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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Use of Itr (Essential Oils) by Ashraf Dockrat

The Use of Attar (essential oils)




In a hadīth we read that the Prophet SAW is reported to have said: “From the things of your world, women (wives) and perfume are beloved to me and the comfort of my eye is the Salāh”. The pious say that “A pleasant Attar perfume The use of Itr/Attar is an established sunnah practice of the Prophet Muḥammad SAW strengthens the intelligence and increases virility”. When Sayyidinā ʿAlī radiallahu ʿanhu offered fragrance to anyone and if he refused it, he would say: “Nobody but a donkey refuses the favour (of Allah).



Ṭibb incorporates the use of fragrant oils to treat imbalances. The natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant are used. The inhaled aroma from these "essential" oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. Today aromatherapy is gaining momentum. It is used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function. There are several approaches to utilizing aromatic oils for therapy. The purpose of the application in Ṭibb in not to use the essential oil for its medicinal action per se, but rather as an effective method to quickly adjust the subtle essences of the humors.



There are a wide number of essential oils available, each with its own healing properties. The oils most commonly used are rose, violet, jasmine, frankincense, myrrh and chamomile. The oil may be used for massage in pure form or mixed with sweet almond or olive oil as an extender. For emotional and mental applications, apply one or two drops of the oil to a small piece of cotton about the size of the thumbnail. Roll the cotton into a small ball and insert into the ridge (not the ear canal) of the right ear. The cotton may be placed in place for one to three hours.



Attars or essential oils may also be burned on self igniting charcoal. A few drops ignited on the charcoal will scent a small room with fragrance for about twenty minutes.



The oils have qualities associated with them. Listed below are some of the common aromatherapy oils with their respective qualities.



AROMATHERAPY OIL DOMINANT SUBDOMINANT

Chamomile (Dry & Hot)

Lavender (Dry & Hot )

Lemon grass (Dry & Hot )

Eucalyptus (Hot & Dry)



Sanguinous



Phlegmatic

Ylang-ylang (Cold & Moist)

Grapefruit (Cold & Dry)

Bergamot (Cold & Dry)

Rose (Cold & Dry)



Sanguinous



Bilious

Eucalyptus (Hot & Dry)

Rosemary (Hot & Dry)

Anise (Hot & Dry)

Cinnamon (Dry & Hot)



Phlegmatic



Sanguinous

Eucalyptus (Hot & Dry)

Rosemary (Hot & Dry)

Anise (Hot & Dry)

Cajuput (Hot & Dry)



Phlegmatic



Melancholic

Rosemary (Hot & Dry)

Cinnamon (Dry & Hot)

Chamomile (Dry & Hot)

Lavender (Dry & Hot)



Melancholic



Phlegmatic

Clarysage (Hot & Moist)

Peppermint (Hot & Moist)

Chamomile (Dry & Hot)

Lavender (Dry & Hot)



Melancholic



Bilious

Ylang-ylang (Cold & Moist)

Jasmine (Cold & Moist)

Fennel seeds(Cold & Moist)

Coriander oil (Cold & Moist)



Bilious



Melancholic

Ylang-ylang (Cold & Moist)

Jasmine (Cold & Moist)

Fennel seeds (Cold & Moist)

Rose (Cold & Dry)



Bilious



Sanguinous





There is a difference between commercial perfumes and ittar. Alcohol is a common solvent for most perfumes and causes the perfume to evaporate much faster- sometimes upto as much as 10 - 15 times faster. This causes the first impression of the perfume to be overwhelming to human senses, but it soon evaporates and loses power. Given its natural derivation, ittar lasts a long time. Body heat only intensifies its smell. Another major difference between synthetic perfumes and ittar is that the oil-based ittar is worn directly on your body. The inside of the wrist, behind the ears, the inside of elbow joints, back of the neck and a few other parts of your anatomy are directly dabbed with ittar.



A small drop is enough to be used as a fragrance on the body. A few drops can be added to water and used with aromatic vapour lamps. A few drops of some ittars are used with cold drinks, such as milk, to give fragrance.



Numerous varieties of attar are available for use through the year. One should use attar appropriate to the season and in accordance with ones temperament. This is a very important consideration and people are generally unmindful of this when using attars. Remember that your attar not only affects you but also those around you. You should therefore consider carefully and chose the appropriate attar to wear.

Ittars can be classified as “warm” or “cool”.

Warm Ittars' – Ittars such as Musk, Amber, Kesar (Saffron), Oud, Hina are used in winters, they increase the body temperature.



Cool Ittars' – like Rose, Jasmine, Khus, Kewda, Mogra, are used in summers and are cooling for the body.

