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The beauty of aromatherapy and why it’s been used for centuries

Defined as the “skilled and controlled use of essential oils for physical and emotional health,” aromatherapy has been around for centuries. Luckily, it’s finally gaining popularity in western culture. Hundreds of essential oils exist, meaning there’s a lot to learn about them. Valerie Ann Worwood’s book, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health — Beauty — a Safe Home Environmentis a great place to start. The following is an excerpt from her book:

You do not need to have worked with essential oils on a daily basis over many years to come to the realization that nature has provided mankind with a tremendously powerful and diverse materia medica. Some of the healing that has taken place under their influence would be called miraculous if we didn’t have the scientific basis for explaining how the oils work. But giving a scientific explanation for a remarkable phenomenon does not make it any less miraculous.

The holy anointing oil that God directed Moses to make from “flowing” myrrh, sweet cinnamon, calamus, cassia, and olive oil, would have been a powerful antiviral and antibiotic substance, the use of which gave protection and treatment to all those to whom it was administered. Cinnamon is a powerful antiviral and antibacterial agent as well as being antifungal. Myrrh is an effective antiseptic and one of the best cicatrisants, that is, it stimulates cellular growth and its healing effects on open wounds, ulcers, and boils was legendary even before Biblical times.

There are about three hundred essential oils in general use today by professional practitioners, but the average household could fulfill all its likely needs with about ten. Each oil has its own medicinal and other properties.

Just 10 key essential oils are all you need

Modern-day research has confirmed centuries of practical use of the oils, and we now know that the fragrant pharmacy contains, apart from its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal qualities, essential oils which are antiseptic, antiinflammatory, antineuralgic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, antivenomous, antitoxic, antidepressant, sedative, nervine, analge-sic, hypotensol, hypertensol, digestive, expectorating, deodorizing, granulation-stimulating, circulatory-stimulating, and diuretic, and much more besides.

One of the most satisfactory aspects of using essential oils medicinally and cosmetically is that they enter and leave the body with great efficiency, leaving no toxins behind. The most effective way to use essential oils is not orally, as one might think, but by external application or inhalation. 

The methods used include body oils, compresses, cosmetic lotions, baths, including sitz, hand, and foot baths, hair rinses, inhalation (by steam, direct from the bottle or from a tissue), perfumes, room sprays, and a whole range of room methods.

Although under supervision the essential oils can be prescribed for oral ingestion, this is in fact their least effective mode of entry because it involves their passing through the digestive system, where they come into contact with digestive juices and other matter which affect their chemistry. This limitation also applies to any chemical medications. The flexibility of medicinal use makes the essential oils of special benefit to patients whose digestive systems have, for whatever reason, been impaired.

Essential oils heal the body without leaving toxins behind

Unlike chemical drugs, essential oils do not, as far as we know, remain in the body. They are excreted through urine and feces, perspiration, and exhalation. Expulsion takes three to six hours in a normal, healthy body and up to fourteen hours in an obese or unhealthy body. The method of excretion differs from oil to oil. For example, sandalwood and juniper can be detected by their aroma quite clearly in urine. Garlic, on the other hand, even if applied to the skin, will be passed out of the body through exhalation, whereas geranium, which is a beneficial circulatory oil, will be detected in the perspiration.

Essential oils are extracted from certain varieties of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, and flowers. The oil is concentrated in different parts of the plant. Vetiver oil is made from the chopped roots of the grass species Vetiveria zizanoides; bay oil is extracted from bay leaves.

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