Bubonic plague, the most devastating disease suffered by the Western world, eliminated fully one third of Europe’s population between the years 1340 and 1400. In several hard-hit places, entire villages vanished. The waters of Cologne, Germany, were thought to possess near-miraculous healing powers against this all-consuming scourge, and in subsequent years that city rivaled Paris as a leading maker of fragrant liquids and lotions. Eau de Cologne, first concocted in 1709, became all the rage among well-heeled lords and ladies across the continent, with a single vial costing the equivalent of half the annual salary of a civil servant. Petitgrain oil—an essential ingredient in this popular, aromatic blend—continues to offer numerous healing applications.
What does it do?
Calming and soothing, massage oils containing petitgrain comfort body and mind, banishing depression, anxiety, panic and anger in the process. A marvelous treatment for insomnia, petitgrain works on nervous exhaustion and high-stress conditions. Bringing on a mellow physical state and frame of mind, this delightful herb is known to reduce rapid heartbeat and make breathing easier. Aromatherapists use petitgrain to help overcome addictions.
About the herb
The essential oil of petitgrain—literally, “little grains”—was originally steam distilled from small (petit), unripe, cherry-sized oranges: thus the name. At present, this fragrant fluid is extracted from the leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree. Two other essential oils—orange and the ever-charming neroli—are additional gifts from this tree, with the former derived from the peel of the fruit and the latter coming straight from heaven via the blossoms!
Creams and lotions offering the promise of healthy skin through the magic of petitgrain help to clear up acne, pimples and other skin conditions. Soaps enhanced with petitgrain work wonders on greasy skin, thus helping to prevent the formation of blemishes. Safe for children (but do exercise caution when pregnant), a few drops of petitgrain oil placed in a diffuser at bedtime calms your toddler and invites the sandman to paint the night in unforgettable flavors and colors!