A Brief Introduction to Medicinal Aromatherapy
Essential Oils – Nature Made, Time Tested
Most references cite that many ancient cultures, including Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, Persian, Greek and Roman, utilized essential oils to provide relief from pain, illness, distress and infection, and support the healthy functioning of the body, via healing rituals and treatments. The art and texts from these early civilizations commonly depict the collection, production and ceremonial use of plant-based essential oils.
At Shining Sun Aromatherapy, we consider essential oils “The Original Medicine of the Planet”, and I am honored to continue this sacred and ancient tradition of using natural medicines from the Plant Kingdom to support the health and well-being of humans and animals.
How Are Pure Essential Oils Produced?
Essential oils are like herbs, in that they come from medicinal plants; however, they are much more concentrated than herbs, as literally hundreds or thousands of pounds of plant material are required to produce a relatively small quantity (e.g., a pound to several pounds) of essential oil.
The vast majority of essential oils are produced via the steam distillation of plant material. The part(s) of the plant or tree which have the greatest concentration of its healing essence (e.g., the roots, branches/leaves, or flowering tops, etc.) are placed into a huge vat – much like a pressure cooker – though which steam is forced, allowing the plant material to release its essential oil. The condensation/water, with the released oil in it, is then drawn from the vat and cooled. The essential oil, which has collected at the top, is drawn off and stored in dark glass bottles until it is ready for use.
Other methods used to obtain essential oil from the plant material include cold pressing (e.g., used to produce citrus oils like Tangerine or Grapefruit from the rind of the fruit) and chemical extraction (used to produce “absolutes”…most often essences made from the petals of flowers, such as Jasmine or Carnation). While some chemicals used to produce absolutes are natural, many are not. For a medicinal grade essence, like Wisdom of the Earth essences, the extractant used is filtered out of the finished product (the essential oil) until the PPMs (parts per million) remaining meet a therapeutic standard. Any WOTE essence that has been chemically extracted is marked “Absolute” on the front of the label.
Important Benefits of Medicinal Aromatherapy: Little/No Side Effects, No Pathogenic Resistance
Essential oils can address virtually any condition humans and animals experience because nature’s healing power, combined with the healing intelligence of our own bodies, is not singular in its approach, like drugs are designed to be, but is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, just as illness is. Essential oils are highly complex in their composition and in their action in the human body. Their primary orientation is to balance the body…to bring our body’s functioning back into harmony. So, for example, rather than raise or lower blood pressure, suitable essences, like spearmint or rosemary, will balance blood pressure.
Essential oils offer a natural, powerful alternative to synthetic (pharmaceutical) drugs and preparations. Synthetic drugs often have serious side-effects…sometimes more dangerous than the illness or symptoms they were created to treat. When essential oils are produced for medicinal purposes…not perfume, candles or bath salts…they are incredibly potent and effective in addressing a wide variety of common health conditions. And, importantly, they have little or no side effects.
Further, because of the natural complexity of their chemical make up, it is virtually impossible for a virus or bacteria to become “immune” or resistant to the essential oil’s ability to kill them. So, while many synthetically produced drugs become ineffective because of the pathogen’s immunity to them (which is a major issue in modern medicine), this is virtually unknown as far as essential oils are concerned.
In Sickness and In Health…
I have worked with clients who have any number of physical or emotional conditions…insomnia, digestive issues, severe menopausal symptoms, night blindness, memory loss, sore muscles, wounds, burns, severe bruising, migraines, allergies, chronic respiratory problems, ADD-ADHD, etc. They are often surprised and relieved to find a powerful, natural alternative to synthetic drugs.
I also have worked with many clients who are in general good health, but who wish to maintain it by strengthening their immune system, managing stress, or increasing their energy and stamina. Finally, some clients are seeking to address emotional issues (e.g., grief, anger, fear, feelings of isolation or separation) or further develop spiritually (e.g., meditation, intuition or psychic gifts). All of these, and more, can benefit from using plant and tree essences appropriately.
While medicinal aromatherapy is powerful and effective in its own right, it works wonderfully when used in conjunction with other modalities, such as massage therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, reiki, color therapy, hypnotherapy, nutritional therapy, yoga and exercise.