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An Industry of Progress, Part III

By: Mario Montalvo
Posted: December 1, 2011, from the December 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Rancho La Puerta in its early days.

Rancho La Puerta in its early days.

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According to Indian lore, ayurveda was given to one of the Hindu rishis, or “seers,” by the god Indra. The exact date is not known, but scholars agree that the ayurvedic epistemology goes back to the 5th century B.C.,and is based on vedas, ancient philosophical and spiritual writings.

Ayurveda emphasizes the need for using all the physical and mental powers available to you, and this system bids people to keep themselves in harmony with the body and the environment. Ayurveda is considered by many to be the first organized approach to health based on natural phenomena rather than on magic, superstition or spiritual forces. Illness, the Hindus believe, develops as a result of internal disharmony, which can be translated as the science of life or longevity, and its emphasis is on teaching preventive health care for longer, healthier lives.


The term “aromatherapy” was coined in the early 20th century by Rene-Maurice Gattefossé, a visionary and dedicated French chemist. Although he was not the first to use essential oils in a therapeutic manner, nor to write about such use, his vision was unprecedented because he made the scientific community and world aware that therapeutic applications of essential oils constituted a discipline in its own right.

Essential oils. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are the regenerating, oxygenating, immune-defense properties of plants. They contain oxygen molecules that transport nutrients to the cells of the body of the plant. They are also considered to be very energy-specific, and do not lose their potency with time. Essential oils provide stimulation through hormonelike compounds that have a structure closely related to human hormones. Most importantly, they have the ability to penetrate the skin almost immediately, making treatments with these oils able to reach the subcutaneous tissues, where the use of mechanical or electrical penetration is contraindicated or undesirable. Being extremely complex substances, chemically speaking, the effects of essential oils on the body are both complicated and subtle. An essential oil may have hundreds of chemical components, most of which have their own biological activity once absorbed into the body.

A typical essential oil is a complex mixture of more than 100 different chemical components, created and mixed in the pure plant. These have related but distinct types of chemical structure and give the oil its smell, therapeutic properties and, in some instances, toxicity. Some essential oil constituents are present only in trace amounts and, if sufficiently potent, they may still be important ingredients, either therapeutically or toxicologically.