As always, when I find myself explaining some distinction or “rule” in aromatherapy, I think to myself…that would make a great topic for Essential Thoughts! And so today, I would like to briefly explore the issue of calming versus sedating.
The other day, I suggested some Essential Oils to calm a client, and she expressed concern that she would be “alert” at work, etc. It was a great opportunity to make the very important distinction between calming and sedating.
We have a number of beautiful Wisdom of the Earth oils that help to calm us…among them, all of our Lavenders (Highlands, Spike, Fine, etc.), the Chamomiles (Blue, Roman & Wild…the latter being one of my all time favorites), Lime (Mexican), and Violet. Choosing among these requires that we delve a little into the cause of the worry or stress that is creating the anxiety to be calmed, but that is the topic of a future Essential Thoughts! In this case, calming means soothing, supporting, comforting.
We also have a number of wonderful essences that help to ground or center us…similar to calming, but somewhat different, as this relates more to feeling focused, reducing feelings of being scattered, overwhelmed, “over our heads.” The conifers are perfect for this, including Fir (Grand), Spruce (White or Black would be great), Pine (Red or Ocean), and Siberian Fir Needle. Imagine the incredible root structure of these giant beings, and you begin to see how they can make you feel deeply grounded into the earth and centered in your being.
In both cases, our worry and angst subsides, and a feeling of calm or groundedness begins to emerge. But, we do not feel “drugged” or lethargic. We actually have more energy because we now begin to have access to the energy our worry or anxiety consumed before.
There are a number of very wonderful sedatives in nature…which can be helpful in the case of insomnia, for example. Spikenard, for one, is a very powerful sedative for most people; a very small proportion feel energized by her, but generally speaking, the vast majority of my clients experience her as deeply sedating. Another is Valerian Root. These literally can interfere with planned activities, so it is best to use them sparingly during the day, and in more typical amounts (e.g., 5-7 drops over the heart) before sleeping.
Even when using nature’s sedatives, you will not wake up groggy or confused…you will wake up refreshed and rested. These are not pharmaceutical drugs…these are nature’s medicines, here for us to support us in sickness and in health.
So, remember that you can use a number of essential oils to calm you or center you…and you don’t need to worry about feeling listless, mentally “foggy”, or apathetic. They needn’t go “hand in hand”…and when using natural chemistries to balance your functioning…they won’t.
Master Medicinal Aromatherapist
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