The Various Uses of Essential Oils and Herbs

by Emily Sanchez

For millenia the mankind has used herbs in a variety of ways. These uses can be placed into three distinctive groups; religious, culinary and medicinal. In the following article we shall discuss each of these categories in order concentrating upon medical uses and essential oils.

Throughout history there have been various other uses of herbs which we will not be examining here and these include them being used as currency, as a disinfectant and as a perfume or powerful smell to smother sickening odors. Herbs come from various parts of the planet and each race commonly had unusual uses for them. It is interesting to note that the Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greek and Sumerians, the Romans all wrote about them in detail and other writings exist from Ancient India and China. We shall be concentrating on modern uses.

The Use of Herbs In Religion

Herbs are still used in a multitude of around the globe. Many Christians will recall myrrh from the Nativity (myrrh is the dried sap of Commiphora myrrha). Hindus will be very familiar with the Tulsi plant, which is a type of Basil, as it is cultivated by many and revered as a Goddess. In Pagan and Wiccan beliefs herbs are utilized widely in spells, rituals as well as for healing.

Culinary Uses of Herbs

The leaves of various plants are used in cooking but there is a difference between leafy vegetables, such as spinach, and a herb, such as basil, in that the latter are used in minute amounts due to their distinctive, and powerful flavor. Virtually every person on the planet has benefited from the these amazing plants which are capable of lifting the blandest meal into the realms of a culinary masterpiece.

Herbs And Medicine

As well as being intense in flavor herbs can also have a profound effect upon the human body. Some types are used as recreational drugs, such as cannabis, which can cause legal problems as they can also have useful medical properties which are still being studied by scientists.

Essential Oils

An essential oil is the substance extracted from a variety of plants. Essential oils are usually produced by the method known as distillation but some require a different process of extraction such as by using solvents or expression.

Essential oils have a number of uses, such as perfumes, bath oils, flavorings, burning (for scent) and in cleaning products. However the majority of folk know of their use in medicine and especially in aromatherapy and other forms of alternative medicine. I use lavender oil in a variety of ways, I add it to my mixture for my oil burner to make the room smell nice but I also use approximately three drops in a bath when I suffer from achy legs. When my limbs are very painful I massage it into the muscles but only when it is mixed with a carrier oil. As well as helping to relax the muscles it also helps me sleep more soundly.

Herbs should be handled with immense care as some can be extremely toxic to the human body (in large quantities). Special care should be taken if you are about to have a baby as something that is otherwise safe could be surprisingly problematic, such as peppermint oil which should not be used in its raw form. However spearmint and a few other mild oils can be used however to avoid the risk of miscarriage I strongly advise that you avoid all herbs and essential oils unless you are 100% certain they are safe to use.

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