Many people believe that aromatherapy only works because certain scents make us feel good and help us relax. It is true that scents can affect us at a subliminal level. Because the olfactory system is connected to the bottom of the brain without being processed by any higher brain centers, a smell can activate memories of Grandma’s garden, or a horrible hospital experience, faster than any sound or sight can do, and without any processing of the raw, visceral emotion.
My client today said that the lavender transported her back to a time when she was 20, in France, with her boyfriend, when they went to the fields to see the monks harvesting medicinal lavender in the early morning. It made her feel young and free again, Also, the scent of orange reminded her of childhood Christmases, when oranges were such a rare treat that you got one orange in your stocking. I had chosen lavender for her nervous tension and orange for her lymphatic system; if she had not liked them I would have used other oils. I let my client choose five out of about fifteen which addressed her issue for that appointment. (Next week it might be something else).
But this very powerful evocation of pleasant memories is only a partial explanation of why the use of essential oils is so efficacious in improving health and well-being.
Plants and humans have co-existed and affected each other’s evolution for as long as there were humans. Plant energies directly affect us, not just when we eat them, or enjoy the appearance of a flower garden or a natural verdant scene. It is intuitively understood by most people that being in nature makes us feel better. Most natural scenes have plants in abundance, with healing green colors, sometimes lovely flowers, invigorating scents of evergreen trees or intoxicating scents of flowers, or the soothing sound of wind in the trees.
People all over the world use flowers in important ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, because flowers help us to experience emotion. Orange blossoms make us happy; rose blossoms help us cry if we need to. (Both tears and laughter offer stress relief.) Incense is used in many religions to help in spiritual opening during services (frankincense, myrrh , and spikenard are psychic openers)
From time immemorial healers in every culture have collected certain plants which were understood to be helpful for infertility, or stomach complaints, or nervous conditions, or insect bites. In every area of the world where a disease occurs often among humans, there is a plant which can be located in that area which can treat the problem. Mother Earth has arranged it so. We are all her children and are meant to help each other. Healers from every culture have learned to concentrate the essences of these plants, the healing components, usually by a process involving distillation. This is what produces essential oils.
Plants can mimic human hormones, and are especially helpful with such issues as infertility and mood. Anything not needed by the body in a blend which is applied through massage or bath, will simply be excreted. Essential oil blends which are properly made do not have side effects. Essential oils are blended by the healer according to the specific needs of the client. Synergy has been understood for thousands of years. The synergistic effects of plant energies which are combined are far more powerful that a single healing plant used alone. All the misunderstood stories of witches brewing potions were in fact about healing women blending a synergistic and healing treatment for someone in the village who was ailing or in childbirth.