We’ll review Mandarin, Bergamot, and Lemon.

Mandarin (Citrus reticulate) contains mainly terpene hydrocarbons and esters. The terpene hydrocarbons, principally limonene, promote antiviral and antiseptic effects that in a subliminal way offer a sense of fresh liveliness. These components are said to be stimulants and “general tonics” (Battaglia, 2007. p. 76). Mandarin’s ester content is unique as it comes from a particular source, anthranilic acid ester, which has a strongly sedative effect that is safe for use even with children (Schnaubelt, 1998, p.77). Mandarin, along with lavender, is considered by many aromatherapists the “children’s remedy” for restlessness, anxiety, nightmares, and worry.

Bergamot (Citrus aurantium ssp. Bergamia) is composed principally of terpene hydrocarbons, alcohols, and esters. The balance of stimulating hydrocarbons with sedating alcohols and euphoric esters makes this an ideal adaptogen or balancer. Bergamot has been used traditionally to refresh and relax thereby inducing a state of focused calm. In a Korean study the combination of Bergamot, Lavender, and Frankincense (1:1:1) in sweet almond oil massaged on terminal hospice cancer patients showed statistically significant improvement in both pain and depression scores (Chang, 2008).

Lemon (Citrus limon), like mandarin and bergamot, is composed primarily of terpene hydrocarbons with their antiseptic, stimulating effects. A study at Ohio State University “provided robust evidence that lemon oil reliably enhances positive mood compared to water and lavender regardless of expectancies or previous use of aromatherapy” (Kielcot-Glaser, Graham, Malarkey, Porter, Lemeshow, & Glaser, 2008).

So the citrus oils’ gift to a depressed individual is gentle, calm stimulation without the jittery effects common with over-the-counter drugs and caffeine. Each citrus has its own character so someone who indicates a need to balance will prefer bergamot whereas someone who is prone to hysterics may do better with mandarin’s sedative calm. And yet another person who simply needs to feel emotionally lifted may be drawn to lemon’s specific positivity.

There are still a few more essential oils left on Worwood’s comprehensive list. Geranium (Pelargonium odorantissimum), an herb, is composed mostly of terpene alcohols with a significant (approximately 25%) number of esters. Like neroli, geranium has a significant citronellol content, which allows for its alert yet calming effect. According to Schnaubelt the mix of tonic alcohols and sedating esters give geranium a unique character that makes its effects very individualized (1998, p. 70). Clary sage (Salvia sclarea), another herb, is composed primarily (up to 75%) of esters, which are known as euphoric sedatives, making this oil beneficial in the treatment of any condition related to lifting mood (Battaglia, 2007, p. 188). Frankincense (Boswellia), a resin, is mostly terpene hydrocarbons, which stimulate and tonify the entire system (Battaglia, 2007, p. 204). And finally Sandalwood (santalum album) is composed of 75% santalols, an alcohol that is said to have a calming, sedative effect (Battaglia, 2007, p. 264).

Our survey of the primary chemical constituents of Worwood’s traditional oils to treat depression indicates flexibility within a standard list. Each of the suggested essential oils has clear benefit for some type or symptom of depression. A possible remedy for someone with jittery nervous exhaustion would be: ylang-ylang, mandarin, and sandalwood. Someone who has lost her will may prefer a more euphoric jasmine, clary sage, lemon, and frankincense blend. And yet another who wishes to balance out mood swings would lean towards neroli, bergamot, geranium, and sandalwood. The options are diverse but therapist understanding of why particular oils are indicated for depression streamlines the art of blending and places sound science in line with a beautifully pleasing art.

Works cited:

Battaglia, Salvatore. (2007). The complete guide to aromatherapy. Brisbane, Australia: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.

Chang, SY. (2008). Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. Department of Nursing, Keimyung University, Jung-gu, Daegu, Korea. Abstract obtained from http://www.pubmed.gov.

Kiecolt-Glaser Jk, Graham JE, Malarkey WB, Porter K, Lemeshow S, Glaser R. (2008). Olfactory influences on mood and autonomic, endocrine, and immune function. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008 Apr:33(3):328-39. Abstract obtained from http://www.pubmed.gov.

Schnaubelt, Kurt. (1995). Advanced aromatherapy: the science of essential oil therapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Worwood, Valerie. (1996). The fragrant mind: aromatherapy for personality, mind, mood, and emotion. Novato, CA: New World Library.

aromatherapy for mood and emotion (part 3) by Heather Eggleston

Many popular aromatherapy books offer lists of oils for specific conditions. One book may offer 4-5 oils for, say, depression, while another expert offers 3 additional or even seemingly contradictory oils for the same condition. It’s important to take into consideration the causes of depression when selecting the appropriate oils for treatment. A person who is depressed because of a sudden loss will have very different needs than a person who is chronically depressed whether life circumstances are good or bad. So it becomes important to know why particular oils are allies against depression.

