Lesson 34: Plant Parts

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Required Reading

Foundational Aromatherapy Pages 32-39

Physical and Emotional Connections

Seeds, Roots, and Flowers—Oh My!

Could it be that the part of the plant where the oil comes from affects me physically and emotionally?

How can I use this knowledge of plant parts to decide which oil to use for my family and friends?

The study of plant parts as they relate to human physical and emotional characteristics is called the Doctrine of Signatures or Sign of Nature. It has probably been around as long as plants and people have coexisted. Here’s what it means: how a plant looks—its color, shape, and the part of the plant we harvest—tends to resemble the part of the human body it is able to benefit or aid.

Let’s start out easy. What do you think kidney beans are good for? Take a prize! Exactly—your kidneys. Slice a carrot in half and look at the cut end—it looks like an eye, and the Vitamin A in carrots helps our eyes. Slice a tomato. It has four chambers just like your heart, and tomatoes contain lycopene, which is good for heart health. A walnut looks like your brain—a hard shell, like a skull, protecting the convoluted insides, even with a dividing septum. Red grapes—red blood cells, white grapes—white blood cells. You’ve got the idea!

Another way that simplifies learning about and choosing oils is to understand that plants are divided into seven parts:

  1. Seed
  2. Root
  3. Leaf, Needles and Grass
  4. Wood
  5. Resin or Sap
  6. Fruit and Peel
  7. Flower

We could delve deep into plant parts, going through each individual oil, yet that’s for another book for those of you who want lots of details. For now, let’s just cover the basics. What you are learning in this book is more than I ever knew for years—but I still used essential oils successfully all that time without knowing much of this. Now you can be ahead of the game.

Briefly, I have included a summary of each of the seven plant parts listed above with oils that are harvested from those parts along with their characteristics. Included are common physical and emotional issues for which that category of oils might address or the benefits they may provide.

Seed Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Dill Seed
  • Coriander
  • Fennel

Characteristics: Seeds absorb, or digest, nutrients from the soil. The seed coat or outer shell protects, the inner part or growth area of the seed, like an embryo or baby plant, growing inside it, much like a woman’s womb. A seed is the new beginning of a plant; it is the plant’s creative and reproductive life force. A seed may go through many “travels or challenges” before sprouting and developing.

Common Issues that May Be Helped:

  • Reproductive problems such as conceiving
  • Development of positive attitudes towards sexuality
  • Digestive issues, nutrient absorption
  • Birthing new ideas or promoting growth in our lives or work
  • Realize potential; will help you see that in you is the full potential of an amazing, fully developed human being
  • Strengthen you if you are delicate or sensitive to the world around you
  • Rise above feelings of despondency, depression, insecurity, worthlessness, or being overwhelmed.
  • Overcome tendencies to not finish what you start

If any of these situations seem to describe you, realize that you, like a seed, may be waiting for conditions suited for growing—becoming what you were destined to be and to nourish yourself, both physically and emotionally. Like some seeds, you may have to go through fire or through crap, like seeds that pass through an animal’s digestive system, or travel far like a coconut, before you begin to sprout.

Be patient and be kind to yourself. Enjoy the process. And use the seed oils to make your journey to your full potential a little easier.

Root Oils
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Vetiver ( found in Earth scent™)

Characteristics: As with the seeds, the roots absorb nutrients from the soil. The roots also produce hormones. They anchor the plant (even mighty trees) to the ground and give them stability and a strong foundation. Before fall and winter, roots hold onto and pull nourishment from the leaves and stems inward, which aid the plant when the cold winter stresses the plant, providing energy or warmth.

Common Issues that May Be Helped:

  • Increase nutrient absorption
  • Strengthen and nourish the nervous system
  • Alleviate frazzled nerves or anxiety, irritability, panic attacks, or worry
  • Become more grounded within, increase inner strength, and trust own decisions
  • Increase self-awareness, introspection, and self-reflection
  • Increase warmth both physically and emotionally
  • Increase stamina
  • Lessen tendencies to be disorganized or flighty, scattered
  • Lessen feelings of being confused, moody, or overly emotional

If you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you or you have no solid foundation, consider adding root oils to your daily regimen. Life sometimes can feel heavy, like the whole world is piled on top. Root energy is strong and grounding and will give the support you need during these times. It feeds the nervous system to enable you to think things through. Instead of reacting with emotion and panic when faced with a challenging situation, just get away to think, pull inward, and clarify what is really going on.

