Essential Oils, Nature’s Intelligence in a Bottle
by Denise Wickell, LMT, CA, RA
Aromatherapy has become a very popular and commercialized word, but what is really meant by the term “aromatherapy?”
Authentic Aromatherapy is a comprehensive healthcare modality that utilizes therapeutic plant extracts called “essential oils” to evoke the body’s own intrinsic healing power. Essential oils support the body in achieving what it does naturally – seeking homeostasis and balance. Aromatherapy health is a vastly different concept than the current commercial idea of “recreational” aromatherapy comprised of scented candles, bubble bath, perfume oils, fragrance plug-ins, etc.
Surprisingly, aromatherapy is not chiefly about aroma, but rather the processes that occur in the body after its application. Using extracts of aromatic medicinal plants called “essential oils,” aromatherapy facilitates the body’s own healing power at the cellular level, allowing the body’s systems to balance, repair and restore health.
Historically, the therapeutic nature and protective qualities of plants have been highly revered. Every ancient culture has used aromatic plants for health, healing, prayer, beauty and purification. The use of aromatics is well documented in Egyptian hieroglyphs as well as in ancient Eastern medical texts from China and India, and steam distillation of aromatic botanicals was perfected in Persia. During the 1800s when tuberculosis took millions of European lives, the people working in the herb and flower fields were not succumbing to the disease. It was hypothesized that the medicinal qualities of the plants protected them, and this, in fact, is what led to the first scientific studies on the antimicrobial effects of aromatherapy and essential oils.
Modern science continues to validate what the ancients have known all along. Research has established that essential oils are highly unique substances and that they may address some of the unmet challenges of today’s healthcare. Scientific studies confirm that aromatherapy oils may calm, energize, balance, rejuvenate, repair, and purify the mind and body. Other aromatherapy health benefits include reducing pain and inflammation, easing stress, boosting the immune system, acting as quick intervention for colds and flu, combating mold and airborne germs and neutralizing toxins.
These are not the only aromatherapy health benefits--studies confirm that essential oils actually discriminate between normal and abnormal cells (such as cancer cells). In vitro tests have demonstrated the ability of essential oils to target and destroy cancer cells while remaining nontoxic to normal cells (the healthy cells continued to reproduce and grow as normal). What does this mean? It means that essential oils are a lethal weapon for abnormal cells and pathogens, but harmless (and actually beneficial) to normal cells and tissues. We should be shouting this kind of news from the rooftops! Aromatherapy offers fantastic options for our health care!
We have just recently recognized the true effects of aromatherapy here in the States, and its use is growing rapidly. Dr. Andrew Weil, the “king” of integrative medicine, says aromatherapy is “the most exciting of all the complementary healthcare modalities.” But in Europe and Australia, aromatherapy health practices have been accepted as part of customary healthcare for decades, both preventive and curative. There, essential oils are used not only to maintain health but also to correct serious medical problems. Aromatherapy protocols have saved lives when all other conventional medical practices failed.
One French medical doctor currently uses essential oils to dissolve plaque build-up in the arteries in lieu of harsh pharmaceutical drugs or surgical intervention. One of my clients decided to try this approach. Within only three months of using a daily topical solution of specific essential oils, ultrasound showed that the 80% blockage of her carotid artery was reduced to a 50% blockage. Needless to say, my client wishes to continue with the aromatherapy and is looking forward to even greater aromatherapy health benefits in the future.
There are several application methods in which essential oils may be used in aromatherapy. The three basic models are: the German model which promotes inhalation, the English model which uses topical applications of diluted essential oils and the French model which employs these two plus internal methods. Depending on your personal needs and objectives, these three methods may be combined and used together for optimum aromatherapy health. All approaches are practical and straightforward, but guidance from a clinically trained aromatherapist is required for internal methods of use.
There are a myriad of ways to take charge of your own health with the holistic system of aromatherapy. Unfortunately, however, many of the essential oils widely sold today are not appropriate for health care. Many are not derived from medicinal plants at all, but are artificial substances synthesized in a laboratory without healing properties. Even "natural" and “genuine” essential oils are commonly adulterated. To fully experience the effects of aromatherapy, I suggest you step into the arena of aromatherapy by first educating yourself. Read, take classes, and, for specific needs, work with a professional aromatherapist. Books I have enjoyed include The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia and Aromatherapy for Dummies by Kathi Keville. I also recommend looking for classes and seminars in your area or, if you are adventurous and have the time, you can travel to take aromatherapy classes. Correspondence courses are also available.
However, working with a professional aromatherapist is the fast track to learning and reaping the rewards of essential oils. A professional can teach you which oils are genuine and what choices suit your individual needs most appropriately. A clinical aromatherapist can also identify contraindications and provide accurate safety guidelines for best use and benefit. Not only can you learn to address common or chronic complaints that you may already be treating at home, you may also learn methods to provide additional support for serious illnesses. Aromatherapy protocols with essential oils can be a very powerful adjunct to conventional medical treatments.
Now is the perfect time to become more open and aware of our healthcare options, including our mental health and wellbeing. Let’s admit it, Western allopathic medicine does not hold all of the solutions to our health and happiness. Medical mistakes are responsible for thousands of deaths in this country annually.* Prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter drugs are riddled with side effects which can cause organ damage and/or claim lives even when used as directed. It’s actually unfair and unrealistic to expect our doctors to have all of the answers. We must take a greater role in our own welfare, educate ourselves and utilize of a combination of therapies for best effect.
So consider this – after 6,000 years of proven use, aromatherapy may be more viable and valuable than ever as we face challenges without many affirmative, all-around allopathic answers. Aromatherapy addresses a multitude of issues within a completely natural, drug-free, holistic context. And when used as directed, there are no negative side effects.
I feel aromatherapy is the key to a fulfilling future. Its versatility is unlike anything else. It may affect your skin, your hair, your muscles, joints, respiratory system, nervous system, digestion and circulation. It can also improve your emotional state, focus and concentration, and more. The effects of aromatherapy are numerous. No other modality influences body, mind and spirit as completely as aromatherapy. No other therapeutic practice affects us so profoundly on every level of our humanity. For deep transformation and healing, aromatherapy holds a unique place in the field of medicine and integrative healthcare.
I want you to be as bright, healthy, and happy as you can be. Try aromatherapy! It’s easy, economical, effective, as well as powerful, practical, and pleasurable. It’s the only “medicine” I know of that’s fragrant and fun!
With best aromatic wishes for your highest health,
About the Author
Denise Wickell, LMT, CA, RA, is owner and director of Prima Body, LLC, and has offered holistic healthcare for over 15 years. She is a nationally certified registered aromatherapist with clinical university training from the accredited Australasian College of Health Sciences (now called the American College of Healthcare Sciences). She offers aromatherapy consultations, products, and treatments at her private practice in North Palm Beach, Florida, as well as consultations by telephone for residents of the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Denise is an approved Continuing Education Provider and Instructor by the State of Florida as well as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. See www.primabody.com for a comprehensive listing of classes and seminars.