Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Essential oils in Prisons

Prisons are highly regulated environments so introducing a program of use by inmates is problematic. However prison and medical staff are aware of the ability of essential oils and their constituents to alter and improve mood. So diffusion or self use, even sensory training classes are a possibility or work for example on incense. A sandalwood aftershave (relaxing for staff and for inmates) is a useful addition to a staff members bathroom cabinet.

Trouble can arise because of an individuals tendancy to live 'in the moment'. The ability to walk away can be increased by extending the moment in which inmates live. Staff in one location have found that they were experiencing a high level of incidents around tea time. Diffusing geranium oil cut those incidents among male inmates. The use of geranium oil for this purpose of reducing male aggression among teenagers is well established. Teenage footballers unable to control their temper have benefitted from geranium oil rubbed onto their arm. Reflexologists have carried out a program of rubbing geranium oil onto the soles of disruptive male teenagers successfully.

Part of the purpose of religious education in prisons is to educate and enable inmates take their mind off the present concerns with compulsive and obsessional behaviours, hierarchy and confrontation and enable them to develop appropriate individual behaviours separate from the group. The padre is also an obviously non aggressive member of the team allowing a differant mindset to be demonstrated encouraging self as opposed to institutional restraint by drugs or punishment. Religion of course makes use of essential oils with frankincense a firm favourite for slowing the breathing and creating more space between action and reaction as well as dispelling doubt. Much aggression arises as a result of doubt and can even be an expression of self harm. 

Essential oils can help by shifting the mind from consideration of good and bad to true and false.

President Havel of Czechoslovakia gave an accurate description of what prison life is like: "I used to think prison must be endless boredom and without anything much to worry about except the basic problem of making the time pass quickly, but now I've discovered it's not like that. There are plenty of worries here all the time and though they may seem trivial to the normal world, they are not at all trivial in the prison concept. In fact, you are always having to chase after something, hunt for something, keep an eye on something, hold your ground against something. It's constant strain on the nerves, someone is always twanging on them, exacerbated by the fact that in many important instances you cannot behave authentically and must keep your real thoughts to yourself."

Ian Brealey


As for what oils would be useful to reduce agressive behaviour hmmm as Ian suggested Geranium or oils rich in Geraniol, such as palmarosa, bee balm or the various geraniums, ester rich oils such as Roman Chamomile (buggar the expense) clary sage could also work. The Sesquiterpenol rich oils of Patchouli, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Sandalwood or Frankincense plus the citruses or Mandarin, Sweet orange, Lemon, Grapefruit etc... Lots that would work well... Could even have an rotating "awake" blend with a more sedative "night" blend varied weekly... Would be an interesting study IF consent was obtained.  MW

Essential oils have been diffused in the police cells of Rotterdam Police Station. They used Orange e.o which they diffused. see link to Dutch newspaper articlehttp://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1012/Nederland/article/detail/2088433/2008/02/19/Rust-in-de-cel-met-citrusgeur.dhtml. Apparently a 6 month trial showed there was less aggression, inmates asked for less medication, inmates asked to shower more often.  KL

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