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Bipolar Symptoms Checklist

Symptoms of Mania:

  • Increased energy, activity, restlessness, racing
  • thoughts and rapid speech
  • Excessive euphoria
  • Extreme irritability and distractibility
  • Decreased sleep requirement
  • Uncharacteristically poor judgment
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Denial that anything is wrong
  • Overspending
  • Risk-behaviour

Take the Mania Questionaire

Symptoms of Depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
    Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy, feelings of fatigue
  • Difficulty in concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Mania Diagnosis Checklist

This questionaire is for informational purposes only. This is no substitute for a qualified health professional for diagnosis and treatment of Depression or Bipolar Disprder.


Instructions:

You might reproduce this scale and use it on a weekly basis to track your moods. It also might be used to show your doctor how your symptoms have changed from one visit to the next.

Changes of five or more points are significant. This scale is not designed to make a diagnosis or take the place of a professional diagnosis. If you suspect that you are depressed or Bipolar, please consult with a mental health professional as soon as possible.

The 18 items in each section refer to how you have felt and behaved DURING THE PAST WEEK.

1. My mind has never been sharper.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot Very much

2. I need less sleep than usual.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot Very much

3. I have so many plans and new ideas that it is hard for me to work.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

4. I feel a pressure to talk and talk.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

5. I have been particularly happy.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

6. I have been more active than usual
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

7. I talk so fast that people have a hard time keeping up with me.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

8. I have more new ideas than I can handle.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

9. I have been irritable.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

10. It’s easy for me to think of jokes and funny stories.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot Very much

11. I have been feeling like “the life of the party.”
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

12. I have been full of energy.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

13. I have been thinking about sex.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot Very much

14. I have been feeling particularly playful.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot Very much

15. I have special plans for the world.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

16. I have been spending too much money.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

17. My attention keeps jumping from one idea to another.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

18. I find it hard to slow down and stay in one place.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot


_ Very much


Depression Diagnosis Checklist

1. I do things slowly.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

2. My future seems hopeless.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

3. It is hard for me to concentrate on reading.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

4. The pleasure and joy has gone out of my life.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

5. I have difficulty making decisions.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

6. I have lost interest in aspects of life that used to be important to me.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

7. I feel sad, blue, and unhappy.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

8. I am agitated and keep moving around.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

9. I feel fatigued.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

10. It takes great effort for me to do simple things.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

11. I feel that I am a guilty person who deserves to be punished.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

12. I feel like a failure.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

13. I feel lifeless — more dead than alive.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

14. My sleep has been disturbed — too little, too much, or broken sleep.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

15. I spend time thinking about HOW I might kill myself.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

16. I feel trapped or caught.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

17. I feel depressed even when good things happen to me.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much

18. Without trying to diet, I have lost, or gained, weight.
_ Not at all
_ Just a little
_ Somewhat
_ Moderately
_ Quite a lot
_ Very much


Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that requires long term treatment.

Treatment usually consists of medication, but psychotherapy can be of great benefit to people when combined with drug treatment.

Because of the nature of the illness, a single drug may not be enough to control symptoms during a mood episode, so often a combination of medication is necessary depending on the phase of the illness and the severity of the symptoms.

Mood stabilizers are the mainstay of drug treatment for bipolar disorder. They are used to treat manic, hypo manic and mixed episodes and are also used as long term, or maintenance treatment to prevent relapses and delay further mood episodes.

Some mood-stabilisers may take a week or two to reach a therapeutic blood level and then they may take a few more weeks to take effect. In acute situations, another drug may be needed while the mood-stabiliser starts to take effect.

The most commonly used mood stabilizer is lithium. This is the oldest and most widely used treatment and is usually the first drug you will be prescribed when diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Common side effects include : lethargy, diarrhea, nausea, frequent urination, tremor and weight gain. The blood level of lithium must be monitored regularly because the therapeutic blood
level is quite close to the toxic level. Once a stable blood level has been established, blood tests can be done every 4-6months.

