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Aromatherapy: can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is an art and science which seeks to explore the physiological, psychological and spiritual realm of the individual's response to aromatic extracts as well as to observe and enhance the individual's innate healing process. As a holistic practice, Aromatherapy is both a preventative approach as well as an active method to employ during acute and chronic stages of illness or 'dis'-ease.
It is a natural, non-invasive modality designed to affect the whole person not just the symptom or disease and to assist the body's natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself by the correct use of essential oils.
Essential Oil: If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. These naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. Essential oils give plants their distinctive smells, essential oils protect plants and play a role in plant pollination. In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and their beautiful fragrance, essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care practices.
But what exactly is a volatile aromatic compound? In short, these compounds are small organic molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. They are called volatile because they change state quickly. When you first open a bottle of essential oil, you instantly notice that the aroma is potent and you can smell it typically even from some distance. The physical and chemical properties of the volatile aromatic compounds that compose essential oils allow them to quickly move through the air and directly interact with the olfactory sensors in the nose. Such unique properties make essential oils ideal for applications inclusion in aromatherapy – using these compounds from plants to help maintain a healthy mind and body – as well as other applications. The type of volatile aromatic compounds present in an essential oil determines both the oil’s aroma and the benefits it offers.
Over 3,000 varieties of volatile aromatic compounds have been identified to date. The nature of an essential oil varies from plant to plant, within botanical families, and from species to species. The delicate ratio of aromatic constituents found in any given essential oil are what make it unique and give it specific benefits.
Even with pure essential oils the composition of the oil can vary depending on the time of day, season, geographic location, method and duration of distillation, year grown, and the weather, making every step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the essential oil product.
Essential oils can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used as single essential oils or in complex essential oil blends depending on user experience and desired benefit.
Essential Oils of the Bible: both the New and Old Testaments, contain tons of references (over 200) to essential oils, incense, ointments, and other aromatics.
They were used in religious rituals, for anointing, and for supporting the health of people.
In the Old Testament Moses was given a recipe for a "holy anointing oil". It included the essential oils of myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, and cassia as well as pure olive oil.
They actually knew how to use all the oils mentioned in the Bible
better than we do today. It is well known that the wise men of the New Testament, upon visiting the birth of Jesus, gave him frankincense and myrrh.
Another well known incident is when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a large amount of the expensive essential oil of spikenard and then wiped his feet with her hair.
Aromatherapy in Egypt
It is believed that ancient Egyptians were the first in the world to invent extraction of flower essences, and they are credited as some of the first perfumers in history. Egyptians were the first civilization to incorporate perfume into their culture. The roots of aromatherapy lie in ancient civilizations, particularly that of Egypt. The goal of aromatherapy is to provide holistic therapy in such a manner that the body cannot be separated from the mind, soul, or spirit. Ancient Egyptians were masters of the holistic and believed that beauty, magic, and medicine were inseparable. They recognized body care and beauty to start with cleanliness. Unpleasant smells were associated with impurity, and good smells indicated the presence of the sacred. In no other country or culture was the concern with body care and beautification so extensive, and it even transcended economic status. Body care was a prerequisite for all Egyptians. It was a common practice for both, men and women, of all classes, to oil their bodies daily as a form of moisturization and protection from the hot arid conditions. Records show that body oil for daily use was one of the basic supplies issued in the form of wages even to the lowest class of workers. Body care and cosmetics were a common daily concern cutting all societal divisions, just as they are today.
Ever wonder where Dubai’s chain of Bin Sina pharmacies got its name? Abu Ali Al-Hussain Ibn Sina was the Arabian father of Medicine from Islam’s Golden Era around 1000 AD. In the west he was known as Avicenna. Considered the inventor of distillation, Persian-born Ibn Sina refined traditional distillation processes and invented a pipe that used steam to distill plants and produce true essential oils. In the Middle Ages, the use of plants for medicinal oils and fragrances was commonplace across the world but as the Dark Ages drew a shadow over Europe, their use became controlled by the church. It was thanks to Arabia and Ibn Sina that the herbal traditions of the ancient world were kept alive. A prolific scholar of international fame, Ibn Sina wrote more than 200 books including the five volume Canon of Medicine, which was studied in Europe from the 12th to the 17th centuries and contained all medical knowledge of the time. Another of his books was on cardiac drugs and he was one of the first people in antiquity to point out the role of emotions in health.
SCIENCE OF SCENT
As a science, aromatherapy got its name from French doctor Rene Gattefosse who, in the early 1900s, studied the specific healing properties of the complex constituents of essential oils, which are the key to their therapeutic activities. According to Dr Kristie Burns of The Avicenna Institute, an online institute in the United States: “This is one of the main reasons why synthetic compounds do not have the same effect. There are now 30,000 known chemical compounds identified in essential oils such as aldehydes, phenols, ketones, esters and monoterpenes. It is important to make sure one is using the purest form of essential oils in order to receive maximum benefit from them.” In Islam, the healing power of scents, essential oils and traditional oils as a way to correct imbalances that are the source of disease is widely accepted. The understanding of these essential oil remedies and the methods of extracting essential oils from plants have been passed down to the present time.
PRAYER, WIVES AND SCENTS
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) said, “There are three things of this world I have been made to prefer – prayer, wives and scents.” Dr Burns states that: “Many Muslims know this saying yet many fail to realize that scents were used in the time of the Prophet, not just for pleasuring the senses but to achieve, indicate and maintain spiritual states.” The Prophet’s wife Aisha, who recorded the majority of his sayings and actions, wrote: “Whenever the Prophet took the bath of purification, he asked for the Hilab or some other scent. He used to take it in his hand, rub it first over the right side of his head and then over the left and then rub the middle of his head with both hands.” Not only was this calming but it would also put him in a state of cleanliness where all his senses were channeled towards reaching a state of perfect connection with God in his prayers.
Today, Muslims use generous amounts of rosewater to fragrance mosques and other holy places. In emulation of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), many have adopted his daily rituals in order to enhance their physical and spiritual selves. The idea being that if the outward self is pure and clean then the inward reflects the same state. Pure rosewater is used for purification along with juniper, lemon, pine, sage, lavender, cypress and rosemary oils. Most can be found in Dubai in the Deira Spice Souk located between Baniyas Rd, Al- Sabkha Rd and Al-Abra St.
HOW TO USE ROSEWATER OILS IN DAILY LIFE
Avicenna used oils for daily healing and preventative care. One such oil is rosewater but make sure you are using pure rose water and not the rose essence. Pure rose water is derived from actual rose petals and but rose essence may just be water scented with rose and may have added chemicals added. Here are some examples of using it in daily life:
Mood: Love is the metaphysical emotion behind rosewater. A spiritually healing plant, it is good for the heart chakra. Put a few drops into the bath, use in a diffuser or burn as incense.
Medicinal: Rosewater oil has anti-septic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Anti-aging: A good skin toner, rosewater oil prevents wrinkles from forming and is a great fragrance for the body and hair. It hydrates dry skin as a natural moisturiser and Cleopatra is said to have often bathed in it (what isn’t that woman said to have bathed in?!).
Nutritional: The syrup of rosewater can be added to water or milk as it has beneficial nutrients like flavanoids, antioxidants, tannins and essential vitamins like A, C, D, E and B3. It is also a mild sedative and an anti-depressant. It can help enhance moods, relieve nervous tension, improve skin texture and calm the mind.
Islam and Aromatherapy