Therapeutic use of natural and organic essential oils for medicinal purposes is just now on the verge of being recognized as a valid tool to compliment the diverse tools of natural healing. A significant amount of resistance is still apparent, perhaps due to the pervasive image of Aromatherapy being ‘feeling nice from smelling something pleasant’. Most degreed aromatherapists do not even consider this the most important function of healing with essential oils! There use in treating infectious illness is considered the realm of medicine of where they may be of greatest importance – and the fight of their image may be one ‘behind the scenes’. Big pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to continually develop and market new drugs – many with questionable safety and efficacy – to meet the demands of stockholders. At the same time, many bacteria and viruses are becoming resistant to these companies products, with alarming results.
Essential oils offer inexpensive, effective treatments to which microbes do not apparently easily develop resistance to. Whether the very limited and somewhat skewed presentation of Aromatherapy in the mainstream media is related to the pharmaceutical company’s demands remains to be clarified; in the meantime, you have the ways and means to include essential oils in your own natural health and wellness program.
Aromatherapy is the branch of botanical (plant-based) medicine using a particular class of compounds – no more, no less. It just so happens these compounds smell exceptionally nice – does medicine have to be nasty to work? And do drugs made by high-tech means always result in the best of these medicines? This seems unreasonable, given the fact that a very high percentage of today’s modern ‘drugs’ are extracts of wild plants, though they have been encapsulated and manipulated so that ownership may be granted under patent law.
This doesn’t mean a natural preparation of the plant can be any less effective! And what, physically, are essential oils? If you boil or send steam through plant matter, collect the steam and allow it to cool, an oil-like liquid will float atop the water. Essential oil. That’s it! The chemicals made by the plant that do not dissolve in water. Interestingly enough, this ‘lipophillic’ nature of essential oils makes them even more compatible and absorbable with our physiology than many other plant compounds. No reason to turn our backs on them as medicines, eh?
A backlash may be coming; more people are getting fed up with the high cost of healthcare and the soaring cost of prescription drugs. They are willing to investigate natural, inexpensive alternatives, particularly when ‘proven’ effective in the same arena as are modern pharmaceuticals. An important example is the use of Peppermint essential oil in treating irritable bowel syndrome. A study of 50 children comparing the effects of a common chemical preparation and peppermint oil capsules on alleviating their symptoms showed the peppermint oil to be drastically more effective, with fewer side effects, than the pharmaceutical drug. The nature of the essential oil is that it will eliminate bacteria causing disease symptoms, while leaving much-needed natural intestinal flora unharmed. This is the beauty of aromatherapy, and properly utilized natural medicines in general.
Another widely published effect of a particular essential oil is that of the powerful anti-viral (and anti-depressant) Melissa oil. Melissa herb has long been used in natural medicine, often for it’s stress relieving effects and nervous system support. Now, many university studies in Europe have confirmed it’s effect on treating Herpes outbreaks, the result of a viral infection that has, until now, been considered incurable by the modern medical establishment. Outbreaks tend to occur when an individual is under particularly stressful conditions – and although the aroma of Melissa is thought to relieve stress, one of it’s chemical components has been shown in the laboratory to eradicate certain virus types. Topical application of Melissa oil to Herpes legions has reduced the pain, duration, and frequency of the outbreaks in a significant number of study participants. Some have even experienced complete remission of the disease! A definite seal of approval for efficacy of essential oils as natural health and wellness medicine.
Then, of course, there is the ‘aroma’ therapeutic aspect of essential oil use. The hard facts show the olfactory sense of the brain is wired directly to vital control centers of the gray matter – particularly those governing emotions, stress levels and, well we’re not sure how this relates to your health, but sexual arousal as well. And with acceptance of the importance of one’s mental health relating to their physical well being continuing to grow, Aromatherapy may eventually find it’s place in hospitals and doctor’s offices alongside stethoscopes, syringes and cotton swabs. Many, many studies have shown the self-evaluated improvements in mood and stress levels when inhaling particular essential oils – and because stress is considered by many health professionals as THE number one cause of disease, it’s a short leap to believe the inhalation of spirit-lifting aromas can result in improved states of health.
Aromatherapy is certainly not a cure all, but like any medical specialty, should be used when appropriate by knowledgeable patients and practitioners. How do you learn to use Aromatherapy most effectively for yourself? Education is the way! There are many wonderful, well-written books on the subject of medicinal usage of essential oils; of particular note are those by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt: Advanced Aromatherapy and Medical Aromatherapy; also Jane Buckle’s Clinical Aromatherapy, and any publication by Robert Tisserand. These books can open a whole new world of alternative health and wellness, giving you more options to control your health care decisions than ever before. If in need, find a qualified, degreed practitioner – and remember, always consult a medical professional for any serious injury or illness. In some cases, aromatherapy can be used to as an adjunct to other treatments – discuss this with your doctor. Finally, there’s little harm in simply getting started with essential oils – learn, buy yourself some nice oils, and have fun!