Life itself is still a mystery despite the wonders of modern scientific medicine or biological studies. Science has always at any stage of its development since the dawn of time been a sacred cow demanding like any religion, obedience without challenge. From the ancient shaman to the robed priest to the white coats of the 21st century, science is always at the peak of knowledge and its orthodoxy and authority should, in its generic opinion remain unchallenged. Fortunately heretics existed from Copernicus to Nostradamus (the inventor of marmalade), Alec Gordon (who promoted hygiene long before Lister) to Daniel Schectman the discoverer of quasi crystals. However odd, this dance of orthodoxy versus heresy has often worked to advantage the human race.
Life is considered just a set of biochemical processes by the orthodox science of Chemistry. However other sciences suggest there is an electromagnetic dimension to the biology of living beings that makes chemical changes a secondary effect governed by the electrical being itself.
Aromatherapy has long toyed with the idea of cellular communication using essential oils without undue explanation of the process or pathways. Aromatherapy has no money for such pure research yet the various pop books allude to the effect odour molecules have beyond obvious chemistry. Often such effects are linked with bio electricity which is itself a somewhat mysterioius field. So let’s review what we know and can extrapolate about the potential of the influence of bio electricity within the body and on product which is applied or taken into the body.
Galvanic electricity often used in various spa therapies was discovered in the 18th century so is nothing new! At the beginning of the 19th century Carlo Matteucci established that injured biological tissues generated direct electrical currents. Albert Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt an Hungarian Nobel Prize winner and incidentally the discoverer of vitamin C wrote the seminal book ‘An Introduction to Sub Molecular Biology’ coining the phrase bioenergetics. In essence scientists in Biology and Physics acknowledge that there is within the body a ‘healing’ process linked to the nervous system, in effect a secondary system that stimulates cell growth and repair and so is part of the human antiageing and repair strategy. Sleep as we know is part of the repair process and sleep changes the electrical potentials in the brain.
In my lectures I refer to us as individuals only as consciousness. True we are a mix of gases, chemicals, liquids, fluids and solids but that is not who ‘we’ are. As a baby we are nothing, an open book and our life fight is to gain experience, communication skills, knowledge (and perhaps something else). Our body I describe as structure needed only for function. Certainly our structure is chemical in nature so it follows that any disturbance of our chemistry affects both the function and or structure. This disharmony we call disease and often a solution lies in the correction of chemistry. On the basis of a clear understanding that we also have bio or electromagnetic fields as part of our being or structure at a level below simple chemical process, a cellular level, then it follows as implied above that an effect at an electromagnetic level affects the chemistry and so on in a feedback loop.
Wolfe’s Law of bone structure changes clearly demonstrate this, as non-uniform stress applied to a fracture will result in cells migrating to the location needed to support any new stress distribution. As collagen and other fibrous tissue is piezoelectric the ‘stress’ field with its micro currents cause distribution to specific locations. Of course this does not allow for mental effects or ‘will’ power which is not part of this discussion but for example if there is no belief there is no ‘healing’ on occasions. At a cellular level we clearly see the electromagnetic influence but at a sub molecular level ,as in quantum physics, we resort to strange wording like charm and spin so these minute energetic influences we term subtle energies.
The existences of electromagnetic fields and subtle energies are not necessarily good news in orthodox Chemistry used to a set of tests which maximise dosage to a common level of acceptability called clinical trials purporting to show effect. (Interestingly numerous trials show little difference between placebo and a real drug in such trials). Whilst this should not be exaggerated we have to accept that the response to a drug as with any poison depends on dosage and this can only be taken as an average whereby a maximum gives a consistent and reliable effect overriding any resistance. Chemistry itself is however based on electromagnetism.
We should remind ourselves that our skin is a multifunctional organ massed with nerves and our main source of interaction with the environment. We are mostly unaware of its activity. It is also an environment for a forest of micro-organisms unique to an individual as a fingerprint. These serve a symbiotic relationship with the skin.