Leaf, Needle, and Grass Oils
  • Basil
  • Niaouli
  • Bay Laurel
  • Palmarosa
  • Black Spruce
  • Patchouli
  • Cypress
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus Citriodora
  • Ravensara
  • Eucalyptus Radiata
  • Rose Geranium
  • Eucalyptus Globulus
  • Rosemary
  • Fir, Balsam
  • Spearmint
  • Lemongrass
  • Tea Tree
  • Marjoram
  • Thyme Linalool

Characteristics: Leaves allow the plant to breathe—they are the lungs of the plant. They protect the plant from insects, bacteria, fungi, and water loss. They carry out the immune functions of the plant. Both Leaves and needles function in the process of photosynthesis—an amazing process of transformation that takes energy from the sun and turns it into chemical energy or sugars; in this way, leaves and needles help provide nutrients for the plant itself as well as for insects like the butterfly and for us.

Common Issues that May Be Helped:

  • Lung or Respiratory Issues
  • Infections from Bacteria, Virus, or Fungus
  • Insect Repellent
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Immune Support
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Toning and Cleansing of Vital Organs
  • Inability to Take in New Ideas
  • Inability to See the Big Picture
  • Feelings of Paranoia, Hostility, Scorn, Cynicism, or Resentment
  • Exhaustion from Being Overwhelmed

If we use these oils, we will get the oxygen we need for our brains to be innovative thinkers. We will find that we are not so easily drained by contention or conflict. We will have better focus and energy to carry out our aspirations and goals. As the body is able to absorb the nutrients from these plants, the mind becomes more open and free, like leaves high on a tree budding out in the spring. Feelings of stagnation or inability to shift or change will leave, and we will be able to have the vitality we desire.

Wood Oils
  • Birch
  • Cinnamon
  • Cedarwood
  • Sandalwood

Characteristics: The wood of a tree or trunk and its branches function to transport nutrients and deliver water to the stems, leaves, and flowers. The trunk or center of the tree also provides strengthand support, like the spine. It is, in essence, the skeletal and muscular system of the tree. It moves energy from the roots to the crown of the tree.

Common Issues that May Be Helped:

  • Bone Pain
  • Muscular Pain
  • Stress-Related Heart Issues
  • Glandular Issues
  • Need for Emotional Strength and Centeredness
  • Need for Strengthening the Bones
  • Feeling Stuck in Life, not Being Able to Move Forward
  • Poor Posture or Slouching
  • Feeling Weak
  • Tendency to Dominate or Be Dictatorial—A “My Way Or The Highway” Attitude

People in need of wood oils usually have positive qualities—and their weakness can become amazing strengths of independence, boldness, and being forthright. They will stand strong for what is right and are the ones who stick it out and finish a job when others may give up. They can be very warmhearted and can overlook the mistakes of others. They are faithful and wise, steadfast, and perceptive. If this is how you would describe yourself on a good day but the pains of your body are bringing you down and negative traits are surfacing, use these wood oils or blends that contain them. The wood oils will not only ease your physical pain but also your emotional challenges.

Resin or Sap Oils
  • Copaiba (found in Comfort Touch™)
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh

Characteristics: When certain trees are wounded, they seep out a type of sap called a resin, which is thick and sticky like raw honey. The tree uses this sap to seal up the wound and to help heal it. It is antibacterial so it also provides protection for the tree. This fluid moves up and through the tree mostly in the summer when it is warmer.

