Posts Tagged ‘Aromatherapy’
One of the most popular herbal legends is the Legend of the Four Thieves. This story has everything a good old fashioned mystery needs–expensive jewels, thieves, and a little bit of trickery that leaves everyone wondering how they pulled it off until the end. Like any good tall tale, it’s mythical but set during actual historical events, so the story changes to become more dramatic or relevant when necessary.
While the legend changes as much as the formula for this historic blend, the gist of the story is this: During the plagues (enter your favorite plague here, the Black Plague is most common, but the tale has even made its way to America, as a plague that struck New Orleans), a group of four brothers began robbing the dead. At first, they were largely ignored, as everyone knew they would eventually pay the price by catching the plague themselves but, to everyone’s surprise, they managed to avoid catching the plague and continued robbing graves, amassing a great deal of wealth. They became legendary and everyone wanted to know how they managed to avoid getting sick. Was it trickery? Magic? What secret did they possess.
Years later, when they were finally captured, they were asked for their secret during questioning. After much debating, they agreed to share their secret in return for their pardon. This offer was accepted and the secret is now out. These men were the offspring of a perfumer and herbalist. They learned about essential oils from their parents during their childhood. They knew these oils would protect them so they rubbed them on their bodies and used them to clean anything they brought back. The powerful blend is now called the Thieves Blend, Legend of the Thieves Blend, Grave Robbers Blend, and countless similar names.
Many essential companies offer their version of this blend at a high price, but the formula is so commonplace, there’s no reason not to save by making your own. Here’s my current favorite blend; for maximum effectiveness use the best quality organic essential oils you can find. (I use J&M Botanicals.)
Combine the following oils in a small, glass vial:
10 drops rosemary oil
20 drops lavender oil
15 drops lemon eucalyptus oil
15 drops peppermint oil
25 drops orange oil
15 drops clove bud oil
To make a spray, add 1 cup of vinegar to the blend and store in a spray botle.
The formula can be changed, and has been altered often. The key ingredients are mint, lavender, rosemary, and citrus. Many herbalists and aromatherapists have added their own special additions that they feel can enhance the formula. Some add garlic and others like to make the oil into a tincture-like substance that is recommended for internal use. I don’t ever recommend consuming most of the essential oils in this blend for two reasons. The first is that there are documented health risks when consuming some of the pure, potent oils in this blend. The other reason is that, despite what our culture often believes, internal consumption is not always the best way to use a medicinal product. Most aromatherapeutic blends are most effective when diffused or used topically, due to the unique chemical make-up of essential oils. Consuming them poses a needless health risk because it does not offer any benefit. Therefore, I prefer to stick to original use, according to the legends, which is that of a cleaning product.
One thing I love about essential oils is that you can use them to make so many homemade staples. It’s difficult to find a truly natural toothpaste as so many options are either ineffective or contain ingredients that we wouldn’t want to put in our bodies. This simple tooth cleansing option features breath freshening peppermint oil, calming lemon oil, and cleansing clove oil.
3 T baking soda
1 T fine table salt (kosher or coarse salt won’t work)
1 T xylitol
2 T coconut oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
2 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops clove essential oil
These ingredients are specifically chosen for maximum effectiveness. While the general scientific consensus may still by in favor of conventional flouride-containing toothpastes, this natural alternative contains ingredients that have been found in various scientific studies to prevent tooth decay and fight oral bacteria. Because the oils will be used in dental care, it’s important to ensure that the essential oils are organic and of excellent quality. Naturally, I strongly recommend staying on the side of caution and using J&M Botanicals’ essential oils for your homemade toothpaste.
This is a post I’ve wanted to write for many years now, but haven’t. I keep putting it off because I know it will come as unpleasant to many, but after several recent events the staff and I have encountered, we’re aware that the issue isn’t going away and this information needs to be said.
This is a post about aromatherapy. More specifically, it’s a post about the SAFE and effective use of essential oils – particularly in the States. You see, aromatherapy, as we know it, is a really new area of science. It originated in the 1920s in France. While aromatic oils from plants have been used therapeutically for millennia, these highly potent chemical extracts have only been used in the US for a few decades. So, naturally, with a field of science so new, it makes sense to turn to its place of origin for the widest array of evidence based information about its proper use.
In our Clinical Master Herbalist course, we rely upon such textbooks for the program. These include original research and case studies conducted at hospitals and physicians’ offices in locations where aromatherapy is accepted as a normal part of medical care. In the US, however, the practice is still very fringe and not used widely, neither is it studied as in depth.
These textbooks and experts, backed by large bodies of scientific evidence are able to best tell us how to use essential oils for safe and effective results. One of the things they tell us is that essential oils – with very, very few exceptions – are not to be used “neat” or undiluted on the skin. They are also not to be taken internally, again with very few exceptions, many of which require direct medical supervision or care. These pioneers of the field that have been studying the chemistry of essential oils for decades are not confused about the quality of a good oil. They’re not talking about adulterated oils or low grade oils. And they’re not recommending “therapeutic-grade” or similarly certified oils – designations that are essentially developed by the marketing departments of popular direct-sales brands here in the States. They’re talking about high quality organic oils that are so potent that they must be diluted before use on the skin and should not be ingested due to their chemical purity.
The reason for this is that these oils are not liquid equivalents of whole herbs. They’re not extracts that are already diluted in alcohol, glycerin or another substance like we use for herbal remedies. They’re concentrated chemical portions of the whole herb that have been removed directly from the plants for use in natural medicine. They’re not only safer when inhaled or diluted for topical application – they’re usually most effective when used that way. We know this to be true because we have vast amounts of scientific evidence over many years verifying this as the ideal use of the substances.
Many direct-sales or MLM companies exist in the States that are telling us otherwise. They say their oils are so potent/pure that they can be used undiluted on the skin or internally – a claim that is not even logical as the more potent/pure an oil, the less suitable for either application it would be. Our educational programs have always sided with evidence based medicine. We’re strict about that, and through the years have not always been popular for that stance. However, we’re also confident that we’re providing a valuable service with such information, enabling parents to use natural health safely and effectively in their homes. Our families are not guinea pigs, so why subject them to unverified and inaccurate recommendations hoping for the best, when we have large bodies of evidence that show us how to get reliable results without risking their safety?
Why bring up this topic now? Because in addition to the years of frustration of watching well intended consumers purchase overpriced oils to use incorrectly and dangerously in their homes, we’re now hearing reports of harm associated with these risks. Most recently, we read a heartbreaking post on our VR forums about a miscarriage suspected to be a result of consumption of oils that are not to be consumed internally – even when not pregnant. We’re deeply saddened at this news and don’t want to see these situations increase in number.
So please, regardless of what you’re told otherwise, always check the validity of claims given to you about any natural health option you’re considering – whether it be essential oils, whole herbal preparations, or something else. Insist upon sticking to evidence based information for your family’s sake.
Because they’re not guinea pigs; they’re priceless and irreplaceable.