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Friday, April 10, 2009

Joining the Medical Aromatherapy Explosion

As consumers, we are truly embracing the natural health movement. We've taken a good hard look at our medical system, and realize there must be something better -- and it turns out that Nature has been offering it this entire time in the myriad forms of plant medicine. Using plants and herbs for healing has been happening the whole during the whole of human civilization. Researchers have now even discovered animals in the wild eating particular plants to cure their ills. We are now seeing an explosion of interest in "aroma medicine", the use of pure and natural essential oils as powerful healing tools. And these tools are readily available to you and your family to improve your health and wellbeing.

The body of scientific research regarding the healing actions of essential oils has grown vastly over the last 20 years. A search on Pub Med, an on-line database of the US National Library of Medicine, for "essential oil" returns 8808 results as of April 10th, 2009. The very first listing describes the anti-dementia (Alzheimer's) effects of Lemon essential oil! The diversity of actual medical applications of essential oils is truly incredible -- more diverse than just the plants themselves, as many essential oils have multiple applications. The inhalation of lemon has been shown to improve mood, improve mental accuracy and even act as an antimicrobial, perfect for general household cleaning.

A few other very notable scientific results: Clove essential oil has the highest ORAC value (an assay of anti-oxidant activity) of any plant material ever tested, with a figure of over 100,000 -- most "superfoods" are in the 5,000 to 20,000 range. Many, many studies have confirmed the stress-reducing effects of essential oils: Lavender repeatedly shows a calming effect, it helps folks sleep as well as the most prevalent prescription sedative drugs, and actually lessens animal aggression. In case you don't care for Lavender, Sandalwood has these same effects with a more earthy aroma. The simple inhalation -- what many of us might really think of when we hear the term "aromatherapy" -- of Lavender and Rosemary essential oils results in lower Cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increased quenching of oxidative radicals by our own body's defense systems. The complimentary effects are amazing: just the scent of these natural aromatics reduce physical markers of stress AND increase the action of the body's anti-aging protection mechanism.

Perhaps the most important effects of all are those seen in the treatment of serious illnesses. Many modern medical aromatherapists believe the greatest promise of essential oils still lay in the development of protocols for treatment of infectious disease. The MRSA "superbug", referring to one of several strains of Staphylococcus bacteria that are resistant to the powerful antibiotic drug Methicillin, has become an overwhelming problem in the world's hospitals. Folks go in for care of one condition, and while their immune defenses are low, they come down with an infection that's very hard to cure (because man-made antibiotics don't work). Enter essential oils: Pub Med is filled with studies showing the efficacy of essential oils like Tea Tree and Geranium against MRSA (particularly when combined with another potent natural antibacterial, Grapefruit Seed Extract).

Future medical applications even include treatment of Cancer, the most feared disease of all. Natural medicine doctors have been admonished for years by proclaiming that "nature has a cure", yet the body of evidence continues to grow with the many studies showing the anti-tumorial action of oils like Frankincense and Lemongrass. These plants have been used for centuries for healing -- now, the essential oils offer us very concentrated medicine that happens to be very compatible with our physiology. Essential oils easily penetrate our cell membranes, travel safely through our bloodstreams, and can play a dual role of eradicating tumors while enhancing the ability of our immune system to do its job (other studies are showing essential oils actually "tune" the electrical state of our white blood cells such that they do a better job of removing unwanted microbes from our bodies).

It's important to note that essential oils don't just effect serious medical conditions -- they have a place in our everyday lives, too. Tea Tree essential oil is a wonderful, effective antibiotic, especially useful when combined with soothing Lavender for childhood cuts and scrapes (if you're tough, just use the Tea Tree to prevent infections). Essential oils have been shown to reduce bacteria in the mouth which reduce tooth decay. Helichrysum essential oil is one of the most profound pain relievers and inflammation-reducers for muscular injuries, and makes small kitchen burns heal almost instantly (just a drop on that little hot spot and you'll be quickly convinced!). Sea Buckthorn heals wounds and reduces wrinkles. Chamomile or Mandarin have been used for years in Europe to soothe the traumas of childhood, and lend a hand to parental sanity. The scent of many pure essential oils just makes folks happier (and it's important to note this same results do not occur with "fragrances", a term for man-made smells -- they do not have the same make-up as natural plant aromatics do -- and in fact, many people are allergic to them).

So how do you get started? Which are the best oils for you and your family? There are a great many books on the subject, and you can find a general theme to get yourself started: Medical Aromatherapy and Advanced Aromatherapy are titles by Doctor Kurt Schnaubelt, many books by Valerie Worwood help you enrich your life and the lives of your children with essential oils. There's books for blending for skin care, hair care, pet care, home care, emotional healing and more. Further, if you or someone you know is truly ill, seek out a skilled, knowledgeable practitioner that can help you develop an aroma-therapy protocol (which, with all of natural medicine, will work in combination with diet and lifestyle changes to bring about optimum health and wellness). Someone with many years of experience with essential oils will be your best ally in making your world a better place with the brilliant healing powers of essential oils -- at the same time, getting started is fun and easy just by picking a few oils that sound right for you, and introducing them into your life just as you need them.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

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