Essential Oils contain the essence or fragrant parts of plants. They are complex mixtures of naturally occurring chemicals that act as powerful attractants to insects to insure pollination and can also provide protection by repelling harmful insects.
Essential Oils are sometimes referred to as the "blood" of plants and are considered volatile. The term volatile is applied to essential oils because they consist of tiny molecules that evaporate when exposed to air, even at normal room temperatures. Rates of evaporation vary among different Essential Oils. Essential Oils will oxidize and lose their therapeutic action when left in the heat or light, so they are best stored in dark glass containers.
Essential Oils are extracted by various means from all parts of plants - the roots, bark, berries, nuts, resins, flowers, leaves, needles, bulbs, seeds and peels. Methods of extraction include steam distillation (the most common), carbon dioxide gas (CO2), solvent (absolutes), cold-pressed (scarification) and hydro distilled.
Methods of application include massage, inhalation, compresses, baths, vaporizers, sprays, tents and diffusers. Carrier oils that are extracted from nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are used to dilute essential oils when applying to the skin, protecting the skin from possible irritation from highly concentrated Essential Oils.
Safety Guidelines for Using Natural Plant Essential Oils
* Keep out of eyes * Keep out of the reach of children * Test patch for skin sensitivity * Some citrus oils are phototoxic, meaning they can cause permanent discoloration of the skin when the skin is exposed to the sun * Pregnant women should exercise caution and use only citrus oils (not in the sun) and lavender oil -- other Essential Oils should be used with caution during pregnancy * Less is better * For external use
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using natural plant Essential Oils. Essential Oils contain chemical properties that have been shown to have certain effects on the human body, such as calming and sedative properties for stress reduction and better sleep, antimicrobial properties (antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal) and mood and energy enhancing properties.
Many people around the world, including physicians and hospitals in Europe and Russia, use Essential Oils for various therapeutic reasons. They use Essential Oils for relief from allergies/sinus/bronchitis/colds/flu, nausea, headaches, infections, arthritis, edema, muscle spasms, digestion and insomnia, etc.
Massage therapists use Essential Oils with carrier oils and apply them during massage. Those who use Essential Oils claim they receive many benefits from the natural properties of these very precious oils. If you've ever wondered why high-grade Essential Oils are so expensive, consider the following:
It takes 3000-4000 pounds of petals to distill one pound of Rose Oil. It takes 250 pounds of flowers to distill one pound of Lavender Oil. It takes 50 pounds of leaves to distill one pound of Eucalyptus Oil. In addition, the quality of Essential Oils varies considerably.
My family and I have tried several brands of Essential Oils and we have found that the Essential Oils produced by Young Living are of the highest quality and we will now use nothing less than Young Living EO's for our family. We have experienced such wonderful results from using Young Living Essential Oils, that both my daughter and I have become independent distributors. If you would also like to experience the joy of these wonderful Essential Oils, you may purchase Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils on my website at www.kaleidoscopehealth.net/ESSENTIAL-OILS.html.
Essential Oils: A Natural Way to Deal with Stress
The past century created an increase in various types of stress for the human family. Included in the package of convenience and luxury is the added stress of incorporating new technology into our lives. We have traded the hard work of daily chores for going to work to pay for the new gadgets and other items that make life more comfortable for us. However, we may be acquiring more stress while doing this.
Without naming the many sources of stress, each of us can take a personal inventory to determine which sources are most prevalent in our lives. Undoubtedly, the world we are currently living in creates an overwhelming number of stressful situations that affect us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
* Autonomic Nervous System(ANS) * Parasympathetic Nervous System(PNS) * Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) * Rest and Digest * Fright - Fight - Flight Response * Safety Response * Stress Response * Slows down SNS Function v Accelerates SNS Function * Supports the Immune System * Suppresses the Immune System * Supports the Digestive System * Suppresses the Digestive System * Supports the Reproductive System * Suppresses the Reproductive System * Supports Higher Mind and * Analytical Problem-Solving Abilities * Decreases Higher Mind and Analytical Problem-Solving Abilities
The human reaction to stress is a natural response that is built into our nervous system. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls functions in our organs and glands that we do not need to think about, such as our heart beat and hormone (chemical) secretion, etc. Stress activates a branch of our ANS called the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
When we are faced with a stressful situation, our hypothalamus sends a message to our anterior pituitary gland through CRF (corticotrophin releasing factor) and on to the adrenal cortex. The adrenal cortex initiates ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone) and cortisol is released, which increases blood pressure, blood glucose and amino acids. Cortisol exerts a negative feedback effect on the hypothalamus, which inhibits further release of CRF. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) takes over once more and we resume a state of rest and relaxation.
