Ann Carter Introduces HEARTS and What it Means for Cancer Care

A multisensory approach to facilitating relaxation in cancer care using aromatherapy, touch and voice, the HEARTS process – created by Ann Carter – offers a new way to help patients achieve a state of relaxation and calm as quickly and easily as possible.

In their new book, Combining Touch and Relaxation Skills for Cancer Care, Ann Carter and Peter Mackereth discuss principles which may influence the effectiveness of touch and relaxation therapies, emphasising that there are approaches that can be learnt and utilised by healthcare workers (and carers) who are not qualified in any therapies when working with distressed and vulnerable patients. Continue reading

Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Pam Conrad

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced, and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Pam Conrad, author of Women’s Health Aromatherapy

How did you become interested in aromatherapy?
As a nurse, I’ve always been interested in complementary therapies that enhance health and wellbeing and offer support for the side effects of medical conditions and treatments. Prior to aromatherapy, I studied herbal medicine and nutritional therapies so it was a natural addition for holistic care.

I’ve also always loved pleasant scents and flowers so the idea of a clinical therapeutic modality with beautiful scents was very appealing to me. Continue reading

Introducing Our Digital Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Catalogue

The new Singing Dragon Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine digital catalogue is now live! Our new format allows you to browse, learn more, purchase or request an inspection copy for your course of any of our books, and is clickable throughout.

We are publishing a host of exciting titles throughout 2019, from an accessible clinical handbook of Tui Na principles and practice to a narrative-based manual of qigong and meditation from a Daoist master.

Take a look at our catalogue to find out more.

Contents include:

  • New Books from Singing Dragon
  • Clinical Practice/Diagnosis
  • Acupuncture
  • Qigong
  • Daoist Arts
  • Bodywork

 

Homeopathy and Herbal Medicine in Maternity Care

Complementary Therapies in Maternity Care by Denise Tiran is one of our new books from January for midwives, doulas and maternity care professionals who are working with new and expectant mothers. We have an extract from the book, in which you can read how herbal medicine and homeopathy can be implemented into maternity care, both during and after pregnancy. 

 

Click here to read the extract

 

Read more about Complementary Therapies in Maternity Care, or buy a copy here.

 

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


More Books by Denise Tiran

Aromatherapy in Midwifery Practice

Denise Tiran shares her extensive knowledge to provide midwives and other professionals with complete information on how to use aromatherapy during pregnancy, birth, and for new mothers. Covering all the necessary scientific, legal, ethical, and health issues, it gives you the knowledge and confidence to use aromatherapy safely and effectively.

Click here to read more about the book.

Breathing is the rhythm of life: breathing into Autumn

The following article is adapted from the book Qigong Through the Seasons by Ronald H. Davis.

The practice of Qigong Through the Seasons is designed to harmonize the health of your internal organs with the seasonal energetic changes of nature.
Autumn is the time to give special attention to the Lungs. Breathing is the most important thing you do from moment to moment and yet most of us are unaware of how we breathe and have lost our innate connection to the breath cycle. We, therefore, often fail to completely benefit from the power of correct breathing.

The Source of Qi
Breathing stands out as our quintessential rhythmic interaction with the world; lungs function as a permeable interface between each of us and everything else. The lungs are yin organs that receive air from the outside world, extract its healthy components and send them downward to the lower dan tian, the primary energy center of the abdomen, to be combined with the nutrients of food. That fusion of air’s vitality and food’s energy produces our greatest quantity of qi. In ancient times, the word ‘qi’ primarily had the meaning of ‘vital breath’ emphasizing that our indispensable energy comes from breathing.

Astonishingly, the lungs eliminate seventy percent of the body’s waste products. This makes exhalation a hugely significant detoxifying activity. We must completely exhale so that the respiratory system can flush out toxins and debris; only then can we receive a full complement of fresh air on the next inhalation. Stress, fear, anger, and doubt are the main emotional states that interfere with a healthy exhalation. Many people subconsciously don’t let go of the breath—they feel like they must hold on to that last bit of air, otherwise they may expire. The ability to completely let go of the breath often relates to issues of trust and relaxation.

