Sunday, 25 September 2011

Essential (Aromatic) Oils


It is believed that the ancient Egyptians were the first to discover the theraputic use of plants and their oils. Romans and Greeks were also aware of this science. Pure essential oils extracted by steam distillation, etc. were used in medicine between the 17th and late 19th century. Later their uses were confined to perfumes.

The medicinal properties of essential oils was rediscovered in the 1920s, when a French chemist, Dr. Maurice Gattefosse, burned his hand and successfully treated it with the essential oil of Lavender. 

Aromatherapy Essential Oils are highly concentrated, pure, extracts of plants and plant material like leaves, twigs, berries, bark, wood, root, flowers, and the peel of citrus fruits.

They are highly volatile and readily evaporate into the air. Theraputic pols have many beneficial properties and can affect the body through inhalation and through the skin. It is found that certain scents stimulate the senses and thus the brain, triggering healing. Essential oils not only affect a person psychologically, but also physiologically. 

Essential oils have the power to calm, stimulate, help balance the hormones, improve digestion, energy levels, immunity and can even prevent and combat infection and kill bacteria. They have proven useful in healing muscle aches and pains and even flu. 

Essential oils belong to different families and have different uses based on the properties of their plants. By knowing the plant family to which the oil belongs, we can better understand its nature, properties and effects as the oil properties will follow the common properties representative of their plant family.

The families of essential oils are:

·       Burseraceae (Resin Family).
·       Compositae (Sunflower Family)
·       Pinaceae (Pine Family)
·       Gramineae or Poaceae (Grass Family)
·       Lamiaceae or Labiatae (Mint Family)
·       Lauraceae (Laurel Family)

Aromatherapy can be applied in many creative ways to heal others and yourself. You can use some of the oils in a bath, scrub, inhalation, on pillow or clothes and can even be applied on to the skin. The best way to enhance any treatment like a massage or reflexology is to add aromatherapy to it. 

In aromatherapy massage, essential oils are mixed with a carrier oil like sweet almond, apricot kernel or grapeseed oil. The combination and concentration of the oils depends on the requirement for the client and the properties of the oils. 

Some of the essential oils used regularly are Peppermint, Blood Orange, Lavender, Champaka, Rose, Chamomile, Geranium, Rosemary, Coffee, Apple, Bergamont, Frankincense, Myrrh, Eucalyptus, Jasmine, Sandalwood, etc.

Inspite of the amazing uses of essential oils, they can prove to be counter productive if used in the wrong way by an untrained therapist. It is very important to know the properties, nature and exact uses of essential oils before trying them out. So if you wish to add an essential oil or combination of oils to your treatment, make sure you know what you are doing. For your benefit, we will talk about the uses and individual properties of each oil in future posts.

Hope you will enjoy reading them. 

Happy Healing!

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