Naturally fragrant

Green Lifestyle magazine

No spray can of manufactured air freshener can beat the fresh, uplifting aromas from the plant world. Here are some tips on how you can use aromatherapy at your place.


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When the ingredients list on your air freshener spray reads ‘lavender, vanilla & comfort 100 per cent’ you’ve got to wonder.

Then there’s the carpet deodoriser with ‘no aggressive solvents’ (what’s the definition of ‘aggressive’?) and myriad spray-ons and plug-ins designed to make your home smell nice that don’t have ingredients lists at all.
How would you know if they contained common ingredients such as formaldehyde, ethanol, benzyl alcohol or other substances that cause irritation or are poisonous or carcinogenic. According to the NSW Government Clear the Air initiative (www.cleartheair.nsw.gov.au), many manufactured air fresheners reduce the air quality in our homes. Weigh them up against a naturally fragrant sprig of rosemary or jasmine and the best choice is clear.

The fragrant parts of bushes, flowers, trees and herbs have been extracted for centuries for their therapeutic benefits. Their aromatic essences are often distilled using steam.

So-called aromatherapy as a recognised discipline is a fairly recent development. Technically, it’s the use of aromatic essences to improve cognitive function, health or mood.

Aromatherapists work on the theory that these potent aromas stimulate mechanisms within us that promote healing, calming and regeneration. Sometimes aromatherapy is used in concert with other more traditional forms of medicine to improve the body’s immune response.

There have been many encouraging scientific studies of the efficacy of aromatherapy – for instance, on the usefulness of breathing ginger or peppermint vapours to ease nausea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center in the US (www.umm.edu): ‘Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders.’

If you’re up for some mood enhancement, there are many ways to use beautifully fragrant essential oils around the home. You can inhale them, bathe in them, spray them, diffuse them in an oil burner and use them for a sensual massage. Many can irritate the skin, so need to be diluted in water or a cold-pressed carrier oil that you can get at a health food shop.

Fragrant recipes

Air freshener:
Add a few drops of an essential oil to a bowl of water and sit it near the heater in winter. The fragrance will fill the room as the water evaporates.
Homemade car deodoriser:
Fold a piece of craft felt in two and cut a shape out of the double layer. Sprinkle one
side of each with an essential oil, then sew them together, oiled sides facing. Punch a hole in the top for threading a ribbon hanger.
Deter ants:
Put a few drops of peppermint oil on their trail to stop them coming in the house.
Jogger’s footbath:
A few drops each of tea-tree, lavender and eucalyptus will freshen up sporty feet.