WHAT ‘TRUE AROMATHERAPY’ IS…
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are fragrant, highly concentrated, volatile extracts from plants. They are found in such varied parts of the plant as the leaves, spices, fruits, woods, roots, seeds and flowers. The flower is part of the plant’s “communication,” providing rich nectar, hallucinogenic colors, scents, varying textures and markings to entire specific insects to come and sample its splendors. Scent is the final step in the flower’s ability to screen its callers.
Each oil contains individual benefits to which the body and mind respond. Since the use of essential oils, incense and perfumes began, it has been believed that they could heal the body, alter moods, stir memories, arouse sexual desire and generally improve the quality of life.
Essential oils are the concentrated essences of plants, often referred to as the soul of the plant and, at one time, were actually thought to be waste products. It has since been found that the essential oils are part of the plant’s own immune system with the plant producing more essence under stress. An essential oil contains the life force of the plant from which it comes. They work in harmony with the body and give a sense of balance and well being.
Essential oils are complete in themselves. They contain all of the active ingredients and all of the buffers. One should only use essential oils that are 100% active raw-material from the designated source.
What do essential oils contain?
According to French medical aromatherapist Dr. Daniel Penoel, there are over 30,000 different aromatic molecules. Some essential oils are simple, containing just a few of these constituents while other oils are much more complex.
A simple oil is rosewood, 99% of which is linalool (an alcohol). A more complex oil is rose. It may contain hundreds of constituents, some so small that they can’t be accurately analyzed.
The complexity is the reason why many subtle oils such as rose can’t be copied or synthetically created with much success. The subtlety of these “invisible’ constituents is always missing.
Using several essential oils daily can bring a wide variety of these constituents to your system, having an impact on both physical and subtle energies.
Do essential oils contain hormones?
Plants and essential oils contain phytohormones which are similar to human hormones and act like chemical messengers.
According to author Marcel Lavabre in The Aromatherapy Workbook, essential oils contain vitamins, hormones, antibiotics and/or antiseptics.
Aromatherapist Robert Tisserand says that oils such as angelica, coriander, cypress and fennel stimulate estrogen production.
In The International Journal of Aromatherapy, pharmacologist Tony Balacs states that essential oil constituents may have hormone-like activity. If their structure is similar enough to the hormone’s they will interact with the same receptor.
Who would benefit from the use of essential oils?
Almost everybody, no matter what age or health condition exists, would benefit by using essential oils. (To find out who should not use essential oils, please refer to the safety precautions section on page 63.)
Essential oils are nature based. Unlike the synthetic odors we surround ourselves with daily, everybody can benefit from the true smell of pine trees, oranges or the delicate scent of night blooming jasmine. There is an essential oil for everybody, each evoking different memories that can have an effect on of physical, emotional and psychological levels. The oil affecting these states may change daily, giving you many choices when it comes to usage.
Are essential oils oily?
Essential oils are not oily although some of the thicker oils appear so. Most essential oils lack viscosity and will actually dissipate if held in the palm of the hand for some time (exceptions include vetiver, sandalwood, benzoin, vanilla,Perubalsam, cedarwood, and other woody and resinous oils). On the whole they have a very fine consistency and molecular make up and should be differentiated from fatty oils such as canola or grapeseed oil.
How concentrated are essential oils?
Essential oils are the most concentrated and potent of all plant extracts. They are approximately 75-100 times more concentrated than dried herbs. This is why only small concentrations are used in applications. It takes almost 5,000 pounds of rose petals to yield one pound of essential oil which in turn has a market price of $2,500.
The concentration of essential oils in the plant and the process of distillation dictate the price. For instance, eucalyptus is quite inexpensive (an abundance of oil is found in the leaves and distillation is easy) and rose is very expensive (very little oil in the flower and quite costly to process).
How do essential oils work?
On a physical level, essential oils are the most potent form of herbal energy. They are antiseptic and immune system stimulants. They are also excellent for daily first aid (coughs, colds, bites, itches, etc.).
