Fragrant Herbs

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By Jane Hawley Stevens

Filling my head with the scent of an aromatic plant lets me know there is a connection between heaven and earth. From the musky scent of an Artemisia to the divine floral scent of a rose, aromatic plants are sure to evoke an emotional response. I would never try to pin down the history of when the use of scented plants started, or how they were used. Certainly there are records of early civilizations using aromatics for the various uses you might expect: flavoring, bathing and ceremony to name a few.

My favorite way to experience these wonderful plants is to pick a stem, bring it to my nose and inhale! Although I admit I have the advantage of running an herb farm, it isn’t always easy to have fresh plant material with me in my travels. Lucky for us, here in the 21st century we have a profusion of essential oils to choose from. Essential oils are very potent, distilled plant materials. Some herbalists consider them to be drugs because they are so strong; they can be potentially harmful if used internally (and sometimes externally). The advantage of essential oils is that a large amount of plant material is condensed into a very small space. This makes it easy to pack a few extremely potent oils into your bag. Here are some of the most versatile essential oils to keep on hand ...

Lavender: soothing, calming, disinfecting, heals burns, skin regenerator

Rosemary: stimulating, assists circulation, eases aches and pains, boosts memory

Peppermint: helps to open and move things in the digestive tract as well as sinuses and lungs

Lemon/Citrus: uplifting to the spirit, antiseptic, antioxidant, moves congestion

With these four essential oils, you can go far in assisting many conditions that you may encounter.

Make sure that you purchase real, pure essential oils when expanding your healing horizons (as opposed to fragrances, which are chemical copies of a scent manufactured in a lab).

Essential oils mainly capture the volatile oils in a plant and are not as complex as sniffing the real thing. There are plenty of constituents other than volatile oils. Brew yourself an herbal infusion, inhale the delightful aromas ... hopefully you will find, as I do, that we are all well cared for.

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