Therapeutic grade essential oils are much more than some sort of glorified perfume. They are a healing, soothing, stress-reducing, health inducing, and downright powerful gifts from God. Many oils have properties that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and the list goes on. Some are known to help coagulate blood, stimulate circulation, relieve congestion, constrict blood vessels, calm nerves, balance hormones, or reduce nausea.
“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…” (2 Peter 1:3)
But what are they? What are essential oils? And what makes them “essential?”
Essential oils are unique. They are liquid volatile organic compounds that come from the flowers, shrubs, trees, roots, and bushes that God gave us at Creation. These are aromatic oils which have been carefully extracted through steam distillation or cold expression, and are highly concentrated.
Most essential oils are extracted from a specific plant part. For instance, Frankincense comes from the resin scraped off the Frankincense tree. Sandalwood comes from the precious heartwood of the sandalwood tree. Other essential oils, like lavender or jasmine, are distilled from flowers. Geranium is distilled from the leaves and stems of the plant; and lemon, orange, and grapefruit oils are cold pressed from the peel of the fruit.
On the other hand, fatty oils like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, and other vegetable or nut oils are not essential oils. Fatty oils are very different. They are not aromatic and they are not volatile. “Volatile” means “passing off readily in the form of vapor.” Literally, the oil molecules of essential oils leap into the air; that’s what makes them aromatic.
According to Dr. David Stewart PhD, the molecules of essential oils are tiny enough to penetrate through human skin, enter the blood stream, and pass through the blood-brain barrier. In his book, Healing Oils of the Bible, he describes how all of the molecules of essential oils are “tiny enough to act as chemical messengers, unlocking the receptor sites of cells, and communicating with cellular intelligence at the level of the DNA.”
Nut and vegetable oils can’t do this. They are not aromatic or volatile. Also, their long chain molecules are too large to penetrate the skin to any great depth; so, they can’t pass through the microscopic portals that lead into intracellular space at all. They’re very nutritious, and have numerous health benefits when used orally, so keep eating them (virgin coconut oil, unfiltered olive oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil, flax seed oil and more). They’re also very good for massage and for dry, chapped skin, but they really have no other therapeutic value when used topically.
“Because of the tiny molecular structure of the components of an essential oil they are extremely concentrated. One drop contains approximately 40 million-trillion molecules. Numerically that is a 4 with 19 zeros after it. (40,000,000,000,000,000,000) We have one hundred trillion cells in our bodies, that’s a lot. But one drop of essential oil contains enough molecules to cover every cell in our body with 40,000 molecules. Considering that it only takes one molecule of the right kind to open the receptor site and communicate with the DNA to alter cellular function, you can see why even one drop or inhaling a small amount of oil vapor can have profound effects on the body, brain, and emotions.” – Healing Oils of the Bible David Stewart Ph.D
The “Life” of the Plant
So, what is it that makes an oil “essential?” An oil is “essential” in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Sometimes essential oils are referred to as the “life blood” or the “living energy” of the plant. That’s because essential oils are to a plant what blood is to the human body. They transport fundamental nutrients and chemical constituents necessary to feed, nurture and heal the cells of the plant. Literally, essential oils are the living part, or the “life”, of the plant.
Because medicinal herbs and plants were created by God for healing, they can serve similar functions in the human body (Psalm 139:14). Plants were spoken into existence at Creation as gifts for us; and all of God’s gifts are good and beneficial when used for His glory!
God is our ultimate provider. In Genesis 22:14, He is called Jehovah Jireh, which is Hebrew for “the Lord will provide.” When we sing the doxology, we “praise God from whom all blessings flow.” In James 1:17 we’re reminded that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.”
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)
In the Beginning…
God said, in Genesis, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed…” (Genesis 1:29) Who is God talking to? Who did He give the gift of plants and trees to? He gave them to man—He gave them to us. We know that the earth isn’t some random ball in the universe. The earth was intentionally created as an environment for us. This is obvious.
We know this from the make-up of the atmosphere, the precise distance we are from the sun, the fresh water we receive from the sky, the fruits and vegetables that grow specifically for our nourishment. All these things were planned by a loving Father to provide for His children.