Classical Aromatherapy has always advocated hands on methods of application of essential oils from skin care to medical applications. Put another way Aromatherapy advocate’s therapeutic touch which is a communication through the skin nervous system affecting any applied result. This is well accepted in massage therapy even if not fully understood whereby the ‘field’ of the giver interacts with the receiver. The recipient may enter a deep state of relaxation and the giver a meditative state with or without essential oils. Essential oils can enhance the experience or detract from it. If the giver is thinking of lunch when massaging, then the experience is entirely mechanical or simply physiotherapy and may be in conflict with the ‘message’ of an essence so causing irritation. Aromatherapy properly applied can add to the therapeutic experience, utilising the sense of smell and the power of aromatic molecules as communicants not relying on any topical pathways to the bloodstream. All such work is interacting with the bio electric field of the individual at a subtle level.
All matter has an electric field or if you prefer a vibration or wavelength. Some people affect TV reception, others computers or mobile phones and most have experienced the sparking of a key when put into a car lock at some time. Such fields can today be measured but not so in the recent past. Their value in terms of physiology has yet to be fully understood and such words as ‘energy’ and ‘touch’ are still not fashionable in orthodox circles.
The question is whether anything placed on the skin can affect the field. The question of how is another issue. Chemical pathways are well understood and the cosmetics industry suffers from legislation that effectively says that if it really works it is a medicine! Pathways through the skin relate to the size of the molecule and as said before the biological processes in various organs deal with particles that make it through the skin. We know the immune system (which is not a single entity at all) operates by communication at a subtle level transferring to the electromagnetic level. Therefore ingression of a highly excited molecule will or can affect the immune system. But does it need to ingress. Not at all. The analogy is simple enough if something transmits it only needs a specialised receiver to begin interpretation. Which brings us back to the realm of what our smell organs actually do.
For example we are all surrounded by information waves but we only know of them when we switch on a TV or radio. We are not conscious of gravity (which is a magnetic force) but a snail is very conscious of it using it for navigational purpose. The study of aromatics demonstrate communicant properties and the accepted theory is one of stereo chemical action. However the same molecules have a vibration or charge which can be interpreted by an appropriate receiver (the brain, the central nervous system) therefore giving desired effects. Such aromatic molecules are ‘outside’ the body or skin.
Light too is electromagnetic radiation and we ‘see’ certain wavelengths as colours. As biology has progressed in the last few years we now know that tiny amounts of light is emitted by living cells. The term used is biophotonics the study of photons emitted by biological cells. It has also been proven that cells can communicate via these biophotons, which also means that they can not only emit light – they can receive light. Light therapy has a basis in fact and in tradition. Certain colours have always been favoured in different circumstances such as red for healing in hospitals and Chinese medicine.
As every molecule that is placed on the skin or is taken to the nose has a vibration then the possibility of effect should not be discounted but put in line with observable effects. Natural essential oils and absolutes used in formulations present some difficulties in that nature is highly variable and the raw materials therefrom can be equally variable. Such factors also apply to the food industry. We refer to the ‘quality’ of the raw material. The processes involved in the utilisation of the raw material have an effect on the end material. I use the term ‘may’ deliberately because we have partly entered the world of organic versus high input farming. Equally many if not most essential oils are rectified or materially changed to conform to some notional chemical requirement.
At the beginning I mentioned ‘Life’ which seems to have something to do with energy. Something dead whether a mammal or a vegetable has no electro magnetism associated with it and chemically all we humans when reduced to ash are the same.
Can such properties of ‘life’ be passed on through multiple processes and refinements? The jury is out on this. However vegetables and similar organic matter may not show loss of this ‘life’ or energy or its potential as in mammals in the same way. Seeds are the clear example; something apparently dead, dry, inert has life potential when the environment is right. It would appear quality of raw material, extraction process etc. can matter. In other words something maybe inert from one source or be energetic from another. Can something maintain its electrical properties, meaning a substance responding to an electric field, such as its dielectric constant, maintenance of charge or conductivity?
