Breathe in their natural fragrances... and chill!
Essential oils are nature’s stress busters. Why do they work so well? Basically, the fragrance molecules have a direct effect on the areas of the brain that control feelings of stress and anxiety. When foliage or flowers are distilled into the more potent essential oils, the scent can help to relieve low-level, stress symptoms and more. However, the fragrant plants themselves can offer a milder effect-- simply by pressing the leaves between your fingers... just another reason to enjoy live plants at home and at the office.
Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia): This fragrant type of lavender is steam distilled into an essential oil from the flowering tops of the Lavender plant. Lavender is cherished around the world for a clean, herbal scent that provides calm and tranquility. Many times, an oil diffuser with a few drops of essential oil of lavender will promote relaxation or sleep. Or, just by touching the soft, grey-green leaves of a lavender plant, the scented oils will be released and offer a bit of calm.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita): The essential oil found in peppermint has been cherished since ancient times... going as far back as the Egyptians and pyramids. This herb is a perennial favorite because it has so many uses. Enjoy a cup of peppermint tea to soothe nausea. Have a problem with ants or mice indoors? Fill a cheesecloth bag with peppermint leaves or a lay a cotton ball soaked with the essential oil in the pest's pathway. The mice or ants will stay away and you'll enjoy a relaxing and lingering scent in your home. And, the best Mojito cocktail is flavored from the larger, ‘muddled’ (process that releases the oils) leaves of the Mojito Mint--a Cuban mint that has a mild flavor with hints of citrus. Tip: Grow Mojito mint in a container... close to the kitchen or bar!
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary is a popular essential oil that is recognized for its strong, clean scent. The oil is extracted from the flowering tops and it has disinfectant properties to insure good dental health, boost the immune system and supposedly, to increase concentration levels. Rosemary oil is often used by students during exams. The scent creates better study habits by stimulating mental activity. Or, use a mixture of rosemary oil and water as a natural air freshener in the home. The plants are especially beautiful when the delicate, blue flowers are in bloom. Who can resist running a few fingers through its fragrant, gray-green leaves?
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Basil leaves have an earthy and spicy aroma that can be calming and refreshing, too. Foliage size can vary from large lettuce-like leaves to very small leaves with spicy and citrus-y flavors and scents. It is also known as a sacred plant in India with medicinal, as well as culinary uses. In summer, keep a container filled with the fragrant, green and deep-purple leaves of a variety of basil plants... perfect for snipping for pesto, Thai dishes or simply paired with vine-ripened tomatoes.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens): Although you can use any scented geranium to make geranium oil, the most common one used is distilled from the fragrant, rose-scented flower and leaves of the Geranium ‘Old-Fashioned Rose.’ This classic floral scent relieves stress and fatigue and contributes to a general feeling of well being. Instead of using the very potent essential oil, you can also enjoy the more subtle scents of the leaves. Look for your favorite fragrances: lime, lemon, citrus, apple, peppermint, apricot, chocolate mint, cinnamon, pineapple and many others. These scented geraniums have small ornamental leaves with ruffles and/or variegation. They look so pretty trained into a single stem or topiary. Place them in a sunny kitchen or on a sunny patio table outdoors... but make sure to place them where they can be touched.
Note: As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted or in eyes or mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in water or an appropriate carrier.) —Mountain Rose Herbs