Aromatherapy has been around and has been practised in one form or another since the beginning of civilisation. It is the art, and science, of using oils extracted from aromatic plants to enhance health and beauty. Apart from the physical benefits, essential oils can have subtle effects on the mind and emotions. The essential oils taken from plants and used in Aromatherapy have been described as their "life force" - they are essential to the plants' biological process, as well as being the substance which gives them their scent. Synthetic oils, even if chemically similar, will lack all the natural elements, and that vital life-force, that make essential oils so valuable therapeutically.
Another reason why synthetic oils are not acceptable is that the minor constituents are never identical. The addition of synthetic chemicals is not normally disclosed in the essential oil business, so unless there is a declaration that the oils are natural, pure and unadulterated, assume otherwise.
Essential oils are extracted from flowers; herbs; spices; woods and fibres, usually by distillation, statement and solvent extraction. Solvent extraction is only acceptable for aromatherapy if the solvent used is completely removed after the manufacturing process.
How to use the oils
Think of the Whole Person
This is the most effective method of using the oils, combining their properties with the therapeutic power of touch. The oils should not be used undiluted, but should be diluted with an odourless carrier oil, such as grapeseed, sweet almond or peach kernel. A dilution of 3% essential oil to carrier oil is a recommended starting point. (Less if using on sensitive skin such as babies). This is approximately one drop essential oil to two millilitres of carrier oil. (6 drops in two teaspoonfuls). But in all cases less can be definitely more!
Contrary to popular books, essential oils are not absorbed through the skin. Saying that oils go through the skin is a myth that needs to be exposed. Just because some books have said that oils go through the skin does not make it so. There is no scientific evidence that oils are absorbed through the skin and then into the bloodstream. Sylla Shepperd-Hanger in the book "The World of Aromatherapy" has shown that there is _no_ evidence, from proper aromatherapy experiments that have the person having the oils put on the skin and have a seperate air supply, that significant components of the oils go through the skin.
Dermatologists who have done similar experiments also show that oils do not go through the skin. "Some" chemicals in EOs do show up in the blood in very small amounts but is is not proven that the amount is of thereaputic value.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and is designed to keep out contaminants not let them in. Medical patches use specially designed synthetic compounds to go through the skin. It has been shown that those oils that do have penetrative affects are also those that are likely to be sensitisers or irritants thereby showing that the skin is working in stopping contaminents getting through the skin.
Using oils in baths is a simple, effective and pleasant way to relax and receive the therapeutic effects. - Water itself has therapeutic value which enhances the powers of the oils. To use, add 6 to 10 drops of essential oil, (or a blend), to the surface of the water which has already been run, add no other substances, e.g. foam or bath oil, then immerse yourself for about 20 minutes, whilst you inhale the vapour.
(Again reduce the amount of oils used in baths for babies).
Take care with plastic baths as some oils may cause staining.
Add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to 100ml of warm water then soak a piece of clean cotton in the water, wring out the excess and place the cloth on the affected part.
Add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil into a bowl of steaming water, then place a towel over your head and the bowl and inhale the vapour for a few minutes.
All essential oils are antiseptic and evaporate easily, so they make very good air-fresheners. Different oils create different atmospheres, so experiment! For example, relaxing Sandalwood or Clary Sage are good for parties; or Peppermint clears your mind when you need to work. There are many vaporisers on the market, from the simple bowl of water on the radiator with a few drops of oil on the surface, to vaporiser light bulb rings and specially made vaporiser bowls which sit above candle holders. There is even the "Aromastone"TM which is an effective electric vaporiser dispensing fragrance from a low heat source, thereby making the water and the oils last longer than usual.
The best way of dispersing essential oils is to use a diffuser or the Aromastream TM, as most other forms of vaporiser drive off the most volatile "high notes" first, leaving the slowly evaporating "base notes" to linger.
Make your own distinctive "Natural" perfume by blending different oils. (Many commercial perfumes use synthetic concoctions for their scent.) Try experimenting with different combinations, which can be mixed with a carrier oil or non-fragrant alcohol.
STORING ESSENTIAL OILS
Because essential oils are affected by sunlight they should be sold and stored in dark glass bottles, with stoppered caps. Make sure that the cap is on securely and the bottle stored up-right in a cool dark place.
The oils should be stored out of sight and the touch of children. Remember that children, especially small ones, are very inquisitive. Never store essential oils in plastic bottles. Good Essential oils should keep for several years if properly stored, though the oils of orange, lemon and lime will not keep as long. Patchouli is at the other extreme and actually gets better as it ages.
MIXING ESSENTIAL OILS
It is strongly recommended that you use a dropper so that you can measure the actual number of drops easily. Use a different dropper for each oil to avoid cross contamination.
The Droppers supplied in bottles should be in different sizes according to the viscosity of the different oils. Good internal droppers have a grove on one side. With the grove uppermost you will get a "slow drip", with the grove downward you will get a "fast drip".