The correct practice of qigong creates mental tranquility and thus will profoundly enhance healthy breathing by relaxing the lungs and allowing them to freely function. The following exercise, White Healing Mist, is the most important qigong exercise to do during the autumn season. It uses mental intention, body movement, and regulated breathing to purify and strengthen the lungs.

White Healing Mist Exercise
This graceful neigong (internal qigong) exercise fills the lungs with fresh qi while cleansing them of turbid qi. The intent of the mind uses detailed imagery of pure and impure qi. The movement of the hands leads the qi into and out of each lung. The ‘white healing mist’ can be any personal image that conveys a sense of purity, freshness, tranquility and healing. The ‘toxins’ can be not only respiratory debris but also cloudy, unhealthy thoughts. As the interface between internal and external worlds, the lungs command our self-defense system. When doing this practice, you may want to identify those healthy and unhealthy aspects of your life. Then you can nurture the good with the white mist, and purge the bad along with the toxins. Do this exercise slowly with focused concentration on one lung at a time. The unilateral emphasis is unusual since most qigong exercises are done for both lungs simultaneously, but that special concentration on one lung at a time increases the concentration of qi, which makes this a very powerful healing exercise. You can do this for the common chest cold and for all serious diseases of the lungs.
Begin with feet close together, hands crossed and touching the chest over the lungs. The right hand is over the left lung and the left hand is over the right lung.

Take a slow, relaxed breath and think of your lungs there under your hands. Make a mental connection between your hands and your lungs.

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Step to the side with the left foot.

Inhale, shift weight to the left leg so that the left lung is lined up over the left knee. At the same time, open the arms and slowly, swing the hands forward and then laterally out until the arms are extended to the side with fingers up and the palms facing away from the body. Left knee is bent, right knee is straight.

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Think of inhaling a white healing mist into the left lung only.

Exhale, step back to center with the left foot, straighten knees, the hands return to the chest, cross them so that the right hand is touching over the left lung. The left hand touches over the right lung.

Think of exhaling grey smoky toxins from the left lung only. Although both hands are touching your chest, your focused intention goes to the left lung only.

Repeat for the right lung by stepping to the right, etc. Do 8 repetitions, alternating left and right.

The complete set of Autumn Qigong exercises, along with suggested foods and herbs for seasonal health, are fully described and illustrated in chapter 8 of Qigong Through The Seasons.

Ronald H. Davis is an acupuncturist and chiropractor. He has been practicing Qigong since 1986 and is the founder of The Health Movement, a group of classes and educational materials designed to improve a person’s wellbeing through the use of traditional and complementary healthcare methods. Ronald offers classes in Qigong, Taiji and spinal healthcare and lives in Bozeman, Montana, USA.

 

How to develop Chinese massage techniques

9780956293008This extract from Chinese Massage Manual by Sarah Pritchard shows how to practice some of the key techniques of Tui na. Beginners should try out the movements on a rice bag before attempting to use them on patients. The author took 3 months to learn the first technique and a further 6 months of daily practice before she was competent to use it on the human body!

Read the extract…

Sarah Pritchard was one of the first Westerners to practice Tui na in the UK. She trained in both the UK and in Nanjing, China, and has been working as a professional Tui na practitioner and acupuncturist since 1994. She is the Tui na course co-ordinator and senior lecturer at the City College of Acupuncture, and the founder and director of Blackheath Complementary Health Centre, London. She is the chair and a founder member of the UK Register of Tui na Chinese Massage.

Emotional Freedom Techniques – an interview with Lawrence Pagett

When did you first become interested in EFT?

