What is Holistic Aromatherapy?
Holistic Aromatherapy is the healing art and science of using aromatic plants for their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits. From these aromatic plants, essential oils, absolutes, resins, concretes and CO2 extracts are produced. A wide variety of plant materials are distilled such as: flowers, leaves, rhizomes, branches, roots, bark, resins, and seeds. There are several forms of extraction from aromatic plants, the most common are the use of steam distillation, expression (also known as cold pressing for distillation of citrus peel oils) and the use of liquid solvents. Steam distillation is the most common type of extraction because many different types of plant materials can be used with this process, including leaves, flowers, seeds and bark. During this process, plant material is placed on a grid above boiling water and steam is passed through the plant material at a high pressure separating the oil from the plant material. The oil becomes dissolved in the boiling water and when it cools, the oil either floats to the bottom or top of the water depending on the density of the oil. The oil is then separated from the water and the result of extraction produces a true essential oil. Most essentials oils are very thin feeling, almost the consistency of water and are considered to be the essence and volatile life force of an aromatic plant. An essential oil contains chemical compounds called constituents that hold the therapeutic properties of the plant. Each plant may have hundreds of compounds and so an individual plant’s therapeutic range is quite vast. Essential oils are very concentrated and powerful. They have the unique ability to purify the atmosphere, repel insects, strengthen the body, lift the spirit, and nurture the soul. Holistic Aromatherapy is one of nature’s true preventative therapies.
Ancient Roots: Our History of Aromatic Plant Use
Human beings have a very long documented history utilizing aromatics plants in their daily rituals for medicinal, domestic, and spiritual practices. By employing aromatic plants into daily life, ancient civilizations were able to help ward of plagues and infectious diseases that spread throughout the world. Imagine a time when there was no sanitation, no insulated houses, and no refrigeration. Aromatic plants were used for disinfecting and purifying on a daily basis. People spread aromatic leaves and flowers on their floors throughout their homes to help ward of airborne viruses, insects and to kill odors. Poultices and compresses were made with aromatic plants to heal wounds and to treat skin disorders. Preserving food with aromatic plants helped keep it from spoiling. The Egyptians perfected the art of mummification and used aromatic plants as preservatives extensively. Imagine the benefits aromatic plants are capable of when they are still found in well preserved bodies thousands of years old. Aromatics gums, resins and incense were commonly used in daily spiritual offerings and religious ceremonies in many cultures, and are still widely used throughout the world today.
The Art of Blending
The art of blending essential oils is not only a wonderful way to create unique scents, it’s also a powerful way to strengthen an individual essential oil’s effectiveness and therapeutic range of use. When you create a harmonious blend of essential oils it is called a synergy. An aromatic synergy that has been skillfully formulated with plants that enhance one another can become greater than the sum of its singular part. I think of a synergy as like a car engine that needs many different parts to run effectively; every part serving a purpose for the greater whole. An example of this process is in our blend, Sweet Dreams. It contains several essential oils, one being True lavender. True lavender contains a constituent that gives it a sedative action and when you combine it with essential oils that share this quality, the plants can become more effective in their abilities.
Essential oils are classified as top, middle and base notes. Top notes of essential oils are light, fresh and have a quality that is immediately uplifting. They also have a quick evaporation rate. Examples are: lemon, eucalyptus and bergamot. Middle notes are the heart of the blend and will generally be the highest concentration of the oils. Examples are: lavender, marjoram and geranium. Base notes are the rich, heavy and often earthy essential oils that are the underlying scent. Base notes are a fixative in a blend and will hold it together and add a lasting quality. Examples are: patchouli, cedarwood and ginger.
It is important when blending that you take in part the top, middle and base notes, so that you bring balance to the blend. If too much top note essential oils are used with not enough middle or base notes, your blend may not have a lasting, pleasing quality.
In our ever growing technologically advanced world we have come to depend on the earth in many different ways. Chemical isolation is a dependency that has transformed our way of life and environment. When the isolation of chemicals in the use of perfume fragrances and cosmetics began in 19th century, we began losing our connection with using aromatic plants for therapy. Although fragrances remained very popular throughout the world, they were being artificially produced largely for scent. It wasn’t until 1928 when French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse coined the term “aromatherapy,” that we experienced a resurgence of using aromatic plants for healing. While working in his family’s perfumery business, Gottefosse suffered a severe burn on his hand and on a whim, he plunged his hand into a vat of lavender to sooth it. To his surprise it healed rather quickly and also helped prevent scarring. This experience sparked his interest in the therapeutic effects of aromatic plants and he began studying the healing effects of essential oils. Gottefosse was intrigued with the active compounds of essential oils compared to synthetic substitutes in perfumery. He was also amazed with their ability to heal in totality without using isolated compounds of the plant.
