Essential oils might be the right gift to give the Valentine who has everything.
On the other hand, essential oils might be the right gift to give yourself to help attract the Valentine of your dreams.
For example Ylang-Ylang (pronounced Lang-Lang) is a sweet, exotic, sensual oil known for aphrodisiac properties and is even good for high blood pressure. But its Valentine-attracting effects are legendary. Supposedly, it will help you reel in the person who warms the cockles of your heart. Experts says it blends well with jasmine, lavender, sandalwood and rose, and is useful for insomnia, too.
Actually, essential oils might just have the answer to many of life's problems.
Not convinced? Just ask Tamaqua native Susie McHale Brockel, who says the benefits of all-natural aromatherapy are in step with our time and something people need to know about.
Aromatherapy is based on inhaling the aroma of natural oils, or applying it to the skin in a form that's mixed with a carrier oil. The whole idea relies on the role of the nose, says an expert.
"The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses," says Brockel, a special-education teacher by profession. Brockel spoke to a group of 38 women a few weeks ago at the second anniversary of the Blickley Breakfast Club near Quakake. The club is comprised of artists, educators, crafters and experts in various fields and disciplines. Hosted by Lorraine Zukovich Blickley, the women come from Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne counties. They gather in Rush Township every few weeks to share their talents and to celebrate culture and the arts.
Brockel says aromatherapy dates back to earliest times. It's nothing new. The reverence for spices and oils has permeated many cultures for ages. It began simply, with man experimenting with his environment.
"People took parts of plants to compress part of what's in there and get oil from it," says Brockel.
Some oils and spices were considered rare, precious and desirable, she says.
"Cinnamon was so highly desired that the Queen of Sheba gave it out as gifts," says Brockel, a resident of Macungie. "Cleopatra had a person make her own scents just for her." But today, one doesn't need to be the Queen of the Nile to embrace the magic of essential oils and scents.
It was in 1928, says Brockel, that a professor coined the term 'aromatherapy' to differentiate it from perfume.
Brockel was introduced to aromatherapy in the 1990s at Northampton Area Community College. She also had exposure to the concept while working at a health food store in Wescosville. She embraces the concept and has since given talks at health fairs and other venues.
Brockel isn't a merchant in any sense. She doesn't sell natural oils, nor is she certified in the field. Instead, she is simply a fan of what natural oils can do to help enrich our lives. The women attending the presentation said Brockel's enthusiasm for the advantages of aromatherapy is contagious. Not only that, but the advice is like gold.
For instance, Brockel spoke of frankincense, one of three gifts said to have been presented to baby Jesus by the Wise Men."Frankincense can be taken instead of Advil," says Brockel. "Myrrh is used for cuts and wounds." Myrrh also can be used as an aid to help tooth decay and gum disease. Others see it as effective for treatment of arthritis, bronchitis, colds, cough, and digestive issues. Further, it is said to stimulate the immune system and also promote blood circulation that can relieve pain, subdue swelling and promote tissue regeneration. Myrrh's astringent and analgesic properties aid with hemorrhoids, too.
Are you bothered with recurring headaches? One specific oil can help with those, even if the headaches come from your current Valentine.
"Sweet basil can be used for migraine headaches, or echinacea," says Brockel.
Brockel even produced her own bath salts at one point - not the illegal kind - but the kind you actually put into a bath. A key to making bath salts is deciding what to add to the mixture.
"Any citrus is good for your bath salts to help energize you," she says. To relax, look for lavender, regarded as a calming bath oil.
One of the most popular and beneficial oils is tea tree oil.
"It fights infection and bacteria," says Brockel, adding that tea tree oil will even help your dog's fleas if you put the oil in your dog's bath.
Brockel says essential oils are not greasy or oily as the name might suggest. And essential oils aren't really something new to baby boomers. Many will recall using aromatherapy in younger years even if the term wasn't popular at the time.
"I remember using camphor oil," says Blickley, noting that another commonplace spice - pepper - was useful for migraines.
Others perhaps, remember using cloves for toothaches.
Brockel says essential oils are a bit on the expensive side, but consumers should always look for 100 percent essential oils, not blends.
Another caution, she says, is "don't put essential oils directly on your skin. Always use a carrier oil." When done correctly, the oils can be put on pulse points such as the wrist, temples and the underside of the knees.
Aromatherapy is good for what ails you, she says. You only need to take the time to learn about it.
And if it will help you find the perfect Valentine, what have you got to lose?