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Many years ago I witnessed my next door neighbour in his garden tapping furiously on top of his head and I wondered what on earth he was doing. He enthusiastically told me about Gary Craig the founder of EFT and rushed us into his house to give me one of Gary’s introductory training DVDs explaining the EFT basic recipe and how to conduct an EFT round. In fact, he insisted that we watch the DVD together there and then.  I was impressed by Craig’s presentation. I was also fascinated that this simple tapping procedure was said to be able to treat a wide range of serious conditions such as traumas in a matter of minutes. Sometime later I visited a fellow hypnotherapist friend who told me that he was a big fan of EFT and he successfully used tapping to treat all his clients’ fears and phobias.

What inspired you write a book about EFT?

In 2012 I had the opportunity to train with Dr Silvia Hartmann in Advanced forms of EFT and to gain the Master Practitioner in EFT I ended up writing a staggering 60,000 words. Additionally, I did plenty of hands on EFT on myself, my family, friends, my cat and clients. To write a book about EFT seemed the most natural next step so I approached Singing Dragon and within two hours they had accepted. I was excited because it had always been a lifelong ambition of mine to be an author. To get a book deal from a highly acclaimed international publisher like Singing Dragon seemed fitting and miraculous. I was overjoyed!

Why did you co-write it with Paul?

For lots of great reasons. If I had written it solo, then it may have turned out as a subjective account – EFT according to Energist Lawrence Pagett; whereas bringing in a writer, like Paul from a non-therapy background, to my mind gives the book depth bringing with it a wider perspective.

Paul, how did you first hear about EFT and why did you want to help write this book?

It was when Lawrence was doing his course. He came round one evening to try doing some EFT with me and within seconds of my first round of tapping I was in a state of ecstasy and bliss! It was then that I realised how incredibly powerful and amazing EFT could be. I wanted to write the book with Lawrence because I could see from my own profound experience how life changing EFT can be and it seemed to fit so well with my own personal spiritual beliefs.

What is so special about this book?

That’s a great question: The book is a must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in learning about, or advancing their EFT skills. Principles of EFT works on many levels. It is written by two writers, one from an educational and therapy background, the other from a more left brained orientation (Paul is a qualified accountant). Both are on the frontier in terms of spirituality. The book is well researched and has a plethora of tapping techniques for the reader to try EFT out for themselves – It is also humorous in places and contains within its pages an energy that lovingly takes the reader by the hand and leads them throughout their EnergyEFT adventure.

What do you consider to be the most important part of the book?

Chapter two is our “tour de force”, it is Pagett and Millward’s take on the deficiencies of the western scientific world view and why the West has been so doggedly slow at grasping Eastern energy concepts like EFT. Our notions around spirituality seep deep within Principles of EFT and serve as a backdrop for the spiritually aspiring reader to grasp concepts of Enlightenment. We suggest, as Dr Hartmann asserts, that EFT can be used to help take mankind to the next level of development and beyond. If Dr Hartmann’s contribution to EFT is EnergyEFT, then our contribution is SpiritualEFT.

That sounds fascinating, if not a little highbrow?

Whilst Principles of EFT is accessible to everyone, those that will appreciate it the most are likely to be more spiritually discerning. Some of the concepts might be challenging for the western mind to fully grasp; yet as we have already mentioned it’s a fun and easy read too. As Silvia Hartmann says “EFT should never be dour!”

Finally, what is the future for EFT?

It is our hope and prayer that people will enjoy and gain tremendous value and insight from Principles of EFT. EFT has traditionally been concerned with remedial EFT. The future lies with Silvia Hartmann’s positive EFT and a further exploration of what we call spiritual EFT – moving people into the bliss and bringing people to enlightenment.

To find out more about Principles of EFT, visit the Singing Dragon website.

Osmanthus – the Scent of an Oriental Autumn

 

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In Scotland, we have just enjoyed an uncharacteristically glorious summer, full of beautiful scents. Autumn can be wonderful too, but then it is more the rich pallete of colours that we appreciate – our visual sense tends to dominate the season. Here, if we are asked to identify the scents of autumn, we might think of fallen leaves, damp earth, pumpkins and gourds, bonfires, wood smoke, maybe coniferous forests. However, there is one beautiful scented flower that, in China and Japan, is very much associated with autumn, and that is osmanthus.

