Resistance, resilience and recovery
WE ARE being called to re-evaluate everything we think we know about what it means to be a human being.
We humans are currently witnessing all the unsustainable and inequitable environmental, health, economic and social structures of globalism start to crumble.
In times of pandemic panic, keeping things in perspective is paramount to function in practical, pro-active and positive ways.
People are not alone if this enforced and accelerated change is activating a knot of fear in the pit of their gut and causing corrosive anxiety.
If we resist reacting to the pandemic pandemonium and mindfully retreat into our inner stillness we might hear what our inner wisdom is telling us.
Insights will arise that urge us to turn back to Nature and the plant world, where we will rediscover what is real and useful.
Authentic botanical gifts of the earth that sustain our life force, enhancing our immunity, resistance, resilience and ability to heal will be the new currency.
We can use this universal crisis as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of how profoundly interconnected we all are and also to the plant world.
We can respond intelligently to it by upgrading the ways that we care for our selves, others and our natural world.
Plants are the ultimate caregivers
The essential oils from plants are indeed such generous donors and can provide us with reliable, protective help as well as providing fragrant refuge in such uncertain, daunting times.
Of course using essential oils is not a ‘cure’ for COVID-19 but they surely provide us with myriad valid ways to support our sanitation efforts to prevent rapid spread of contagion and act as excellent immunity building agents.
The job of a plant’s essential oil is to protect the plant itself from invasive pathogens. That is precisely an essential oil’s great gift to humans and why we seek them out.
It could be said that all essential oils are intrinsically prophylactic, in that they help to prevent disease.
They offer invaluable opportunities for healthcare on several levels: acute care, relief in chronic cases and relief for mental-emotional distress.
The volatile nature of essential oils and their low molecular weight allow them to disperse through the body quickly, generally in less than two minutes.
They work in both specific and non-specific ways on all the different body systems, which means that potentially every essential oil has myriad actions and thus gives us myriad choices for healing.
Their extraordinary attributes give them the ability to directly affect the brain and from there catalyse multiple physiological and psychological processes. Plant scent can change our fear responses and help us learn through joy instead of pain. We no longer need to feel pain in order to learn; fear is simply how the lower brain learns to avoid pain.
Perfumed Peace in pandemic pandemonium
Perhaps the most important role of aromatic plant oils is their ability to calm our nervous system, ease anxiety and lift us from depressive states.
In the current fear-inducing media frenzy, plant oils offer a welcoming fragrant sanctuary into which we can recover our equanimity and innate serenity.
Plant aroma brightens our mood and shifts us from negative mind states while grounding us when we become immersed in emotional turmoil, bringing us back down to earth and the real things that matter.
Let us not overlook how wonderfully they enhance our spiritual practice.
If we are in self-isolation or retreat, they effectively reinforce our spiritual connection, raise our consciousness and enhance meditation.
Plant scent provides a wealth of aromatic remedies for negative energetic patterns while supporting the cultivation of positive qualities.
Disinfecting/antimicrobial: Environmental sanitation
Lemon myrtle, niaouli, lemongrass, tea tree, lemon tea tree, litsea cubeba, eucalyptus, pine, Buddha-wood, cajeput, cedarwood, clove, cinnamon, honey myrtle, lavandin.
Oregano, cajeput, niaouli, cinnamon, eucalyptus, ginger, lemon, thyme, star anise, manuka, peppermint.
Immunostimulant: Stimulates and helps build the immune system
Bergamot, chamomile, oregano, lavender, ginger, lemon, myrrh, pine, sandalwood, tea tree, thyme, vetivert, frankincense.
Expectorant/Decongestant for Respiratory system: relieves congestion of mucous from nasal, bronchial tubes
Basil, benzoin, cajuput, niaouli, eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, pine, fragonia, kunzea.
Anti-tussive: Calms coughing
Chamomile, peppermint, aniseed, fennel, thyme, fragonia, niaouli.
Antiseptic: Helps fight infection
Tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, sandalwood.
Balsamic: Soothing, softening phlegm
Cajuput, clary sage, myrrh, pine, lemon tea tree.
Combats bacteria, control infection, prevent tissue degeneration
Cajuput, cedarwood, cinnamon, clove, cypress, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, myrrh, oregano, tea tree, thyme.
Nervine/ Tonic: Strengthens nerves and eases disorders
Chamomile, clary sage, lavender, marjoram, frankincense, geranium, rosemary, sandalwood, rose, bergamot, ylang-ylang, vetivert.
Sandalwood, frankincense, myrrh, jasmine, cedarwood, palo santo, buddhawood, champaka, rose, vetivert, bergamot, clary-sage.
What about four thieves oil?
IT IS NOT hard to find copious and varying permutations of four thieves essential oil blend everywhere these days, promoting its use as a powerful antimicrobial formula to help people resist disease.
Its original use to reduce the spread of contagion dates back to about 1413, the time of the infamous Bubonic Plague or The Black Death that devastated much of France, spreading like wild-fire amongst the population, including doctors.
During this time, the story goes that four thieves were captured and charged for stealing from the sick and dying.
The thieves seemed magically immune to the plague, despite close contact with the Black-Death victims.
Thieving the dead was punishable by burning alive, however the judge was keen to learn their remarkable secret to resisting certain death and bargained with them to spare them from this punishment.
It is said the thieves were perfume and spice merchants who were unemployed due to the closure of the seaports and the devastation of the plague.
They prepared an aromatic recipe that kept them safe from infection when applied to their exposed body. The men were not burned alive but hanged for their crimes and the legend of the four thieves secret blend lived on.
Doctors who treated the plague victims put the herbal infusion onto their body and wore beak-like masks that were stuffed with cloth containing this potent antiseptic blend that also distanced them from the patients.
The foreboding looking beak is what gave the doctors their enduring name of ‘quack’.
In Medieval times, the distillation of essential oils would have been very limited with less variety of plant sources available.
Modern versions of four thieves that assure us they are emulating the original formula cannot be accurate renditions of the original contagion-quelling versions when exact information cannot be ascertained.
It is very likely however that the following plants, in non-volatile form, were used in some rudimentary capacity to ward off contagion: rosemary, sage, lavender, rue, camphor, garlic, cloves and wine vinegar.
For some strange reason modern recipes and products are limited to the following basic disinfecting essential oils, though still effective in varying combinations: clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary.
This is a shame really, as modern aromatherapy has advanced considerably and like never before we now have at our disposal superlative anti-microbial essential oils that help us resist and destroy pathogens, be they bacterial or viral.
We can also avail ourselves of the potent immunostimulant essential oils that help strengthen the immune system, boosting our resilience and resistance to disease.