In Enhancing Your Understanding and Expanding Your Applications of Aromatic Medicine, Jade Shutes defines Aromatherapy. “The art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.” Essential oils are extracted or expressed from many types of plant material: Culinary Herbal Plants – Peppermint & Rosemary; Seeds – Coriander & Black Pepper; Fruits – Lemon & Bergamot; Flowers – Rose & Lavender; Resins – Frankincense and Myrrh; Wood of Trees – Cedarwood & Sandlewood; Leaves &Twigs - Eucalyptus & Patchouli; Grasses – Lemongrass; and Roots & Bulbs – Ginger & Vetiver. Plants produce the essences, which become essential oils after they have been distilled. Just like whole foods versus highly processed foods, true essential oils need to be separated from their synthetic counterparts. What is the difference between a “naturally extracted” essence and one that has been adulterated?
Since the terms “essence”, “natural” and “essential oil” are applied broadly to products sold widely on the market, it is vital to know that how the plant material is grown, harvested, distilled, and processed is what assures that the oil is whole. In Aromatherapy, Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty Roberta Wilson says “Adulteration is the addition of other substances – either synthetic or natural – to extend or to alter the appearance, the chemical composition, or the smell of the essential oil.” In order to obtain the intended healing results aromatherapy requires essences that come directly from plants instead of the synthetic scents made from petroleum byproducts in labs. The chemical constituents of an oil in an end product can be affected by many variables: the part of the plant used to produce the oil, soil condition, whether the plant is grown organically (without herbicides, pesticides, and agricultural chemicals), climate, altitude, harvesting methods, geographical region, and distillation process. When producing therapeutic oils it is critical to preserve as many of the chemical constituents as possible. Even though we can identify many compounds in the oils and replicate these in labs, we still do not comprehend the delicate structure available when all constituents are live and present. This makes it impossible to replicate fully in a lab the healing affects of essences that are produced by Mother Nature. When the oils we use in our physical, emotional, and spiritual healing are directly from Nature the balance and counterbalancing affects of the oil work holistically.
Purchasing Essential Oils
When you purchase essential oils, especially in the beginning, it is best to rely on reputable suppliers (see resources in this article). As you experiment and compare high-quality oils with other oils, you can learn to trust your nose with practice and as your awareness develops. Naturally extracted essential oils can successfully become a central part of your own preventative health program, lifestyle and treatment of health conditions.
Chemical compounds are made synthetically to create perfumes and other essences. Up until the 19th century perfumes were made entirely with essential oils. Modern perfumes on average are only 20% natural. The vast majority of oils are produced for the perfume industry. This industry is interested in the aromatic qualities of the oil, not the therapeutic qualities; therefore the extraction method employed includes the use of high pressure, high temperatures and chemical solvents to produce greater quantities of oil at a faster rate of production. In many cases the important chemical constituents that are necessary to have therapeutic benefits from the oil are destroyed with heat or have never been released during the distillation process.
According to studies done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, levels of toxic metals and pesticides can be found in the blood and urine of most Americans. People do not knowingly consume toxic substances. Harmful chemicals are found in a vast array of products other than synthetic oils including shampoos, soaps, shower products, toothpastes etc. Over a period of years of applying these products directly on your skin or in your mouth the buildup occurs in the system since the skin is a highly absorbent organ. Incorporating whole products in place of synthetic ones will stop the influx of further toxic buildup in the body.
Let’s use Lavender oil for an example. A key chemical constituent in Lavender oil is linalyl acetate. When lavender oil is cut with synthetic linalyl acetate, and a solvent like propylene glycol is added to increase the volume of the oil it stands to reason that the end user will not derive the same benefits from this lab product.
Individualize with Essentail Oil Blends
For additional assistance consult a Certified AromaTherapist to obtain a consultation on how essential oils can benefit your own physical and emotional healing. Synergist blends created with two or more oils can be custom made to enhance the affects of the oils in regard to the client’s individual needs.
Marguerite Maury, a Swiss Biochemist, stated, “To reach the individual we need an individual remedy. Each of us is a unique message. It is only the unique remedy which will suffice.”