On an emotional level, essential oils stimulate memories (both consciously and subconsciously), basic drives and hormones. They can combat depression, grief, and stress related disorders.
On an “energy” level, essential oils can be used on acupuncture meridians, chakras and subtle energy points.
On a cellular level, essential oils are good for would healing, scar repairing, tissue stimulating and barrier regulating (between the inside and outside world). They help maintain the optimum moisture level in the skin and protect it from infection. Geranium and lavender are examples of oils that work on this cellular level.
On a spiritual level or reflective level, essential oils have been used by every major culture and society for over 10,000 years. They have been used for ritual, prayer, purification, magic, mysticism, celebration and meditation. Many people believe that essential oils can bring focus and deeper meaning to out existence.
Can essential oils penetrate the skin?
Many of these concentrated essences have a fine molecular structure that can easily penetrate the outer layers of the skin, pores and the olfactory system carrying vital information to the blood, organs, tissues, memory and emotional centers of the body.
The skin’s condition greatly affects the degree to which oils are absorbed through it. After a hot bath, the skin is very hydrated and more penetrable. Damaged skin is also more permeable and essential oils should be applied cautiously.
How are essential oils transported through the body?
Fat-soluble substances like essential oils pass quickly into the central nervous system and the liver, and more slowly into muscle tissue. Fat acts as a storage facility, building up a supply of essential oils slowly but strongly. Once the oil has been absorbed by the blood stream, they are distributed to the muscle tissue where they do not last long due to the increase in blood flow.
Skin is highly efficient at transporting small, relatively fat-soluble molecules like oils into the body’s interior, especially when aided by a circulation-stimulating massage.
What other ways can essential oils be absorbed into the body?
Whenever you breathe the fragrance of essential oils, the fine oil particles are carried by the air and penetrate deep within the lungs. It is here that they enter the blood stream. This is why breathing essential oils continuously over several hours is the equivalent of taking an internal dose.
According to chemist Kurt Shnaubelt, essential oils enter the bloodstream very quickly changing the electrical conductivity (and it is presumed, the Ph) instantly at the spot where it enters the first capillary. This causes an electrical charge to immediately travel through the body, hence aromatherapy’s often remarkably fast results.
Another highly penetrable area is the bottom of the foot. If you stand on a clove of garlic, very shortly, your breath will smell of garlic. This is also true of essential oils. The advantage of applying essential oils to the soles of the feet is the fact that the skin is much thicker and concentrations can be stronger as the skin here will not react to some of the more anti-infectious oils that might normally produce skin irritations. This application technique is very effective when using thyme, oregano and savory to help alleviate flu symptoms and boost the immune system. (Add a few drops of essential oils to a palmful of carrier oil and massage the soles of the feet only).
The scalp is another good area for applying essential oils because the size of the follicle is much larger than the pores in the skin. This technique benefits the body three ways. First, it allows easy access for the essential oil. Second, essential oils can soothe or stimulate the scalp. Finally, the act of massaging the scalp promotes the removal of toxins. Massaging the scalp can alleviate stress by slowing mental activity.
How long do essential oils last in the body?
Essential oils will last 12-24 hours in the body depending on several factors: viscosity, concentration, application method (massage or diffuser), skin type and to which body part the oils were applied.
After entering the blood stream, essential oils are circulated to the tissues and organs. They will eventually pass into the lymphatic system and will then be eliminated through sweat and normal bodily functions.
Combined with massage, the effect of essential oils can last for days. Also, due to the link with the emotional centers of the brain, the effect of a subtle scent can leave an impression for a lifetime.
Is it true that two different people can have a completely different reaction to the oils?
Scents are very personal. Your likes and dislikes are dictated by several factors: your memory of that smell (or something similar), associations, moods and time of day. Because these elements are constantly changing, no two people will react equally when smelling essential oil. In fact, because essential oils are active components that work on both conscious and subconscious levels, what you dislike today may be pleasurable to you tomorrow.
Some essential oils are listed as both relaxants and stimulants. How is this so?
