Couple offers aromatherapy education
Problems can arise when essential oils mix with medications
Even as aromatherapy rises in popularity, questions abound about safety, efficacy and the best ways to incorporate essential oils in daily life.
Answering those questions is the aim of Denise Diamond, the Maui-based co-owner of Island Essence with her husband, Martin. Denise will be sharing information about aromatherapy Thursday during an afternoon demonstration at the Halekulani, during which participants will be able to create a custom face and body mists using essential oils.
With Denise Diamond:
Place: Halekulani Hau Terrace
Time: 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday
Cost: $45 per person
The event is part of Halekulani Living's Wellness series of workshops designed to share the hotel's philosophy and commitment to an enriched lifestyle encompassing cuisine, the arts, health and well-being.
After more than 30 years studying plants, herbs and alternative therapies, Diamond's aim is to help people learn to use aromatherapy correctly, including seeking a doctor's help for medical problems or for information on problems that may arise from interactions of essential oils with prescription medicines.
Just as with food, it takes awareness of benefits and pitfalls to learn healthy practices. Just as knowledge of sugar and fat intake might prevent most from overin- dulging in chocolate, Diamond said essential oils must be treated with respect.
"Essential oil is a concentrated and powerful agent. It's almost like the soul or blood of the plant," she said. "People don't understand how powerful it is, and where they can go wrong is in not diluting it. You have to be very careful.
"Sometimes people have sensitive skin, and if you put bergamot on it without diluting it enough, you might go out in the sun and get a rash.
"Some people use chamomile to relax, but using too much can result in the opposite effect. It can also be a stimulant," she said.
COURTESY DENISE DIAMOND
Denise Diamond mixes Island Essence aromatherapy oil blends. The company is based in Kula, Maui.
AROMATHERAPY draws on the study of plant oils and their healing properties.
"In Japan, companies are experimenting with using lemon oil in the workplace," Diamond said. They're finding that the scent of lemon oil does help workers to stay focused and alert.
Like Diamond's favorite scent of neroli, or orange blossom, lemon oil possesses citrusy high notes. "They're uplifting, they make us feel good," she said.
In Europe, too, she said, it's as normal to visit an aromatherapist as a pharmacist, which makes America's awakening seem slow. "We've come a long way, but aromatherapy still is not well known," she said.
Diamond's entry into the world of aromatherapy and essential oils came in the '70s when she was living in California and illness led her on a quest for a healthy life.
"At that time there was a renaissance in herbalogy," she said. She became an apprentice of noted herbalist Rob Menzies, started teaching and became an authority on the cosmetic and therapeutic uses of flowers and plants in her own right, eventually writing "The Complete Book of Flowers."
She moved to Maui in 1985, and after meeting Martin Diamond, the two married and started Island Essence, offering a full range of tropical-scented moisturizing lotions, bath gels and spa products.
Along the way, Denise also studied such compatible disciplines as yoga and meditation.
"It helped me take more responsibility to my own health at all levels, mind and body, through diet, exercise and positive thinking.
"It's not that it replaces medicine or a doctor when I need it, but it has helped me so much. I'm really healthy. I have a lot of energy. It doesn't mean that I don't have off days like everyone else, but I can't imagine taking a different path."