One of the most popular of complementary and alternative therapies must be aromatherapy. There's something very appealing about using essential oils from plants to soothe illness and help calm you down or lift your mood.
Once you begin to look into aromatherapy as a source of soothing and healing, you cannot but be amazed at all the actions essential oils can have.
Your sense of smell is a wonderful thing. There is only a thin barrier from the nose to your brain, so anything you smell has an almost immediate effect. You like the smell or you hate it, right away.
But, that's not the only way aromatherapy oils work. They pass through your skin and have actions at the point where they are rubbed in or massaged on.
It's a two-pronged attack to help you get over whatever ails you.
Some people wonder why they are called essential oils. Well, they are essential to the plant - not to you. The plant needs them to form part of its own immune system. They give the plant resistance to attack from infections and insect and other predators.
The theory is that if they protect the plant and help it heal from damage and illness, they can do the same for you and me.
Some of the oils used today originated many hundreds and even thousands of years ago, and have been used across the generations. While oils such as lavender are hugely popular everywhere, others are less so. And some have a positively ancient feel, so maybe have become disused for no real reason.
One or two have been reinvented, in a way, (although they have never been away) and have been shown to retain their activity in certain circumstances. And I want to mention two of them today.
It's a long time since Frankincense and Myrrh came to the fore in the Bible, but these two things are becoming popular once more. This time as essential oils used to treat common aches and pains.
This time, however, their names have been changed to the botanical versions. I think this is to let everyone know the plant species they come from. These are Boswellia carteri for Frankincense, and Commiphora myrrha for Myrrh.
Both oils are derived from the resins that exude from the plants when they are damaged, and are now the main ingredients of some aromatherapy-based creams.
A brief check of want the respective oils can do shows the basis for using them together in this way..
Frankincense essential oil tones the skin, eases pain and numbness, while the aroma calms stress and tension.
Myrrh essential oil fights inflammation, helps healing and kills infections.
Together Frankincense and Myrrh or Boswellia and Commiphora give you the best of both worlds - fight infection, ease pain and inflammation, and promote healing. And, at the same time their aromas help sooth and calm your anxious mind. (Remember the two-pronged attack of aromatherapy oils I mentioned before.)
And, there are few, if any, side effects or untoward problems with rubbing them into your skin. Neither is toxic when diluted in a cream.
So there you have it. A useful, healing cream with little chance of side effects that can help treat aches and pains of all types, including arthritis and rheumatism. And all by combining two essential oils from the aromatherapy range, oils that have been around for thousands of years.
They aren't alone either. Other essential oils are used to treat pain by adding them to warm baths, hot compresses or massaging them into the affected areas. Part of their action is the relaxation, calmness and soothing tensions associated with their use. But these two aromatherapy oils have direct actions on damaged and painful parts as well.
It just goes to show that aromatherapy really does have a place in modern treatments.
So, welcome back to Frankincense and Myrrh. You've probably never been away.
Next time you are shopping for a general purpose cream for aches and pains why not search out a Boswellia and Commiphora cream to add to your first-aid kit?