Many essential oils such as lavender, marjoram and eucalyptus have what is known as a balancing effect. They tend to bring you back to a “median” point at which you normally function. For instance, if your energy is low the essential oil may invigorate you, bringing you back to a normal state. If your energy is high, the same oils may calm you. The dosage is also important. A few drops might be sedating, but by increasing the dosage, the effect can be stimulating.
Can using essential oils have an effect on the immune system?
Many people who use essential oils regularly report getting sick less frequently. The immune system is directly affected by stress. Used through the diffuser, massage, bath or by applying a personal perfume, essential oils can reduce stress. These oils include: lavender, tangerine, marjoram, sandalwood, jasmine, neroli and clary sage. Essential oils should be looked at as preventive measures to combating stress, which will eventually bolster the immune system.
Can essential oils work on the subtle energies in the body?
Essential oils are the concentrated essences of plants and it is that concentrated energy that is very effective in treating the physical body. Just one whiff of a delicate perfume can have an immediate impact on the subtle energies of the body, evoking memories and emotions from deep within us. By using subtle blends of essential oils on the chakras or acupuncture meridians, it is possible to work on the subtle energies that are often overlooked in the treatment of physical ailments.
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How does aromatherapy fit in with other healing therapies?
Aromatherapy complements many treatments including; massage, herbal wraps, acupuncture, meditation, chiropractices, skin care and, in some cases, allopathic drugs.
Essential oils can actually increase the effect of certain medications. Valerian (a well-know sedative), rose oil, and phenylethyl alcohol (commonly found in perfumes) all increased the sleeping time in mice given the barbiturate Phenobarbital as opposed to mice who were not given these substances.
Because the scents from essential oils are processed by the olfactory system, they can greatly help any medication which is alleviating stress. The effects of another treatment can be enhanced when combined with essential oils use due to the olfactory element linking the original treatment with stress reduction.
Does incense contain essential oils?
Much of the incense from countries like Africa orIndiadoes not contain essential oils. Because they are manufactured with inexpensive synthetics, they might smell fine, but will probably irritate your sense of smell over time.
Because essential oils are volatile, they are difficult to use in incense as they dissipate before the consumer gets to use them. One alternative has been to use heavy chemical binders or fixatives, but this defeats the purpose of using natural products.
Because so many people love to burn incense, there are many companies trying to create it using a combination of herbs and with essential oils.
What are the differences between essential oils and Bach Flower Remedies?
Essential oils are concentrated plant fragrances that have a distinct smell and effect on the olfactory system. Often, Bach Flower Remedies have no smell at all. They are extracted by soaking flower petals in distilled water and leaving them in sunlight. Brandy is later added as a preservative.
Bach flower remedies are known to be very effective, specifically for emotional issues such as grief, depression and subtle energy balancing. Essential oils contain no alcohol, although some alcohol is used in the process of certain essential oils, which is later distilled off.
Why is there such a variation in the cost of essential oils?
Essential oils vary in price depending on the particular plant extracted. High yielding plants, such as lavender, produce more essential oil while low yielding plants, such as rose, produce small amounts.
Other factors that affect the cost are the ease of distillation, modern vs. traditional equipment, climate and world demand. The essential oil of Melissa is very expensive because it grows abundantly yet is difficult to extract.
What is the shelf life of essential oils and how should they be stored?
The optimum shelf life of an essential oil is approximately one year. After this time they lose some of their potency. How quickly this occurs depends on the specific oil and how it is stored. They should be kept in dark bottles (to protect them from ultra violet light), away from heat, preferably in a cool dark space.
Some essential oils’ scents will change regardless of how they are stored. The scents do not go bad or turn rancid they simply lose their subtlety. Although some choose to refrigerate their oils, this in not necessary (except rose) and can be disadvantageous because some essential oils are solid at low temperatures.
Do essential oils act as preservatives?
Although essential oils can act as preservatives (some more than others) they are not strong enough to use as the only preservatives in a product. They would not protect a shampoo yet would prevent a body oil containing vegetable oil from turning rancid (6-12 months).
