Sacred Oils - The Science (and maybe a hint of Spirit…)
January 6, 2016
This blog is heavy on science and history. The level of scholarly research that it would take to allow me to comfortable presenting this material as fact would be so vast that I would never be manage to post this blog. The thoughts I present are a combination of experience, research and intuition. It’s solidthinking. But, as such, I welcome information that both supports and confutes my conclusions. You should also consider coming to a Sacred Oils class at the WellNest, where I can expand upon these ideas without forcing you to wade through that much text.
Peace and good things, Eliza.
Humans have been using essential oils since ancient times. Mention of their aromatic, topical and even internal use can be found in ancient Chinese scrolls, Egyptian hieroglyphs and in many religious texts, including the Bible and the Koran.
There is much science behind the use of oils. What was once seen as magic can now be revealed as chemistry. Essential oils are the plant’s defense against invasion, attack and colonization. Essentially, they act as their immune system. Their guts, so to speak. Our guts are similar, really, housing 70% of our immunity. (And a delicate ecosystem of flora.) These chemicals work similarly in our bodies. And, as such, you will find that a a great deal of essential oils have antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
In ancient times people understood these plants and how to use them to keep disease at bay and to help people recover from illness. What science has “discovered” was already known by ancient healers and lay people alike. It is likely that there as a spiritual aspect to this practice, as conquering disease would have been seen by many as a casting out of unclean spirits. This is thought to have lead to their use in religious rituals and how they came to take on spiritual properties. Oils use can be found in the religious rituals of Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians and Egyptians.
The group of oils referred to as sacred oils primarily includes: Cassia, Myrrh, Cypress, Cinnamon, Sandalwood and Frankincense. These oils are indigenous to or grew along the trade routes of the regions of the world where they were heavily used. Many of these cultures are situated in that old geographical grade school lesson about the Fertile Crescent. They are rugged and hearty plants. Good at surviving harsh conditions and extended periods of stress. This, in part, is what make them powerhouses of the essential oil world.
Scientists have also discovered that some constituents in essential oils aid in plant communication within the plant, between separate plants and with pollinators. This, I believe, is really the crux of the oils we refer to as “sacred.” The chemistry of this group of plants is unique because they all share some percentage of three specific compounds: Phenylpropanoids, Monoterpenes, and Sesquiterpenes. These constituents, in addition to the typical antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory qualities, are also pro cellular communication and DNA sequencing. And this has profound effect on the body.
These three compounds function as follows:
Phenylpropanoids: They create conditions unfavorable to viruses and bacteria. They are thought to clean the receptor sites on cells, which aids in communication. When cellular communication is not optimum the body can malfunction and result in illness
Monoterpenes: Have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and wound healing properties. They are also believed to erase miswritten information stored in the DNA
Sesquiterpenes: Deliver oxygen molecules to cells, like hemoglobin does in the blood. They have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral healing properties and show promise in cardiovascular and cancer treatments. They are also believed to help correct miswritten code in DNA
In short, sacred oils have the ability to clean cell receptor sites and remove bad DNA coding. This is what allows them to quickly improve overall health and to fight, not just foreign invaders, but things that go haywire in the body. The oils are, essentially, allowing your cells, and by extension your body, to self heal. Addressing health on a cellular level and encouraging a natural state of homeostasis (balance) makes this healing self-perpetuating. Which is to say, a fairly permanent change. And that is good medicine.*
*A word of advice: Each drop of oil contains approximately 40 million-trillion molecules. (4 with 19 zeros!) Which means that each drop has enough constituents to coat each cell in our body 40,000 times. What this means is that, sometimes, less is more. It only takes one molecule to open receptor sites on a cell and to communicate with the DNA inside. If you give the body too many molecules of this very good thing it can actually overload the receptors sites and shut down the process. Knowing when more is more and when less is more is important. This is why seeking out a knowledgeable aromatherapy practitioner or doing your own in-depth research is important. Putting lavender on a burn is easy enough. But optimizing health takes finesse.
The science is amazing. However, I believe in the energy of things and in spiritual practice, so I think it would be a shame to strip the oils of these aspects. Because, if there is a divine creative force in the universe it would make sense that that divine force was imbued into nature. And it is in nature that we find some of the purest healing. The simple act of walking through a pine forest can actually be a medicinal treatment. You breathe deeply, increasing oxygen levels. You increase circulation, which aids in detoxification of the body as well as transportation of vital nutrients and compounds. And then…as your feet crush the forest floor you experience the simplest form of aromatherapy.
Similarly, a good meal can also be medicinal. Think about cutting up fresh herbs that smell as alive as spring. You are taking in their healing properties through their scent and then again as you ingest them. And when you eat winter root vegetables, can’t you almost feel the sustaining nature of their yin energy?
In ancient times, our day-to-day activites would have naturally led us to these experiences. Today we have to seek them out with a bit more dedication. Oils can help with this, for sure. And, along with their medicinal properties, they can also be used to deepen your spiritual practice. But that is a blog for another day. Look for Sacred Oils - Spirit...coming to an inbox near you very soon!
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