I love learning new skills and gaining knowledge that I can add to my personal repository. Right now, I’m learning about the practice of Aromatherapy, with a focus on animal applications. Aromatherapy is a healing art that involves the use of powerful substances distilled from plants (often, flowers) called “essential oils”. It’s much more than just nicely-scented candles!
I hate to admit it, but when I previously heard “aromatherapy”, it brought to mind images of highly perfumed stuff like fragrance diffusers, scented candles, and bath bombs. And patchouli. In truth, those could be used in aromatherapy – assuming that they are actually essential oil (EO) -based rather than synthetic fragrance-based – but it’s so much more.
I won’t bore you with the details of what aromatherapy is, but will offer this link in case you do want more information. I think it’s fascinating, and it fits nicely with my philosophy of allowing the body to heal itself whenever possible. Here’s a spoiler, though: EOs aren’t actually “oils” as we traditionally think of them (some aren’t even “oily”); they’re more like concentrated plant essences – tangible, measurable substances – that have, when properly used, therapeutic qualities.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, our dog, Freya, has been dealing with itchy skin that suggests some kind of allergy. She was scratching her neck area (under her chin) frequently and chewing the tops of her feet, making these areas red and rubbing off fur. Though we didn’t believe the cause was the grain-free kibble she had been eating, we promptly changed to a different premium kibble with fish-based protein. We also made a big batch of vegan dog food and began feeding it to her…and she didn’t complain. In fact, I’m pretty sure she thought it was “people food” and she has continued to eat it up, along with her bone broth, pastured eggs, and a little kibble with each meal.
While a miraculous cure would have been ideal, it didn’t happen, and she continued to be itchy in the same areas. I also noticed that her skin seemed to be less shiny and felt dry after we bathed her with a gentle goat milk soap (hoping it would help with the itching), so she’s also getting either coconut or olive oil on her food (and she likes both of those, too).
After making these dietary changes and discontinuing the over the counter antihistamine that had been previously recommended by vets, her scratching does seem to be gradually subsiding. I can’t help wonder if the OTC antihistamine, which is a very unnatural pink color, may have exacerbated the allergy – dogs, like people, can be sensitive to additives like artificial colors.
Ok, enough of the backstory – you want to know about the EO itch relief spray, right? To help provide more immediate relief, I decided to make a spray based on the information I gleaned from the Aromatherapy books I had recently read. It began much differently than other sprays I’ve created: Freya chose the essential oils she wanted in the mix. Animal aromatherapists work from the foundational belief that animals know what they need to help resolve their health issues. You might see this in action when your dog eats grass to soothe an upset stomach, for example.
I began by offering several EOs in closed bottles for her to sniff. I based the offerings on my studies of what might be most appropriate for her condition. She chose 4: peppermint, lavender, frankincense, and myrrh. She was really interested in the frankincense, even trying to nibble the bottle!
Into a base of water and a very small amount of alcohol (I used white rum because I’m out of vodka), I added predetermined numbers of drops of each EO and some aloe vera gel. I shook it well to mix and sprayed it on two small areas to ensure it didn’t cause an adverse reaction (it didn’t). I can’t say she enjoyed the misting process, but she liked the liquid itself – and wanted to lick it. I’ll keep misting her when she seems itchy because it does seem to reduce severity of the itch.
This spray smells amazing…I sprayed it on myself just because it smelled so good and created an atmosphere of well-being. It’s very satisfying to make something natural and fragrant at home that can also help your animals!