by Gayle Eversole, DHom, PhD, CRNP, AHG
Natural healing is an ancient practice, documented in cave paintings at least 80,000 years old. Through the ages more than three-fourths of the world’s population have relied on remedies from nature.
Most people associate this approach with physical health needs. The healers of the past knew better: they treated the mind, the spirit and emotions with the same remedies given to heal the body.
The holistic way of thinking is returning, accompanied by a revival of herbal, homeopathic, nutritional, orthomolecular, and other treatments, in matters of the mind.
Presented in this series will be an introduction to three natural treatment methods for emotional and mental states. For those new to this field, these remedies have been proven to be successful in 20th twentieth century research. The brief historical overview presented here may broaden your perspective when seeking helpful treatment approaches.
Essential oils were used in ancient Egypt, Sumeria and in earlier times. In this truly holistic therapy the mind and body are inseparable. Plato is to have said that the source of most illness has its roots in the soul. There may be no better way to influence the mind and spirit, than through a physical medium that includes nature’s essences; essential oils provide this.
Aromatherapy came to prominence in the early part of the 20th century. Rene Gattafosse coined this term while working in his family’s perfumery, in France. It was Rene who “discovered” the healing effectiveness of lavender after he treated a burn on his hand. A few researchers continued the study, but that slowed during WW II, except for the work of Jean Valnet, MD. Valnet was a military surgeon who used what he had learned from Gattafosse’s writings to treat wounded soldiers. Today, in France, there are more than 1,500 physicians who prescribe essential oils.
Scent has a special impact on living organisms. Scientific research into the human sense of smell finds it to be10,000 times more powerful than taste. Scent travels rapidly to the brain, and is shown to have a direct effect on the limbic system. The limbic system communicates with the autonomic nervous system. This is the known connection in the brain to the hypothalamus, emotion, memory, and some visceral (gut) reactions. Since the 1980’s olfactory research has promoted the psychological benefit of essential oils used in aromatherapy.
“The profound and complete therapeutic effects of essential oils derive from more than their pleasant fragrance. They have vital electromagnetic properties and vibrational energies that invigorate the mind, the soul, the body’s energy, and thus their functioning.” Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.
The most common treatment applications using pure essential oils are inhalation and application through the skin.
Inhalation may be as simple as sniffing the aroma from the bottle, applying a few drops to your pillowcase, or making up a spray bottle. Most professional aroma-therapists recommend utilizing a nebulizer for more constant exposure. In the European tradition, however, using ingested essential oil remedies are more common. A professional aroma-therapist should advise you on the proper dose and administration if you wish to use this method.
The benefits of essential oils can be achieved by direct application of the oils when used in baths, massage, or skin oils and lotions. Carrier oils (high quality vegetable oils) like sweet almond, hazelnut, or apricot seed are good choices. Lotions should be made from all natural ingredients, with vitamin E or rosemary oil as preservatives.
Sedative oils are psychoactive by ingestion but inhalation allows for more rapid effect, and smaller doses. Absorption rates of essential oils vary and this can be helpful in dose titration. The stimulant oils seem to work best with this approach.
The psycho-physiological effect essential oils can be observed with EEG. Cortical activity is altered in alpha, beta, delta, and theta waves. Research in Japan established that jasmine oil increases alertness and attention through beta-wave activity. Jasmine oil can also offer a stimulating effect.
The central nervous system has much to gain with the use of essential oils. They can be anti-depressant, sedative, tranquilizing, and release endorphins. The hypothalamic response affects the endocrine system through hormone release. Ultimately, all cells in a living organism are touched through the use of the oils.
Certain essential oils, for example, offer different psychological effects:
|Anti-depressant|| ylang ylang, geranium, jasmine, orange, sandalwood, lemon,
lemon verbena, mandarin.
|Anxiety||petigrain, neroli, bergamot, cypress, lavender, lime, marjoram, rose, violet leaf|
|Innervating||basil, peppermint, rosemary (rosemary shows a positive effect in Alzheimer’s)|
|Sedative||neroli, petigrain, cedarwood, chamomile, melissa, valerian.|
Studies dating from the 1920s report the following benefits of selected essential oils:
|Lavender||relaxing, circulation, meditative.|
|Angelica||anorexia, relieving hopelessness.|
|Basil||fatigue, general nerve tonic, anti-depressant, soporific, confusion, melancholy, mental clarity and concentration, reduces anxiety. (careful use prevents over-stimulation).|
|Bay||anti-hysteric, sedative, hypotensive|
|Bergamot||sedative for anxiety and antidepressant, stimulates appetite.|
|Chamomile(Roman)||calming, hyperactivity, good for use with children.|
|Clary Sage||sedative and nervine for insomnia, paranoia, panic, and hysteria.|
|Everlasting||grounding increases dream activity.|
|Juniper||apathy, paranoia, confusion, anxiety, nervous trembling and paralysis, diuretic|
To be truly effective, essential oils must be absolutely pure. Synthetic or adulterated oils, although less expensive, will not give you the effects you desire and may even have adverse effects. To in sure quality, you may want to choose only oils that are guaranteed to be organic or ethically wild crafted, properly distilled or extracted, originating from a reliable source and priced accordingly. It is essential that the oils are species specific.
Caution: certain essential oils are not recommend for use during pregnancy, and may be skin irritants if not properly administered.
|Baths||8 -10 drops.|
|Massage||10-20 drops in 1 ounce of oil.|
|Inhalation||2-5 drops on a tissue or cotton ball|
|Diffusers||use pure oils only.|
|Body lotion||15-20 drops in 1 ounce of lotion|
|Spritzer||4 ounces of distilled water with 40-60 drops of pure essential oil, shake before using|
|Note: glass or PET bottles are essential oil safe.|
Two blends that have worked well are as follows:
This blend will relax the nervous system, ease tension, and bring emotional equilibrium.
· 10 drops Lavender
· 10 drops Petitgrain
· 4 drops Roman Chamomile
This blend will profoundly relax the individual, induce sleep, and bring calm to an active mind that is preventing the correct emotional balance and total relaxation.
· 10 drops Lavender
· 10 drops Basil
· 3 drops Neroli
The precious oils of plants enable us to use the art of aromatherapy to enhance well being and open a new door to healing the spirit.
Gayle Eversole, Creating Health Institute, Copyright 2002
Gayle Eversole has more than thirty years experience as a nursing educator, practitioner, consultant, and health care administrator. She has studied and used natural healing for forty-seven years. Gayle is the founder and director of Creating Health Institute. If you are seeking consultation, educational programs, books, products, case references, or other information, please contact Creating Health Institute: email@example.com.
This article is presented for educational purposes and is not to be considered a substitute for diagnosis and treatment. If you are considering using any of these approaches, please inform your health care provider.