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By Cynthia Petersen
You’ve heard of the healing power of the aloe vera plant, haven’t you? My mother kept a live plant on the counter in the kitchen. If she was burned while cooking, she would just snip off a tip of the leaf and rub it on the burn. Not only did it take away the sting, but it healed faster, too.
Most people know this little trick, especially if they like to cook, like me, and get burned a lot. However, there are countless other plants that provide health benefits, as well, such as lavender, oregano, rosemary, and peppermint.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to heal and ease pain, but it wasn’t until 1910 that the secrets of the oils have been truly revealed.
According to oilsandplants.com, French chemist Rene Gattefosse was working in the laboratories of the cosmetics firm his family owned. He burned his hand during an experiment and plunged it into the nearest tub of liquid, which just happened to be lavender oil.
Gattefosse’s hand healed so quickly and with little scarring, that he became fascinated with essential oils. This inspired him to experiment with them during the First World War on soldiers in the military hospitals. He used lavender, thyme, lemon and clove oils for their antiseptic properties. The chemist saw an increase in the rate of healing in wounds treated with essential oils and that the oils seemed to be free from the disadvantages present with other antiseptics that were currently being used.
And even though Gattefosse’s work showed significant improvements in the healing of wounds and easing of pain with the oils, it wasn’t until the 1990s that more people became intrigued with the oils, a more natural alternative to traditional medicine.
Though aromatherapy has been around for quite some time, its popularity has increased in the last two decades. Essential oils can be used in a number of ways, including through a diffuser. There are many types of diffusers, but most are about 6 or 7 inches tall and sit on a table. The oils are added to water and the diffuser acts as a vaporizer to distribute a mist filled with the essential oils. Not only do the oils have health benefits, it smells good, too.
Some of the oils used in aromatherapy include chamomile, geranium, lavender, tea tree, lemon, orange, cedarwood, and bergamot. Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. They are often combined to create exactly what the body requires for each ailment, including joint pain, sleeplessness, digestive problems, headaches, and skin problems.
Each essential oil used in aromatherapy is said to have different properties. For example, some calm while others energize. The following lists some of the therapeutic uses of several oils for a few of today's most common complaints. There are some real "multitaskers," like lavender, ylang ylang and bergamot oils that treat more than one problem.
Aromatherapy can also have an impact on pain. Certain scents activate smell receptors in the nose, which triggers a reaction in the nervous system. This, in turn, stimulates the part of your brain that controls emotion, triggering the release of feel-good hormones, such as dopamine.
Here are a few ways essential oils can benefit your health, according to mevei.com:
Stress– Lavender, Bergamot, Peppermint, Veitievr, Ylang Ylang
Insomnia– Lavender, Chamomile, Neroli, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang
Anxiety– Lavender, Bergamot, Sandalwood,
Depression– Lavender, Peppermint
Decongesting – Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Pine, Tea tree
SO how do you know if an essential oil is real? It’s no secret that some companies try to sell a product that is not true essential oils. Globalessence.com suggest you look at the bottle; unscrew the cap and see if it has an orifice reducer, a plug that controls the amount of drops that comes out at once. It should also come in a dark or amber bottle and kept in a cool place.
Essentials are not really considered oils at all; it’s just a label that came from essential “oils” not missing well with water. A test you can do to see if a product is real, is to put a drop on a piece of white paper. If it leaves an oil ring, you know oil has been added to the mix and you are better off not purchasing that particular product.
Another thing you want to look at is the price. Essential oils can be costly because it is quite a process squeezing out the essences of a plant. But once again, if you can use essential oils to help you feel better and increase your quality of life, I would personally choose to use essential oils over a trip to the doctor any day.
The old saying remains true today; an ounce of prevention is still better than a pound of cure.