The History of Essential Oils
The history of essential oils and their healing qualities is long and rich. Since the beginning of early civilization oils and resins from aromatic plants have been used for their therapeutic properties. The history of Egyptian culture shows how they used resins and fragrant oils for ceremonies, offerings to the gods as well as embalming. During the same period, India established these aromatic oils as part of their Ayurvedic health care system while China also used essential oils as the basis for Traditional Chinese Medicine. Although the use of essential oils has evolved over the years, the basic principles remain the same. Oils extracted from aromatic plants have been recognized as the most effective medicine known to mankind.
Essential oils are distilled from plants and embody the regenerating, protective, and immune strengthening properties of plants. Unique structural features of essential oils allow them to be active both on the surface of the skin and within cells. This powerful influence is possible because essential oil compounds are lipid soluble and have a small molecular size. What does lipid soluble mean? These substances are insoluble in water. They will very selectively disperse through the environment via uptake in living tissue.
Essential Oils Today
The purity of essential oils is affected by a vast number of variables such as the part of the plant from which the oil was produced, soil condition, seed quality, geographic location, organic fertilizer (or not), harvest season, climate etc. As our civilization has advanced so has our procurement of oils. Anything less than pure, therapeutic grade essential oil may not produce the desired results and can be extremely toxic. Although there is not a governmental agency that grades or certifies oil for therapeutic properties it is wise to always investigate and be familiar with the source. A product that I use and recommend is doTerra which is produced to very high standards and one of the few that calls itself therapeutic.
Oils can be applied in various ways and most can be applied topically either neat (with no dilution) or diluted, inhaled directly or with a diffuser. The best reference I’ve used for their properties, uses and application is Modern Essentials – A contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils.