Here is the run down on Essential Oils and Aromatherapy courtesy of www.OrganicAromas.com
Check out our for mamma’s section for all our Eco Modern Essential oils and candles
This is a great read and extremely comprehensive, I hope this enlightens you and enhances your understanding of Aromatherapy:
Aromatherapy is made up of two words: aroma and therapy. An aroma is a noticeable and generally pleasant smell, and therapy is a treatment for a mental or physical illness. Therefore, aromatherapy is technically a treatment for an illness using a noticeable and pleasant smell. Let’s look at this process a little bit deeper.
Aromatherapy is known as the practice of using pure and natural essences that are extracted from different plants to improve a person’s health or mood. It is a form of alternative medicine that can help in healing without prescription medications or invasive medical treatments. According to Gabriel Mojay, a good definition of aromatherapy would be, “The controlled use of essential oils to maintain and promote physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing.”
While researchers are still unclear on just how aromatherapy works, studies show that inhaling certain scents that are derived from essential plant oils can stimulate chemicals in the parts of the brain that control emotions and retrieve memoires. Many times, these chemicals can cause relaxation, stimulation, or contentment, depending on the scent used and the desired effect. Some forms of aromatherapy are topical, which means that the essential oil is applied or massaged directly onto the skin. Other forms use inhalation methods where the essential oil is breathed in. Some specific essential oils can be directly ingested in very small and diluted quantities, but professional supervision is recommended
A Holistic Approach
When a therapeutic intervention encompasses and treats the mind, body, and spirit, it is known as a holistic treatment. One might remember holistic better when considering that it is the whole person that needs assistance. Many believe that if one part of a person’s psyche is out of tune or unsteady, then the entire person will be off-balance. Therefore, only a holistic treatment of all parts can adequately produce the desired healing effects that can come from an intervention, such as aromatherapy.
Over the years, holistic treatment has been practiced and encouraged in many different forms of therapy, including behavioral and cognitive interventions. Treating the person from the inside out has been effective for many psychologists and counselors and used in a wide array of commercial, medical, and recreational methods worldwide. In aromatherapy, the aromatic substances from plant-based essential oils are used to promote healing of the body, but they are also used to help with ailments of the mind and spirit.
An Aroma By Any Other Name Is Not The Same
Though you might see products such as lotions, sprays, and bath products that profess to be used for aromatic purposes, the basis of aromatherapy uses only pure essential oils to promote wellness. Though these other products might smell wonderful and make you feel energized, relaxed, or amorous, they are not technically used for aromatherapy. Some actually do contain essential oils and are a good consideration for personal use, but they cannot fall under the umbrella of an authentic therapeutic product.
Some products labeled for use in aromatherapy might contain unnatural or synthetic fragrances that claim to be therapeutic, but are only a poor imitation as synthetic fragrances or other man-made ingredients are discouraged. Only true, naturally extracted, aromatic plant oils fall under official aromatherapy guidelines and are used to produce a healing effect.
There are also products on the market that are sold as fragrance oils and others that are labeled as all-natural. These are not products that would be used in aromatherapy as they are not the same as pure essential oils. Unless it is purely derived from plant extracts, it cannot produce the desired result that aromatherapy is grounded in.
The Natural Road To Health And Wellness
Aromatherapy is used by people who want to heal through the most natural intervention possible. Treatment is based on the entire person, not just the underlying symptom. People who have debilitating physical illnesses often suffer from anxiety or depression, and aromatherapy can stimulate healing of both the physical and mental ailments at one time.
Balancing the body’s natural abilities is what makes healing and wellness attainable. Aromatherapy has not only been gaining in popularity due to an increase in educators and providers, but it has also gained more scientific support in recent years. This further shows the importance of warmly treating the whole person, and not just coldly treating a disease or ailment.
THE HISTORY OF AROMATHERAPY
As we have previously discussed, aromatherapy is a type of alternative medicine. It uses essential oils that are derived from plants to promote physical, mental, and spiritual healing. Aromatherapy treats the whole person, not just the illness or symptom that is making them feel poorly. Though it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when aromatherapy was first used, or where it first originated, there are many signs that point to many different regions and civilizations of the world where it was used in some way.
The Egyptians had many remedies for different types of illnesses that are very similar to treatments used in aromatherapy today. They were the first to use unique extraction and distillation methods to acquire essences, oils, and aromatics. Many of their aromatics, such as cedar wood, cinnamon, and clove, were used mainly for embalming and preserving the flesh of the dead. Some essences, such as frankincense and myrrh, were used to create incense that was burned as an offering to the sun god and to the moon.
The Egyptians were also known to use essential oils that were massaged into the skin after bathing. Though there is limited knowledge to explain if they used aromatherapy the way it is used today, the Egyptians are still one of the first ones to use plant extractions for health purposes, dating back to about 1555 BC
The History of Aromatherapy
Ancient China And India
The Chinese were using aromatics around the same time as the Egyptians, possibly even as far back as 2700 BC. Though they did not have any notable extraction methods like the Egyptians, they burned incense to promote mental clarity and improve overall well-being. The Chinese also used over 300 types of plants and herbs as medicine.
For over 3000 years, traditional Indian medicine has practiced holistic healing using aromatics and infused oils as part of a healing massage. It is also noted that sandalwood was first used in this culture to treat and heal wounds.
The Greeks And The Romans
The Greeks took a lot from the Egyptians and expanded the knowledge to use aromatic oils for cosmetic purposes. An oil blend created by a Greek perfumer was used to treat inflammation and heal wounds, and Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” used fumigations and herbal medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Many of the early Greek remedies are still used in aromatherapy today.
