Proven throughout human history, the use of essential oils continues as a effective wedding of art and science. Aromatherapy can decrease pain, increase relaxation, relieve mental anxiety, speed the healing of a burn, even treat a cough or cold.
Early in 20th century, French scientist Rene Maurice Gattefosse found that these essential oils--aka 'aromatherapy oils'--affected the human nervous system, metabolism, vital organs and endocrine system positively.
And he should know!
After being badly burned, Dr. Gattefosse thrust his hand in lavender essential oil, the nearest cool liquid. Amazed at how quickly the burn healed, with no sign of a scar, he coined the term "aromatherapy"....
...and continued his research. His first widely useful verification showed that essential oils accelerated the healing of WWI soldiers' wounds. For a more complete history, you might like to skip ahead to the history section further down the page, "An Ancient Concept in a Modern Age." .
So what, exactly, is Aromatherapy?
First, you extract substances from roots, stalks, flowers, leaves or fruit of a plant. Voila--essential oils! These have numerous and powerful healing properties. Essential oils are also known as aromatherapy oils. (But not the same as ‘perfumed oils’ so don’t use those!)
The next step is to bring those healing powers into the human body. This is done either through directly applying -- massage, compresses, baths.... ...or by inhaling the oils as they evaporate.
Most Popular uses of Essential Oils
Julie Sadler, author of Aromatherapy, gives these four oils as her top picks.
Lavender – most versatile!!! Safe for many things—from burns to headaches to relieving tension. Lavender is also naturally antiseptic and soothing.
Eucalyptus--very helpful for all respiratory problems – coughs, colds, catarrh and flu. If it's used in a vaporizer or burner, it keeps germs at bay, so you can protect other members of your family from common viruses.
Chamomile--calming, soothing. Helps itchy rashes and dry skin conditions; sedative, and encourages sleep and relaxation.
Tea Tree--fantastic antiseptic and anti-fungal treatment. Use to clean up cuts and grazes; and to treat such irritating problems as thrush and athlete’s foot.
For more detailed information, follow this photo link to Aromatherapy...continued.
Included on that page: Oils safe for use at home. Oils to watch out for! Masculine-smelling oils to use in massage.
Don't be Fooled by Imitations!
How to recognize an essential oil: It will be -thin and watery rather than oily -swift to evaporate; won’t leave a grease mark on paper -overpoweringly scented when undiluted, which can be quite unpleasant Additional tips: They are sold in tinted bottles...and need special care so as not to evaporate. The oils expire quickly, six months after opened. Sources include health food shop, chemists, mail or online ordering.
An Ancient Concept in a Modern Age
As long as 5,000 years ago, ancient peoples were using myrrh and cypress…leaving instructions on clay tablets found in Babylon. Later, Egyptians embalmed with these essential oils.
The Romans used them more lavishly to beautify themselves, rubbing them into their skin both before and after bathing, as well as perfuming clothes and hair. Eventually, the Romans brought that knowledge to Britain.
Safer to be a glove-maker! During the Great Plague of the Middle Ages, glove makers often escaped the Black Death…
..because they were protected by the essential oils they used to perfume gloves.
Fast forward to early 20th century. Dr. Gattefosse (the French scientist with the burnt hand) systematically tests and documents the effectiveness of these oils. His research coined the term “aromatherapy.”
Non-Invasive and Effective: Aromatherapy
So, there you have it! Calm a nervous bride. Soothe a sunburn. Nip that cough in the bud. Relieve menstrual cramps. Ease any aching muscles.
These versatile oils work to restore balance in the human body. Safely and effectively.
Now that you've learned about the scientific foundation of these oils, you may want to look at the specific oils safe for home use, those unsafe for home use, and even masculine-smelling oils for use in massage for men... ...or check out the recipes and recommendations for oils to pack for travel:
in the summer months...