Aromatherapy…It All Makes Scents
Aromatherapy practitioners around the world know that when a certain scent is inhaled, it can bring relief to a list of ailments. The essential oils can also be used on the skin when diluted in a carrier oil.
At the heart of aromatherapy is the natural essential oils. These extracts are distilled from the leaves, barks, fruit, flowers and resins of the plant. There are more than 1000 essential oils on the market. Essential oils are not to be confused with fragrance oils. Fragrance oils such as Honeysuckle and Lily of the Valley are chemically derived in a lab. They are not natural, and should not be used in aromatherapy practices.
Essential oils are very potent herbal healing medicine. They are complex and can contain up to 300 natural chemical compounds. These natural compounds are the properties that heal.
An essential oil is up to 100 time stronger than the herb that it came from, so it’s best to you only a couple of drops at a time. More does not mean better.
Not all flowers and plants can be made into essential oils because they can’t be distilled or extracted. These include honeysuckle. Lily of the Valley, apple, strawberry, berry and lotus. These are synthetics, and are made from chemicals.
Essential oils are always sold in a dark glass bottle to protect them from light. These bottles include amber brown, green, cobalt blue, and sometimes purple. If the oil is not in a dark bottle, it is not a true essential oil.
Aromatherapy…A Brief History
Aromatherapy has been used for centuries. Cleopatra used jasmine, which is a strong aphrodisiac to seduce Marc Antony. Ancient Chinese woman carried fans that were carved from the sandalwood tree. In India, women would wear five different essential oils to induce arousal in their mates.
While aromatherapy had been used by many cultures, over many years, the term was not coined until 1928. During a lab experiment, French scientist Rene-Maurice Gattefoss burned his arm. He dipped hi arm into a bowl of what he thought was water. It turns out, it was lavender, and it helped to heal his burned skin.
Choosing Your Essential Oils
Let’s start out with a fact; There is NO such thing as “therapeutic grade” essential oils. This is a term that the multi level marketing companies came up with to sell oils. All essential oils are made the same way. Most are steam distilled, while others are cold pressed. As long as they are pure essential oils, they will work well for you. Another fact that these companies proclaim that is incorrect: An essential oil should never be ingested. Period.
With hundreds of essential oils on the market, it can be hard to know which one to buy. Some sell for a minimal price of $8.00 like peppermint, to the more exotic oils like sandalwood, rose and jasmine. Jasmine can sell at almost $800 an ounce.
Although aromatherapists, and perfumers work with hundreds of essential oils, you need just a few on hand to fill your needs. Once you get the hang of mixing oils, you can add more to your inventory.
Once you are a seasoned veteran (and some might say addict) of using and mixing essential oil, you will be able to make your own perfumes, body washes, and other personal care items.
Relaxing Lavender Room Spray
It is easy to make, and will help you sleep well.
You will need:
- 1 spray bottle
- 4 ounces of water
- 4-6 drops of lavender essential oil
Combine ingredients into the bottle. Shake well, and spritz onto pillow or into the air. Spray may stain some fabrics.
If you choose just one essential oil, lavender would be the top pick. Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) is like having a medicine chest in a tiny bottle. Most lavender comes in a half ounce size, and runs about $12.00. It is one of the safest oils to use, and is one of the few oils that can be used directly onto the skin.
Most other oils have to be diluted in a carrier oil or other base to be used.Lavender has been shown to relieve depression and anxiety associated with PMS, and menopause. It can be used to treat migraines, insomnia and exhaustion.
When used in a massage oil, lavender can help relive sore muscles, and helps to relive menstrual cramps. Massage into the area, and let lavender do it’s work.
Lavender is also used for relaxation. If you are feeling anxious, add a couple of drops to a tissue and breathe in slowly.
Clary sage (Salvia sclerea)is distilled from the leaves and blossoms of the plant. The essential oil has the power to help ease mild depression, and can help relieve post partum depression in some women. It can help to give feelings of happiness and well being.
Problems with PMS? Mix clary sage with a little lavender, chamomile and geranium essential oil, it makes a great belly rub massage oil to ease menstrual cramping. Be sure to dilute it into a carrier oil.
For menopause, it helps to cool those unwanted hot flashes. Used in a spray, it can help to lessen the severity of hot flashes.
Women who have trouble with uterine fibroids, or breast cysts should not use Clary sage essential oil for long. Clary Sage has an estrogen effect on the body, and can cause these symptoms to worsen.
