NATURAL HEALING SCENTS FOR FALL
by Françoise Rapp, Certified Natural Perfumer and Aromatherapist,
Teacher at the Natural Perfumery Teacher's Academy
Each season has a symbolism and a particular rhythm that influences both the body and the mind. It is therefore important to use essential oils and perfumed plants during each season to breathe or massage to preserve our physical, energetic, and emotional balance.
Traditional medicines, Chinese or Indian, knew this well and the ointments or natural perfumes used then had a therapeutic role as well as one for pleasure. Each season corresponds to one element of Nature and to scents and flavors. In this article you will discover which perfumed plant extracts have an important role in the body and mind throughout the fall.
The selection chosen is not exhaustive and only the predominant ones have been chosen for this article.
Autumn in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Let's start by understanding the energetic influences of this millennial medicine on the body and mind. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is understood that autumn is the season of the Metal element, the moment when nature changes its pace and slows down: the temperature drops and the nights get shorter, thus showing us the decline of Yang and the rise of Yin that begins to grow (yin season).
The emotions associated with this season are sadness, melancholy, interiorization and contemplation: it is the season when the energy decreases and returns to the earth through the roots. It is therefore important to favor soft and comforting fragrances, even subtly spicy ones. Most importantly, olfaction is a profound healing sense and by breathing in natural essences according to the season, you preserve and enhance the body’s balance and wellness.
The essences of soft woods, sweet spices (bark, roots, seeds), and honeyed leaves will bring this soft and reassuring warmth. In this article, you are going to discover what are the Fall scents that have healing influences; this is the way we work as perfumotherapists. I added a mushroom absolute to the fall selection because this one, although very little used, is in season! It is a rather original ingredient to work with as a natural perfumer and you will be able to discover it a little if you do not already know it.
The sweet woods for soothing the body, mind and spirit in perfumotherapy
A soft woody essence is subtle, understated and yet deep. It comforts, reassures, anchors energy, and soothes overly strong emotions. This often happens during this season because like any transitional season, body and mind must find their balance. I have chosen to present to you 3 soft woody notes: copaiba wood, guaiac wood and buddha wood. These are not the only sweet oaks; there are also sandalwood and rosewood for example.
• Copaiba wood:
It is in the heart of the Amazon that we find the copaíba, one of the largest trees in the Amazon that can reach up to 45 meters in height. The name Copaíba comes from the traditional language of Tupi Amazonia “Kopa-yba” which means “tree deposit” which refers to the precious sap that is inside the trunk. It is extracted through an incision in the trunk of the Copaíba tree, which must be 30 to 40 years old. This sap then gives a rich aromatic oil, considered one of the most precious natural products of the Amazon for its strong soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory properties for the skin.
In natural perfumery, its subtly smoky note gives a lot of character. This species, like those of guaiac wood and buddha wood, are mostly used as a fixative, but they are much better than this secret place in a composition. Its authentic, wild-and-woody fragrance has very elegant masculine notes.
• Guaiac wood
The essence of guaiac wood has a warm and suave woody olfactory facet. It is obtained by steam distillation of wood chips and sawdust. Guaiac essence is semi-liquid in consistency. Originating from South America, it is also called Palo Santo in Spanish and its small bits of wood are burned like incense to perfume the house but not only. Traditionally, Palo Santo is a sacred wood used by shamans to purify and bring peace of mind and in the home.
In natural perfumery, it is used as an enveloping warm base note in amber and chypre, leather and woody fragrances, a voluptuous floral based on orange blossom, champac, or an absolute rose.
In aromatherapy, guaiac wood is recognized for its soothing and reassuring properties. It can then be simply used by simple olfaction or in synergy in a diffuser.
• Buddha wood
The essence of buddha wood is little used in natural perfumery and yet, its subtle, slightly leathery woodiness is of rare beauty in a natural perfume. Its essence is obtained either by gentle distillation with water vapor or by CO2. Originally from Australia (Queensland to be exact), buddha wood is a must in the composition of a niche amber, chypre, leather, or even opulent floral fragrance with tuberose or magnolia flower essence, for example.
In aromatherapy, buddha wood is recognized for its meditative virtues to induce mindfulness. It can then be simply used by simple olfaction or in synergy in a diffuser. No one tells their story better than Wild Wood Oils
The sweet spices to enliven the mood in perfumotherapy
Sweet spices are also in the spotlight this fall. Fresh ginger with cinnamon bark and cardamom. They accompany and complete a natural perfume by bringing them a spicy, lively, warm and comforting facet.