Treatment of depression

Antidepressants are used in the depressed phase of the illness. There are several types of antidepressant, each with a different mechanism of action. The most common are:

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors)

Tricycle’s

MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)

Bupropion (available in the USA only)

If used alone, antidepressants can sometimes cause “switching” into mania. Typically a mood stabilizer is prescribed in addition to the antidepressant to prevent this “overshoot” into mania. Antidepressants can take several weeks to take effect.

ECT (Electro convulsive Therapy) may be used for very severe, treatment resistant depression.

If the depression is very severe, hospitalization may be necessary because of the risk of suicide.

Treatment of mania

Mania is usually treated with a mood stabilizer, but additional treatment with a drug used to treat anxiety (an anxiolytic) may also be needed for the insomnia or agitation typically experienced in a manic episode. If the manic symptoms are particularly severe, for example if delusions are experienced, an anti psychotic drug may be given in addition to the above. Anxiolytic and anti psychotic medication acts quickly and may only be needed for a few weeks to control the acute symptoms. Brief hospitalization may be necessary for the safety of an individual during a manic episode. Often people can lose insight into their illness during a manic episode. They need close supervision to prevent harm to themselves and to others.

Some Of The Most Commonly Used
Medications Today


Antidepresants

Antipsychotics

Anti-Anxiety
Medications

Mood Stabilizers


Verapamil


First thing you should do to get out of depression
Willie Krut

Depression, in psychiatry, is a symptom of mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of loss, sadness, hopelessness, failure, and rejection. The two major types of mood disorder are unipolar disorder, also called major depression, and bipolar disorder, whose sufferers are termed manic-depressive.

Here are few suggestions to get the better of the depressed mood
and get the most happiness out of your daily activities.

Take a Break.

I mean it.



Listen to soothing music. Soak in a nice warm
bath. Ask one of your close friends to massage
you. Take a break from your stressful workload
and spend the day just goofing around. In other
words, have fun.

Eat Right and Stay Fit.

Avoid foods with lots of sugar, caffeine, or
alcohol. Sugar and caffeine may give you a
brief moment of energy; but they would later
bring about anxiety , tension, and internal
problems. Alcohol is a depressant. Many people
would drink alcohol to “forget their problems.”
They’re just aggravating their conditions in the
process.

Exercising regularly is a vital depression buster
because it allows your body to produce more
endorphins than usual. Endorphins are sometimes
called “the happy chemicals” because of their
stress-reducing and happiness-inducing properties.

Get Enough Light and Sunshine.

Lack of exposure to sunlight is responsible for the
secretion of the hormone melatonin, which could trigger
a dispirited mood and a lethargic condition.

Melatonin is only produced in the dark. It lowers the
body temperature and makes you feel sluggish. If you
are always cooped up in your room (with the curtains
closed), it would be difficult to restrain yourself
from staying in bed.

This is the reason why many people are suffering from
depression much more often in winter than in the other
seasons. It’s because the nights are longer.

If you can’t afford to get some sunshine, you can
always lighten up your room with brighter lights.
Have lunch outside the office. Take frequent walks
instead of driving your car over short distances.

Get Busy. Get Inspired.

You’ll be more likely to overcome any feeling of
depression if you are too busy to notice it. Live
a life full of inspired activities.

Do the things you love. If you’re a little short
on cash, you could engage in simple stuffs like
taking a leisurely stroll in the park, playing
sports, reading books, or engaging in any activity
that you have passion for and would love to pursue.

Set a goal – a meaningful purpose in life. No
matter how difficult or discouraging life can be,
remain firm and have an unshakable belief that you
are capable of doing anything you desire. With
this kind of positive attitude, you will attain
a cheerful disposition to beat the blues.

Get a Social Life.

No man is an island. Your circle of friends are
there to give you moral support. Spending time
and engaging in worthwhile activities with them
could give you a very satisfying feeling. Nothing
feels better than having group support.

Never underestimate the power of touch. Doesn’t
it feel so good when someone pats you on the back
and gives you words of encouragement during your
most challenging times? Hug or embrace someone
today. You’ll never know when you have saved
another life.

