Throughout the ages, oils extracted from aromatic plants have been recognized as the most effective medicine known to mankind. While the Egyptians are most often credited with being the first to use essential oils, it is believed the distillation and blending methods used by the Egyptians may have produced a lesser quality oil than what is being produced today, however; their oils were used for their aromatic and therapeutic properties. These are considered to be the precursors to pure essential oils.
The ancient Chinese are believed to be the "Masters" of the use of aromatic plants for healing purposes. The Greeks learned about perfumery and the anticeptic properties. Hippocrates, the "Father" of Medicine used these aromatic essences to fumigate Athens to fight off the plague. Historical texts, the Old Testament, the Torah and the New Testament contain numerous references to the use of aromatics, ointment and incense.
In Europe, when the Great Plague spread throughout the country, fumigations using aromatics were used to drive the sickness from the cities. While so many died around them, it was found that perfumiers and those who were in contact with the aromatics were virtually immune.
By the 1500's, physician Hieronymus Brunschwig, Author of one of the earliest known written books on the distillation and use of essential oils, Liber de Arte Distillandi and other medical professionals were distilling and using essential oils for their medicinal benefits.
By the mid 19th century, there was a resurgence in the use of essential oils mostly for their desirable frangrances. With research and the help of certain individuals, essential oils once again became recognized for their therapeutic and medicinal properties and their role in Aromatherapy, Touch Therapy, Massage Therapy and Nutritional Therapy. Today, essential oils have been embraced by the medical community playing a large role in Integrative Medicine as an Alternative Therapy.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. If you have ever enjoyed the gift of a rose, a walk by a field of lavender, or the smell of fresh cut mint, you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils provide plants with protection against predators and disease and play a role in plant pollination.
Essential oils are non water-based phytochemicals made up of volatile aromatic compounds. Although they are fat soluble, they do not include fatty lipids or acids found in vegetable and animal oils. Essential oils are very clean, almost crisp, to the touch and are immediately absorbed by the skin. Pure, unadulterated essential oils are translucent and range in color from crystal clear to deep blue.
In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and being beautifully aromatic to people, essential oils have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Modern scientific study and trends toward more holistic approaches to wellness are driving a revival and new discovery of essential oil health applications.
Not all Essential Oils are Pure or classified as Therapeutic Quality. Those essential oils that represent the safest, purest, and most beneficial essential oils available today are skillfully distilled from plants that have been grown and harvested under optimal environmental conditions by experienced growers from around the world for ideal chemical composition and efficacy.
Uses for Essential Oils:
Essential oils are used for a very wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends depending on user experience and desired benefit. Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally as dietary supplements.
There is a profound amount of research that has shown the profoundly positive effect of the use of essential oils on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lewy Body patients and caregivers. Their calming effects and nutritional properties have been embraced by both in home caregivers and institutional facilities.
Aromatic Uses - Aromatherapy
Our sense of smell influences many physiological pathways including the stimulation of hormones and other metabolic processes. Aromatherapy is founded on the body's predictable response to specific olfactory stimuli. Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy applications. Certain essential oils, when diffused in the air, can be very stimulating, while others can be calming and soothing. Beyond emotional benefits, diffusing essential oils can purify air of unwanted odors and some airborne pathogens. Low or no-heat essential oil diffusers are recommended as they do not change the chemical structure of the oil being diffused. Essential oils can also be used as cleansing and purifying additives to laundry and surface cleaners throughout the home.
Topical Uses - Touch / Massage Therapy
Due to their natural molecular composition, essential oils are easily absorbed by the skin and can be safely applied topically. Application of essential oils can have immediate, localized benefit to the target area of application. They can have restorative and calming properties and can be used effectively with massage and beauty therapy. They are also natural disinfectants. The chemical structure of essential oils also allows them to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin for internal benefit throughout the body.
Internal Uses - Nutritional Therapy
Essential oils can also be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. Some essential oils have powerful antioxidant properties while others help support healthy inflammatory response in cells. Many essential oils are generally regarded as being safe for dietary use, but some oils should not be taken internally. Do not use any essential oil product internally that does not have the appropriate dietary supplement facts on its label.
When it comes to Essential Oils and using them for topical, aromatic or internal therapeutic purposes, we stongly suggest doing your "homework" before attempting the use of essential oils in any manner. We have chosen to support a specific line of essential oils and nutritional products to incorporate in our workshops because of their purity, therapeutic value and safety as well as our own personal experiences with them. In addition, physicians and therapists have been supportive with their research into creating protocols designed to aid in alleviating pain, anxiety, stress and discomfort associated with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lewy Body in addition to the benefits to the caregiver. For more information about our choice of Essential Oils, please contact our workshop coordinator.
Our workshops will intensively cover the use of Essential Oils and the appropriate applications for use with these diseases / disorders as an enhancement to your current medically prescribed treatment plan.
We do not advocate alternative therapies as a stand alone protocol and highly recommend you engauge in informed dialogue with the treating physician before integrating any alternative therapy.
PLEASE NOTE: These statements and therapies have not been evaluated by the FDA as medical treatment or cure for any disease and are provided as a possible additions to current medical treatment to enhance quality of life and comfort. This information is based on research, studies, observations and experienced use by therapists, physicians, caregivers and their patients / loved ones. Many physicians are in favor of the use of these alternative therapies. Some are not. We recommend discussing any therapies you are considering with your physician, make an effort to partner with him / her in their use before starting. Ultimately the decision is yours.
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