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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Relief of Arthritis Symptoms using Essential Oils

Aromatherapy and Arthritis - a Personal Account
By: Buffy Hall, RN

The word €ś'arthritis'€ actually refers to over 100 different diseases affecting areas in and around joints of the body. Arthritis also can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints. The skin, liver, heart and kidneys are all vulnerable to certain types of arthritis. It causes pain, loss of movement and joint swelling.

I have a intense and personal interest in this subject since I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis twenty two years ago. But to be honest, I consider myself far luckier than many arthritis sufferers. I am fairly mobile and reasonably energetic, have minimal joint deformity and swelling, and most days I experience no real pain at all. It is mostly due to a combination of my medication regimen and my aromatherapy, that I am in such good shape for someone with a chronic illness.

I haven’t always been this stable though. I’ve had several periods in my life where I was largely disabled. The RA led to the onset of fibromyalgia and I was forced to leave a career in nursing at age 33 because of the constant pain. The more I worked, the worse it got until it was finally impossible for me to work the long hours anymore.

Instead I made a choice to concentrate my energy levels on being a stay at home mom to my two small children. I quit work, the daily stress level dramatically lowered and I got better. Today my son and daughter are 17 and 20 and a triumph of what was the best decision that I ever made. You WAHMs and WAHDs know what I mean.

As an arthritic, I am not unique. I share the daily "What body part isn't working well today" experience with over 66 million people nationwide.

According to Arthritis Today magazine:

*In 2005, 1 in 3 adults and 300,000 children are affected by arthritis
*Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems
and the nation’s leading cause of disability among Americans over age 15
*More than 7 million Americans need help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and walking
*Arthritis results in 39 million physician visits,half million hospitalizations and costs the US economy more than $86.2 billion a year!
*Half of Americans with arthritis don’t think anything can be done to help them

Common Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis - a degenerative joint disease that is the most prevalent form of arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - an autoimmune disease that is one of the most serious and disabling types, affecting mostly women.

Juvenile Arthritis - a general term for all types of arthritis, including rheumatoid and lupus, that occur in children.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus) - a serious disorder that can inflame and damage joints and other connective tissues.

Fibromyalgia - in which widespread pain affects the muscles and attachments to the bone, causes extreme fatigue and sleep problems.

Aromatherapy is a natural holistic approach to health and wellness using plant derived scents that I use daily as a way to control the stresses in my life. All forms of arthritis are exacerbated or worsened by stress. Controlling that aspect of my life, even just a little, has made a world of difference in my overall condition.

The traditional method of healing called aromatherapy is finally beginning to be considered a science and is gaining ground among doctors willing to combine conventional medicine with alternative therapies. This current switch among health professionals is called “integrative medicine”. It is a move away from the traditional approach that focuses only on the disease and prescription drugs to an approach that looks more at the individual who has the disease, and gives them a more active role in their treatment. This integrative approach has proved to be a virtual lifesaver for me and one that I strongly encourage other arthritis sufferers to try.

Some of the most effective essential oils for treatment of arthritis symptoms are Lavender, Juniper, Thyme, Rosemary, Benzoin, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Peppermint, Camphor, Ginger, Black Pepper and

For the best relief from arthritis symptoms you can add the essential oils to the bath, massage them into your skin, or apply them in a compress. For application directly to the skin however, essential oils should be blended with a carrier oil like almond, jojoba, apricot or even coconut oil to avoid skin irritation. You can also use aloe vera gel mixed with witch hazel for a clean, nonsticky absorbable rub.

Aromatherapy is a natural, safe and economical option to deal with the pain, stiffness, stress, anxiety and depression that often goes hand in hand with an arthritis diagnosis. The best thing of all though, is that aromatherapy has no negative side effects as so many of the conventional treatments and medications do. It is also an excellent way to improve your general outlook, your attitude and the quality of your life.

When you have arthritis, it can be a struggle to maintain your independence in your daily activities. With aromatherapy you have powerful tools to use for that purpose.

