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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

About Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Aromatherapy makes use of Essential oils. This 3-Part article will provide some detailed insight into the use of Essential oils in Aromatherapy.

We will look at:
a) Where Essential oils come from,
b) The way Essential oils effect the mind and emotions, and
c) The way Essential oils effect the etheric body or the physcho-spiritual level

a) WHERE DO ESSENTIAL OILS COME FROM ? - Essential Oils ? Part 1

The odoriferous substances (Essential oils) themselves are formed in the chloroplasts of the leaves where they combine with glucose to form glucides and are then circulated around the plant in this form. At certain times of the day or year they are stored in particular parts of the plant.

In some plants, the essential oils are produced by the secretory tissues, and in others they are combined with glycosides, and are therefore not detectable until the plant is dried or crushed, e.g.: Valerian

Essential oils are considered to be an important part of the plant's metabolism: some have hormonal activity and others are a stage in some other process, e.g.: the oil found in the rind of the orange is a stage in Vitamin A synthesis.

Essential oils can be found in almost any part of the plant, in differing concentrations, depending on the plant itself, the time of day and year. They may be found in the roots (e.g.: Calamus and Valerian), flowers (e.g. Lavender, Rose,), bark (e.g. Sandalwood, Cedarwood), fruits (e.g.: Lemon, Cardamom, Orange), berries (e.g. Juniper), leaves (e.g. Thyme, Rosemary, Sage).

Plants which contain essences must be picked at the correct time of day and in the correct season, and in particular weather conditions in order that a maximum yield of the essential oils can be obtained, and of course, as with all medicinal or nutritional plants, soil conditions, and climatic conditions will also dictate the quality of the oils obtained.

Heavy, concentrated oils are called ABSOLUTES (ed. absolutes are actually solvent extracted oils, rather than steam distilled - though they are typically extracted with ethanol, the same alchohol in wine - which is evaporated off at the end of the process.) e.g.: Rose, Jasmine, Oils which are solid at room temperature and which must be warmed before use are called BALSAMS, e.g.: Benzoin and Camphor.

HOW DO ESSENTIAL OILS WORK?

Essential oils are known to have an effect on us in three different, but overlapping, ways.

a) On the physical body, both locally and systemically, via the lymphatic and blood circulation.
b) On the mind and emotions via the Sense of Smell and the Limbic System.
c) On the ?Etheric Energy System? of the body via the energy vibration of the individual oils themselves.

The Way Essential Oils Effect the Physical Body
When Essential oils are applied to the surface of the body, either via Massage, Baths, Compresses, Creams or Lotions, they will have an effect locally (i.e. the site at which they are applied), and Systemically (i.e. throughout the body). The Systemic effect occurs when essential oils are absorbed through the skin into the Lymphatic Circulation, and they are then dumped from the Lymphatic circulation into the blood stream.

Once the oils are circulating in the blood, they are carried to their TARGET ORGAN/S, where they exert a therapeutic effect on the specific tissues. Every Essential oil has its own Target Organ, e.g. Juniper oil targets the urinary tract and kidneys in particular, with secondary effects on the Digestive, Respiratory and Reproductive Systems. Chamomile Oil targets the Nervous System via which it can then exert a broad effect on many other body Systems, like the Digestive Tract for example.

Even when Essential oils are inhaled only, say in the form of a steam inhalation for a cold or as a fumigator for a background ?psychological? effect, the oils will be absorbed across the mucous membranes of the Respiratory Tract and lungs into the blood stream, where once again, they can travel around the body very rapidly.

If Essential Oils are taken orally, their absorption through the Mucosa of the stomach and into the blood is very rapid. Very few essential oils are actually ?digested?, which is fortunate as their Therapeutic principles may well be altered if this were the case.

The reason why Essential Oils behave in this manner in the body is because the molecules of which they are composed are organic molecules and very small indeed. Below are some of the more common Therapeutic Properties which can be obtained by using Essential Oils.

