by Jessica Lohrey Cobb
Plants are chemical factories that bridge the energetic gap between sun and earth, light and dark, living and non-living. They manufacture the “crude fuels” that feed life on earth. Pure plant essences, known as essential oils, have been in use as medicines and aromatic therapies for thousands of years. Essential oils are remarkable not just because of their charm, but because of their power and complex molecular structures. Oregano is 26 times more powerful as an antiseptic than phenol, the compound commonly used in commercial cleaners.
So what ARE essential oils? Essential oils are highly concentrated aromatic extracts which are distilled from a variety of aromatic plant material, including grasses, leaves, flowers, needles and twigs, peel of fruit, wood and roots. They are commonly used in aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy, as defined by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), is “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is an art and science that seeks to explore the physiological, psychological and spiritual realm of the individual’s response to aromatic extracts as well as to observe and enhance the individual’s innate healing process. As a holistic practice, Aromatherapy is both a preventative approach as well as an active method to employ during acute and chronic stages of illness or ‘dis’-ease.”
Essential oils have many therapeutic properties including: antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal, antispasmodic, antidepressant, hypotensol, hypertensol, digestive, expectorating, and deodorizing. There are over 300 essential oils in use today. However, one could fulfill most of the needs of the average family or household with only about ten oils. Ten of the most useful and popular oils are Bergamot, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Sandalwood, Tea Tree, and Ylang Ylang.
There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils, but the most effective are inhalation and topical application (in the form of lotions, oils, creams, and salves). Blending oils to create synergistic formulas is both an art and a science that even the novice can enjoy. There are many books available and a wealth of information on the internet. For beginners, choosing a few oils to work with and learning about them is a good place to start.
When purchasing oils it is important to select only 100 percent pure essential oils. While fragrance oils are often less expensive and smell nice, they do not have the same healing potential of essential oils. Pure essential oils vary widely in price, so if you are buying from a source that charges the same price for every oil, there is a good chance they are not pure essential oils. It is best to do some research to find a reputable company.
Are you interested in learning more about aromatherapy? Join Jessica Lohrey Cobb (E-200RYT) on Sunday, October 14, from 4 to 6 p.m. for “Aromatherapy: Practical Applications for Yoga, Meditation, and Daily Living,” at Weston Yoga, 2600 Glades Circle, Suite 400, Weston. For more information call 954-349-6868 or visit WestonYoga.com. You may also want to visit the new Tree of India Aromatherapy shop at 910 NE 20th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. See ad page 59.