ESSENTIAL OILS: Qi in a Bottle
Essential oils are the most potent aspect of plants and herbs. They have been used in cultures around the world for medicinal and spiritual purposes for thousands of years. Today essential oils are becoming even more popular due to their efficacy in enhancing vitality, preventing and treating disease, transforming negative emotions and connecting us to nature on a truly energetic level.
Essential oils are volatile liquids carefully extracted from the seeds, bark, stems, roots flowers, fruits and other parts of plants. The word volatile comes from the Latin, volare, meaning “to fly”. Essential oils evaporate quickly when exposed to air. These flying liquids are molecular messengers released by the plant as an immune system defense against bacteria, fungus, parasites and harmful insects. Essential oils are also reproductive signals sent out to attract useful insects. What we experience as the delightful scent of a rose is actually a plants pollination advertisement that says “I’m open for business”. This is why the vast majority of essential oils have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral and insecticide as well as anti-depressant, calming and sedative therapeutic benefits.
Humans ingeniously discovered ways to capture these chemical constituents from nature. To extract essential oil, plant material is cold pressed or steam distilled at an exact temperature and pressure. Steam distillation creates an extremely concentrated substance. For example, one drop of peppermint essential oil is as potent as 28 cups or more of dried peppermint leaf tea.
One of the most unique characteristics of essential oils is that they are lipid soluble. This allows them to pass directly through the human skin and mucus membranes for immediate systemic response. One drop of essential oil on your fingertip will show up in a hair analysis ten minutes later; it will be in every cell of the body within twenty minutes. Some lipid soluble molecules can even pass directly through the cell membranes and help oxygenate the interior of the cell. For example, Frankincense contains a hydrocarbon monoterpene called a sesquiterpene that can pass through the blood-brain barrier. Within seconds of inhaling Frankincense, your midbrains oxygen rises as much as twenty-eight percent having vast implications from preventing Alzheimer’s and tumors, to assisting higher states of consciousness.
Today Aromatherapy is being used in a wide range of settings -- from health spas to hospitals -- to treat a variety of conditions. In general, its used to relieve pain, improve mood, and restore harmony and balance. Due to the efficacy of essential oils, the market has become saturated with different brands and marketing models. Therefor it is important to recognize the difference between a distributor and a trained aromatherapist as a healer. A distributor sells essential oils and is not necessarily educated about how to use them safely. An aromatherapist has taken training to learn safety, the art of blending, and proper application methods.
Aroma Qigong considers essential oils the most precious elixir of a plants vital energy; we call them “qi in a bottle.” The Chinese character for qi literally means “the steam that rises off of rice”. In other words, qi is the vital energetic force that nourishes life. When essential oils are used with awareness for nourishing our own life, we not only enhance the benefits of essential oils, we expand our capacity to honor all of life, all of nature.
USING ESSENTIAL OILS: Aromatically, Topically and Internally
Essential oils are naturally safe and have very few side effects when used in the appropriate dilution. Certain GRAS essential oils may be ingested as a supportive treatment for short periods of time. Taking essential oils internally assists in vital organ cleansing, detoxification and internal systemic support. Aroma Qigong considers internal use of essential oils as herbal medicine, used to treat a specific systemic imbalance or condition. We do not advocate ingesting essential oils without a program from a licensed aromatherapist or naturopathic doctor. When taking essential oils internally it is critical to ingest essential oils essential oils that are sourced from reliable suppliers that are free from synthetics, pesticides, bacteria, and mold and any alterations.
To learn more about specific essential oils read the blog here
In qigong we say essential oils infuse the air with “good qi.” The smell of essential oils effects our emotions, mental states, memories and mood. As you inhale the aroma enters your olfactory nerve as electrical frequencies and travels into the limbic system where your deepest emotions reside. When vaporized, some essential oils, like peppermint, produce even stronger antimicrobial properties than when used in the liquid phase. Diffusing essential oils in a cool steam diffuser cleans and clears the air of pollutants, microbes, viruses, bacteria and negative, heavy energy. Aroma qigong teaches many different forms of aromatic applications including breathing exercises, breathing meditations and visualizations that enhance the effects of aromatic inhalation.
Essential oils can be applied topically on the skin or in a bath support the body on a physical and energetic level. Essential oils penetrate beyond the surface layer of the skin into the bloodstream, organs, joints and tissues. Oils can be safely applied to wounds, burns, insect bites, inflamed areas, sore muscles, over the organs and on specific reflexology and acupressure points. The most common topical location is on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet where our capillaries are smallest for immediate absorption. Aroma qigong topical applications include self- massage techniques on specific acupressure points, organs and meridian lines.
Essential oils should always be used with a carrier oil such as de-fractionated coconut oil so that they can be diluted to specific percentages (especially for children and animals) and spread over large areas of the body. Only a few essential oils can be applied “neat” or directly on the skin such as lavender and frankincense.
To learn more about specific essential oils read the blog here.