It's been a scorcher throughout much of the country, and everyone is having difficulty keeping cool. Aromatherapy offers both an effective and pleasant method to help with the heat. Here are a few of my favorite oils for summer, and tips on how to use them:
Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) - Gentle and cooling, this essential oil is ideal for dry skin, dehydrated skin and sunburn. A tepid lavender bath at the end of the day will help you cool off both physically and emotionally. Add some colloidal oatmeal to the bath and you'll have a great cure for prickly heat or heat rash. For protocols on how to use lavender for sunburn, please see one of my previous blog posts, Cooling Sunburn with Aromatherapy. The hydrolat makes a cooling sub for the essential oil, especially in situations where a spray mist is desirable.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) - A potent anti-inflammatory, this indigo blue chamomile takes the heat out of many situations, especially when they involve summer skin problems: sunburn, windburn, heat rash, ant bites, bee and wasp stings, hives and poison ivy. It's particularly cooling when applied in the form of a cold compress or hydrolat mist.
Vetivert (Vetiveria zizanoides) - This earthy-sweet grass is woven into mats which are used widely in India as natural air conditioners, hung over doorways and windows, and added to Indian drinks for a cooling effect on the body. You can use vetivert in a cold neck compress when outdoors, or put a few drops of vetivert on ribbons tied to an indoor fan, which will disperse the long-lasting fragrance throughout a room. Do as the Japanese do: use green and blue ribbons for their psychologically cooling effect.
Cypress (Cupressus semprevirens) - Want to boost the power of your deodorant stone? Wet it down and add a couple drops of cypress oil before use. Cypress also combines nicely with lavender in a tepid footbath to cool off tired feet and prevent odor. The sharp, crisp fragrance can be combined with lavender, lemon, clary sage or sweet orange to take the heat off when diffused into your environment.
Rose (Rosa damascena) - Hot flashes are awful enough by themselves, but even worse when combined with the heat of summer. A hormone-balancing oil, rose can mitigate hot flashes for some women. Mist it over the face and chest in the form of a hydrolat when you feel a hot flash coming on, or use the essential oil daily as a hormonal tonic. The hydrolat also makes a highly cooling and delicious beverage when diluted in water; just a tablespoon in a half gallon is plenty.
Carrot seed (Daucus carota) - Wild carrot seed is known for its skin nourishing qualities, and the essential oil supports sun damaged, aging, sensitive or dry complexions. The oil is deeply grounding, and if heat leaves you feeling disoriented or spacey, combine it with vetivert to bring you instantly back to earth.
Need a few other ideas on cooling oils that you can diffuse into your environment? Peppermint, spearmint, geranium, lemon, lemongrass, myrrh, petitgrain and bergamot are all traditonally used for calming hot conditions, both physically and psychologically. Experiment with different combinations in the diffuser and discover your own favorite summertime fragrance.