Chameli can be used at any time of the year.



We will now mention some details regarding some of the more common itr.



Amber

Oil of amber (kahrabah in Persian) or liquid amber, as it is sometimes called, is derived from a species of pine tree (Picea succinfera). Many people have had contact with amber stones and beads, and it is this same basic substance that is used in healing. But the stones have hardened for several million more years than the resin, which is used to manufacture the oil.



There are only three locales in the world where authentic amber can be found. Its colour varies anywhere from a light, translucent pink to a heavy, dark brown. When we realise that the essential sap of these trees, to become amber, has been preserved for one to six million years, we understand that we are tapping into a very ancient healing energy.



Some people use the sap from trees and distill out the essence. But others, realizing this ancient energy within, prefer to grind down the stones into powder and then heat it to revive the essence. This latter form of amber is better for healing but very very difficult to locate.



Amber is recommended specifically for any kind of disease or problem associated with the heart. While the rose is considered the Mother of Scents, amber is called the Father (or King) of Scents.



An excellent method of using Amber is to put one drop on the tip of the finger and apply it to the point of the “Third Eye” (not in the physical eyes, of course). This is absorbed by the body and stimulates the pineal gland, which activates many of our physiological functions.



Frankincense

Frankincense is hot in the second degree, but is not quite so hot as amber. It is a little less drying, too. Frankincense is also a very powerful cleanser of the aura and psychic planes



Myrrh

Myrrh is hot and drying. There are several varieties but those from Tunis and Morocco seems to be of the finest quality.



Violet

Violet is cold and moist in the first degree and can thus be considered mild in its action. Violet leaves, flowers and oils are used in a great number of healing formulas.



Sandalwood

Sandal is cold and dry in the second degree. The best and most famous oil of sandal comes from Mysore, India. It is used in many conditions, frequently for genital and urinarly tract infections. Sandal is also used as a base oil into which other oils are extracted or blended. It is a very good base because it evaporates very slowly and does not spoil over time. In fact aged sandalwood is better than fresh.

Sandalwood is recommended whenever serious meditation and spiritual practices are being undertaken, because it is quieting to all of the egotisms of the body, especially those relating to sexual urges.



Musk

True musk oil is derived from the glands of a kind of deer, found only in remote regions of the world. Musk is hot and dry. Musk has been used in medicine particularly in healing heart and sexual problems.



Rose

Rose is cold and dry in the second degree. There are perhaps three hundred different species of roses used in aromatherapy. The finest and most expensive is said to be the Bulgarian rose. Others consider the first pressing rose oils from India to be superior to the Bulgarian rose. It requires 60 000 pounds of rose petals to produce one kilogram of first pressing rose oil.

The rose is the most superior of all scents in the floral realm. Rose works simultaneously on the physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies, purifying and uplifting all three. It is the least toxic oil. One can make a delicious summer drink by adding rose oil to water.



Jasmine

Jasmine is cold and dry. The flowers of jasmine are cold but the essential oil is heating. This is an important consideration: that not all substances work in the same way in all forms, just as water and ice are chemically the same but quite different in their effects. It is also true that flowers and their oils do not work in the same way in humans as they do in animals: what is heating to a human may be cooling to a fish. This fact makes random experiments on animals a questionable practice at best. The special quality of jasmine is its unparalleled ability to uplift the mood and lessen mental depression.



Hina

Hina (pronounced heena) is the oil extracted from the flowers of the henna plant. Hina is very difficult to find and is considered one of the finest and most refined oils in the world; and its price reflects that too. It is usually aged over a long period of time and it improves with aging. The curious thing about hina (and of some other oils as well) is that the liking for its fragrance is an acquired one: many people on first smelling find it repulsive.



ʿŪd

The rare and costly oil known as ʿūd is taken from the wood of the aloeswood tree. The best ʿūd comes from India. Its cost can be high but those familiar with its effects do not find the price a consideration. ʿŪd is hot and dry in the third degree. Oudh oil is used in traditional medicine for a number of purposes, including to help in childbirth. Breathing the smoke from the burning wood will help with respiratory problems, colds, coughs and asthma. The oil has been used to help sufferers of rheumatism, as a stimulant and a tonic combined with other ingredients. It helps lift the spirit and boosts energy levels.



It is necessary to mention here that women going out from their homes should not use attar in a way that its fragrance attracts the attention of others. Attar may be used by them in the confines of their homes. The instructions of the sharīʿah in this regard are clear. “Rasulullah(S) says: “Any woman, who perfumes herself and leaves the house, is deprived from the blessings of the Allāh until she returns home.”





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