BROOKSVILLE — When Rebecca Park Totilo discovered a spot on her face that looked suspicious, she thought about what she had gone through before when skin cancer was removed from her arm.
"He really dug deep and left an ugly scar, so when I saw this place develop on my skin that wasn't healing, I knew I didn't want him to cut my face up and leave another scar," Totilo said about her doctor's procedure.
She wanted to try something different and prayed about it.
"I felt the Lord impress on me to put myrrh on it," Totilo said "Myrrh has constituents in it known to heal cancer. I didn't know this at the time."
She applied a blend of myrrh and olive oil to the spot. Within 10 days, it was gone.
That was about six years ago.
Recently, Totilo, 48, has been sharing her knowledge about essential oils and their practical uses in workshops at the Rising Sun Cafe in Brooksville. She hopes to do more in-depth teaching there with an eight-week course that will begin soon, probably in August.
Totilo, based in St. Petersburg, was already a national speaker and the president of her "Rebecca at the Well" ministry when she had her experience with the myrrh. As a student of the Bible, she had come across mentions of oils.
"The Song of Solomon talks about a lot of the fragrances, so I began to really look at their spiritual significance in the Bible and their symbolism," Totilo said.
After her face healed, she decided to look into it further.
"That gave me the idea that there must be a lot more to the fragrances in the Bible than I knew about," Totilo said. "I began to do research and I came across an essential-oil kit that had some of the fragrances in the Bible, and I began to do a study on them."
Totilo found more than a thousand references to essential oils and plants in the Old and New Testaments.
"The Bible mentions over 33 species," Totilo said.
She learned that aromatic plants, herbs and oils have been used for incense, perfume and culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years by many cultures.
What she found about their healing properties led her to add her knowledge about healing oils to her work.
Totilo has written Heal With Oil: How to Use the Essential Oils of Ancient Scripture and Healing Oils of Ancient Scripture, as well as several other books.
She believes God created the oils for healing purposes.
"The priests of biblical times used therapeutic-grade essential oils in the temple service," Totilo said.
According to Totilo's Web site, during biblical times, essential oils were inhaled, applied to the body and taken internally.
"The benefits extended to every aspect of their being physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally," the site says. "(King) David alluded to this in Psalm 51:7 when he wrote, 'Purge me with hyssop and I will be clean: Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.' People of the Holy Land understood the use of essential oils in maintaining wellness and physical healing, as well as the oils' ability to enhance their spiritual state in worship, in prayer and confession, and for cleansing and purification from sin."
Totilo believes that modern science bears out her claims and "is proving these purely natural oils are more effective than some antibiotics, as they successfully treat a host of diseases."
She said she reads about new findings almost daily on the Internet.
"Within the writ of scripture we find the Cohanim, the apothecaries of their day, were the guardians of the recipe of the holy anointing oil," Totilo says in a press release. "Within this framework we find how the biblical oils were created to keep us healthy. These antiquated remedies, that have been lost for centuries, still harness the power to heal today."
Totilo said that most information available on essential oils "leans on the New Age side," which she does not endorse or promote.
"But I do believe it's for the church," she said. "I think we've lost the connection of what God gave us and what he originally intended to be for healing."
On her Web site and at her workshops, Totilo sells essential oils, which range from $6.95 for one oil to a sample kit for $49.99 and a large kit for $159.99. The kits include 12 5ml bottles of pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil mentioned in the Bible. Fragrances include: spikenard, frankincense, myrrh, cypress, onycha, galbanum, cassia, hyssop, aloes/pomegranate, cinnamon leaf, myrtle and cedarwood.
Totilo's books on healing oils are also for sale.
She is also the author of several inspirational books including Through the Night With God, His Majesty Requests, The Christian Kids Gardening Guide, The Official Christian Babysitting Guide and Loving Others Do-Votionals. She contributed to Quiet Moment With God Devotional and Stories for the Teen's Heart 2, both series selling more than 1 million copies each.
The Rebecca at the Well Foundation educates from a Hebraic prospective. Totilo is available to speak and has spoken in churches and synagogues in the United States and Canada and over the radio, and she and has appeared on several Christian television networks, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network.