Get intimate. Establish close ties with your
family and friends. The love and care expressed
by others could tremendously boost your immune
system and fend off illnesses. Best of all, you’ll
live a more secured and happy life.

Learn more how to manage and conquer your depression, please visit the http://www.welcome-to-self-improvement.com site.


Natural Remedies
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This page will list some of the remedies that can be used to help with your problems. Not everyone wants to resort to Medication so here you will find some natural remedies that may help you.

Topics that are covered here are:

Bach Flowers Vitamin B Omega-3 Fatty acids Homeopathy Amino acids Minerals Massage Aromatherapy St John‘s Wort


Bach Flowers

The Bach Flower Essences is a system of 38 Flower Essences that corrects emotional imbalances: negative emotions are replaced with positive.

The Bach Flower Essences are 100% safe and natural and work in conjunction with herbs, homeopathy and medications. They are safe for everyone, including children, pregnant women, pets, elderly and even plants.

There are 38 essences and a good description of them all can be found at: http://www.bachflower.com/38_Essences.htm

The four most common remedies for Panic/Anxiety are as follows:

Rock Rose is the remedy against terror, and as such is an important ingredient in Rescue Remedy.

Aspen is the remedy for unfounded fears.

Cherry plum is the remedy for fear of losing your mind.

Rescue Remedy is the most famous of the remedies, but in fact is not a remedy at all, but rather a mix of five different remedies (Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Rock Rose and Star of Bethlehem) which together help deal with any emergency or stressful event. Taking a driving test, exam nerves, speaking in public, after an accident or an argument – there are countless uses for Rescue Remedy.

In times of extreme stress use 4 drops neat straight onto your tongue as often as needed. For challenging days add 8- 12 drops to a bottle of mineral water and sip liberally all day – i.e. perhaps when driving.

If you want to make up you own mixture you can do so, using up to 7 essences in a mixture.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Check out this link for all the answers: http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/faq.htm


Where to buy?

In the UK these remedies are available at most health care shops including Lloyds, Boots, Holland & Barrett, Tesco etc.

In the USA check out http://www.bachflower.com

If you go to the following site, you can enter details of where you live and you will get a list of retailers selling Bach Flowers: http://www.bachessences.com. The site also has a remedy selector section where you fill in the short questionnaire about your symptoms and it suggests which remedies are best for you.

Other Links

www.bachcentre.com


Vitamin B

I am not going to simply list every vitamin here that will help but I am going to mention Vitamin B as that is very important.

Vitamin B is to boost your immune system (found in your green veg) and is the vital vitamin that keeps our nervous system together.

Vitamin B Complex

The B-complex vitamins are actually a group of eight vitamins, which include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), cyanocobalamin (B12), pantothenic acid and biotin. These vitamins are essential for:

  • The breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose (this provides energy for the body)
  • The breakdown of fats and proteins (which aids the normal functioning of the nervous system)
  • Muscle tone in the stomach and intestinal tract
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Eyes
  • Mouth
  • Liver

You need to be taking a strong 50-100 mg Vitamin B complex supplement in the morning as it can lead to insomnia as it releases energy.

Don’t be alarmed but it may turn your urine bright yellow.

If you are a smoker then you need to be taking Vitamin C at the same time.

Vitamin B Complex is commonly available at all chemist/health shops or a reputable online site is http://www.questvitamins.co.uk

Vitamin B’s

Always good to take a complex for the nerves and depression but certain vitamin B’s are very valuable in higher doses.

Niacinamide (not niacin as it can be toxic in high doses) – calms the brain and binds to the same receptors like Valium and Xanax do. Doctors recommend 500mg 1-4 times a day. Avoid the extended release tablets as they are bad for the liver.

Inositol – A non essential vitamin B. In high doses has been found to be very effective for OCD, panic and anxiety! You can start at 500mg, and up it to you find the dose that suits you. Also good for the liver. OCD has been shown to effective at around 18 grams! yes grams. Panic up to 12 grams. But we are all different and lower doses are often good too. The higher doses have been found to be completely safe, even at doses as high as 50 grams!! (but I doubt very much anyone would need that much). You can buy it in powder form (cheaper that capsules if you take a lot), 1/4 teaspoon can equal 700mg.

