Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years. It originated with the Egyptians and was used by them in their mummification process. They say that you could still smell the rosewood and frankincense when King Tut's tomb was opened - that is powerful! There are numerous mentions in the bible and the gifts to Baby Jesus were frankincense, myrrh, and gold. If you read about the benefits of frankincense and myrrh it isn't surprising why they gave those oils to Baby Jesus.
During the Black Plague in Europe - aromatics were used to ward it off and people used these aromatics in the hollow top of their walking sticks. Several others who avoided the plague were perfumers, glove makers, and thieves who stole jewels and treasures from graveyards. The glove makers would dip the newly made gloves in essential oils and the thieves wore essential oils to protect themselves from germs from the plagued dead bodies.
Renee Gattefosse, a french pioneer is attributed for coining the term 'aromatherapy". He also wrote the first book about aromatherapy in 1937. In 2004, Richard Axe and Linda Buck were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work and their discoveries of "odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system". This is a wonderful achievement and very exciting for the field of aromatherapy. Today, in Europe, aromatherapy is currently being used throughout their medical system.
What is Aromatherapy..
Aromatherapy is using 100% pure essential oils to influence, affect, modify, change, and/or alter mood, emotions, physical concerns and behaviors. It can complement numerous healing modalities. It can also assist the body in helping itself heal by supplying the body's cells with energy, which strengthens the immune system and also activates a positive attitude.
What are Essential Oils..
Essential oils are the "liquid" form of herbal plants and are derived from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots, seeds, bark, fruits and resins. Essential oils are 50-100 times more potent than an actual herb and should not be used internally. There are only 400 plants that can produce essential oils and most essential oils used today come from 300 of those plants. Pure essential oils carry their own fingerprint and possess numerous healing properties such as antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, and antiseptic. Therapeutic grade essential oils can be traced back to a particular field, year and distiller. Red Mandarin supports adrenal and nervous system function, while Tea Tree can offer anti fungal protection.
How Essential Oils Work..
The bodies sense of smell perpetuates faster than any other sense because it has a pathway direct to the brain without being processed by the spinal cord or digestive system. Aromatic scents travel through the nose, dissolving in the mucosal membrane, passing to the cilia (olfactory nerves), to the olfactory bulb where it then relates into to the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that tells us how to respond to a situation.
Aromatherapy and the use of pure essential oils can allow us to connect, channel, shift and heal emotions within ourselves on both a mental and physical level. When we smell particular scents it can bring us peace and comfort or provide us with energy and vitality.
If you are working with essential oils on an emotional level it is good to know that scents trigger the hypothalamus and pituitary to respond to various situations. When using essential oils on a physical level, the oils are absorbed into the mucosal lining and the bloodstream and the lymph system in approximately 3 seconds allowing your body to respond to physical ailments and concerns immediately.
Essential oils are not water soluble, they are fat soluble. It is extremely important to note that they should not be used internally and most require a carrier oil before being applied to the skin. Should you accidentally contact the skin with an essential oil - rinse your skin with milk or oil because this will help diffuse the oil on the skin. You should also use caution when working with them if you are pregnant and you should keep all essential oils out of the reach of children.
Aromatherapy and You..
One of the reasons aromatherapy is great is that it allows for you to make your own products. Making products using pure essential oils can be very beneficial and they can be applied in many different ways. Some of the different application methods for essential oils are:
- Inhalation / Diffusion
- Topical or External - Mists, Perfumes, Massage
- Baths, Feet, Hands, Body
- Mouth washes
It is important if you are going to make your own products to realize that essential oils should be measured in drops and placed in a carrier or base oil before using. Carrier oils are also rich in nutrients and dilute the essential oil slowing its rate of evaporation. Carrier oils are extracted from nuts or seeds such as Almond, Apricot Kernel, Avocado, Castor, Coconut, Grape seed, Hazelnut, Jojoba, Olive, Safflower, Sesame and Vegetable. It is also best to use distilled water when creating your product. There are also many different aromatherapy families. Citrus, Floral, Veracious, Champhoraceous, Spicy, Resinous, Woody, and Earthy are the majority of the aromatherapy family smells.
Nature's Sunshine offers high quality aromatherapy products and kits. I use an essential oil blend I made for sore muscles using peppermint oil, lavender oil, and Nature's Sunshine Massage Oil. It works great!
I have also used Nature's Sunshine Enzyme Spray as a carrier for my room sprays.
If you are interested in getting started with essential oils, I would recommend the following Aromatherapy Products Kit through Nature's Sunshine. The kit has everything you will need to get started on making your own beauty and cleaning products for pennies.
Essential Oils: Home, Health and Beauty Kit includes:
- Essential Oils of Lavender, Bergamot, Cinnamon leaf, Lemon, Grapefruit, Geranium, Frankincense, Pine Needle, Mandarin and Peppermint Essential Oils.
- 1 Bottle of Nature's Sunshine Concentrate Cleaner
- 1 Bottle of Massage Oil
- 1 Bottle of Aloe Vera Gel
- 3 Amber Bottles with Sprayers
- 3 Amber Roll-on Bottles
Please Note: Essential oils are not water soluble, they are fat soluble. It is extremely important to note that they should not be used internally and most require a carrier oil before being applied to the skin. Should you accidentally contact the skin with an essential oil - rinse your skin with milk or oil because this will help diffuse the oil on the skin. Essential Oils should be kept out of the reach of children. Also, if you are pregnant or have a serious health condition you should consult with your doctor before using essential oilsWritten by: Mara Gerke, CA, CNHP
References: Valerie Ann Worwood, Jennifer Hochell-Pressimone.