• Ceylon bark cinnamon differs greatly from its cousin, cinnamon leaf.
Well known in aromatherapy, cinnamon bark has been known since antiquity. At that time it was used in the process of embalming. Cinnamon is mainly native to the tropical regions of Asia. Today, it is also produced in Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and Madagascar. Cinnamon is the oldest known spice and was one of the expensive spices popular on the spice route. The extraction of its essence is done by freshwater vapor.
In natural perfumery, it accompanies woody accords (with Atlas and Texas cedar, the soft woods seen above), florals with amber notes, leathers that it softens.
In aromatherapy, it acts on many ailments of the digestive system among others and it revives vital energy. It comforts and strengthens the natural defenses, a morale at half-mast.
Cardamom is a very fragrant Indian spice widely used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
Its preciousness is extracted from its small seed by steam. Originally from Sri Lanka and South India, it was brought back to the West from Antiquity for its many medicinal and olfactory virtues. Today, cardamom exhales its frank and refined notes in many perfumes, both masculine and feminine.
In natural perfumery, it complements citrus compositions and green florals, modern and daring ferns.
In aromatherapy, in addition to its multiple virtues on the digestive sphere, it is carminative. It restores a taste for life and brings a boost of positive energy to anyone who feels it consciously.
Ginger has been known since the dawn of time for its therapeutic and culinary virtues.
Ginger originates from China and was then brought to ancient Egypt… for the mummification of mummies! Yet from Antiquity, the Romans conquered by this intoxicating and almost miraculous spice imported it for its medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities but also for its intense peppery and rosy scent.
Its essence is extracted by steam. Today, this spice continues to intoxicate our noses in both male and female fragrances. From great classics to niche fragrances.
In natural perfumery, it is this lively top note that creates the irresistible hook; especially if it is built in an aphrodisiac accord of pink berries and grapefruit. Citrus, accords of delicate white flowers are sublimated. Be careful, however, of the right dose!
In aromatherapy, ginger essence is also used for virtues on the digestive sphere and many others. It is by breathing it that people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress will experience a beneficial letting go.
The honeyed tobacco leaf: from spiritual connection to elegant pleasure uses in perfumotherapy
Autumn is also synonymous with leaves and while keeping the notion of enveloping sweetness of the season, there is one that is essential: tobacco leaf absolute. In perfumery, tobacco absolute is obtained by extraction with volatile solvents of different varieties of tobacco. Today, and because of nicotine, tobacco absolute exists with a reduced nicotine content. Tobacco originated in Central America and the habit of smoking this plant dates back at least 3,000 years. It is a plant revered and used as an offering by Native Americans who smoked it, burned it, offerred it as a gift to the spirits. Even today, it is a plant widely used in this way by shamans around the world.
In natural perfumery, aromatic strength is the main characteristic of tobacco notes, which are found in different olfactory families such as woody, chypre or fern. Tobacco, however, offers other notes such as honey, almond, wax or even leather. Essentially present in men's perfumes, tobacco brings a certain elegance to compositions. Nevertheless, it sublimates some perfumes for women, for their greatest pleasure...
Tobacco absolute is not used in aromatherapy but the symbolic heritage is so powerful that it can be used for spiritual reasons such as connecting with the Great Spirit.
To conclude this article on the perfumotherapy scents of autumn, I could not avoid talking to you about mushrooms or porcini mushrooms to be more precise!
Typically in season, the boletus is appreciated in dishes but not only there. In natural perfumery, we use mushroom absolute. Its olfactory note is earthy and sweet, raw cocoa. It accompanies woody, gourmet, balsamic accords. In a delicate touch, it completes a mysterious floral for great seducers. It adds depth and complexity, which makes any composition more interesting in the right amounts. Be careful not to overdose!
Did this autumn olfactory kit inspire you?
Become a perfumotherapist and enrol in our French Natural Aromatherapy, Olfaction Training and French Natural Perfumery classes every first Monday of the month at the Natural Perfumery Teacher's Academy
IRIS, THE RAINBOW GODDESS
Iris is not only very special for its olfactory quality. Did you know that the plant itself has been sacred for its healing properties ?
by Françoise RAPP, IPF Chair France
In natural perfumery, iris pallida is an exceptional ingredient to use to add a sophisticated note to formulations.