Vitamin B6 – doses around 50mg 3-4 times a day can help anxiety.


Omega-3 Fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fats, one of four basic types of fat that the body derives from food. (Cholesterol, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fat are the others.) All polyunsaturated fats, including the omega-3s, are increasingly recognized as important to human health.

Omega-3 Lessens the Body’s Overreaction to Stress

It appears that DHA and EPA — the essential fatty acids that come from Omega-3 — may lessen the body’s overreaction to stress. This is wonderful news for people that suffer from stress overload, anxiety and depression!

DHA and EPA appear to act as mood stabilizers. This may explain why increasing consumption of Omega-3 has been associated with a less intense reaction to stress.

Most recently, in a small study in France researchers decided to study how adding large amounts of Omega-3 to diet might affect the response to stress. They exposed volunteers to a mental stressor while measuring stress indicators such as levels of the stress chemicals epinephrine and cortisol, energy levels, and more.

Then they tested again after three weeks of adding large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids to the volunteers’ diets.

The results were that the increase in Omega-3 lessened the level of stress chemicals, energy levels, and other stress indicators in the volunteers.

The researchers concluded that supplementing the diet with Omega-3 inhibits the fight or flight response triggered by mental stress.

This is good news for anxiety sufferers. It appears that Omega-3 calms the body’s fight or flight response and the long list of physical anxiety symptoms” you experience when the false alarm goes off. It brings your body’s reaction to mental stress down a notch or two.

I do not want to flood this page with anymore info about Omega-3 but for some more detailed info and research into it then click here


Homeopathy

Homeopathic medicine is a natural pharmaceutical science that uses various plants, minerals or animals in very small dose to stimulate the sick person’s natural defenses. The medicines are individually chosen for their ability to cause in overdose the similar symptoms the person is experiencing. “Homoios” in Greek means similar and “pathos” means disease or suffering. Since one’s symptoms are actually efforts of the organism to reestablish homeostasis or balance, it is logical to seek a substance that would, in overdose, cause the similar symptoms the person is experiencing. The medicines, thus, go with, rather than against, the person’s natural defenses.

In essence, homeopathy is composed of two highly systematic methods: toxicology and casetaking. First, homeopaths find out the specific physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that various substances cause in overdose. Homeopathic texts have more detail on toxicology than any other source. Second, the homeopaths interview their patients in great detail to discover the totality of physical, emotional and mental symptoms the person is experiencing. The homeopath seeks to find a substance that would cause the similar symptoms the person has and then gives it in small, specially prepared dose.

Aconite is the medication of choice if your anxiety is the result of a sudden fright or shock. If you are grief stricken (such as when one of your loved ones die), the homeopath may give you Ignatia. In situations such as stage fright and other anticipatory and performance anxiety, Gelsemium is recommended. If you have anxiety accompanied by diarrheoa, Gelsemium is the preferred choice.

Begin with a 6c strength and take two tablets every two to four hours depending on the severity, or acuteness, of the illness. Once you begin to notice improvement, increase the intervals between dosages, and when it seems that improvement is well on its way, discontinue the treatment. If you use a remedy longer than necessary, it might tend to cause the symptoms to recur.

Take your remedy with a clean mouth free from drink, food, tobacco, toothpaste, or mouthwash. Do not touch the pillule with your hands – tip it out into the lid and then into your mouth. Allow the tablet or granules to dissolve in your mouth rather than swallowing them with water, and do not ingest anything except water for fifteen minutes after taking the remedy.


Amino acids

(My thanks to Claire for writing the following – please do not copy this info without my permission)

5htp (5-hydroxytryptophan) – has been found to increase serotonin like antidepressants such as Prozac. Hasn’t as many side effects as Prozac, but has some! like upset stomach (take the enteric coated to avoid that). Start low and slowly increase until you find relief, may take 1- 2 months or less in some.

L-tryptophan – Very much like 5htp in its action, can work better for some that 5htp.

L-taurine – Good for the heart and can have a calming effect on the body.

