The pharmacy of flowers
Aromatic plants and fragrant flowers are some of nature’s most beautiful creations. In the long history of planetary evolution, the appearance of flowers initiated the rapid expansion of biodiversity that created the world in which we live. Now, fragrances from flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, and woods are an important part of every culture as medicines, food, spices, perfumes, and incense.
The distillation of essential oils evolved over the course of at least 2,000 years; it is one of the many contributions made by alchemists in their search for health, longevity, and spiritual knowledge. Evidence points to the possibility that simple methods for extracting aromatic principles from plants may have been one of humanity’s earliest refinements of botanical materials, and a major step toward later herbal preparations.
Essential oils have a profound effect on the deepest levels of the body and psyche. Because their primary route of absorption is inhalation, they have a strong and immediate influence on the mucous membranes of the respiratory system. Passing through the capillary beds of the sinuses and activating the olfactory nerves, the fragrances of the oils enter the brain, influencing the nerves, immunity, and hormones. Essential oils powerfully enhance positive mental and emotional states, and increase our ability to stay healthy.
In Chinese terms, essential oils in general are medicines for the Shen, the spiritual essence that resides in the heart and governs consciousness. In Ayurvedic terms, they enhance the flow of prana (life force), nourish ojas (nutritional / immunological essence), and brighten tejas (mental luminosity). However, the pharmacy of flowers is vast, and it contains highly effective medicines for every kind of physical and nonphysical illness. One could study a small number of oils for a lifetime, and still not learn everything about them.