Smell the Love

Even though it is the shortest month, February, for most people, seems to drag on forever. It is usually cold, dark and depressing. But one of February’s redeeming graces is that it holds that magical day called Valentine’s – ah, when love is in the air and chocolate resurfaces as a good thing (having been shunned in the post-xmas diets). It’s commercialism at its best – the card and flower industry thrive again after the January slump and the chocolatiers box up their bon-bons with greedy delight.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Valentine’s Day in all its pomp and glory. And I love the way aromatherapy supports the true nature of the day. Many of the essential oils have aphrodisiac properties, encouraging the feel-good, sexy attitudes that make Valentine’s Day so fun. To understand how an aphrodisiac works, it is important to know about the limbic system, which plays an intricate part in the sexual response. The limbic system (also known as the mammalian brain) is found surrounding the brain stem. It is responsible for emotions such as love, compassion, feelings of pleasure, joy, loyalty as well as a need to “nest” in a home. Negative emotions such as jealousy, rage, fear and panic are also limbic responses because these feelings are equally governed by our animal instincts, and also found in this primal portion of the brain. The limbic system is stimulated by our senses; touch, sight, taste and particularly smell. The nose directly links into the limbic system, and therefore anything we smell can trigger instinctual feelings, flood us with memories and raise emotions. Likewise, aromas stimulate hormones thanks to the limbic system. Certain odors provoke strong desires by increasing sex hormones within us.

Creating an atmosphere for love is always very important in Valentine’s rituals because it heightens the limbic response.. Burning essential oils in an aroma lamp will stimulate the limbic system, starting the flow of love juices on an unconscious level. (Or if you don’t have a lamp, scented candles can work- though they are not as therapeutic). Some essential oils that stimulate sexual response are neroli, jasmine, ylang ylang, rose, patchouli and sandalwood.

Sometimes because we are overstretched and overworked, we don’t seem to have any energy for romance. There are some great stimulating oils that will rejuvenate energy and reawaken the senses, which are black pepper, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, basil, and tea tree. These oils can be burned in an aroma lamp or a few drops of two or three individual oils can be added to a body wash to stimulate the awareness and wake up the brain. Then we can get the energy for loving up on someone.

Before we can spend energy on loving another, it is important to love oneself. How can we harmonize the love energy if we can’t find it within ourselves first? Essential oils can easily help with opening the heart to deeper levels of (self) love and compassion and smooth out the frenetic energy into viable flowing sexual energy. These oils are clary sage, jasmine, neroli, frankincense, patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, and sandalwood.

As I said, February is a long dark month and often we are suffering from a form Seasonal Affected Disorder or SAD. It’s hard to muster a romantic flair when we are inwardly depressed and lackluster. We can become particularly gloomy and moody, unable to find joy anywhere. We can feel almost a desperate need to find the positive things in life, and yet there seems to be no energy to follow positivity through. Essential oils that can bring light into depression and joy into glumness are basil, bergamot, clary sage, geranium, jasmine, lavender, melissa, neroli, rose, cypress and ylang ylang. Finding the joy within will help create the love around us.

This February 2010, Jupiter will be in Pisces and luckily will offer a chance to bring romance into the creative and artistic realms. Make your own Valentine’s card, write a poem or create a sexy dance for your partner. Jupiter will give you the energy. Also, a new moon will conjunct Neptune bringing a dreamy aspect in. Fantasy and whimsy will support desire and passion when Neptune plays in the love arena. Essential oils that assist these planets in their energy are lavender, neroli, sandalwood, patchouli, ginger, elemi, frankincense, rose, angelica, ylang ylang, chamomile, immortelle, campaca, carnation, and hyacinth.

So this year make your Valentine’s Day extra-special. And remember that loving oneself is most important and that once you can have self-love, you can then flow it out to others. Make this day YOUR day and let the essential oils help you feel good about yourself!