***Aromatherapy: A Mixture of Recipes***
Make Your Own Bath Salts
Soak in this relaxing bath to sooth soar, aching muscles. Great after a hard day. Add the following essential oils to a mixture of fine rock salt, sea salt and cornstarch.
cedar: 2 parts
cypress: 2 parts
lavender: 2 parts
lemongrass: 1 part
Here is a very simple Facial Mask
Take 2 teaspoons of Honey add 1 drop essential oil, stir, apply to face and neck. Leave on 15 minutes, rinse off with cool water. Some oils to use are Geranium, Lavender, Carrot Seed.
A carrier oil is so named as it acts as a vehicle to carry the essential oils contained in them into the body. The best carrier oils are fresh vegetable oils that have not been chemically treated. They are therefore more perishable than supermarket oils and should be refrigerated.
Earth Bath Salts
1/2 cup epsom salts
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup rock salt
1/2 tsp vitamin E
2 tsp light oil (almond, sunflower...)
20 drops Patchouli essential oil
15 drops Cypress essentail oil
5 drops Vetivert essential oil
Green Food coloring
Mix all salts & baking soda together. Then combine oil, essential oils, vitamin E & a few drops of coloring in a seperate bowl. Add liquid to salts and mix thoroughly. You can add more green food colouring if desired, but I find it nicer when it's a very light green as it does not look as artificial.
To use: Add a few heaping tablespoons to bath.
2 cups soap flakes or grated soap
1 gallon water
1/4 - 1/2 cup glycerin
2 cups shampoo or liquid dishwashing detergent
Scented oil of your choice
Mix the soap flakes, water and 2 tbsp glycerin in a pot and set over low heat, stirring occasionally until the soap has dissolved. (This liquid soap can be stored in a covered container and used as an all-purpose soap or hand soap in the kitchen.) In a bowl, add 2 cups of this mixture to the rest of the glycerin, shampoo and add a few drops of your scented oil. Put into a quart container and store covered at room temperature. When you're ready to bathe, add about one cup to your tub as it's filling.
Add herbs to your tub by either making an infusion of them and adding directly to the bath water, or putting the herbs into a muslin bag and tie it directly under the tap as the water is running. You can also add scented oil to the mixture if you want to. Here are a few ideas for herbs to use:
Chamomile - soothing and cleansing
Comfrey - rejuvenating
Lovage - deodorizing and cleansing
Lady's mantle - soothes skin irritation
Black tea - relieving sunburn pain
Mint - soothing and relaxing
Lavender - relaxing and aromatic
Below is a list of things that you can do with your essential oils, outside of "natural beauty". So, if you are asking yourself why would you buy Lemon Essential Oil for your Lip Balm, and then use it for what? Then read on. You'll see that there are plenty of other ways to use your oil!
Fifty Ways to Use Essential Oils
1. For good smelling towels, sheets, clothes, etc., place a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto a small piece of terry cloth and toss into the clothes dryer while drying. Add 5 drops essential oil to 1/4 cup fabric softener or water and place in the center cup of the washer.
2. Potpourri which has lost its scent can be revived by adding a few drops of essential oil.
3. Add a few drops of oil to water in a spray bottle and use as an air freshener.
4. Add a few drops essential oil to a pan of water and simmer on a stove or in a potpourri pot.
5. To enjoy a scented candle, place a drop or two into the hot melted wax as the candle burns.
6. To dispel household cooking odors, add a few drops of Clove oil to a simmering pan.
7. For tired aching muscles or arthritis aches, mix 1 part Cinnamon, Sage and Basil oil to 4 parts Sweet Almond or other vegetable oil and use as a massage oil.
8. Ease headache pain by rubbing a drop of Rosemary or Lavender oil onto the back of your neck.
9. To blend your own massage oil, add 3-5 drops of your favorite essential oil to 1 oz. Sweet Almond or other skin-nourishing vegetable oil.
10. Add 10 drops of essential oil to a box of cornstarch or baking soda, mix very well, let set for a day or two and then sprinkle over the carpets on your home. Let set for an hour or more, then vacuum.
11. To make a natural flea collar, saturate a short piece of cord or soft rope with Pennyroyal or Tea Tree oil, roll up in a handkerchief and tie loosely around the animal's neck.
12. Shoes can be freshened by either dropping a few drops of Geranium essential oil directly into the shoes or byplacing a cotton ball dabbed with a few drops of Lemon oil into the shoes. Athlete's foot? Tea Tree is great!
13. Put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball and place it in your vacuum cleaner bag. Lemon and Pine are nice. Rose Geranium helps with pet odors.
14. To fragrance your kitchen cabinets and drawers, place a good scent dabbed on a cotton ball into an inconspicuous corner.
