Dusty discovered essential oils after becoming more descriminating about what she applied topically to her body. In an effort to reduce the contact of certain chemicals with her skin, she started looking for a more natural approach to substances such as skin care products. Essential oils proved to be a wonderful natural substitue for perfume. While using them, she discovered that they held healing properties as well. Following up on this discovery, she incorporated the oils into her health-care regimine.
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is "essential" in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils do not form a distinctive category for any medical, pharmacological, or culinary purpose.
Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. Other processes include expression, or solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products.
Various essential oils have been used medicinally at different periods in history. Medical application proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to remedies for cancer, and often are based on nothing better than historical accounts of use of essential oils for these purposes. Claims for the efficacy of medical treatments and treatment of cancers in particular, are now subject to regulation in most countries, and to avoid criminal liability, suppliers of fringe remedies are becoming increasingly vague in what they promise.
As the use of essential oils has declined in evidence-based medicine, one must consult older textbooks for much information on their use.] Modern works are less inclined to generalize; rather than refer to "essential oils" as a class at all, they prefer to discuss specific compounds, such as methyl salicylate, rather than "oil of wintergreen".
Interest in essential oils has revived in recent decades with the popularity of aromatherapy, a branch of alternative medicine that claims that essential oils and other aromatic compounds have curative effects. Oils are volatilized or diluted in a carrier oil and used in massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer, heated over a candle flame, or burned as incense.
Although there is currently something of a dismissive attitude concerning essential oils in pharmacology, various essential oils retain considerable popular use, partly in fringe medicine and partly in popular remedies. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to obtain reliable references concerning their pharmacological merits. Publications recommending alternative remedies are prone to making vague and wildly ambitious claims.
In some applications, there is no doubt particular essential oils have considerable advantages over many over-the-counter drugs and for clinically minor, but nonetheless troublesome, conditions that do not respond decisively to prescription drugs. For example, congestion and persistent coughs, particularly dry coughs, often respond well, economically and safely to direct inhalation of vapours. The vapours may be administered by inhalers, steam kettles, fragrant ointments, lozenges to be sucked, or strongly aromatic sugarless chewing gum.
Typical ingredients for such applications include eucalyptus oils, menthol, capsaicin, anise and camphor. Other essential oils work well in these applications, but it is notable that yet others offer no significant benefit. This illustrates the fact that different essential oils may have drastically different pharmacology. Those that do work well for upper respiratory tract and bronchial problems act variously as mild expectorants and decongestants. Some act as locally anaesthetic counterirritants, and thereby exert an antitussive effect.
Many essential oils affect the skin and mucous membranes in ways that variously are valuable or harmful. They are used in antiseptics and liniments in particular. Typically, they produce rubefacient irritation at first, and then counterirritant numbness. Turpentine oil and camphor are two typical examples of oils that cause such effects. Menthol and some others produce a feeling of cold followed by a sense of burning. This is caused by its effect on heat-sensing nerve endings. Some essential oils, such as clove oil or eugenol, were popular for many years in dentistry as antiseptics and local anaesthetics. Thymol also is well-known for its antiseptic effects. Taken by mouth, many essential oils can be dangerous in high concentrations. Typical effects begin with a burning feeling, followed by salivation. In the stomach, the effect is carminative, relaxing the gastric sphincter and encouraging eructation (belching). Further down the gut, the effect typically is antispasmodic.
Use in aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine in which healing effects are ascribed to the aromatic compounds in essential oils and other plant extracts. Many common essential oils have medicinal properties that have been applied in fold medicine since ancient times and are still widely used today. For example, many essential oils have antiseptic properties. Many are also claimed to have an uplifting effect on the mind. Such claims, if meaningful, are not necessarily false, but are too vague to be taken seriously in the light of the sheer variability of the materials used in the practice.
The Information listed above on Essential Oils is from Wikepedia.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ESSENTIAL OILS
Encyclopedia Britannica - Online
Wikepedia - on Essential Oils
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