Detoxification is a natural and continuous bodily process. We are constantly removing excess toxins through our skin, digestive, urinary, circulatory, respiratory, and lymphatic systems.
We are designed to handle some toxins but our bodies can become overloaded when bombarded with too much processed food, drink, sugar, parasites, air, and water pollutants. This can lead to fatigue, constipation, gas, bad breath, low immunity, hormone imbalances, skin problems, poor circulation, mood swings, depression, and mucus build-up.
As well maintaining good health, physical and emotional well being, some essential oils have been known to be powerful detoxification aids both for the body and the mind.
Detoxification essential oils can be used separately or in combination, diluted and applied directly onto the skin, in the bath, or inhaled. When using oils in your bath, wait until the bathtub is full before sprinkling 8 to 30 drops of your chosen oil or oils, as they tend to evaporate quickly. Avoid immersing yourself completely, as the oils should not come into contact with your eyes. It's preferable not to use soap in an essential oil bath as some soap might interfere with, and neutralise the essential oil action.
Essential oils can help relieve some of certain symptoms by assisting the body in ridding itself of unwelcome toxins. When used in conjunction with a dietary and herbal detoxification, essential oils complement the holistic, natural cleaning process.
Entering the bloodstream through the pores of the skin, essential oils are carried to all parts of the body via the circulatory and lymphatic systems. They are chemically complex and their constituents have a direct effect on the body, mind, and spirit.
We don’t know exactly where it began but it is known that essential oils were used throughout different cultures.
The Egyptians who used the method of infusion to extract the oils from aromatic plants which were used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes as well as embalming.
Ancient Chinese at a similar time were also using some form of aromatics. Shen Nung's herbal book (dating back to approximately 2700 BC) contains detailed information on over 300 plants and their uses. Similarly, the Chinese used aromatics in religious ceremonies, by burning woods and incense to show respect to their Gods - a tradition which is still practiced today. The use of aromatics in China was linked to other ancient therapies such as massage and acupressure.
India has used essential oils for many centuries. Ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India, uses dried and fresh herbs, as well as aromatic massage as important aspects of treatment.
The Greeks acquired most of their medical knowledge from the Egyptians and used it to further their own discoveries. They found that the fragrance of some flowers was stimulating while others had relaxing properties. The use of olive oil as the base oil absorbed the aroma from the herbs or flowers and the perfumed oil was then used for both cosmetic and medicinal purposes.
The Romans learned from the Greeks and became well known for scented baths followed by massage with aromatic oils. The popularity of aromatics led to the establishment of trade routes which allowed the Romans to import "exotic" oils and spices from distant lands such as India and Arabia. With the decline of the Roman Empire, the use of aromatics faded and the knowledge of their use was virtually lost in Europe during the dark ages.
Source of essential oils
The oils are found in different parts of the plant such as the flowers, twigs, leaves and bark, or in the rind of fruit. For example, in roses it is found in the flowers, in basil it is in the leaves, in sandalwood in the wood, and so on.
The methods used to extract the oil are time consuming and expensive and require a high degree of expertise. Given that it takes in excess of 220 pounds of rose petals to produce only 4 or 5 teaspoonsful of oil, it is a process probably best left to professionals!
Due to the large quantity of plant material required, pure essential oils are expensive, but they are also highly effective. Only a few drops at a time are required to achieve the desired effect.
Action of Essential oils
Essential oils have an immediate impact on our sense of smell, also known as "olfaction". When essential oils are inhaled, olfactory receptor cells are stimulated and the impulse is transmitted to the emotional center of the brain, or "limbic system".
The limbic system is connected to areas of the brain linked to memory, breathing, and blood circulation, as well as the endocrine glands which regulate hormone levels in the body. The properties of the oil, the fragrance and its effects, determine stimulation of these systems.
When used in massage, essential oils are not only inhaled, but absorbed through the skin as well. They penetrate the tissues and find their way into the bloodstream where they are transported to the organs and systems of the body.
Essential oils have differing rates of absorption, generally between 20 minutes and 2 hours, so it is probably best not to bathe or shower directly following a massage to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Side effects of essential oils
The body generally tolerates essential oils well. It's important not to use pure oils directly onto the skin or in the bath water as they can irritate the skin. They are best diluted in your shower gel, bath product or vegetable oils like sweet almond oil, Jojoba oil or avocado oil, or in a cream or moisturizer base. You can even buy a neutral base cream especially to dilute your essential oils.
Some oils are more powerful than others and can cause temporary skin reactions amongst those are thyme, oregano, cinnamon and lemon grass oils. Others make your skin more sensitive to the sun and should not be used for twelve hours before sun exposure. These are bergamot essences as well as lemon, grapefruit and mandarin essences.
Response of essential oils in different people
Each essential oil has a well-know biological effect but since it also affects the central nervous system, each person reacts according to his or her condition. The same essential oil can have a relaxing or tonifying effect depending on the body's requirement. A good example is lavender oil. In eighty percent of cases, it is soothing, but has a contrary, tonifying effect on some people. Generally the oil that attracts you most is the one that works best for you.
Please avoid using the blends above or any other essential oil before seeking medical advice if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Those with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis should use a drop of diluted amount on a small area and leave for a few hours before starting its use on the whole body to observe any adverse reactions.