15. Are mice a problem? Place several drops of Peppermint oil on a cotton ball and place at problem locations.
16. The bathroom is easily scented by placing oil-scented cotton balls in inconspicuous places, or sprinkle oils directly onto silk or dried flower arrangements or wreaths.
17. Apply true Lavender oil or Tea Tree oil directly to cuts, scrapes or scratches. 1 or 2 drops will promote healing.
18. Homemade soaps are pleasant and offer therapeutic effects when scented with essential oils. Use soaps which contain pure essential oils.
19. Homemade sachets are more fragrant when essential oils are blended with the flowers and herbs.
20. An essential oil dropped onto a radiator scent ring or light bulb scent ring will not only fill the room with a wonderful fragrance, but will also set a mood such as calming or uplifting.(Don't put essential oil in the socket.)
21. A few drops of your favorite oil or blend in the rinse water of your hand washables makes for pleasant results.
22. Anise oil has been used by fishermen for years. Use a drop or two on the fingertips before baiting up. Anise covers up the human scent that scares the fish away.
23. Essential oils or blends make wonderful perfumes. Create your own personal essence! Add 25 drops to 1 oz of perfume alcohol and allow to age for two weeks before using.
24. To dispel mosquitoes and other picnic pests, drop a few drops of Citronella oil on the melted wax of a candle or place a few drops on the Bar-B-Q hot coals.
25. 1 drop of Lemon essential oil applied directly to a wart is an effective means of elimination. Apply the essential oil daily until the wart is gone.
26. Rosemary promotes alertness and stimulates emory. Inhale occasionally during long car trips and while reading or studying.
27. Selling your home? Fragrance sells! Fill the kitchen area with the aroma of spices such as Clove, Cinnamon and Vanilla. Simmer a few drops of the essential oil of Cinnamon, Nutmeg andother spices. Geranium oil sprinkled throughout the home creates awarm, cheerful and inviting mood. Add Cinnamon oil to furniture polish and wipe down the wood.
28. Add essential oils to paper mache. The result is the creation of a lovely aromatic piece of art.
29. Infuse bookmarks and stationery with essential oils. Place drops of oil on paper and put them in a plastic bag. Seal it and leave overnight to infuse the aroma. Send only good news in perfumed letters.
30. Neck pillows, padded and decorative hangers makemore memorable gifts simply by putting a couple of drops of essential oil on them before giving.
31. Overindulge last night? Essential oils of Juniper, Cedarwood, Grapefruit, Lavender, Carrot, Fennel, Rosemary andLemon help soften the effects of a hangover. Make your own blend of these oils and use a total of 6-8 drops in a bath.
32. Essential oils of Vetivert, Cypress, Cedarwood, Frankincense and Myrrh all make wonderful firewood oil. Drop approximately 2-3 drops of oil or blend of your choice on a dried log and allow time for the oil to soak in before putting the log on the fire.
33. Flies and moths dislike Lavender oil. Sprinkle iton the outside of your window frames.
34. Place 1 or 2 drops of sleep enhancing oils such as Chamomile, Lavender or Neroli on your pillow before retiring for restful sleep.
35. When moving into a new home, first use a waterspray containing your favorite essential oils and change the odorous environment to your own. Do this for several days until it begins to feel like your space.
36. Ideal scents for the bedroom are Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender or Lemon.
37. One drop of Lemon essential oil on a soft cloth will polish copper with a gentle buffing.
38. When washing out the fridge, freezer or oven, add 1 drop of Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Bergamot, Tangerine or Orange essential oil to the final rinse water.
39. For burns or scalds, drop Tea Tree oil or Lavender oil directly on the effected area.
40. Place 1 drop of Peppermint oil in 1/2 glass of water, sip slowly to aid digestion and relieve upset stomach.
41. Use 1 drop of Chamomile oil on a washcloth wrapped ice cube to relieve teething pain in children.
42. Six to eight drops of Eucalyptus oil in the bath cools the body in summer and protects in winter.
43. Add 1 drop Geranium oil to your facial moisturizer to bring out a radiant glow in your skin.
44. Place 1 or 2 drops of Rosemary on your hair brush before brushing to promote growth and thickness.
45. When the flu is going around add a few drops of Thyme to your diffuser or simmer in a pan on the stove.
46. To bring fever down, sponge the body with coolwater to which 1 drop each of Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Lavender oils have been added.
47. The blend of Lavender and Grapefruit oil is good for the office. Lavender creates a calm tranquil atmosphere while Grapefruit stimulates the senses and clears up stale air.
48. A blend of Geranium, Lavender and Bergamot alleviates anxiety and depression. Use in a room diffuser or 6-8 drops of this blend in the bath.
49. A wonderful massage blend for babies is 1 drop Roman Chamomile, 1 drop Lavender, 1 drop Geranium diluted in 2 Tablespoons Sweet Almond oil.
50. 1 drop Peppermint oil diluted in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil rubbed on the back of the neck helps to relieve headaches.