03 Mar 2019

Essential Oils and Acupuncture: AMAZING!

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Essential Oils – Just Perfumes?

I was quite skeptical when I attended my first weekend training on the use of essential oils in acupuncture treatments. Apart from some pleasant aromatherapy scents that might be a calming introduction to my office for our clients, I wasn’t sure if I was wasting time and money on this continuing education course.

Effective for Emotional Issues

Sometimes it is just fantastic to be wrong. Very wrong. Essential oils — those that are the real deal, not chemically engineered or standardized — have a very prominent place in many acupuncture clinics, including my own, now three years after that first course.

I am finding these authentic oils with high bioactivity to be remarkably effective for emotional issues, such as stress, anxiety, and depression. I use them strictly for treatment purposes, not as perfumes or for aesthetic enjoyment.

Body & Soul Respond

These oils are pure and vital and intensely energetic. When they are placed on specific acupuncture points — or acupoints, the body and soul respond. Whereas needles provide stimulation to a point, the oils give an actual content of information or message to an acupoint that resonates with it. AMAZING!

The key to using the oils in the clinic lies with understanding their energetic nature and functions, and matching those with the function of the acupuncture points.

The results are exciting and heartening.

Physiological, Mental, Emotional Effects

From Peter Holmes’ beautiful text, Aromatica, a Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, I quote:

“More than most other modalties of treatment being explored today, whether traditional or experimental, essential oils display a breathtaking versatility of applications.

The fact that a single essential oil can be used effectively on the physiological level to treat inflammation and infection, on a mood level to help even out mood swings, on a mental level to treat distractibility, and on an emotional level to help resolve negativity and emotional conflict is astonishing in itself.”

I agree!

Clary Sage

Let’s look at just one of many essential oils with multiple functions: Clary Sage. While produced in South France, England, Bulgaria, Crimea and Hungary, Clary Sage can be found locally in any array of oils. It calms the mind, promotes relaxation, and helps with depression accompanied by anxiety or agitation. Additionally, it helps with shock of any kind, fear, panic, and phobias. Furthermore, physiologically, Clary Sage is re-emerging (from its use in ancient Greek and Roman medicine) as a major aromatic ally for women. Its broad spectrum of applications is due to its physiological effect on both hormones and tissue. It brings relief from menstrual cramps because it can directly relax the uterine muscle. It is also appreciated for its use in PMS caused by estrogen deficiency or estrogen accumulation and is used broadly in France for girls in puberty to ensure a smooth transition into womanhood. Again quoting from Holmes’ Aromatica,

“Clary Sage serves to bring awareness within, allowing one to come from one’s deeper emotional and energetic core. Inhalation is generally useful as a settling, centering aid for meditation – a welcome change from the sweet-woody oils more commonly used.“

Plants for Healing

Friends, this is just one of many oils. I do believe that we will see the day when the plant world handles about everything our bodies and minds and emotions can conjure up, with no side effects and no toxicity.

I begin every treatment with the oils, (not necessarily Clary Sage) to relax and center and rebalance my clients, and you really must come see me to begin appreciating this “re-emerging” vast universe, and see how the oils could help you.

— Janet

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About the Author


Janet Barrows has a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) from the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, CA. She is a California State Licensed Acupuncturist (L. Ac.) practicing acupuncture in Santa Rosa, CA. Her practice includes acupuncture, natural herbs, facial rejuvenation, nutrition, and medical qigong.