Healthy Living: History, Healing Benefits, and Properties of Essential Oils
Working out and eating healthy are a few of the main ways to maintain a strong immune system and a healthy lifestyle. However, there is another component that could assist your overall health as well — essential oils. Over the next five weeks, you will discover the wonderful world of essential oils.
What do you think about when someone says aromatherapy? Many people think of candles, bubble bath, bath salts, and the very popular store,Bath & Body Works. There is so much to learn and you will be gaining a broad overview with this article on the basics of essential oils.
History of Essential Oils
The use of essential oils has been documented all the way back to 7000 B.C. when olive and sesame oil were combined with aromatic plants to produce ointments. The Egyptians learned how to distill oils and made cinnamon oil, cedar wood, frankincense, myrrh, and a few other oils. The Greeks and Romans used oils, and there are over 188 references to oils in the Bible.
My favorite comes from the 17th Century during the Black Plague. When the Black Plague went through communities, the stench of dead flesh was overwhelming. Physicians were dressed from head-to-toe and wore beak-like masks filled with oils/herbs. This is where the name quack originates.
In France, there was a French scientist by the name of Rene Gattefosse. He was researching oils and their properties when he was burned very badly. It is said that he put his burned arm in a vat of lavender oil and it immediately took care of this pain and he did not have any scarring as a result.
Essential oils because of their antibacterial properties were used in World War II in France to treat wounds of the soldiers when their medication had run out. France and Europe have used essential oils for years for medicinal benefits, while in America oils have been used in the cosmetics industry (not pure oils) for perfumes. Synthetic oils and fragrance oils have been made for lotions, candles, and bath products.
Healing Benefits of Essential Oils
Therapeutic oils have many healing properties. To name a few, they can be the following: antibiotic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antiviral, relaxing, stimulating, energizing, grounding, antiparasitic, and many more uses. For the individual oils to have pure therapeutic properties, the oils need to be grown in certain places, at certain elevation, with certain temperature, and even be harvested at certain times of the day or season.
For example, lavender grown in the United States does not have the full therapeutic potential like lavender grown in certain parts of France. Likewise, peppermint is most therapeutically grown in the state of Washington. To be deemed pure, an oil only needs to be 52% pure. Look for an oil that is certified pure therapeutic. You are ensuring 100% purity this way. Look for oils that originate where they are most therapeutic.
Properties of Essential Oils
Essential oils are made up of very small molecules. This property allows oils to pass through the phospholipid bilayer of the cell wall. This protective mechanism of the cell prevents many things from penetrating. This is one reason some oils with antiviral properties may benefit common viruses like colds and flu's and explains why antibiotics don't work on viruses.
This is just a small history and explanation of essential oils. Over the next few weeks you will learn about many oils including lavender, peppermint, lemon, chamomile, patchouli and many other oils. You will learn how you can use the oils for flu and cold symptoms, fever, anxiety, stress, and even cleaning products! Be sure to follow each week as I share ways to use these wonderful natural solutions for your health and home!
What are some of your favorite types of essential oils? How have they helped you and your family?
Joyce Harrell, RN, OCN is a holistic nurse who provides natural solutions for health and home. Joyce utilizes the art of nursing by implementing essential oils, enzyme therapy, vision boards, wellness coaching, and nutritional therapy to help you create an environment for your body to best heal.
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