Understanding How and Why Essential Oils Work
The more we understand how and why essential oils work, the more effectively we can apply them to various health issues. We desire for our use of essential oils to be intuitive and spiritual since the Source of the oils and the Source of the wisdom to apply them comes from our Creator. An intellectual study with a secular attitude unappreciative of the Source of all things only serves to block His wisdom and intuition.
Job 12:8 implies that we can learn the nature of essential oils through relationship. George Washington Carver (1864-1943) wrote that God spoke to him through creation and led him to discover many uses for peanuts: peanut butter, peanut oil, pigments, flour, plastic. Carver said, "God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed before if we put our hands in His. No books ever go into my laboratory. The thing I am to do and the way of doing it are revealed to me the moment I am inspired to create something new. Without God to draw aside the curtain I would be helpless."
God's wisdom is in the plants. They have a silent language, but patience, love and respect for His creation along with a commitment to serve and share with others will enable us to hear God speak to us through His creation and the oils themselves.
God's Wisdom is Whole
Citrus oils like orange, grapefruit and lemon all have a predominant constituent called d-limonene which scientific research shows to have anti-carcinogenic properties, but otherwise, each of the citrus oils vary in their healing properties. For example, grapefruit has a trace constituent called 1-p-menthen-8-thiol, which is the single component that gives grapefruit it's unique fragrance. Amazingly there is only one part per billion of this component in the oil, which is equal to five drops in an Olympic-size swimming pool, yet we can smell it and know it's grapefruit. You must preserve all the constituents of an essential oil for it to behave as God intended. When using oils for therapeutic reasons, be sure you are using high quality, pure essential oils, not low-grade oils or fragrance oils.
An essential oil may have over one hundred constituents, and that even varies from season to season, crop to crop and batch to batch. Chemical compounds in an oil don't behave independently – they are a team. Isolated they may be toxic. Perhaps you could say that compounds of essential oils are like people; they behave differently according to who they are with. This changing behavior is called quenching the compound.
For example, indole and scatole are nitrogen compounds with small, aromatic molecules. They are found in decaying flesh (dead animals) and feces. The droppings of wild animals are often called "scat," and that word comes from the name of the molecule scatole. But, interestingly, Jasmine Absolute also has indole and scatole in it. While feces is known for its offensive smell, Jasmine is known for its wonderful aroma. When indole and scatole are in the presence of the compounds of Jasmine, they enhance the fragrance. Perfume companies add indole to perfumes because it enhances the fragrance. A compound by itself may not be desirable or safe, but in the company of others, it may be wonderful and therapeutic.
Consider Lavender essential oil, which has three main components plus some trace components. A perfume company will isolate these three main components in manufacturing lavender scent, because all they are interested in is fragrance. When scientists remove trace compounds, Lavender oil loses its therapeutic capability, and in some cases laboratory-altered lavender causes allergy-like symptoms in people. All the components must be there in a balance because they are quenching, helping, supporting and promoting each other to work together in a balance created by God that cannot be duplicated in a laboratory.
The Chemistry of Essential Oils by David Stewart PhD., D.V.M
My hope is to continue this article next month, and explore how essential oils help neurological issues by having the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and why, in some situations, we prefer to use blends. We will archive the articles for easy access in the future, so they will be available if you introduce a family member or friend to the wonderful world of therapeutic essential oils.