Thursday, July 23, 2015

Aromatic Healing: Sachets

When you say the word 'sachet' the first thing that comes to mind is a small bag of perfumed herbs little old ladies hang in their wardrobes in order to make their clothes smell good.

In Anabaptist (Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites) culture, sachets have been used to help ease one through a less than pleasant moment.

When I was a boy, I would occasionally attend my Grandparents' Church of the Brethren services. This sect was an offshoot of the German Baptist Brethren and many of the older members, at the time, were raised as Mennonites and Dunkers. The services were notorious for lasting several hours...and were quite uncomfortable in the Summer heat.

I would notice that some of the women would carry sachets with them...and frequently take deep breaths of the herb filled bags. I was curious as to what was in these sachets, so I started to ask questions. I eventually found the answer from a family friend who was known to dabble in folk medicine.

She told me that certain combinations of herbs and oils could be used as an aromatic 'pick me up' as well as providing a 'calming' effect. This was my introduction to Anabaptist folk remedies. I learned a number of recipes for these 'church sachets'...though I formulated an herbal and oil combination that I believe anyone can find beneficial on a daily basis. My wife keeps one with her and night. It also relieves the effects of nausea, dizziness and motion sickness. Here's the recipe...

Mix the following herbs and essential oils:

*1/2 oz dried Lavender Buds
*1/2 oz dried Patchouli
*One rounded tablespoon dried Juniper Berries
*10 drops Lavender essential oil
*10 drops Moroccan Rosemary essential oil

Mix well and place inside a netted sachet bag or cushion.

This mixture should provide relief for several months. Either recharge with oil or a new complete mix.

German speaking immigrants who came to America in the 18th and 19th centuries brought with them an endless number of age-old remedies to treat a variety of medical conditions. Mennonite and Amish immigrants from Germany and Switzerland were responsible for many of the health treatments practiced in the United States, with their teas, tonics and salves. As always, consult your doctor before you replace a modern medical treatment with a home remedy.

Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch: A Traditional Medical Practice in the Modern World (Pennsylvania German History and Culture)

The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines

Folk Remedies That Work: By Joan and Lydia Wilen, Authors of Chicken Soup & Other Folk Remedies

Mennofolk: Mennonite And Amish Folk Traditions (Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History)