Ever smelled a beautiful rose or a fresh sprig of rosemary? If you have then you are more familiar with essential oils than you may have known. By definition, an essential oil is a naturally occurring, aromatic compound found in the seeds, bark, stem, root, flower, fruit and other parts of a plant. Essential oils are what give plants their distinctive smell and protect them from predatory insects and possible environmental threats. By harvesting essential oils from plants, humans can harness the protective and healing power of plants.
Essential oils are 50 to 70 times more potent than herbs, and have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Egyptian civilizations have been historically documented as using essential oils as early as 2000 BC. They harvested these oils for medicine, religious ceremonies, beauty treatments and food preparation. Moreover, Cleopatra’s legendary beauty is often attributed to her extensive use of customary Egyptian essential oils, fatty oils, clays and salts harvested from the edge of the Dead Sea.
In the Bible, the use of essential oils is referenced in 36 of the 39 chapters of the Old Testament and in 10 of the 27 chapters of the New Testament. There are a total of more than 500 citations specifically about essential oils and their uses. Frankincense and myrrh were gifts of the wise men given to baby Jesus, and these oils were considered very valuable for their healing properties. In the bible days, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh, and cinnamon were considered valuable cargo along caravan trade routes and were often valued more than gold.
The following are a few passages of scripture that reference essential oil usage:
Essential oils are extracted from plants through a process called distillation. With this method oil and water compounds are separated from the plant by steaming or cold pressing. This process concentrates the resulting oil, making it a very powerful and potent elixir for several mental, physical, emotional and spiritual ailments. For example 65 pounds of rose petals are sourced to make one 15mL bottle of rose essential oil.
When choosing essential oil brands, it is important to choose oils that are marked as Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. Essential oils with this grade are:
Most essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy. By definition, aromatherapy 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.” Common aromatherapy techniques include: aromatic diffusion, massage, aromatic baths, steam inhalation and topical application. These techniques help the healing properties of essential oils be absorbed in the body through skin and inhalation. Beyond aromatherapy, essential oils are also used internally and topically. Below is a description of each method of use.
Frankincense (Boswelliae): Builds immunity, reduces inflammation, heals age spots, supports brain and fights cancer. (When in doubt, use Frankincense.)
Lavender: Remedies headaches, induces relaxation, improves mood, heals burns, cuts, insect bites, eczema/dermatitis, and is a powerful antihistamine that helps with allergies and anxiety.
Peppermint: Supports digestion, improves focus, boosts energy, fever reducer, headache and muscle pain relief. Peppermint oil is also revered for its anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic qualities. Historically, it has been used –internally and externally— to treat bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections.
Melaleuca Oil (Tea Tree Oil): Natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, reduces bad odors and can help stimulate the immune system. Melaleuca Oil is commonly used in the treatment of acne, bacterial infections, chickenpox, cold sores, congestion and respiratory tract infections, earaches, fungal infections (especially candida, jock itch, athlete’s foot and toenail fungus), halitosis (bad breath), head lice, MRSA, psoriasis, dry cuticles, itchy insect bites, sores, sunburns and boils from staph infections.
Lemon Oil: Great to use in homemade cleaning products, improves lymph drainage and detoxifies the body. Lemon Oil is also commonly used in the treatment of digestion issues, thirst, abdominal colic pain, chronic coughing and nausea. It also prevents malabsorption, improves digestion, nourishes the skin and promotes weight loss.
Eucalyptus Globulus: Improves respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies. Also invigorates and purifies the body. Diluted eucalyptus oil can be taken orally for pain and inflammation of respiratory tract mucous membranes, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, sinus pain and inflammation, and respiratory infections. It is also used as an antiseptic, insect repellent, and treatment option for wounds, burns, and ulcers.
Jojoba Oil: Treats sores and bruises, soothes skin and unclogs hair follicles. Jojoba oil can also be used as a mosquito repellant and as treatment for acne, psoriasis, sunburn, chapped skin and hair loss.
Clove Oil: Anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and antioxidant protection. Clove oil can also be used to relieve flatulence, mitigate dental pain, soothe indigestion, prevent toxic environmental exposure, relieve stress, boost energy and improve blood circulation.