Common Issues that May Be Helped:

  • Heals Wounds
  • Skin Care, Scars
  • Body Fluid Issues, Secretions, Pus
  • Ulcers
  • Inflammation
  • Emotional Wounds such as Grief, Trauma, Heartbreak or Separation, Post-Traumatic Stress, Frustration, or Depression
  • Lack of Self-Esteem or Self-Love
  • Recovery from Addictions
  • Impatience, Tension, Bitterness, Anger, or Hysteria

Are you driven by your word and high ideals? Or are justice, morality, truth, and purity of thought at the forefront of your ideals? Or do you feel out of sorts and unable to forgive yourself because you cannot meet your own standards? Or do you feel that you and you alone can fix not only your problems but the whole world’s problems? Such constant worry can lead to more serious problems, such as ulcers and cancer. Try these resin oils to help heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds.

Fruit and Peel Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Juniper Berry
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Green Mandarin
  • Red Mandarin

Characteristics: Fruits are full of water and moisture. They receive nourishment from not only the tree’s roots and sap or resin but also from the light of the sun. Fruits nurture and protect the seeds that are inside them. Fruits grow on the tree’s ends, the upper parts of the branches, almost apartand free. Their colors and aroma attract birds and some animals.

Common Issues that May Be Helped:

  • Lymphatic System Issues
  • Urinary Tract Issues
  • Nervous System Issues
  • Skin Issues: Cleansing
  • Circulation By Cleansing
  • Struggles with Finishing Projects
  • Need for Movement through Challenging Situations
  • Inability to Release Certain Thoughts or Emotions
  • Indecisiveness, Anxiousness, or Oversensitivity
  • Spite, Sarcasm, Grumpiness, Critical of Others
  • Self-Punishment, Despondency, Grief
  • Claustrophobia

Within the fruit is the future and ability for these trees to survive. We too can follow through. Becoming more dependable and being diligent will give us the reward we are after. The peeling of the fruit protects the fruit and seeds inside—it will also help you to be more protective, kind-hearted, friendly, and supportive to not only those around you, but also to yourself. The fruit will help your thoughts to be “juicy”—more focused, with clarity and connections to what we want and need from life. Use the fruit oils to bring you higher in your thoughts and to cleanse your body.

Flower Oils
  • Chamomile (Roman)
  • Lavender
  • Clary Sage
  • Neroli
  • Clove Bud
  • Rose
  • Helichrysum
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Jasmine

Characteristics: Flower petals are usually soft like the skin we wish we had. They are abundant in the spring showing us their splendor of color and new growth. They are the reproductive organ from the plant. Their beauty and aroma attract the insects to them. These insects are thankful for what the flowers have to give them, and they accept the gift gracefully. In a desert after a rainstorm the flowers appear like a carpet of new life and energy.

Common Issues that May Be Helped:

  • Rejuvenation of Skin
  • Female Reproductive Organs and Cycles
  • Nervous Tension and Emotional Stress
  • Attract the Opposite Sex
  • Need for Love, Compassion, Forgiveness
  • Feelings of Exhaustion, Hopelessness, and Resentment
  • Lack of Confidence, Emptiness, Feelings of Guilt
  • Insecurity, Instability, Resignation, and Sadness
  • Lack of Sexual Desire or Frigidity
  • Envious, Manipulative, Power or Status Hungry

Bring back that confidence, energy, and enthusiasm you once had for life. You are full of love and passion, soft heartedness, and are sensitive to the needs of others. You need to seek balance by putting your own needs first. Be careful that meeting such needs does not spiral into making yourself the center of attention or being superficial in your desires. Love life to the fullest, love yourself by taking better care of your skin in order to give you the confidence you desire.
Now, before you go thinking I’ve gone off my rocker with all this emotional stuff, go back and read about olfaction and the limbic system of your brain. Our emotions and our physical bodies are inseparably connected.This is no longer considered “foo-foo” stuff. It has been proven with cold, hard science. Start looking at the foods you eat, the herbs in your teas, the plants of the oils you have on your feet. Stop to smell the roses, and the mints, and chew some pine gum. Experiencing and getting to know these plants will enhance your appreciation for them. I believe you will actually receive more benefit from them when you take the time to get to know them on an intimate level.What can you learn about yourself as you learn about essential oils?