L-theanine – Mild but can be very calming (take with Vitamin B6). Non drowsy, no side effects.

L-phenylalanine – Good for stress! opens up the endorphin sites (where the happy hormones are).

SAMe (S-adenoslmethionine) – Effective for depression can be good for anxiety too! expensive but works quickly. Can have a few side effects. Not anything like antidepressants though.

Glycine – Brain sedative. Good for mania.

GABA – Doesn’t cross the brain barrier but when taken with niacinamide or inositol (both Vitamin B’s) can add to their calming effects.

Take all with a vitamin B complex, helps them absorb on the body and work more effectively.

Try Melatonin for sleep problems, regulates sleeping patterns! very good. Do not take if you have breathing problems of any kind!


Minerals

(My thanks to Claire for writing the following – please do not copy this info without my permission)

The mineral lithium Orotate is found to be very effective for bipolar disorder! There is a drug called lithium but this is a mineral like calcium and magnesium.

Magnesium is found to calm the nerves – http://www.naturalcalm.net/order.shtml try this product.

Calcium is also calming on the body – http://www.bestnaturals.com/d_liquidRelax.asp product called ‘liquid relaxation’ might be worth a try.

Product for anxiety – http://www.emersonecologics.com/ProductInformation.asp?BrowseBy=ANXI1


Massage

(My thanks to Meg for writing this article – please do not copy this info without my permission)

For many, massage is still viewed as a pampering luxury rather than a pure and extremely therapeutic natural treatment.

Massage is an ancient science that dates back to 3000 BC or that is when the first record in a book refers to it. Not surprisingly this was the Chinese who first recognised the multiple benefits.

Next, Hippocrates who was essentially the founding father of medicine used to refer to medicine as ‘the art of rubbing’. He discovered that it reduced swelling and that patients relaxed with long flowing movements towards the heart. He decreed that all physicians should integrate massage into their daily practice.

Massage became universally known through Per Handrick Ling – the Swedish Gymnast who went to China to learn more about their techniques. He went on to found the Swedish massage which involved a variety of movements such as rotation, vibration, pressure, friction and stretching.

This became very popular and spread fast throughout Europe and in 1895 the first body of Trained Masseuses was established in Britain. In 1899 a massage department was set up in St.Georges Hospital in London by Sir. Richard Bennet.

Up until the 19th century, massage was firmly established and formed part of every medical practice.

Towards the late 19th century medicines became available and slowly overtook massage as a favourite means to relieving ailments due to the speed of results by drugs.

Today massage is classified under alternative medicine despite being a cornerstone of physiotherapy and sports injury clinics. It is also highly recommended by many migraine clinics and as a primary treatment for stress related aches and pains. Many intensive care units have over the recent years tried to introduce more massage and aromatherapy into daily care with excellent results and I some research studies have proven to reduce overall health costs.

If the client is in severe need , then it may take 2 or 3 treatments close together to really feel the benefit, so do not have one treatment and not return if you are very knotted or having sustained problems with headaches . Often energies and deeply trenched emotions are moved too which can lead to spectacular releases.

Many desired effects are obtained through massage. The largest organ in our body – the skin is stimulated, along with nerves, muscles, the circulatory and the lymphatic drainage systems. This boosts circulation, removes toxic wastes and promotes cellular renewal.

Many practitioners also use aromatherapy and at times Reiki, within the massage, for added benefit.

Massage helps smooth away stress, relieves nervous tension, unknots tense and aching muscles and relieves headaches. It often banishes pains and twinges and aids better posture as well as promoting sleep and so importantly reducing the heart rate and significantly reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Having a full body massage promotes improved functioning of many of the body systems, promotes healing and muscle toning.

The client will feel invigorated, yet calm and relaxed with renewed energy levels. Often there is a new found balance of mood and lightness to the step. This is so important and vital in order to better cope with this worlds day to day stresses.

Always discuss your needs with the practitioner and choose one carefully- personal recommendations are best. Be wary of anyone who doesn’t take a medical history at your first meeting.

