Analysis of 48,000-year-old DNA evidence from the plaque of Neanderthal teeth suggests that even our early ancestors used plants as medicine. Comparison to other animal species supports the idea that Neanderthals would have been able to distinguish between nutritional needs and medicinal functions of plants, even though we do not fully understand Neanderthal-plant relationship, yet. The Neanderthal grave at Shanidar, Iraq contained specific plants that are regarded for their health benefits by modern humans, further supporting the fact that we have been using medicinal plants for a very, very long time.
The healing properties of plants have been accessed cross-culturally for centuries, and we are just now gaining a glimpse into the specific chemical properties of each plant to present supporting evidence for their continued use. Ayurveda, Chinese herbs, and other folk medicines would have disappeared by now if they did not generate tangible results, even though we didn't have the tools to explain specifically how the chemical composition was beneficial. Industrialization in the19th century dramatically changed the way that we practice medicine today. When put into perspective, this is a small speck of time when compared to how long we have been practicing plant medicine.
As we continue to evolve, it is important to think critically about our health and the solutions that are presented to us. A blend of Western and Eastern practices, or old and new, is in my opinion the most empowering way to take responsibility for your health. For legal and ethical reasons I will state that you should always consult your physician if you have a serious condition. I make no claims that essential oils will cure disease. We can use essential oils to gain control of our symptoms and improve our quality of life. After all, our species got this far with plant medicine as the only source of medicine until industrialization, which has contributed to the decline of our health as much as we have gained life saving-technology.
Let's counterbalance the negative effects of our modern lifestyle with a return to nature.
Essential oils are potent, natural, and powerful aromatic compounds found in seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants; extracted and distilled for a variety of health benefits. They are 50-70x more powerful than herbs. My favorite example is peppermint, which also happens to be top on my list of favorite oils. 1 drop of peppermint oil ($0.08) is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea. The complexity of every oil means developing resistance is extremely unlikely. This contrasts complications with medications. Every oil has multiple compounds which provides versatile support for our emotional and physical wellbeing.
NOTE: not all oils are created equal. Please pay close attention to oils that shouldn't be used near pets, dilution ratios, and oils that should not be ingested.