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How Essential Are Essential Oils?

Posted Mar 07 2011 9:38pm

I went to see International health reporter and author Phillip Day of Credence Publications speak in Brisbane last week, and he discussed at length some of the myths that have been perpetuated by the modern Medical and Pharmaceutical Industries. His challenge, he said, was in getting people to understand that their health is truly in their own hands and not their doctors.

I really contemplated what he said and it’s so true! Our bodies have the ability to heal and repair anything if only we let them and feed them with the right kinds of fuel to do that. Skin is the same. It renews itself – yes ITSLEF ( no doctor involved in the skin renewal process!!!) Yes your body is so intelligently designed that it manages all on its own to totally renew the entire outer covering of your body every 4-6 weeks. So how come we have skin conditions and skin problems???

A few things get in the way of complete and healthy skin repair:

  • Lots of build up of dead skin cells on the surface (YUK!)
  • Lack of nutrients to assist with building new cells
  • Lack of essential ingredients that help to rid the skin of toxins
  • Damage from internal stress e.g poor diet, or simply feeling stressed
  • Damage from external stress ie the environmental factors, such as sun or wind
  • Applying things to the skin that cause blockages e.g sunscreen, make-up

So what if we had an ingredient that by its extremely intelligent design was able to:

  • Absorb completely into AND through the skin to the deepest layer
  • Never caused any blockage on the surface of the skin
  • Assisted with the building of new skin cells at a deep level
  • Able to purify the blood and lymphatic systems of congestion
  • Assisted with reducing free radical damage from internal and external stresses
  • Was non toxic and treated by the body as food

Well guess what?? There is!!!!!! The ingredient I am talking about is essential oils! They are beautiful little aromatic (means smelly!!!) and volatile (means they evaporate!!!!) ingredients that come directly from plants and flowers and trees.

You may already have come across these little gems in the form of Lavender, Tea tree, Eucalyptus, Ylang Ylang, Rosemary, Lemon and many many more. They are, believe or not, incredibly powerful plant medicines and used the appropriate way they can be immensely beneficial on the skin. They assist with healing, repair, regeneration, detoxification, purifying, cleansing and reducing inflammation. The reason why they are so great for the skin is because they are a similar PH ( approx 5.5) to the skin itself and they travel easily THROUGH the skin at a great rate. If you don’t believe me try rubbing some neat essential oil on your feet and ten minutes later you can smell it on your breath (try peppermint, garlic or geranium)!!!!!!

So when we use essential oils blended into carriers such as the Oils I talked about in my last blog – Olive, Camellia, jojoba, Avocado, Rosehip, Evening Primrose, Safflower, Almond – we have yet another powerful ingredient for skin repair that does not interfere in anyway with the skin’s renewal process, in fact it actually helps it! WOW – sounds too good to be true? Well its really not, its just that we often don’t have access to the right information to help ourselves.

The first thing I will say about essential oils is to be guided by your own nose!! It can tell you a lot. These little powerhouses of nature are STRONG and that is the only reason we need to take care with them. They are about 70 times stronger in their active constituents than the plants they come from and so they need to be used with respect. Mostly they need to be diluted into a fatty (lipid) medium ie an oil, such as a vegetable, nut or seed oil, butters work too.

You can use them quite safely neat on the skin but generally these type of application is quite specific eg. Putting neat lavender on a burn or mosquito bite or putting tea tree onto a pimple. Tea tree is one of the stronger oils with the disadvantage of having quite a drying affect on the skin and so you need to be sure you are ONLY putting it on the affected area and also that you are ensuring that the skin is moisturised with Essential fatty acids .

The really fascinating thing about the essential oils is that they mostly work WITH the body and that this for some unknown reason is more apparent in people that actually BELIEVE in them. Phillip Day told a story at his recent talk in Brisbane of an experiment done by polygraph expert Dr Cleve Backster where a plant was made witness to the ‘murder’ of another plant by one of a group of people who were given various tasks to perform to the plants such as singing, talking, stroking etc. Then out of a line up of the people involved the ‘witness plant’ was able to recognise the ‘murderer’.

Incredibly this shows us what I, as an Aromatherapist, have believed for many years, that energetically plants are truly alive and can respond as we can to a whole range of events with the varying emotions that we do! The molecules that are derived from plants in the form of extracts and essential oils are also living molecules. I think of extracts (such as oils and herbal extracts) as the ‘lifeblood’ of the plant and the essential oils (those smelly evaporating tiny molecules!!!!!) as an equivalent to the DNA of the plant – encoded with reams of information about which we really know surprisingly little.

Today I want to start you off on your journey and suggest that for healing, repair, renewal, and detoxification of the skin you start off with the easy essential oils. What I call the ‘Essential few’ which would be:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Tea-tree
  • Rose ( this is very very expensive so perhaps buy it diluted at 3% in Jojoba to start off with)

Always use essential oils at very low dilutions blended into essential fatty acid rich oils. My guide is add about 1 drop of essential oil to e very 4mls of carrier oil. So for example 5 drops of Lavender essential oil to 20mls of Jojoba oil.

You can use them undiluted but please take care with this and only apply the essential oil directly to the affected area. Lemon is great for getting rid of warts. Tea-tree is great for popping on big pimples. Lavender is fantastic for insect bites and small burns. But generally in skincare we will always use them diluted, and that is because we know that these incredibly powerful plant medicines will work even at minute doses. I can’t wait to share more with you on these nutritious little molecules!!! Until next skin “dinner “ time. …….

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