And it wasn’t just for food that God gave us living growing plants. We learn in Ezekiel 47:12 that “their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
And in Psalm 104, we’re taught that “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man…” For the service of man! God gifted us (and our animals) with vegetation that we are to use for food, as well as for medicine.
In His mercy and sovereignty, the Lord has provided us remedies for our ailments. Throughout Scripture, we see the use of aromatic oils—essential oils. Did you know that out of 66 books of the Bible, 46 books mention essential oils or the aromatic plants that we get essential oils from? Myrrh, Aloes (which is sandalwood), Cassia, Cedarwood, Cypress, Hyssop, Frankincense and Myrrh are all mentioned—plus many more.
Are Essential Oils New Age?
Though many natural methods of healing, including essential oils, have been hijacked by New Agers and Mystics, we can see throughout Scripture how essential oils were used by God’s people in worship; for anointing the sick; for gladness; for giving as precious gifts; to refresh guests; and for anointing kings, prophets, and even Jesus Himself! Essential oils were appreciated and valued as a precious commodity. We must not hand over our gifts to the heathen; we need to take dominion!).
Frankincense and Myrrh, as well as gold, were brought to Jesus by the wise men. In the Gospels, the Samaritan used medicinal oils to tend to the wounds of his neighbor; and we see Mary use the precious oil, Spikenard, to anoint Jesus before He was crucified.
Here’s something interesting: Spikenard has the most powerful sedative action in aromatherapy and it’s often recommended for stress relief. It’s well known for calming nerves and easing anxiety. I have to wonder if that isn’t why Mary thought to bring this particular essential oil to Jesus. What a thoughtful gift to give during such a horribly stressful time!
“The compounds comprising plant oils were spoken into existence when God created plants. These compounds are imbued with God’s Word and God’s intelligence, which is not measured in a laboratory, nor by any physical instrument…Synthetic compounds may be copies of the formulas of compounds found in essential oils, but they are lacking the subtle energies contained in natural substances. Those who apply essential oils for healing soon learn that only pure, natural, complete, and unadulterated oils bring about healing, while synthetic oils, or oils adulterated by synthetic compounds, do not.” – David Steward, PhD, DNM, IASP
I have often wondered why so many ancient treasures, precious oils that used to be so highly valued, are no longer used or appreciated to the same extent in our modern day. While I don’t know the complete answer to this question, I do know that synthetic drugs (which can be patented) attempt to duplicate the intricate healing nature of the natural medicines that God gave us (Isaiah 55:8–11) in herbs, flowers, and resins (which cannot be patented).
Drug Store Junkies
I believe it’s important that we embrace all of God’s gifts with an eye on His Providence. While there is definitely a place for pharmaceutical drugs in certain instances (especially emergencies), they are rarely helpful for chronic illness, since they do not have the ability to actually heal. They may help control symptoms, but true healing requires restoration. For instance, amputating a gangrene leg is not “healing” the body; though it certainly may be necessary to save the life of the victim.
Rather than suppress the immune system, disrupt other bodily functions, or simply offer relief by concealing symptoms, properly administered natural methods of healing support and stimulate the immune system to help the body to actually heal itself, which it was designed to do.
Throughout known history, people have recognized the powerful healing properties of medicinal plants. So, why are we rejecting God’s good gifts now?
Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died… 2 Chronicles 16:12–13
It is important that we utilize the various avenues God has given us for healing, and that we don’t place anything, including man and his almighty science, above God and His wisdom (2 Chronicles 16:12–13). Prayer, herbs, essential oils, various other alternative methods of healing, surgery, and allopathic medicine are all good gifts at our disposal; but, seeking God’s wisdom and pursuing Him in prayer is critical. Health and healing to the glory of God!
As you can see, essential oils are indeed useful tools meant for our service (Psalm 104:14). They are good gifts given to us from our gracious and merciful God—gifts that can be used in numerous ways to deal with our everyday weaknesses, and even to help further the Kingdom of God. Remember to thank Him today for all of the good gifts He has given us.
Note: Many people want to know why some oils are more expensive than others. Most essential oils are labeled “pure;” so, what is the difference between what you may find on the shelves of many health food stores and the oils I call “therapeutic grade?”