For the Pocono Record
August 05, 2008
Essential oils can help reduce stress, get rid of pests, help cure colds and maybe even improve your love life.
Use of these oils is becoming popular in places such as spas or via massage therapists and among consumers who use them at home.
Essential oils are extracted from plants, and each fragrance has its own unique use.
Susan Spannagel, massage therapist of Harp Strings-Wellness Studio of Saylorsburg, said, "I incorporate a little aromatherapy in my practice, especially popular ones like lavender and eucalyptus.
"Each fragrance has a property all its own. They promote different things in the body both physically and psychologically."
Michele VanSise, Earthlight Natural Foods sales associate in Stroudsburg, said, "For anxiety relief, use patchouli, lavender or chamomile."
She added, "We also have love potions that stimulate love with ylang ylang, patchouli, lemon and cardamom."
Spannagel recommends lavender to relax you, eucalyptus to open up the respiratory system and help sinuses, and lemon grass to help with infectious illness. To battle depression, a more pungent fragrance, such as rosemary, is used to stimulate the mind.
"I know that they are helpful from personal experience," Spannagel said. "When I worked in New York, I went in an herb store in Chinatown ... (the owner) put his finger in eucalyptus and just touched my forehead. I was all stuffed up before, but as soon as I took my first breath everything just opened right up. I remembered that as I got older and studied massage."
Other essential oils such as peppermint and citronella can get rid of insects and rats, said VanSise.
Oils can be used in lotions, sprays, candles, potpourri bags or as an oil after being diluted. Both VanSise and Spannagel advise never using essential oils directly on the skin.
"Usually you never put an essential oil as it is very concentrated directly on the skin. It needs to be added to either a cream or lotion before you apply it," Spannagel said.
And it is best to avoid ingesting essential oils unless you want to pay a visit to the emergency room.
"Some you don't want to ingest like citronella. You can also have an allergic reaction to anything," VanSise said.
The smell from these oils may also bring up various memories. According to Spannagel, the part of the brain that controls smell, the olfactory nerves, is directly connected to the area of the brain that brings back memories, the limbic system.
"They are very interconnected. That's why many times an aroma will bring up a memory in the past," Spannagel said. "If you smell something cooking you might remember your grandma in the kitchen."
Essential oils range in price depending on what kind you buy. For instance, some may cost as little as $4, while others may be $40.
"They're multi-purpose. They're amazing, I'd recommend them to anybody," VanSise said.