Essential oil is comprised of hundreds of chemical constituents, the combination of which provides plants with distinctive qualities and healing properties.
How they work:
- Since humans are carbon-based just like plants, extracted essential oils are compatible and beneficial.
- A unique quality of essential oils is the molecular size of their active compounds. Terrifically small on a molecular level, they easily pass through the dermal layers (Epidermis is the top layer, the part of the skin you see, Dermis is the second layer) of the skin, are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, cross the blood-brain barrier (a filtering mechanism of the capillaries that carry blood to the brain and spinal cord tissue), and penetrate the cell membrane. Essentially, they are accessible and transferable to the body.
- Here’s an example of how they provide protection from predators: Melaleuca alternifolia is a small tree typically growing along streams and in the swampy areas of Australia where weather is consistently hot and humid. It’s a natural breeding ground for mold, fungus, and bacteria. A plant growing in this terrain must have a strong internal immune system in order to both survive and thrive (produce and reproduce). The magic lies in the chemical compounds found in the melaleuca tree which are antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and analgesic (acting to relieve pain) in their nature.
- Citrus- uplifting and detoxifying; i.e. Bergamot, Grapefruit, Wild Orange
- Florals- calming and harmonizing; i.e. Lavender, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang
- Spices- warming and protecting; i.e. Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger
- Herbs- cleansing and activating; i.e. Blue Tansy, Peppermint, Oregano
- Roots- centering and calming; i.e. Spikenard, Vetiver
- Leaves- invigorating and soothing; i.e. Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Rosemary, Wintergreen
- Woods- grounding and renewing; i.e. Arborvitae, Juniper Berry, Sandalwood
- Resins- restoring and strengthening; i.e. Copaiba, Frankincense, Myrrh
How to Use Essential Oils
- Aromatic: the term aromatherapy was derived from the fact that essential oils are, by nature, aromatic.
- Topical: Essential oils are fat-soluble, meaning when directly applied to the skin they are readily absorbed and enter the bloodstream. (One location that is best for NEAT application is the bottom of the feet).
- Internal: essential oils are more potent than whole plant material, small amounts should be used when taking oils internally.
Author: Georgi Thomas, Licensed and certified MT in neuromuscular therapy, Sports massage, and Swedish technique