One of the early arguments that developed in Aromatherapy was the internal use and external use of essential oils. These became categorised as the French model and the British model.
To a certain extent essential oil manufacturers contributed to the discussions by relating their use of gas chromatography as an arbiter of quality. In other words the Chemistry of essential oils became the dominant ‘scientific’ criterion for essential oil evaluation. Additionally as the therapy became popular toxicologists began to identify the dangers associated with the chemistry of essential oils.
Aromatherapy and Aromatherapists valuable experience with essential oils in a practical setting did not however support the findings of the ‘scientific’ side of the argument. Experience showed that the use of essential oils in massage, the so called British approach had more than cosmetic value.
Over many years I developed a course entitled Aroma cosmetology. Here I tried to bring together strands of science, technology and knowledge to bolster the experience that Aromatherapist had in practice. Most of the critics proposed that double blind trials did not support the claims Aromatherapists made. The use of essential oils in a medical environment also called for toxicological data which did not always support the idea that essential oils were generally regarded as safe. Massage to some extent was accepted as beneficial to the elderly or those near the end of life but was and still is regarded as nice smelling massage and no more.
Undoubtedly Aromatherapists get results. Good science is about observation. Results show something happens albeit varying by individual client, therapist or even brand. This is yet another inconvenient truth.
Aroma cosmetology taught therapists to look more closely at the skin. This is after all the mediating organ with which they work in addition to the nose. Th skin is our interface with the world and similar to the nose is outside of us! It is a mass of sensors In particular when breached (cut) it brings into play a systemic approach and specialised cells to restructure. We can enhance the healing process by enabling cells to get the right message. Handled poorly or with bad wounds and too much disinfectant we scar.
My starting point had been the work done by Professor Emeritus, William Tiller of Stanford University. His work pointed me at a model which became my road to Damascus experience forming my approach to Aromatherapy and subsequent teachings.
His simple model allowed me to see th a t a n o r g a n i s m h a s a p u r p o s e o r e v e n r o l e . A s h u m a n s w e m i g h t a d d t o t h i s c o n s c i o u s n e s s . S o a n o r g a n i s m h a s F U N C T I O N ”! S T R U C T U R E ”! C H E M I S T R Y i n o t h e r w o r d s W e s t e r n M e d i c i n e r e l i e s m o s t l y u p o n t h e c o n c e p t t h a t w h e n f u n c t i o n i s i m p a i r e d i t c o u l d b e a s t r u c t ural fault but at its root there is a chemical imbalance or cause that may be corrected to homoeostasis (health) by drug therapy or perhaps food chemistry (diet).
Even in the nineteenth century it was recognised that more was going on than this. Julius Wolff developed a strategy for healing bone that relied upon stressing the affected area. This caused a migration of cells to the damaged part. Resultantly the fracture was healed quicker and a new law was born, Wolff’s law. It is defined by one dictionary as:-‘ biologic systems such as hard and soft tissues become distorted in direct correlation to the amount of stress imposed upon them.’ Why is that important? It demonstrates what we now call intelligent or communicative cells influenced by ‘electrical or magnetic’ activity.
This means we can modify our view of an organism by making the equation look like:- FUNCTION ”! S T R U C T U R E ”! C H E M I S T R Y ”! E L E C T R O M A G N E T I C F I E L D S . F o r t h i s i s h o w a c e l l f u n c t i o n s b y g i v i n g a n d r e c e i v i n g i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m o u r s e n s o r s . T h r e i s h o w e v e r m o r e w h i c h i s o u r m e n t a l s t a t e o r e v e n m o o d a n d t h e y c e r t a i n l y d o a f f e c t f u n c t i o n . S o o u r e q u a t i o n b e c o m e s F U N C T I O N ”! S T R U C T U R E ”! C H E M I S T R Y ”! E L E C T R O M A G N E T I C F I E L D S ”! S U B T L E E N E R G Y F I E L D S . O f c o u r s e T i l l e r g o e s f u r t h e r b u t w e c a n r e c o g n i s e i n t h e e q u a t i o n a p h r a s e u s e d b y m a n y A r o m a t h e r a p i s t s a n d o n e t h a t I f o u n d h a r d t o u n d e r s t a n d w h e n T r i c i a D a v i s i n t r o duced the concept to me many years ago!
Later I realised that I was looking at a good model of the immune system. All widely recognise that the immune system does not exist in a single place or as a single entity. It is a whole body system that relies on cellular communication. Moreover it is unique to the individual. Most recognise that the immune system can be depressed or lowered and much to do with mood.
One of the troubles of today has been the formation of systemic scientific boxes as most people with common sense would recognise the equation above. The common man is not however reliable in scientific circles and experience dismissed as hearsay or anecdotal evidence.
But let me return to Chemistry with a bit of Physics. I am a collector of minerals and crystals. Not in a New Age sense at all let me make clear. I love the form and colour and uses in purely a hard line scientific sense, the computer chip as an example. I loved the idea of an electron bouncing through time and space dropping into a crystal structure and forever being imprisoned just to vibrate its presence to eternity. What a romantic picture.
The effect of Chemistry is not really its linear formulae or just its ability to be broken down to constituent parts. This is I believe where toxicologists go wrong. The shape and size of the molecule and the ability of the individual to recognise or use the molecule becomes important. People can react to molecules in different ways just as we do with people we meet. Essential oils are complex and constituent molecules hang together as a group tied by minute electrical (vibrational) links. Molecules in a crowd behave differently to when isolated.
One of the first things I emphasise in Aroma cosmetology is relative size. I take a tall student from the class and ask the other students to describe what they see. After a few normally humorous comments we get a reasonable description. The students can make an assessment of the capabilities of the person simply by vision. I then ask them to reduce in their minds eye our student model to a flea size. What can they see – not much. Do they see its potential to far out jump the ability of a human? No they do not. So we go on through a series of comparatives to arrive at a unit of measurement well beyond the naked eye or even microscopes – the Angstrom. This is the realm of essential oil molecules.
What this means is that skin to an essential oil would look more like a net than solid. So it has no problem wandering about, into, through or under it. Our Organs would look like vast tunnels. So just like our electron in a crystal our essential oil molecules are trapped, attracted, discarded or broken as required.
The shape of the molecule becomes important. Is it recognisable? Is it in a form that can be broken down or used by enzymes? If not it may be treated as an alien and cause irritation or a bad reaction. If the molecule is small enough it can easily pass into or through a cell. However it does not need to do this to have an effect. It has electrical or vibrational properties of its own and maybe that is all that is needed to stimulate our immune system to make us feel comfortable or with less dis ease.
Although the above is a simplification of a complex matter we should be able to see that massage with essential oils or as I would prefer, skin care with essential oils can be a most effective influence on well being and health both short and long term.
We must also remember that cosmetic and fragrance companies must remain in denial about whether substances can enter the blood stream or penetrate skin. They do not welcome any Aromatherapist who may insist on this approach. This is in legal terms the realm of the medical practitioner.
Aromatherapy like homeopathy, that much argued over medical system, involves the rethinking of traditional science to consider human consciousness and human intention as capable of significantly affecting the properties of materials used and their outcome. Massage is itself a cellular communication and intent and purpose communicates quickly. Those who massage know only too well the meditative state they may enter as opposed to the ‘mass market spa treatment’ or a clinical physiotherapy treatment. There is a difference in a healing situation. Of course it is difficult to replicate or even perform but we should not be concerned at this.
Cells talk to each other. Science has begun to understand them better. In skincare for some time now Cosmetic science has been using this principle.