Osmanthus fragrans is a woody, evergreen flowering shrub. In China it is known as kweiha, and the scent of the blossoms is loved and renowned; and indeed has been described as the quintessential scent of China.  It has been cultivated for hundreds of years, and is often found at Buddhist temples, where it is planted in groves. Osmanthus is very much considered to be an autumn flower, despite the reality that some varieties bloom all year round, hence the name ‘osmanthus four seasons’.  The flowers range from silvery white to reddish orange, but the most fragrant are the orange-yellow varieties. Osmanthus blossoms fill the air with their diffusive, floral-fruity fragrance, and when they fall from the shrubs and carpet the ground, the scent persists for many hours (Kaiser 2006). It is no wonder, then, that they grace such special places, and are held in such high regard.

Traditionally, like jasmine, dried osmanthus flowers are used to flavour both green and black teas, however the scent is very different, and quite distinctive. An absolute can be extracted from the flowers. This is very costly – it is an amber or greenish, thick liquid, with a complex, rich, sweet, honey-like, floral scent with prominent notes of plums and raisins, and apricots (Warren and Warrenburg 1993; Kaiser 2006). Because of its complexity, and the unique relationship between its floral and fruity notes, the absolute has the qualities of a perfume, in that its scent has many dimensions. It is impossible to attribute its scent to a handful of constituents, however it would be reasonable to say that β-ionone (woody, floral, violet, slightly fruity, with cedarwood, raspberry nuances) and dihydro-β-ionone, γ-decalactone (powerful, peach-like) and related lactones, linalool (light floral, woody), nerol (sweet, floral, seaweed-like) and geraniol (sweet, rosy) have a major impact (Kaiser 2006).

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Turin and Sanchez (2009) discuss the use of osmanthus in perfumery; they suggest that it is actually a ‘ready-made’ fragrance, and that the perfumer’s skill is in reviving it after the solvent extraction process! They illustrate this with two fragrances composed by Jean-Claude Ellena – Osmanthus for The Different Company (2001), which is true to its nature with peach and lemon top notes, and the uplifting Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès (2005) which pays tribute to its traditional uses by including Yunnan smoked tea notes alongside freesia, orange and apricots. Other well known, ‘mainstream’ fragrances that claim to include osmanthus or an osmanthus ‘note’ are Eternity (Calvin Klein 1988), Escape (also Calvin Klein 1991, but since reformulated), and Sunflowers (Arden 1993). The artisan perfumer Alec Lawless, who worked mainly with natural raw materials, commented on his experience working with osmanthus absolute when composing Kuan Yin (Essentially Me); it produced an unexpected, delicate note of peach blossom (Lawless 2009).

It would seem that the fragrance of osmanthus has, for a long time, been regarded as uplifting. A study on the mood effects of fragrance conducted by Warren and Warrenburg in 1993 included a synthetic version of osmanthus. It was shown to increase feelings of stimulation and happiness, decrease feelings of irritation and stress, and prominently decrease depression and apathy; it had no significant effect on feelings of sensuality or relaxation. So, in the west, where we cannot readily access the fragrant flowers, we could consider using the scent of the absolute to lift our spirits. As autumn progresses, and after the equinox the days grow shorter and darker, many of us experience low mood, lethargy or even ‘seasonal affective disorder’. Osmanthus can offer us a beautiful, safe way to restore balance.

Jennifer Peace Rhind is a Chartered Biologist with a Ph.D. in Mycotoxicology from the University of Strathclyde. Her long-standing interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has led to qualifications in massage, aromatherapy and reflexology. She co-founded the first professionally accredited CAM school in Scotland and remains involved in scent education. She has written several books on aromatherapy, published by Singing Dragon, the latest is Listening to Scent, a guide to training your olfactory palate. She lives in Biggar near the Scottish Borders.

References

Kaiser, R. (2006) Meaningful Scents around the World. Zurich: Verlag Helvetica Chimica Acta & Wiley VCH.

Lawless, A. (2009) Artisan Perfumery or Being Led by the Nose. Stroud: Boronia Souk Ltd.

