[HEALTH] Aromatherapy trends: herbal vaporization
Ancient records show that Asian cultures have been steaming and vaporizing medicinal herbs way back before Christ (end of 8 B.C. when recalling the oldest recording known to archived data). Mainly China, Indochina, Japan and Taiwan were the first to discover the benefits of inhaling medicinal plant fumes. The volatile vapors of plants such as Laurel, Passion flower, mint, wild Chamomile and various Tea shrubs natively found in the Asian continent caught the attention of many European scientists to start conducting trials on the efficiency when such plant material is heated.
Although Chinese wise men were possibly the pioneers when it came to discovering the ancient plant’s healing properties, plenty of research has been conducted overseas to put proof to the table. Tea for example, has been one of the first products where it was mandatory to steam and/or bake the leaves to preserve the essential aroma and make sure they would not spoil during months of transport on horseback, especially in the humid climate where most wild tea shrubs grow. Avoiding fungus spores to thrive in their high valued cargo was top priority. Although the relation of steaming tea and what we nowadays know as aromatherapy might not look related, it really is. During the time the Asian dynasties perfected the art of steaming, unconsciously a new level of herbal healing was attained.
Essential oils for massaging have been around for ages and turned out to be a very effective treatment for bruises, skin conditions and muscle pains. Edible solutions, being used way before oil treatments; back in ancient China they provided relief for stomach and bowel distress and lowered down headaches. Vaporizing medical herbs such as Laurel, Thyme, Cannabis or Eucalyptus have been one of the most effective remedies to combat fevers, respiratory issues or simply for relaxation purposes.
In modern day Europe (and large part of the United States) aromatherapy has been a new trend, taken over from the already popular phenomena in Asia. It started becoming widely popular when most soap manufacturers started labeling essential oils for bathing, showering or room dispenser as “aromatherapy”. It has to be said that plenty of this marketing is based on chemically reproductive scents and has little to do with the roots of actual effective aromatherapy.
Vaporizing is starting to gain more and more interest with the common people. The influential trendsetters being countries like Holland, Spain and Germany. There are companies like Storz & Bickel (Germany) who devoted their time and effort to solely producing world’s finest vaporization units. The essence of vaporization is getting herbs heated at an exact temperature so the essential oils and volatile substances are ready for inhalation. Storz & Bickel for one, has made world fame with their “Vulcano” and more recently with a more portable version called “Plenty”. The German company is so convinced by their product that they actually use master chefs to demonstrate that you can do more with a “Vulcano” or “Plenty” than just medicinal purposes, so they demonstrated the world what a blend of pepper, sage, thyme and other cooking herbs can do when this vapor is used to fill up a bag with meat, vegetables or rice inside. Storz & Bickel have had very positive results here, just imagine somebody liking the flavor of pepper but can’t actually eat it because it would cause him/her bowel distress? That’s where “fuming” the steak with pepper vapor delivers all the taste without consuming the actual herb/seed.
When portability matters, Solwe, a Spanish company creating a product called the “Vaponic” is an alternative to go with. The Vaponic is in essence a highly durable borosilicate glass pipe that allows herbs to be heated with a pocket torch or conventional lighter. It doesn’t have electronically adjustable temperature presets like the “Vulcano” or “Plenty”, but then again this product was made with portability in mind, providing a solution for travellers to consume both medicinal herbs, cannabis or tobacco. Solwe’s research team behind the Vaponic is so dedicated to their health product that they started conducting laboratory trials to test if vaporized inhaling nicotine present in natural tobacco can reduce or eliminate cancer cells to grow on lung tissue by avoiding the take-up of tar contents (otherwise inhaled when burned/smoked).
In Holland, a country widely regarded for its indiscriminating view on light narcotics; the most common one being Cannabis, the vaporizing trend took off mainly in this segment. Although plenty of in-vitro studies had positive results with Cannabinol and various other chemicals present in “weed”, plenty of countries across the world still consider it discriminating to poses. The most notorious research being able to cure rats with huge tumor cells that would have killed the animal if it was not for the plant’s healing properties, since physical surgery was impossible due to various contamination on blood & tissue levels.
That left aside, the Dutch seem to have seen the benefit in the medical grade devices to vaporize their “holy plant” and label it to be healthier than smoking and benefiting from a deeper aromatic experience otherwise lost when burning your herbals.
We give you a short list of freely available medicinal plants for you to experiment with (and their effect on certain conditions). Best to be used at temperatures ranging from 230°F – 420°F (110 – 210 °C).
- Sage: Sore throats, poor digestion and irregular periods.
- Thyme: For coughs and congestion, improved digestion, destroys intestinal parasites, excellent antiseptic.
- Eucalyptus: Powerful antiseptic for coughs and colds, sore throats.
- Chamomile: To ease indigestion, nervousness, depressions and headaches.
- Green tea: headaches, body aches and pains, digestion, depression, immune enhancement, detoxification, energizer.
- Passion flower: Combats heart palpitations, anxiety, convulsions, high blood pressure.
- Clover: Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diuretic, cleansing, to treat eczema/psoriasis.
- Mint: For indigestion, muscle relaxation of the digestive tract.
- Lavender: Anti-stress, to combat headaches related to stress or depression.
Note: You should check your country’s law first if you decide to use them for Amsterdam-style purposes to avoid getting into any issues.
Check out Storz & Bickel’s website for more information about their products and learn about cooking with vapor. Or give Solwe’s website a regard if you’re interested for an affordable portable solution to test some of the previously listed herbs.