Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Article

Discover the Anxiety-Busting Power of Aromatherapy

By Gina Rafkind, CPC, Reflexologist, Aromatherapy Consultant's everywhere! And if you are reading these words, then most likely you have experienced some sort of change during your lifetime.

During times of change, anxiety levels rise. But you will be happy to know that you have an ally when it comes to working through anxiety and that ally is Aromatherapy!

Aromatherapy is a wonderful healing tool to help relieve anxiety. How do I know? Because I have experienced these healing benefits first hand in my own journey with anxiety.

According to Robert Tisserand:

"Aromatherapy is a caring, hands-on therapy which seeks to induce relaxation, to increase energy, to reduce the effects of stress and to restore lost balance to mind, body and soul."

How lucky we are to have these amazing, healing and wonderful-smelling essences at our fingertips. Very, very lucky!

Transforming anxiety through aromatherapy

Anxiety is overcome by using your senses as a pathway to presence!

One of the gifts of aromatherapy is that it uses the sense of smell to catapult you into the present moment.

When you are anxious, you are not in the present moment.

Anxiety is caused by many different issues. It manifests in many different forms, as well. But usually the catalyst for anxiety is some form of stress. Stress that is the result of a traumatic event in one's life is a huge cause of anxiety. If we do not integrate the stress in our lives, then we re-live stressful events in our heads through our thoughts. These thoughts then become stories we tell ourselves and end up believing. These stories are based either in the past or the future; hence we are not in the present moment. The present moment is the only moment where you can become totally free of anxiety.

Now of course we can think about the past or future for certain memories or information that we may need to refer back to for some reason. But if our mind lives in the past or future on a daily basis, then we will experience anxiety.

It is no coincidence how I bumped into the art of Aromatherapy and I can still say to this day that it has had a pivotal part in healing my anxiety. Of course there are other tools and techniques that I use, but I am very passionate about aromatherapy because this is what started my healing journey.

Let me take this a step further and explain to you a little bit more about how using your senses can help you relieve your anxiety.

Let's use the example of warm cinnamon buns just coming out of the oven. I can smell them already! Can you? Since your brain can only think one thought at a time, you cannot think 'I'm so anxious', at the same time you are thinking, 'Mmmm, those cinnamon buns smell scrumptious'.

Scent stops your thoughts in its tracks.

Another example is when you are in your house near an open window. The scent of a skunk comes flowing through the window and right up your nose. Need I say more?

Your body is the bridge between your mind and your soul.

On a daily basis, the average person thinks over 60,000 thoughts. Significantly, most of these thoughts tend to be self-limiting beliefs and negative thoughts. The amazing thing is that most people are not even aware of this! Are you aware of the thoughts you think on a daily basis? If not, I invite you to pay a little more 'conscious' attention each day to the thoughts that your mind turns out. Write them down and start to look at what kind of energy your thoughts are feeding you each day. You will find that your thoughts either give you positive or negative energy. How will you know what energy you are receiving from your thoughts? Believe me, once you write them down and read them, you will feel the energy -- your body will let you know.

Enter the body.

Once you become more aware of the type of thoughts you think every day, you can then choose to change those thoughts into more positive ones. The way to do this is to become more present. One of the ways to immediately enter the present moment is to enter your body. Bringing attention to one of your five senses helps you to do this. When you move the focus of your attention from your mind to your body, you become more present. In this way you start to build a bridge that connects to a deeper part of you -- your soul.

Through stimulating the sense of smell, as well as through the properties in the essential oil chosen, aromatherapy becomes another tool to help you build this bridge from your mind to your soul.

Below are some of my favorite essential oils to provide general anxiety relief:

1. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) - Ylang ylang is sweet, exotic, floral and a little spicy. It is known to be an aphrodisiac. It is calming to the nervous system, brings harmony to the mind and helps relieve restlessness and agitation. Ylang ylang is a tropical evergreen tree and the essential oil comes from the flowers.

2. Bergamot (Citrus aurantium bergamia) - Bergamot helps to calm and relax the senses as well as aiding with emotional imbalances, which tend to be activated during times of change. Its scent is refreshing and uplifting, yet relaxing. Bergamot has a beautiful fresh, fruity-floral aroma. This essential oil comes from the rind of citrus fruit which is still unripe and green from the bitter orange tree. **Special Note: One thing to be aware of with bergamot is it is known to be phototoxic meaning it should not be used on your skin if you are going to be outdoors in the sun because it can cause extra sensitivity in your skin.

3. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) - Geranium relaxes the nerves and calms anxiety. It helps keep you centered and at ease which is very welcoming to many during times of change. It has a sweet, floral, rose-like scent. The essential oil comes from the leaves, stems and flowers of the geranium plant.

4. Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) - Mandarin has a calming effect on the central nervous system. You can also substitute sweet orange essential oil which is usually easier to find because it is more popular. Sweet orange is uplifting and beneficial for sadness, nervousness and anxiety. The essential oil of both mandarin and sweet orange is obtained from the outer peel of the fruit. **Note: Both Mandarin and Sweet orange are also known to be phototoxic so do not use them on your skin if you are going to be out in the sun.

5. Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) - Sandalwood's main element is the earth element so it is very grounding, being rooted in stillness and prayer. It has a sweet, woody, musk-like scent and has a calming effect on the nervous system making it another wonderful essential oil for anxiety relief. Sandalwood is an evergreen tree and the essential oil is extracted from the tree's heartwood. **Important note: I use only the Santalum spicatum Sandalwood species due to the fact that Sandalwood has become endangered because of the over-harvesting of the trees for its aromatic oil.

6. Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) - Roman chamomile has a very distinct scent. It is sweet and slightly fruity. When using this essential oil, it is best to add one drop at a time because of its stronger scent which can overtake a blend. Roman chamomile is known to help with relieving stress of any kind, including anxiety, which makes it one of your greatest allies in Aromatherapy. It also is known to help with chronic tension and insomnia. Roman chamomile is one of several species of herbs with daisy-like flowers which is where the essential oil is obtained.

7. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - Lavender is wonderful for reducing anxiety. Lavender is known as the Swiss army knife of essential oils because it is useful for so many ailments. It helps with almost any imbalance and is a great addition to your first aid kit. I keep a small vial of it in my purse so I can inhale it right from the vial when I am feeling anxious. It has a rich, sweet, herbaceous, floral scent. Lavender is a very fragrant shrub and its essential oil is obtained from the flowers.

Some other essential oils that help with anxiety relief are melissa (Melissa officinalis) and rose (Rosa damascena), as well as grounding essential oils such as cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) and patchouli (Pogostemon cablin).

Hormonal imbalance can also cause anxiety. Some essential oils that can be used to assist hormonal balance are clary sage (Salvia sclarea), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) and vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides).

As you can see, Aromatherapy is a powerful ally for achieving peace of mind, whether used by itself or in conjunction with other forms of treatment. I'll never forget the first time I smelled lavender and how it calmed me down when I was in the epicenter of my anxiety issues. It was the start of a holistic healing journey for me, and I still use Aromatherapy on a daily basis to help keep me present, balanced and anxiety free.

**Important Note: Before using any essential oils, check with your medical practitioner if you have any health concerns or conditions or if you are pregnant or nursing.

Gina Rafkind is a Certified Life Coach, Certified Reflexologist, Licensed Cosmetologist, Reiki Level 3 Practitioner, Acutonics Level 2 Practitioner and Aromatherapy Consultant. She is also founder of Vedasun.

VedaSun helps women bust through anxiety so they can wake up to their life and achieve what they want. Gina founded VedaSun to share the divine insights she experiences throughout her evolving journey of healing anxiety. Her passion is to share these experiences and discoveries with you so you too can open the channel of awareness and by 'waking up', live a happier & healthier life.

