Introduction To Aromatherapy
Essential Oil therapy or Aromatherapy as it is commonly called, is an amazing holistic healing modality. It goes way beyond scented candles and bubble bath. For those of us who know the incredible healing value of essential oils, we are dismayed by the way the word, Aromatherapy, referring to the scent only, has been horribly commercialized in the United States. However, the truth is this therapy works holistically.
- On a physical, cellular level such as using strong, anti-bacterial oils, like Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) against an infection of the MRSA (staphylococcus aureus) bacteria.
- It works on the emotional level such as Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Bergamot (Citrus x bergamia) to reduce stress, tension, and depression.
- It acts on the mind level to increase mental energy such as Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Peppermint (Mentha piperita).
- It affects the spiritual level such as applying Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) to bring calm and higher awareness.
It is a healing modality of great therapeutic worth, plus its fragrances are delicious. It is a healing modality that the world needs now to reduce the use of pharmaceutical drugs and their side effects. Essential oils are preventative medicine and immediate first aid treatments. They bring people into balance.
What is an Essential Oil?
It is a mysterious substance, an elixir somewhere between a liquid and a gas and somewhere between oil and water. We will briefly discuss the characteristics of these molecules of light, which are created in the plant’s living chemistry, resulting from the photosynthesis process.
The oils are quite chemically complex, 50 to 300 chemical constituents per oil out of about 5000 known chemical constituents. Two examples are Orange (Citrus x sinensis), which has closer to 50 chemicals, and Frankincense (Boswellia carteri), which has 200, is complicated in its chemistry and its effects on people.
Most all aromatherapy essential oils are only partially soluble in water (ketones and oils rich in oxygenated molecules increase their water solubility). They are mostly lighter than water. They float on top of the hydrosol (water with ½ % oil) in the distillation process. They float on top of your bathwater.
They are non-oily. If you put a drop of pure aromatherapy essential oil (not diluted in a carrier oil) on a piece of paper, in about an hour or more, it will have evaporated without a trace.
They are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to fatty substances. That is why they mix so well with vegetable oils like olive oil, apricot oil, and almond oil. They are also attracted to people’s fatty tissue.
They also mix well with alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is practical to clean diffusers, bottles, and dishes with remains of aromatherapy essential oil stuck to them.
If you leave a bottle of large amounts of monoterpene oil uncapped for a week or so, you will see that it will be empty. Most oils (like citrus) will return to a gaseous state, if left uncapped.
All aromatherapy oils are anti-bacterial. Some are also anti-viral and anti-fungal. They protect the plant of origin against microbial attacks as well as the human who uses them for healing.
They are powerful! The large amount of plant material needed to produce oil makes the oil contain concentrated power. Less is more. Only a few drops in a bath or in a lotion is quite effective.
Oils created from plants grown in fertile soil, with proper water, light, and use of organic fertilizers, at the right altitude and harvested at the proper time of year make the foundation for magnificent aromatherapy! Then the distiller needs to distill at lower than usual temperatures, low pressure over a longer period of time to manifest the liquid masterpiece.