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aromatherapy 101

Root & Rhizomes — Angelica, Vetiver, Ginger

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Oils derived from the below-ground root and rhizome structures of plants support the mind, body and spirit as much as they support the plants themselves. They are grounding, anchoring and earth-connecting. Roots reach down and explore the depths, seeking out life-giving elements of the soil, while supporting and stabilizing the plant. In aromatherapy, root essential oils inspire us to turn our attention inward and seek relaxation, stability and strength.

Three important essential oils that are derived from roots and rhizomes are Angelica, Vetiver and Ginger.

Angelica

Angelica archangelica is a large, aromatic plant related to parsley and carrots. The essential oil is steam distilled from the rhizome. A rhizome is an underground stem-like structure from which above ground stems arise and roots descend. Angelica rhizomes contain up to 1% essential oil with a rich, peppery-sweet, musk-like aroma. The chemical constituents primarily responsible for its aroma are pinene, limonene and phellandrene.

Angelica root oil is highly synergistic so it's valued in perfumery for its ability to impart distinctive nuances to a wide variety of perfume types from spicy florals to deep, woody masculine scents. Angelica blends well with patchouli, clary sage, vetiver and citrus oils, especially lime. In aromatherapy, the oil of angelica root has an introspective action. Its pleasant yet strange aroma enhances introspection. The conflicting nature of angelica's aroma is resolved in the final dry out note which is faint and sweet, like the peaceful smell of lingering incense.

Vetivera

Vetivera zizanoidesis a grass that's cultivated in tropical areas which include Java, the Philippines and Haiti. The essential oil, which is steam distilled from the fibrous, aromatic roots of the plant is dark brown, thick and sticky. The aroma is sweet, heavy and fragrant, like moist soil. The constituents responsible for this aroma are unique to vetiver and include vetiverol, vetivine and vetivone. Vetiver is widely used in perfumery for its powerful fixative properties. When blended with other oils, it infiltrates the blend and literally binds the aroma together, making the scent last longer and smell more consistent throughout its evaporation.

Vetivera blends well with patchouli, sandalwood, lavender and clary sage. Vetivera's grounding, strengthening aroma is useful for instances of scattered thoughts and emotional disruption.

Ginger

Zingiber officianale, another tropical grass, is cultivated in Africa, the West Indies, China and Jamaica. The plant grows from a large, branching rhizome that contains about 1% essential oil with a powerfully fresh, warm earthy, lemony aroma. The principle constituents of ginger essential oil include gingerin, ginginol, gingerone and zingiberine. Ginger blends well with spice oils such as coriander, clove, cinnamon and allspice. It also enriches fresh citrus oils, especially lemon.

When used in aromatherapy, ginger oil is warming and comforting. Think of a cozy kitchen on a cold winter's day with ginger cookies baking in the oven. Ginger is emotionally supportive and enhances strength, inner calm and happiness.

Root and rhizome oils like angelica, vetiver and ginger inspire introspection and the exploration of our inner creative impulses. Use them in blends where these effects are needed.

 

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