Usually essential oils are present in the plant at low concentrations, which means that the amount of plant material needed to produce a small quantity of essential oil is large. It also means that an essential oil is a very concentrated product and used drop-wise.
The use of essential oils as fragrance materials, in foods and cosmetics and for therapeutic applications is documented throughout the centuries, cultures and civilizations. An essential oil is not only a smell, but a beautiful remedy to embrace these aspects which are the foundation of our well-being: health, spiritual equilibrium, harmony and beauty. Often when we are not well, these aspects form a unity, and treatment should include the entire being. Many essential oils have their use as well in pharmacology, as in psychology, and in cosmetics and skin care. This is what makes them so valuable and useful as companions in our lives.
The psychology of fragrance..
Since ancient times aromatic substances played a major part in religious ceremonies where they were burnt on altars (the origin of our present word perfume is per fumum, lat. through the smoke), priests washed in aromatic waters and covered with scented oils. The fragrances were associated with the gods and used to get into communication with them in the rites. The psychological effect of certain odors as scientifically investigated today, was known since creation and used to favor concentration, meditation and contemplation, whereas the purifying effect as known today of essential oils as antiseptic and bactericidal clearly was employed in these rites. Fragrant substances played an essential part in religious ceremonies, and the spiritual and psychological well-being of people.
Today we know that the psychological effect of fragrances can calm us down, alert our attention and concentration, make us peaceful or invigorate us, and relieve fear, insecurity and stress, all depending on which oil we choose.
A good way to spread aroma in the house is to use an aroma-lamp, where a small bowl containing water and a few drops of essential oil is placed above a candle, on the stove, or in certain containers fashioned for this use and electrically heated. The heat involved vaporizes the essential oil and its fragrance spreads around our environment. According to the oil chosen and the requirements of the moment we can use refreshing oils in the day time, soothing oils at night or fragrances emphasizing romance, meditation or concentration.
We can use a few drops of essential oil with some water in a spray flask usually available in flower shops to spray around the house, on kitchen and bedroom curtains for example, or place a ball of cotton with essential oil drops on a bathroom shelf, in the clothes cupboard, we can add a few drops to the softener in the washing machine, giving a fragrance and freshness to our clothes, add some drops in the water used to clean floors, kitchen surfaces and shelves for a fresh and clean smell.
Some essential oils have excellent anti-bacterial activities. A few drops added onto a wet cloth can disinfect toilet seats and doorhandles, the evaporation of these oils, for example in times of influenza epidemics, or in a patients room can prevent contagion.
Many are the ways in which we can use essential oils in our daily life and environment and benefit from their fragrance and activities. With some essential oils or mixtures of them we can create our own perfume quite simple. Dilute 3ml of essential oil with 7ml of almond oil and use drop-wise.
The use of plants as medicines has until recently been the only remedies available to human kind. In many countries around the world, even today people rely chiefly on natural medicines. Long is the history of aromatic plants, thyme (Thymus spp), dill (Anethum graveolens), myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) and frankincence (Boswellia carterii) were already mentioned in the famous Eber’s papyrus, dating from 1600 BC. Thyme, 'a strong smelling herb of Greek origin' was used in mummification, and is listed in the papyrus as a 'pain reliever', dill and fennel for flatulence and indigestion.
In all cultures and at all times, people turned to the plants around them to heal and restore. Even though the invention of the distillation technique used to be attributed to the Arabs (and Avicenna) only 1000 years ago, recent findings of a terra-cotta still with traces of volatile oil in the Indus valley, now Pakistan, dates this invention to approximately 5000 BC.
Essential oils are soluble in vegetable oils and alcohol, but not in water. Diluted with vegetable oils, such as almond, olive or jojoba oil, however, and massaged onto the skin, essential oils can enter the bloodstream and are transported throughout the body to reach their target. This is why a massage with essential oils is not only pleasant but also has therapeutic activities beyond the touch. By choosing an essential oil or a blend of them according to its/their activity and add it to a basic massage oil generally at concentrations from 1% to 3%, we can aid a person in many ways. Most essential oils have bactericidal activities. A few oils can be used pure, drop-wise, to disinfect smaller wounds and ease the pain (i.e. Lavandula spp, Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia). We can also use hot or cold compresses with essential oils diluted in water (2 drops in 1dl water), especially to ease pain or cool swollen limps.
Some essential oils can also be taken internally, usually 1-2 drops in alcohol (i.e. vodka., avoid flavored drinks like gin, ouzo etc.), but one should be extremely cautious and always follow recommended dosing, since these oils are highly concentrated products and can cause serious irritation and even damage the stomach lining.
Inhalations are another way to use essential oils, and mainly to treat problems of the respiratory tract- colds, coughs etc. Simply put a few drops (follow dosing recommendations, they are different for each oil) in a bowl of hot water, cover your head and the bowl with a towel and inhale the vapor. We can use the same method to steam our face (use gentle oils) to combat impure skin and improve blood circulation.
Antiseptic oils can be vaporized in times of flu’s to prevent contamination, to facilitate breathing in cases of bronchial afflictions, and in rooms of sick people where a fragrance as well can aid in the general condition of the patient.
the Beauty and the Skin...
Aromatic substances have been used in beauty products like creams, lotions and toilet water throughout human history. Kleopatra was known for her cosmetic skills and preparations, and the Egyptian custom of embalming, preserving with the help of aromatics is unsurpassed throughout history. The ancient Greeks were masters in the creation of perfumes and cosmetics, as countless contemporary authors let us know. Essential oils and plant extracts have been used in all famous skin care and beautifying products throughout the ages, and indeed, they possess many activities beneficial for the treatment of the skin.
Here we often encounter the multiple role played by essential oils- since skin problems often are the manifestation of deeper conditions, like emotional difficulties and stress or hormonal imbalances or problems involving digestion and diet.
We can add a few drops of an indicated oil to our commercial (non-perfumed) daily cream or skin tonic to benefit from their activities, use an oil as a deodorant or antiseptic. Many oils promote the growth of new cells and generally have a regenerative action on tissue, and in particular wrinkles can be prevented and reduced by some oils.
Essential Oils from WILD HERBS of CRETE
Since essential oils are relatively expensive, adulterations and falsifications of commercial oils occur frequently. It is absolutely imperative to assure the purity of an essential oil, is it to be used therapeutically. Many reported allergic and irritation reactions might be due to oils which were not pure. However, allergies today can be caused by many completely harmless natural substances and are very individual. To test an essential oil for any such reaction, dilute it according to recommendation and apply it to a defined area of your arm, leave it for 12-24 hours and control reaction. All recommendations in the portraits of the individual oils given here are concerning 100% pure and natural essential oils.