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The Essentials of Essential Oils

The use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes is not a new concept. There are references to the use of oils found in the earliest histories of mankind. In addition to the familiar Biblical references (frankincense and myrrh anyone?), scholars have found mention of their use in early Greek and Roman writing, Egyptian scrolls, and even Chinese texts. While many reference the use of oils in regards to their pleasing aroma, there are numerous references to the use of aromatic plants to treat various ailments as far back as 1550 BC! So, what are these essential oils and how do they work? In truth, whole books can, and have, been dedicated to this question. It would be impossible (and irresponsible) to try to completely answer that question here. Instead, I’ll try to give you the Cliff Notes version.

Essential oils are defined as “naturally occurring volatile aromatic compounds … found in the seeds, barks, stems, roots, flowers and other parts of plants.” ( That basically means that it comes from the part of the plant that creates the aroma. They’re considered “volatile” because the molecules can change their state quickly. Essential oils can be used in anything from perfume to flavoring food, but in our office, we use them therapeutically.

Oils affect the body in two primary ways. The first is psychologically through the sense of smell into our brain’s emotion center. This is why we are always diffusing oils in our office and treatment rooms. The oils you usually find in our diffusers are lavender or peppermint and wild orange. Lavender is wonderful for easing anxiety and aiding in relaxation, while wild orange and peppermint serve to invigorate and energize the body helping you to feel more prepared to tackle the tasks ahead.

Essential oils also affect the body physiologically. This is what most people associate with massage. Adding just a few drops of oil to massage lotion allows the body to absorb the oil through the skin and then into the bloodstream where it can have the biggest impact. The two oils I use most often for these purposes are DoTerra Balance and Deep Blue. Balance is a combination of oils that work together to encourage tranquility and relax tension. Deep Blue also reduces tension, specifically in sore and tight muscles and body parts.

There are scores of additional uses for oils. You can find an abundance of information on the internet and at the library. One of the books I use often is Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils. I keep a copy in my office and used it for reference specifically for this article.

At Mended By Hand, my goal is to do whatever I can to help you to perform at your best, physically, mentally and emotionally. Using essential oils is just one of the services I provide to aid your body in its mending process. 

- Ruth

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