The Evolving Self

...when growth is the only option


Jaqui Duvall, MA

Aromatherapy

Flower Power

Until recently, I viewed essential oils as hippy froo froo. Think dreadlocks, long flowing skirts and sprits of oils being misted in your face to shift your aura. Flower power! Maybe, free-spirited people are just more open, who knows? I have been aware for quite some time that amongst all the other elements of my personality, I have what I call an Inner Bohemian. Maybe I lived a very different kind of past life, who knows? But I find that I am very attracted to things spiritual. It turns out however, that I don’t have to push past the limits of my left-brain dominated thinking to be open to aromatherapy because my research has revealed that essential oils aka aromatherapy is steeped in science.

Here’s the gist: The scent you smell when you lift a flower to your nose is referred to as the essence of the plant. When some plants are processed through distillation that essence which comes from specialized glands or cells in the plant produces oil, an essential oil. These oils are highly concentrated and contain the chemical composition of the plant therefore offering therapeutic properties unique to that plant.

When scientists do research to create new drugs, they are creating synthetic (man-made) compounds. Why aren’t they using natural substances? For one reason, they can’t patent them. In other words, they can’t make big money by using substances that come from plants that are available to anyone. Essential oils are also referred to as “Plant-based medicine.” The compounds are natural to the earth and life itself. The therapeutic properties of plants have been used as long as man has been on the planet to observe their benefits.

Here’s another interesting fact. The olfactory sense, the sense of smell, is one of the main pathways through which aroma, i.e. aromatherapy can enter the body. The olfactory sense is the strongest sense that humans have with the potential to make the most impact. Why? Because it directly affects the limbic system and the cerebral cortex. By the way, it is the only of our five senses that does. The limbic brain is the seat of automatic emotions in humans and is directly connected with memory. The cerebral cortex is the seat of the higher functions of the human brain associated with language and complex tasks. As Andrea Butje, the founder of Aromahead Institute so eloquently said, “The cortex gives us the ability to use our minds and bodies with great skill in uniquely “human” ways, while the limbic system gives us the motivation and desire to do so.” One of the things that make essential oils so powerful is that their aroma can immediately affect these parts of the brain with the potential of relieving stress and anxiety, etc.

The Science of Aromatherapy

The science of aromatherapy involves study of the chemical components, therapeutic components, plant parts (flowers, roots, resin, stems, etc.,) and aroma characteristics of plants. There are hundreds of essential oils that can be used to address the effects of pain and inflammation, fight bacteria and fungus, improve various conditions on the skin and to provide non-toxic, natural cleaning solutions for the home, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible with essential oils.

I have been working for many years in healthcare. I have continually been frustrated by the influence that Big Pharma has on our care. Increasingly, the go-to intervention for any malady is a drug; one of those synthetic, man-made compounds that is not natural to the body. This happens to also be the reason there are so many side-effects to medications. While there are many medications that are saving lives, there are many others that are nearly as harmful as they are helpful. Essential oils provide a natural and very effective alternative. This is what attracted me to them.

Essential oils are not regulated the same way drugs are and yet they are very powerful substances. There can be issues with drug interactions and skin sensitivity. In addition, there are also a lot of essential oils being sold that are not pure, therapeutic grade oils. You need to know what you’re doing. That is why I decided to go down the path of certification.

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