Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) is the fragrance of orange trees blossoming under the Moroccan and Tunisian sun. It is the fragrance that greets farmers as they begin another spring day of harvesting, gently plucking the tiny golden gems that shine from inside green citrus foliage. Many factors will influence the quality of the neroli oil: each blossom must be plucked when it is just starting to open; the buds must be gathered only on warm sunny days; the flowers cannot be bruised; leaflets and petioles must not be included. By the end of the day, the clothing and weather-aged hands of the dark-skinned harvesters will be saturated with an intoxicating aroma desired by queens and empresses, sheiks and maharajas.
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Celestial Aromatherapy: One of the first things I encountered on my personal journey into the field of holistic health was astrology. That may seem like a strange statement but actually, it is not a big leap from astrology to health matters and, in fact, there is a whole branch of this art called Medical Astrology. When astrology crossed my path in NYC in the late 1970's I quickly realized that because the birth chart could indicate health and the root of medical conditions, my clients would want to have some idea of what to do with the information I conveyed. Certain clients would have Aquarius on the 6th house cusp or some other indication indicating the need for more unusual forms of healthcare to solve their problems. I decided to become familiar with alternatives (Aquarius is on my own 6th house of health) and this lead me from nutrition to massage and that was how aromatherapy came into my life.
Spring Renewal: Just like spring cleaning our homes, our skin can benefit from exfoliation as we transition from the cold drying winter months to springtime. Pollution, smoke, dryness, UV rays, stress and more are the factors that accelerate the aging process for both men and women. The benefits of exfoliation will be noticeable right away and should be part of your daily or weekly facial/body cleansing routine.
Using Flower Essences with Essential Oils: The basic difference is that essential oils are derived from the actual plant material, i.e., flowers, leaves, seeds, roots and bark by distillation or with citrus oils by cold expression method. These methods are used to create the essential oil found in colored bottles used in different aromatherapy applications. Flower Essences, on the other hand, are prepared by infusing the energy of the actual plant material into pure spring water preserved with brandy or an organic vegetable glycerin via the action of sun or moon light. The flower essences can be taken internally, either under the tongue or in water. They can also be applied topically or mixed with a lotion, as in the Bach 'Rescue' cream. Another difference between flower essences and essential oils is that flower essences do not posses the actual scent of the plant.
Brief History of Hydrosols: When discussing hydrosols, many of my students don't realize that the distillate waters (hydrosols) predate essential oils by hundreds if not thousands of years. There is evidence of distillation as long as 5000 years ago. It is not clear whether they were distilling alcohol that early, though there is some evidence that the Chinese had spirits many, many hundreds of years ago. It is more likely these ancients were distilling for the herbal waters. One very old description is of a crude distillation that involved a pot of water filled with cedar and water with lamb's wool stretched over the top to catch the rising vapors. The wool was periodically wrung out and collected resulting in an early distillate water.