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October 22, 2020
Aromatherapy and herbs used for medicinal purposes is not new. Throughout history we have relied on their powers for healing.
Aromatherapy uses natural plant extracts to improve the health of our bodies, minds, and soul. It is used to enhance both physical and emotional health. The Egyptians developed one of the first distillation apparatuses to extract oils from plants. The practice of using aromatic oils as a mood enhancer is credited to China and Hippocrates is said to have practiced aromatherapy (before it was named) for healing.
The use of medicinal plants dates back 60,000 years to the Paleolithic age. The Sumerian compiled lists of plants and herbal remedies over 5,000 years ago. Our ancestors took enormous efforts to maintain their knowledge of medicinal and edible plants. A lot of humanity possess plant knowledge and historically having someone with extensive knowledge and experience could be the difference between life and death.
Aromatherapy works by activating the smell receptors in your nose which sends a message to your nervous system to the limbic System, which is the part of your brain that controls emotions. We can experience this in our daily life. We smell our grandmothers’ perfume and it gives us a sense of her or the smell of fresh cookies baking in an oven makes us happy, these are the simple principles of aromatherapy.
Herbs and botanicals worked much in the same way as traditional medicine. By either ingesting them or applying them topically they are used to target and treat illness.
While these are powerful allies to a holistic approach to combat everything from headaches to fevers, using them should not be without caution.
Essential oils are caustic and should be used in moderation and many herbal remedies have contraindications, interfere with other medications or can be toxic. One of my all time favorite books is The herbal PDR (PDR Physician's Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines). While it is not a substitute for your doctor, it is the best source of information I have found. My daughter who is a MD grew up with this book and I often refer to it with my family doctor.
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