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.

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.