Invigorating Room Spray
Need an afternoon pick me up at the office? Here is a great mix that you can keep at your desk. Just spray a little into the air for a quick brain energizer.
You will need:
- 1- 8 ounce bottle
- 8 ounces of water
- 5-6 drops orange essential oil
- 2 drops peppermint essential oil
Mix all ingredients into bottle. Shake well. Spray away from face. Do not spray onto clothes, as it could stain.
Orange is one of the least expensive essential oils you can buy. Orange is a mood lifting, and can help to relieve fatigue.
A study done in Japan showed that people who inhaled the citrus scents, were able to lessen their doses of antidepressant medications.
Orange, or other citrus scents can be used in a bath to rejuvenate. Place a few drops into the bath. You can also use the inhalation method by dropping a couple of drops onto a tissue. The scent of citrus can be used as an afternoon pick me up.
Be Sure To Dilute
Essential oils are the volatile oils that come from the plant. They are strong, and should always be well diluted. Many, like peppermint, can cause burning to the skin.
For use on skin, it is best to dilute into a carrier oil such as sweet almond, or sesame. Jojoba also makes a wonderful carrier oil. Use 2- 4 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Always be sure to do a 24 hours skin patch test to check for allergies.
To use in a bath, dilute about 20-25 drops. For tissue inhalation, only use about 1-2 drops.
The exceptions to the dilution rule is lavender, which can be applied straight on the skin. Tea tree, in certain circumstances, can also be use neat.
Another commonly recommended essential oil for women is chamomile. Chamomile essential oil is used for stress, anxiety and used to calm over stimulated nerves.
Chamomile is also a wonderful oil for the skin. Chamomile is also thought to be a natural antiseptic, and chamomile oil was used as an antiseptic and a disinfectant in hospitals and doctors’ offices until World War II.
When diluted into a carrier oil, chamomile can be used as a massage oil for body soreness.
Peppermint, like the citrus family, is a mood and energy lifter. Peppermint can be used with the inhalation method, or put into a bath. You can also sprinkle a couple of drops into a blocked tub as you shower in the morning.
When diluted into a massage oil, peppermint can help to relive sore muscles. Peppermint acts as a rubefacient, meaning it brings heat to the surface.
Carrot seed essential oil is a wonderful oil for the skin. It nourishes and helps balance skin tones. It can be used for both oil, as well as dry skin types. Carrot essential oil can help heal damaged skin and also benefits aging skin.
Dilute a few drops into a carrier oil. Place just a dab onto your face and neck. You can use both at night, and during the day under any make up.
Tea tree comes from the Melaluca tree. It has a very powerful, almost medicine like scent. There has been much research on tea tree over the years.
Due to it’s anti-fungal, antibacterial actions, tea tree can be used to cleanse bites, scrapes and minor wounds. It also is very useful for purifying the skin.
To make a tea tree cleanser, dilute 4-6 drops of tea tree into witch hazel. Cleanse the area well, and bandage if necessary. Tea tree can also be used in making all natural cleaning products around the home.
Rose is one of the most expensive oils you can buy. A 1/8 ounce bottle of rose otto can cost upwards of $85.00. Rose absolute is about $60. Rose otto is the better of the two oils.
Rose helps to dispel fear and tension. It is very helpful in times of anxiety, stress and even grief. It brings a sense of harmony to the wearer.
Rose can be utilized with the inhalation method. It can also be diluted into a carrier oil as a wonderful massage oil. It is very often combined with other relaxing oils.
Rose is very beneficial to sensitive, delicate and aging skin.
Ylang Ylang is extracted from the flower of the cananga tree whose name means “the flowers of flowers”. It has a very sweet scent, and is used in making many perfumes.
Ylang Ylang, when blended into a massage oil has said to be used as an aphrodisiac for women, and men.
It’s scent elevates your spirits when you are feeling down. Just inhale a couple of drops placed onto a tissue, and inhale a few times. Be careful not to use ylang ylang essential oil too much. It can cause headaches and nausea.
Lemongrass essential oil has a wonderful sweet odor. It is very reminiscent of a breeze. It is a very relaxing on the mind, as well as the muscles.
When diluted into an oil, lemongrass can be very useful in relieving tension in knotted muscles. Drop about 10 drops into 4 ounces of oil, and massage into area. Feel the muscles loosen as you massage.
Lemongrass essential oil is also has great cleansing and astringent benefits for your skin. Dilute about 5 drops into 2 ounces of witch hazel, and use as a daily facial cleanser. It will help tone skin. Lemongrass is also an ingredient in skin care preparations.