Often you get a better service and environment from a practitioner who is mobile or works from home rather than a busy beauty salon where it can be noisy and time is a major driver but as a relationship builds between the therapist and the client the massage can be tailored to your needs as measured by your responses.

Always drink at least 2 glasses of water after a massage to help flush out toxins and do not rush around for a few hours. Let your body receive and adjust to the changes.

Giving a massage gift token is a great present, especially to someone who might not otherwise ever try it.


Aromatherapy

(My thanks to Meg for writing this article – please do not copy this info without my permission)

Aromatherapy has been a part of humanity since the beginning of mankind. Hippocrates said “the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.”

Aromatherapy has reputedly been in daily use for 6000 years or more. The Greeks, Romans, and ancient Egyptians all used aromatherapy in their everyday lives.

The Egyptian physician Imhotep recommended fragrant oils for bathing, massage, and for embalming their dead nearly 6000 years ago. Imhotep is also the Egyptian god of medicine and healing.

Civilization has been concerned with cleanliness for centuries. Archaeologists have discovered communal baths dating to 5000 BC in the city of Mohenjo Daro. Egyptian priests used aromatic material for treating manias, depression, nervousness and also to embalm pharaohs.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used aromatherapy baths and scented massage. He used aromatic fumigations to rid Athens of the plague.

In India early temples (2000 BC) were built of sandalwood providing an aromatic presence at all times.

The term aromatherapie was first used in 1928 by a French chemist, René Maurice Gattefossé.

Gattefossé had badly burned his hand while working in a perfumery and quickly submerged his hand into the closest thing available, a barrel of lavender oil. His hand healed quickly and without serious scarring, which sparked his curiosity about the healing properties of this oil. He started investigating the effect of other essential oils for healing and for their psychotherapeutic benefits. His research soon led him to other essential oils where he began to recognize that the benefits of the pure essential oils were far superior to the synthetics.

In 1665, during the Great Plague, Londoners burned lavender, cedar wood and cypress in the streets. Since that time it has been discovered that these plants known to be disinfectants, bactericides and antiviral agents as well as excellent insect repellents

During World War II, the French army surgeon Dr. Jean Valnet used essential oils as antiseptics in daily practice.

Later, a French bio chemist, Madame Marguerite Maury elevated aromatherapy as a day to day holistic therapy. She started prescribing essential oils as remedies for her patients. She later developed the use of these oils externally in combination with massage.

In France, aromatherapy has always been recognized as part of the French medical tradition.

So, How Does Aromatherapy Work ?

Essential oils stimulate our powerful sense of smell. It is known that fragrances we smell have a significant impact on how we feel.

We have the capability to distinguish approximately 10,000 different smells.

Smells enter the body through cilia (the fine hairs lining the nose) to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls our moods, emotions, memory and learning.

Examples of research include:

Studies using brain wave frequency have shown that smelling lavender increases the alpha waves in the back of the head, which are associated with relaxation.

Fragrance of Jasmine increases the beta waves in the front of the head, which are associated with a more alert state.

In a study conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York, patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reported 63 percent less claustrophobic after getting exposed to the aroma of vanilla.

In another study, 122 patients who were in an intensive care unit, reported feeling much better when aromatherapy was administered with the oil of lavender

Japanese have reported less mistakes by data entry operators when exposed to fragrance. Also now smelly vision is not far away either through our TV’s or through our PC’s. The technology is being developed at huge expense as the manufacturers know that there will be massive opportunities for this market.

Which aromatherapy oils are recommended for anxiety and panic ?

Frankincense and neroli are two of the most important oils for anxiety. Use them liberally.

Frankincense will help you to breathe efficiently, it opens the bronchioles, and relaxes the diaphragm so the lungs expand and breathing becomes deeper and slower which is brilliant for you those who have a tendency to hyperventilate. Frankincense will also help make you feel safe within your body when you feel that you may be losing the plot.

Neroli will calm hysterical states rapidly. Apply one drop to the solar plexus both front and back, top of the feet and on the neck around the carotid artery.

A mist of neroli water around the face at the first signs of anxiety can often nip it in the bud and in a full panic attack will usually calm the person quickly.