An example of process manipulation or ‘denaturing’ is best seen in the fixed oil business. The difference between say an almond oil and a hazelnut oil is to some extent only the origin as the composition is very similar. Leaving aside the subject of saturation and bonds the difference between one oil or fat and another is essentially the fatty acid or vitamin content. Much commercial oil have these components and other minor components refined out and something labelled Almond oil may be nothing but glycerol without further value.
Oil is non conductive but then the same can be said for pure water. In the latter case salts will aid the conductivity but salts are not soluble in oil. Massage needs oil to reduce friction.
Some people relate this whole idea to Amber which is a fossil tree resin of the Pinus genus with distinct electrical properties which are easily observable. Normally it is yellow in colour, varying in shade, from pale yellow to dark brown, and occasionally being whitish, greenish, or bluish. The hardness of amber is 2 to 2.5 on Moh’s scale. It therefore cannot be scratched by the finger nail, but easily and deeply with a knife. Its specific gravity is scarcely greater than that of water, the exact specific weight being 1.05-1.096. It thus almost floats in water, especially sea-water. On being heated amber becomes soft at 150° C, and at 250° to 300° melts. It also burns readily and is used in powder form in fragrant incense sticks. At a low temperature it becomes strongly electric attracting light objects and raising hair on the head and animal fur etc.
Unfortunately confusion is easily made with a family of fragrances called Amber. Amber perfume is a fragrance description for a quality in perfume that is warm, rich and honeylike, and also somewhat powdery, oriental and earthy usually including the gums of labdanum and benzoin. An amber fragrance does not include real amber. There is also an essential oil called Ambrette from the seeds of Abelmoschus moshchatus as the name indicates it has a musk like odour and originates from India. So no connection with true amber at all.
An essential oil of amber does exist but is very difficult to find. Succinic acid a main constituent of amber resin is called Spirit of Amber which has been shown to have medicinal and other properties. Amber oil is clearly more readily available than amber essential oil. But be very careful when buying such a product. Aromatherapy is so full of ‘misunderstandings’!
Tree resins and gums are compounded to form a solid masswith much of the base material coming from the Liquidamber orientalis tree. This amber ‘Amber oil’, is prepared in a base of beeswax and is combined with other essential oils and carriers such as sunflower oil. There are many types of amber oils on the market, most of which contain synthetic fragrance oils or synthetic carrier oils. The aroma of these oils vary widely. So nothing to do with real amber!
A further confusion was with ambergris, a waxy substance that was found floating on the ocean or washed up on the shore in ancient times (true amber floats in salt water too). It came from the sperm whale and can be refined into a oil with a strong, but pleasant aroma much used in classical perfumery. Today other refined oils have taken its place.
Our word “electricity” comes from the Greek word elektron, which was an ancient name for true amber. Amber always feels warm rather than cold in the hand. In this respect it differs from most minerals. William Gilbert had in mind ambers strange properties in the 1600’s when he described the effects of magnets, coining a new word: electric. The term electron, created in 1891, was also inspired by amber’s properties.
Some therapists use pieces of raw amber in massage therapy using them in association with frictions. The piece of amber is used to ‘generate’ or wake the bio electric field prior to massage. Fact or fiction? We live in a sceptical world needing proof by replication and controlled trials. Yet individual reactions often ‘spoil’ these trials for patients or clients have a nasty habit of ‘feeling better’ or losing symptoms for no apparent scientific reason! Time will tell my own opinion has always been to accept what I see and never denounce what I do not understand therefore treat every situation as individual and to try to avoid prejudice of any healing modality orthodox or alternative. That’s one of the trouble with Physics and its laws – physics is really quite weird or do I mean magic!
True Amber oil is available mostly from Eastern Europe and if you are very lucky some very limited essential oil. Amber jewellery is very popular from bracelets to necklace’s and is great for teething rings. I always carry a piece in my pocket next to my hip scar for comfort! But buyer beware again I am afraid much jewellery is fake plastic or plasticised resin and all those inclusions are added in as are colours.
So whether oil or amber pieces know what you are buying but let the rich values of true amber point you to properties we do yet understand in the bio electric world within ourselves but undoubtedly will as time goes on.