Aromatherapy has been practiced for hundreds of years without the benefit of the fancy name. Generation after generation of homemakers prided themselves in creating the most fragrant and visually appealing decor to beautify their homes and provide relief for minor ailments, from headache and anxiety to insomnia and soothing cranky babies.
I will present just a few wonderful herbal home recipes. They are very easy to make and use things you probably already have around the house (OK, maybe not the orris root – the mix will do just fine without it, but the fragrance will not last as long). Treat yourself to these very affordable indulgences, after all, it’s the little things…
May they bring you comfort and relaxation, restful sleep and relief from bad dreams, worrisome thoughts and evil memories.
The Herbal Pillow (or dream pillow, as some call it)
In olden times, entire mattresses were made from aromatic herbs to induce peaceful sleep and keep away bugs and critters. The herbal pillows also served a medicinal purpose: they doubled as an air freshener and mild antiseptic to provide relief to people recovering from long illnesses. Nowadays the much reduced version of the herbal pillow is small enough to slip in the back of your pillow case (typically around 5″x8″ in size). It is usually made from cotton or muslin fabric and it should be smooth and flat.
Besides the fabric you will need:
– aromatic herbs of your choice (rose petals, lavender, hops, and chamomile are usually soothing and soporific)
– a few drops of essential oil to enhance the fragrances
– a fixative (usually orris root, it keeps the fragrance longer)
– filler (buckwheat, hops or plain cotton)
The proportion of filler to herbs is 2/1. Mix everything together well in a bowl, not forgetting to add a few drops of essential oil. Fill the pillowcase and sew the fourth seam. If you would like to know what is in my bowl – mint, basil, calendula, chamomile, goji berries and mint oil.
Place the dream pillow in a plastic baggie for 24 hours to give the scents some time to blend together. Enjoy.
If you replace the muslin with terry cloth (any colorful towel will do) and the filler with sponge, the mix makes for a wonderful bath pillow.
Place the herb mix and rolled oats in a cheesecloth baggie and drop it in the bathtub for an delightful bath tea. (Aromatic oils are a plus!)
The Dried Herb Fragrant Sachet
Featured above, it can be hung in your closet, slipped between linen sheets or placed in the drier (which fills the whole house with delightful aroma on laundry day).
What to mix is up to your preferences and available items, but classic sachets generally include rose, violet, verbena, jasmine, lavender and mint.
For a spicy twist try dried citrus peel, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and cloves. The little baggie above is filled with apple cinnamon potpourri: dried apple, pear and strawberry slices, cinnamon sticks, cloves, vanilla, and dried crab apples. It’s a very welcoming scent for the upcoming holidays.
The Eye Pillow
Pretty much the same as the dream pillow, only smaller and using oats, hops or buckwheat as a filler. The weight of the pillow, combined with the aromatic oil, usually lavender, provides relief from insomnia and headaches.
For The Little Ones
A tiny sachet filled with lavender, chamomile and dill somewhere in proximity of the baby’s crib will help the little one fall asleep easier. The name “dill” is derived from a word that actually means “to lull to sleep”.
The Clove Apple
Choose a hard fragrant red winter apple; starting at the blossom end, stick cloves in it until the whole surface is covered, with the exception of the equator, where the ribbon will go. Roll it in a mixture of half orris root, half cinnamon, with a pinch of clove. Wrap it in tissue paper and set it in a warm place to dry for 10 days. After ten days it should have shrunk and dried. Tie the ribbon around it and place it in your kitchen, bathroom or closet, or offer as a gift.
And last but not least, don’t forget that any mixture that contains cedar chips or lavender will repel moths and keep your favorite cashmere sweaters free of holes.