Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Flower Power - Geranium

via American Spa Magazine.
Embrace springtime with the fresh, floral benefits of geranium.

Known for its healing properties, geranium was once associated with Venus, the ancient Roman goddess of love, sensuality, and victory. One whiff of its floral and feminine scent, and you’ll understand why geranium has a reputation for being at once soothing and completely invigorating. In fact, Roman soldiers used its essential oil to instill courage and self-confidence before battle, and during medieval times, people planted geranium around their cottages as a means of protection from evil spirits.

In Britain in the 1800s, geranium was a widely accepted treatment for tuberculosis. Today, geranium oil—extracted from the flower’s stem and leaves via distillation—is still sought after for medicinal purposes. Because of its antibacterial qualities, it’s often applied to wounds in order to ward off infection. Geranium’s classification as an astringent means it has the ability to contract blood vessels. In spas, geranium oil can be incorporated in a variety of ways—from aromatherapy to mas- sage and skincare treatments.

Geranium has a host of very positive properties,” says Geraldine Howard, founder of Aromatherapy Associates. “It is wonderfully uplifting to the spirits and has a harmonizing and balancing effect.” As a result, its essential oil is utilized in aromatherapy to help calm mood swings and ease irritability—symptoms of anxiety and depression.

But the benefits associated with the multi- tasking floral don’t end there. This all-around health toner aids in the functioning of the body’s respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. “Geranium encourages blood and lymph circulation and is recommended for equalizing hormones and stimulating the adrenal cortex,” says Howard. “It is a hugely powerful essential oil with a complex chemical structure.” Taking into consideration all of geranium’s advantages, it’s little wonder that Aromatherapy Associates has more than 25 products containing the ingredient.

Championed for its power to tone skin, geranium is also a natural stress buster and is therefore, regularly employed in massage and bodywork. At THE Pearl Modern Spa and Boutique (Fulton, MD), Red Flower’s Berry White Peat Bioactive Exfoliant is used in the Arctic Solstice ($180, 75 minutes) treatment for a polish that enhances skin elasticity and draws out toxins with a surge of vitamin C and omega fatty acids.

After a scrub of super fine organic sea salt, geranium essential oil is applied as the final step to soothe dry skin and equalize oily complex- ions. It’s a treatment that produces results but is still relaxing, according to spa manager Lindsay Houghton. “The ingredients protect skin from harsh environmental factors while also relieving muscular tension and pain,” she says. “Clients leave feeling completely rejuvenated.”

Geranium also facilitates blood circulation just below the skin’s surface and helps clear up acne as well as fade scars and discoloration. The cleansing botanical is used widely in skincare, because it promotes healthy cells and kickstarts the regeneration process. Not only is geranium good for sluggish and congested skin but it also speeds up the healing of wounds, cuts, and even surgical incisions.

“Geranium provides an antibacterial cleanse, but it doesn’t strip or dry facial tissue,” says Amanda Sousa, marketing specialist for Farm- aesthetics. “Our Fine Herbal Cleanser combines it with lavender, and we’ve found that the two oils together are very purifying.” Farmaesthetics’s cleanser takes center stage in the Lavender Harvest Facial ($145, 60 minutes; $200, 90 minutes) at OH! Spa at Ocean House (Watch Hill, RI). The calming and hydrating treatment is healing for all skin types and includes a reparative exfoliant with sweet milk and lavender. “The overall result is a bright, dewy look with nourished skin that’s free of impurities,” says spa director Jana Powers.

One of only a handful of oils that can work in almost any blend, geranium mixes especially well with other plants or flowers like basil, jasmine, and rosemary. For a more energizing experience, it can be combined with citrus essential oils, such as grapefruit, lime, and neroli.

Because geranium may have an effect on hormonal secretions, it’s not recommended for use on pregnant women. But Kyra Johnson, spa director at Aviara Spa at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort (Carlsbad, CA), does suggest geranium treatments to female clients who are in need of a mood boost. “It is especially good for hormonal changes attributed to PMS or menopause,” she says. “We use it to treat postnatal depression and even seasonal affective disorder.”

As winter fades and finally blossoms into spring, fragrant geranium is a revitalizing addition to spa menus and just what you need to welcome a fresh start to the season.—Katarina Kovacevic
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