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Posts tagged ‘aromatherapy’

Scent Power: Essential Oils For Awesome Health

Chromatogram of ten essential oils coloured wi...

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Medical aromatherapy or the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, is one of the oldest forms of medicine and cosmetics known to man. According to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese medical manuscripts, physicians and priests were using essential oils thousands of years before Christ to heal the sick. What are essential oils anyway? Essential oils are the subtle, aromatic and volatile liquids extracted from the flowers, seeds, stems, leaves, bark and roots of herbs, shrubs and trees. The extraction process is done primarily through distillation. Some of the oils that have been used since Biblical times include frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon. Modern clinical research has been confirming the medicinal properties of these oils. For instance, frankincense has been found to have superior immune stimulating properties while cinnamon has blood sugar regulating properties.

Are all essential oils equal? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. For example, the majority of the rose oils come from Bulgaria. In order to keep up with demand from the perfume or cosmetic industry, they have to produce large volumes and in the process compromise quality by using solvent extraction instead of steam distillation.

Some of the modern applications of oils include eugenol (from clove), which is used in the dental industry and thymol (from thyme) which is used as an antiseptic. For one of the best sources of essential oils, check out

Natural Antibiotics

Lavande / lavender

Image by Alain Cachat via Flickr

Are there such things? You bet! Ancient civilizations have used them in the past. Traditional medical systems such as Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine texts are replete with information on natural germ fighting agents. In very recent times, just in 1987 in fact, one of the most comprehensive studies was conducted in Scotland that determined the most powerful antibacterial agents. These include the essential oils of thyme, cinnamon, clove and geranium. According to another study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, the oils of cinnamon, thyme and clove killed 92% of 25 different Gram negative and positive bacterial strains. As a side note, do you know that Listerine antiseptic was originally named after Joseph Lister, the Father of modern surgical antisepsis? The formula has the following essential oils, namely; thymol (from thyme essential oil), eucalyptol (from eucalyptus essential oil), methyl salicylate (from wintergreen essential oil) and menthol (from peppermint essential oil). A study done in 1999 published at the Journal of Clinical Periodontology showed that a mouthwash that had the essential oils of thyme, peppermint, wintergreen and eucalyptus, was more effective in improving oral health than an antiseptic that was fluoride-based. In 2006, powerful anti-fungal oils were identified by researchers and they include the following: essential oils of cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, geranium and thyme. They were all found to be equal or superior to a well-known anti-fungal medication. Other natural anti-fungal agents include garlic, caprylic acid (from coconut), melaleuca (tea tree oil) and Saccharomyces boullardii (an anti-fungal yeast). One common infectious cause of gastritis is H. pylori. Mastic gum has been used traditionally to treat this. Other agents were found to be effective in a study conducted at the Kyoto Prefectural University in Japan. These include the essential oils of manuka, cinnamon bark, carrot seed, savory, white grapefruit, clove and eucalyptus. Meanwhile, natural anti-viral agents include eugenol from clove oil (found to be effective against Herpes virus), peppermint oil, and manuka essential oil. Finally, what natural agents are effective against MRSA and VRE antibiotic-resistant bacteria? In studies done at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, UK, it was found that melaleuca, lavender, peppermint and thyme essential oils showed the strongest activity against these germs. Anyway, I want to acknowledge Dr. Carolyn de Marco for providing a lot of great information regarding the use of essential oils. If someone is suffering from an infectious illness, work with your healthcare provider on how to improve your immune system so that you won’t get sick in the first place.

I Hate Radicals!

The lipid peroxidation mechanism shows a singl...

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Free radicals, that is! Free radicals are highly unstable atoms or molecules that have unpaired electrons. In order to maintain stability, they steal electrons from other molecules such as our cells thereby causing cell damage. A good analogy would be a codependent/clingy person. He or she always has to be with someone to thrive or even survive. That ain’t fun! Anyhow, excessive free radical formation leads to premature aging and nobody wants that. To fight against free radicals, we need to take antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that basically donates electrons to free radicals which then neutralize them and prevent them from damaging other cells. Antioxidants come in the form of vitamins (Vitamins A, C and E), minerals (zinc, selenium), amino acids (glutathione), herbs (ginkgo), essential oils (clove essential oil) and other nutrients (resveratrol). Antioxidants typically turn into free radicals once they donate their electrons. That’s why it’s always a good idea to take a good mix of antioxidants rather than just taking an isolated one. Among the antioxidants by the way, glutathione is the only one that doesn’t turn into a free radical. Neat, huh?

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