DISCLAIMER: This post is written for educational and/or inspirational purposes only and is not to be substituted or conceived as medical and/or prescriptive advice. Please refer to your licensed healthcare professional for questions and concerns. Please refer to your licensed healthcare professional for chronic health and mental health issues. Never ingest essential oils, never place them in your mucus membranes, and always keep essential oils out of the reach of children and pets. Always practice essential oil safety best practices and always check each oil’s contraindications before use. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. The statements in this post have not been evaluated by the FDA. Moonbeams and Sweet Dreams blend is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, illness, or imbalance.
I’ve been going on about synergistic blends lately. They fascinate me. Why certain oils work best together, how an aromatherapist comes to choose the oils they do for a blend, and our ultimate experience in application. From the whole creative experience that inspires a blend to our body’s reception of the blend, the process of creating and selecting a synergistic blend should be thought provoking. It should raise questions within us. Ultimately, we should feel encouraged to investigate our gravitation to one blend over another and take note.
This week, Prairie Star Botanicals, a wonderful herbal apothecary and education center, based in Blair, Nebraska, launched five of my synergistic formulas. Over the next five weeks, I’ll be writing about each one of them here. It’s been such an honor to work with my friends at Prairie Star Botanicals. I’ve gotten to know these talented, ethical, intelligent, and soulful herbalists over the last few years and feel my blends couldn’t be in better hands. Their commitment to education, empowerment, access, and community lies at the center of all they do and create, and it’s why I dig ‘em so much!
Today, we’ll be floating on “Moonbeams and Sweet Dreams.”
Sweetly, sweetly, you sleep under the light of moonbeams…
Moonbeams and Sweet Dreams is, you guessed it, my bedtime blend. Over the last year (plus) in practicing aromatherapy as a certified aromatherapist, synergistic blends aimed to help promote restful sleep fascinate me most. It’s the #1 type of blend my customers request and, to me, at least, they’re so fun to experience. Who doesn’t love to finally let the day go and sink into a cozy bed for some shut eye? Except sometimes our mind just isn’t ready. We’re still processing, still writing and crossing off our list of things to-do, maybe still avoiding some processing that definitely needs to happen. It’s been prolifically written that one of the best ways to help get our over-active minds to quiet down before bed is to create a sort of routine to help us begin to associate the routine or ritual with rest. For me, part of this routine, when I feel I could benefit from it, not always, is aromatherapy. I don’t have a diffuser in my bedroom, so I rely on topical application of oils to help send a signal to the brain that it’s time to put the day’s activity to bed so I can sleep. Mindfully massaging my feet, arms, and hands with my blend is part of the ritual. I also massage some of the blend into any place that is holding onto tension. Finally, I rub a small circle in clockwise motion over my heart, as my mom did for me so many years ago when I had trouble breathing (young history with asthma). This little act reminds me that I am loved, that by the very act of this heart rub, I am loving myself, and metaphysically speaking, if there is anything troubling my emotional heart, I send it peace.
While aromatherapy’s roots are deeply planted in ritual, it’s more than that. Essential oils contain many constituents, or chemicals, that may create dynamic therapeutic action in the body. We know this now because of science and research! Hooray! Here’s where it gets exciting!
Okay, so let’s get down to it. Let’s talk about what’s in Moonbeams and Sweet Dreams!
I’ve created several sleep promoting blends that have proved effective for my friends but I wanted to create something new for Prairie Star. Here is what I finally settled on.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Always a winner for relaxation. Textbooks could be written about lavender’s therapeutic benefit with plenty of studies to back it up. Known as “the Swiss Army Knife” of essential oils, lavender’s therapeutic range is multifaceted. According to Keville and Green, “Lavender is among the safest and most widely used oils in aromatherapy and is considered a universal first aid oil.” (Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, 2009). Since the reasons behind sleep disturbances are so varied, from the emotional to physical, I included lavender in Moonbeams and Sweet Dreams to cover as much ground as reasonably and realistically possible. Here are just a few of the therapeutic actions lavender is noted to have, according to veteran aromatherapist and author, Valerie Ann Worwood: analgesic, antispasmodic, tonic, anti-inflammatory, restorative, calmative, sedative, and the list goes on.
Energetically, I chose lavender for how I feel it soothes frayed emotions. When I ask people what their favorite essential oil is, the overwhelming response is lavender followed by a wistful, dreamy look…and sometimes a sigh. Yes, there is just something about lavender’s ability to wash away the day’s tensions. Not too heavy, not too light, lavender is just right for many people seeking some emotional and/or spiritual solace. When we feel comforted, we tend to rest easier, do we not?
Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis): Sweet orange is often included in sleep promoting blends for its ability to lift the scent of the blend, thereby lifting spirits. Why are lifted spirits important before bedtime? Have you ever gone to bed angry? How did you sleep? Not well, I’m guessing. Sweet orange is known as the “anger management” oil in aromatherapy. Like most citrus, sunny sweet orange helps to lift the weight of heavy emotions. Therapeutic properties include: calmative, sedative, stomachic, tonic, antispasmodic, among others.
Energetically, sweet orange brings us back to joy and a lightness of being. Worwood writes, “Orange conquers fears of letting go.” What do you need to let go of before going to bed?
Peppermint (Mentha piperita): I wanted something that reminded me of the cool, glittering light of moonbeams and peppermint sprang immediately to mind. But isn’t peppermint stimulating? Isn’t that counterintuitive before bed? Great questions! Peppermint is actually an adaptogenic herb and essential oil. Which means, it helps the body better adapt to stress and helps normalize bodily functions. So, while peppermint does indeed deliver notable and widely studied stimulating effects, it also delivers sedative action as well. It “plugs in” how our bodies most need it.
Energetically, peppermint, in this blend, represents the cool mist settling over a field of prairie grass under a full moon at midnight. It represents the cooling of the earth after a sunbaked day, the quieting of our thoughts as our eyes adjust to the moonlight. Worwood suggests peppermint brings an alertness even in our dream state so we can awaken with the wisdom of what we learned in those other worlds. What dreams may come…
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides): Normally, my go-to for grounding is patchouli or atlas cedarwood, but this blend was calling for what is known as “the oil of tranquility” in its native Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Vetiver has been studied and noted for its calming effects. An oft-referred study conducted by Dr. Terry Friedmann suggests vetiver is effective in its ability to “calm and balance the nervous system.” Vetiver also acts as a tonic, sedative, and nervine, among other actions. While vetiver may be one of the last essential oils to develop its fragrant fingerprint on the skin in this blend, it will most likely be the last thing you smell before falling asleep.
Energetically, vetiver is deeply grounding. As the essential oil is distilled from the roots of this tall native grass, this oil encourages us to root down in order to be flexible in the winds of our lives. And as with most of the earthy essential oils, vetiver asks us to dig our knuckles into the earth. What needs sowing? What needs stabilizing? What needs unearthed, at last? Pay attention to those dreams.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): Unless the person for whom I’m making a blend specifically does not want lavender or Roman Chamomile, I always choose these two to start off sleep promoting blends. Roman Chamomile’s properties offer a host of therapeutic action including the following: analgesic, antispasmodic, calmative, anti-inflammatory, sedative, antineuralgic, nervine, and antidepressant, among other important actions. Typically, when people ask me about lavender for relaxation, I’m quick to follow-up with educating them about Roman Chamomile as well. They compliment each other in scent and action beautifully. These two are truly the peanut butter and jelly of R&R.
Energetically, Roman Chamomile encourages tranquility and quietness. Valerie Ann Worwood suggests in Aromatherapy for the Soul (New World Library, 2003), “Chamomile Roman is used for gentleness, when the spirit is sad.” Chamomile in blends always reminds me of the comforting, warm mug of chamomile tea my mom would make for me when I was sick. Chamomile has come to mean in my mind, take good care.
Amethyst: To top it off, I chose the amethyst crystal rollerball because the purple marbled crystal orb is soothing to the eye and because it is said amethyst helps focus our intentions on diffusing any residual negativity from the day before we lie down to sleep. It has also been said that amethyst helps to protect our energy and enhances intuition.
Please keep in mind, much has been written in folklore and new age books about the metaphysical uses of oils and crystals. Explore some references you feel comfortable with, but, ultimately, let your own experiences with these elements be your guide. Your experience may be totally different than what’s been written – take note. And if they don’t speak to you in that way, also cool, no need to force it.
On Instagram? Follow Prairie Star @prairiestarbotanicals
Five Sisters Wellness @fivesisterswell
Hy-Vee Aromatherapy and Natural Wellness @hyvee_aromatherapy_pacificst
(2018). Retrieved from http://files.meetup.com/1481956/ADHD%20Research%20by%20Dr.%20Terry%20Friedmann.pdf
Keville, K., & Green, M. (2009). Aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Berkeley: Crossing Press.
Worwood, S., & Worwood, V. (2003). Essential aromatherapy. Novato, Calif.: New World Library.
Worwood, V., & Worwood, V. (2006). Aromatherapy for the soul. Novato, Calif.: New World Library.