RESOURCES: The Northwest College for Herbal & Aromatic Studies located in Marysville, WA provides education on using Essential Oils and certifications in Aromatherapy as well as essential oils to purchase. www.theida.com
Essential Aura Aromatherapy – www.essentialaura.com
Young Living Essential Oils – www.youngliving.com
Fragrant Earth – www.fragrant-earth.com
Original Swiss Aromatics – www.originalswissaromatics.com
Using Naturally Extracted Essential Oils
Natural oils (therapeutic grade) can be: inhaled; diffused, put into baths, bath scrubs, used with a compress, used in cleaning, laundry, as a deodorant, added to salves, mouthwashes, lotions, creams and gels. Most can be used directly on the skin (consult your Aromatherapist and/or do a skin test before application.) Add essential oils only to other natural products. A cold air diffuser sprays a fine mist of essential oils into the air where they can be suspended for hours, allowing the therapeutic properties to work. Essential oils can be used to support emotional well-being. Everything alive has an energy field and a frequency. The vibrational frequencies of essential oils fall into a wide range with Rose Oil at the highest end of that range.
Respiratory conditions are one of the most common complaints when visiting a doctor. Essential oils can be used to enhance respiratory function. Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Rosemary and T-tree are favorite oils for this purpose. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globules) is an evergreen tree native to Australia. The leaves and branches are used in the extraction process. Eucalyptus acts as an expectorant, so is helpful addition for healthy respiratory functioning. T-tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a shrub or small tree, and the leaves are used to distill the oil. This oil is an excellent antiseptic. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) oil is distilled from the leaves and flowering tops of the plant. Peppermint is stimulating, refreshing, and pain relieving. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an evergreen flowering shrub. The flowers and leaves are used to distill the oil. Rosemary is warming, stimulating, antiseptic, and a great support for peppermint and eucalyptus. Using these four oils singly or as a blend can assist the strengthening of the respiratory system.
Selective Applications for Eucalyptus, T-tree, Peppermint and Rosemary: Diffuse in the air, mix with massage oil and rub on the chest, use with a compress, make into a wintertime salve, inhale on a handkerchief or rub directly on the bottom of your feet.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) distilled from the flowering tops is one of the most versatile oils. Highly useful for use in creating healthy skin, i.e. cuts, burns and scrapes. This oil can relieve stress creating relaxation and the sense of calmness.
Selective Applications for Lavender:
Rub on bottom of feet for a calming effect on the body
Rub a drop in your palms, inhale deeply, and then smooth on your pillow to help sleep
Put a drop on a bee sting or insect bite to stop itching
Put 2-3 drops on a minor burn to decrease pain
Spritz several drops mixed with distilled water on sunburn
Lemon (Citrus limon) is expressed from the peel. The oil has anti-septic like qualities and has been studied for its effects on the immune function. It promotes clarity of thought, and is invigorating. Lemon oil is anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and antiviral.
Selective Applications of Lemon Essential Oil:
Place a drop or two into drinking water to improve quality and give great taste
Add a drop of lemon oil to your dishwasher before the wash cycle.
Use a paper towel soaked with several drops of lemon to sanitize bathroom fixtures.
Rub several drops of lemon oil on cellulite to improve circulation and help eliminate waste from the cells.
Add 2-3 drops lemon to water and spray counter tops to sterilize them or use singly or combine with other citrus oils for a refreshing room freshener spray. Excellent for diffusing
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates) is distilled from the grass of this plant. This oil is cleansing, astringent, skin irritant, and clears the air of odor.
Selective Applications for Lemongrass: Excellent household cleaner. Add to castile soap to clean wood floors, bathrooms, dishes and counters – use rubber glov
Aromatic Bath with Epsom salts: Epsom/sea salts aid and support the body in detoxing. They aid in elimination of waste material from the skin, reduce muscular aches and pains, and enhance the bodies’ immune response by stimulating lymph and blood circulation. Use 5-8 drops of essential oil per cup of Epsom salts.
Stress Buster Diffuser Blend from Roberta Wilson’s book, Aromatherapy – Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty.
10 drops Clary Sage oil 10 drops Geranium oil 10 drops Sruce oil 8 drops Bergamot oil 8 drops Elemi oil 6 drops Rosewood oil 3 drops Coriander oil Add to diffuser as needed
Bibliography: 1) Shutes, Jade, Enhancing Your Understanding and Expanding Your Applications of Aromatic Medicine. Marysville: The Northwest College for Herbal & Aromatic Studies, 2005 2) Compiled by Essential Science Publishing, Essential Oils Desk Reference, second edition. United States: Essential Science Publishing, 2002 3) Wilson Roberta, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty. New York: Avery a member of Penguin Putman Inc., 2002. 4) Stewart, David Ph.D, Healing Oils of the Bible. Missouri: David Stewart – Care Inc., 2002.