SOME THERAPEUTIC PROPERTIES OF ESSENTIAL OILS

1. ANTISEPTIC
All essential oils are to a greater or lesser extent ANTISEPTIC. This is one of their most important and valuable properties. This broad description of ANTISEPSIS includes anti viral, antifungal, anti-bacterial and general anti-microbial activity which is found in such oils as: Lemon, Thyme, Tea Tree, Garlic, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Pine, Lavender and Sandalwood.

2. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Oils with this property help to ease inflammation. The symptoms of inflammation are typified by pain, redness, swelling, and partial or total loss of function of the tissue involved. Examples of oils with this property are Chamomile, Rose, Lavender, Sandalwood, Myrrh and Benzoin.

3. CYTOPHYLACTIC
Restoration of tissue function and regeneration of cells is another outstanding property of essential oils. Oils such as Pine, Basil and Rosemary are known to restore function to the adrenal glands, Jasmine, Cypress, and Ylang Ylang restore function of reproductive endocrine glands, lavender and chamomile stimulate cell regeneration in the skin. (ed. Black Spruce is also highly regarded for adrenal gland restoration.)

4. SEDATIVE
Essential oils may also have a pronounced effect on the nervous system by producing relaxation, pain relief and relieving muscle spasm. Oils with these properties include Lavender, Neroli, Rose, Geranium and Ylang Ylang.

However, the most outstanding property possessed by essential oils is their antiseptic/antigenetic properly.

This is well documented in Dr Jean Valnet's book, "The Practice of Aromatherapy" and he discusses at length the effects of specific oils in relation to the control of extremely virulent microbes like Meningitis bacteria, Golden Staphylococcus bacteria and typhoid bacteria.

In your Reading for Week One, in the Chapter entitled "The Healing Power of Plants", from Valnet's book, there are extensive references to the many ways in which essential oils can affect the physical body.

It is critical to your full understanding and appreciation of Essential Oil Therapy that you appreciate the ways in which essential oils can have both a healing and preventive role in diseases involving invasion of the body by microbes.

About the Author

Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Guidelines for the Beginning Aromatherapist

Guidelines that Aromatherapy enthusiasts ought to know

Combined with the mode on new age events on the rise, interests in aromatherapy are building up once again. Judging from the spa houses and massage parlors that have been heard opening up in most every street corner, the utilization of plant extracts especially oil and scents for relaxation is speedily swelling a huge fan base.

But before you plunge into aromatherapy, ensure that you know some necessary points about it. Below are only a few of the conditions that you should take into heart.

Perfume oils are not the same as essential oils


For persons who are just now buying these oils for the first time, ensure that what you are purchasing is the only oil you basically need. What makes a critical oil different from a perfume oil is the fact that it has therapeutic help and not just aromatic ones. This signals that an essential oil will not only serve as fragrance in your household, it can as well relax you and release unwanted energies.

Read about it

It is not enough that you ask for people that are providing the oils. You'll never actually know if what they are telling you are truths that can assist you with your self-therapy. (Note that Ananda Apothecary has strict quality controls, and that all our oils of the finest therapeutic quality). The even better channel to know about aromatherapy is to read over books and also articles in regards to the topic. This way, you are being given an objective view regarding it plus selected of the stock that you'll be attaining. In deciding on a service or a product it is also an excellent idea to check for people with the best reviews from newspapers and also magazines.

A new topic that you should read about is the safety of therapy. In essence, it is an essential reading before you start on the therapy. There are also websites that are committed solely to the technique of aromatherapy.

Choose your store

While recent stores might additionally provide worthy products, if you are not on the ball with aromatherapy as of yet, it is good to stay with the brands that are presently proven. Remember that aromatherapy has safety issues that you must also take heed. After that, only if you recognize enough about the business as well as the items, you can switch to decreased established ones yet with decent reviews.

Learn comparison

Teach yourself the art of shopping around oils in conjunction with scents. It is good to find out what scent goes to what central oils. You may also find out to compare scents. It in addition helps if you are conversant with certain of the most ordinary essential oils in the sector. That way, it could be simpler for you to attain what you would like.

Visit Health Monthly to learn how to enjoy aromatherapy and better your life with the Aromatherapy Information Guide

Aromatherapy Basics - What Are Essential Oils?

