Homemade Aromatic Bath and Massage Oils
Image by Terry Guscott / Stylist: Heather Cameron
Many forms of holistic medicine, such as Ayurveda, use aromatherapy to treat ailments of both the mind and body.
Oils infused with fresh herbs and blossoms are excellent for calming the heart and gladdening emotions. I believe the fragrance and self-nurturing effect also improve our capacity for perception, reception and compassion.
With the variety of oils, blooms and herbs available, the combinations are endless. Pour the infused oils into beautiful glass jars as gifts; just be sure to label with the type of oil and plant products, and include instructions to store in the fridge and use externally only.
STEP ONE: Decide on your oil base (see suggestions at right), glass container and plant material. Rinse leaves or petals and let air dry. The amount is a personal choice depending on how fragrant you wish the oil to be; my suggestion is to start with a 1:10 ratio of plant material to oil.
STEP TWO: Using a funnel, pour the oil base into glass jars.
STEP THREE: Tuck the air-dried plant foliage into jars; you may need a wooden chopstick to poke it in. Be gentle with rose petals as they bruise easily. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and place in the warm sun for a day or two, blending regularly. Next, replace the cheesecloth with a proper lid, label or tag, and store for up to one month in fridge. If it goes solid from the cold, warm before using. You may choose to strain the foliage out, or keep it in for decoration.
Sheena's best body oils
Ayurvedic Medicine, the sister science of yoga, is an ancient holistic medicine from India that uses aromatic massage as part of treatment. The oil base is chosen with care, blended with flowers, petals, herbs or essential oils and used for massage or baths:
ALMOND: Good for calming, best at night due to sedative equalities. Warming.
AVOCADO: A sweet oil that nourishes the skin and strengthens the muscles. Slightly warming.
COCONUT: Nourishes and softens skin, helps counter inflammatory skin disorders such as sunburns, chapped lips and psoriasis. Cooling.
FLAXSEED: Use as a chest massage when congested. Warming.
OLIVE: Nourishes skin and hair. Great for a light massage; not as relaxing as some oils so use for day when alertness is key.
SESAME: Highly nutritious and strengthens all layers of the skin. Allays pain, calms the nerves and relieves muscle tension and spasms. Good for children and the elderly. Excellent for rejuvenation. Sedative qualities. Warming. This is my favourite – once a week I apply it to my skin, muscles, and joints.
SUNFLOWER: Nourishes skin, good for sunburns and skin rashes. Slightly cool.
Sheena's plant picks
BASIL: Clears the head and sinuses. Relieves dullness and body ache.
CALENDULA PETALS: Gentle skin healing properties, soft on skin, nourishes.
CHAMOMILE: General pain relief and headaches. Good for nervousness.
LAVENDER: Calms emotions and soothes nerves. Reduces stress.
LILY: Calms the nerves and heart, harmonizes emotions.
MINT: For digestion enhancement, blend an oil with mint, lemon grass and ginger and rub on the abdomen in a clockwise direction.
OREGANO: Stimulant, helps with digestion.
ROSEMARY: Stimulates circulation. Supports lymphs. Good for memory.
ROSE: Calming, good before bed.
SAGE: Immune booster.
THYME: Another immune booster.