Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Giving Tree

excerpt from American Spa magazine ”—Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

L O N G   B E F O R E   1 6 T H - CENTURY GERMANS decorated
evergreens and brought  them into their homes to celebrate Christmas, plants and trees that remained green year-round held sacred meaning for many cultures and people, especially in December. Ancient Egyptians decorated their homes  with  green palm  fronds  at  the  winter solstice, marking the god Ra’s return to health.

Romans celebrated the shortest day and the longest night with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture, because their crops would soon begin to grow, and they decorated their temples and homes with evergreen boughs. he Druids hung ir, pine, and spruce to symbolize everlasting life. And like the trees that bring life and color all year long—perhaps most noticeably in the dead of winter.

Because evergreen essential oils are derived from fresh needles, twigs, and wood, the function they serve the tree is similar to the boost they provide  the  body,  says  Tom Havran, product formulator and aromatherapy specialist at Aura Cacia. “Leaves—needles in this case—transpire air in an inverse manner to us, they consume our exhaled carbon dioxide and exhale pure oxygen, which we inhale,” Havran explains. “Twigs, limbs, and wood are the arms, legs, and body of the tree, providing the supporting framework for the tree through which these vital essences low.”

Havran suggests adding 24 drops of any essential  evergreen oil—Blue Cypress, Texas Cedarwood, Cypress, Cypress Organic, Balsam Fir Needle, Pine, or Pine Organic—or a combination of the oils to four ounces of water in a spray bottle and shaking and misting it into the air to provide a “cleansing, purifying, and meditative forest-like aroma that will encourage deep breathing and opening of the senses.” Havran also suggests incorporating evergreen oils in foot treatments, such as a sugar foot scrub, a mineral
foot bath, or a foot massage.

Evergreens also help recharge the body, which makes them a great ingredient to use in bath soaks and massages. “Juniper and marine pine are known to ease aching muscles because of their analgesic qualities,” says Jane Terry, national trainer for Elemis USA. “In addition, pine essential oil increases metabolism and thus boosts activity levels.”

Evergreens can also be paired with rosemary to  help  ease stiff joints and arthritic pain or sea  fennel to cleanse and detoxify the skin. Combining evergreen with detoxifying and stimulating ingredients can also help boost circulation and cleanse and enhance skin.

And  unlike  some  floral  or  fruit  scents,  the invigorating aroma of evergreens appeals to both  women and men. It smells clean, fresh, and natural and brings the great outdoors in. “On an aesthetic level, who couldn't love the fresh, woodsy aroma of these oils, which are evocative of a trip to the mountains? ” asks Havran .

While evergreens provide benefits to many, pregnant women should avoid evergreen treatments and products, as they can enter the blood stream and may induce miscarriage. Those with bronchial asthma  and difficulty breathing, whooping cough, infections, or existing unknown lesions should also steer clear of evergreen.

But for the majority, evergreen t  r e  a t  m e n t  s   can   provide a welcome   e  s  c  a  p  e, especially during the winter months, as the scent reminds some of the changing seasons and the holidays. Using an evergreen candle can help ease the stress of holiday shopping, traveling, and partying.

The aromatic—and symbolic—associations can be carried into the New Year, too, as many resolve to get healthier, take better care of themselves, and start fresh. “There is no better way to prepare for the New Year than to revive the skin and soul with evergreen,” says Morris. “
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