Written by John Immel,
Aromatic oils shock, refresh and numb tissue, with the end result of relaxing, opening and clearing stagnant fluids in tissues. They are penetrating, subtle, clear, etheric, light, and dry. Many are slightly cool. Whereas pungent spices like cinnamon and cayenne can increase swelling, heat, and inflammation, aromatic spices like mint generally disperse fluids and heat. Their aroma when inhaled easily reaches the brain. Psychologically, aromatic oils inspire, refresh and arouse with a sense of awe and letting go. Many aromatic oils are used as tension and depression relieving nervines (valerian, chamomile).
Aromatic spices clear the stomach and aid in protein digestion. They are often cooked with meats. They improve appetite and hunger (bitter orange peel). They increase gastric juices and clear heavy, sluggish digestion after a large meal. Aromatic spices could aggravate acid reflux when due to hyperacidity. When acid refluxis due to hypoacidity, aromatic oils may help reduce acid reflux.
Aromatic oils relax muscle tissue, especially smooth muscle tissue. They are used to calm all cases of colic, including colicky peristalsis of the intestines, vasospasm type headaches, bronchospasms, and uterine spasms.
Aromatic spices flush fluids from sweat and salivary glands, tear ducts, urinary tract, breasts and vaginal fluids. They are useful to break up fluid stagnation when spring fever in early April leaves the face, hands, and feet feeling swollen. They break up mucus in the respiratory and digestive tract (cardamom). They are used for sore throats (as in halls cough drops). They are ultimately drying and may contribute to drying up breast milk. Their penetrating quality can cross the placenta into the fetus.
Aromatic oils are often anti-septic. Examples include eucalyptus oil, garlic oil and thyme oil. They encourage the creation of white blood cells and increase immunity.
Aromatic oils may be consumed internally (mint tea) or applied externally (as in tiger balm). Since volatile oils evaporate quickly they should be stored in a sealed container. The aromatic oils are also the essential oils of an herb. The essential oil of a plant carries its "essence", i.e. its unique identity and medicinal value. In Ayurvedic terms, the essential oil is the prakruti or constitution of the plant.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.
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Cinnamon is mentioned as both an aromatic and a pungent. That's makes me feel unsure about how I would best use it as a medicine. Could you please clarify?