The word aromatherapy makes us think of massage oils or a warm, soothing bath; however, cooking with essential oils has become a new, creative aromatherapy application. The practice is relatively new to North America so many wonder if it really does have an effect.
There are several ways to use essential oils. Cleaning, treating ailments, relaxing, decorating, and spicing up a relationship are the most common uses. In France the use of aromatherapy in cooking has received so much attention that people in the United States are now trying it. In fact, many have turned to cooking with essential oils in an effort to fight obesity.
The Obesity Connection
The theory among many top aromatherapy experts including world renowned doctors, Daniel Pennoel and Phillip Minton is that essential oils don’t contain fat like traditional cooking oils do. This in itself can help reduce obesity. The idea is that you can use tiny amounts of essential oils in the cooking process instead of fatty oils. Only small amounts of essential oils are required because they are so concentrated.
It is not only the fat content that makes a difference. Those who study the plants that these essential oils come from will tell you that certain essential oils can increase your metabolism. Oil extracted from black pepper, ginger, sweet orange and palmarosa are said to be examples. Aromatherapy specialists say that they stimulate digestion and as a result metabolism function tends to increase. This does not mean that your obesity problems are solved; exercise and sensible eating are still highly recommended.
If you are interested in reducing the number of calories you take in every day, there is also a theory that inhaling the scent of essential oils extracted from flowers, seeds, stems, leaves and even roots, will quell your appetite. Studies in this area are limited, but many people who have tried to eliminate calories from their diet, claim this approach works for them.
When we breathe in aromas our nerve cells send an electrical message to the brain. Evidence shows that specific odors provide a pathway through the central nervous system that can activate protector cells in our immune system. Studies continue on just how essential oils may benefit our immune system. According to Dr. Phillip Minton eating essential oils can improve circulation and prevent heart disease.
The French and Cooking Aromatherapy
Cheese, pastries, foie gras….France is well known for these foods, but the fat content can be dangerous. To reduce fat content, culinary experts have been experimenting with aromatherapy. Cooking with essential oils is one of the biggest anti-fat ideas to come out of the French kitchens. There are cook books now that are specifically for cooking with essential oils.
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The Dangers of Cooking Aromatherapy
Not everyone is ready to promote cooking aromatherapy as a standard practice. In the United States and Britain using essential oils in the kitchen comes with a warning from some research institutions. For instance, the University of Maryland Medical Centre states that some of these oils can be toxic. Nutmeg oil is one example. While this may be true, proponents of cooking aromatherapy argue in moderate amounts it is considered safe.
Not all essential oils that you purchase are a pure as you may think. Often time’s chemicals can be added to them. The question becomes: could adding them to your diet mean adding any number of foreign substances to your body?
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The practice of cooking with essential oils is generating a lot of debate in culinary circles. More research is required to determine the full impact that the various plants extracts can have on the human body. In the meantime, if you are interested in cooking aromatherapy to reduce calories or to deal with other health related issues, it is best to consult with a skilled, experienced aroma- therapist.