As the interest in aromatherapy grows for those interested in alternative health, wellness, and fitness, many folks ask "what are essential oils" and "how do they differ from other oils like olive oil, coconut and the like"? This brief primer should help clarify the matter, and get you started in the wonderful world of aromatherapy. Essential oils are concentrated volatile aromatic compounds produced by plants - these are the easily evaporated essences that give plants their wonderful scents, more akin to an alcohol than what we commonly think of as an oil . Each of these complex precious liquids is extracted from a particular plant species. Each plant species originates in certain regions of the world, with particular environmental conditions and neighboring fauna and flora. The result is a very diverse library of aromatic compounds, with some essential oils being made up of more than one hundred distinct organic chemicals.

Pure essential oils are distilled from oil sacs found in most structures of plants - the leaves, roots, flowers and more. Almost all essential oils are made up of several, sometimes hundreds of various molecular compounds. The combination and ratios of these compounds give each oil it's particular aromatic and medicinal properties. Essential oils are not just a by-product of plant growth; plants use these oils in a manner similar to those prescribed in medical aromatherapy: to fight infections from microbes, fungi and viruses; to protect themselves from animal invaders; and some suspect they may be used for chemical communication between plants of the same species. While essential oils come from the plant world, they are particularly suited to use in natural health, wellness and fitness programs as their chemistry is remarkably compatible with our own; they are easily absorbed into our bodies, even at the cellular level.

Producing essential oils of the highest grades is truly an art form. It takes a delicate balance of time, temperature and pressure during the distillation process to ensure the most complete range of molecular components is extracted. The finer oils will have the most wonderful aromatic bouquets for this reason - they contain a breadth of compounds when inhaled together give an oil a brilliant aroma. Relatively few essential oils are produced in this manner - many are destined for large manufacturing processes, and will not have the same aromas and therapeutic effects of the highest grade oils.

Medicinal and spiritual use of essential oils dates back thousands of years. Oils were used by the ancient Egyptians along with many other ancient cultures. Hundreds of references to their healing properties in the Christian Bible, along with anointing for spiritual growth and insight. Frankincense resin continues to be used in the Catholic church today during mass as a purifying and uplifting aromatic incense - a similar application of essential oils can be the anointing of the third eye or temples with Frankincense, Myrrh, Cedarwood, Sandalwood or a combination of these mind-centering aromatics.

Modern use of essential oils in natural health, wellness and fitness programs began with the discovery of Lavender's healing properties by a French scientist in the middle of the last century. Lavender was found to have effective healing properties for skin wounds, strong anti-inflammatory properties, and wonderful calming effects when inhaled. Further research has confirmed superior efficacy of essential oils for a broad range of physiological conditions.

The most promising use of essential oils is in the treatment of infectious illness. Most essential oils display antibacterial effects, some also with strong antiviral properties as well. They can be used to fight infectious illness, or support the immune system to prevent the onset of illness in the first place. It does take a qualified practitioner, or a significantly strong knowledge to choose the right oil for each condition, however. Some oils are particularly effective in treating certain illnesses and not others; these 'other' illnesses will have their own best essential oil (or combination of) for treatment.

Beyond infectious illness, certain essential oils have strong anti-inflammatory properties, other oils can stimulate the regeneration of tissues, others can help cleanse and purify the body, and still others can reduce muscular and joint pain while increasing circulation. As you can see, essential oils can play a significant role an any natural health program - the important part is proper education of the user.

The three primary modes of using essential oils are the following: Topical application (most often diluted in a carrier oil such as Almond oil, Hazelnut, Olive or other 'fatty acid') most often for muscular aches and pains and support for skin conditions and rejuvenation.

