Sunday, December 7, 2008

Scar-Free Skin Healing With Aromatherapy

By Peggy Thorton

Trends in health and beauty are placing more trust in the efficacy of natural and organic ingredients. Skin care is no exception, with more women coming to realize the purity of what they put on their skin is as important as that of what they eat. The skin is the largest organ, and is generally permeable to substances placed on it. This is particularly important in healing wounds, for the skin may be broken and more sensitive. Enter essential oils; these powerful plant derived medicines have been used for many years for treating skin conditions, enhancing beauty and promoting wellness. Oils have been found particularly useful for regenerating skin that has suffered from accidents or surgery, or has their remaining signs in the form of keloid, acne, or other scars. Certain essential oil blends can speed healing time, reduce or eliminate scars from recent wounds and even greatly diminish the appearance of old ones.

Certain essential oils are often used for healing and regeneration of skin tissues. We'll review these and their companion carrier oils, then present some formulas for particular situations. The first of these essential oils is Helichrysum Italicum, an oil with an earthy aroma, distilled from the small flowers of an herb native to the Mediterranean region. This is the premier oil called for where the skin is in need of regeneration, and where inflammation may be present. Helichrysum is unique in that it contains 'di-ketones'; a class of molecules that signal the skin to regenerate. It is also often used for bruising and impact related injuries.

Helichrysum essential oil is the cornerstone for many blends for healing the skin, and is the only one necessary for supporting currently healing skin damage - it should be used at appropriate concentrations with Rosehip Seed and Hazelnut oils, as mentioned later in this article. As noted by well-known aromatherapists Kurt Schnaubelt, "The triple unsaturated fatty acids (of Rosehip Seed oil) strengthen the cell membranes and, combined with the regnerative qualities of Everlasting oil (Helichrysum), heal wounds with minimal or no scarring".

As mentioned above, Lavender is often included in skin care blends - it has gentle anti-inflammatory and tissue regenerative properties, along with very soothing, anti-anxiety aroma. Lavender essential oil itself began the modern aromatherapy revolution when a scientist burned his hand in a laboratory accident, and after cooling the wound in a beaker of Lavender found the wound to heal remarkably quickly. It is also thought to 'synergize' or improve the efficacy of other essential oils in combination.

The essential oil distilled from the leaves of common Sage is included in blends where the wounds are old - where the healing happened some time ago and has left some unsightly scarring. This can work on keloid scars, acne scars, etc., though application need be regular and should continue for 3 to 6 months. The sage oil is included in essence to break up the scar tissue and to stimulate regeneration with it's powerful components. Sage oil should be used with great care and in small amounts. While it is called for in formulas for stretch marks, it should only be use after pregnancy, and not during by expectant mothers.

Rosemary will be the final essential oil we'll mention here for scar treatment. For the skin, Rosemary of the Verbenone chemotype has many important properties - it contains regenerative ketone molecules, and stimulates cellular metabolism. This oil helps new skin form, bringing nutrients into the cells and supports the removing toxins and wastes.

All these oils but Lavender should be diluted in a carrier before use (Lavender CAN be used directly on the skin, but will be used in diluted form in the following blends). Many studies have shown the great efficacy of essential oils at low concentrations - so in Aromatherapy, 'less is more' is a general rule. Two highly regarded carrier or 'base' oils used for skin treatment are Rosehip seed, cold-pressed from a plant native to the mountain regions of South America, and Hazelnut oil, which is suitable for all skin types. These oils will help the essential oils absorb into the skin, and can provide their own nutritive properties. Rosehip seed contains a wealth of fatty acids, plus a compound similar in action to the pharmaceutical preparation 'Retin A'. without the drying side effects. Hazelnut oil has mild astringent properties, and will not leave the skin feeling greasy. It is appropriate even for acne prone skin.

Now for the recipes. For effective wound healing of recent cuts and scrapes (and has been used successfully on surgical incisions), to 1 ounce Hazelnut oil and 1 ounce Rosehip seed oil add 1 milliliter of Helichrysum essential oil and 1 milliliter of Lavender essential oil - apply twice a day for 7 to 10 days. For older scars from wounds or acne, including keloid scars, replace the Lavender in the previous recipe with Sage essential oil. Apply regularly for 3 to 6 months. For the healing of stretch marks, post partum, use 1 ounce Rosehip seed and 1 ounce Hazelnut oil with 1 milliliter Sage essential oil and 2 milliliters with Rosemary Verbenone essential oil; again use for 3 to 6 months.

This is a summary of a particular aspect of using essential oils for natural health, wellness and beauty. These are effective, tried and true recipes used for their specific, wound healing applications. With some research, you will find there are wonderful recipes using essential oils for a broad range of skin care applications - they work, and they're heavenly to use! As with all aromatherapy use, go slowly, watch for any (rare) skin reactions, and remember that less is more with essential oils - almost all have been noted to work in very low, well tolerated concentrations. - 14018

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