We're used to seeing those tiny little bottles of fragrant oil at Whole Foods in the cosmetic section. Maybe if we got a massage, the massage therapist created a beautiful aroma in the room, and we left feeling more relaxed. I'm talking about essential oils. What are they exactly? They are oils that contain a high concentration of plant essences, coming from plant stems, flowers, branches, leaves, resins, peels, and so on.
These essences are extracted from the plant usually by steaming or mechanical pressing. The end result is a highly concentrated fragrant oil. To give you an idea of the concentration, it takes 220 lbs of lavender flowers to make 1 lb of essential oil! This allows the most powerful and healing aspects of the plant to be condensed into a small amount of oil. Since we know that plants have much therapeutic value, we are magnifying their effects by using them in such high concentration.
Taoist Master Jeffrey Yuen explains that essential oils are the blueprint of the plant, containing within it the plant's DNA. In this way, they can have a very deep impact on the body, affecting our own blueprint or DNA. This offers the potential to help a great variety of health issues, including those that don't respond to traditional medicine.
Each essential oil has different energetic properties defined by the system of Chinese Medicine. There are warming oils, cooling oils, and oils that dry dampness. There are oils that promote moisture and increase blood flow. The list goes on, but you get the idea. Specific essential oils are then applied to acupuncture points or meridians.
To give an example, a great point to use is Kidney 3, on the inner part of the ankle:
Kidney 3 helps to nourish the Kidneys, which can improve our energy, reduce sleep issues, and help cool heat symptoms in the body, such as headaches and hot flashes. A great essential oil to enhance these effects is geranium.
When geranium is applied to Kidney 3, the effects of the point are amplified. When the point is activated on its own, either by a needle or acupressure, the Kidneys are nourished and the body cools. When geranium is added, the effects are not only amplified, but extended farther. The plant essences are able to penetrate to a deeper level, often addressing constitutional issues that may have been developing for years.
It might already be obvious, but the smell of essential oils is highly therapeutic as well (aromatherapy). It was found in a study that the smell of lavandin (a sister to lavender) significantly reduced postoperative anxiety in surgical patients. There is much proof outside the laboratory as well. I dare you to sniff a few drops of lavender and not feel more relaxed!
I hope this has been an informative yet concise overview of essentials oils. Be on the lookout for more posts on this topic!