The Roman Empire took from the Greeks and the Egyptians and expanded their knowledge. Dioscorides wrote a book about the medicinal properties of over 500 plants and worked toward distilling methods, but was only able to distill floral waters as opposed to essential oils. Since Rome was well-known as the bathing capital of the world, remedies and extractions became very popular for massaging into the skin after extravagant baths.
Through The Early Centuries
Essential oils became widely used as the process of distillation was finally discovered and perfected. The first distillery came in the 11th century by a Persian named Avicenna. The method was expanded through the 12th century, when the first lavender was distilled for medicinal purposes, and into the 13th century, when pharmaceuticals originated.
In the 14th century, Black Death sickened and killed millions of people, and essential oils with antiviral and antibacterial properties were used to help fight the disease.
In the 15th century, more essential oils were discovered and distilled for their healing and therapeutic properties, such as juniper, sage, rosemary, rose, and frankincense. All of these oils are still used today in aromatherapy
Through the 16th and 17th centuries, the first apothecary shops opened. They offered more essential oils that were specifically created to heal certain ailments and were widely available for purchase.
In later years, it was discovered that the people of South America, the Aztecs, and North American Indians had all used plants, herbs, and extracts for medicinal purposes. But it wasn’t until the 20th
century that French chemist Rene’-Maurice Gattefosse’ finally began researching the properties of pure essential oils and created what is known today as aromatherapy.
The Father Of Aromatherapy
Rene’-Maurice Gattefosse’ first discovered the healing attributes of lavender oil when he applied it to his skin after he was badly burned during an experiment. He was amazed at how quickly the burn healed and this led him to explore the medicinal uses of different essential oils. He published a book called Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles Hormones Végétales and the English translation gave birth to the term aromatherapy, which is still used today. Attributes of Gattenfosse’s work remain true in today’s aromatherapy practice; he was a firm believer in pure oils, he opposed synthetics, and he supported the medicinal benefits of essential oils.
Advancements in medicine in the mid-to-late 20th century put a crimp in the use of essential oils for healing, though they were still widely used for their aromatic benefits. However, in recent years, people have begun to turn away from modern medicine and return to their roots, seeking pure and natural alternative therapies. For this reason, aromatherapy has gotten more acclaim and risen in popularity.
Essential oils are widely available today, as are aroma therapists and other professionals who can administer and treat the whole person using classic methods of aromatherapy and extractions of the past.
What Is Aromatherapy Used For?
Aromatherapy is used to treat many different illnesses and is administered in many different settings by different types of skilled people. Professional aroma therapists, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and massage therapists are just a few that can provide treatment when it comes to inhaled or topical aromatherapy treatments. When it comes to oral administration of essential oils, only a specially trained professional can provide this type of treatment.
Your provider will speak with you about your ailment or illness and ask you a variety of questions that will give them a better idea of what scents and administration type will work best for you. You can let your practitioner know what scents you enjoy, as well as what scents might carry a negative significance for you. Aromatherapy works best when the treatment is a positive one, without scents that might trigger a negative memory or response.
Who Uses Aromatherapy
There are many ways in which aromatherapy can assist people who suffer with illnesses of the body and of the mind, from general depression to cancer. A few of the ailments that can benefit from the use of aromatherapy include:
• Alopecia (hair loss)
• Muscle aches
• Circulation problems
• Trouble with digestion (GI issues)
• Menstrual and Menopausal problems
• Skin disorders (itching, psoriasis)
• Body aches and pain (rheumatoid arthritis, cancer)
Some of these ailments might be comorbid, meaning that they occur at the same time, independently of each other. Or, one might be direct a symptom of another. Some symptoms in the body can occur at the same time as other symptoms in the mind. But all of them can benefit from aromatherapy.
Though headaches on their own do not cause depression, some people who have severe headaches can suffer from depression due to many factors, such as a reduced quality of life from having to undertake so much pain. Therefore, treating a headache with a certain type of essential oil can not only help with pain management, but also help person cope with the depression that accompanies the pain.
Another example of related illness is someone who suffers from extreme stress. Since there are many disorders that can come from being stressed, such as digestive issues, anxiety attacks, and insomnia, a person who uses aromatherapy can find relief from all of their symptoms once they treat the initial component of stress.
Those who are going through treatment for cancer or kidney dialysis might have muscle aches or skin rashes, depending on treatment type. The right aromatherapy treatment plan can not only help ease some of the pain associated with the disease itself, but also the pain and irritation that comes as a side effect of the treatment.
The Many Benefits Of Aromatherapy
The most common uses for aromatherapy are to improve mood, relieve stress, promote relaxation, and fight pain. But there are other ways in which aromatherapy can be beneficial. Though there are studies that support the evidence, some people react differently to different interventions and oils. There is a lot to be said about belief in treatment. If you keep yourself open to the possibilities, the more likely that aromatherapy can work for you.
The most widely used form of aromatherapy is for stress reduction. People can even do this at home, since there are several different oils that are easily found and commonly used. As long as the oils are pure and purchased from a trusted source, using them topically or inhaling them can be beneficial. The benefits of stress reducing scents include easing anxiety, calming tension, and soothing the mind. Popular oils used for this include ylang-ylang, lemon, lavender, orange, and bergamot.
People who suffer from memory loss find benefits from aromatherapy. While there is currently no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, aromatherapy is often a suggested method of alternative medicine that can slow down the progression of the condition. People without these conditions, like students and professionals, can also benefit from a boost of cognitive memory capacity through aromatherapy. The most commonly used oil for memory enhancement is rosemary or sage.
