Aromatherapy dates back to Bible days.
"Some of us like to believe that true aromatherapy is God's medicine," said Diane Miller, an aromatherapist and founder of Miller's Lakeside Earth Oils in Transfer.
Miller was the keynote speaker at Faith Gospel Fellowship Church in Leesburg for the church's annual Women Encouraging Women event on Nov. 5.
She talked about the benefits of aromatherapy, different from synthetic fragrances.
"Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from flowers, fruit, bark and roots of plants and trees. It's essential because it's the life force of the plant," Miller said.
Olive, grapeseed or almond oils are often added as carriers to the extracted botanical oils.
One botanical can have numerous healing properties, like combating inflammation, bacteria, viruses and balancing hormones, she added.
Aromatherapy's effects on the mind can be energizing or calming, depending on the oil, Miller said.
The scents do not interact negatively with prescription medicines, in the way herbs might, she noted. "They are used as supportive care for the elderly, and with illness and disease."
She explained how the use of aromatic oils were prolific during Bible times and sparked commerce and trade in the ancient world, along with spices and herbs.
"Like silver and gold, fragrances were a measure of wealth and social status," Miller said. "They were considered very precious."
Essential oils were used for burial preparation, to stop disease and to heal.
They were also very spiritual, particularly in the use of anointing -- or placing fragrant oil on a person's head during prayer.
"It was literally poured over the head," Miller noted, unlike today's practice of anointing someone's head -- or your own -- with a touch of oil.
Some believe prayers are more powerful with the use of essential oils because of their healing properties, she stated.
During her talk, Miller passed around samples of frankincense, myrrh and spikenard so the women could experience their unique scents.
Frankincense was important in anointing new kings and priests.
"When it speaks of 'incense' in the Bible, it's talking about frankincense," Miller noted. "Only recently did the term come to mean burning a stick."
In Numbers 16:46-50, the Bible states a plague was stopped after Aaron -- instructed by Moses -- ran among an assembly of Hebrews with a censer burning with incense, she said.
Matthew 2:11 records Magi honoring Jesus Christ as the King who came down from Heaven at his birth, with gifts of frankincense and myrrh, Miller added.
The Book of Esther 2:12 states that maidens brought before King Xerxes first had to have 12 months of beauty treatments, with six months of oil of myrrh, she said.
Miller's favorite story in the Bible is in Mark 14:3-8 and tells of a woman who interrupts a meeting with Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper.
She anoints the head of Jesus with perfume "of pure nard" from an alabaster jar, it says. It is believed that the verse is referring to spikenard, Miller said.
The woman's actions spark protests among the people with whom Jesus was visiting because the oil was so expensive. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me," Jesus said in verse 6. Jesus then states it was a preparation for his burial.
Miller also passed around lavender and tea tree oil, which are not found in the Bible; however, they are inexpensive botanicals that have many emotional and physical benefits.
Miller's talk meshed nicely with the Faith Fellowship event, which was a day to pamper, encourage and support the women who attended. It included hand, foot and chair massages; homemade food; a clothing exchange; and jewelry making.
Miller stated that she became interested in aromatherapy after it helped relieve her migraine headaches.
"In this fast-paced life with excessive pollution and an environment that is somewhat crazy, our physical and mental beings are compromised," Miller said.
Since the body and spirit are gifts from God, "We have to take initiative in caring for it," she added, as well and teaching our children to take care of their bodies.
"One way is with botanical oils."
Diane Miller sells products and gives workshops connected to aromatherapy. Visit Miller's Lakeside Earth Oils at www.lakesideearthoils.com or call 724-962-5208. Published Nov. 12, 2011 in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.