Nature’s healing gifts – aromatherapy and herbal medicineOctober 16, 2018
Simply defined, aromatherapy is the use of scent for healing. It can be a very easy and practical everyday therapy to use at home. In fact, many types of aromatherapy applications can also be made at home.
Aromatherapy is very versatile and has many uses and benefits. It’s especially good for dealing with topical issues with skin, issues with mood, hair, emotional and mental health concerns. It actually has a lot of really practical applications.
Aromatherapy is something that is very primal. Your first aromatherapy experience in life is when your mother smells the top of your head and you smell your mother and these are imprinting scents that stay with us forever.
They’re part of our primal scents, they’re part of our primal being and that’s what aromatherapy taps into, the more primal parts of our brain. Because of this, aromatherapy works slightly differently for each individual.
There are general uses for particular types of oils, however, the reality is that each person processes scent differently and our sense of smell can invoke lots of different things in different individuals; for example, memories, feelings, deep emotion.
That’s because smell activates our most primal emotions including fear, love and lust and so most major memories are often centred around a time of great joy, great love, great lust, fear or anxiety and we remember these moments.
For some people lavender can smell really unpleasant and other people find it very relaxing. The reality is that you don’t know how you or someone else will react to an essential oil and no matter what all of the books say, each person has their own unique experience with aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy works on a lot of different levels to improve our holistic health. Topically it has constituents in it that can actually help fight infection and viral or fungal issues.
They’re also really good at helping with emotional issues such as anxiety, fear, stress, and can aid in relaxation. It’s really important that we research each oil before we use it to improve our holistic outlook.
What are some benefits of using herbal and aromatherapy treatments over conventional medicine?
I find that when used properly, herbs and aromatherapies have a lot less side effects than conventional medicine. I also think that with a lot of conventional medicines (especially those that are used to fight disease) many of the diseases are becoming resistant.
I also think that our bodies react better to natural medicine and more quickly in a lot of ways because it fixes the building blocks that are missing. Now I’m not saying that natural medicine would always be the best option for someone, especially someone with strong acute pain for example. You have to be really smart with your use of herbal medicine. But it can often be really beneficial for chronic issues or issues that aren’t responding to conventional drugs.
So if you’re exhausted, taking a caffeine pill or some kind of upper isn’t going to fix the problem, it’s going to make the problem worse. If you’re exhausted and you’re using herbal remedies to help rebuild your body and you’re using essential oils that will help you sleep and relax, that’s going to have a greater benefit than something conventional.
What precautions do people need to take with herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine has a very low super danger rate overall. There are issues and contraindications but you have a lot less deaths and injuries that occur from one dose of an herbal remedy versus someone who takes the wrong pharmaceutical pill.
That being said, there is a huge misconception that herbal medicines – because they’re natural – can just be taken in any way, shape or quantity. The first thing that you have to do if you’re going to use something natural is to know what you’re using. There is a different kind of regulation – or a lack of regulation – around herbal medicine and you really have to rely on the consumer to self-educate.
The first thing you should do is to find some educational materials. Don’t just rely on what you’re seeing on the internet or on Facebook. You actually need to make sure that you are getting real education; books, courses – these are all great ways to find correct information.
Make sure that you’re using the medicine properly and that you’re making sure that you don’t have any specific contraindications that would make it so this medicine wouldn’t be safe for you. Also it pays to bear in mind the ‘less is more’ approach.
If one dosage of the herbal remedy is really working for you, even though there may be the suggestion that you could take it three times a day, you don’t always have to do that. It also pays to use herbal medicine as close to its natural state as possible.
Teas, foods; these are great ways to take herbal medicine. There are also tinctures and capsules and those are really beneficial too, sometimes those work better for people on the go; however, I always like to take things back to its natural state as much as possible.
Make sure that you’re not using herbs that are not safe, that are considered poisonous. Make sure that you fully research what you’re using.
What precautions do you need to take with aromatherapy?
Not enough precautions are taken with aromatherapy. My first guideline to all people who come and study with me is you don’t take essential oils internally, you do not drink them.
There’s a trend going around lately with people drinking essential oils but what these people run the risk of doing is burning themselves or having toxic side effects.
Essential oils are not made to be drunk; that was never the idea behind their initial usage and application. There are some kinds of essential oils that go through a food grading process to then make it safe to be used in food and they’re tested in food for their safety.
You must also not apply essential oils neat to the skin. Neat to the skin means ‘undiluted’. Essential oils can be easily diluted prior to application with creams, lotions, carrier oils, or salt.
How can we tell if an essential oil is good quality?
You can always tell if something is good quality from the bottle. Here are some things to look out for to make sure that your bottle is safe: it should be opaque, it shouldn’t be clear; the bottle should not have a dropper at the top with a little bulb, that bulb can deteriorate and degrade and affect the oil and the oil can affect the bulb.
It’s generally not safe to use oils that come with a dropper bulb. You can purchase an oil that already contains an orifice reducer, which is absolutely fine, but you need to make sure that you are buying oils from a reputable brand.
You can tell that an oil is good quality based on how well it works. Does it smell clean? Does it smell like it has additives or vegetable oils in it? You should make sure that the label says what it is. It needs to say the name of the company, the size that you’re purchasing, and the company’s contact information.
The ingredients should be the name of the oil and the Latin name of the oil, unless it is a blend but everything else that is in it should be labeled. You should know exactly what you’re purchasing.
Also essential oils shouldn’t feel greasy. They’re not greasy; they’re almost like a wet-dry. They don’t feel the same way as a traditional oil does because they’re not a traditional oil
Where’s the best place to start using aromatherapy and herbal remedies?
You can go to your local health food store and purchase essential oils. Get to know the different kinds of oils and discover which oils you want to work with. When you’re purchasing essential oils, price isn’t always an indicator of quality, so remember that.
Find oils that work for you and then get started on some formulas, very simple formulas and make sure that you follow safety guidelines. Make sure that you don’t use oils that are not safe.
There’s lots of lists out there, I have a list in my book, Aromatherapy, of unsafe oils. You want to make sure that you use them from proper containers; they shouldn’t be stored in plastic.
A great way to start working with herbal remedies is with teas. You can even purchase pre-blended teas until you learn more about it and then you can start making a few teas yourself. Most health food stores have a bulk herb section or you may have some herbs in your garden which you can use. It’s always best to start close to home.
Herbs and aromatherapy can be really fun, beneficial and they can add a lot of bonuses to a healthy and active lifestyle, but you need to make sure that you’re safe and that you know exactly what you’re using.
Make sure that your essential oils and herbs are properly labeled with their common name and their Latin name and make sure that you follow the dosage, usage and safety instructions that you can find in most of your books and resources.
Demetria is the author of ‘Aromatherapy and Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Birth and Breastfeeding’, ‘Herbal Healing for Children and Three Hundred and Seventy Five Herbal and Aromatherapy Recipes’ and also ‘Aromatherapy’.
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- Nature’s healing gifts – aromatherapy and herbal medicine - October 16, 2018