Sign up to become part of the VedaSun anxiety-busting tribe and free receive life-enhancing tips and the Anxiety Relief Toolkit at

Click here to purchase a CD recording of Gina's NAHA Tele-conference presentation: The Aroma-Reflex Connection-Relief for Anixety.

Would you like to contribute an article for a future NAHA E-Newsletter? Click here to download the Writers Guidelines.

October Article

Repel Bugs not Humans!

How to make safe and effective do-it-yourself insect repelling perfumes

By Tracey TieF, Certified Natural Health Practitioner

Many people, especially new parents, who want to work on reducing their exposure to toxins in their daily life, wonder what is worse; the toxins in conventional bug sprays or the torture of bug bites and possibility of infection?

If it can kill a bug, what's it doing to my kid?

In my opinion as a health practitioner and mother of two, the toxins in your average insect repellent are far worse than the bites in the long run. DEET, permethrins and other common insect repellent ingredients are neurotoxic insecticides that you are directed to apply to your skin, and worse, the skin of your vulnerable children! Added to these "chemical name" ingredients are the usual toxins found in the base lotions and creams: parabens, petroleum by-products like "mineral oil", color, fragrance and so forth. Applying the cancer and hormonal disruption risks carried by these ingredients creates the very real potential for neurological and organ damage. Pregnant and nursing women need to be especially careful to avoid these chemicals and they should never be used on babies and children. What it comes down to is this: If it can kill a bug, it can harm you.

Don't smell human!

As with many natural and traditional ways of managing the sometimes unwanted effects of our environment, it's safest and most effective to begin with prevention strategies. Bugs are attracted to our human smell: sweet scents, perfumes, the carbon dioxide we exhale and our own very personal scent.

My father worked in Nistassinan (the ancestral homeland of the Innu, an Aboriginal people of Eastern Quebec and Labrador, Canada) where the black flies pick your bones. His advice on how to avoid being mauled by bugs is:

1. Don't eat bananas or other sweet fruits and don't drink fruit juices.

2. Don't bathe, but if you must, do not use any scented soaps or body products.

3. Wear light color clothing and screen off areas if you can.

4. Eat garlic, onions and avoid foods high in salt or potassium like potatoes and salty snacks.

Natural ingredients that are proven to work

Contrary to popular belief, some natural, traditional ingredients have been demonstrated - in both cage and field studies - to be just as effective, or even more effective, as the Vietnam War era insecticidal toxin N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide commonly known as DEET. Examples abound:

~ A product containing 40% oil of lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora), with its high concentration of citronellal, was just as effective as products containing high concentrations of DEET. See (1)

~ Non toxic, skin healing neem oil (Azadirachta indica) is mosquito repellent for up to 12 hours even in 1-2% concentrations! See (2)

Citronella oil's (Cymbopogon winterianus) mosquito repellence has also been verified by research, including effectiveness in repelling Aedes aegypti mosquitoes when applied every half hour. See (3).

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus and other types)

~ Catnip (Nepeta cataria) and geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)essential oils, combined with soybean oil (Soja hispida), for example, were found to be effective insect repellents, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine. See (4)

I believe that all botanicals traditionally used to repel bugs do the job, but most have not been the subject of controlled studies to demonstrate their effectiveness. Nevertheless, these ingredients make great additions to a natural bug spray.

Repel bugs, not humans

There are many naturally occurring scents that repel bugs, but after considering skin safety, we may also consider composing the blend as we would a perfume - using variety to decrease the chances of sensitization and adding base notes to fix the blend. Below are examples of insect repelling essential oils.

Please see the Editor's Essential Oil Safety Note at the end of the article.

