Aromatherapy: Healing with Essential Oils

by KG Stiles, Certified Aroma Therapist

For thousands of years aromatic oils have been used to help calm stress, anxiety and panic. Aromatherapy can be a valuable ally for healing trauma whether you are a trauma survivor, a relief worker whose affected by your direct involvement with survivors, or simply someone feeling traumatized by seeing and hearing the stories of disaster victims.

The use of plants and herbs is the oldest form of healing disease and pain, and the medicinal properties of plants have been recorded in the oldest writings in history, in myth, and folklore. According to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts, priests and physicians were using essential oils thousands of years before Christ to heal the sick.

In ancient times essential oils were considered more valuable than gold. In more recent times aromatherapists have offered these valuable agents of healing to disaster victims, as well as to the relief workers who are helping them deal with loss and an uncertain future.

I spoke with Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, Founder of United Aromatherapy Effort (UAE), about her experiences while working at Ground Zero after during the 911 disaster in New York City.

Out of a sense of wanting to “do something to help” Sylla joined Doug E. Rasmusson, of Emergency Response Massage International (ERMI) which was created in 2005, to give massage to relief workers at Ground Zero.

When at Ground Zero the insight to administer essential oils to the relief workers came to Sylla. Immediately she went on line and began organizing donations for essential oil supplies and UAE was born.

The result was that essential oils were used before, during and after massages, as well as given out at fire stations.

“Of course you know results are immediate with aromatherapy,” says Sylla, “and we do hear from folks who got relief from headaches, breathed better, etc. later on.” Since 911 UAE has been involved in other relief efforts, including Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

Essential oils are highly aromatic and therefore, many of the benefits can be obtained simply by inhaling their aromatic scent. It is well known that aroma reaches and influences the deepest human instincts. When essential oils are inhaled, aromatherapy not only delivers the calming benefits of fragrance, it also delivers the many health benefits unique to essential oils.

Essential oils are highly concentrated, a drop or two can produce significant results!

What exactly is aromatherapy and how does it work? Aromatherapy means to treat with aroma through inhalation. Essential oils are the subtle, aromatic, and volatile liquids extracted through distillation from a single botanical source (flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, bark, and roots of herbs, bushes, shrubs and trees), the part of the plant yielding the maximum amount of essential oil.

Essential oils act as the blood of the plant,protecting it from bacterial and viral infections, cleansing breaks in its tissue and delivering oxygen and nutrients into the cells. There are many cheap chemical copies of essential oils available, but these are not recommended for therapeutic use.

For best results get the highest quality oils that you can possibly find. Organic, or ethically wild crafted oils should be used whenever available.

Hippocrates said that there is a remedy for everything to be found in Nature,yet only now is science beginning to investigate the many benefits of essential oils and study the incredible healing substances within them.

Virtually everything used today in modern drugs can be traced back to a botanical extract. More and more case studies are being recorded, proving the effectiveness of aromatherapy for therapeutic use.