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Essential Oils for Animals – A primer

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are potent extracts of aromatic plants. Almost every plant contains some essential oil in either the flowers, roots, leaves, or bark; the fragrance of a rose or a cypress tree, is essential oil being released into the air. Essential oils have various functions depending on the plant, e.g: to act as hormones, to attract insects for pollination, to repel insects or competing plants, or to protect from bacterial invasion.

How Essential Oils Work

Essential oils are highly volatile, releasing their fragrance in an explosion as soon as they are exposed to air. Because they are made up of very small molecules, they pass easily from the olfactory system, through the mucous membranes into the brain and blood, affecting the nervous system. Essential oils have a physiological and psychological affect.

Uses and effects of essential oils

Essential oils can be anti-inflammatory, anti fungal, anti bacterial, anti-tumour, relaxing, sedating, stimulating and a host of other actions besides. Aromatic extracts have been used for health and well-being for millenia and the medicinal effect of essential oils has been studied scientifically since early in the twentieth century, many modern synthetic medicines have been developed from this study.

Essential oils and zoopharmcognosy

In the wild, animals pick and choose the healing plants they need to help them stay in optimal health (known scientifically as zoopharmacognosy); when working with essential oils we use this instinct and allow the animal to choose what they need, just as they would in the wild. The simple act of returning some autonomy of care to the animal is the first step in the healing process.  

It is mind-blowing to watch an animal direct its own healing by responding to the oils instinctively, choosing whether to take them orally, topically or as an inhalant. This method is safe and effective, and also greatly strengthens the bond of trust between animal and guardian.

A way of communication

Animals can’t tell us in so many words what they need to be healthy and happy, but through the oils they choose we can understand them better, improve animal/human communication, and achieve greater well-being for all. 

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