Last week I spent a day in a local school doing aromatherapy with some of the pupils. We looked at where different essential oils come from and why we might use them. We sniffed a lot of oils and their source plants – there were very strong opinions about which oils smelt good and which were awful. Almost across the board the least liked smell was hyssop, a strong and bitter herb not much used in mainstream aromatherapy. Citrus oils mostly came out on top. Citrus oils generally are uplifting and joyous to use so I’m not at all surprised. What was surprising was an almost complete failure to identify a rose flower – although it was an old fashioned variety with a fully double form (Charles de Mills) which may have been unfamiliar.
Then we moved on to looking at putting oils together in blends. From a choice of six oils I asked the pupils to choose the three that went together and produced their favourite individual blend. We also considered the properties of the different oils as we were going to use the blend to make a massage cream for a hand and arm massage. There was a clear hierarchy of preferred oils, in order of preference; spearmint, mandarin, lavender, geranium, (Atlantic) cedar, patchouli. This, in my opinion, pretty much follows the ranks of fragrance notes of the oils from top to bottom with patchouli, the most strongly base note, finding no takers at all.
The practical session ended with pupils pairing up to give and receive hand and arm massage. Many of the pupils really enjoyed this part of the activity, with some of them taking notes in order to carry on at home. I really hope there are some parents around Chester who’ve since benefited from being massaged by their child. The whole experience was a lot of fun and a great change of scene for me – particularly the positive energy and noise levels which were rather different from a usual therapy environment! A big thank you to all the pupils and school staff for their excellent participation and support. There is a follow-up Q & A for pupils (and staff) here.