Top to Middle Notes:

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Cajeput (Melaleuca quinquenervia)

Catnip oil (Nepeta cataria with Nepatalactone)

Citronella (Cymbopagon nardus)

All Eucalyptus oils (repels mosquitoes), but especially Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora)

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus and other types)

Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Sage (Salvia lavandulifolia)

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Middle to Base Notes:

Cedarwoods (Juniperus mexicana and others)

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Neem oil (Azadirachta indica)

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

Yarrow (Alchellia millefolium)

Also repellent are: Yarrow (Achillea alpina) (mosquitoes), Beautyberry (Callicarpa American) and Neem oil, although technically not an essential oil. This is pressed oil that is very thick and consequently good used as carrier oil.

Beeswax can be added to any blend in order to create an ointment that keeps the essential oils on the

skin longer. Soybean oil (Soja hispida) is known to be repellent and makes a good carrier oil.

Surprisingly non lemon-y and varied blends can be created using the ingredients above.

Floral Insect Repellent
Geranium(Pelargonium graveolens)

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Herbaceous Insect Repellent
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Cedarwoods (Juniperus mexicana and others)

Musky Insect Repellent
Sage (Salvia lavandulifolia)

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Neem oil (Azadirachta indica)

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

Minty Insect Repellent
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Cedarwoods (Juniperus mexicana and others)

Recipe for a (Don't) Bite Me Perfume Spray
Makes one 120ml/4 ounce glass atomizer bottle

Cut your atomizer straw to fit your bottle, measuring from the neck of the bottle to the bottom.

Measure the following into a glass measuring cup:

35ml vodka or witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) or apple cider vinegar (acetic acid and aqua from Pyrus Malus)

5ml vegetable glycerine

Essential oils:

30 drops lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora)

25 drops cajeput (Melaleuca quinquenervia)

15 drops lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus)

10 drops patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

10 drops lavender (Lavandula officinalis)

Mix well by pouring the blend back and forth between two glass measuring cups.

Add35ml aloe vera gel juice (Aloe barbadensis) and mix again.

Pour into your glass bottle. Fill to the bottom of the neck with Soybean oil (Soja hispida) and put on the atomizer top. Shake each time before using. Apply to exposed skin and lightly over clothing up to every 20 minutes.

If you want to make your own, be sure that you use a combination of three to five essential oils and that you check your ingredients to make sure that your blend will be skin-safe and will repel the insects you intend to avoid. If you want to buy an off the shelf product, look it on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database to determine its safety first.

Editor's Essential Oil Safety Note:
Avoid use during pregnancy: (Basil, Cajeput, Cedarwood, Citronella, Garlic, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Sage)

Avoid use with epilepsy: (Rosemary, Sage)

Avoid topical use, dermal irritant: (Basil, Cajeput, Citronella, and Garlic)

Avoid using full strength blends and especially those with potentially irritating essential oils on children. It is best to create a separate, milder blend for children, using half the amount of essential oils used in a blend for adults.

(1) Carroll SP, Loye J, 2006, Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 22(3):507-514, 510

(2) Mishra AK, Singh N, Sharma VP, 1995 "Use of neem oil as a mosquito repellent in tribal villages of mandla district, madhya pradesh", Indian J Malariol, Sep;32(3):99-103 Pubmed

(3) Jeong-Kyu KIM, Chang-Soo KANG, Jong-Kwon LEE, Young-Ran KIM, Hye-Yun HAN, Hwa Kyung YUN, Evaluation of Repellency Effect of Two Natural Aroma Mosquito Repellent Compounds, Citronella and Citronellal, Entomological Research 35 (2), 117-120, 2005


Tracey TieF is a Certified Natural Health Practitioner who operates Anarres Natural Health in downtown Toronto, Ontario. Tracey is also a Technical Consultant for New Directions Aromatics.

She carries on a family tradition in the healing arts and has an extensive background in physical therapies and the healing arts. Tracey qualified as a Registered Aromatherapy Health Practitioner and Certified Reflexology Health Practitioner through The School of Holistic Studies, Institute of Aromatherapy. Tracey has a passion and mission for teaching people how to take care of themselves and make their own healthy products! Tracey can be reached at or through her website at

Would you like to contribute an article for a future NAHA E-Newsletter? Click here to download the Writers Guidelines