Natural essential oils are a wonderful way of sustaining and improving health (1)
by Liliana Popa
“Do those who never experienced the magic of a jasmine field really know what a perfume is?”(adaptation of Jean Paul Guerlain)
Perfumes are like magicians, they’re able to take us away in an instant, years from now, to some beautiful moments we’ve experienced. As Heinrich Heine wrote in The Hartz Journey, perfume is the sentiment of flowers. In the ancient world, the perfume of plants was extremely valued, both for its aroma, that women used for themselves, and for their therapeutic virtues.
Due to aromatherapy, essential oils became very popular in the last decades. For most people, the word “aromatherapy” immediately reminds them of pictures of a peaceful spa, with a relaxing view and enchanting music. But the roots of this therapy which uses the essential oils of plants lie in the ancient world.
The people of ancient Egypt used to distil the essential oils of plants both for their cosmetic use and for alleviating different affections. Essential oils were also used in religious rituals and in the conservation of people’s bodies after their death. The Ebers Papyrus, dating from the time of the pharaoh Den (3000 B.C.) is one of the oldest medical treaties known to man and it contains the specifications for the medical use of essential oils.
Greeks and Romans learned about them and brought most of the essential oils used by the Egyptians into their countries. The essential oils recipes they used were discovered within the marble of the temples of Aesculapius and Aphrodite. It is told that Hippocrates once said: “The way to a good health is a daily flavored bath and a daily fragrant massage.”
In the XII century, European healers, especially those in monasteries began to distil small quantities of the healing plants in order to create remedies and to obtain essential oils. Almost the entirety of knowledge was in the monks’ and nuns’ hands and they studied and wrote about the medical use of plants, tinctures and essential oils.
Essential oils – procurement and application
A plant’s essential oil is that which allows us to delight in her pleasant fragrance. Natural essential oils can be obtained by putting those plants through some distillation processes, solvent extraction or pressurization. After directly extracting them from plants, essential oils have a very high concentration and are very strong. They cannot be used without dilution, therefore most of the time, those oils we can buy are diluted most of the times. The usage of these oils consists of a wide range of applications, from the perfume industry, to cosmetics, soap, the food industry, for giving flavor to all sorts of drinks, the chemical industry for impregnating cleaning products with a certain smell, to personal use, for aromatizing the air, personal hygiene or massage, sauna, hair care etc.
Different parts of the plants are used for obtaining essential oils. For example, clove and juniper essential oils are obtained from the berries of the respective plants. Almond, anise, celery, fennel and cardamom essential oils are extracted from the seeds of the above mentioned plants. Cinnamon essential oil is extracted from the bark or the leaves of the scrub. Camphor, cedar, rose and ruby wood essential oils are extracted from the wood of these plants. Ginger essential oil is extracted from its root. Basil, salvia, eucalyptus, guava, lemon grass, tea tree, oregano, patchouli, mint, menta piperita, pine, rosemary, thyme, laurel, cypress and fir essential oils are extracted from the leaves or stings of the respective trees. Myrrh essential oil is extracted from the plant’s root. Chamomile, geranium, hyssop, jasmine, lavender, hop, cloves, oranges, rose, ylang-ylang are extracted from the flowers of the respective plants. Bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange and tangerine essential oils are extracted from the bark of the respective trees. Valerian essential oil is extracted from the root of the plant.
Cypress essential oil
This is an essential oil with a general decongesting detoxifying action. In eastern medicine, the principle of the cypress oil’s action consists of reanimating and calibrating the blood flow and energy flow. Part of its action depends on the restorating, tonic effect on the veins, due to its astringent action. Due to its ability to harmonize blood, it is very useful in menstrual cycle problems, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) as well as menorragia (excessive menstrual bleeding).
The wide range of actions of cypress oil includes the support on the circulatory system, the action on the nervous system and harmonization of psychic states. It strongly works against infections and microbes. Cypress oil is useful in lymphatic congestion, rheumatic pain, asthma, fortifying the circulatory system, reducing cellulites, increasing energy, lowering nervous tension, reduction of benign cysts. It is a non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitive oil.
Next, we are going to enumerate the effects of this essential oil:
• Astringent effect: cypress oil hardens gums and fortifies muscles and the abdomen (external massage). Its main function caused by the astringent function is contraction. Cypress oil causes gums, skin, muscles, and the follicles of hair to contract and prevent hair loss, teeth loss and softening of the skin and muscles. Its astringent action is reflected at the level of blood vessels, thus explaining the vaso-constricting and haemostatic effect.
• Antiseptic effect: cypress oil is useful in external and internal wounds, due to its anti-microbe action; it is a strong ingredient for antiseptic lotions.
• Antispasmodic effect: cypress oil helps healing any time of spasms and the problems resulting from spasms. For example, it is extremely useful in eliminating spasms of the respiratory system, intestines, and muscular spasms in the limbs. It improves bronchi asthma, cramps and convulsions.
• Diuretic effect: cypress oil increases the quantity and frequency of urinary discharge.
• Respiratory system invigorating effect: cypress oil increases the tonus of the respiratory system and lungs efficiency, it eliminates congestions at this level; this essential oil alleviates breathing in case of cough or a common cold.
• Hepatic protective effect: cypress oil triggers the discharge of bile from the liver.
• Sudorific effect: cypress oil stimulates sweating in view of detoxifying the organism
• Sedative effect: – cypress oil induces a state of calm at the level of our body and mind, it removes stress and anxiety. In case of anger or sadness, this essential oil brings back the feeling of happiness. It is an essential oil which is very useful for those who suffered from shock.
• Other benefits: cypress oil is also an anti-rheumatic, anti-arthritis agent; it can be used in alleviating problems with varicose veins, cellulites, asthma, bronchitis and even diarrhea. This essential oil reduces scar tissue, this property being used by cosmetic companies. It has an odorizing action due to its antiseptic properties and specific masculine flavor, and it can be easily considered a replacement for the classic synthetic deodorants.
“Its sourish astringent coniferous smell gives us a feeling of cohesion and stability. It helps us manage and accept difficult transformations, inner or outer.” (Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit).
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