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?
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