Essential oils will inhibit germ growth if used in large enough concentrations. Because most blends are in a concentration of 3-5%, it is not advised to use them for preservatives or germ killers.
What is a synergy?
A synergy is a blend of two or more essential oils. The combined effect is more powerful than that of the individually oil. For example, a respiration synergy may contain eucalyptus, myrtle, tea tree, rosemary, cajeput, spruce, marjoram and peppermint. This blend will be more effective than if the oils were used individually. One is often creating properties not found in individual oils.
How do essential oils differ in quality?
Essential oils can differ in quality depending upon several factors. How was the plant grown? How has it been handled? Has the farmer’s skill been handed down from generation to generation? What type of equipment was used? Is the plant material organic? Was the right amount of steam and pressure used in its distillation? Have solvents been used in the distillation process? Has the plant been distilled for the correct amount of time? (Each plant varies.)
The experienced aromatherapist will be able to tell this just by smelling the oil. Because he or she might say that one oil is better than another, people mistakenly believe that there are several grades of oil. This is not true. It is simply that there are many people distilling essential oils with different apparatus and different plant material from varying countries.
Do not be misled by words like; natural, genuine, authentic, medical grade and food grade. These terms are often used to describe essential oils but mean very little. Take into account that essential oils vary tremendously but mainly for reasons such as those described above.
How many ways are there to extract oils?
In addition to traditional methods, there are several new techniques for distilling essential oils. Traditional methods include: scarification (pressing the outer rinds of citrus fruits), steam distillation, oleoresin (from the resins of trees like frankincense and myrrh) and enfleurage (soaking flowers in animal fat).
New techniques include:
Turbo-distillation (water steam process with agitation), hydro-diffusion (similar to a percolator), solvent extraction (using mineral solvents instead of animal fat), continuous distillation (plants are continuously fed into a tube and infused with steam), steam stripping (dry heat that reduces the distillation of cedarwood from 25 hours to 25 seconds) and hyper critical carbon dioxide (taking carbon dioxide to 250 times normal atmospheric pressure).
Is steam distillation the best method of extraction?
Not necessarily. As technology improves, many new techniques become available. These methods produce wonderful essential oils with fragrances almost identical to those in the plant.
One of the drawbacks with steam is that heat will affect the fragile plant components as well as the end product. In addition to volatile compounds, steam distillation also produces small amounts of non-volatile compounds. This is why an essential oil might not smell identical to the plant. Some plants are far too fragile to be steam distilled and must be distilled by other methods, often using solvents.
What is the difference between an absolute and an essential oil?
An absolute is a term given to an essential oil processed by enfleurage (a traditional method using pork or beef fat to extract the fragrant part of the plant) or by solvent extraction (using mineral solvents such as hexane). InFrance, an aromatherapy doctor will never prescribe an absolute internally as it contains more than just the volatile fragrance (absolutes, especially hexane extracted, contain some of the plant waxes, colorings and solvent residues).
Author Valerie Ann Worwood supports the use of rise absolute (topical application only) for women’s health problems. The extra substances in the absolute are actually quite beneficial for treating feminine problems. These additions are not found in the essential oil of rose.
Why are essential oils commonly adulterated?
With the advent of modern science, more essential oils are being adulterated. The chemical make up of lavender and tea tree can easily be synthesized. When demand exceeds supply (or oil prices increase), unscrupulous companies will do all that they can to create synthetics.
According to French government statistics, it was recently announced that of the world’s supply of lavender,Franceproduces 200%. Because this is impossible, it is obvious that someone is creating synthetic lavender.
Why are there varying grades of ylang ylang oil?
Some companies sell many difference grades of ylang ylang. Because ylang ylang can take over 24 hours to distill, different grades of ylang ylang are sold according to the length of distillation.
What are the differences among the eucalyptus oils?
