Perfume Pharma: Or How Fragrant Nerds Calm Down and Get to Sleep
I don’t know about you, but some aromatherapy manuals drive me nuts. Take the humble pine needle for example:
Pinus sylvestris: antimicrobial, antineuralgic, antirevolutionary, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispam, antiviral, bactericidal, balsamic, cholagogue, demagogue, deodorant, diuretic, expectorant, insecticide, tonic, toxic, and xenophobic
OK, I added a few things, but did it take you a few seconds to notice? The problem is that most aromatherapy/phytotherapy guides include whatever a plant has been used for over many centuries. But Nerd Girl likes to know what’s up with that plant and current medical research. Out of that extensive list for pine needles, what’s really worked out scientifically? The Germans have been doing a good job investigating particular properties for particular plant preparations, and their doctors routinely prescribe phytotherapy along with the Big Pharma big guns. One plant group that REALLY interests me is Boswellia, the mysterious and legendary frankincense family. And there’s some interesting research on that one.
I was excited to see in May, 2008, Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that frankincense smoke is a psychoactive drug that relieves depression and anxiety in mice. The researchers found that incensole acetate, found in Boswellia species, activates a protein in the mammalian brain called TRPV3, which decreases anxiety and alleviates depression. Now I know why we’re constantly burning the stuff. And why religious authorities like it so much. And I can feel especially happy, spiritually and neurochemically, when I wear frankincense-based perfumes. Like Avignon and Cardinal. And Encens et Lavande. I’m blissing out just thinking about them.
Recently I tried a perfume that has quite a following, Sonoma Scent Studio’s Incense Pure. It’s a proper perfume, not an aromatherapeutic preparation. And it features frankincense and labdanum, another calming resin. I’m not at all surprised that I like to wear it in the evening before going to sleep. And sleep I do! And so does my DH when I wear it. We both feel very cheerful in the morning, too. (Which perfumista said “Sleep is the new sex”?)
I think that nose Laurie Erickson’s onto something, and I emailed the studio to get her to spill the beans on this lovely, possibly psychoactive perfume. Here’s what she wrote:
“Frankincense was calming to me from the first time I smelled it, which was not until adulthood…. Some ingredients took time for me to appreciate, but frankincense was love at first sniff…. A number of people have emailed me to say that Incense Pure is soothing to them and/or makes them feel like they are outside in a forest.” Count me as one of those people. So who else out there likes to activate their TRPV3, and what incense perfume (or actual incense) do you use to do it?