Natural Energy Boost
When most people need a boost of energy through the day, they rely on extra cups of caffeine, energy pills, or other unnatural substances that can stimulate the nerves and have damaging long-term effects on the body. Aromatherapy can increase circulation, raise energy levels, and stimulate the body and mind naturally. Many essential oils can help with this, including clove, rosemary, tea tree, cinnamon, and jasmine.
• Pregnant women who were treated with aromatherapy by qualified midwives found that they needed less pain medication during labor and deliver when using rose, lavender, and frankincense oils.
• One study showed that using Neroli oil during aromatherapy helped reduce anxiety in peoplepreparing for a colonoscopy.
• Oils such as citrus can strengthen the immune system, while oil of peppermint can ease stomachupset and aid in digestion.
• For women who are in the throes of PMS or menopause, fennel, anise, and sage have estrogen-likecompounds that can ease symptoms.
• Oils like tea tree and eucalypts have been proven to have strong anti-bacterial and anti-viralproperties and can potentially help with skin ailments and respiratory illness.
The bottom line is, the more you learn about aromatherapy and essential oils, the more you’ll see that they can be used for a variety of reasons, in a variety of healing and helpful ways.
All About Essential Oils
What are essential oils? Essential oils are found in nature; they are contained in the parts of a plant, flower, seed, or tree that give them their distinctive scent. When you smell a lilac in the springtime, you know that you have seen the last of the winter blues. While walking in the woods, you know the smell of the damp moss before you even see it. What you smell is the essential oil deep inside the plant. These smells can work for pollination purposes to attract bees and other cross-pollinating insects, or as a form of protection to keep destructive insects away and to keep other vegetation from growing too close.
The Molecular Structure
Essential oils are volatile aromatic compounds. These compounds consist of small molecules that can change quickly from solids or liquids to gas once they reach room temperature or are stimulated in some certain way. This is why your holiday pine tree smells even stronger once you let it warm up inside your home. Essential oils can spread quickly through a room, enter your body, and begin to sooth or energize you within minutes, which is why they are ideal for use in aromatherapy.
Every oil has over one-hundred components, but some have close to one-thousand. The molecular structure that makes up the oils is completely unique to nature. No matter how many times scientists try to replicate the oils in a lab, they can never get an identical oil; the healing properties are never replicated to have the exact effect. This is why it is so important to avoid synthetics and stick with oils that are purely derived.
Methods Of Extraction
There have been many different ways of extracting essential oils over the centuries. Some methods are very time consuming, some are expensive, but many are still used in some manner today. The following methods can all produce essential oils, but they do not produce oils of a true therapeutic-grade.
• Solvent Extraction
• Percolation and Fractional Distillation • Carbon Dioxide Extraction
• Phytonic Process
Today, there are only two methods that technically produce real therapeutic-grade essential oils:
• Cold Expression of Oils. This is used when the oils are extracted from the rinds of citrus fruits. This process is all natural and uses no heat or solvents.
• Steam Distilling. The most popular way to extract essential oils, this method has been around for hundreds of years and is still widely used today. Steam is used to get the plant to release its essential oil, then the steam and oils are carried to a condenser that separates the water from the oil. The oil that remains is the concentrated essential oil that is used for therapeutic purposes. The water portion is called hydrosol (or flower water). Hydrosol contains all of the same plant essences, but in a milder form. Hydrosols can be used for skincare, tonics, mists, and can even be used in beverages and cooking in some limited cases.
What Are The Most Common Scents The most common scents for essential oils are:
This is one of the most popular oils sold today. It smells amazing, is effective for relieving stress and insomnia, fights colds and flu, and holds many antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
As an all-purpose oil, rose helps treat a variety of issues, form depression to heart problems to asthma. It is also a great skin conditioner and can soothe the nerves.
It has a strongly sweet, flowery fragrance that relieves stress and can be used as an aphrodisiac. It can also be used to sooth headaches, nausea, and skin conditions.
Known as a mental stimulant, rosemary will lift your mood, enhance memory, and improve focus. It is also effective for soothing aching muscles, headaches, and stimulating hair growth on the scalp.
This oil can pep you up and energize you, but it can also give you a break when you feel overwhelmed. It is good for aiding in digestion and it reduces congestion.
Another very popular oil, tea tree is known for its many healing properties, from boosting the immune system to fighting infection. It is amazing for healing skin conditions such as burns, cuts, athlete’s foot, and nail fungus. Plus, it’s a natural insect repellent.
What About Organic Oils?
There is much to be said about eating foods that are grown organically without the use of pesticides. But when it comes to essential oils, are organics better than non-organics?
Actually, most of the plants that are used for essential oils can protect themselves from disease naturally, so pesticides are not usually needed. But, on the off chance there is a fungal outbreak that requires them, it is important to note that the chemical residue left behind on the plant is made up of large molecules and large molecules will not distill. Only the small molecules of the essential oils will distill and remain for use.
There is a lot more that goes in to the quality of an oil than whether or not it was exposed to pesticides. How the plant was grown, harvested, extracted and distilled play a large part. Even organic plants can produce low quality oils due to poor distilling methods. The important thing to remember is that you should buy your oils from a genuine, reputable distributor who provides pure oils that are properly extracted
How Do Essential Oils Enter The Body?
There are three main ways in which essential oils can enter the body:
Inhaling them through the Absorbing them through the skin Ingesting them orally nose and mouth
Inhalation and absorption are the most common methods, while ingestion of essential oils is not recommended unless under the direct supervision of a qualified professional.
The Science Behind Inhalation
This is the most common way that essential oils enter the body. The science behind inhalation begins with molecules. When the molecules in the oils meet with the mucus membranes in your nose, wonderful things begin. The receptors in your mucus membranes take the smell, identify it, and send sensory stimulation messages to your brain. Your brain will then process the messages and decide if this is something familiar, or something totally new, and react physically and emotionally.