Aromatherapy should be used in addition to proper diet, medications and mild exercise to manage your arthritic condition. There is no magic bullet or cure yet for arthritis but with aromatherapy, there is a way for you to take back some control over your life and health. Aromatherapy is not intended to replace proven medical treatments or a medication regimen.

About the author: Buffy Hall, RN Ret. worked as an RN for 12 years before retiring due to complications from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She is a long time student of natural healing and alternative therapies and practices many of them in the management of her own chronic illness. You can contact her anytime at

Ananda Apothecary carries many of the essential oils mentioned above, along with a great massage oil blend incorporating many of these oils -
Flowing Grace.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ananda Adds Second Jasmine Oil Variety

Ananda Apothecary has added a second Jasmine oil variety - Jasmine sambac - with a lighter, more floral aroma - to accompany the deeper, almost smokey quality of the 'Royal' or 'Italian' Jasmine grandiflorum already available.

Jasmine is one of the classic aphrodesiac essential oils, with a complex, alluring scent. The aroma of Jasmine is thought to release inhibition, resulting from a calming of anxiety. It is often included in perfume blends, and is one of the more sought-after natural fragrances. Jasmine is great to wear alone, or mixed in your own perfumery creation.

Jasmine has often been called 'King of the Flowers' (as Rose is the Queen) - though in different cultures, the flower has been classifed as having either male or female qualities. This truely seems to depend on the species - the grandiflorum having a smokey richness that is quite male, whereas the sambac is lighter and more feminine.

A little jasmine oil goes a long way; one or two drops as a perfume will be enough - the oil can be diluted in a carrier such as Jojoba at a 10% dilution to allow the aroma to release more slowly.

In terms of aromatherapy, Jasmine is thought to lift the spirit, dispell depression and quiet the nerves. The fragrance is also thought to assist in relaxing the physical being. Jasmine is also thought to enhance psychic dreams - simply inhale the aroma of one drop from a cotton ball before going to bed. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ananda Adds Niaouli and Spearmint Essential Oils

Two new essential oils have been added to our collection at the Ananda Apothecary: Niaouli oil and Spearmint oil.

Niaouli essential oil, from Melaleuca quinquenervia viridiflora (or MVQ), is steam distilled from the leaves and twigs of an evergreen tree native to Australia - similar in appearance and aroma to Eucalyptus. Now cultivated in Spain, the leaves of the tree are strongly fragrant when crushed, with a strong, slightly sweet, fresh, camphoraceous aroma, considered a 'middle note'.

Niaouli oil is considered an analgesic, antiseptic, bactericide, cicatrisant, insecticide, decongestant and vermifuge. It's aroma is stimulating and uplifting; it clears the head and may aid in concentration. Niaouli oil is considered an excellent antiseptic for treating pulmonary infections such as bronchitis and sinusitis. For respiratory problems blends well with Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Pine, Myrtle, and Ravensara (another favorite for respiratory infections).

Niaouli may be used in place of Tea Tree oil when the smell of Tea Tree is found objectionable due to its somewhat medicinal aroma. The medicinal and aromatic properties of the two are considered similar, with Niaouli having a somewhat less harsh scent - and being more commonly used for respiratory conditions.

Spearmint oil (organic) is first and formost considered the more gentle version of Peppermint oil, suitable for use with children and others who may find peppermint too strong. Spearmint is valued around the world as a culinary herb, and for it's gentle medicinal properties.

Spearmint oil is sweeter than peppermint - peppermint will have an immediate strong aroma of menthol, whereas spearmint will have a sweet quality at the same time. Botanists consider peppermint to be a hybrid of spearmint and 'water' mint - an even sharper cousin in the mint family.

Spearmint oil is cleansing and uplifting, and the aroma will help sharpen the senses. For digestive complaints, on can take one or two drops internally, or dilute and rub on the stomach region. For bringing alertness, a drop or more can be inhaled directly from a handkerchief, or the oil can be used in a diffuser. Spearmint is also considered an excellent headache remedy - rubbing a small amount into the temples can be effective.

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