Energy Matters October to December 2017
Autumn is a time of renewed energy, when it feels good to make changes and maybe learn something new. You will find lots to choose from on the Reiki Energy website, including some innovative new courses such as Maternity Reflexology and Moroccan Candle Massage. (Look out for the Christmas massage candle recipe in this edition!)
There are dates for all the most popular courses including Reiki, Crystal Healing and a wide range of massage and reflexology options - choose from Indian Head Massage, Holistic Massage, Thai or Western Reflexology, amongst a wide range of other therapies.
I have always offered beauty therapy training, and this time around the Intensive Beauty Course is offered on Saturdays throughout January and February - it includes the most popular treatments identified by the Beauty Guild, and you can either do the whole package or just one or two of the options. The full price is £765 and includes Facial Treatments, Manicure and Pedicure, Gel Polish Manicure, Waxing, Makeup and Lash & Brow Treatments. All the options are individually accredited for insurance and membership with The Beauty Guild, the UK's largest trade body for the industry.
This season, I am focusing on the many uses of sage (Salvia officinalis) in beauty and holistic therapy treatments. This article is one of the series I have been writing on Herbs in Beauty. To finish, I'm sharing some favourite product recipes for Xmas, some for you and some to make your home smell wonderful! I'm an aromatherapist, and I love teaching other people how to use essential oils to bring healing and beautiful scents to their daily lives!
Putting the 'whole' back into 'holistic'!
There is a big, gaping trap that most holistic therapists fall into at one time or another (me too)! We try to treat things which clients identify as being 'wrong' with them. Looking through my own social media groups I see an avalanche of questions from therapists who want to know which muscle in the right thigh to work on or whether reflexology will 'help with' fibromyalgia, or IBS or some other medically or self- diagnosed condition.
We do this because some clients come to us after they've been to the doctor, who hasn't given them the help they were looking for. Others want to use our services as a substitute for medical care or believe that a holistic therapy session will bring about a 'quick fix'.
Holistic therapies are not about diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Massage is not intended to treat a specific injury in a muscle, ligament, tendon or other soft tissue. Reiki does not focus on a particular illness such as cancer or varicose veins. Our work is to bring about balance in the whole person and to facilitate natural healing to the extent possible in the client.
If a client has a specific symptom, condition or injury they need to see a doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor or other practitioner qualified to diagnose and treat their specific issue. We need to be honest, and say so. We need to release the fear that we will lose business, that the client will think we are unskilled and lacking in knowledge and that there isn't a proper area for us to work in.
We do what conventional medicine does not do - we look at the whole person, and we offer ways of helping rebalance and heal which will suit the person in front of us. And we will listen openly and without judgment and in absolute confidence to what they have to say about themselves, their bodies, their lives. Holistic therapies help maintain optimum health, and can be valuable for patients who are undergoing medical treatment because they support the person (given sensible precautions like asking the doctor whether the therapy is suitable at the time).
So what is healing, and what is the aim of holistic therapies? Healing is a process which begins with a shift in the flow of energy in the client(call it Qi, Ki, Prana, vital energy depending on what therapy you are practising). This shift occurs when the client lets go of their attachment to the stress, pain, shock, trauma, and/or physiological symptoms they are experiencing. Constantly thinking, analysing, worrying and replaying the past takes us away from the present moment, and disconnects us from our body, heart and soul - we cannot hear the inner voice which knows what we need to heal and thrive. We become attached to our suffering when we have medical problems, sometimes to the extent of identifying the illness as ourselves - we become the 'student with visual challenges' or the 'chronic bronchitis patient'. Doctors identify us as patients by our conditions, and we become trapped into that way of seeing ourselves.