Depending on the scent and the amount of oils used, the overall effect can be anywhere from soothing to energizing. How you react also depends on what areas of the brain are stimulated to secrete hormones, such as pain blockers and immunity boosters.
Inhalation also means that the molecules can get into your lungs; specifically into the alveoli, which are microscopic sac-like clusters where gases can be exchanged with the blood. When the essential oil molecules are passed into the bloodstream, they reach the central nervous system quickly and can continue to produce the desired stimulating effects.
Relief From Certain Health Issues
Though there are many health issues that can be potentially alleviated through the use of inhalation of essential oils, the most common ailments include:
• Respiratory illness and congestion • Sinus pain and pressure
• Depression and grief
• Anxiety and stress
Typically, the oils used to treat sinus issues are eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint. Lemon, peppermint, and tea tree oils are used for respiratory problems. Lavender, clary sage, and ylang-ylang work well for those who suffer with insomnia, while emotional problems such as anxiety and depression are often treated with bergamot, lavender, rose geranium, ylang-ylang, and chamomile.
Once the right oil is chosen for the right symptom and inhaled, the body will react fairly quickly. As previously mentioned, the brain will discover which chemicals to excrete to provide relief. Pain blockers can help with sinus pain, immunity boosters can work toward healing infections, the release of certain chemicals in the brain will help you fall asleep easier, and endorphins are released to help you relax under stress. This is why it is important to find the right essential oil to do the right job in your brain and body.
Different Inhalation Methods
There are several methods of inhaling essential oils, such as: • Directly from the bottle
• Oil placed on a cotton ball or handkerchief • Using an inhaler
• From a diffusing necklace
• Diffusing into the air with an aroma diffuser • Steam inhalation
The method of choice really depends upon personal preference and what is available to you in the moment. For those who get anxiety in public places, a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball or handkerchief would be discreet enough to calm nerves without drawing attention. In a moment when one needs a quick fix at home, opening the bottle and taking a sniff is a good choice. Necklaces can be worn throughout the day while at work or school to keep a consistent level of aroma without being overbearing. Using a diffuser is an excellent choice when trying to set a consistent mood at home, and steam inhalation is perfect for sinus pain and congestion.
The Science Behind Absorption
When essential oils are rubbed onto the body, the molecules are small enough to pass through the outer layer of skin. For this method, essential oils must be diluted into a carrier oil before they are applied. The oil molecules pass through the deeper skin layers and there they pass into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, much like the inhalation method, the brain and central nervous system can be stimulated to produce the desired effect; from pain blocking neurochemicals to relaxing endorphins and more.
Essential oil molecules can pass through certain openings in the skin with ease, such as sweat glands and hair follicles, making the scalp and feet common entry points. Circulation rate and the warmth of the skin can factor into how quickly the molecules can be absorbed, so it is common that the absorption method is used with therapeutic massage. The larger the area being covered, the higher the absorption rate.
Treatment For Health Issues
Though there are many health issues that can benefit from the use of absorption and massage, the most common ones include:
• Muscle aches
• Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
• Joint pain
• Muscle spasms
• Treatment of injuries; sprain, strains • Reduction of inflammation
• Headaches and migraines
The typical essential oils used in massage to treat the various ailments above often include lemon, sandalwood, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender.
When there are cuts, scrapes, or abrasions on the body, oils can be absorbed easily. There are many essential oils that have antifungal and antibacterial properties, so it would be effective to use one such as tea tree or peppermint on a wound or rash to promote healing.
Though oral ingestion is one way to get essential oils into the body, it is not only the least effective way, but the least recommended. The oils need to pass through the first half of the digestive system before being absorbed into the bloodstream. The oil molecules can become altered by the digestive material in the body, and what’s left will be excreted through the body’s natural elimination pathways.
Do not take essential oils orally unless under direct supervision of a medical doctor who also has clinical experience with aromatherapy.
There’s more to essential oils than just a good scent. Like everything else on the planet, essential oils are made up of molecules. It’s these molecules that enter the body through the skin or mucus membranes that trigger healing responses in the brain. The structure of the molecules has just about everything to do with the way they work and how they can take us from tense to relaxed with just a sniff.
The Molecular Makeup
Believe it or not, essential oils are scientifically complex. We know a lot about the components that make up these plant-based oils; enough to know how to make synthetic versions of the oils in a lab. However, scientists still have not been able to create an exact replica. Synthetic, or man-made, oils can smell sweet, but cannot achieve the same healing effects of a natural oil.
Essential oils are mainly made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen that combine together to make hundreds to thousands of molecular compounds. These compounds determine what therapeutic effects the essential oil has on the human mind and body. There are secondary elements in the oils, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus and chlorine as well as trace minerals such as zinc, iron, iodine, bromine, fluorine, and selenium. These do not have an effect in how the oils work, but are good nourishment for the skin.
The molecule compounds made up of hydrogen and carbon together are:
• Monoterpenes – Found in almost all essential oils, there are antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties across the spectrum (some found in more than others). They help restore information to cellular memory and can have a stimulating effect. They also balance out other compounds found in the oils. Examples: grapefruit, frankincense, tangerine.
• Sesquiterpenes – This is the largest group of terpenes in the plant kingdom. They work to delete old information from cellular memory and can extend the aromatic half-life of smaller molecules. They also contain anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. Examples: sandalwood, cedar, chamomile, and myrrh.
• Diterpenes – Contain same general properties of sesquiterpenes, but with heavier molecules. Example: clary sage.
