What is aromatherapy?
“Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health.”
How long has aromatherapy been around?
“Humans have used aromatherapy for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in China, India, Greece, Egypt, and elsewhere incorporated aromatic plant components in resins, balms, and oils. These natural substances were used for medical and religious purposes. They were known to have both physical and psychological benefits.”
“Essential oils distillation is attributed to the Persians in the 10th century, though the practice may have been in use for a long time prior to this. Information about essential oil distillation was published in the 16th century in Germany. French physicians in the 19th century recognized the potential of essential oils in treating disease.”
“The term “aromatherapy” was coined by a French perfumer and chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé in a book he wrote on the topic that was published in 1937. He had previously discovered the healing potential of lavender in treating burns. His book discusses the use of essential oils in treating medical conditions.”(1)
In 2009, I learned Aromatherapy from a wonderful teacher, Poppy Kana, in Athens, Greece. The thing that mostly shocked me it was the fact that people were using Aromatherapy without knowledge of how it worked. Since it is a “natural treatment”, the public believes it is safe.
The disconnection of humans and Nature
The fact that humans are completely disconnected from nature (me included), dawned on me during the Aromatherapy course. Poppy told us of a case of a young mother who put her baby in a bath with water and a 10 ml bottle of pure essential oil. Many of you will find no problem in this but what you do not know is that Essential oils are the “Essence” of a plant like the soul is our essence. They are very powerful and are used, by the plant for: protection, attracting the right insects, demonstrating their personalities to other plants and beings, and even communication. The majority of essential oils cannot be used undiluted and when I say dilution I mean diluted in oil or alcohol, not in water. Water is not a diluter for essential oils!!! Doing a bit of digging showed that other people use essential oils with no prior education/information, (2) with disastrous and sometimes fatal, results.
The poor baby suffered second degree burns, but that would not have happened if we, the humankind, had not lost ALL of our instincts somewhere in human history. Animals do know which essential oils are dangerous for them and they keep a safe distance from them. One form of recognizing a genuine essential oil is to approach the opened bottle to a cat; you will notice that the cat, even at a safe distance, will immediately turn the face and walk away.
I was dismayed when I realized that humans are so disconnected and away from nature. A story that sealed my perception was the history of Christopher Johnson McCandless – February 12, 1968 – c. August 1992), also known by his pseudonym Alexander Super tramp. He was an American hiker who sought an increasingly itinerant lifestyle as he grew up. McCandless is the subject of “Into the Wild”, a nonfiction book by Jon Krakauer that was later made into a full-length feature film.
“After graduating from Emory University in Georgia in 1990, McCandless traveled across North America and eventually hitchhiked to Alaska in April 1992. There, he entered the Alaskan bush with minimal supplies, hoping to live simply off the land. On the eastern bank of the Sushana River, McCandless found an abandoned bus, Fairbanks Bus 142, which he used as a makeshift shelter until his death. In September, his decomposing body, weighing only 67 pounds (30 kg), was found inside the bus by a hunter. McCandless cause of death was officially ruled to be starvation.”(3)
“In April 1992, McCandless hitchhiked from South Dakota to Fairbanks, Alaska. He was last seen alive at the head of the Stampede Trail on April 28 by a local electrician named Jim Gallien, who had given McCandless a ride from Fairbanks to the start of the rugged track just outside the small town of Healy. Gallien later said he had been seriously concerned about the safety of McCandless (who introduced himself as “Alex”) after noticing his light pack, minimal equipment, meager rations, and obvious lack of experience. Gallien said he had deep doubts about “Alex’s” ability to survive the harsh and unforgiving Alaskan bush.”
“After hiking along the snow-covered Stampede Trail, McCandless came upon an abandoned bus, alongside an overgrown section of the trail near Denali National Park. McCandless, according to Into the Wild, attempted to continue “heading west until I hit the Bering Sea.” However, he was deterred by the thick Alaskan bush and returned to the bus, where he set up camp and lived off the land. He had 4.5 kilograms (9.9 lb) of rice, a Remington semi-automatic rifle with 400 rounds of .22LR hollow point ammunition, a number of books, including one on local plant life, some personal effects, and a few items of camping equipment. Self-portrait photographs and journal entries indicate he foraged for edible plants and poached game. McCandless poached porcupines, squirrels, and birds, such as ptarmigans and Canada geese. On June 9, 1992, he illegally stalked and shot a moose. However, the meat spoiled within days after McCandless failed in his efforts to preserve it. McCandless’ journal documents 113 days in the area. In July, after living in the bus for a little over two months, he decided to head back to civilization—but the trail was blocked by an impassable Teklanika River swollen with late-summer runoff from the Cantwell Glacier: The watercourse by that stage was considerably higher and swifter than when he had crossed in April. McCandless did not have a detailed topographical map of the region and was unaware of the existence of an abandoned hand-operated cable car that crossed the river 1⁄2 mile (800 m) downstream from where he had previously crossed. At this point, McCandless headed back to the bus and re-established his camp. He posted an S.O.S. note on the bus stating: “Attention Possible Visitors. S.O.S. I need your help. I am injured, near death, and too weak to hike out. I am all alone, this is no joke. In the name of God, please remain to save me. I am out collecting berries close by and shall return this evening. Thank you, Chris McCandless. “McCandless’ final written journal entry, noted as “Day 107”, simply read, “Beautiful Blueberries ” Days 108 through 112 contained no words and were marked only with slashes, and on Day 113 there was no entry. The exact time and date of his death are not known. Near the time of his death, McCandless took a picture of himself waving while holding a written note, which read: I have had a happy life and thank the lord. Goodbye and may God bless all! On September 6, 1992, a group of hunters who were looking for shelter for the night came upon the converted bus where McCandless had been staying. Upon entering, they smelled what they thought was rotting food and discovered “a lump” in a sleeping bag in the back of the bus. The hunters quickly radioed police, who arrived the following day. They found McCandless’ decomposing remains in the sleeping bag. It is theorized that he died from starvation approximately two weeks before his body was found.”
It is believed he poisoned himself, when he consumed hedysarum alpinum seeds, which is proved to be toxic to mammals. The majority of humans cannot recognize poisoning plants neither hunt nor fish. We just cannot survive outside our cities/villages and the comfort of our machines.
How to use Essential Oils
With the apparition of the internet, people, more and more, start following what they see written on the net, being true or not. The incapability of most of researching on knowledge makes the situation even more tragic. Gullible humans are following what they see written, without asking themselves if it is a good idea or not.
It would not be an exaggeration to advice the public to follow a comprehensive Aromatherapy course near your home. From the time I did mine, I stopped buying commercial cosmetics. I started making: creams, deodorants, shampoos, soaps, cleaning products for home and body.
But, for our companion animals, it is different. We must be extra careful because they can be poisonous to cats. Aroma-therapist Rachel once wrote:” Researchers have identified two major categories of essential oils that are more dangerous to cats than other mammals (such as humans, dogs or horses). The reason these essential oils are more dangerous to cats lies in the physiology of their liver. Cats lack an enzyme (glucuronyl tranferase) that in other animals helps to process and break down certain components of these essential oils. Due to the concentrated nature of essential oils, toxic buildup of these components occurs and can ultimately be fatal.”(4)
As you can see, over the article, different researchers differ which oils are not safe for cats and other animals. My question is: Why use an essential oil, when you can use other alternatives therapies like: Reiki, Homeopathy, Bach Flowers, Australian Flower remedies, acupuncture, and others? If not sure, just do not do it.