There are over 600 varieties of eucalyptus trees (found primarily inAustralia), each with different properties. Each essential oil from these different trees will vary in properties yet will smell similar. An exception is the eucalyptus polybractae which smells more medicinal than the others. The eucalyptus oils most widely used in theUnited Statesare:
Eucalyptus Globulus Totum
is used for respiration, sinus complaints, herpes and kidney stimulation.
Eucalyptus Globulus Rectified
is similar to Totum (See above). It has been rectified, which means that some of the active components have been removed.
is used mostly as a germicidal and for purifying. It is an excellent flea repellent.
is used for deep lung infection, other respiratory problems, bladder infections and conditions in need of an anti-inflammatory.
is used to energize. It is excellent for the immune system. It is milder and more subtle than other eucalyptuses and grows abundantly.
What are the differences among the lavender oils?
There are several varieties of lavender, all containing different constituents. Although they smell similar, the wild French lavender is the most subtle. Lavendin lacks this refinement. The different lavenders are defined as follows:
Lavender Vera or Officinalis
is the premier oil used by aromatherapists. It is the oil of first aid and can help preventively in all health conditions. It is excellent for stress and balancing the emotions. Lavender Vera is great for headaches, sinusitis, respiration, wounds, cuts, burns and for skin problems like eczema and rashes.
is a strong anti-infectious oil. It can be neurotoxic in large doses because of its high ketone content. This oil is a much better choice for would healing conditions in need of an anti-inflammatory. Do not use it in the diffuser.
is used as an expectorant, mucolytic, capillary stimulant and insect repellent. When mixed with eucalyptus, it is excellent for respiratory problems.
is a cross between lavender and spike. Lavendin is more of a disinfectant and deodorizer as it contains more camphor than lavender. It is also good for muscle pain. It is similar to lavender but not as refined and the yield is much higher.
What are the differences among the rosemary oils?
Selecting the right rosemary will depend on the condition that the oil is needed for. The different rosemarys and how they are best used are defined as follows:
is a liver stimulant and quite good for memory. It is also excellent for skin care problems, like dry, mature skin and wrinkles.
is used for pulmonary congestion, anemia and cellulites. It is great as a mental tonic and can stimulate the respiratory and nervous system when energy is low.
is a good choice for asthma, sinusitis and respiratory difficulties (mucous conditions). It is great for nervous problems and a wonderful aid in cell regeneration.
What are the differences among the camomiles?
Camomile is known for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. There are over 200 varieties of chamomile.
is the best choice for skin care. It is not as refined as the other camomiles.
is the most healing and is commonly used in herbology. It is used for stimulating the digestive system and is effective for constipation. It is an internal antispasmodic and is excellent for insomnia.
German Camomile (matricaria)
is excellent for female disorders. It is used for severe inflammation and for fevers.
Actually has a blue color due to the chamazulene it contains. This oil is highly anti-inflammatory and is used in the treatment of eczema, rashes, burns, itches and throat infections. Because of it high concentration and the fact that it can stain, it should be used in small dosages.
What are the differences among the thymes?
All thymes need to be used in small dosages because of their active constituents.
is a very powerful oil and can be toxic and a skin irritant in large doses (more than a few drops). It is a stimulant and good for the immune system, sluggish circulation, intestinal and urinal infections, anemia and cellulites. Thyme Red is excellent for relieving pain.
is a much milder thyme and is more soothing and healing. It is antiseptic and excellent for all types of skin care uses.
Thyme Sweet (Saturoids)
is milder than the above thymes and works well as a digestive stimulant. It is also good for calming the nerves.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SCENT
Is the “therapy” in aromatherapy medicinal, psychological or something else?
“Therapy” could refer to both medicinal and psychological, depending on the country in which aromatherapy is practiced. For instance, iinFrancethe therapy is medicinal (including internal use), inItalyit is psychological and inEnglandit is esthetical. In theUnited States, aromatherapy is both psychological and esthetical.
Everyone practicing aromatherapy, however, will agree that it involves much more than just fragrant massage.
What are some psychological effects of using scent daily?