Inhalation is commonly used for the psychological effects of oils - the olfactory sense organs being directly tied to the brain's emotional centers. Inhalation is also successfully employed for sinus and bronchial congestion along with other breathing ailments. In certain cases, ingestion is prescribed - capsules of peppermint essential oil have been shown effective in scientific studies on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, a debilitating condition thought to be the result of rampant bacterial grown in the intestines. The list of the proven efficacy of essential oils continues to grow. There are many good texts available to education yourself, and a growing number of professional practitioners in the field. If you'd like to incorporate essential oils in your own health program, a little research surrounding your own needs will lead you in the right direction. Essential oils are powerful medicine - be safe, understand what you're doing, and you'll likely find aromatherapy can support your own personal needs in a fun and pleasantly aromatic way.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Advancing Aromatherapy - Medicinal Use of Essential Oils

What, really, is Aromatherapy? In the United States, common use of the term 'Aromatherapy' is a bit misleading. The practice has been given a 'touchy-feely', 'soft-science' status to the general public through mainstream media. In much of the rest of the world, however, the therapeuatic use of aromatic essential oils has a more elevated, scientifically-backed status. In France, for example, one can only purchase essential oils through a licenced Aromatherapist; this is due to the well-known, powerful interaction of essential oils and the human physiology.

At it's heart, Aromatherapy encompasses the entire branch of botanical medicine using volatile aromatic plant compounds for treatment of various medical conditions. The term was coined by a French scientist after his discovery of Lavender oil's healing effects on burns he had sustained in the laboratory. The practice of 'aroma' therapy - or the inhalation of essential oils to make one 'feel good' - is more a delightful side-note than the primary healing benefit essential oils can provide. Many important actions of essential oils don't even have to do with one's sense of smell. Beyond acting on the psyche through the limbic system (the 'emotional' center of the brain, immediately affected by the smell sense), many essential oils have proven antibiotic, antiviral, antispasmodic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, tissue-regenerative and other actions.

Effects of essential oils on the psyche, along with some biologic effects through the olfactory system, are an important aspect of their use; this should certainly not be discounted relative to the direct effects on the physiology. Many scientifically designed studies have confirmed the effects of aromatic oils on the mind and emotions. Your smell sense is the only one of the five senses directly connected to the brain - all other senses are routed first through the thalamus, then directed to the cerebral cortex and other brain regions. Each 'scent-sensing' cell is a sort of chemical receiver - every receptor in the nose reacts to some scents and not others. Each of these scent-cells is directly linked to the brain by one nerve fiber. It is difficult to sense an aroma and 'think' about it before having a response - the signal does not travel first to the thought centers. Because each sensing cell is in direct contact with the chemical being sensed, and the cell is in directly wired to the brain, the nervous system's response to smell is quick and powerful.

The olfactory sense is closely tied to the limbic system, which is the center of emotions, plays a significant part in the formation of memories, and affects our sexual responses. The olfactory region also connects to the hypothalamus, which in-turn controls the entire hormonal system through it's influence of the pituitary gland. One can easily imagine an olfactory sense receptor being stimulated by the mist of an essential oil resulting in downstream stimulation of the brain in a certain way - stimulating, sedating, relaxing, or otherwise - depending on the molecular form of the oil.

The beneficial effects of essential oils reach far beyond that of the olfactory sense and limbic system - bringing into view the true potential of Aromatherapy. The most promising use of oils is in the treatment of infectious illness, notes Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, America's leading medical aromatherapist. Modern medicine is falling short in this area; overuse of antibiotics has lead to chemically-resistant 'super bugs', and a series of antibiotics tends to throw the delicate symbiotic natural balance of microorganisms in the human digestive system out-of-whack for some time. Oregano and Cinnamon oils are some of the most broad-spectrum antibacterial known - and while their use demands practical knowledge due to their powerful nature, they do not seem to create resistant bacterial strains or upset our own system's balance. Other oils (which are generally less sensitizing) work very well on some strains of bacteria and not as well on others - here, the practitioner's ability to match the proper oil with the patient's symptoms plays a critical role in the therapy's efficacy, as with any medical treatment.

As the acceptance of healing with natural means continues to grow in the US, the concept of aromatherapy for many individuals will expand to include these important and exciting facets. More certified practitioners will be available to utilize essential oils to their true potential, and more 'end users' will aquire the knowledge to heal themselves with these incredible gifts from nature. Or should we simply push to change the name? Phytomedicinal Oil Therapy? It does have a ring to it.


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