Be a Cool Nerd ~ Essential Oil Chemistry & Dr. Tim

Be a Cool Nerd ~ Essential Oil Chemistry & Dr. Tim

Last Sunday, Mom and I got to talking about why essential oil chemistry is something worth learning about. Even when Sylla began studying aromatherapy over 40 years ago, she felt resistant to learn this molecular science. However, once she did, the world of essential oils opened up to her in incredible ways. Though decades behind, I can attest to the same. We both agree there is great value in understanding the chemistry of essential oils.

Here are five reasons why we think every aromatherapist needs to learn essential oil chemistry:

  1. You’ll sound like a NERD … Yeah, we actually think it’s cool to be nerdy when it comes to chemistry. Knowing the chemistry makes you sound smart (who doesn’t want that?). You can pronounce words like cinnamaldehyde and alpha-bisabolol. More than that, you know what they mean and how they contribute to the therapeutic effect or safety concerns of the oil. Plus, being smart also means that research papers and conference presentations make a lot more sense.
  2. It is not as hard as you think. Unlike the organic chemistry class you had in college, essential oil chemistry is primarily concerned with only three elements: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Just knowing that all the aromas we work with are virtually countless combinations of these three elements still blows our mind!
  3. When you think on the molecular level, you enter a whole new world. This can open doors to other fields of study, perhaps biochemistry or physiology. Then, you start to understand how your own body works, which gives you a deeper understanding of health and healing.
  4. Learning about essential oil chemistry means you’ll be more informed on how to read and understand the components of a new oil or product. You can look up the constituents (Need a resource? Our Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual has a Phytochemical Index) and what the known therapeutic properties of that component are. You’ll also learn how to not fall into the trap of determining effects based solely on major components. A study of essential oil chemistry quickly reveals the nuances of these “potent chemical cocktails,” as Dr. Tim likes to call them.
  5. You’ll learn that the magic of the oils comes from the chemistry. For us, this doesn’t break the spell. It’s just the opposite: understanding the science only enhances the magic.

So, you want to be a nerd? In October, we are hosting Dr. Timothy Miller for AromaChemistry, a fun-filled weekend of nerdalicious learning. Even though we both teach essential oil chemistry in our Beginner’s Course and Practitioner Training, we wanted to host Tim because he’s like no other teacher we’ve ever had.

You can see how Tim and I get along so well.

In Sylla’s words:

“I’ve studied a bit in my 40 years, and Tim Miller stands out as an exceptional teacher. Not only does he have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in his field as healer, but his personality shines through when he’s teaching. He brings a fresh new energy that is quite appealing.

When he teaches, I find myself fully engaged by his youthful presence. He has a way of recapping each lesson, relating the previous concepts to the next lesson, and making sure students understand before moving on. Tim is a refreshing new teacher with lots to share.”

Hear Tim speak for himself:

 

SGBF ~ Aromatherapy for Breast Cancer

SGBF ~ Aromatherapy for Breast Cancer

A few weeks ago, Sylla and I went to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. Together, we spoke at a Lunch and Learn event for stage 4 breast cancer patients. It began with each of the women (and one husband who was accompanying his wife) sharing where they were at in their treatment. We learned why some of them were excited about NED (No Evidence of Disease). We also felt touched that we could be there to support those going through harder times.

This event was particularly special for us because Sylla (my mom) is a breast cancer survivor. During the lunch, she talked about how cancer was a great, uninvited teacher for her. She said that, “It wasn’t enough to kill her but enough to make her change her life.” Though she’s now 20 years with NED, she still carries those lessons forward.

Even before she found her cancer in 1997, Sylla helped her friend who also worked at Moffitt with a program called “Look Good, Feel Better.” With a mutual background in cosmetology, Sylla and her friend taught these women skin-care and makeup techniques. This program was intended to make patients begin to feel better as they reintegrated into everyday life.

“Smell Good, Feel Better”

So we thought, why not call our talk this week “Smell Good, Feel Better,” since that is one of the guiding principles of aromatherapy. In addition to sharing a basic introduction to essential oils, we highlighted what they can do in their own lives.

  • Use essential oils in the air to help keep air clean and support the immune system. Since many cancer patients’ immune systems are compromised, and since most essential oils carry at least mildly if not more so antimicrobial properties, this simple practice can help suppress the chance of getting a cold.
  • Use Peppermint or Ginger essential oil in an inhaler or on a drop on a tissue to ease the discomfort of nausea.
  • Topical blends with anti-inflammatory or analgesic oils can help with muscle aches and pains.
  • Use the oils to help create a positive mental attitude. You can pair a scent with a relaxed state and then recreate that state as needed.

We mentioned in our student forum that we were going to speak at this event. As a result, a few of our students decided to send us items to share with these women. Only one box got here in time, but we were still able to leave them with donations from Terrae Oleum. It was a joyful experience to share our love of essential oils with these women and their caregivers. The other donations will be used at a bigger event next month!

Since our students wanted to help by providing more donations, we’ve decided to continue collecting donations for their retreat in September. We’re calling this project “Smell Good, Feel Better.” If you’d like to donate manufactured, compliantly-labeled items (these cannot be homemade), contact us.

Nyssa

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