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Massage Today
January, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 01

Working With Women, Part 2

By Shellie Enteen, RA, BA, LMBT

This article continues to explore the essential oils that work well in the female reproductive system and benefit certain psychological issues women face during the menstrual, childbirth and menopause cycles. Please refer to other articles in the MT archives for information on how to use essential oils safely in dilution.

LAVENDER: The old familiar favorite, Lavandula angustifolia or officinalis has a fresh, soft scent and name that derives from the Latin, lavare, to wash. It is a powerful antiseptic and has a host of physiological properties, is a notable pain and tension reliever, and is famous for its healing action on the skin. Gabriel Mojay refers to its reputation as an aromatic "rescue remedy," as it works to calm strong emotions that threaten to overwhelm the mind.

Smoothing the flow of qi energy, lavender releases mental energy that has become stuck in a habitual rut and it instills calmness and composure. It is valuable for relieving premenstrual tension and menstrual pain and is the most popular essential oil for inhalation or massage during childbirth, reducing pain and anxiety, and creating an uplifting emotional atmosphere.

SWEET MARJORAM: Origanum marjorana derives from the Greek words oros and ganos, meaning "joy of the mountains." For the ancient Greeks, marjoram was associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Young married couples were crowned with its flowers. Both strengthening and profoundly relaxing, marjoram helps relieve worry and feelings of emotional deprivation. It has beneficial antispasmodic and emmenagogue properties on the uterine muscles, making it helpful for menstrual cramps and pain. Some aromatherapists caution against overuse of marjoram, as it can tend to deaden the emotions with prolonged use and the essential oil (unlike the "crowning" herb and spice form) is known to be an anaphrodisiac, which lessens the sensual desires.

The Flowers

Deserving of their own special section, the wonderful essential oils derived from the petals of flowers have a long tradition in work with females, from perfumes to therapeutic blends. Each and every flower invokes a certain archetypal feminine quality that can be used to bring this out in someone lacking that particular virtue or to resonate with what is already a strong personality characteristic. Despite the fact that these essences are more costly than most other aromatic oils, only one drop in a blend can add the qualities that will deliver the needed communication. When the cost per drop is known (by dividing the cost of 1 ml by 25 drops), most come in at under $2 a drop at current retail prices. It is important to know your supplier, as these precious petals are often adulterated, sometimes with synthetics, or stretched with a similar scent or by adding a small amount of carrier oil.

JASMINE: This wonderful perfume and medicinal essence is native to Persia, China and northern India, where it is known as "queen of the night" because the fragrance is released after sunset. The Hindu version of Cupid had jasmine blossoms on the tip of his arrows to pierce the heart with desire. Its name, Jasminum grandiflorum, derives from a popular female name in Persia, Yasmin.

Mojay tells us that the comforting sweetness of the aroma is inseparable from the calming and uplifting effects on the mind. Jasmine is one of the most effective essential oils for nervous anxiety, restlessness and depression. Therapeutically, it has a warming, restorative and decongestion action on the urogential organs and is a renowned aphrodisiac, with an especially effective ability to conquer fear of vulnerability and depression that blocks the ability to share physical pleasure and affection.

Jasmine is a typical part of the labor/delivery blends, combining with lavender and clary sage. Here, according to Patricia Davis, it helps relieve pain, strengthen uterine contractions and later facilitates expulsion of the placenta and postnatal recovery. Jasmine is also used to relieve spasms due to delayed and painful menstruation. The jasmine feminine archetype is a passionate, bewitching seductress who is also very comfortable with herself; a grounded, powerful, courageous female energy typified by Cleopatra, who used it to perfume the sails of her barge. Today, it resonates with a strong matriarch or business woman who is still decidedly feminine, such as Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey or Michelle Obama.

NEROLI or ORANGE BLOSSOM: The common name of Citrus aurantium var. amara, the blossom of the bitter and sweet orange trees, derives from the region near Rome where a 17th century woman lived. Anna Maria, Princess of Nerola, so loved the fragrance that she used it to perfume her clothing. The range of expression of Neroli can be seen in the fact that at one time it was used by the prostitutes of Madrid. At another time, it was the favorite flower for bridal bouquets because it symbolized purity and virginity.

In any situation, it is a gentle tonic for the nervous system, relaxing the smooth muscle of the intestine and uplifting the spirit. It helps ease restlessness, insomnia, palpitations and high blood pressure, along with relieving mental and emotional tension, nervous depression, and chronic anxiety. It benefits those who are highly sensitive or easily alarmed and agitated. It has no direct action in the reproductive system, but is helpful for postpartum depression and is a wonderful first scent for infants. The neroli feminine archetype is spiritual, wise and forever young, with an elegant, somewhat shy air of refinement, like Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy or Meryl Streep.

ROSE: Of the many varieties of rose, aromatherapists use mainly the Rosa damascena (damask rose) and the Rosa centifolia (cabbage rose). Although these varieties are pink and white, Rosa derives from the Greek rodon, meaning red. Rose, according to Salvatorte Battaglia, also has the most diverse therapeutic properties of all essential oils, effective in all levels of life, soul, spirit and body. It is easy to see why it is called "the queen of flowers."

Rose opens the heart and soothes feelings of anger, fear and anxiety, and comforts in times of loss, dissolves psychological pain, feelings of unworthiness and rejection, and opens the door to love, friendship and empathy. It is purifying and regulating on the female reproductive organs and a tonic to the uterus. It regulates menstruation and relieves menstrual cramps and excessive bleeding. It is a powerful aid in the psychological issues that accompany the transition of menopause. The feminine rose archetype is the ultimate combination of gentle, nurturing, beauty and heart-centered sensuality. Its range of mother/goddess qualities make rose sacred to Aphrodite and seen in visions of the Virgin Mary.

YLANG YLANG: This double name is a corruption of the Filipino word alangilang or "flowers that hang or flutter in the breeze." The botanical name, Cananga odorata, hints at the powerful, heady, spicy and exotic aroma. A frequent and favored constituent of perfumes, ylang ylang is also effective against infections of the intestinal tract and has a calming action on the heart, quickly relieving palpitations from anxiety. The voluptuous aroma makes this another powerful aphrodisiac, especially in the ability to relieve fear, anxiety and the urge to withdraw from contact.

Suzanne Fisher-Rizzi says it is beneficial for PMS associated with extreme mood swings just before the onset of menstruation. A classic PMS blend would include ylang ylang with chamomile, clary sage and geranium. The female ylang ylang archetype is temperamental, passionate, seductive and fiery with a strong radiance and confidence, such as Jennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz or Madonna.


Click here for more information about Shellie Enteen, RA, BA, LMBT.

 

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