A guest post from my lovely friend Ruth of Dried Flowercraft. Just reading it makes me feel better, I don’t know about you!
I have a dried flowers blog and Mercy asked me to write a post about how these could be used for runners or cyclists. I should point out that I am not an aromatherapist or herbalist, but I can think of a couple of things that might be of interest.
Flowers to soothe, relax, heal and uplift
There are four flowers which spring to mind for this application: lavender, chamomile, rose and pot marigold. Lavender and chamomile are both soothing to the skin and have relaxing properties;marigold also soothes the skin, and rose lifts the mood. Use fresh flowers if you have any in your garden, but dried are readily available online.
Aches and pains
For soothing aches and pains and to relax, why not sprinkle a handful of lavender, chamomile flowers, and/or marigold into your bath. Not everybody likes loose petals in their bath, so place in a loose weave or muslin bag under the tap if you prefer. These flowers have the additional benefit of aiding healing, so any small scratches or bruises you picked up along your route will be gently aided. Additionally, a few drops of lavender essential oil in the bath are antiseptic, and a pleasant way of relieving minor insect bites and scratches.
Flowers for relaxation
If you find it hard to wind down after a race, you might be physically tired but mentally on edge. Again, lavender and chamomile are the two best flowers to calm you. The flower scents work well together, with lavender being clean and fresh, and chamomile being apple-like. Try keeping a bowl of dried chamomile and lavender in your bedroom – add a drop or two of essential oil to refresh the fragrance if it starts to flag. Or place the same mixture in a fabric bag to make a sleep pillow. For a stronger sleep pillow, replace the chamomile with hops – but be warned, not everyone finds the bitter fragrance of hops entirely pleasant!
If you have had a frustrating training session, then rose might be the flower to help: rose is a euphoric. Pick yourself some roses from the garden or treat yourself to a bunch at the florist, but make sure they have a good perfume. If you’d like to make a longer lasting pick-me-up, try drying the flowers somewhere warm and dry like an airing cupboard. Cut the heads off and lay flat to dry for about a week or until crisp – you should still notice the fragrance. Arrange decoratively in a bowl. For more fragrance, boost by dropping on essential oil from time to time, or have a go at traditional potpourri making.
A bit of a boost
Mercy was asking me if there is something she can carry with her to perk her up mid-run. I think a little bag containing lemon peel and fragrant rose petals would be lovely – just take it out and give it a sniff when you need a boost. Squeeze the bag to release the natural oils – citrus to refresh you and rose to lift your mood. Fresh or dried should work – as long as they have a good natural fragrance –keeping them somewhere warm on your person will also help release the scent!
Choosing your flowers
• If you are picking flowers from your garden, avoid using anything that may have been sprayed with chemicals, and only use what you can identify. All these flowers can be dried at home as for the rose I mentioned above.
• If you buy online and wish to make herbal tea, check that the flowers are passed for food use, because this is often not the case.
• Pot marigold (Calendula) – don’t use French or African marigolds (Tagetes).
• Lavender – use English lavender (L. angustifolia) where possible, otherwise avoid any with tufts at the top of the flower, and avoid conservatory varieties.
• Rose – any with a perfume can be used as far as I know.
• Chamomile – use the flowers of German or blue chamomile (Matricaria recutita aka M. chamomilla). [Consult a doctor before using flowers for aromatherapy if you think you might be pregnant or suffer from allergies. If you are using essential oils, follow the instructions on the bottle and do not use on the skin undiluted.]