I trained in Aromatherapy massage with pre-blended essential oils; this included studying the benefits and uses of many amazing essential oils. I was very lucky to have an amazing lecturer, who thrived on taking us that step further; encouraging us to blend our own products at home and telling us fascinating stories of her time working in Health Spas in France.
I will never forget her and feel very fortunate to have had such a passionate and enthusiastic mentor. She inspired me and gave me the confidence to delve deeper into nature's powerful and medicinal essential oils. Now they are a part of my family's daily skincare, body care, health and even cleaning, I just can't get enough of them, I love mixing up potions and lotions and always have my books to hand when anyone has health or emotional concerns. I have also been lucky enough to train with Decleor, Aromatherapy Associates and Eve Taylor.
Here's the Science Bit!
Essential oils are not actually oil; they are a concentrated liquid/essence which comes from plants, flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, roots, seeds and barks. The oil is extracted through a process of either steam distillation, maceration (soaked in vegetable oil, heated and strained) or cold pressing.
They are the life force of the plant and are incredibly versatile. Each oil has array of benefits, healing properties and uses and best of all they are natural! The therapeutic effects have been recognised for over 5,000 years. Egyptians embalmed their dead with aromatic essences using frankincense, myrrh and cedarwood to embalm and galbanum, cinnamon and clove to mummify. The Greeks used essences as perfumes, to cure illnesses and for massage.
In the early 20th Century a French Chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, was working in his lab when he burnt himself badly with a Bunsen burner.
I have recently discover the well known account of how he plunged his hand into the nearest thing to hand - a vat of lavender oil and discovered how quickly the burn healed, leaving no scar or subsequent infection. BUT in an article written by Robert Tisserand he uncovers the plunging on the hand into the lavender is incorrect - such a shame as I loved telling this story! But Gattefosse did burn his hand and he did treat it with lavender oil!
“In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910).”
After this he did a lot more research into essential oils in fact he dedicated his life to it and published his first book "Aromathérapie", in 1937. His vision and dedication inspired him to coin the word Aromatherapy. You can read more at Robert Tisserand.
The Benefits of Essential Oils
Most essential oils are antiseptics and bactericides meaning they inhibit the growth of bacteria. They have affinities with different organs of the body, are absorbed into the bloodstream, are mood enhancing and have many beauty and wellbeing uses including stimulating or toning, healing or decongesting, relaxing or soothing.
If you would like to learn more about essential oils here are some great books:
- The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood - a classic and my favourite
- New Vital Oils by Liz Earle
Or even better take a course - you'll love it! And involve your family too, my son loves making products and they make a gorgeous, personalised gift.
PLEASE ALWAYS take note of the contraindications (condition or factor in which the use of a particular product or treatment is not advised) of the various oils. Always do the patch test before applying the oils to detect the reaction of your skin. For use on pregnant women (or trying), babies & children, or if you have any medical condition, please refer to a qualified Aromatherapist first.