Essential oils… Is it Magic or Science?

A few weeks ago, I was at work when my friend passed by to say hello. I was holding my little roll-on bottle I had made the previous evening to apply on my swollen wrist throughout the day. My friend saw the little bottle and asked me what it was. It was a blend of peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary and chamomile, so I said that is for headaches and suff. He took the bottle, opened it, smelled it and rubbed some on his temples. After a few minutes he said: “It works. It really works. It’s magic.”

Essential oils contained in these little bottles that you see at the back corner of health food store, are of the most loving, caring and warm companions in life. It is a ritual. Pick up the bottle, rub it unconsciously between the palms , unscrew the lid, bring it to close to the nose, inhale the nature’s aroma spreading out in the air and then pour the drops into the carrier. Mix up the carrier and then apply. This volatile life force of nature is given by the plants can fight all sorts of bacteria, germs and viruses, reduce our wrinkles and moisturise our skin, balance our emotional whirlwinds and clear the energies and auras. They are of all kinds: stimulating, relaxing, powerful and gentle, woody and floral, for all tastes and needs.

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Where all of these amazing properties of the oils come from?

If not an aromatherapy enthusiast, or a training/trained aromatherapist, the chances are that little do you know about the magical -or scientific?- particles of the essential oils that penetrate our skin and work for our benefit. Is it really? There is a lot of science in those little bottles. Ketones, and esters, monoterpenes and phenols, alcohols, and all those chemistry words that are so perplexing and seriously scientific. All of those chemical constituents, meet together in different parts of the plant in various amounts, creating the Essential oil. Then, humans, gather the part of the plant, extract it with steam distillation, enfleurage or any other type of extraction, put it in bottle, and use it for its therapeutic properties. A chemist can explain why each essential oil has the specific effect on our health and mood by describing the forces of very chemical constituent in it. Research showed that if one constituent is pulled out from the essential oil the outcome is not the same. And one constituent by itself cannot do the job it supposed to do as a whole. The next question is why all this chemistry has all those amazing effects on us? And how did nature put them together working in absolute harmony providing us with all this goodness? How they can affect us in all three levels of body, mind and spirit at the same time?

Science or Magic aromatherapy works. It works for those who believe in it and for those who do not. I like to believe in Magic so maybe that is my answer. But I like that fact that I can refer to chemistry to convince the sceptics.