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FLOWER POWER
Outlandish elixirs and healing teas from the world of precious flower oils.

Article for Healing Retreats and Spa magazine
by
Kendra Grace

In search of a new flower power I traveled to five countries on four continents looking for the truth behind the distillation of precious flower oils.

At my first stop, in Bulgaria's Rose Valley, I understood why, in aromatherapy, we call these oils "precious flower oils." After riding a horse carriage to the fields at dawn, I witnessed, five hours later, pickers carrying forty-pound bags filled with fresh roses (Rosa damascena). At the marketplace I saw trucks on their way to the distillery carrying 4,000 kilos (more than four tons) of roses. Later that day, after the alchemical pass of distillation, four tons of flowers would yield no more than one kilo (about two pounds) of true rose oil. Depending on the quantity of morning dew, it takes from thirty to sixty roses to produce a single drop of this fragrant gold from our blooming earth.

According to the book L'aromatherapie exactement by Daniel Penoel, M.D., and Pierre Franchomme, Rosa damascena has many properties, including general tonic, neurotonic, and anti-hemorrhagic. It supports the growth and repair of damaged tissue; it is astringent, antibacterial, and antiviral; and it can also be a libido stimulant. It is indicated for use against chronic and acute bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, gingivitis, insufficient or uneven dermal blood circulation, and dermatoses.

As an aromatherapist, through many experiments and studies I have been able to confirm that flower oils have therapeutic properties. In my own practice, I have used rose oil as a topical medicine for herpes simplex, greatly diminishing the life cycle of this virus, as well as topically to diminish mastitis (swollen or infected breasts).

The most remarkable feature of all distilled precious flower oils is the lack of any recorded history of toxicity. Of course, considering the substantial concentration of their aromatic power, all formulations are normally diluted down to as little as 2%, at most. Quality is important, as many products do not use true oils. Essential oils from reputable aromatherapy labels will always be labeled with the botanical Latin name and a place of origin; good sources include Primavera Life, Aroma Care, OSA, and Simplers.

After Bulgaria, I went to France, where I discovered the differences between types of distillation, creating flower oils with great medicinal value and oils that are valued as perfumery raw material. After France, I went to Bahia, Brazil, where I discovered a rain forest flower and shamanistic practices using the same aromatic plants that we use in aromatherapy. During my trip to India, in Benares I learned about an entirely new method of extracting Jasmine using environmentally friendly solvents; and in Auroville I saw incense being made with essential oils.

And finally, in the flower fields of Tunisia, I learned the differences between two orange blossoms. While observing the production of neroli (also known as bitter orange blossom or Citrus aurantium) in North Africa's Cape Bon, I discovered that bitter orange has an early "pre leaf" that forms in the perfect shape of a heart. (After the "heart" completes its growth, the mature leaf is shaped much like the common orange tree leaf that we see in the United States.) Now, I have successfully used bitter orange oil, by inhalation only, to help people suffering from hypertension; neroli is a sedative to the nervous system, a tonic for the digestive system, and it takes powerful action as an antidepressant. But it can also help slow down cardiac contractions! The connection between bitter orange's ability to benefit the heart and its heart-shaped young leaf was remarkable to me.

Visiting distilleries and meeting essential oil producers around the world made me feel that a new power is penetrating an old tradition. Aromatherapists in these places are seen as the bearers of the new knowledge about the medicinal value of pretty-smelling raw materials. Essential oil producers as well as the general public display tremendous interest in the medicinal value of flower oils.

Now, from a holistic perspective and a spiritual point of view, I ask you: what would be the life purpose of a flower? To open and to reach out for the light. Doesn't that sound like two of our innermost needs as human beings? In reaching for the light we heal, we awaken to details of inner and outer beauty, and we flow. Good things happen. With a true flower oil medicine, a physical transmission of the flower's influence comes down to us at a cellular level.

But what about the internal use of essential oils? Precious flower teas! Not only can we use these teas as sedatives and immune-boosters, but what could be more romantic than chilled rose tea with a sprig of mint on a hot summer afternoon? My recommendation is to make a quart and refrigerate it overnight for a delicious "cured" outlandish elixir!

Important note on the preparation of essential oil flower teas:

Be aware that these recipes call for steam distilled essential oils only, not absolutes (also known as extracts). Flower absolutes-such as Rose maroc, produced in Morocco, France, Italy, England, or China, or Jasmine grandiflorum or Jasmine sambac, from India or Egypt-are the oils resulting from the extraction method, which is done with chemical solvents instead of steam. Although absolutes are perfectly fine in a massage or bath oil, they should not be used internally due to chemical residue in the oil.

The recipes below are specifically for the steam-distilled flower oils of rose (Rosa damascena) produced in Bulgaria or Turkey; neroli (Citrus aurantium) produced in Tunisia, Italy, or France; and lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) produced in France.

Rose Otto Tea
1 drop rose oil
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. of vodka
2 cups hot water
Glass or stainless steel refrigerator container

Mix the essential oil into either the sugar or the vodka first, then mix the oil, sugar, and vodka together vigorously in a glass or stainless steel container. Slowly pour the water while continuing to mix. If a cool tea is desired, refrigerate before drinking.

Precious Flower Tea
1 drop rose oil
1 drop neroli oil
1 drop lavender oil (optional)
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. vodka, brandy, or wine
4 cups water

Follow the directions above and enjoy! HR&S

Considering the substantial concentration of their aromatic power, all formulations are normally diluted down to as little as 2%, at most. Quality is important, as many products do not use true oils. Essential oils from reputable aromatherapy labels will always be labeled with the botanical Latin name and a place of origin; good sources include Primavera Life, Aroma Care, OSA, and Simplers.

Nature's Geometry
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