General Information

Aroma Therapy

HISTORY

Essential oils have been in use in both religion and medicine for thousands of years. We know this because reference is made to them in many manuscripts of ancient date. Essential oils were used extensively in Renaissance Europe and in ancient India. In fact, India is probably the only place in the world where this tradition and art was never lost. With more than a thousand years of continuous practice, Ayurvedic medicine (which includes the use of aromatic oils) is the oldest continuous form of medical practice in the world. Much of what is known about the medicinal properties of essential oils comes from these traditional and long-standing sources.

The arrival of modern science in the 19th century brought about the decline of all forms of herbal and homeopathic medicine. This suppression, if you study history even a little, appears to have been deliberately brought about by people who stood to gain financially. Scientists, quite probably with the best of intentions at first, began the practice of isolating the main active ingredient of plants and then reproducing them in laboratories. In this way, penicillin (derived from mold growing on bread), aspirin (naturally present in birch, wintergreen, and meadowsweet), antibiotics, and so on came into wide-spread usage. Today, the marketing of these medicines is big business and very profitable. There is obvious value in many modern scientific discoveries, but it must also be acknowledged by any open-minded person that these isolated compounds, such as those found in drugs and synthetic therapeutic oils, have many serious side effects and can be easily abused. Every plant, and therefore, every essential oil contains hundreds of chemical compounds, most of them in very small amounts. We know that certain trace elements are fundamental for life, and the human body often requires one in order to assimilate another. Rational thought, and now evidence from scientific studies, shows clearly that when plant material is broken down into individual components in a laboratory, many of these trace elements are lost. In addition, man-made, nearly chemically identical compounds lack them also. In fact, man-made elements tend to develop, physically, left-rotating elements that plug receptor sites and create additional problems of their own.

The power of living products (herbals and essential oils) lies in the combination of their elements, and the trace components are every bit as important as their main constituents. In fact, it seems to be that the minor constituents have a synergistic (controlling and strengthening) effect on the main constituents. Many of these trace elements enable the herbal or oil to heal more efficiently and without the nasty side effects experienced when using the synthetic reconstructions (drugs or oils) that do not contain the trace elements.

With pure essential oils and herbal medicines in their complete state you can heal and nourish without the traditional side effects of drugs!

Aromatherapy, in our time, can be said to have began in France in the early 1900’s. England and European countries learned of it quickly and it is a basic part of even mainstream medicine in most countries of Europe and Asia, as is the use of homeopathic medicines. Aromatherapy did not exist in any significant way in the United States until the early 1980’s and can be classed into two separate and distinct movements. The first is pure and genuine essential oils prepared for therapeutic use. The second is a mass-market approach to the creation of oils which will be used for perfumery, etc. There is little if any concern for therapeutic value but a lot of attention is paid to the quality and durability of the aroma.

Because of the prevalence of mass-marketing techniques, much of what you hear and see in the media and in promotional material is outright blarney, and what you buy is often synthetic substitutions. As the purchasing public becomes more educated, aware, and insistent on quality this is slowly changing. Education and personal experience are your best tools in this market; an oil source that you have come to trust is also invaluable.

SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

As noted, essential oils have been used throughout the years and throughout the world, but not always by utilizing the same methods of application and/or use. There are large gulfs of difference between what is considered safe and the best method of application between countries and schools of thought.

For the most part, aromatherapists trained in Germany consider inhalation as the best and most effective way to use essential oils. Essential oil molecular structure is such (small molecules with low atomic weights) that they pass directly into the blood stream when breathed into the lungs. At the same time they are also moving directly into the brain through the olfactory nerves which connect to the brain.

In Britain and other English speaking countries, the skin is the primary avenue of absorption and utilization of essential oils. The emphasis is on massage with carrier oils containing only 2-5% of essential oil. The early proponents of aromatherapy in England were not therapists nor health-care practitioners, and often the oils used and studied were perfume or food-grade rather than therapeutic-grade essential oils. In addition, the British tend to rely heavily on scientific research. This sounds good in theory, but in practice the research has been almost exclusively done using low quality food-grade oils, synthetic reproductions, adulterated oils, and isolated compounds rather than the whole oil. Their data, and the advise and cautions generated by it, is invalid in relation to unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils.

The British place a great deal of emphasis on the potential problems with essential oils. Their lists of cautions are extensive for nearly every oil and their lists of oils that should never be used is also quite lengthy. Formally trained aromatherapists in the United States tend to lean heavily in the British direction, probably because studying English texts is easier for us than studying French or German ones.

It should be noted here that most essential oils contain compounds that are toxic individually. Myrrh oil contains many such compounds, yet it is one of the gentlest, safest, mildest oils in nature. Some British aromatherapists believe that this cannot be correct since studies of the individual components of Myrrh obviously show some of these components to be hazardous, especially when applied day after day. (Interesting how scientists are so prone to believe their own prejudices rather than revealed word.)

An interesting fact, noted in The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple by David Stewart, Ph.D., D.N.M., is that Myrrh essential oil is used to protect skin from the rays of the sun. This is amazing because Myrrh contains more furanoid compounds than any other essential oil. Furanoid compounds are implicated in studies as amplifying ultraviolet light and are said to make an oil phototoxic (meaning that it can potentially cause sunburn and skin damage when exposure to sunlight occurs after application). This is a perfect illustration of the difference between a complete oil and its individual components. The French recommend the use of essential oils in just about any way you can imagine. They particularly emphasize the taking of essential oils orally. Many people, using only pure therapeutic grade essential oils, are doing this with good result and no reported problems. We do not recommend the oral consumption of essential oils. The fact remains that every incident in which harm from essential oils has been documented has been with internal consumption, either intentionally or accidentally. Oils absorb so rapidly when inhaled or placed on the skin and have had such great success with those methods that rarely the need to recommend internal use. We recommendation is to use oils consistently, sensibly, with joy and thanksgiving, and by any method whatsoever that you choose.

 

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only, it is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or, diagnose any disease or condition. Nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate.

As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier.

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