Aromatherapy seems to be a popular marketing word that refers to anything that smells like flowers or has a drop of some plant extract in it. Words like organic, all natural, and green are hot words and advertisers know it. However, all the marketing jargon, and unfortunately even articles and books about aromatherapy, have a lot of misinformation in them that lead to incorrect expectations when it comes time to use aromatherapy. Some books make religious claims or comments that are not in agreement with what the Bible teaches. They suggest religious rituals as just another form of applying essential oils and they make claims and insinuations that a person can have powers greater than God. However, therapeutic grade essential oils have wonderful healing properties that God created and that could replace several over the counter medications that might be in your medicine cabinet. And if you want to know more about the therapy of aroma and especially about Christian aromatherapy there are a few things that need clarified.
Aromatic plants have been used since the beginning of time. Aromatic trees were first mentioned in the second chapter of the Christian Bible. Aromatic oils were used in cooking, of course, and for perfume and healing. Plant materiel was soaked in goose fat or olive oil where the chemical constituents of the plant would be absorbed by the fat or oil. The ancient Egyptians are well known for their use of aromatic oils. Aromatic plants were used widely through out the ages by all civilizations. Some records indicate that it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that steam distillation was used to extract the oil essential of the plants. Over the years many Eastern religious beliefs have been incorporated into aromatherapy, this site doesn’t, it is all about Christian aromatherapy.
When scientists learned how to isolate chemicals and use them to create drugs the medical community began to use drugs more and plant extracts less so the growers and distillers began to market their product more to the food and cosmetic industries with more concern for volume and fragrance than for the therapeutic quality of the oil. Now, in the last 20 years especially, more value has been placed on the therapeutic quality of essential oils so more growers are using organic methods and more distillers are not adding fragrance enhancers or volume extenders.
True aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for emotional and physical healing. English aromatherapist use essential oils diluted in massage oil and will tell you never to use essential oils without diluting them in carrier or vegetable oil. French aromatherapists prefer to ingest essential oils and German aromatherapists simply inhale. In America, true to American nature, we use the methods of many cultures. Christian aromatherapy is based on the belief that God created the the world with plants that have healing benefits. The Bible talks about aromatic oils and God eve gives a recipe for a holy aromatic oil to be used in the tabernacle.
Fragrance oils and essential oils are not the same thing. The chemical make up of plant oils is very complex; a single plant essential oil can have over 300 chemical components. Scientific laboratories can create just about any kind of aroma, however even though they may smell like the same thing synthetic oils do not have any healing value. The same is true of many personal care products that claim to be therapeutic. Most mass-produced personal care products are made of synthetic ingredients with only a token amount of a natural herbal extract. They do not contain enough of the herbal extracts to do any good.
FDA and Aromatherapy
According to the Food and Drug Administration essential oils are not drugs, advertisers and aromatherapist cannot claim to treat, or cure any kind of medical condition with essential oils. Medical terms such as anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, or anti-infectious, cannot be used to describe essential oils. The FDA does give a list of essential oils that are Generally Regarded As Safe, and if you stick with that list you will find enough essential oils to meet your needs.
Essential oils are safe to use if you follow a few basic rules of safety, such as: use only a few drops at a time, no more that 5 or 6, don’t get them in your eyes or nose, do a small skin test to see if you are allergic and don’t go in the sun after applying citrus oils. On the other hand, properly prescribed and properly administered drugs kill hundreds of thousands of people before they are pulled off the shelf, even after studies costing hundreds of millions of dollars have been done.
The biggest advantage of using aromatherapy oil is that it is very safe. Given a few safe handling rules and a person can use a wide variety of oils with no harmful side effects. Have you noticed the drug commercials? If you listen to the possible side effects you will not want to buy the drug! Essential oils do not have harmful side effects. If a person has sensitive skin they may get a skin rash from some oils, which will of course go away after discontinuing the direct application of the oil. In such cases a person could still use the essential oil by inhaling it, or diffusing it in to the air. Or if a person has plant allergies they may have a reaction.
Aromatherapy critics, even Christians, will tell you that there have not been enough scientific studies done to prove all the claims that aromatherapist make. There have been a lot of studies done on the chemical components of the plants used in aromatherapy and on the effects of plants, whether it is dried herb or essential oil, on diseases. There have also been plenty of clinical studies done around the world. One good resource for this kind of information is the American Botanical Council. It is true that a lot of unsubstantiated claims have been made. But, just because there is no scientific proof that a certain oil will heal a certain illness or infection does not mean that it is therefore untrue. Also, it is important to remember that the Christian Bible does mention the use of aromatic anointing oil.
The trouble with making absolute claims of aromatherapy is also its biggest asset. Essential oils are very complex and they vary from batch to batch because of the amount of rain, sunshine and varying nutrients in the dirt. This variation is what makes them so effective against microorganisms. Also disease is complex and the variations in a person’s mental, physical and even spiritual conditions all affect their health and their ability to fight disease. Doctors even have trouble with this too; they will try various drugs on a person to see which is the most effective.
Dispelling Myths and Misinformation of Aromatherapy Part 2