Turin, L. & Sanchez, T. (2009) Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. London: Profile Books Ltd.

Warren, C and Warrenburg, S. (1993) Mood benefits of fragrance. International Journal of Aromatherapy 5, 2, 12-16.

 

An Introduction to the Bowen Technique – extract from Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions

Wilks-Knight_Using-the-Bowen_978-1-84819-167-9_colourjpg-printIn this extract, John Wilks and Isobel Knight provide an introduction into the history and general usage of The Bowen Technique using a very unusual metaphor.

Read the extract…

Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions is available from the Singing Dragon website.

An interview with Jennifer Peace Rhind on combating stress with aromatherapy

In this interview, Jennifer Peace Rhind, author of ‘Listening to Scent‘, ‘Essential Oils‘, ‘Fragrance and Wellbeing‘, and ‘A Sensory Journey‘, discusses the power and use of essential oils. An interesting read for both aromatherapists and anyone interested in aromatherapy and scent.

More information on any of Jennifer’s books can be found on the Singing Dragon website.

Why is scent so effective for changing our mood? What is the relation between scent and the brain? Why do essential oils particularly have such an influence on our brain and emotions?

Jennifer Peace Rhind

Historically, the use of scent to elicit specific responses is integral to many cultures and life practices; and this is also central to contemporary aromatherapy practices. Odours must be able to evaporate – or exist in vapour form. Once in the atmosphere, odorous molecules are detected by our olfactory organ, thin membranes covered in tiny olfactory hairs, which lie at either side of the bony part of the nasal septum. This extends to the olfactory bulb, the olfactory nerve and the olfactory pathway, which transmits these olfactory signals to the brain. Olfactory neurons project to the limbic system, which is associated with emotions, memories, motivations and pleasure, but where there is no conscious control. However, the neurons also project to the thalamus where sensory integration occurs, the hypothalamus , which monitors and maintains bodily functions; the amygdala, the seat of basic emotion; the hippocampus which is associated with memory; and to the frontal cortex, where recognition of the odour occurs. The frontal cortex is concerned with organising and planning, and the executive, logical and social decisions are made at the prefrontal cortex. When you consider the olfactory connections with these areas, it is unsurprising that scents have such a profound influence on us. Studies have shown that odours can have their effects via several mechanisms – their molecules can act directly and have a pharmacological effect, for example the sedating effect of lavender. However, because we usually experience odours in life situations, smells and memories become inextricably linked, so each smell carries an emotional memory – which can lead to physiological changes, and can influence our conscious responses and behaviour. Additionally, our state of pleasure or displeasure on experiencing an odour will affect our reactions – and this type of response can be influenced by our cultural experiences and learned behaviour. Our expectations can also influence the outcome of exposure to odours – if we believe that rosemary will enhance our memory, then it probably will! The placebo mechanism is present in aromatherapy too!

What traditional use of oils for relaxation do we know about? i.e. I read flower remedies were used by the Aborigines for thousands of years for relaxation?

There are numerous examples, across cultures and ages – and far too many to mention here! One of the earliest examples can be seen in murals in northern Sahara, dating back to 5000BCE, depicting women wearing garlands of flowers.

In ancient Egypt, the scent of the blue lotus was used for its narcotic effects, and to induce an altered state of consciousness at ceremonies and feasts. The ancient Minoans of Crete used lilies, roses and saffron for relaxation, pleasure and healing. The rose and its scent was loved by many peoples across the ages – Cleopatra famously used it in her seduction of Mark Antony; in the Roman Empire there was a feast (Rosalia) to celebrate the flower and its fragrance; and to the Sufis, the rose symbolised spiritual attainment; meditation in rose gardens was practiced. Josephine, the consort of Napoleon Bonaparte was well known for her love of roses and their scent, but she also popularised patchouli – imported with her Kashmir shawls, where the dried leaves repelled insects.