By using familiar scents daily you will:
- Feel stronger
- Be more alert
- Improve productivity
- Improve memory
- Improve learning
- Improve personal performance
- Reduce stress
- Help alleviate physical and emotional pain
- Improve communication skills
- Improve self esteem
- Improve self confidence
- Feel more assertive
- Improve moods
- Improve emotional balance
- Improve sexual communication
- Improve awareness of distance, location and danger
- Improve sleep and waking patterns
- Increase creativity & imagination
- Increase relaxation
- Increase awareness of the environment
- Reconnect with the sacred
What is the difference between aromatherapy and aroma-chology?
Through stimulation of olfactory pathways in the brain, especially the limbic system, odors can elicit a variety of specific feelings and emotions. These feelings include: relaxation, exhilaration, sensuality and happiness. The Fragrance Foundation of New York, has coined the term aroma-chology to describe the study of the interrelationship between psychology and the latest in fragrance technology.
The Fragrance Research Fund offers grants to individuals who are dedicated to olfactory research. This is why there has been a steady increase in scent and psychology investigation.
The Fragrance Foundation states that aromatherapy of the therapeutic use of pure essential oils and herbs in body massage. The results of which is described by proponents as “healing, beautifying, and soothing” to the body.
Aromatherapy has it roots in folk medicine practiced by primitive cultures. Aroma-chology and aromatherapy deal with the same subject yet from different perspectives. Aroma-chology approaches scent from a non-therapeutic point of view and aromatherapy is concerned more with the therapeutic.
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Although under supervision the essential oils can be prescribed for oral ingestion, this is in fact their least effective mode of entry because it involves their passing through the digestive system, where they come into contact with digestive juices and other matter which affect their chemistry. This limitation also applies to any chemical medications. The flexibility of medicinal use makes the essential oils of special benefit to patients whose digestive systems have, for whatever reason, been impaired.
Unlike chemical drugs, essential oils do not, as far as we know, remain in the body. They are excreted through urine and feces, perspiration, and exhalation. Expulsion takes 3 to 6 hours in a normal, healthy body and up to 14 hours in an obese or unhealthy body. The method of excretion differs from oil to oil. For example, sandalwood and juniper can be detected by their aroma quite clearly in urine. Garlic, on the other hand, even if applied to the skin, will be passed out of the body through exhalation, whereas geranium, which is beneficial circulatory oil, will be detected in the perspiration.
Essential oils are extracted from certain varieties of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, and flowers. The oil is concentrated in different parts of the plant. Vetiver oil is made from the chopped roots of the grass species Vetiveria zizanoides: bay oil is extracted from bay leaves. Geranium oil comes from the leaves and stalks, while cumin oil comes from the seeds, and ginger oil comes from the root-like stems which grow under or along the ground. Myrrh, frankincense, and benzoin oils are extracted from the resin of their respective trees. Mandarin, lemon, lime, grapefruit, and bergamot oils are squeezed from the peel of the fruits, while tonka bean is extracted, as you would guess, from the bean. Cinnamon oil comes from the bark of the tree, and pine oil comes from the needles and twigs of Pinus sylvestris.
Depending on the plant, the essential oil is stored in specialized oil or resin cells, glandular hairs, cells, or scales which have single or multi-cell pockets or tiny reservoirs or, in the case of fennel, for example, intercellular spaces.
The oil is extracted from the plant by a variety of means, depending again on the particular species. The most common method is steam distillation, although other important methods are solvent extraction, expression, enfleurage, and maceration. New methods are also being devised.
It takes a great deal of work to produce a tiny amount of essential oil. 60,000 rose blossoms are required to produce one ounce of rose oil, whereas in the lavender plant the essential oil is more abundant and 220 pounds will provide 7 pounds of oil. In the case of jasmine, the flowers must be picked by hand before the sun becomes hot on the very first day they open, whereas the sandalwood tree must be thirty years old and thirty feet high before it is cut down for distillation. Between these two extremes, a whole range of growing and picking conditions apply to the plants that will ultimately provide the precious essential oils. The price of each oil reflects these conditions, and because it takes eight million hand-picked jasmine blossoms to produce 2.2 pounds of oil, you can understand why that is one of the most expensive oils on the market.
