Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Aromatherapy Herbs For Healing

Aromatherapy is a form of herbal medicine. It uses the scents in essential oils distilled from herbs, flowers and trees to improve health and vitality. Used properly, it can re-energize and rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. Aromatherapy comes in many forms. It can be used as oils, candles, lotions and soaps. How Is The Scented Oil Extracted From The Plants?Many herbs are used in the production of essential oils and waters for aromatherapy. Essential oils are the aromatic compounds found in the herb. They are extracted by distillation. There are different methods of this but they are all basically the same. The herbs are put into water which is heated until it produces steam. This releases and then carries chemicals, including the aromatic compounds. The steam is then chilled in a condenser and the material left behind is collected. Oils (which will become the Essential Oil) floats to the top of the distilled water and may be scooped off. The distilled water part is called hydrosol. If you want to buy a herb or flower 'water' the best kind is a hydrosol as this is the by-product of aromatic distillation. Many 'waters' are essential oils added to water or alcohol and are not as good as true hydrosols. Treat Aromatherapy With Respect!Many people think that because the scented oils have 'only come from plants' that they can use as much as they like. Essential oils are very concentrated and are usually measured in drops. Strength wise - one drop would equal the volume amount of two cups. Ingesting one ounce of essential oil could prove fatal. Unless you are a skilled aromatherapist, it's best to use essential oils only on the skin. Always mix the drops of oil with a 'carrier' like sweet almond oil. Undiluted essential oil can burn the skin. How Can Anything From Plants Be So Powerful?Our pharmacology has developed from herbal medicine. Many medications in use today are still derived from plants. There are more than 250,000 known plant species and yet less than 1% of them have been thoroughly tested for use in medicine. A quarter of our prescription medications are derived from this tiny 1%. The list includes morphine, atropine, ephedrine, warfarin, aspirin, digoxin, taxol, hyoscine - so plants are pretty powerful and care should be taken. Isn't it amazing to think what other helpful medications are out there and as yet undiscovered! Growing Herbs For AromatherapyA large area of crops is needed to grow herbs for aromatherapy purposes. This is because when calculated on the weight of fresh herbs distilled, plants only yield between 0.01% and 2% of essential oil. So a lot needs to be grown and distilled to produce reasonable amounts of oil. To produce essential oils, the requirements are the plants, good soil (often organic), irrigation, reasonable shelter from harsh weather, harvesting and distillation equipment. Hints And Tips On Essential Oils1. Always read and heed advice on the labels on essential oils. 2. Keep them out of the sight and reach of children.3. Never put essential oils near the eyes.4. Always dilute with carrier oil before putting on the skin - or it will burn! 5. Essential oils are for external application only. Don't ever ingest them. 6. As with any new skin preparation, test the oil first. Dilute a drop of essential oil with carrier oil and apply to the skin on your inner arm. If there is any irritation, discontinue its use. 7. Many herbs should be avoided by pregnant women and by people suffering some health conditions. Always check before use.
By: Rebecca Prescott
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