Our sense of smell taps into the most primal parts of ourselves. Memory, both personal and collective, is connected to smell. Just as a particular scent can evoke scenes from our past, so can particular essential oils help us heal.
Essential oils work on the physiological and psychological levels, affecting our bodies, minds, and emotions. Certain scents can re-program our cells to remember health and balance. Experimenting with these oils has greatly enriched my life.
The Oldest Sense
Humans have used the power of scent as therapy for thousands of years. Our tribal ancestors discovered the therapeutic benefits of plant parts mixed with heated fats. Ancient cultures used a variety of oils as a form of medicine. And modern natural doctors use essential oils to treat a host of symptoms.
Quality Over Quantity
Essential Oils are so effective because they are the concentrated essences of the plant. They contain such small particles that they are actually absorbed into the nasal receptors and pass through the blood-brain barrier. That means that, unlike a whole herb or supplement, the actual particles of the concentrated plant essence go directly into our cells.
Because they can be completely absorbed, it is crucial that you choose high-quality oils. I recommend using only therapeutic grade oils. Other types of oils may cost less, but they are often extracted or cut with toxic chemicals. Only therapeutic grade oils are safe for taking internally.
Methods of Use
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. They can be added to a diffuser, allowing the scent to slowly permeate the air, so it is absorbed through the nose and skin.
Essential oils that are safe for the skin can be diluted with carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond oil) and applied to the spine, base of skull, above specific organs, and/or pulse points. The only oil that can be applied to the skin undiluted is lavender. Do not use cinnamon oil directly on the skin, even diluted.
Oils can be applied to a handkerchief and inhaled by waving the handkerchief in front of your face. This is a favorite method of mine when I am on the go.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments, acute and chronic. Talk to your health care provider before working with oils if you have any allergies or a severe condition. Do not use aromatherapy in place of medications without direct instructions from a qualified health care provider.
Essential oils travel through the nervous system to affect the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls emotion. They also affect the release of hormones and other aspects of body chemistry. They can help the brain and nervous system relax, and reduce production of cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones. Lavender, myrrh, chamomile, frankincense, pine, bergamot, and rose all help reduce anxiety and stress.
Those oils also help reduce depression. Other helpful oils for treating depression include lemon, neroli, patchouli, ylang ylang, peppermint, and rosemary.
Treat Fatigue and Headaches
Find your energy and re-center with angelica, cedarwood, basil, peppermint, eucalyptus, frankincense, and lavender.
Boost your digestion and metabolism with ginger, fennel, peppermint, thyme, lemon, lavender, anise, basil, and grapefruit. All of those oils can be taken internally if properly diluted (therapeutic grade only).
Treat lung and sinus congestion, and reduce the likelihood of catching a cold, with eucalyptus, tea tree, fennel, juniper, and rosemary essential oils.
Lady’s Day Off
Treat, reduce, or eliminate PMS and menstrual cramps with chamomile, basil, clary sage, angelica, rose, and/or ginger.
The amazing powers of essential oils are still being studied and explored. I can tell you from my own personal experience that they are powerful and supportive tools for the healing process. Try out a few oils yourself to see how much this gentle yet potent therapy can help you, too.