The molecular makeup of oxygenated compounds and how they affect the brain and body are as follows:
• Esters – Fragrant and fruity, these compounds are used in aromatherapy for sedative and antispasmodic effects. Some have anti-fungal properties. Examples: geranium, orange, neroli. • Aldehydes – With uplifting and energizing scents, these are highly concentrated oils
that should be used in low quantities. They are also used for their disinfectant properties. Examples: citronella, lemongrass, lemon, melissa.
• Ketones – Some specific ketones can be toxic, but there are many therapeutic benefits such as mucus easing and skin cell regeneration. Examples: rosemary, thyme, hyssop.
• Alcohols – These oils have good antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal properties and can create an uplifting effect. Some versions can stimulate the liver and glandular system and are anti-inflammatory. Alcohols are generally non-irritating and can be the most therapeutic of all essential oils. Examples: rose, geranium, lavender, juniper, german chamomile.
• Phenols – Full of antiseptic and antibacterial compounds, these also have a stimulating effect. Phenols are highly concentrated, so a little bit goes a long way. They can be very irritating to the skin if not diluted properly. Examples: clove, wintergreen, oregano.
• Oxides – The main use of this compound is as an expectorant. Used mainly for soothing and healing respiratory issues. Examples: eucalyptus.
Why It’s Important
Using only pure, plant-based essential oils will give you the best chance at achieving the health benefits they can give you. Many essential oils have the antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral abilities to kill many microorganisms that can cause infection and make you sick. In fact, the chemistry of the essential oil is complex enough to keep the microorganisms from mutating, much like they do with synthetic substances and antibiotics on the market today. Knowing that they have these complex structures can help you understand just how beneficial to your health they can be.
Is it important to know the molecular structure of your essential oil before you use it? Yes and no. If you don’t know what compound gives lavender its healing properties, you’ll still benefit from using it to soothe your stress. But, for aroma therapists and other professionals who use essential oils in treatment, knowing which compounds work for certain ailments can help in understanding what oil to use to produce the desired effect on a client. And you, armed with the knowledge that exact replication of essential oil molecule chains is impossible, will know to purchase your oils from a reputable source who deals only with naturally and responsibly extracted, plant-based oils.
Sometimes you can find all you want in a single oil, such as lavender or tea tree. But sometimes, you’d like to make a blend that you can customize for a specific purpose or scent. There are hundreds of botanicals to choose from, so you have an opportunity to create something unique to your needs. But before you throw a bunch of oils together and hope for the best, there are a few guidelines to help you embark on your essential oil blending journey.
Playing The Notes
When it comes to scent, there are three classes of notes: top notes, middle notes, and base notes. Each do their own special thing when combined in a scent.
Top notes are light and fresh, but will only last for an hour or so because they tend to evaporate quickly. Top note oils include lemon, peppermint, basil, grapefruit, and bergamot.
Middle notes arrive once the top notes disappear. They last between two and four hours and are fairly strong. Middle note oils include tea tree, rosemary, jasmine, rose, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clary sage.
Base notes are revealed when the top and middle notes have dissipated. They last the longest and can take a few days to dissolve. They are the heavy-hitters and include rich oils like patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, ylang-ylang, and ginger.
Know Your Categories
There are a few different categories of scents. They include:
• Floral; lavender, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang • Woodsy; pine, cedar wood
• Earthy; oak moss, patchouli
• Herbaceous; rosemary, basil
• Minty; peppermint, spearmint
• Medicinal; eucalyptus, tea tree
• Spicy; clove, cinnamon, nutmeg
• Oriental; ginger, sandalwood, hinoki • Citrus; lemon, grapefruit, lime
Some of the categories blend together very well, such as:
• Floral: woodsy, spicy, and citrus
• Woodsy: earthy, herbaceous, minty, medicinal, spicy, citrus • Earthy: woodsy and minty
• Herbaceous: woodsy and minty
• Minty: citrus, earthy, herbaceous
• Medicinal: woodsy
• Spicy: floral, oriental, citrus
• Oriental: woodsy, spicy, citrus, floral
• Citrus: floral, minty, spicy, oriental
Some examples of blends you can make are:
• Grapefruit (top note, citrus); rose (middle note, floral); and ginger (base note, oriental)
• Spearmint (top note, minty); rosemary (middle note, herbaceous); and cedar (base note, woodsy) • Lemon (top note, citrus); nutmeg (middle note, spicy); and ylang-ylang (base note, floral).
Already Blended For You
If you’re short on patience, time, or resources, you might want to consider buying a few pre-blended essential oils that have already been created. The time and effort has already been put into these blends to create special scents that can do a plethora of amazing things. A few blends to consider are:
• Burglars is a blend that contains a variety of essential oils known to stimulate the body’s natural immunity, reduce sickness, and fight infections. They can keep airborne germs and insects at bay while protecting the skin and purifying the air. This blend is anti-everything; antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, astringent, antioxidant, anti-parasitic.
• Purity blends promote well-being while refreshing the mental and spiritual energy around you. It can relieve stress and stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal and calm. Purity has antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, antiseptic and immune stimulant properties. It is often used as a natural method for keeping mosquitoes and insects away.
• Passion is a mood enhancer and aphrodisiac. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant properties that can promote wellness and encourage a feeling of euphoria. This blend has also been known to reduce stress levels and improve moral.
• Butterflies Breath uplifts and elevates, making it perfect for a party or just a romantic evening. The blend of essential oils can enhance intimacy as it promotes relaxation, encourages blood flow, and improves overall health and wellness.
• Energy does just as its name suggests by stimulating you mentally and physically. It boosts energy levels and increases alertness while improving morale. It’s a great headache reliever and can reduce fatigue and depression, making it an overall winner for invigoration.
