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Essential Oils

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An Aromatic Perspective We have just completed a century marked by specializations in almost every field and profession.

We have just completed a century marked by specializations in almost every field and profession. This trend of mechanistic thinking, which focuses on the parts rather than the whole, doesn't hold its own in the field of healing, where the subject is the living human body with its subtle dimensions, complexities and interactions of all the different parts.

Nature has patiently shown us her complex systems, harmoniously interacting with each other as a unit and herbalists have had much opportunity to observe this reality. What we call single herbs are complex chemical compositions. As a result of the extraction process, essential oils of aromatic herbs are much more concentrated compounds than found in the natural form.

Essential oils are endowed with so many attributes that they have become a unique therapeutic substance in the armamentarium of the herbal practitioner. Of course scent is a great plus in their favour. However alluring though, their aromas should not lead us to abuse them by overuse. So how can essential oils be safely used in the maintenance of human health?

Healing depends on all the different aspects of the human being working in harmonious balance with each other. Take for example the physical organs. According to Asian medicine, when an organ is degenerated, it's not the only one. Our organs work in league within a network of associated organs. Sometimes an organ "takes the fall" because its supportive network has been weakened or stressed. In holistic therapeutics, contributory factors are just as important as the actual illness.

Since "disease" does not happen overnight, it may not be possible to "get rid of it" by heroic measures. The rational way would be to take care of the body when it's in relative health. Aromatherapy is one of the more pleasant ways to help maintain the different systems of the human body in harmonious balance. Essential oils have the necessary ingredients for dealing with the physical as well as the emotional.

Promote Elimination

One of the major hindrances to the body's efficient running is clogged-up eliminatory channels. Elimination takes place at different levels-the bowels, kidneys, lungs, liver, lymphatic system, skin and of course at the cellular level too. The term "cleansing" means facilitating the elimination of accumulated body toxins through these systems.

There are a few practices which, performed daily, serve well to benefit the body's overall eliminatory efforts and may be performed without external help. These are: drinking adequate amounts of clean water; exercising (including some outdoor activity); eating whole grains and some uncooked vegetables and fruits, and getting enough rest and sleep. Peace, good humour and at least one big laugh are important too. Health practitioners may assist elimination with periodic massage therapy and colonic irrigations two to four times a year.

Different eliminatory processes benefit from the use of essential oils. For the bowels, occasionally massaging the abdomen with an oil prepared from rosemary, ginger and black pepper is helpful. This will also improve digestion and assimilation.

Kidneys are important organs for maintaining optimal blood electrolytes, thus balancing the pH of the blood and tissues vital for vibrant health and energy.

Some of the oils useful for kidney support are sandalwood, juniper, eucalyptus and onion. A bath-oil formula is convenient. Eating small amounts of raw onions with food is also useful. People using these preparations may experience increased micturition (urination).

The following are some of the lung oils: sage, sandalwood, eucalyptus, pine, cedar, cypress and hyssop. A suitable formula containing some of these may be used for inhalation and occasional massaging of the back and chest.

For the liver, prepare a massage medium using some of the following oils: cumin, rosemary, pine, lemon and onion. Massage over the liver or its reflex areas. The preferred way of benefiting from cumin and onions is to include them in one's diet rather than applying them externally, unless one is in an antisocial mood! Turmeric is another spice that is beneficial.

Keep it Moving

The lymphatic system is one of the most neglected areas of health maintenance. It has great significance in the areas of circulation and immunity and is worth regular attention. One of the best ways to avoid stagnancy of lymphatic fluid is by drinking enough good quality water with some fresh lemon squeezed into it. Specific exercises like skipping rope, rebounding, swimming and daily dry-rubbing the whole body with a loofah or a brush will all benefit elimination and your health. Another way is to periodically see a therapist specializing in manual lymph drainage of the whole body. If desired, a massage oil prepared with the essential oils of birch and lavender for gently applying over the whole body in the direction of the lymph flow is helpful.

Cleansing programs should not be attempted on one's own. Consult a registered herbal practitioner, naturopath or your favourite health practitioner trained in the use of essential oils before embarking on an elimination and exercise program. Essential oils should only be used diluted in a vegetable or seed oil in a one to three percent concentration.

Each person may respond differently to a given formula. Any of the oils mentioned may be used in combination. Please remember that some essential oils may cause an allergic reaction in susceptible people. Essential oils are to be used as aromatic oils for external application.

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