Aromatherapy is the art of using highly concentrated distilled plant essences, called essential oils, for healing purposes. Essential oils are made by takings large quantities (pounds or sometimes tons) of a specific plant and steam distilling it. The concentration of this distillation turns into an oil. This oil is then collected. People have used essential oils since biblical times. Frankincense, myrrh and balsam fir (gold) were brought to Jesus as a gift from the 3 wise men. Cypress, cedarwood, hyssop, onycha, cassia, myrtle and spikenard essential oils are just a few of the oils specifically named in the bible.
Long before there was a pill for every disease, people used the plants around them to heal their illnesses. These oils were commonly used for everything from fever to aphrodisiacs.
Plants and Herbs You Use May Already Be Using
You may be surprised to find that many plants and herbs are responsible for many things you use on a day-to-day basis. For example:
– Peppermint is a plant that we use for freshening our breaths.
– Many types of toothpaste contains seaweed.
– If you’ve ever had an upset stomach you’ve probably been told to drink ginger ale (ginger root) to settle your stomach.
– Hops come from a plant used flavor beer, but also is used to help induce sleep. This is why you can feel drowsy after a few beers (it’s not just the alcohol).
Did you know, almost all of the oil based expensive perfumes get their scent from essential oils. All of the herbs and plants mentioned above could all be used as essential oils.
Essential Oil Synergy
To just say that essential oils are strong would be an understatement. One drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 20 bags of peppermint tea. These oils are extremely powerful. They can affect the both the mind and the body.
These essential oils become even more powerful when combined together. The oils synergize with one another. When essential oils are combined together, one essential oil, which is weak in one area, becomes stronger, while other strengths of the two essential oils become even stronger.
A practical example of synergy would be:
Let’s say that Bill and Jack need to take a road trip from Philadelphia to Chicago. The entire trip will take 10 hours.
Let’s say Bill likes driving, but is terrible with directions.
Let’s say Jack is good with directions, but he hates to drive for long periods of time.
Separately, they both have a strength and a major weakness.
If they try to tackle these tasks separately, the task will probably take more time than if they do it together. Bill will probably get lost a few times. Jack will probably stop often times because he gets tired of driving for long periods of time.
If they work together, Bill can drive most of the trip while Jack navigates. Jack can also share in the driving for a short portion of the trip while Bill rests. Since Jack is good with directions, he doesn’t need Bill to navigate for him.
Essential oils when blended together correctly work the same way. They work together for your body’s benefit. Essential oils are blended to have a pleasing aroma and based of the chemistry of the oils.
How To Choose an Essential Oil
When using essential oils, you want to be very careful to only use therapeutic grade essential oils. Look for oils that have no synthetic chemicals. Essential oils with adulterants are very harmful to your health. Synthetic oils are usually much cheaper than pure oils and while they may smell like the real thing, they have no therapeutic value. Only use pure oils.
Essential Oil Safety
More is not always better with essential oils. The specific area you apply an essential oil to your body will recognize the essential oil within a minute. Your entire body will recognize the essential oil within 20 minutes. Remember, you skin is an organ and it absorbs very well. Everything absorbed on the skin ends up in the bloodstream.
Be careful not to use too much of an oil. Some oils are gentler than others. Some oils cause skin irritations. Always dilute oils in a carrier oil. If you use too much oil, you will develop an allergic reaction to it. Each essential oil needs to be diluted based on the harshness of the oil. The age of the person using the oil matters as well. Just as you wouldn’t give a child the same amount of medicine that you would give an adult, in the same way you wouldn’t give a child the same dose of essential oil. There are books help with this safety. If you are serious about using essential oils, invest in a safety book.
Never ingest oils. They are too strong for your stomach lining. Over time, it can damage your internal organs. I’ve personally gargled with water and an essential oil, but I make sure to spit it out afterwards. They are best used in a massage, bath, compress, diffused into the air or inhaled directly.
Even if you have internal issues such as flatulence, just rubbing the oil on your stomach will be enough to give relief.
Last, but not least, be very careful using essential oils if you are pregnant. Essential oils are extremely strong for an adult, let alone a fetus. There are only a very select few of oils that are ok to use during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Everyone should consult their doctor before using any essential oils. Especially if you are pregnant, suffer from epilepsy, or have serious health issues.