Essential Oil Recipes
For those who are looking to experience amazing scents and take advantage of the ways that essential oils can work for your health and well-being, consider a few DIY projects that can bring them into your life on a daily basis.
Essentially, A DIY Toothpaste
There are plenty of reasons why a homemade toothpaste can be beneficial to you and your family. Ever read the label of a toothpaste tube? If you can pronounce more than one ingredient, you’re lucky. There are so many chemicals and unstable ingredients in standard toothpaste, it can make your head spin.
Making your own toothpaste is one way to say no to the artificial and embrace the natural. The essential oils used in the toothpaste have antibacterial properties that will keep your mouth clean and fresh. You can experiment with your own recipes, but here is one to get you started.
• 1⁄2 cup coconut oil
• 2 – 3 Tablespoons baking soda
• 2 small packets of powdered stevia
• 15 – 20 drops of essential oil (peppermint, orange, cinnamon, spearmint, grapefruit;
the choice is yours)
Soften or melt the coconut oil. Mix in all other ingredients until fully incorporated and place in a small jar. Dip in your toothbrush and brush the germs away naturally!
Make Your Own Steam Inhaler for Congestion
Nothing is worse than the feeling of a congested head or chest. When you can’t smell, or even breathe, life is pretty miserable. Since essential oils can help relieve congestion and open up your breathing pathways, try a DIY recipe the next time a cold or flu comes your way.
To inhale steam that is full of essential oils, get a large, clean bowl and set it on a counter, table, or other stable area. Add the following essential oils to the bowl:
• 2 drops peppermint oil • 2 drops rosemary oil
• 1 drop clary sage oil
• 3 drops eucalyptus oil • 1 drop lavender oil
If using only one or two of these oils, increase amounts to equal about 8 – 10 drops of essential oil.
Fill your teakettle and bring the water to a boil, or run your tap water until it reaches maximum heat. Trans- fer the hot water to the bowl, being careful not to get scalded by the water as you pour. Drape a towel over your head to keep the steam concentrated in one area and inhale the steam through your nose and mouth for as long as you feel like doing it, or until the steam runs out.
Antibacterial Hand Soap That’s Good For You
There has been a movement against antibacterial hand soap in recent years. This stems from the fact that these soaps use a chemical called triclosan, which has been found to be harmful.
Why not get the protection you need by making your own hand soap for staying clean and healthy? All you need is a container with a pump (found at most home stores, or clean out and reuse one that you already have) and a few simple ingredients.
• 1⁄2 cup liquid castile soap (unscented)
• 1⁄2 cup distilled water
• 1 tablespoon jojoba, sweet almond, or olive oil
• 15 drops tea tree oil
• 5 – 10 drops lavender oil or another fragrance you enjoy
Add water to the dispenser first, then add the soap, and then the oils. Shake the ingredients together. Adjust consistency and use as needed.
For a foaming DIY soap, use a foaming dispenser and add:
• 2 Tablespoons liquid castile soap
• 1⁄2 teaspoon liquid oil (olive, sweet almond)
• 10 – 15 drops essential oils of your choice
• About 12 ounces distilled or boiled water that has been cooled
Add water to dispenser leaving an inch of space at top. Add the soap and then the oils. Mix well and use
Making Perfume With Essential Oil
Why spend a hundred dollars on a bottle of designer perfume when you can make your own for less? Not only will it save you money, the perfume you make at home can be made without any chemicals by using all natural essential oils. Plus, you can mix and match to customize a blend that’s made just for you!
It really isn’t difficult to do. All you need are oils, alcohol, and a bottle for storage.
Remember how we talked about top, middle, and base notes? Your perfume should include at least one of each to be complete. Follow these basic guidelines to create your blend:
• 15 – 20 drops of a base essential oil (Ylang-Ylang, sandalwood, patchouli, ginger)
• 25 – 30 drops of middle note essential oil (rose geranium, lavender, chamomile, rosemary) • 10 – 15 drops of top note essential oils (basil, lemon, bergamot, grapefruit)
• 4 ounces alcohol (such as unscented white rum, vodka or plain grain alcohol)
Mix oils together and let them sit for a few hours to meld. Add the alcohol, cap tightly, and let the perfume sit for a couple of weeks (and up to a month) to intensify scents. Use as you would any regular perfume.
Essential oils are wonderful for many uses, but applying them directly to the skin is never a good idea. Because of their concentration and potency, essential oils applied directly to the skin can cause reactions such as irritation, redness, or burning. Essential oils must be diluted before they can be used on the skin, but what substance is best for dilution?
Though natural lotions and Aloe vera gels can be used, the most common way to dilute an essential oil is to use a carrier oil. Carrier oils are naturally extracted oils that do not evaporate and have a neutral smell. They are perfect for using with essential oils because the essence of the essential oil will come through over the carrier oil.
Different Types Of Carrier Oils
There is a difference between base oils and carrier oils. Base oils can be extracted from animals, while carrier oils are extracted from the fats of seeds, nuts, or kernels of a plant. Fish oil is considered a base oil, but would not be a carrier oil since it is not extracted from a plant. Plus, you would not want to use it with your essential oils due to its potent scent.
The most common types of carrier oils are those with the least scent, though some do have a slight fragrance. The most common carrier oils are:
Grape Seed Oil
Has a very light and thin consistency
that leaves a light, glossy film on the skin. The scent is light and sweet and it is used quite often in aromatherapy. The shelf life is rather short, between 6 – 12 months.
Sweet Almond Oil
Also known as almond oil, this is an affordable, all-purpose oil that has a shelf life of about 12 months. It has a medium to light consistency that absorbs well and the aroma is light and slightly nutty.
