By AMY LOSCHERT, ND, FABNO

Aromatherapy, the use of aromatic oils from plants for healing, was used as long as 6,000 years ago when Egyptians used Myrrh and Juniper for embalming, and in India, Sandalwood oil was used in massage therapy. Europeans used thyme, rosemary and lavender as antiseptics during the Middle Ages.

For centuries, essential oils were accepted for their medicinal value, but when modern medicine and the focus on laboratories came into existence, natural remedies were pushed aside in favor of synthetic chemicals. In the early 1900s, a revival of essential oils occurred as their specific properties were being studied. Each plant’s oils carry certain medicinal qualities that represent the plant’s immune system, protection from predators as well as how they attract pollinators. These qualities that benefit the plant can also benefit humans in many of the same ways. Consider some of these oils and how they are used therapeutically today:

Lavender: Cools, eases agitation and insecurity. Leads to deep relaxation and helps with insomnia.

Grapefruit: A powerful citrus aroma that is uplifting, purifying and renews the spirit.

Cedar: Imparts strength and wisdom. An age-old spiritual oil for meditation and calming the mind.

Pine: Disinfects and deodorizes keeping the air we breathe clean. Invigorates the body.

Frankincense: Provides protection for you and your family, is highly spiritual and uplifting, provides relaxation to sore muscles and can open the lungs for deeper breathing.

It is extremely time consuming and requires patience, skill and a deep respect for the earth to extract essential oils from plants. Consider that it takes 6,000 pounds of lemongrass plant to make a pound of essential oil. It takes almost 250,000 rose petals to make 5ml of rose essential oil! These treasured substances are true gifts that can be used to affect the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. Any natural home remedy kit should contain several, and now that you know what some of them do, you are encouraged to try these for yourself and experience the power and wisdom of essential oils!

If you are interested in learning more about how to safely use essential oils in your home for cleaning, and their positive effects on mood, focus, sleep, prevention and healing from infections, come join the community in the Salish Cancer Center kitchen Wednesday, October 16 from 11 a.m.-noon for a free wellness talk I am giving as Salish’s naturopathic doctor and herbalist.