What about its identity and above all, what does this treasure hidden underground reveal after a very long transformation for the pleasure of our nose and much more... Let's explore together this sacred and mythical plant that has existed since ancient times ...
In Greek mythology, Iris daughter of Thaumas and Electra, was the messenger of the gods. In Homer's Iliad, she is "the messenger of all the eternal gods". When Hera returned from the Underworld to Olympus, it was Iris who purified her with perfumes. Poets claimed that the rainbow was the trace of Iris's foot descending rapidly from Olympus to earth to carry a message; this explains why it is most often represented with a rainbow.
She is the rainbow goddess.
Iris of Florence is recognized as one of the noblest members of the iris family by natural perfumers since Catherine of Medicis.
As for the plant itself is concerned, for nearly a millennium in Egypt and then appreciated by Catherine de Medicis, it has been used in cosmetics and fragrant balms. And it still does nowadays. Botanically derived from the roots of iris germanica, the extract possesses a high concentration of isoflavones in its rhizomes. As a result, it is included in cosmetic formulations due to its potential to provide potent antioxidant effects that help protect the skin by neutralizing free radicals. In his Canon of Medicine, Avicenna recommends an external wash made from a decoction of orris root as a beautifier of the skin, which removes wrinkles.
Iris grows in various countries now from France, China, Turkey, Italy and Morocco but iris pallida or iris of Florence is recognized as one of the noblest members of the iris family by natural perfumers since Catherine of Medicis. Technically, its cultivation is done from mid-September to mid-October. The harvest takes place the 3rd year after planting between mid-July and mid-August.
The extraction is either done with a volatile solvent for the absolute (alcohol for the resinoid) or hydrodistillation as for the butter and irone isolate. In terms of the yield itself, it requires 100 kg of rhyzomes to make 1,2kg absolute, 100 kg for 20 kg resinoid and 330kg to make 1kg orris butter and 100 grams of isolates. We can definitely see the waste and non-sense of processing isolates for natural perfumery!
Explore this classic and exceptional ingredient.
Its scent is multi-faceted with delicious notes between violet note and mimosa note, woody accents, light note of powdery leather and note of carrot. In fact, very often in perfumery, to replace or support the iris effect, carrot seed essence is added. Its fragrant quality is simply exceptional and it this explains why it was the star ingredient of famous classic sophisticated perfumes from the early 20th Century to now. It is synonym of chic and elegance for women and men as well. It blends beautifully with other essences to either make rich floral, woody or fougère accords. For instance, modern fougère natural fragrance can be created with lavender, vetiver, ambrette, iris and Virginia cedarwood; or the association with essences like benjoin, franckincense, ciste, tobacco and bergamot give it a very modern mystic flair.
But more than that, iris is not only very special for its olfactory quality. Did you know that the plant itself has been sacred for its healing properties upon the body? Using natural essences affects definitely our body vitality and health. Since the earliest times, Egyptian then Greeks used iris rhizome powder for its cleansing and detoxifying properties. The juice of the fresh Orris root is said to be one of the finest natural remedies known for dropsy or edema, which is fluid retention. The finely powdered Orris root can be inhaled as snuff in pinch sized doses to provoke sneezing and thereby cleanse the head and sinuses. A decoction of Orris root attenuates and loosens up phlegm in the chest, lungs and throat for easy expectoration, and will soothe a sore throat and pacify coughing. Taken internally in small doses, Orris root will relieve congestion and sluggishness in the liver, have a carminative effect on the stomach and digestion, have a relaxing aperient laxative effect on the bowels, and will act as an emmenagogue to stimulate a sluggish or suppressed menstrual flow. Avicenna, the famous Greek doctor, recommends the external use of a boiled down decoction of the Orris root to treat and aid the maturation of chronic, hard swellings of the lymph glands and acne. He also recommends a concentrated decoction of the Iris leaves as a topical treatment for skin ulcers, preferably in conjunction with Rose oil. Avicenna also regards poultices of Orris root as a valuable antispasmodic in convulsed, spasmed muscles, and recommends an enema of Orris root to relieve pain and tenderness of the sciatic nerve.
Explore this classic and exceptional ingredient. Try to formulate a delicately scented balm that will beautify the skin while delighting the senses.