Garlands of scented flowers, such as jasmine and champaca, as well as aromatic oils have been used in India for thousands of years – for relaxation, wellbeing and healing. In Ayurveda, the beautiful scented frangipani flowers (Plumeria species) are used to calm fear and anxiety, and to treat tremors and insomnia. Sandalwood is used in Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine – to lighten and cool the mind, aid concentration, and reduce anxiety and alleviate insomnia. Vetiver was and is used to cool the mind and improve concentration. It is really interesting to see just how many of these aromatics remain important in contemporary aromatherapy. I love the way that aromatics can connect us with the past – times may have changed, but scents are constant!

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You’re a qualified aromatherapist and you practised as a therapist for 13 years – did a lot of your clients come to see you for help with stress? Is this an increasing problem?

It would be reasonable to say that the vast majority of my clients were stressed – and it manifested in many ways. Some were more aware of the debilitating effects of chronic stress than others, and some sought help when dealing with the immediate effects of personal trauma. For example, I saw many individuals in professions that are considered to be stressful, but there were also many individuals who were in difficult personal relationships, carers, the bereaved, abused, or traumatised in many other ways. I was in professional practice from the late 1980’s until the late 1990’s, and until recently I mentored student aromatherapists undertaking supervised clinical practice. I cannot say for sure that stress is an increasing problem, but stress and mental health awareness has certainly increased since the 1980’s.

We tend to think of popular oils like chamomile and lavender for relaxation – are there any types of oils that are less publicised that people should try? (but still need to stick to H&B sold ones) frankincense, sandalwood?

For relaxation purposes, there is a very wide selection of essential oils and absolutes to choose from – and you should really trust your nose and instincts. If you are strongly attracted to a scent, then that is most likely the best one for you at that moment in time! Some suggestions are sandalwood, which is often used to instil a calm state of mind, focus and clarity, and also to aid meditation, or  ylang ylang ‘extra’ which is relaxing, and can free inhibitions and ‘stuck’ emotions – it can even induce a state of euphoria. Clary sage, with its distinctive herbal scent, can have pronounced relaxing effects, and like ylang ylang it is regarded as a euphoric oil – and it certainly merits further investigation regarding its antidepressant potential. All of the citrus peel oils are useful for lifting the spirits while eliciting calmness, as well as the better known sweet orange, mandarin, lemon, lime and grapefruit you might like to try yuzu, combava peel or cedrat. Studies have revealed that bergamot is very useful for alleviating depression and stress, and that sweet orange has ‘acute’

anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) activity. Coriander seed oil is another useful oil for anxiety relief, but in this case we also witness memory-enhancing potential. Some scents such as jasmine are stimulating, but can also be used very successfully for relaxation purposes – they can enhance focus and coordination, while improving mood and self-esteem. Rose is a harmonising scent – comforting and relaxing, but not sedating as lavender and chamomile.

Can oils be mixed together to make your own stress-busting scent?

‘Yes, and the creative aspect of this is therapeutic in its own right, because as we focus on our sense of smell, other distractions are put aside! It is best to build your scent around one oil that you are drawn to, and complement different facets of its fragrance with other oils. For example, the sweetness and softness of rose is e

nhanced by sandalwood. Experimenting is all part of learning what works for you. However, you might like to  try bergamot, ylang ylang and lavender – research revealed that this combination reduced physiological responses to stress (such as serum cortisone levels and blood pressure) in patients with essential hypertension.

 

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What’s the best way to use oils to beat stress?

Evaporating them in your personal space, inhaling them from an ‘aroma-stick’ or a blotter (an absorbent card) , using them in the shower or bath, and certainly in aromatherapy massage.

Does it depend on the oil as to how it’s best applied?  i.e. carrier oil and burner, but which other methods are effective – spritzing some on your pressure points – are there particular points that are good – i.e. the area between your eyebrows as in Ayurveda – ‘the place of stillness’? Massaging some on yourself?  