Why do we become attached to our suffering in this way? We may find that the condition we have enables us to demand or give ourselves something we are unwilling to offer ourselves. Very simply, if we are in physical pain and find daily life difficult, we feel able to say 'no' to doing things we really don't want to do - but normally agree to because we are unable to refuse. At a deeper level, ayurveda teaches us that ill health is the result of energetic imbalance, and that this causes confusion which leads us to form unhelpful attachments - we cannot see beyond our own pain and suffering and lose contact with who we really are. Attachment, negative emotion and stress over our health means that we become physically tense. The muscles and tendons become tight, and this obstructs the flow of vital energy through the body, hindering our path to wellbeing.
By changing the way we think and feel we enable the process of healing to begin. First we need to be aware of our attachment, then we have to be open to letting go of it and finally we have to believe that we are capable of healing, and to choose to do it. Holistic therapies such as Reiki, aromatherapy and crystal therapy are useful tools to help bring about the shift in the mind that is needed to start the healing process.
Remember that client who wanted to know whether your holistic therapy would help with her medical problem? The fact that she's contacted you means that she is open to change and healing? You need to explain clearly how you can help her to bring about the shift in herself which will make positive changes to her state of wellbeing.
All well and good - you are a holistic massage therapist and the client has a pain in the right thigh. She's been to the doctor and there is no injury or medical condition. So what now? Aren't you going to identify which muscle, tendon or ligament is hurting and then use massage to treat it? Wouldn't a physiotherapist be better qualified and able to do that? And wouldn't the doctor have given that diagnosis? So how are we going to help her?
Holistic massage sees the client as a whole person and that is how we treat her. We give a full treatment and focus on helping the client to relax, let go of the pain and enjoy getting back in touch with herself. It may be that what she needs is to release tension and stress and allow the body to rebalance itself. If her symptoms do persist then the fact of having had a listening therapist, a relaxing treatment and the chance to stop, unwind and hear her own body, mind and soul will make her better able to go back to the doctor and get a diagnosis and the help she needs for the specific medical issue. And you will have played an important role in facilitating the healing process.
Awareness, release, empowering, supporting, listening, enabling - these are the words which belong to the mind map of holistic therapy. And aren't they wonderful?
Sage (Salvia officinalis) - its wisdom as a beauty ingredient!
The picture of sage is a Creative Commons one - By A. Barra (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The herb Sage belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and this clan includes other herbs I've covered (or plan to cover) in this series, such as lavender, thyme, basil, oregano and rosemary. All the articles include information about the plant as a herb and some simple uses, and the essential oil extracted from it along with its properties and how to use it. I always pop a recipe or two in for you to try - it's fun to make simple products, and helps you understand how cosmetics are designed and made (and what the problems can be)! Above all, the articles will give you useful information about the natural plant ingredients used in many commercial products, and you can explain better the benefits of them to your clients.
Sage is a perennial evergreen plant with a strong aroma, and is native to the Mediterranean and south east Europe although it will flourish in a sheltered spot in a British garden too. It grows to around half a metre in height and has soft, silvery coloured, lance shaped leaves with a prominent vein running up the middle. Plants with silver coloured leaves tend to love sunshine and be drought resistant so this will do well on a sunny balcony or terrace, or in that dry patch of garden in full sun. It flowers freely, and the flowers of common culinary are commonly blue or purply blue.
As well as culinary sage, other varieties are commonly used in essential oils and as herbs.
In this article, I am only going to deal with Salvia officinalis - Clary Sage as an essential oil deserves a whole piece all on its own!
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is rich in vitamins and minerals which make it valuable in cooking and in herbal teas. The fresh herb has a high level of vitamin A as well as significant levels of vitamin C and B complex (including folic acid, important for women planning pregnancy). Minerals survive the drying process and both fresh and dried sage have useful amounts of potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper, all important in a well balanced diet.
