Technically, essential oils are not oils at all but are highly concentrated aromatic plant components derived from flowers, leaves, seeds, stems, roots or bark that have mental, physical, spiritual and emotional therapeutic benefits. These essences give plants and flowers their distinctive, oftentimes powerful fragrances, aiding pollination while also functioning as a repellent, allowing a living plant to grow and thrive. Many consider essential oils precious and potent gifts from nature; they have been in use for thousands of years in food preparation, beauty treatments and physical wellness. In fact, if we were able to take a peek into the ancient Egyptians’ medicine chests dating back to 4,500 B.C., we would likely find myrrh, cinnamon, frankincense, cedarwood and other highly valuable aromatics used for healing negative energy and releasing emotional trauma.
From ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, we know that priests and alchemists used essential oils to heal the sick, for religious ceremonies, cleansing spiritual rituals, and the embalming process. Hippocrates, was said to have utilized aromatherapy to enhance massage techniques, and theorized that the body possessed inherent natural healing powers, which he suggested should be nurtured. He believed physicians were guardians of this healing power, charged with keeping the body healthy and strong. China and India extensively embraced essential oils for use in herbal remedies in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. Essential oil references appear in both Christian and Jewish religious texts as holy anointing oils used in healing rituals; they were also purported to have been burned to fight sickness and plague.
Avicenna, a first century Persian philosopher, scientist and author of one of the most famous medical books, The Canon of Medicine, is credited with perfecting the distillation process for extracting essential oils. From ancient Greece, to the fall of the Roman empire, to the Renaissance, to the 1700’s, essential oils remained highly prized, precious aromatics. Research suggests that ancient peoples had a great understanding of the intrinsic medicinal and healing properties of essential oils. In the more modern era, as new medical philosophies and techniques emerged, the knowledge of the powerful protective properties of certain oils were forgotten or cast aside.
In the United States, Dr. Benjamin Rush, who served as Surgeon General in the Continental Army, along with Benjamin Franklin, established our first hospital in Pennsylvania in 1751. The two men differed in their approach to developing a national medical system. While Franklin agreed with Hippocrates, Rush was of the philosophy that “physicians were the masters of nature and that as opposed to allowing nature to follow its natural healing course, the business of healing should be taken out of her hands.” Until Benjamin Franklin passed in 1790, he continued to subscribe to his personal philosophy of healthy living, that included moderate diet, exercise, and self-control in all things, writing in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “Time is an herb that cures all diseases.”
The Pharmacopoeia of 1820 consisted mainly of herbal medicines. Today, you won’t find herbals, but will find that approximately 40% of pharmaceutical medicines are either a derivative of, or synthetically derived from herbs. During WWI, physicians began to rediscover the antibacterial and wound healing properties of essential oils. When the supply of antibiotics ran short during WW2, essential oils were shown to have a powerful healing effect on battlefield injuries. Today, the various medical properties of over 270 varieties of aromatic compounds have been identified. While Ayurvedic and Eastern medical practitioners have long touted the benefits of holistic and natural remedies, many people are adhering to healthy lifestyles and exploring the benefits of essential oils today.
Essential oils may be applied topically or inhaled using a diffuser. Three to five drops of highly concentrated oil may be diluted with one teaspoon of a carrier oil such as coconut, sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil and applied directly to and absorbed through the skin. Try placing the oil on the wrists, behind the ears or on the temples. Because essential oils are composed of very small molecules, the compounds can pass through the skin and into the circulatory system. Carefully inhaled oils allow oil molecules to enter the bloodstream though the lungs. To get the benefits of absorbing the oils through the skin, while also enjoying the therapeutic scent of the oils, some prefer to add 10 – 15 drops of oil mixed with ½ cup of Epsom salt to bath water. Try soothing oils such as lavender or eucalyptus.
Generally, when applying topically, a drop or two will not only suffice, but will provide the maximum benefit whether you are seeking spiritual or emotional wellbeing or total mind/body wellness. As essential oils are very powerful, it is recommended that they not be used excessively. It’s important to note that not all oils are food grade. Although some recommend that one drop of oil may be taken internally, it is suggested this usage only be undertaken with the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and many more essential single oils and blends. Suggestions for your home care essential oil kit include:
Lavender Oil by Now Foods– Save 30% This lovely scented calming oil is known for its stress relieving and relaxing effects. It may be applied topically to accelerate the healing of bruises, cuts or skin irritations. 100% pure lavender oil.
Peppermint Essential Oil by Amrita Aromatherapy– This versatile, stimulating oil may be used for exhaustion, mental fatigue or headache. Applied topically, peppermint oil helps to relieve sore muscles. Because of its anti-viral properties, peppermint helps to clear congestion and improve breathing by fighting respiratory and sinus infections when diffused. 100% pure, therapeutic quality essential oil.
Organic Lemon Essential Oil by Dr. Mercola– Save 12% Known for its cleansing properties, lemon oil helps to rejuvenate energy, stimulate lymph drainage and purify the skin. Mix with a carrier oil and apply for a healthy boost in mental alertness. Lemon oil is known to repel insects from both people and pets. 100% pure, food grade, Non-GMO organic essential oil.
Eucalyptus Oil by Now Foods– Save 30% When used in a diffuser, eucalyptus helps to clear sinuses and clear congestion. It may also be used to relieve sore muscles and to promote feelings of relaxation. 100% pure eucalyptus oil.
Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil by Dr. Mercola – Save 12% Applied topically, tea tree is well known for its powerful antiseptic properties and its ability to treat wounds. To relieve skin inflammation, fungal infections or acne, dilute and apply topically. 100% pure, Non-GMO organic tea tree oil.
Egyptian Art and Science of DNA Healing Transformational Masters. http://www.raindropeducation.com/id74.html
History of Essential Oils. http://airase.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/HistoryOfEssentialOils.pdf
Benefits of Essential Oils: 10 Natural Ways to Heal Yourself. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/07/02/benefits-of-essential-oils_n_5536808.html