September 8, 2013 | Posted in Concepts in Anthroposophic Medicine, Glands / Endocrine, Head / Nervous System, Nursing Treatments

The oils in a plant are either fatty (producing substance) or volatile (producing aroma). A fatty oil concentrates, and a volatile (etheric or essential) oil diffuses.

Oils always relate to warmth, whether they are substantial like the fatty oils in plant seeds, or whether they are the essentail oil of the plant. See Warmth.


An essential oil is an oil that carries the aroma characteristic of the plant. Each plant carries in wholeness the processes of sulfur-salt-mercury which is refered to as the “tria pricipia.”   In alchemy, substances were known to represent processes, and were seen for the process, not for their physical manifestation alone.

An essential oil is each plant individuality’s higher signature of a sulfuric expression of warmth . It is the least earthly of the plant processes. Since ancient times it was thus often described as the most spiritual substance of the plant often with religious references.

For the human individuality, warmth is the medium of his Higher Ego/ Self/ I organization. See Ego (Self, I)

Therapeutically, the volatile oils create a balm bridge for the “I” to better integrate itself into the human being.

An example of this is rosemary oil, which has a stimulating, almost fiery, awakening scent. In oil dispersion baths it is valuable in treating diabetes by strengthening the I-organization in the metabolism.  See Diabetes.

These oils help an individual to better maintain the physical body by supporting regeneration. They directly and immediately soothe the emotional sheath, balance metabolism and ultimately aid the person in meeting his/her personal destiny.

How do we understand these oils in relation to modern thinking? Chemical analysis of substances is valuable for understanding the components which are present. But the components by themselves lack meaning. For example, do we know ‘aeoymrrs’ as a reality, or do we need to see the word in its correct letter sequence ‘rosemary’ to find meaning?

Form and wholeness give meaning to substance.

Physical substances reduced from the whole can be understood only by understanding their relationships. In wholeness we must see the tria prinicipia, the individual signature of the plant, its form, its relation to light, warmth, air, water, its maturation and transformation. These relationships can be seen for the sake of other living things, who also have form, and relationships to light, warmth, air, water, and undergo maturation and transformation.

The spiritual essence speaks through these observable arrangements of substances.

The spiritual essence uses the substances to express its nature.

“And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.” Exodus 30:25

“”That God is triune any plant will show you, Since sulfur, salt and mercury are seen as one.” Angelus Silesius

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Individuals may be allergic to a plant or oil.  Peanut allergy is common, possibly due to widespread use of peanut oil in vaccines.  Olive oil is non-allergenic, and is commonly used to dilute the essential oils to a 5% or 10% concentration for application to the body.  Essential oils applied full strength to the body may cause local irritation.  This may not represent a true allergy, but just the fact that the essential oil is very concentrated.  If a skin irritation occurs with an essential oil diluted with olive oil, discontinue the oil and discuss the reaction with your practitioner.

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