The essential oil of Salvia officinalis is stimulant in nature, and so there are some cautions about its use - it is not suitable for people with epilepsy or those suffering from emotional hysteria. It contains camphor and camphene, both potentially toxic components which should be avoided in pregnancy. However, sage essential oil has some extremely valuable properties for people who can safely use it. It is steam extracted from the leaves of the plant and the chemical components identified are mainly Aesculetinen, Alpha Humulene, Alpha Thujene, Alpha Thujone, Alpha Terpineol, Alpha Terpenines, Alpha Pinene, Alpha Maaliene, Aromadendrene, Beta Pinene, Beta Copaene, Beta Thujone, Borneol, Camphor, Cineole, Caryophyllene Oxide, Camphene, Delta Cadinenes, Linalool, Limonene, Myrcene, Ocimenes, Octenol, Paracymene, Para Cymenol, Salviol, Terpinenol, Thujanol and Terpinolene.
The chemical components of essential oils are what give them their properties, and sage essential oil is widely used in the beauty industry. It has anti-ageing properties due to the high level of antioxidants which slow down the action of free radicals which cause signs of age in the skin and in the body in general. The oil is antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic as well as cicatrisant (scar healing), which means that it is treasured by cosmetologists and pharmacists alike who use it in a huge range of skincare products for troubled complexions, antiseptics to treat minor wounds, and foot creams to help Athlete's Foot. Sage essential oil has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and acne. It is valuable in hair care also. Sage contains beta-sitosterol, a 5-alpha reductase compound which has been found to be effective in treating male pattern baldness, and so it is a good addition to an oil blend for Indian Head Massage for example!
Turning to the herb sage, it has the useful property of helping darken hair colour and leaves naturally dark hair shiny and easy to manage. It is used with rosemary in hair rinses. Boil a handful of the sage and a handful of rosemary leaves in water and cool down before using. The infusion will help dry, dull hair but its astringent properties also make it useful for an oily scalp as it prevents blocked hair follicles.
You can use the cooled infusion of sage as a skin toner - it is good for mature skin due to its anti-ageing properties, and will help oily, acne-prone skin too as well as soothing eczema and dermatitis. If you are receiving medical treatment for a skin condition, check with your doctor first.
Finally, sage as a herb is useful if you live in a hot country or work in a stuffy environment. It helps reduce sweating by up to 50% and its properties mean that it prevents body odour too - drink it as an infusion or add some leaves to your bath!
RECIPE FOR GRAPEFRUIT AND SAGE BODY SCRUB
Smoothing, soothing, anti-ageing, sweat reducing, packed full of benefits and simple to make!
2 cups fine sea salt
1 cup olive oil
4 to 6 leaves of fresh sage
1/2 cup sugar
1 grapefruit (can be white or red)
In a blender, puree together olive oil and sage on high for one minute.
Mix sea salt and sugar in a large bowl.
Add the pureed olive oil and sage mix to the sea salt and sugar.
Use a grater to take all the zesty bit of the rind off the grapefruit and mix it into the other ingredients. If you have a food processor, cut the rind off of the grapefruit and process until the pieces are finely chopped.
Use the product in the shower or bath. You will need about a tablespoon of the scrub in your hands. Massage in circles to polish the whole body. Let the mixture sit on your skin for one minute to detox and nourish you, and then rinse with warm water.
Keep remaining salt scrub in the refrigerator in between uses. It will last about 14 days.
Home made pot pourri in a pretty dish is much nicer than those bags you can buy!
The first rule of making it is to remember that dried flowers (apart from lavender) have no scent left – the oils have evaporated with the water in most flowers. The aromas in home made pot pourri come from the natural essential oil blend you will add to the completed mix of botanical ingredients, as well as dried herbs, pine cones, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, citrus peel etc which do retain their scent. (Bought pot pourri may contain synthetic perfumes.)
If you start making your pot pourri in time, you can use your own garden flowers and homegrown herbs. Choose them for their shapes and colours and, pick them in the morning when the dew is on them. Rose petals are good, so are marigolds, lavender, camomile, pansies and violas - use what you have. Spread them on baking trays on a sunny windowsill or in the greenhouse until the flowers are dry and crispy. If you don't have any suitable flowers then you can buy dried flowers from herbal suppliers as well as from companies who supply soap and candle making ingredients.
