Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Shirley Price Everyday Guide - Introduction

Introduction by Ian Brealey

Welcome to the Shirley Price Aromatherapy Everyday Guide. In this little introduction you will find, I hope, the answer to many of your questions regarding Aroma products.

In a world of confusing ‘standards’ the Sp leaf has grown to be recognised worldwide as a sign of ethically obtained and sold aroma products containing 100% organic 100% natural ingredients which are the finest available. Sp is now a worldwide ‘brand’ but any brand is only as good as the day to day care that goes into the products it decorates. The Sp brand owes its standing to a worldwide team of suppliers, staff, trainers, distributors and aromatherapists. We aim to bring together the best.

This guide is not just about Sp’s activities though we would be delighted if the reader were sufficiently interested to train as an aromatherapy practicioner with our training college or purchase their supplies from Sp. This guide is about aromatherapy itself.

This guide introduces Shirley Price Aromatherapy training in the use of plant oils and how they help us. We describe how aroma products occur in nature and are harvested for human use as essential oils. We describe how to use essential oils with success in everyday use in the home for pleasure, to maintain health and emotional equilibrium. We describe some of the applied science and evidence behind their clinical use in professional aromatherapy and reflexology to diagnose and treat common ailments. For more detailed information kindly see the Shirley Price Aromatherapy Workbook by Shirley Price.

Much of the action happens at a microscopic scale. Animals and plants share the world with microbes which at times mutate to threaten whole species. The most highly evolved plants have evolved their own solution – the many organic chemicals which make up essential oils. Throughout history essential oils and the burning of aromatic plant material have been particularly of value at times of this pestilence which the medical science of the day cannot contain. The word ‘perfume’ in latin means through fire. Its not hard to imagine Neanderthal man collecting aromatic plant matter to burn pleasantly on the fire. The development of modern man may owe more to aromatic plants than some may like to think! Neanderthals have been found buried with a variety of herbs and flowers which were clearly an important part of their experience as they are ours. Nowadays we have only to acquire a bottle of essential oil to gain the benefits of their use. Use of essential oils for antisepsis and clinical results is again on the increase in hospitals as the work of Jane Buckle records.

England has been at the centre of the informed production and use of aroma products in the last 100 years with names like Treatt, Yardley and Bromley and many others still prominent. From our factory in Hinckley, England Sp produces a range of true aroma products to our distributors and therapists orders. Some 8,000 items per month are sent to Sp distributors and some 1300 therapists many of who are members of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists and trained with Sp.
Sp was founded in 1974 by Shirley Price. At Sp we have over 35 years experience in training professional aromatherapists in clinical aromatherapy as practised by the medical profession in France. Many of the students the Shirley Price International College of Aromatherapy have become master practicioners in their own right and today return to the college to share their experience.

Why the interest in natural products? Plants contain a dispensary of life giving constituents used by the plant for repair , regeneration, growth and as antiseptics and insecticides many of which are now synthesised. The public are tempering use of synthetic substances for health and beauty and looking again to the empirically tried and tested uses of naturally derived products whether for fragrance, skin care or clinical results. It is not hard to see why.

One of the earliest depictions apparently of doctor and patient contains Egyptian hieroglyphs which translate to say “do not hurt me”. A fundamental principal of worldwide healthcare that it should be delivered with the minimum of side effects. At the least natural products can cut down on synthetics use and dosages and preserve the effectiveness of synthetics for future generations as well as enhancing our everyday lives. Aromatherapy colleges and courses ensure our choices are informed ones. Aromatherapy has come to be recognised as a core discipline and sure starting point for those seeking a career in complimentary therapies and holistic care.

Servere allergic reactions to synthetics are on the increase. Synthetics which are chemically identical to natural ones contain differences of arrangement to which the body adapted as it is to the natural world can be sensitive. Many synthetics have no equivalent in nature. Even the most humble pharmaceutical label lists a long list of observable potential side effects to say nothing of the unobservable ones. Consequently interest in aromatherapy training and use of the naturally derived chemicals in essential oils to get clinical results is enjoying something of a worldwide revival. This is sustained through education.

Whats the evidence? The empirical evidence of millennia of use of certain natural products is that used as directed they are clinically effective and largely free of side effects. There exists an impressive bibliography and body of research evidence which is ongoing and too compelling to be ignored. Because they are derived from natural matter essential oils abound in the carbon compounds which form the building blocks of life. Carbon has an ability to bond carbon atom to carbon atom in chains (aliphatic) and most wonderful of all rings (aromatic). Aroma products contain chemicals just as pharmaceuticals do and are powerful instruments. An abundance of care should be exercised in their use. They contain chemicals like ketones and terpenes which are not to be found as a normal part of plant metabolism.

Aroma products include Essential oils derived from plant matter with familiar names like Lavender and Frankincense and Myrhh; like Lemon which is used for antisepsis and against viral warts and less well known oils like Ravensara and Niaouli which are used to protect against flu infections. Many essential oils have easily demonstrable anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti viral properties as well as other useful properties. Essential oils appear to block the receptors bacteria and virus rely on. These properties do not appear to rely on the headline constituents of the oils but rely on bio-active constituents which may be present in tiny proportions or work in tandem.

