How Are Essential Oils Different From Cooking And Massage Oils?
Essential oils are not the same as the edible fatty oils made from nuts and vegetables that we use in cooking and for massage. In a chemical sense, essential oils are not really oils at all. Rather, they are the volatile and fragrant part of the plant, which is found in delicate little sacs on the surface of the leaves or in the bark, flowers, fruit peels or seeds. In addition to giving each plant its characteristic fragrance, essential oils have antibiotic qualities that protect the plant or provide other functions. Some oils protect the plant by repelling insects. Others stimulate blooming. They are complex mixtures of chemical constituents. Rose Otto essential oil, for example, contains over 300 different chemical compounds.
If the plant is collected carefully and the volatile oil is gently extracted, the resulting substance is one of the most precious gifts the earth has to offer. It is the concentrated intelligence of the healing force in the plant, 75 to 100 times more powerful than dried herbs. And because there are molecular structures in the human body that correspond to that of the oils, the plants' intelligence can be used for our healing. For example, when we smell true rose essential oil, our consciousness interacts with the consciousness of the plant; we vibrate with the healing essence and live the wholeness of the rose.
Essential oils can prevent or fight infection, kill bacteria or inhibit its growth, and increase the skin's ability to rejuvenate itself. They can be antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory; they can be stimulating, relaxing, euphoric or grounding.
Essential oils can be used in massage, inhalation, baths, lotions and facials. They can also be used to make or enhance household cleaners, cosmetics, perfumes and shampoos. They can reduce stress, promote energy and alertness, enhance spiritual well-being, reduce inflammation, provide pain relief and treat a wide variety of other medical problems. They prove helpful in the treatment of viral infections, burns, headaches, asthma, arthritis and insomnia.
If you are new to essential oils, you may like to see our essential oils guide.
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using botanical essential oils to create and maintain physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. It is also the use of pure, natural essential oils (all of which have scents) in health and beauty treatments. Aromatherapy is holistic and enjoyable. Real aromatherapy uses only the highest quality essential oils, and it works not only from the scent but also from applying the oils through massage, bathing and skin care products. Artificial oils, poorly distilled oils, or oils that have had other ingredients added to them are not healthful.
Professional aromatherapists, massage therapists, estheticians and physicians who have been trained in aromatherapy know the biochemical effect of each oil. Aromatherapy is used in hospitals, clinics and home care to augment the treatment of a wide range of illnesses. At home, aromatherapy can prevent the spread of flu and other infections; create a peaceful or festive atmosphere; enhance romance; repel mosquitoes and lice; perform first-aid for cuts, burns and bruises; and much more.
The sense of smell and inhalation
Smell is the only sense where receptor nerve endings are in direct contact with the outside world. When we inhale, the neural impulses go directly to the limbic system. The limbic system connects to all other parts of the brain and in particular to the thalamus and hypothalamus, from where our whole endocrine system is controlled. Smells can affect memory, emotions and self-expression. They also affect our entire internal environment, especially the adrenal and sexual systems. This is why a scent can stimulate clear thinking or be euphoric or aphrodisiac. In addition, inhaling essential oils can have a direct impact on the health of the respiratory organs, especially during the cold season.
Essential oils are often used in massage and skin care. There is evidence that oils applied to the skin enter the bloodstream. Whether the effect will be calming and cooling, warming and invigorating, toning to the uterus or tonic to the liver depends upon the chemistry of each oil. The synergy of chemical constituents that nature provides in true essential oils is a grace and a blessing that the modern science of medicine, with its emphasis on reproducing single chemicals, has not been able to duplicate.
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