Essential Oils & Aromatherapy – Introduction
Since the beginning of human civilization, healers have looked to nature to provide remedies for all afflictions and dis-eases. For centuries herbs and essential oils have filled dispensaries and provided pharmacists with the raw materials to make medicines of all kinds. In 3000BC essential oils were first recorded to have been used therapeutically.
The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used essential oils for their therapeutic and cosmetic properties. The Egyptians, for example, used the anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties of Myrrh, Cedarwood and Frankincense for embalming and for offerings to their gods. The ancient Greeks prescribed aromatic, essential oils to treat a variety of illnesses, and the Romans used essential oils to cure physical ailments, as well as for pleasure.
The Arabs perfected the process of distillation in the 10th Century. The physician who perfected the process was Avicenna. He first perfected the distillation of Rose, and with further dilution it then became Rosewater. The Rose (Rosa) was introduced to Brittain by the Romans and was known as the ‘apothecarus’ or ‘herbalist rose’ which retains its’ scent ever after dying. The petals form the base for many medicines.
Gettefosse was a scientific investigator. Whilst using a Bunson Burner he burnt his hand. He immediately plunged his hand into a jar of Lavender oil and discovered that it healed very quickly in only a matter of hours and left no scarring. He learned of the wonderful healing qualities of Lavender.
Madam Maury was a biochemist, beauty therapist and author of exceptional books. She investigated many combinations of essential oils and put together some of the most sensible of combinations in order to address the emotions and symptoms of her clients. She also addressed their physical imbalances and would blend certain oils together in order to compensate and balance their bodies, physically and emotionally.
The term ‘Aromatherapy’ was first coined in 1928. Today we are experiencing a resurgence in the use of natural therapies of all kinds; particularly that of essential oils and aromatherapy.
Essential oils are the highly concentrated aromatic plant essences that can be derived from just about any part of a plant, including the flowers, leaves, stalks, fruit rinds, seeds, sap, nuts, bark, roots, resins and berries.
In some cases several different oils can be derived from the one plant. For example, the orange tree gives us Neroli from the flowers, Pettigrain from the leaves and Orange from its fruit. Each of these three oils has it’s own distinct personality and therapeutic properties.
Holistic Aromatherapy recognizes that all of the natural biological components of essential oils work in synergy to produce their therapeutical qualities. The synergy of essential oils is quite remarkable. In this context, synergy simply means that when oils are blended the effects of all the essential oils are greatly enhanced. For example, Lavender is very effective on its own, but once added with Chamomile or Eucalyptus, the healing effects of the Lavender is enhanced and re-enforced.
Aromatherapy is the way essential oils are applied. This can be via inhalation, compress, massage or bath. The oils themselves don’t ‘heal’, but they get the body into correct action so that natural healing is able to take place.
Therapy can come in many forms ranging from a hand and foot massage using particular oils, a full body or spot massage or using the oils as inhalants. Essential oils can be used medicinally, internally and externally.
Taking a holistic approach of herbs and flowers, the greater majority are antiseptic. The antiseptic property in the plant is the essential oil. The essential oil has the ability to kill off viruses, bacteria and fungi. Some essential oils are anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-biotic and anti-spasmodic. Some oils are licatrezant, which helps with the formation of scar tissue during healing.
The nose contains ten millions neurons that catch odour molecules. They are called ‘olfactory receptors’ and send the odours to our emotional centres of the brain. This is called the limbic system.
Some oils are stimulants, some promote astringent actions, and some are used for protection against infection. They may be used as cytophylactic (ie stimulation of the cells promoting growth and reproduction). Lavender essential oil falls into this category, as does Neroli (blossom of orange), Frankincense and Bergamot.
Essential oils, when elicited from the plant, are general watery and clear. German Chamomile however, is blue. High grade active constituents are essential for the aromatics which must be a pure preparation.
Many commercial shampoos, conditioners, skin creams and lotions and the like, contain non-natural synthetic based ‘nasties’. Using these throughout your lifetime can add to an accumulation of toxic chemicals that can contribute to various ailments and physical imbalances.