By Karen Thomas for Paradise Pets Magazine
Aromatherapy and essential oils have been used for thousands of years for healing and anointing. Records dating back to 4500 BC describe the use of balsamic substances with aromatic properties for personal, medicinal and spiritual use. The rediscovery of essential oils into modern medicine began during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse PhD, a French cosmetic chemist known as the father of aromatherapy, began studying oils in 1907. Gattefosse discovered lavender oil’s ability to assist in the healing of burns after immersing his own burned hand into a vat of lavender oil following a laboratory explosion in 1910.
Essential oils are the volatile liquids and aromatic compounds distilled from flowers, trees, roots, bushes, shrubs and seeds. An essential oil contains the true essence of the plant it was derived from and is highly concentrated. These oils have regenerating, oxygenating and immune supporting properties which can assist our animals in the healing process. Essential oils provide energetic balance and help in healing through the sense of smell. As the olfactory system is stimulated, physiologic functions are supported which allows the body to self-heal. They also have antiseptic, antimicrobial and detoxifying properties and can help with emotional issues such as anxiety and stress. In addition to direct inhalation another excellent way to get these benefits is by diffusing the oils in a cold air diffuser. Essential oils may also be used topically or ingested.
As a rule when working with animals, LESS is MORE, as sense of smell is highly developed in many animals due to their instinctual nature. For example, a human has 5-6 million olfactory receptors while the dog as 220 million.
Domestic and wild animals will naturally seek out plants that bring their bodies into a state of balance. Rubbing against a pine tree picking up the oils from the bark will help soothe sore muscles and joints. Burying their nose deep into an herb or flower, inhaling the aroma of the entire plant can help the animal keep calm. Or eating a plant and allowing the properties of the plant to be absorbed will assist with overcoming digestive upset.
Whether working with humans or animals be sure that the essential oils used are therapeutic grade. Therapeutic grade oils are pure. They are grown, harvested and packaged with minimal harm to the plant. These plants are wild crafted, meaning the soil has never been exposed to chemicals and wind patterns are studied to see that nothing harmful can blow onto the soil. The plants are distilled with a low heat, low steam and low pressure process to maintain the integrity and therapeutic benefits of the plant.
Synthetic oils are mostly made from petrochemicals, try to duplicate the smell of a certain plant and are created for a specific purpose, such as perfume. Fragrance grade oils used in perfumes do not assist with healing and can actually cause more harm than good because of their ingredients. Inexpensive oils are most likely not therapeutic quality.
Caution should be exercised with cats when using essential oils with a high phenol content. Cats do not have some of the liver enzymes needed to help metabolize the phenol constituents of certain oils.
Melaleuca oil (Tea Tree) should never be used on birds. Melaleuca can cause an adverse reaction in birds which may result in death.
In maintaining the health and well-being of our animal companions just remember the LESS is MORE rule. When in doubt consult your veterinarian or a holistic animal practitioner who is experienced with the use of essential oils.
--Young, G.D. et al (2011). Essential oils desk reference - Special fifth edition. Orem, UT: Life Science Publishing.
--Shelton, M. DVM (2012). The animal desk reference - Essential oils for animals. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. DBA On-Demand Publishing, LLC.
--Komitor, C. CMT, HTCP/I, CHBMT, HTACP, ESMT (2013). Healing touch for animals level 3 workbook (6th ed.). Highlands Ranch, CO: Komitor Healing Method, Inc.
Karen Thomas, R.N. is a Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) Practitioner in the Florida Keys. Healing Touch for Animals is a holistic approach influencing the health and well-being of animals through energy and intention. HTA techniques restore harmony and balance to the energy system while providing physical, emotional, mental and instinctual stability, thus supporting the body to self heal. This work can be done in person or distantly. Karen can be contacted through her website www.pawsitivetouch.org
Karen is also a distributor of, and highly recommends, Young Living’s therapeutic grade essential oils for humans and animals. More information can be found on her Young Living website at www.youngliving.org/karenthomasfl
This article was originally published in Paradise Pets Magazine, Key West, FL Apr-June 2015 issue. You can read the entire issue free by clicking the cover image.
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