Dried herbs are a wonderful, naturally aromatic ingredient to add to your pot pourri - either dry your own from the garden, or buy whole dried herbs from a herbalist such as Baldwins or Aromantic.
As well as flowers and herbs, you can use orange, lemon or grapefruit peel in pot pourri – scrape away the white pith inside before leaving the outside skin to dry along with the flowers. You can also add pinecones to the mix and pop in some beech nut shells too, to add texture and strong shapes. Wood shavings are useful – especially pine or fruit woods such as apple, and don’t turn your nose up at cupressus leylandii as it has a lovely smell! Try adding a nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
When you are sure that your ingredients are properly dry, sprinkle them with orris root powder which will act as a fixative for the essential oils and helps absorb any moisture (thus preventing mould). This is available from herbalists. Put your pot pourri ingredients with the orris root powder in a big bag, tie the top off and shake vigorously for several minutes!
Try a Christmas blend of essential oils:
2 drops Nutmeg
1 drop Clove
2 drops Cinnamon
4 drops Lemon
3 drops Orange
2 drops Cypress
Add the oils to your bowl of dried material and spices then cover it with cling film and leave it for a few days in a cool, dry place to develop.
You can just use the bowl of pot pourri just as it is! Or you can put the mixture into smaller bowls. If you want to make pot pourri as a gift, put it into plastic bags and tie them with ribbon. If you want to do something more substantial, use a nice find from a car boot sale or charity shop and simply cover with clingfilm. Finish off with a ribbon bow or rosette.
Be imaginative with presentation and decoration and add a card with a botanical theme!
Christmas Massage Candle
85 grams (3oz) eco soya wax
1 teaspoon Shea Butter
2 teaspoons Argan Oil (or any other nourishing carrier such as almond or avocado)
20 – 60 drops of essential oil blend (use the Christmas blend above)
Candle container – jar or tin
Prepared candle wick (can be bought ready prepared)
Tray to sit your candles on whilst they set
Double boiler, bain marie or pan of boiling water with a glass bowl placed in it
1. Fix the candle wick in the jar – use a little melted wax
2. Arrange the candle containers on a tray
3. Blend your essential oils and have them ready
4. Weigh and measure the soy wax, oil and shea butter
5. Add the soy wax and the oil to the bain marie and wait until the wax has melted. Mix well and remove the bain marie from the heat
6. Add the shea butter. We do this at this stage because shea butter will go grainy if it gets too hot
7. Stir gently to incorporate and melt the shea butter into the wax and oil, let it cool slowly
8. Add your essential oil blend, then stir gently to mix them through the candle ingredients. Don’t add essential oils too soon, as they will simply evaporate from the mixture!
9. Pour your candle mix into the prepared containers and leave the candles to set
Don’t stir too vigorously or pour too fast as we don’t want air bubbles!
The candle will need to burn for 40 – 60 minutes before it is ready to use in a massage
Coconut Christmas Bath Melts
Enough to pop in a pretty jar and give as a gift!
1 Cup natural coconut oil (this is solid at room temperature)
15 Drops of the Christmas essential oils blend (see above)
Small soap moulds or ice cube trays - hearts, flowers, etc
Put the coconut oil into a heatproof glass bowl and stand it in a pan of boiling water (or use a bain marie). Heat the coconut oil on low heat for 1-2 minutes or until coconut oil is completely melted. Don't rush this stage - you need the coconut oil to melt slowly and not sizzle!
Remove from heat and allow to cool for a minute or two before adding the essential oils. Again, be patient - you don't want the essential oils to evaporate from the oil.
Mix well and pour the melt mix into your moulds. I use a teaspoon so I don't get in a mess!
Let the coconut oil bath melts cool in the fridge.
Once cooled, the melts will be firm to the touch. Pop them out of the moulds.
If you are giving the melts as a gift, put them into pretty jars, add ribbon and other adornments and store them in a cool place.
Warn your recipient to keep the melts in the fridge or on a cool windowsill until they go into the bath!