Questions for the Doctor

Finding The Essence Of Essential Oils

Dear Dr. Cutler,

I have been hearing a lot of hype about essential oils lately. Some are claiming that these oils can help with a variety of problems ranging from improving skin problems to decreasing joint pain and swelling. Could you give me your take on essential oils—where they come from and what they can possibly do for my health?

—Myra Z.

Dear Myra,

There are only 700 plants and trees that can be processed to obtain their essential oils. The “essences” that plants contain protect them from disease and parasites. And oils like frankincense and myrrh shield the plant or tree from extreme sunlight.

The essential oils are found in various parts of the plant—in the flower of the rose, in the leaves of basil, in the wood of sandalwood or in the rinds of fruit. The essences of the trees and plants are turned into essential oils through steam distillation, cold pressing or solvent extraction—methods that are expensive and time-consuming. For example, to produce 4 to 5 teaspoons of rose essential oil, it takes more than 220 pounds of rose petals… for 1 quart of rosemary essential oil, it takes 500 pounds of rosemary… and 1 quart of thyme essential oil requires at least 1 ton of thyme.

But these aromatic essential oils absorb rapidly through your skin and tissues and stimulate multiple organ systems within your body. If they are used in massage therapy, essential oils have an aromatherapy effect because they are absorbed not only through your skin, but through the olfactory nerve in your brain where they can influence other nerves. This contributes to a decrease in stress, clarity of the mind and an improvement in your mood. And as you breathe, the oils are drawn into your lungs and rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream.

What does this mean for your health? For many acute illnesses, essential oils can be as effective as potent prescription drugs. However, for chronic conditions, they have much slower and less dramatic healing effects. Numerous studies have proven that these oils can be used to…

  • Fight microbial infections
  • Reduce pain dramatically

If you want relief for heartburn pain, for example, rubbing a few drops of peppermint oil into your upper abdomen can create first a deep heat inside your body and then resolve your heartburn in a matter of a few minutes.

All the best!

Michael Cutler, M.D.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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