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History of Essential Oils
Extracted from botanicals, that is, from plants and trees. They are part of the plants immune system processed by distillation but others such as the citrus oils may be extracted in different ways. Essential Oils are all natural, so they work in harmony with nature. They are more concentrated than the herbs they were extracted from and they contain hormones, vitamins, antiseptics that work on our immune systems. Essential Oils are up to 100 times more concentrated than dried herbs, so they must be used with caution. Essential oils to a greater lesser extents are antiseptic (it combats infection), bactericide (they kill bacteria or inhibit the growth of bacteria), when applied to the skin the generally promote cell rejuvenation and assist all kinds of skin problems. They may be inhaled, applied to the skin (usually with a carrier oil) or they may be taken internally under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. It is not safe for an individual to take internally without the assistance of a practitioner because they are extremely concentrated. Mixed in a carrier oil generally would contain bout 2% essential oil and 98% carrier oil. Carrier oils could include Jojoba, which in fact is not an oil but rather an Ester which contains lots of Vitamin E and is favored by massage therapists as it never turn rancid and when used alone does not discolor the sheets they work with. Others may include Almond, Walnut,Etc. The most popular being Almond, it has a limited shelf life, so often massage therapists will request that we mix 10% Jojoba with 90% Almond to extend it's shelf life. They have been with us since antiquity. Certainly the Egyptians mastered the art for therapeutic reasons and learned allot about them using the oils to embalm the great citizens, the pharaohs and high priests who died. Eventually, the ability to do this led the high priest, who was also the Aromatherapists of the day, to apply the therapeutic benefits to themselves and other people in the Egyptian society. This use continued for many thousands of years but was largely abandoned in the US around the 1850'S when we entered what we call the Age of Science and abandoned the Age of Sensible medicine,being mostly continued in Europe and certainly Asia for the benefit of the people in those societies. Their use recently returned to the US because of the eventual failure of antibacterial's to cure allot of the illnesses that they used to cure. Essential oils being very complex were very difficult for bacteria and viruses to defend themselves from and also had the benefit of little or no side effects contrary to medicines that you see on the pharmacy shelves today. There are many books written about aromatherapy essential oils and their application and also giving us a descriptive knowledge of our sense of smell and why they are so effective whether inhaled or put upon our skin. One booklet that is good to begin with is Carol Corlo's book "Enhance the Quality of Life with Aromatherapy". It is only 19 pages but is a great introduction to Aromatherapy and from there is your interest is increased you can go onto some of the fine books that appear in better bookstores everywhere or see in your local libraries. Essential Oils can influence our mood, they can pick us up when we are down, help us relax when we are feeling anxious. Essential Oils also have a physical value. We are all familiar with Eucalyptus, Lavender & Tea Tree, that when inhaled or applied to the skin give relief from many illnesses or symptoms of many illnesses.

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Gerry McCarthy