What Do I Learn?
Most aromatherapy courses teach how to use essential oils to treat different conditions. But the essential oils themselves are often addressed only in general terms. They are supposed to be pure, natural, of some therapeutic or other “grade” and ideally GC-MS analyzed. But medicinal and aromatic plants and their essential oils go so much deeper, as the omnipresent reverence for aromatic plants in all human civilizations shows. Hence it is not surprising that many valuable therapeutic effects of aromatic plants and essential oils have been exploited throughout history and have also been demonstrated by pharmacological or chemical research. Yet there are many qualities of essential oils which pharmacology or chemistry alone can neither recognize nor explain. This is where Plant Language seeks new avenues of understanding by integrating the perspective of biology. The full physiological activity of complex natural mixtures arises at a level of biological organization much higher than molecular structures of component molecules. Biology provides the scientific rationale for such “emergent properties.” To approach these properties that lye beyond the reach of reductionist chemistry Plant Language does not treat essential oils as anonymous commodities, which simply have the properties listed in the literature. Instead it goes to the origins of different aromatic plants to study how cultures throughout time have utilized essential oils. The essential oils included in Collection 1 and 2 are the core of the Plant Language approach. All the oils are authentic and verifiable examples from the classic production regions. For every oil there are suggested applications that allow the student to develop a personal and individual “feel” for specific oil. We learn how plant genetics interact with environmental conditions to produce essential oils with exactly those properties needed for survival. For instance: Throughout their development plants needed to defend against attacks by viruses. So over long period of times, plant evolution optimized essential oils to defend against viruses. These physiological properties, developed for survival, are exactly the same we utilize today for their therapeutic value.
Plant Language Explorations
Plant Language takes the reader on virtual journeys, illustrated with the authentic oils from the specific regions. A good example is Rosemary essential oil. Its composition and character vary according to origin. It is commonly described with abstract chemical terminology as having a camphor, a cineole and a verbenone chemotype. In Plant Language we experience these three oils from their classic origins. The supple softness of Rosemary oil from coastal (sea level) Corsica, the classic verbenone type, lets us immediately intuit why it is nurturing and supporting the dermal layer as well as liver metabolism. The counterpoint is the prickly and penetrating Rosemary oil from the high plateaux of Provence. We can feel how the Rosemary plant responds to the relentless energy of higher altitude sunlight and we intuitively realize that this oil will be best used when a piercing or strongly stimulant action is required. Finally the Rosemary oil from slightly elevated locations in North Africa, the cineole type often equated with general Rosemary, displays an agreeable character right in the middle between the two prior oils, combining qualities of both. Ultimately the suggested explorations of essential oils have the potential to guide the student towards fundamentally improved health. The real benefits will set in when we need essential oils to heal. Through our studies we already have the confidence to use them effectively.