Healing from PTSD with the Help of Aromatherapy

Healing from PTSD with the Help of Aromatherapy

Are you wondering if aromatherapy can help you with past trauma so you can move forward with your life?

Is there a specific oil that triggers you, but that you feel might be helpful for you to work with?

This story will give you ideas on how you can turn to aromatherapy for the deep healing that you are looking for, even when you least expect it.

Though there are plenty of people who study aromatherapy as a hobby, others begin with a curiosity—one that ends up transforming their lives. It’s more common than we might think at first. I’ve met many students who begin the study of aromatherapy hoping to learn how to use essential oils safely. Then, unexpectedly, they discover deeper healing as they start to understand the emotional effects of the oils.

Chris Mack is one of those students. Not only is he an unlikely aromatherapist, working as a bailiff in the courtroom during the week, but he is also a man with a heart of gold. When he tells stories, it’s like he is a sage poised to deliver some potent truth.

I first met Chris when he came to our weekend workshop, after his wife and mother-in-law (also former students) decided to pursue their passions and open Aromatic Harmony in Plant City, Florida. Since Chris would be helping out in the store, he figured he should learn a few things.

In our two days together, he discovered an essential oil that, with one whiff, brought him back to a past traumatic experience. With our guidance and his own inner wisdom, Chris used this oil to work through the trauma.

In this interview, Chris shares in his own words what it was like encountering this “trigger oil” for the first time. He also outlines how he worked with this oil and “reprogrammed” his mind.

Hear it from Chris himself:


Ylang Ylang is one of the oils that is featured in the Inner Sanctum Library. We thought, who better to contribute a guest recipe for Ylang than Chris Mack. Since Ylang Ylang tends to be a great floral oil for men, Chris’s Blend would make a great cologne for a man (though I’m sure women will like it as well). He suggests that you use this blend as a “base” and build on it to make it your own.

Remember, there’s no right way to make a blend, as long as you like it and the application is safe. If you need guidelines on the safe use of essential oils, sign up to receive our Safety-First Aromatherapy PDF.

You can find Chris’s Blend (and so much more) in the Inner Sanctum Library. Learn from the comfort of your own home and let the wisdom of the oils speak to you. Doing the deep healing work that these oils evoke is hard, but learning how to use them doesn’t have to be.


Now, we want to know:

Have you ever used essential oils to help you heal from trauma? What did you use and how did you use it? Is there an oil that tends to be a trigger oil for you? What are some things you can do to work with it?

Let us know by leaving a comment below. We love hearing about how you’re turning to aromatherapy for your healing.


How to Describe the Scent of Ylang

How to Describe the Scent of Ylang

If I asked you to describe the scent of Ylang essential oil, but then I said you couldn’t use the words “floral” or “sweet” … What else would you say?

It can be really difficult to find the right words to describe the way different essential oils smell. This is because smell and language happen in two different areas of the brain.

Luckily, the language of scent can be learned.

This is one reason why we love Tony Burfield’s Natural Aromatic Materials: Odours and Origins. Tony and his team of smell analysts worked with over 600 aromatic extracts, essential oils, CO2s, and absolutes to offer their scent descriptionsincluding the dry-down after 24 hours.

But we’ll let Sylla teach you more about this reference, with her usual enthusiasm, charm, and depth of knowledge in this field.

For a closer look, here is an excerpt from the Ylang entry that Sylla references in Natural Aromatic Materials. You might already know this, but Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) is unlike other oils in that it is distilled in fractions. A single distillation will produce several different versions of Ylang that all smell different. This is why the oils are labeled as Extra Superior, Extra, First, Second, Third, and Complete.

These entries are all from the same distiller in the Island of Comoros near Madagascar.

Ylang Oil Extra Comoros

Odour is heady, sweet, radiant heavy floral odour with somewhat medicinal character, and with spicy notes of clove in the background. There is a very slight fruitiness (probably from prenyl acetate) and a very slight greenness. The dry-down is round and full-bodied, sweet, warm and with a slightly spicy-carnation-powdery character. The sweetness in some samples almost takes on a honeysuckle aspect.

Ylang I Comoros

Top odour note is similar to II. It is a slightly less heady and more ­rounded than Extra. Dry-down is very similar to Extra; but not so strong, with hay-like nuances.

Ylang II Comoros

Odour has a little (but not much!) of the heady floral quality of Extra; radiant but not to the extent that the extra shows; not particularly ­medicinal. It is also without the fruity lift of the extra quality, which is, by comparison, more rounded floral-medicinal. It is not as clean and pure. Dry-down is full-bodied, floral, rounded and glowing, but not to the extent of the Extra’s dry-down. It is also cruder more medicinal and more powdery-carnation as opposed to warm-carnation.

Ylang III Comoros

The top note odour profile has none of the floral radiance of extra with spicy notes more to the fore, and a somewhat woody-hay character is revealed after a few moments. Dry-down is thinner and less powerful than extra with some suggestion of carnation character but rather oily and generally floral.

Ylang Oil Complete Comoros

The overall odour impression by comparison with Ylang II is that it is dirtier in a phenolic sense and has minimal radiance. It has a rich floral character, however, but is interwoven with phenolic and woody notes. Many commercially complete oils are fairly disappointing. Dry-down is sweet floral carnation like with a salicylate-like lift.

Try it Yourself!

Now get out your Ylang and see how these words compare to what you smell! Let us know how your Ylang smells and use these words as inspiration to create your own description.

For bonus points, place a drop on a scent strip (or make one at home with a piece of cardstock or an index card) and make notes on how it smells immediately as well as in different increments later (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, several hours … up to 24-hours.)

Leave a comment with what you find!

We hope to keep inspiring you to learn about your oils from one of the best ways you can – by smelling them! Thank you for letting us share the joy of aromatherapy with you.

Aromatically Yours,


Natural Aromatic Materials, Second Edition