An Introduction To Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, or essential oil therapy, refers to a range of traditional, alternative or complementary therapies that use essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds. They've been used for nearly 6,000 years, with the aim of improving a person's health or mood.

A range of essential oils have been found to have various degrees of antimicrobial activity and are believed to have antiviral, nematicidal, antifungal, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties. Aromatherapy applications include massage, topical applications, and inhalation.

However, users should be aware that "natural" products are also chemicals, and they can be hazardous if used in the wrong way. It is important to follow the advice of a trained professional when using essential oils.

Using A Diffuser

A range of essential oils may help boost health and well being. It is normally used through inhalation or as a topical application.

When employing inhalation, the oils evaporate into the air using a diffuser. Apart from providing a pleasant smell, aromatherapy oils can provide respiratory disinfection, decongestant, and psychological benefits. Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain connected to smell, including the nose and the brain. Molecules that enter the nose or mouth pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body.

As the molecules reach the brain, they affect limbic system, which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance. In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the body.

Using Oils Topically

Topical applications, like massage oils, are for absorbing the oils through the skin. Massaging the area where the oil is to be applied can boost circulation and increase absorption. Some argue that areas that are richer in sweat glands and hair follicles, such as the head or the palms of the hand, may absorb the oils more effectively.

Note: Essential oils are never applied directly to the skin. They must always be diluted with a carrier oil. Usually, a few drops of essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil is the concentration. The carrier oils we currently carry are Fractionated Coconut Oil and Organic Jojoba Oil. However, other common carrier oils are sweet almond oil or olive oil.

How to do an Allergy Test

Always do an allergy test before trying a new essential oil.

  • Dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil at twice the concentration you plan to use

  • Rub the mixture into an area the size of a quarter on the inside of the forearm

If there is no allergic response within 24 to 48 hours, it should be safe to use.

Some people report developing allergies to essential oils after using them many times before. If a new allergic response appears, the individual should stop using it immediately and avoid its smell.

To achieve a 0.5 to 1 percent dilution, use 3 to 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier. For a 5 percent dilution, add 30 drops to one ounce of carrier.

A maximum concentration of 5 percent is generally considered safe for adults.

Ingesting, or swallowing, essential oils is not recommended. Taken by mouth, the oils can damage the liver or kidneys. They can also lead to interactions with other drugs, and they can undergo unexpected changes while in the gut.

Benefits

Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. It does not provide a cure for diseases, rashes or illnesses, but it can support conventional treatment of various conditions.For example, a eucalyptus vapor bath may relieve symptoms of a cold or flu.

Aromatherapy has been shown to reduce:

  •     Nausea

  •     Pain and body aches

  •     Anxiety, agitation, stress, and depression

  •     Fatigue and insomnia

  •     Muscular aches

  •     Headaches

  •     Circulatory problems

  •     Menstrual problems

  •     Menopausal problems

  •     Alopecia, or hair loss

There are many, many different oils and they all have different uses and effects.

  • Rosemary essential oil may promote hair growth, boost memory, prevent muscle spasms, and support the circulatory and nervous systems.

  • Black spruce essential oil is rich in monoterpenes that give this oil its anti-inflammatory and analgesic, mucolytic & respiratory therapeutic effects. It is antiseptic and expectorant and therefore is ideally used for many respiratory issues.

  • Black pepper essential oil is commonly used for stimulating the circulation, muscular aches and pains, and bruises. Combined with ginger essential oil, it is used to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility.

  • Cedarwood essential oil may improve inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, promote hair growth, and soothe a dry scalp. It has natural antiseptic properties and may bring arthritis relief. Finally, it's a natural deodorizer, natural sedative, and a natural diuretic.

  • Chamomile essential oil can treat eczema.

  • Cinnamon essential oil uses and benefits include boosting heart health. Also when used in food, cinnamon oil adds sweetness with no added sugar, which is great for curbing sugar cravings. When used topically, cinnamon oil can help with infections like toenail fungus and with common skin problems like acne.

  • Citronella essential oil is a relative of lemongrass and acts as an insect repellent

  • Clove essential oil is a topical analgesic, or painkiller, that is commonly used for toothache. It is also used as an antispasmodic antiemetic, for preventing vomiting and nausea, and as a carminative, preventing gas in the gut. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-fungal properties.

  • Eucalyptus essential oil can help relieve the airways during a cold or flu. It is often combined with peppermint. Many people are allergic to eucalyptus, so care should be taken.

  • Geranium essential oil can be used for skin problems, to reduce stress, and as a mosquito repellent.

  • Jasmine essential oil has been described as an aphrodisiac. While scientific evidence is lacking, research has shown that the odor of jasmine increases beta waves, which are linked to alertness. As a stimulant, it might increase penile blood flow.

  • Lavender essential oil is used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns and to enhance relaxation and sleep. It is said to relieve headache and migraine symptoms.

  • Lemon essential oil is said to improve mood, and to help relieve the symptoms of stress and depression.

  • Lemongrass essential oil is used as aromatherapy to relieve muscle pain, externally to kill bacteria, ward off insects, and reduce body aches, and internally to help your digestive system. It can also be used for flavoring tea and soups, and it adds fragrance to cosmetics, soaps, and homemade deodorizers.

  • Peppermint essential oil is considered one of the best essential oils for allergies because of its expectorant, anti-inflammatory and invigorating properties.

  • Sandalwood essential oil is believed by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.

  • Sweet orange essential oil is also good for nourishing dry, irritated and acne-prone skin when mixed with a carrier oil and used as a cream or ointment. It also may be used effectively for a refreshing treatment of calluses on your feet. The orange promotes a feeling of happiness and warmth when used in aromatherapy.

  • Tea tree essential oil is said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities. It is commonly used in shampoos and skin care products, to treat acne, burns, and bites. It features in mouth rinses but it should never be swallowed, as it is toxic.

  • Thyme essential oil is said to help reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.

  • Yarrow essential oil is used to treat symptoms of cold and flu, and to help reduce joint inflammation.

Remember that oil for a massage will be mixed with a carrier oil that dilutes the oil and provides lubrication.