Reaching for Essential Oil as Medicine
by Brenda Reynolds, MA Science Education, for The Ananda Apothecary
Scientists Turning to Aromatherapy
In the last few years there has been more attention focused on the consequences of using antibiotics and commercially produced antibacterial products. Reports of compromised immune systems and increased incidences of drug-resistant bacteria, fungi and viruses are well documented. Medical researchers are now searching worldwide for medicinal plants that have antimicrobial properties. The University of Heidelberg's Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology reported increased scientific interest in the effects of aromatic medicinal plants against illness-causing organisms. Although aromatic plants have been used for centuries for healing and vitality, it is good to know that conventional scientists are now discovering such knowledge in a conventional setting.
Self-care through Aromatherapy
People across the country are seeking methods of supportive care that maintain or restore wellness without side effects. The variety of alternative approaches to medical care is numerous. Aromatherapy, which is considered a form of alternative medicine using potent essential oils, has many dynamic healing properties. Essential oils (whether as a blend or solitary) can be used daily depending on the oil, and stored safely in one?s medicine cabinet.
Aromatherapy is known to work best for infections, aiding the nervous system and psychological and hormonal imbalances; it is fair for autoimmune diseases (the body attacking its own cells and tissues). One of the most noted successes in essential oils in the use for viral treatments and have emerged in science literature at being more effective than conventional antiviral drugs. An additional accolade for aromatherapy is that it is fairly simple to use, thus making it an ideal wellness method for those seeking to adopt alternative forms of medicine. Many types of alternative medicine require application from expert practitioners, aromatherapy allows for novice, at-home users. With some research, one can learn proper uses of essential oils and experience a sense of connection to self-care. However, one must recognize that some essential oils are safe and can be used with liberal application, while others require specific know how. As with any new practice, start simple and add with experience.
Stocking Your Medicine Cabinet
Below is provided some selected aromatherapy recipes from Valerie Ann Worwood?s book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. These recipes can be used for common ailments found in the cooler months. In order to receive the most potency from the essential oils, it is imperative to use pure oils. Reconstituted oils have some components of pure essential oils, but they lack the same integrity and may even cause unwanted side effects due to other included chemically processed ingredients.
For the Flu
There are quite a number of ways for using aromatherapy in treating the flu- from direct application (self-massage) to inhalation and even suppositories. Here we include a recipe for self-massage (the heat from rubbing your hands over your skin helps the oils penetrate the skin) as well as inhalation though means of a bath. (If you chose to use a bath method to dispense your essential oils, run the bath first and then add the essential oil(s). Close the bathroom door so vapors stay in the room and soak for at least 10 minutes relaxing and breathing deeply.) Directions: massage your body with a creation of 2 drops of tea tree oil and 3 drops of eucalyptus diluted in suitable carrier oil (such as coconut or apricot kernel oil). To use in a warm bath, add 5 drops of tea tree, 2 drops of lavender and 2 drops of thyme. Once vaporized, inhale deeply.
For the Common Cold
As with the flu, one can use suitable essential oils in a bath as well as with self-massage. In a hot bath place thyme (2 drops), tea tree (2 drops), eucalyptus (1 drop), lemon (3 drops) and inhale deeply. Massage a blend of lemon (1 drop), eucalyptus (2 drops) and rosemary (3 drops) in a carrier oil around the chest, neck, and sinus area (forehead, nose and cheekbones).
A combination of rosemary (3 drops), thyme (1 drop) and peppermint (1 drop) used in steam inhalation (a method of vaporizing the essential oil to then be inhaled) is effective for sinusitis. The technique for steam inhalation is to pour hot water into a non-plastic bowl, add oil and cover your head with a towel, lean over the bowl with your face about 10 inches away and keep your eyes closed. One may also combine rosemary (5 drops), geranium (5 drops), eucalyptus (2 drops) and peppermint (3 drops) for steam inhalation. For self-massage, add 5 drops of the blend in carrier oil and massage around the neck, ears, cheekbone, nose and forehead.
For Sore Throats
Create a combination of lavender (10 drops), tea tree (15 drops), lemon (2 drops), and ginger (5 drops) in a brown or blue glass bottle. Use 4 drops of the blended oil (or singling) on a warm compress twice a day over the throat. One may also use 5 drops mixed in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil and rub into the upper abdomen and back.
Holiday parties, appointments and plans can often create anxiety and a distressed mind leading to insomnia. To remedy such a challenge, make a blend of clary-sage(3 drops), vetiver (2 drops), valerian (1 drop) and lavender (2 drops). Add 3 drops of the blend in a bath or 2 drops in carrier oil and rub over the body.
It is worth noting that change is taking place in our culture when it comes to health and wellness practices. University medical researchers as well as individuals and families are seeking solutions to a growing concern about resistant pathogens due to overuse of antimicrobial drugs and chemically derived anti-bacterial products. Science literature pointing to the valuable medicinal properties of essential oils is growing; the antimicrobial benefits of aromatherapy are gaining attention and being used by those new to alternative medicine and those seeking additional resources to health and wellness.
It must be emphasized that all oils purchased need to be well researched as to their quality. A majority of oils found in grocery stores and even health food stores are altered or reconstituted (combining isolates of an essential oil(s) with semi-synthetics and fragrance with the intention to match traits of pure essential oils). These altered oils are less active and more apt to causing allergies, irritations and even unwanted side effects rendering them unsatisfactory for their intended purpose. Pure essential oils are extracted from aromatic plants that are designed to heal not to harm. The use of essential oils is designed to promote healing and rejuvenation as well as recapture one?s sense of connection to earth.