Aromatherapy is increasingly tapped for soothing or invigorating effects

Written by Cathy Carroll

Whether it’s the aroma of lavender, ginseng and frankincense or eucalyptus, rosemary and ylang ylang, aromatherapy is gaining widespread use. Having made the leap from the fringes to mainstream healthcare across the country, it is being leveraged for managing pain, nausea, depression, stress, insomnia, dementia and other ailments.

The national trend is reflected in the growth at Mountain Rose Herbs, which ships its organic products across the U.S. and Canada from its 12-acre campus in Eugene.

“The most intriguing element of aromatherapy is the physiological responses that the body goes through when we experience scent. Aromatherapy was built on our innate ability to connect smell with thoughts, emotions and memories. Certain smells can trigger signals to our brain that it’s time to wake up or to wind down.”
— Thomas Dick, Mountain Rose Herbs marketing and creative director

“We have seen an exponential increase in not only the volume of people that are interested in aromatherapy, but also in the variety of things that they are interested in trying,” said Thomas Dick, marketing and creative director. In a couple of months, the company, which has been in Eugene for two decades, plans to open The Aroma Bar, a “full sensory exploration” of their products locally in 5th Street Market Alley.

“The most intriguing element of aromatherapy is the physiological responses that the body goes through when we experience scent,” Dick said. “Aromatherapy was built on our innate ability to connect smell with thoughts, emotions and memories. Certain smells can trigger signals to our brain that it’s time to wake up or to wind down.”

Invigorating essential oils such as citrus, rosemary and ginger often can enliven you in the morning, while lavender, cedarwood or blue tansy can help to soothe and calm the nerves at night. Scent is personal, however, and aromas can trigger varying emotions and sensations, he added. “What may stimulate one person, may soothe another. That is why there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to aromatherapy, making the possibilities endless and exploration exciting.”

After a day of work or spending time in his machine shop restoring vintage racing motorcycles, he will turn on his oil diffuser about a half hour before bed, setting it so it will mist on and off throughout the night, which helps him sleep. “I personally love aromas that remind me of the forest, so any kind of evergreen essential oil,” said Dick. “I also love making my own aroma sprays and oil-based perfumes. Not only are they fun to create, but they allow me to formulate blends that work in perfect harmony with my body’s natural chemistry.”

For Cindy Maricle of Bend, aromatherapy offered help recovering from a series of horse-related injuries. Fifteen years ago she was taking antidepressants and strong drugs for the pain, and she was overweight and lethargic. “Life looked bleak … without purpose, going through the motions day after day,” said Maricle. She began using aromatherapy daily and said it gave her the ability to live a pain-free, high energy, active, vibrant, fun life.

The aromas have an almost immediate effect on her emotional state. “The tiny essential oil molecules stimulate the nerve endings in the nasal cavity which connect directly to the limbic part of the brain which is involved in our emotional response,” said Maricle, a former medical technologist who worked in clinical laboratories with state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation. In deciding to sell essential oil products, she visited several of the distilleries and farms owned by the company Young Living in Idaho and was impressed by the laboratory technology used to analyze the oils’ purity and potency.

She offered a few precautions: dilute essential oils with a vegetable oil such as almond oil, olive oil, or her favorite, coconut oil. Use a metal or glass bottle, as plastic may react with the oils. Never apply essential oils directly to ears, eyes, or mucous membranes.

Sweet Summer Aroma Oil Recipe

Mountain Rose Herbs / Eugene

  • 5 drops organic fresh ginger essential oil
  • 4 drops organic lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops organic sweet orange essential oil
  • 1 drop organic rosemary essential oil
  • 1 oz organic jojoba oil

Carefully drop essential oils into a glass bottle with a roll-on top. Add jojoba oil, attach roller top and lid and gently roll or invert bottle to mix. Apply to wrists and neck for a quick pick-me-up.

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