Some essential oils are skin irritants and sensitisers. You might find that, for example, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon or clove would cause skin and mucous membrane irritation in your bath or shower, and even evaporating large amounts potentially could cause irritation to the eyes and sinuses and airways. All essential oils and absolutes, and most importantly the irritant oils, must be diluted in a vegetable oil carrier if they are going to be applied to the skin. For personal use, make sure that you read any safety information from a reputable aromatherapy text or your supplier before using them.

Although a professional massage is recommended, it is certainly possible to prepare your own massage oil, or use a commercially prepared product for self-massage. Self-administered massage is really limited to the abdomen (always clockwise, sweeting strokes), arms and hands, and face. There are a few acupressure points that you can use during facial massage, by pressing firmly and releasing pressure, rhythmically, for a few moments. These include the points on the midline at the hairline and between your eyebrows, the outer points of your eyebrows, and on the upper and lower parts of your cheekbones. Several studies have suggested that the use of essential oils can enhance the effects of other practices, including massage of many types (e.g. therapeutic and remedial, acupressure). For example, aromatherapy massage can stimulate the immune system in comparison with massage alone, and the use of lavender oil in ‘shirodhara’ (where sesame oil is dripped over the ‘third eye’) enhances the state of altered consciousness which this practice produces.

Which everyday smells should we be more aware of that can help us beat stress i.e. freshly cut grass, flowers, bakes bread – should we take more time to stop and be more mindful of aromas? Do you think this is key to putting us in relaxation mode, to bringing more relaxation into our days – are we effectively shutting out senses down in 21st century living because we’re so busy mindlessly rushing through life?

It is my belief that engaging with scents in the natural world is a profoundly enjoyable and healing experience, and possibly essential for optimum health. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates as ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ , or ‘forest bathing’, has many health-enhancing benefits, not least in stress reduction and alleviation of depression. Research at the Duftgarten (fragrant garden) at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna has shown that the scents of blooming plants increased calmness and alertness, even at night when the visual impact was reduced. Yes, we should certainly make the time to experience the wonderful fragrances that surround us – there is little doubt that this practice improves our wellbeing! Try smelling fresh culinary herbs in the garden or at a plant nursery, or the amazing scents of dried herbs and spices as you are cooking. When you smell essential oils and absolutes – do so with awareness and enquiry. You might even like to meditate on scent. All of these activities can awaken the senses, aid alertness, or stabilise, enhance or modify our moods, decrease anxiety and tension, or evoke memories.

Are there any new developments in aromatherapy? What will it look like i n the future? More advanced make up, new types of oils?

We are seeing better ways to deliver aromas, such as ‘aromasticks’, and also some ‘patches’ designed to deliver essential oils through the skin. In the short history of modern aromatherapy, the profession has come a long way – despite criticism from orthodox health care practitioners and some members of the scientific and academic communities. However, it is perceived in many ways – from a luxurious pampering treat to a quasi-medical treatment, and aromatherapy practitioners are found in expensive spas and salons, complementary healthcare clinics, and as volunteers in for example care homes and hospices. Aromatherapy might be seen as the preserve of those who can afford to pay, and paradoxically of such little value that health services will not pay for it! I do not know what will happen in the future – that is probably in the hands of the educators, the practitioners and those who make the rules about the profession and the use of essential oils and other plant aromatics! I believe that important factors in its future are the willingness to build on the evidence base, maintain a fundamentally holistic approach, and embrace the diversity of practices. We need to remember that aromatherapy is a unique healing modality – the only one that is based on the therapeutic use of aromatic oils and the sense of smell.There are many ‘new’ essential oils coming on the market – some have been well-researched researched, others less so – and they will without doubt find  their niche in aromatherapy and phytocosmetology. Some examples are Fragonia, Perilla (shiso mint), and Anthopogon (rhododendron); and there are many beautiful variants of old favourites such as rose becoming more readily available.’need to remember that aromatherapy is a unique healing modality – the only one that is based on the therapeutic use of aromatic oils and the sense of smell.

More information on any of Jennifer Peace Rhind’s books can be found on the Singing Dragon website.

A shorter version of this interview was published in ‘Healthy’ magazine 2014.