By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
Plant oils are part of the vast resources around us and humanity has been using oils since time immemorial. In the tropics, we have our coconut oil and in temperate countries, they have olive oil and grapeseed oil. These oils, aside from being edible, has been and are widely used for their healing properties. Our very own coconut oil is a favorite childhood balm, from gasgas to tummy aches to coung and colds. Ask your lola. Olive oil is mentioned in the Bible as used for anointing, to light their lamps. How they extracted the oil, I haven’t researched it yet. These oils I mentioned are fatty oils. Like when you apply them in your skin, you feel the “oil”
Fast forward to the present. We now have the technology to extract other oils from plants, not only fatty oils. We have these essential oils (EOs). Essential oils are oils extracted from plants for their healing properties or for perfume. They retain the smell and flavor of their plant source, or the “essence”. These extracted through distillation or cold-pressing. “They don’t feel oily but contain oil-soluble chemicals in the plant- usually 100-200 chemicals per essential oil. This complex chemistry gives the EOs their therapeutic properties and explains why different Eos may have overlapping effects.” (Linda Halcon, PhD, MPH, in Taking Charge of your Health and Wellbeing website.)
Interestingly, these essential oils are used by the plants themselves to control infection, wound healing, humidity control, hormone balance, and for attracting or repelling insects, birds and animals, etc. In other words, these EOs are important for the survival and wellbeing of the plants. These healing properties are carried over to human users. Well, as we have discussed in previous columns, for the longest time, people have been depending on plants for health and wellbeing. When we eat these plants, we eat their oils. The difference with EOs is that these are highly concentrated thus these have to be diluted with carrier oils – coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, etc (the fatty oils derived from plants).
Lately, I was introduced to these essential oils by the lovely young pediatrician, Dr. Faith Domingo. I was amazed when I used the peppermint myself and my cough was relieved. I tried the other EOs- lavender for sleep, peppermint for headache and to energize me and some blends to clean the air. Then we tried them on my grandchildren and other members of the family– for cough and colds, fever, diarrhea and vomiting, motion sickness, hyperactivitiy. And they work! There may be varied experiences with different people and different EOs and that’s okay. Just like any other healing modality, you just have to find out the EO that suits you. As mentioned earlier, some EOs have overlapping effects. God is good. Maid mangbubukod as gawis. Like there are different blends to minimize or stop snoring. There are different blends which you can choose for sleep problems. But for a start you can use the most-commonly used EO.
EOs are can be inhaled, usually using a diffuser, or diluted and rubbed on the skin. Some oils can be ingested by adding them to your juice or salad but in very minimal amounts.
Unlike synthetic medicines which alter our cell make-up and may damage our vital organs, these EOs don’t have serious side effects if used properly. They may cause skin irritation, though. They work by boosting our immune response, just like they do in their natural plant source. A strong immune system will fight off infection and other illnesses even cancer and will hasten natural healing of our bodies. Thus in the standards of western medicine, these EOs are not medicines. Whatever they maybe categorized, essentials oils are potent resources for health and healing and they are now within our reach. Know the source of your EOs and make sure they are not extracted using synthetic chemicals, and that they are organic. ***
“You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.” Exodus 29:7