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Essential Oils

What is “Essential Oil” 

When I think about this, I sigh – and stare out the window at the birds on the tree, essential oils, such an enigma.Wikipedia describes them as “a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants”, a pragmatic answer – a concentrated substance that is repelled from a mass of water (hydrophobic) that has smell or odour (aroma compounds). Apparently they are “essential” as well!

When I’m out walking, I see and feel a plant, reach out and pick a leaf or flower, crush it in my palms, cup my hands, cover my mouth and nose and deeply inhale. The plant and I begin our conversation. We use the silent language of aroma and sensation. How I wish I could translate all that into academic words that make sense, but I have learnt to trust that the plant shares information with each aromatic conversation conducted with mindful body awareness and sensitivity. So maybe it is the soul part of the nature of plants that can speak. Aroma is certainly a powerful conduit of subtle change, response and reaction. Essential oils are aroma.

To be able to steam distil plants I have found or grown myself has been a profound experience. Even though the process is quite simple, you become part of a magical alchemy of transformation. The energy of steam changes the chemistry of a plant so that its constituents are released into liquefied steam. That in itself is enough, however then, that liquid releases millions of tiny bubbles of aromatic essential oil. It is lighter than water so floats to the surface and here gathers the volatile aromatics – the essential soul of the plant. 

Plants are aromatic because they contain essential oils. They are complex mixtures of individual chemicals, its this mix of chemicals that determine the therapeutic and fragrant properties of that plant.

Since antiquity man has had a special relationship with aromatic plants, having used them for preparing remedies and perfumes. They are referenced all throughout history.

Scientists have placed a new focus on plants once again in the hope of finding a cure for the many incurable diseases presently inflicting our society. It is now considered scientific fact that essential oils can contribute in a positive way to our physical and emotional wellbeing.

These are some simple and basic applications for Essential oils:

Bath: aromatic baths with essential oils are highly therapeutic, particularly in the case of bruising, muscular pains, fatigue and stress. They are great for relieving everyday tensions, lifting your spirit and for relaxing. Choose your favourite essential oil and place 3 to 6 drops in your bath or alternatively 3 drops of each essential oil if you are using 2 essential oils. A simple and relaxing combination would be 3 drops of lavender and 3 drops of sandalwood. Essential oils are not soluble in water therefore you should dissolve them in a little bit of milk before placing in the bath.

Inhalation: This method is particularly effective for relieving cold, flu and sinus symptoms. It is also very useful for relieving nervous tension and headaches. Place 2 to 4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil in a basin filled with hot (not boiling) water, place a towel over your head and the basin and breathe the vapours for 15 to 20 minutes.

Massage: Using essential oils in massage is very effective for relieving physical stress. Before using any essential oil for massage it should be diluted in a carrier oil for example, Almond Oil. Most essential oils may not be applied directly onto the skin because they are so concentrated. used undiluted they may cause an allergies reaction, burn the skin and cause nausea. Body massage with essential oils combines the benefits of a vigorous massage with the therapeutic benefits of the essential oil itself. To prepare you own massage oil mix 10 drops of essential oil with 20ml (2 teaspoons) of a carrier oil.

Compress: aromatic compresses are very effective in relieving pain or reducing inflammation. Cold water compresses are recommended for headaches, fever, inflammations, burns and recent sprains. Warm or hot water compresses calm menstrual pains, earaches, cysts and are recommended for old bruises and muscular pain. To use this method place a cloth or gauze with a blend of essential oil, carrier oil and water on the affected zone.

The information presented is purely informative and introductory. Before starting any treatment we strongly advise you to consult your doctor or qualified practitioner.
Steam Distillation

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