Valerie Ann Worwood offers a number of formulas from the annals of traditional aromatherapy to affect mood. She chose her oils based on common usage to create or relieve specific mood states. We’ll explore her recommendations based on chemical composition and recent laboratory studies to tease out the rudimentary beginnings of why these oils have been used for centuries. We must keep in mind the intricacy of nature is far more vast and complex than anything we can isolate in the lab or replicate in double-blind studies. So with all honor and respect to Mother Nature, let’s explore. We’ll look first at relieving depression and then at promoting concentration.

Depression is popularly defined as a “lowered” mood including sadness, hopelessness, and despair. Energy levels are reduced, sleep patterns are disturbed (ranging from insomnia to sleeping too much), focus is difficult, and eating patterns are erratic (binging and/or starvation cycles). The following essential oils have been traditionally used: Mandarin, Bergamot, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Helichrysum, Clary Sage, Lavender, Roman chamomile, Lemon, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Rose Otto, Neroli, Petitgrain, Sandalwood, Marjoram, and Frankincense (Worwood, 1996, p. 145). Reviewing the list the first thing that jumps out is the list is primarily made up of florals: “oils made from the flowers or petals of plants or trees” (Worwood, 1996, p. 253) (Ylang ylang, Jasmine, Lavender, Roman chamomile, Rose Otto, Helichrysum, and Neroli) and fruits: “essential oils that are extracted from the fruit of a plant or tree” (Worwood, 1996, p. 254) (Mandarin, Bergamot, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Petitgrain). This leaves some herbs (Geranium, Clary sage, and Marjoram), a resin (Frankincense), and a wood (Sandalwood). So what constituents make these oils effective in treating depression?

Let’s look at a few of the most popular florals first, Ylang ylang, Jasmine, Rose, and Neroli. Ylang Ylang’s (Cananga odorata) major components are esters. Esters are calming to the nervous system with sedative properties. An overwrought depressive may appreciate the calming effect but someone who barely has enough energy to get up in the morning may need to avoid the sedative aspect by blending with more stimulating oils. Another major constituent of ylang-ylang are ethers, which are antispasmodic and analgesic. Ethers are known for their euphoric effect and may trigger serotonin release (Battaglia, 2007. p.278), which can give the depressed person a needed boost. Ylang-ylang is shown to reduce the stress-response in humans. “At the behavioral level, subjects in the ylang ylang oil group rated themselves more calm and more relaxed than subjects in the control group. These findings are likely to represent a relaxing effect of the ylang ylang oil and provide some evidence for the usage of the ylang ylang oil in aromatherapy such as causing a relief of depression and stress in humans” (Hongratanaworakit, Buchbauer, 2006).

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is considered a euphoric with an intoxicating aroma. Jasmine’s major constituents are alcohols, which contribute to its stimulating, tonic effect. Someone who has lost joy for living and is fighting depressive exhaustion can utilize the warming, stimulating effect of Jasmine.

Rose (Rosa damascene) is also traditionally indicated for a number of mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. Its primary constituents are terpene alcohols and according to Schnaubelt: “The unfortunately very expensive rose oil is best used for its fragrance. The scent alone has uplifting and tonifying effects and stabilizes the nervous system.” (1998, p. 87). But that hardly tells the whole story. Rose is one of the most chemically complex essential oils with more than 300 compounds, many of which have not yet been isolated (Battaglia, 2007, p. 255). So while the diverse efficacy of rose is mostly empirical at this time it remains one of the most beloved essential oils for treating mood.

Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) is steam distilled from orange blossoms and is 40% terpene alcohols, specifically cintronellol, which has been shown to have significant sedative effects (Schnaubelt, 1998, p. 41) and 10-20% esters (Schnaubelt, 1998, p. 61). Its main effect is to reduce anxiety and calm the central nervous system.  

Works cited:

Battaglia, Salvatore. (2007). The complete guide to aromatherapy. Brisbane, Australia: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.

Hongratanaworakit, T, Buchbauer, G. (2006). Relaxing effect of ylang yang oil on humans after transdermal absorption. Phytother Res. 2006 Sep: 20(9): 758-63. Abstract obtained from http://www.pubmed.gov.

Schnaubelt, Kurt. (1995). Advanced aromatherapy: the science of essential oil therapy. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Worwood, Valerie. (1996). The fragrant mind: aromatherapy for personality, mind, mood, and emotion. Novato, CA: New World Library.