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Aromatherapy
aromatherapy
Written by Niki Curtis

A recovery toolbox addition for emotional peace

Our sense of smell is deeply connected to both memory and emotions. Scents can spark both good and bad emotions; for example, coconut suntan lotion can invoke a fond memory of a hot summer day at the beach or be a reminder of the time you got sun poisoning from falling asleep after an intense game of beach volleyball.

Oftentimes, a smell will bring back detailed memories like what day of the week it was, who was there, what you were wearing and how hot it was that day. It will also bring back the emotion you were feeling at that moment like the fluttering of your stomach when that cute person you like walks into the room and smells like citrus sunshine.

It was discovered a couple thousand years ago that aromatic plant components, mixed with oils and balms could have medicinal qualities, such as lavender in the use of healing burns. Many psychological and physical ailments were found to be treatable with these aromatic oils and were documented by a French perfumer and chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé. He named the practice aromatherapy and today, there it takes many forms: diffusers, creams and lotions, clay masks, cold and hot compresses, and more.

smell is one of the senses that is connected to both memory and emotions

Aromatherapy has benefits that are synergistic with a recovery lifestyle, including options for non-narcotic pain management and stress relief. Susan Giarolo started using essential oils as a way to relieve pain from the many surgeries that were at the root of her addiction. “My back hurt and I would have tried anything to help with the pain,” she says.

“It happened at a yoga training where I saw Doterra’s “Deep Blue” essential oil blend in the bathroom.” She became involved with Doterra, a company specializing in essential oil education and blends, and discovered the many other helpful benefits of the oils.“I started incorporating these oils into healing work that I was doing with others, addicts and non-addicts alike,” she says. Coupled with her yoga practice, aromatherapy became a bigger tool in her own recovery from addiction. She brings this tool to a group she facilitates called Y12SR, Yoga 12 Step Recovery. Trusting her own intuition, she picks an oil and brings it to class as an offering to other participants. “Essential oils change the body’s chemistry and help support the limbic system while a person gains insight,” Susan says.

Some single oils that are useful in recovery are grapefruit, which helps with cravings and detoxification and promotes renewed energy.

Basil essential oil will clear the negative thought patterns born of addiction and help restore mental energy.

Bergamot gives a sense of empowerment and improves self worth.

Essential oils can be blended and personalized for purposes such as boosting the immune system.

However, not everyone reacts well to essential oils. A small percentage of people are allergic to essential oils so working with an aromatherapist to start is always beneficial.

Our senses were created for a reason and essential oils could truly be an essential part of your recovery.

Niki Curtis

Niki Curtis

Niki Curtis of Portland is a woman in long-term recovery whose passion is to help others and spread positivity. She loves to find creative ways to do that, including writing for Journey.