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Aromatherapy for the harried Angeleno

August 10, 2011 |  6:00 am

21 drops 
Many spas swear by it, and candle-store owners have embraced it. The medical establishment and the FDA question its usefulness. What about the rest of us? For the average consumer, aromatherapy is something to encounter in a mall or in the halls of a swank hotel -- pleasant, soothing, temporarily uplifting.

There are those converts, of course, who swear by the healing properties of aromatherapy. As with all believers, they have formed associations: The Alliance of International Aromatherapists, the National Assn. of Holistic Aromatherapists, the Natural Assn. for Holistic Aromatherapy.

And they have started businesses and product lines. Among the most recent is 21 Drops, which launched in November. Founders Cary Caster and Amy Ilyse Rosenthal recently explained their products and philosophy on the patio outside Fred Segal:

Aromatherapy, said Caster (who is a licensed massage therapist and an advanced clinically certified aromatherapist) "is the practice of using essential oils for their curative properties." Caster's and Rosenthal's oils are distilled from plants, mixed in various formulas and combined into 21 different products (hence the "21 Drops") with names such as "Calm," "Decongest," "Sleep," and "Hangover." They are meant to be inhaled or applied topically. Each formula is packaged in a roller-top glass bottle that sits in a sturdy case, which is, in turn, nestled in an individually designed box with a "batch card" that lists and explains the ingredients.

The potions and their names seem as though they must be targeted toward Southern Californians and every cliche (or is that adage?) the area embodies. "Invigorate" is blended from cedarwood wood oil, rosemary leaf oil, black pepper dried fruit oil and juniper fruit oil. It is designed to "stimulate circulation, motivate and energize."

"Uplift" is blended from rose flower oil, lavender flower oil, helichrysum flower oil and German chamomile flower oil to “help relieve depression, lift the spirit and offer emotional support.” 

The limited edition "CARma Relief" is, well, designed to "help relieve and release the steering wheel banging frustration that comes from traffic tie-ups." (Too bad we didn't have access during Carmageddon -- or the anticipation of Carmageddon.) And the mix of cedarwood, bergamot mint, spikenard and roman chamomile oils just might be enough to erase the memory of President Obama's August 2010 fundraising sweep through Los Angeles, which left thousands of drivers griping about gridlock.

Some medical researchers say people who have high hopes for aromatherapy are the most likely to benefit. So if you're hoping to lead a more tranquil life, a little "De-Stress" might be in order. "De-Stress helps you to stay cool under fire, encouraging graciousness and diplomacy, balance and decisiveness" — at least that's what they say it's supposed to do. 

The roller-top bottles of 21 Drops are available at Ron Robinson at Fred Segal and Barrington Court in Brentwood and the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Individual vials are $29; "trios," $75.


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Aromatherapy is in your head, not your nose

-- Alice Short

Photo: 21 Drops products. Credit: 21 Drops