The Gift of Essential Oil Chemistry

The Gift of Essential Oil Chemistry

Sometimes we get excited about something only to find out it can’t happen after all. Ever felt that? But sometimes we come to realize we are getting something better after all. We just did.

As many of you knew, we had a “long shot, short notice” class with Dr. Robert Pappas. Dr. Pappas is a leading chemist in the field of aromatherapy and the founder/director of Essential Oil University. But after the initial announcement of the class, several unforeseen issues arose, and we quickly realized we had to cancel.

We had many already signed up and fabulous support from all over Florida and more! All have been refunded since the cancelation, but it is good to know that there is lots of support for a class on essential oil chemistry from such a knowledgable teacher.

If you don’t know already, the Atlantic Institute has a long history with Dr. Pappas. On our online store you can find two papers co-authored by Dr. Pappas and our director, Sylla Hanger. One is on Artemisia arborescens and its special uses in skin care, and the other is on the first known distillation and analysis of the essential oil of Eucalyptus camaldulensis, found and analyzed by the authors themselves!

If you’d like to learn about the personal history of these authors, you can read the story of how they met and started working together on Sylla’s blog, Vintage Aromatherapist.

    Leave your suggested question below!     Leave your suggested question below!

The BEST NEWS is we are planning an interview with Dr. Pappas in the new year in preparation for a more extensive workshop with him in Florida within the next year.

We are compiling a short list of questions to ask Dr. Pappas on essential oils, their chemistry, adulteration, standards and myths.

We need your help. What is the one question you would ask an expert in essential oil chemistry? Is there something he has not covered on his myths series or elsewhere?

Let us know what’s on your mind.

Please submit your question below. 

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It’s not quackery, it’s chemistry

It’s not quackery, it’s chemistry

I was recently accused of spreading around “quackery.”

It’s not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. There are occasionally people who undercut the research I’ve done and the chemists and scientists I’ve worked with and say, “You believe in alternative medicine? You must be a quack.” It’s unfortunately a part of the package when you’re dealing with a relatively new and unregulated health industry, and it doesn’t ruffle my feathers so much anymore.

But this particular critic accused me of something much worse: Promoting essential oils as a cure-all for cancer.

It’s true that I wrote a blog post on how essential oils helped me through one of the most trying times in my life—when I was diagnosed with Stage 1, non-aggressive breast cancer. But I never said that essential oils are a cure for cancer. In fact, I very much promote the idea of using essential oils as a complementary treatment alongside conventional treatment. I myself underwent a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. And I used essential oils to mitigate scarring, improve my mood and help ease the tenderness of my irradiated skin—all of which were the focus of that post.

It seems my critic unfortunately didn’t read the full blog before taking her stance against me. I respect her eagerness to protect cancer patients from unhelpful and dangerous “cure-all” treatments—I’ve been in a similar battle of my own, trying to make sure essential oils are used safely and responsibly. This is a good reminder that we must always search for the truth, and not simply make assumptions based on our opinions and beliefs.

As for the wider accusation of promoting “quackery” in general, I figured this was a good time to explain that it’s not quackery. It’s real science that I’ve had the pleasure to study for 40 years and counting. For those of you interested in where I’ve studied and with whom, I keep a blog of my experiences here: Vintage Aromatherapist. And here you can find a list of my aromatherapy accomplishments. I’m always striving for more, but I think my achievements aren’t too shabby so far!

During those 40 years, I worked with well-known and respected minds, including Martin Watt, Dr. Trevor Stokes, Dr. Robert Pappas and Tony Burfield, to name a few. This resulted in many papers and presentations, including the personal blog mentioned above, and it also culminated with the courses, books, and classes we offer today. Here is my bio, and here is my CV if anyone needs the long version.

I’m truly passionate about illuminating the exciting and surprising truths of aromatherapy and essential oils, and about offering my hard-earned knowledge to my students.

So to those critics, I say: It’s not quackery, it’s chemistry!

What We Teach About Internal Use of Essential Oils

What We Teach About Internal Use of Essential Oils

I’ve used aromatherapy for 40 years for myself and my family as preventive care. Over those years, I’ve also used them as internal remedies when the need arose, which was usually because of the flu, viruses, or systemic infections. I do not, however, use or promote the daily use of essential oils internally for preventive care. 

I believe an aromatherapy lifestyle keeps us healthy especially when used in the air and in skin and body care on a regular basis. My husband is healthy and never takes a sick day, leaving his co-workers jealous and confused. When asked why he doesn’t get sick, he blamed it on living with me and aromatics for 35 years! But for anyone who works in the public or has a kid in school, it’s hard to avoid picking up germs from others at one point or another. As a result, my family would occasionally need to use the “big guns” to fight infection. That’s what I call the most anti-infectious oils (like oregano, thyme, clove, cinnamon, etc), because they’re just that powerful.

During a bad cold or flu, for example, I use blends created to kill germs, relieve congestion and ease symptoms. For a serious infection, I may use a dose orally at the onset, a topical application, inhalations from diffusion, aromatic baths, and suppositories.

WHAT? Yes, I said that last one!

To fight an acute infection, we need to bypass the liver and get the oils into the gut.  Of course both topical applications and the suppositories consist of low-dose, diluted and anti-infectious essential oils that have little irritation potential.

What We Teach About Internal Use of Essential Oils

Another oral remedy I use is a spoonful of raw, local honey and a drop of peppermint for stomach aches. One of Nyssa‘s friends has a fond memory of this as she often had a tummy ache at our house and this is what she remembers most! This is great for kids or adults.

And these are just a few examples of internal use. Of course, before using essential oils internally, it’s necessary to learn how to do so safely–otherwise you could inflict damage on yourself and others. There are many safe and efficacious ways to use essential oils as natural aromatic medicine and it is up to the user to know what is safe. Often companies selling oils will recommend undiluted and oral use with no safety precautions and this has resulted in adverse effects. We teach safe internal use in our live classes, and in the Aromatherapy Practitioner Correspondence Course, because it’s a part of using natural oils for aromatic medicine. Internal use has also been mentioned and outlined in my Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual since 1994.

When used as necessary and in a safe manner for illnesses, essential oils have tremendous healing potential that can add greatly to our natural remedies. To repeat what I said earlier, I see no need to take any oils daily in my water or food. The oils can cause harm if overdone, which I see far too often in the Atlantic Institute’s Injury Database Report. I get my flavor from real fruit if I need an occasional change to plain distilled water–because once again, there is NO additional nutritional benefit when lemon or orange essential oil is added to water. I also don’t advise taking capsules for allergies when topical and inhalation are much more effective for this condition.

Instead, I use essential oils daily in the air of my home and office, in my daily skin and body care, in my own perfume, and on my clients during treatments. I’ve seen the benefits of this type of treatment for 40 years, without adding in daily internal applications. Then, when I get sick and the need arises, I can treat more strongly. This process is quite cost effective because I don’t use up all my precious oils through undiluted or oral application. The air diffusion and skin care are effective preventatives, which is why I have used these methods for so long! Essential oils work very well diluted, sometimes better as seen in anti-infectious trials and diluting saves you money over time.

Interested in learning how to use essential oils safely?

We have free local safe use classes in addition to our one-day and weekend workshops on our Calendar. We also have industry-leading books and other resources in our shop.

Please use safely! I don’t want to read about your injuries in my database!

Aromatherapy Beginner's Training begins Feb. 17 - CLICK HERE to reserve your spot! Dismiss