Lavender is a very common oil well known for its calming and relaxing properties

If insomnia is an issue try a massage/bath with vetiver – it’s highly soporific. It was the one thing that got me off to sleep after 3 weeks of pure panic averaging about one hours sleep a night. It’s got a very strong distinctive smell which isn’t pleasant – but it did the trick for me.

For Tense Anxiety—Symptoms include bodily tension, muscle pains, aches, and a generalized soreness. Mix clary sage, lavender and Roman chamomile

For Restless Anxiety—including symptoms such as dizziness, sweaty, agitated, palpitations, a lump in the throat, frequent urination, diarrhoea and upset stomach. Vetiver, juniper and cedarwood are reputedly good

For Apprehensive Anxiety—this includes needless worrying, brooding, unease, a sense of foreboding. For help with this emotional state, try using bergamot, lavender and geranium

Repressed Anxiety—this variant of anxiety involves feeling on edge, concentration difficulties, irritability, insomnia, or a sense of chronic exhaustion. Try neroli, rose otto and bergamot

Scents to Relieve Anger: Chamomile, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose and Ylang Ylang

Scents to Relieve Anxiety: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Cypress, Frankincense, Geranium (Rose), Hyssop, Lavender, Marjoram, Myrrh, Neroli, Orange and Rose

Suggestions of how to use aromatherapy oils

6-8 drops into running warm bath water

A few drops diluted in carrier oil used in massage

Diluted in water for adding to an oil burner

2 drops on a tissue by your pillow

A drop or two in the washing machine rinse cycle

If you’re feeling low or sad, use some Mai Chang in an oil burner. It’s a great pick me up. I always have some on the go when I have my appraisal and it always does the trick !

Vanilla is supposed to be great for claustrophobia but I’ve not used it myself.

Never use aromatherapy oils neat or on children – they can be too powerful.

There are a few exceptions to this like lavender on mosquito bites and tea tree on local infections but for an aromatherapy beginner it’s best not to try these until you’ve researched this further.

For topical use only – Do not eat or drink

Buying aromatherapy oils – there are thousands of sources.

Some are extremely pure, some are not very pure or extremely diluted – read the label. A price comparison is a usually good guide although some oils are extremely expensive to produce.

Our high street chemists and supermarkets usually carry a basic range that will be suitable for the casual user but you may pay a bit more for a well known brand name .There are many specialist suppliers on the internet

For further information on aromatherapy: The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood. It is a comprehensive read.


St. John’s Wort

Written by Sarah (seh1980 on the Message Forum)

What is St. John’s Wort?

St. John’s Wort is an herb that has been used for centuries for various medicinal purposes, mainly for treating depression. Although the composition of St. John’s Wort and how it works are not fully understood, there is no denying that it is very effective in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety. However, it is necessary to note that, according to recent studies, St. John’s Wort is of no benefit in treating major depression of moderate severity. More research is required to help us know whether St. John’s Wort has value in treating other forms of depression.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum in Latin) is a long-living plant with yellow flowers. It contains many chemical compounds, including hypericin and hyperforin, which are the ones that are thought to help treat depression. Although experts are not yet sure how these compounds actually work in our bodies, several theories have been suggested. Preliminary studies suggest that St. John’s Wort might work by preventing nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing the chemical messenger serotonin, or by reducing levels of a protein involved in the body’s immune system functioning. Despite the fact that we cannot be certain exactly how this herbal remedy works, St. John’s Wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders as well as nerve pain. In ancient times, doctors and herbalists wrote about its use as a sedative and treatment for malaria as well as a balm for wounds, burns, menstrual pain and insect bites. Today, St. John’s Wort is mainly used to treat mild to moderate depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders.

Why do people take St. John’s Wort?

There are three main reasons why people choose to use St. John’s Wort instead of prescribed anti-depressants. Firstly, some patients who take antidepressant drugs do not experience relief from their depression. Furthermore, many patients report unpleasant side- effects from their prescription medication, such as a dry mouth, nausea, headache, or effects on sexual function or sleep. Secondly, some people turn to herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort because they believe that ‘natural’ products are better for them than prescription medications, or that natural products are always safe. As we will see below, neither of these statements are true. The third reason why some people tend to prefer St. John’s Wort over prescribed medication is due to cost. This is especially true in the US where prescribed medications are much more expensive than herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort, which are sold over the counter.

