Rediscovering Nature’s Medicine Cabinet
By Penny Mueller, RN
Look around you: We live in an environment that would not have made sense 100 or even 50 years ago. So separate from our surroundings and light years away from the way our ancestors used to live that with our modern fast-paced lifestyles and our even faster food, we’re sicker in this generation than we’ve ever been before.
While modern medicine is remarkable, it relies too heavily on pharmacology and physical interventions in the form of surgery and invasive procedures designed to suppress symptoms. The result is a failure to address the disharmony produced by the underlying disease.
Case in point: A person has a fever, and it is treated with a pill: Advil or Tylenol and the fever goes down. This practice fails to let the body deal with an imbalance and fails to ask important questions: Why is the fever there in the first place? Why do we want to suppress the fever? Why are we preventing the body from doing what it was created to do? In other words, by giving a pill to stop a fever, we are restricting the body’s natural processes.
By rediscovering nature’s medicine cabinet, we are facilitating the body’s innate ability to heal itself, helping the body get through illness instead of fighting illness, promoting wellness instead of curing ill health, recommending lifestyle changes that lead to a more simple existence, and promoting holism. We are opening ourselves up to the truth that nature holds the key to every cure of every disease. We are allowing nature to do what it does so naturally: encourage healing and continued good health through the least invasive means possible! So, what is in nature’s medicine cabinet? Those amazing little essential oils!
Essential oils are the botanical liquid manifestation of the power of nature. We already know that herbs work….we’ve seen that in our lives. Look no further than how we commonly use peppermint. Essential oils are plant essences that we can see, touch, taste and smell that go into our bodies and literally bring us into direct contact with nature.
Aromatherapy is new, the therapeutic use of essential oils is ancient. The term aromatherapy was first introduced 1937 by Gattefosse’ in his published book “Aromatheapie: Le Huiles essentielles, hormones vegetales” where he introduced and created the discipline of therapeutic application of essential oils. The use of aromatic plants and the extraction of the plant essences, however, has been used by humankind for tens of thousands of years, and we know that the first apparatus for distilling essential oils dates back to at least 2000 years B.C. Aromatherapy isn’t some ‘new agey’ woo-woo hippie concept. Aborigines have used tea tree oil for 40,000 years. Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh of ancient Egypt, Ester of the Old Testament, and Cleopatra all have documented historical use of essential oils. Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus’ feet with pure nard, and the women of Jesus’ day regularly carried hyssop, marjoram, frankincense, peppermint and myrrh. Hippocrates, the father of medicine said that the way to health is by having an aromatic bath and scented massage every day. Florence Nightingale, the mother of nursing, routinely carried lavender to rub on wounded soldiers. During WWII, the Austrialian army’s standard issued military supplies always included a gun, boots, uniform, tea tree, eucalyptus and lavender. Why? Because they knew the power of plant essences.
Plants store liquid. Within this liquid are chemical building blocks, the very essence of the plant’s life. These components have a tiny molecular structure that can be readily absorbed into the bloodstream through application on the skin, quick absorption into the lung tissue capillaries through inhalation, or absorbed through mucous and epithelial tissue of the mouth, throat and esophagus through ingestion. Plus, as far as we know, these tiny essential oil molecules do not remain or build up in the body, but are quickly and readily excreted from the body in as few as three hours, unlike chemical drugs.
The chemistry of essential oils is complex, and a single oil can contain over one hundred components, such as terpenes alcohols, aldehydes and esters. It is for this reason that a single oil can help a wide variety of disorders. For example, lavender is a known antiseptic, anti-bacterial, antibiotic, antidepressant, analgesic, decongest and sedative.
Humans and plants have always communicated. Plant essences communicate on a cellular level and have the ability to differentiate and seek out the bad and support the good: illness vs. wellness. We respond to aromatherapy because that’s the natural order. Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, works. The reason it works is because it brings about the human and plant cooperation of our origins, the way things used to be.
Penny is a registered nurse currently studying to become a master aromatherapist. While studying to become a nurse, she quickly realized that modern medicine did not hold all the answers and practices nursing with a holistic, alternative emphasis. Penny shares her Mound, Minnesota home with her children, dog, cats, and goldfish. For more natural nurse articles, please visit her blog at www.pennysuemueller.com
Awaken to Healing Fragrance, 2010. Elizabeth Anne Jones.
Clinical Aromatherapy-Essential Oils in Practice, 2nd Edition, 2003. Jane Buckle.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 1991. Valerie Ann Worwood.
The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy, 2000. Chrissie Wildwood.
Medical Aromathearpy-Healing with Essential Oils, 1999. Kurt Schnaubelt.
Disclaimer: For educational use only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Educational programs are available through Heart of Herbs