With a medium consistency, this oil has a more distinct scent that is slightly nutty. It is highly stable with a very long shelf life and it and absorbs beautifully into the skin without leaving a residue behind.
Though not as popular for use in aromatherapy, this oil does wonders for the skin and hair and can be found relatively anywhere. It is thicker with a stronger scent and does not absorb as well as other oils, but it does moisturize well and has a long shelf life of 1 – 2 years.
Because of its strong aroma, this oil does very well on its own. However, it is an excellent vehicle for certain essential oils due to its practically never-ending shelf life. This oil stays solid at room temperature, but melts easily and quickly with body heat.
Has a faintly sweet scent and a very thin consistency that absorbs well without leaving a residue. The shelf life is only about 12 months, but it is a great moisturizing oil.
There are plenty of other carrier oils out there; this is just a small sample. You can try sesame, hempseed, cocoa butter, and avocado oils (among others) so it’s best to do a little bit of research to find the ones that you like the best.
How To Use A Carrier Oil
Carrier oils are used as the perfect vehicle for your favorite essential oils when it comes to massage or general moisturizing. When deciding on the right oils for your needs, consider the shelf life. If you plan on using your oil as a daily moisturizer after a shower, you’ll likely use it faster, so an oil with ashorter shelf life (such as grape seed) is fine as it will get used up before it goes rancid. If you want anoil that is used for a massage every few weeks or so, consider an oil that has a longer shelf life, such as jojoba.
To get the perfect blend you desire, simply add several drops of your favorite essential oil to a bottle of the carrier oil of your choice. You can even mix a few scents and oils together to create a custom blend.
It is recommended for adults to aim for approximately 3% concentration (and perhaps only 1% for children or the elderly). A good rule of thumb to remember is that 1 milliliter equals approximately 20 to 25 drops. So this way, if you know how much carrier oil you have it is very easy to calculate how many drops of essential oil you will need.
Therefore, for a 100ml vessel of your favorite carrier oil at 3% concentration, requires approximately 60 to 75 drops of essential oil in total.
Using Carrier Oils For Massage
Some of the carrier oils that are best when used in a massage are those that are oily enough to help hands glide over the skin, but not greasy enough to leave a sticky film on your body afterward. Some of the more popular carrier oils to try include:
• Sweet Almond oil • Apricot Kernel oil • Jojoba oil
• Sunflower oil
• Coconut oil
Try adding relaxing and soothing essential oils to your massage to create an amazing experience: • Grapefruit
• Rose geranium • Bergamot
• Eucalyptus • Lavender
A massage can reduce anxiety and stress, help relax your body and mind, and promote healing of aches and pains. When you combine the right essential oil with the right carrier oil, the possibilities are endless.
The Safety Of Essential Oils
Essential oils have amazing healing effects, but they must be used properly. We’ve discussed many of the benefits of using essential oils, but are there any safety concerns?
It depends on the oil, how it’s used, and whom it is used on.
All About Ingestion
There are several schools of thought when it comes to ingestion of essential oils. The fact is, we are already effectively consuming some measure of various essential oils in our regular diet. So, the concern only really arises due to the powerful, concentrated nature of pure extracted essential oil. But what it comes down to is this; yes, there are a few essential oils that are considered to be safe for oral consumption according to the FDA. However, the need to ingest essential oils is questionable and requires consultation with a doctor or aromatherapy professional first.
Regardless, please follow these basic guidelines:
• Only use pure, high-quality essential oils
• Always use sparingly and ingest only a minuscule amount at a time
• Always dilute the oil in a substance such as water
• Never use oils that are not approved by the FDA as some oils can be very toxic when ingested
Some of the most common essential oils that are used for consumption include:
• Peppermint oil. Used to treat nausea, indigestion, colds, and irritable bowel syndrome.
• Lemon oil. Builds the immune system, cleanses the body, soothes upset stomach, and treats colds. It can also increase circulation and help the body fight disease.
• Grapefruit oil. Helps keep the kidneys clean and prevent the formation of stones. Can disinfect and eliminate kidney, urinary, stomach, and colon infections.
Despite the above, ingesting essential oils is not something we neither condone nor encourage. We imagine it can be effective in certain specific scenarios which will always include careful guidance from an experienced professional.
For Use On Children And Babies
There has been a lot of research on this issue, and it has been found that many oils are okay for use on babies and children. Diffusion is still the best method for essential oil use, but topical application over age two could be acceptable as long as you use the proper dilution in a carrier oil. Ingestion of essential oils is not recommended for babies or children. Common essential oils that can be used with children and babies include:
• Frankincense • Lemon
• Sweet Marjoram
• German Chamomile • Coriander
In addition to the above statements, there is no doubt that babies and children are much more sensitive than human adults. Therefore, the use of essential oils on or around babies and children should be in extremely (ultra) low amounts. Aromatherapy for babies and children requires utmost caution, prudence and care. Please consider first consulting an expert.
Safety Concerns During Pregnancy
Using essential oils during pregnancy is a controversial topic. Though there have been no reports of damage to a fetus when using essential oils for inhalation or topical application throughout pregnancy, there are some essential oils that are high in toxicity that should be avoided such as wormwood, oak moss, camphor, rosemary, wintergreen, myrrh, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.
There are many benefits that come from using certain essential oils when pregnant to help with nausea, sore muscles, stress, and anxiety. They can be used as part of a massage when diluted in a carrier oil, or they can be inhaled in a limited way using a diffuser or another recommended method. Oils that appear to be safe include cardamom, rose, sandalwood, rosewood, neroli, ginger, geranium, chamomile, grapefruit, lavender, ylang-ylang, peppermint oil, and patchouli.