Is St. John’s Wort widely prescribed for depression/anxiety?

In
Europe, St. John’s Wort is widely prescribed for depression. In the US, St. John’s Wort is not a prescription medication, but there is considerable public interest in this herbal remedy and it remains among the top-selling herbal products in the US. St. John‘s Wort products are sold in three forms: capsules, teas (the dried herb is added to boiling water and brewed for a short period of time) and extracts (specific types of chemicals are removed from the herb leaving the wanted chemicals in a concentrated form).

Does St. John’s Wort really work?

The real question is whether or not
St. John’s Wort really does treat depression and anxiety effectively. In Europe, results from a number of scientific studies have supported the effectiveness of certain St. John’s Wort extracts for both depression and anxiety. An overview of 23 European clinical studies found that the herb might be useful in cases of mild to moderate depression/anxiety. The studies, which included 1,757 outpatients, reported that St. John’s Wort was more effective than a placebo (a ‘dummy’ pill designed to have no effect) and appeared to produce fewer side effects than some standard antidepressants (British Medical Journal, 1996).
St. John’s Wort is also widely used by Americans who want to treat their own depression, but Dr P. Murali Doraiswamy, a psychiatrist at Duke University, North Carolina, spoke of his reservations at a recent conference, claiming that some of the studies were too small to be reliable and that long-term data was lacking. He also pointed out that the herb had not been compared with the most effective prescription drugs like Prozac and Zoloft.

Most scientific reviewers claim that St John’s Wort is promising but that its results remain unproven. The main problem is that many people take it irregularly and at incorrect doses. Because depression/anxiety is a serious illness and a major cause of suicide, the trend to self-medicate is worrying. Several studies of St John’s Wort are now in progress in the United States.
It is mainly herbalists who believe that
St. John’s Wort is as effective in treating depression and anxiety as prescribed medications. Keith Robertson, a qualified herbalist who practises in Glasgow and is Director of Education at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine, believes that St John’s Wort is a gentle herb and effective herb. Most herbalists claim that they have been prescribing it for years and have never encountered any problems.

The Risks and the Side-Effects:

It is necessary to realise that there are risks involved in taking St. John’s Wort. Many so-called ‘natural’ substances can have harmful effects, especially if they are taken in too large a quantity or if they interact with another medication that the person is taking. The Medicines Control Agency issued a warning on March 1st 2000 that St. John’s Wort should not be taken by anyone who is already on any other medication until they have consulted their doctor. Research has shown that St. John’s Wort interacts with some drugs, including certain drugs used to control HIV infections, such as Indinavir. Other research shows that St. John’s Wort can interact with chemotherapeutic, or anticancer, drugs, such as Irinotecan. The herb may also interact with drugs that help prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs, such as cyclosporine. More recent research has shown that St. John’s Wort can also counteract birth control pills. Using St. John’s Wort limits the effectiveness of these medications.

This herbal remedy is also thought to limit the effects of medications that are taken for asthma, epilepsy, migraines and heart problems. The authorities in the Irish Republic have gone further by banning the over-the-counter sale of the ancient herbal remedy since January 1st, 2000. It is now available only on prescription. One must also note that some people can experience side effects from taking St. John’s Wort. The most common side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, diarrhoea, nausea, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and fatigue.

Although it is widely thought that St. John’s Wort is a safe herbal remedy that will not cause any long-lasting negative side-effects unless it mixes with certain other medications, please do consult your doctor before you start to take it in order to ensure that you take the correct dosage in an appropriate way!!


Links

http://holisticonline.com/Remedies/Anxiety/anx_panic_alternative_therapies.htm

http://www.nativeremedies.com

http://www.amoryn.com/help_panic.html

www.naturalbodytherapies.co.ukClaire South qualified Massage Practitioner. Based in Hampton and covers Middlesex, Surrey and West London.

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