In This Issue
Hamstrings, not only a muscle!
History of Aromatherapy
In 1999 I issued a free advertisement free healh paper in Cairo, Egypt. It was a ‘write as you speak’ paper and had over 3000 copies circulated every other month. The aim of the paper was to write interesting, informative and somewhat lateral thinking articles without getting caught up in editing (the good parts). All articles contributed were by professionals; doctors, therapists, personal trainers, fitness instructors to name a few.
It was a huge success as it covered fitness, food, children, general health, alternative health, mental health and medicine. After I closed down the centre in 2001, I lost momentum.
Today, I invite you to join me through the journeys of my thoughts and experiences, and hope that it helps you view the human body as an exceptional work of art.
Hamstrings, not only a muscle!
The hamstring muscle is a collective name of three muscles located in the back of the thigh. They are attached to the seat bone The bicep femoris attaches to the outside part of the fibula. The semitendinosus inserts on the tibia and the semimembranosus inserts on the inside section of the head of the tibia.
The hamstring as a group bend the leg backwards, i.e flex the knee. Straightening the leg up towards the head when lying flat on your back would stretch the hamstring muscle.
As the hamstring muscles attach to the seat bones (ischial tuberosity), they tilt the pelvis backward (posteriorly), extend the hip and the leg backward. If a person is generally deconditioned, stands, walks or or sits in a particular manner, that will affect the position of the pelvis and the length of the hamstrings.
Hamstings can get injured in many ways. The tendons can get inflamed (tendinitis), the belly of the muscle could get strained or torn. Any injury to any section of the muscle whether individually or as a group will affect the way you stand, walk or sit.
Have you ever thought of the hamstring muscle in any other way? In ancient Chinese medicine a muscle was not only a functional muscle. It was and still is believed to have a mind-body connection.
The hamstring muscle represents a person’s grounding material. Legs tend to move us forward, they support us by ourselves or for ourselves and can also help us run from situations.
The right side of the body deals with reality, aggression, authority, intellect, rationale and logic. Assertive/career women if stereotyped can suffer from hamstring injuries. Alternatively, the left side of the body is known as the emotional side. If a person is in conflict in expressing his/her feelings, a hamstring strain can become apparent.
We so often ignore signals our body gives us. The next time your body aches, listen to the signs the subconscious mind could be sending you.
History of Aromatherapy
In 2000 BC the Egyptians were found to use aromatic plants and oils in embalming the dead. It was believed in that era that disease or illness was due to the evil spirit which had to be burnt away.
In 3000BC, the Chinese wrote ‘The Yellow Emperor’s classic book of Chinese medicine” and documented the use of oils.
In 4000BC, the Romans wrote books on the properties of oils.
In 130AD Claudius Gallinus researched plants and wrote an 11 volume book which is the basis of medical science to this present day.
In 980AD, Avi Ali Senna (Ibn Sina) was credited for the distillation of plants brining out the essential oils and it’s by products.
It wasn’t until 1190 that the French got permission to manufacture their oils instead of importing them from Africa.
In 1665 people returned to bonfires because of the plague. They discovered that perfumists had immunity against the plague because the oils are highly antiseptic.
The end of the 19th century, chemists managed to separate plants’ chemicals and developed drugs/medications.
In 1916 Rene Gattefosse was researching the use of oils in cosmetics and burnt his hand. He immersed his hand in the first solution available which was pure essential lavender oil. He healed without blistering or scaring. He continued researching oils and managed to introduce oils (especially lavender)in the First World War on burns and gangrene and when he died Jean Valnet continued his work and from there Aromatherapy was re-born.
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using the pure essential oils of a plant , herb or flower and applying it through a therapy such as massage, acupressure, in the form of compresses, ointments, creams or via inhalations.
Applying oils on the skin reaches 35% of the body. 27% through the interstitial fluid and 8% through the blood. The body won’t absorb oil that isn’t needed and the rate at which it’s eliminated depends on how fast it was absorbed.
In France, oils are given internally either orally or by injecting them, which means the oil is absorbed directly into the blood stream, bypassing the interstitial fluid. If the oil given is the wrong one, or has a high toxicity level, the body will need to go through the elimination process. However, the skin acts as a protective layer not accepting what it doesn’t want or need.
When an odour is inhaled it impinges on the olfactory epithelium which contains some 20 million nerve endings. The odour istransmited into a nerve message which is amplified by the olfactory bulb and passes along the olfactory tract and enters the limbic system.
The odour/nerve message is first analysed by the Amygdala and Hippocampus which are memory centres and also play a major role in emotional responses. At this point the odour may trigger a memory whether recent or distant. That is why we may associate scents to people or places.
The message is then passed onto the Hypothalamus which acts as a regulator and relay station, with the option of sending messages on to several other parts of the brain.
Marjoram is known as a ‘sedative oil’, it causes the brain to stimulate the Raphe nucleus which then releases serotonin, a sedative neurochemical.
Stimulating oils such as rosemary affect the locus ceruleus which then releases nor adrenaline into the brain which causes a ‘waking up’ effect.
Essential oils are extracted by distillation, solvent extraction or expression. Most plants are distilled, citrus fruits are expressed and certain flowers which have a low average yeild are extracted by a method known as ‘solvent extraction’. The average yield of the oils is about 1-2 % of the plant by volume, however 30 roses produce one drop of essential oil. Pure Rose, Orange blossom (neroli) and Jasmine are usually very expensive and are extracted by solvent extraction and must be used with caution.
Essential oils must be mixed in a base oil such as almond, grapeseed and must be used with caution. Peppermint oil at 1% dilution can help skin irritations, while a 2.5% can cause skin irritations. However, most oils can be mixed at a 2.5% dilution. It’s important to store the oils in amber bottles as they are very sensitive to light, oxygen and heat.
Each oil has its own property. Chamomile is known to be an anti-inflammatory and Basil a brain stimulant and Neroli relieves stress.
Essential oils can restore the body’s natural balance, build up the immune system, relieve fatigue or stress and become a way of life.