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Breathing Quiz
Which of the following health conditions is not directly benefited by breathing exercises?
Therapeutic Uses of Aromatherapy

© Kathi Keville, Mindy Green

In this chapter we explain how essential oils heal the body. We have divided the chapter into sections dealing with the major systems in the body-circulatory, digestive, respiratory, nervous, glandular, urinary, reproduction, dermal and musculoskeletal-as well as sections on ears and eyes, immunity and children. We suggest how to treat common ailments, things you would normally treat at home without the care of a doctor: the common cold; headache; a bout of indigestion; PMS; simple burns, bites and stings; muscular aches and pains. You may have formerly treated such disorders with over-the-counter drugs. The biochemical complexity of essential oils-most of which cannot be synthetically duplicated-allows them to act on many levels, and gives them multiple powers. You'll achieve not only health dividends, but also savings in your pocketbook.

As herbalists and aromatherapists, the authors of this book are eclectic in our approach to healing, using whatever remedy seems most appropriate. In some cases, we use aromatherapy exclusively; in others, we find that combining aromatherapy with herbs is more effective. To help you integrate the two modalities, we offer "herbal adjuncts," generally to be taken several times a day in teas, tinctures, capsules or tablets.

Because true holistic healing requires individual assessment and formation of a blend specific to each person, we do not give many recipes for specific ailments. We understand that some guidelines are needed, however, so to get you started we have given formula examples for general conditions in each section. Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to develop your own blends as your understanding of working with essential oils increases. Refer to charts and the "Materia Medica" chapter.

Essential oils are extremely concentrated. Most of them are at least 50 times more potent than the herbs from which they are derived. In her book Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to Plant and Flower Essences for Health and Beauty, Daniele Ryman states that one drop of essential oil often represents the potency of one ounce of plant material. This gives you an idea of their healing potential-and of the potential hazards of using essential oils improperly.

Only about 5 percent of the essential oils produced today are used in aromatherapy, but there are plenty from which to choose. In fact, if you become familiar with only 10 to 15 essential oils, you'll be able to treat many common problems. (It is better to know a few essential oils well than to know a little about many oils.)

Essential oils include muscle relaxants (marjoram and black pepper), digestive tonics (cardamom and mint), circulatory stimulants (rosemary and basil) and hormone precursors (clary sage and fennel). Many repair injured cells (lavender and helichrysum); others help carry away metabolic waste (grapefruit and juniper). In addition, a number of essential oils enhance immunity, working with the body to heal itself. They are capable of stimulating the production of phagocytes (white blood cells that attack invaders), and some (e.g., tea tree and lavender) are antitoxic for insect bites and stings.

Ten Basic Essential Oils
Lavenderoverall first aid oil; antiviral and antibacterial, boosts immunity, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic
Chamomileanti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, digestive, relaxant, antidepressant
Marjoramantispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic
Rosemarystimulating to circulation, relieves pain, decongestant, improves circulation
Tea treeantifungal, antiyeast, antibacterial
Cypressastringent, stimulating to circulation, antiseptic, astringent
Peppermintdigestive, clears sinuses, antiseptic, decongestant, stimulant
Eucalyptusdecongestant, antiviral, antibacterial, stimulant
Bergamotantidepressant, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory
Geraniumbalancing to mind and body, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory
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About The Author
Kathi Keville has studied herbs since 1969. Her attraction to fragrant plants led to an involvement in aromatherapy. Her other books include Herbs for Health and Healing; The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs; and Herbs: American Country Living. Keville is editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly, an honorary life member of the American......more
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