Home aroma therapy
Let's wrap up this series on home remedies with a discussion about aroma therapy.
If it smells like therapy . . .
Ordinarily, you probably wouldn’t think of adding aroma therapy to your home “health kit” and that’s precisely why I think it’s a good subject to explore. Aroma therapy has been around for centuries. There are references to the use of essential oils in the Bible, and archeologists have found evidence of the use of these essential oils in the tombs of mummies.
Essential oils are the product of extracting a plant’s natural oil and bottling it. The typical use is medicinal. In the old days the power of essential oils was shrouded in myth and tales of magic or sorcery. Today, there is scientific evidence to prove that essential oils provide healthful benefits.
Enter Mr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. He was born in France in 1881, and is considered the father of modern aroma therapy.
While working in the laboratory of his family owned fragrance company, Gettefosse's hand caught fire. In search of something to put out the flames, he stuck his hand in what he thought was a container of water. The container was, instead, full of lavender oil. Well, Rene noticed his hand was healing. In addition, he didn’t have the horrible scarring associated with that type of burn.
Being the scientist he was, the proverbial light bulb turned on in his head. Rene began experimenting with essential oils, using them to treat the soldiers of WWI who were admitted to military hospitals. Lavender, thyme and clove were used for their unique antiseptic and curative properties. Rene documented an advanced improvement in the wounds on the soldiers who were treated with essential oils over those treated with the antiseptic remedies of that time. Rene went on to publish several books about the medicinal uses of essential oils. His research laid the foundation for what we know about aroma therapy today.
Practical uses and a case for lavender
Aroma therapy has exploded into our lives everywhere. An exhaustive list of perfumes, colognes, body sprays, lotions, deodorants and you-name-it all have fragrances. These oils are referred to as fragrance-grade and have no medicinal properties at all. The idea is to smell good.
Pure essential oils are produced by reputable companies that make medicinal-grade (or food-grade) products. These oils have uses that are very practical and have beneficial potential impacts on your health. I recommend that you purchase the basic, pure lavender oil to use at home. Then research the others and add them as needed.
Lavender oil is great for treatment of headaches. A few drops on a tissue waved in front of your nose works on most. Or better yet get a diffuser. These are little machines that use fans to push the lavender into the air so you can breathe it in. The best way is to breathe it in intervals of about 15- 20 minutes.
Alternatively, put a few drops in a tub of hot water then soak for 20 minutes. Talk about stress relief! Also, lavender really does work on burns. I’ve used it on myself to treat minor burns from being careless in the kitchen or burning myself while soldering a guitar repair. It seems that the lavender seals the burn and takes away the heat immediately — perhaps why burns seem to heal so quickly. A cumulative bonus effect is that, while the lavender is healing the burn, the fragrance is calming me down at the same time.
The technical explanation
I should explain how this works in your brain. You see, our nose is a sensitive appendage. Our nose is the principle part of our OLFACTORY system. As scents go through our nostrils the brain has a sorting event that takes place. Based on our life experience, we determine if something smells good or not. What we don’t realize is that there is an electrical impulse or jolt that hits the brain while all this is happening. That impulse causes certain chemical responses to occur. This happens in milliseconds and the amount of electrical charge is about 1-2 volts. In the case of pure lavender, the brain responds with the chemical that allows us to relax and de-stress. Most of the time, headaches subside because the chain reaction initiated by the lavender allows us to release the stress causing chemical and replace it with a “chill out” chemical. On the flip side, too much lavender can cause a person to be energized and become a personal hurricane.
- Get a bottle of pure lavender oil — a quality company is Prima Fleur.
- Get a diffuser.
Use the oil sparingly — a little goes a long way (remember the hurricane thing).
- Do not apply it directly on the skin unless you are treating a minor burn.
Go to the Emergency room or call EMSA if you have a serious burn.
This is not the 1800s — we have really fast ambulances now.
- Breathe the lavender or add a few drops to your bath as an aid to de-stress.
The uses of all the essential oils available are beyond the scope of this blog post. I suggest that you research for yourself and create your own collection for your home health kit. It’s taken me several years to get my collection going and everything I have is geared toward some type of muscle or tendon problem that I treat in my practice. No doubt, you will develop a collection geared toward your own most prominent needs.
peace and love