The trade in essential oils is worldwide, with consignments passing betweenFrance,China,Brazil,Bulgaria,Turkey,Saudi Arabia,Ethiopia,Indonesia, theUnited States,Reunion,Australia,USSR,Israel,Britain,Thailand,Java,Guatemala,Egypt,Somalia, andSpain, among other places. The same species of plant grown in different countries under different soil and altitude conditions will produce oils which differ in their chemical makeup and therapeutic properties.
On average, an essential oil contains 100 components. The chief of these are terepenes, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones, and phenols, and although technology is allowing us to identify more of the components, there remain many more to be discovered. There are those who would argue that there is no difference between essential oils and reconstituted oils, but these are people who are concerned with the aromatic quality of natural essences because they want to copy them for artificial flavors and fragrances. There is, however, more to an essential oil than its aroma. But if we do not yet know all the chemicals that go to make up an essential oil we do know that they are noninvasive to the human body because we and they are made of the same material. The aromatic chemicals found in essential oils are derived from phenylpropane, and these are the precursors of amino acids which link to make the proteins which provide the building blocks for just about everything in the human body from the smallest enzyme to the skeleton. Another large group of chemicals found in essential oils are the terpineols which are formed from acetyl-coenzyme A, which in the human organism plays a crucial role in the production of hormones, vitamins, and energy.
As well as being noninvasive and non-toxic to the human organism, essential oils are noninvasive in terms of heat and electromagnetism. Each body cell is electrically charged and the effect of electricity, in all its forms, plays a part in the healing process. The dextrorotatory and lavorotatory (clockwise and counterclockwise) characteristic of essential oils have been known for a long time but need to be reassessed in view of the growing awareness about the importance of the body’s electromagnetic fields. It could be that these aspects of the essential oils contribute towards stimulating the body’s own natural healing mechanisms.
The positive effect of essential oils on blood circulation is well known. Through this they play important parting bringing oxygen and nutrients to the tissues while assisting in the efficient disposal of carbon dioxide and other waste products that are produced by cell metabolism. The general increase in blood flow improves the efficiency of the immune system and decreases blood viscosity. Indeed, there is not a part of the human body and brain that is not helped by good circulation.
Plants in general are chemical factories. They inhabit the interface between light and dark, sun and earth, drawing energy from each and synthesizing this into molecules of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are the “crude fuels” which we and other animals break down to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), our “high-grade fuel”. But essential oils are the high-grade fuel of plants, and by taking them into our body we ingest the best of the goodness plants have to offer. As a preventative prophylactic there is nothing better, and the fact that they are so delightful to use and so flexible in their methods of use makes them extremely pleasurable and easy to incorporate into our busy, modern lifestyles.
Because the essential oils are so sweet-smelling it might be easy to suppose that their value is essentially on of charm. This would be a mistake. These substances are very complex in their molecular structure, and very powerful. The essential oil of oregano, for example, is 26 times more powerful as an antiseptic than phenol, which is the active ingredient in many commercial cleansing materials.
When the combination is more than the sum of the parts, there is a synergistic effect. By mixing together two or more essential oils you are creating a chemical compound that is different to any of the component parts, and these synergistic blends are very particular and powerful. As increased potency can be achieved with synergistic blends without increasing the dosage. For example, the anti-inflammatory action of chamomile essential oil is greatly increase by adding lavender in the correct proportion. The interaction of particular essential oils upon each other gives a vibrancy and dynamism to the whole which could not be achieved by using a single component on its own.
The important point about synergistic blends is that the proportions should be correct, and some times it is necessary to make up more in volume than you need to use so that the smallest component oils can be incorporated into the whole in the right proportion. Diluted in body oil, you may have a component part which is only 0.001 percent of the whole and yet that minuscule amount is integral to the whole.