This is a natural cycle, and a wonderful built-in mechanism for us to deal with threatening (stressful) situations. However, a problem develops when we are continually bombarded with stressful problems, as this causes us to live in a perpetual state of arousal due to sympathetic nervous system activation. Unfortunately, living with chronic illness that affects the nervous system, such as Lyme disease, is a major cause of continual stimulation of the sympathetic sub-system. Add to that situation the stress caused by denial of medical care, loss of physical and mental abilities, financial struggles and resulting strains on relationships, and such a situation becomes a destructive cycle of stress that is an obstacle to regaining one's health. This heightened state of being on continual guard can have detrimental affects on our health, lowering our immune defenses, opening the door to dis-ease and closing the door to wellness.
The Affects of Essential Oils on the Limbic System
The limbic system is comprised of several brain structures. These structures are the hippocampus, nucleus acumbens, amygdala, cyngulate gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, anterior thalamic nuclei, septum, olfactory bulb and the limbic cortex. This most-important system supports a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, memory and olfaction, which is our sense of smell. The word "limbic" comes from the Latin word limbus, which is loosely translated as "border" or "belt".
As an aroma enters the nasal cavity, it comes into contact with between three and five million receptor neurons, which are nerve cells that are exposed in the upper part of the nose and nasal septum. These fine, hair-like projections are called cilia and they actually extend beyond the epithelium surface into the mucosa.
The receptor neurons convert the aroma into a message that is sent to the olfactory bulb. Generated nerve impulses that reach the limbic system in this way activate smell-related emotions and behaviors. They play a major role in many emotions, such as pain, pleasure, anger, rage, fear, sorrow, sexual feelings, docility and affection.
The amygdala and the hippocampus play crucial roles in the formation of memories. When the amygdala registers emotional significance to sensory information, such as an aroma, its evaluation is sent to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is vital for learning and short-term memory, and it organizes the information received and then files it with previous memories that have similar sensory details.
The hypothalamus controls the autonomic nervous system, and is the main regulator for heart rate, digestion, sweating, vasoconstriction and eye blinking. The hypothalamus responds to olfactory stimuli by sending neuronal signals to the autonomic nervous system, the brain stem or the pituitary gland, which is the master gland of the human body. It is through control of the hypothalamus that the limbic region influences the entire endocrine system of hormones.
The creation of an aromatic memory-based response using Essential Oils chosen for their various emotional and physiological therapeutic properties can be a useful tool for massage therapists. An Essential Oil or Essential Oil blend is prepared according to the needs of the client and utilized during the massage session.
The combination of massage and aroma puts the client into a parasympathetic nervous state. While in this peaceful, calm and relaxing state, the aroma of the single Essential Oil or blend of Essential Oils will create a memory that is directly related to the client's relaxing experience of rest and relaxation from massage.
The massage oil blend that was created especially for that client can be sent home with the client for further use. When the client inhales the oil again, the aroma, through the olfactory and limbic systems, can recreate, activate and reinforce the original memory of the relaxed parasympathetic state on the massage table. In this way, the client is able to have some control over their own nervous system for healthful benefits.
The same affect can be achieved through inhalation of Essential Oils while listening to Guided Imagery CDs, such as the excellent CD's recorded by Hypnotherapist Linda Bennett at www.kaleidoscopehealth.net/GUIDED-IMAGERY.html).
About the Author
Tina Juliette Garcia is a freelance writer, Lyme disease patient and advocate who founded Lyme Education Awareness Program, L.E.A.P. Arizona, a non-profit that provides education about Lyme disease and co-infections. Visit her website at www.leaparizona.com.
Tina is currently focusing her service to the chronic illness patient community through Massage Therapy, Aromatherapy and Life Coaching. Tina is offering COMPLIMENTARY LIFE COACHING sessions to introduce patients to a new perspective on wellness through the MIND-BODY-SPIRIT CONNECTION.