In many plants the essential oils become trapped in glands in seeds, leaves, wood, flowers and fruits. Not all plants are safe in use. Aromatherapy derives many its principal essential oils from just two of the most highly evolved plant families.
In part the essential oils reflect the processes by which they are derived from the plant matter. Many are obtained by water and steam distillation being washed out of the plant matter and then heated to become volatile (‘fly’) and then cool in another vessal ‘the florentine’ as a condensate; the water soluable and water insoluable parts separating. Resins of Benzoin, Frankincense and Myrhh are exhuded by plants from incisions in their stems as part of the healing process, Jasmine flowers continue to exhude perfume for 24 hours after picking and this is trapped by solvents. Citrus rinds are expressed to press out the essential oils they contain. There are vegetable carrier oils in which essential oils are diluted like Jojoba which themselves have anti inflammatory properties which are soothing to the skin, the natural waters derived as a by product of essential oil production like Rose and Neroli Waters.

Natural Skin Care creams and lotions with essential oils added according to the remedial properties required for remedies to reduction in the appearance of scars or to normalise and sooth the skin affected by eczema or acne. The products of companies noted for their quality and effectiveness are in evident demand.
Even essential oils available on the wholesale market have synthetics added to create a standardised product rather than reflect the natural variability of nature from one season to another. As little as 50% of the ingredients can be naturally derived. This is because essential oils are used in a multitude of applications for example adhesives, foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, confectionary, chewing gum, mouth washes and tooth pastes, insecticides, household products, ice creams, paint, perfumes and toiletries, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, preserves, soap, textiles, tobacco, veterinary supplies. Few companies provide true aroma products with nothing added and nothing taken away and the minimum of synthetics but empirical evidence indicates that this is necessary if the results described in the textbooks are to be achieved..

We recognise from an early age the beauty and attraction of plant life. Self help therapy for health and beauty using the most highly evolved aromatic plants is as old as civilisation, a tradition which is also part of the present and the future. Neanderthal man has been found buried with several kinds of flowers including yarrow. I personally have a vivid mental image of early man discovering how flowers might be put in a pool of water with hot stones to produce the first floral water and how delighted early woman was with his efforts! Creams and waters derived from plants have always found use in military camps, to stem bleeding, heal wounds, relieve pain without addiction, as antiseptics and insect repellants and to flavour uninspiring military cuisine! Today astronauts travel space with selected plant aromas to assure them of home. We have increasing come to understand the science and practicality behind that beauty and how plants help themselves and can help us.

The Aroma trade has its critics. Get rich quick merchants will trade on the credulity of the public and offer potions at prices which bear no relation to the reasonable costs of production and with inflated claims.. However there is a well regulated structure including organic certification for producing aroma products and training professional aromatherapists and maintaining their competence through professional contacts which Shirley and Len Price did much to put in place and maintain. However the best of systems rely on the truthfulness and integrity of the individuals who operate in it. There is no substitute for that!

Equal attention is now paid to the causes of illness to combat infection and maintain health and vitality by nutrition, exercise and using plant oils and waters. Traditionally this has been the way since early times. Poor people couldn’t afford doctors and kept themselves healthy this way with only past experience as a guide rather than scientific theory. It was observed that in the East people went to their doctors when they were healthy not when they were sick. Prevention is as they say better than a cure and early diagnosis of the signs of illness is vital in successful treatment.

Essential oils also have a role in beauty and the home, combating stress and promoting relaxation and sleep. Everyone and everything faces the stress of the day. Great cities have sprung up all over the world. With them comes a stressful and unnatural lifestyle for the people living and working within them. Of course there are many advantages to urban living as well. However man evolved surrounded by plant life. It concerns us that so many people are isolated from the important messages of nature and the simple human senses of speech and touch in their environment. Everyone should have a place they call home from which they venture into the world and return and plant oils are an important part of home. Synthetic fragrance is not the answer and can so affect people as to cause allergy like any synthetic product. Help is at hand for individual care and vitality in the convenient form of Essential oils which can be used in the bath, diffused in the air, inhaled in a steam inhalation or inhaler stick or in massage from a partner or professional aromatherapist.

We should also say is that less is more where essential oils are concerned. Fewer than 20 molecules are necessary to stimulate our sense of smell. Though essential oils are largely free of side effects if used in an informed manner any substance is capable of harm in a high enough dose. Essential oils must in particular be kept out of the reach of young children. We believe essential oils to be of great value but an abundance of caution must be exercised in their use. This is one reason why it is so valuable to consult a trained aromatherapist who has passed the demanding examinations of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. We describe some of the aromatherapy training available from our college and others.

Our guide to everyday aromatherapy begins with details about the production, composition and value of essential oils. Then onto the carriers used to dilute the oils, hydrolats and blending the oils. Next we examine the important areas of skin care, mums, babies and children and sports and male use. We then move into the use of aromatherapy for the treatment of common ailments. The techniques ideas and suggestions in this guide are not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Any application of the techniques ideas and suggestions in this guide is at the readers sole discretion and risk. If you have symptoms of illness you should see a doctor.

Finally we describe what to expect from a session with an aromatherapist. This can be likened to the regular check up. Aromatherapists use the oils but they have other skills in their toolchest too like massage and reflexology and will advise on nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. Do check the qualifications of the local aromatherapists as they range from a short course to a full diploma in aromatherapy. We hope you will enjoy our Shirley Price Aromatherapy Everyday Guide and the Shirley price Aromatherapy Workbook by Shirley Price. Our aim is to inform based on our experience and our company and our college’s practical experience.

Ian Brealey BSc FCA,
Hinckley, June 2009

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