Over the past twenty years or more Aromatherapy has become a household name. Its popularity has increased so much that almost every College in every town has an Aromatherapy course and aromatherapy products are in every supermarket from oils and creams to hair shampoos.
While most people tend to think of aromatherapy as a nice relaxing massage, there is a use for Essential oils that not everyone is aware of. In the home, the work place and on holiday Essential oils are an indispensable First Aid item.
Rene-Maurice Gattfosse a chemist in the early 1900's discovered by accident the qualities of essential oils when he had a serious accident in the laboratory and burnt his hand. He quickly immersed his hand in the nearest container of cooling liquid which just happened to be Lavender oil. He was highly impressed by reduction of pain and the subsequent rapid healing. He went on to study the healing properties of many oils and it was he who first used the name Aromatherapy.
In Australian homes it is very common to find bottle of Tea Tree on the shelf, while in the UK Lavender is very common - though not necessarily considered as a First aid oil. Although called oils, Essential oils are more like water in their consistency. Most are too powerful to be used neat on the skin and should not be used in this way. Lavender and Tea Tree are the exceptions to this rule.
Lavender Oil, botanical name Lavandula Angustifolia is produced by steam distillation of the flower heads and stems. Most people are aware of the relaxing properties of Lavender, but in addition the oil is known to be a powerful antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and analgesic (reduces pain). Because of these properties, it is an excellent oil to use for all kinds of daily problems including cuts, bruises, minor infections, insect bites and bed sores. It is particularly well known for its effective treatment of burns. Burns should be treated first by cooling under cold water for at least ten minutes and then after the area has dried apply Lavender oil directly to the affected area.
One of my regular clients arrived at my clinic one day after an absence of several months having undergone open heart surgery. His operation incision was about 15 inches (38cm) long and although it was now six weeks after the operation the site was quite red and angry looking. Obviously infected I suggested to him that he used neat Lavender on the wound to clear the infection. The following week he arrived and the appearance of the scar was quite different. The redness was gone and the scar was obviously healing nicely.
If like me you are fond of cats then at some time you will have been scratched by one of them. Have you noticed that the scratch mark always becomes red and swollen. It seems likely to me that all cats carry some bacteria on their claws that we react to. If you drip on Lavender as soon as possible after the cat has scratched you the redness and swelling will not appear.
Uses of Lavender Oil
Eases headaches - rub Lavender into the temples and the back of the neck.
Aids sleep - sprinkle a few drops on your pillow or put dried Lavender flowers in the pillow.
Aids relaxation - put a few drops into a hot bath to help you to relax and for good nights sleep.
For massage - add two or three drops to a desert spoon of oil and massage into tired muscles.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil, botanical name melaleuca alternifoli, is grown and distilled in Australia. The name Tea Tree is derived from the early explorers of Australia who used the leaves to brew a kind of tea. The plant was well known to the aborigines who were well aware of the ability of the plant to stop infections. A typical treatment was to apply wads of the leaves to serious wounds in order to prevent infection. Research in Australia has established that the oil of Tea Tree is up to 13 times more antiseptic than Carbolic acid. The oil is therefore antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and it is also a parasiticide (lice!), an analgesic (reduces pain) and cicatrizing (helps wounds to heal). In many ways it can help the same problems we have already mentioned with regard to Lavender but it gives us another alternative and very often when one doesn't work the other one does.
The oil can be used on cuts, bruises, infections, fungal infections, Athletes foot, acne, verruca, cold sores, rashes and insect bites. Inhaling the fumes can be very good for the respiratory system. Coughs, colds, Bronchitis, Asthma and sinusitis. The oil is highly effective for treating ulcers, sore throats, gum infections and bad breath. For mouth ulcers try dabbing on neat Tea tree using a cotton bud. For sore throats and other mouth problems, you can make up a gargle by adding two to three drops of Tea Tree to a glass of warm water. I like to add five or six drops of Lemon Essential oil as this makes it much more palatable. Lemon is also a useful oil for treating mouth ulcers and sore throats.
My brother came to visit me some time ago and showed me a ring shaped infection on his face. His doctor had taken a scraping and sent it away for analysis and given him a cream which he had continued to apply for about ten days before I saw him. I suggested that he try dabbing on neat Tea Tree. The ring disappeared in three days.
Very often the simplest remedies turn out to be the best and without any side effects. We are all individual in the way that we react to things, so it does occasionally happen that an individual can not use a particular product whether it is an essential oil or a proprietary product from the chemist. It is no surprise that now and then someone finds that they get a reaction to a particular oil including Lavender or Tea Tree or any other oil. If this happens then it is best to discontinue using that particular oil.
By Myra Lewis
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