When chemicals are individually isolated from plant sources, whole materials can loose their holistic effectiveness. For example, the essential oil from the Peppermint plant contains a constituent called menthol. Most people have heard of menthol and often have a product that contains it in their home. This single component has an analgesic (numbing) action, but it is isolated, and thus limited in its holistic range. Menthol can also be very toxic in small quantities. Unfortunately, this type of process is inexpensive, massed produced, highly profitable, and gives the consumer the belief that the products work well. This process of isolation is not holistic in nature and actually contradicts nature’s ability to heal and transform. If we use Peppermint essential oil in its whole form we benefit from all of the other therapeutic actions it offers, such as: digestive, anti-inflammatory, and anti-neuralgic properties. As a result of this type of chemical dependency, we are seeing the negative impact it has on our planet. There is an incredible balance within nature in that by utilizing our natural resources wisely, it will sustain us.
We source our ingredients from all over the world. Plants grow to their fullest therapeutic potency in many regions throughout the world. It is our commitment to obtain raw botanical ingredients from the source of origin, or from a particular region that has the required climate and soil to yield a high quality product. It is our goal that you are completely satisfied with your product. Included in our company’s mission, is to offer organic ingredients products that are free of potentially harmful chemicals such as: synthetic fragrance oils, parabens, sulfates and petro chemicals. We oppose animal testing as we feel there are plenty of willing people to offer assistance.
Essential oils are generally very safe to use daily when compliance to specific directions and guidelines are applied, and there are no allergies to a particular plant. It is important to note that pure essential oils are very concentrated and only a few drops are needed to create a desired effect. There can be a misconception with natural remedies that because they are natural, it is safe to use in any amount. This is not the case. Below is a list of essential oils that are contraindicated for specific illnesses or pregnancy. We do not use several essential oils because of their known toxicity, even in small amounts. We still include these oils on our list, even though they are not contained in our products.
It is always best to dilute pure essential oils in a fixed oil, such as jojoba or sweet almond oil before applying to the skin. Essential oils can cause a reaction in some individuals. We recommend administering a skin patch test if you are concerned about a particular essential oil by applying one drop to your inner forearm area, where the skin is thinner than the rest of the body. If a rash or allergy type symptoms such as itching or swelling occur within an hour, wash the area thoroughly with a mild soap and water, and discontinue use. If accidentally swallowed, contact the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.
Many clients ask if it safe to ingest essential oils. It is safe to ingest certain essential oils under the care of a qualified aromatherapist. If you are interested in creating an aromatherapy wellness plan, please contact us for more information to schedule a consultation with clinical aromatherapist, Rachel Fowler.
For children and the elderly, use 1/3 of the directed amount. Do not use pure essential oils undiluted on children.
PREGNANCY: Avoid the following essential oils: angelica, anise star, aniseed, basil, bay laurel, birch, black pepper, camphor, cedarwood, celery seed, cinnamon leaf, citronella, clary sage, clove, cumin, cypress, fennel (sweet), garlic, hyssop, immortelle, juniper, labdanum, lemon balm, lovage, marjoram, mugwort, myrrh, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pennyroyal, pine, Spanish sage, sassafras, tansy, tarragon, thyme wintergreen, wormwood.
First trimester of pregnancy: Avoid the following essential oils: geranium, peppermint, roman chamomile, rose and rosemary.
Children under age of 30 months: Avoid the following essential oils topically: eucalyptus, peppermint.
ASTHMA: Avoid the following essential oils: camphor, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, yarrow.
DIABETES: Avoid the following essential oil: angelica.
EPILEPSY: Avoid the following essential oils: sweet fennel, hyssop, rosemary and all types of sage.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (Hypertension): Avoid the following essential oils: hyssop, rosemary, sage (Spanish and Common), thyme.
LOW BLOOD PRESSURE (Hypotension): Avoid the following essentials oils: clary sage, marjoram.
HOMEOPATHY: The following essential oils are not compatible: black pepper, cajuput, camphor, cinnamon, clove bud, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, spearmint.
PHOTOTOXICITY: The following essential oils can cause skin pigmentation if exposed to direct sunlight, diluted and undiluted. Do not use the following if the area will be exposed to the sun: angelica root, bergamot, clary sage, cumin, ginger, lemon, lovage, mandarin, neroli, patchouli, sweet orange, and verbena.
Our products and statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. They are not meant to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. As with all medicine, please seek advice from a qualified health practitioner before use.