In addition to this it is worth noting that there is some concern about certain natural hormones found in plants and how they might interact with the human body in general, and pregnant women more specifically. The cause for alarm is very low, but it is something to keep in mind. Due to the sensitive nature of a pregnancy please consider consulting your doctor first. Essential oils in very small amounts can no doubt have wonderful effects on an expectant mother’s mood, physical body or sense of well-being, but extreme caution and utmost prudence is always urged.
What About Using On Pets?
There is some concern that essential oils should not be used around cats. This is thought to be due to the specific terpenes found in essential oils like Tea Tree. Certainly this is the case for ingestion or topical application. Yet, people have found that tea tree diluted or in extremely small doses in washes or shampoos can be very effective against fleas and other parasites that can bother cats. Cats naturally have a heightened sensitivity and overexposure to essential oils can cause liver damage and other health problems. Though many people diffuse around their cats and have had no problems, there is still some risk. It is best to diffuse in a room that your cat does not enter, or use another personal method of inhalation to avoid potentially damaging exposure to your kitty.
Using essential oils with your dog is something that can be done under careful guidelines. Dogs can tolerate the compounds in many different essential oils, but it is important to remember that essential oils should always be diluted; even when diffusing. Since dogs have a heightened sense of smell, what does not affect a human can easily affect your dog in a negative way. Do not add essential oils to your dog’s food or water as oral administration is not recommended. When using as a topical, always dilute with a carrier oil.
Some oils that are safe for your dog include lavender, cardamom, fennel, frankincense, and spearmint.
For Topical Use
Essential oils are highly concentrated. That’s why you only need a few drops to produce a desired effect. Some essential oils can be applied to the skin without being diluted to promote healing from burns, rashes, nail fungus, and infections. Good choices include lavender, tea tree, melissa, and sandalwood. Others should never be applied to skin without dilution, such as cinnamon, clove, oregano, and thyme.
Using essential oils in a massage is one of the best ways to let them work in your body. When a few drops are mixed into a carrier oil, the effect can be anywhere from relaxing to stimulating.
Essential oils can be used in the bathtub since they will be diluted in the water, but only a few drops are needed.
There is a high risk of overexposure to essential oils for anyone regardless of whether they are being inhaled or used as a topical, even when diluted in a carrier oil. If one is inhaling highly concentrated doses of essential oil vapor continuously for a prolonged period, the result could be headache, nausea, or fatigue.
While the extent of the symptoms vary from person to person, personal constitution also plays a big role. Please do not underestimate the power and the concentration of pure essential oil. It can definitely make you feel queasy or have a headache from even a whiff straight from the bottle. When your desired scent or exposure level is attained, it is best to discontinue use of the oil.
Ingesting too much of certain essential oils can be dangerous and cause organ damage and illness.
Irritated, broken or damaged skin might be sensitive to certain essential oils, but other oils can be used to promote healing. The following essential oils can cause a skin reaction, ranging from slight color change to burning, when combined with too much sun exposure:
• Bitter orange • Angelica root
Always use essential oils according to proper guidelines to ensure complete health and wellness
Tools for Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy can be performed at home by taking a sniff of an essential oil right from the bottle. But when it comes to creating a lasting scent that can work on the mind and body for a long period of time, it is best to use a diffuser to get the scent out into the air at a slow and consistent rate. Though candles can create a nice scent, they are often made of synthetic ingredients and do not have the same effect as pure essential oils. Plus, you need to be very careful with the open flame.
Essential Oil Diffusers
An essential oil diffuser is a device that is used to disperse essential oils into the air around you. There are many different types of diffusers on the market and though they work in different ways, their main purpose is to fill your home with goodness. We’ll take a look at the most popular types of diffusers out there and explain how they work so you can decide which ones might work best for you
Stone And Terracotta Diffusers
Often, these diffusers look like small clay pots topped with a cork. When you pour the essential oil into the pot and recap it with the cork, the oils will diffuse through the stone and into the room. They are a low cost way to diffuse oils, but the scent is very strong when first filled and then slowly loses its potency. This would not be good for use in a place where consistent scent is needed.
This type of diffuser uses water and ultrasonic waves to diffuse essential oils into a room, creating a fine mist that can be inhaled safely and effectively. Since it uses water, you get the benefit of a humidifier should your home be very dry. This would be useful in wintertime, or if you are suffering from congestion or respiratory issues. Because the oils must be diluted in water, the concentration isn’t as high as it would be with other types of diffusers, but this can be an advantage when you want something subtle.
This is one of the more popular diffuser types due to its benefits. However, there are a few drawbacks. First, over time your essential oils can corrode the plastic parts of your diffuser. Second, you need to clean the diffuser on a regular basis to keep it functioning well. Third, the fact that you need to make a water-mixture is not only a hassle, it lessens the essential oil concentration. Fourth, the presence of an open vessel of water in your environment can easily spawn mold and fungus.
There are several reasons why this is the diffuser that the professionals use. The nebulizing diffuser is considered to be the most powerful type of essential oil diffuser on the market and is used by those who practice aromatherapy. Nebulizers are extremely easy to use, can be used with any type of oil, do not require heat or water, and release a steady and consistent stream of small essential oil particles into the air. If you are using your device for any kind of therapeutic effect, this is the one to get.
Nebulizers have timers that can be adjusted for your needs, making them convenient for overnight use. Though nebulizers can cost a bit more than ultrasonic diffusers (but not by much), they are the best choice for adding pure, unadulterated essential oils to your atmosphere. The advantage of having a consistent flow to promote healing and wellness is well worth the slight expense.