Natural Health Highlights: Aromatherapy

...breathed into his nostrils the breath of life...

What is Aromatherapy?

 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.

    Jade Shutes



What is an Essential Oil?

 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.

What Are Holy Essential Oils?


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.

Ancient Egyptian Essential Oils

 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.

Islam and Aromatherapy

 

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  realise 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.