Aromatherapy is the art and science of using pure essential oils extracted from many parts of natural botanicals to enhance wellness of the body, mind and spirit. It is an all-encompassing treatment, and incorporates the senses of touch and smell. The chemistry of the essential oils interacts with our own chemistry to relieve stress, comfort the mind, balance emotions and support numerous physical ailments.
An essential oil is a concentrated, aromatic, volatile liquid composed of small oil-like molecules. They consist of a complicated combination of naturally occurring chemicals, which the plant itself produces through photosythesis. They are called essential ‘oils’ but in fact contain no fatty substances in the same way that, for example, almond oil does. Because they are volatile they do not create oil stains.
Essential Oil is created in small cavities in the cellular structure of plants, either in the roots, petals, seeds or peel (as in the case of citrus oil). The oil is extracted either by distillation or cold pressing. Essential Oils occur at different levels in different plants, with some plants producing more than others. For instance, 100 kg of petals are required to produce 20 ml of Rose Oil, while 100 kg of leaves will yield 1-1.5 litres of Peppermint Oil. This means that the cost of oils will vary but that doesn’t make Peppermint Oil less effective than Rose Oil.
- Diffuse: Add 5-10 drops of essential oil blend to the well of your aroma lamp. Be sure to add enough water. A ceramic ring is another alternative.
- Bath: Add 6-8 drops to bath water. Swish and mix oils or, better yet, dissolve in 1/4 cup milk or 1 oz of a carrier oil and then add to bath. Because essential oils are not technically ‘oils’, they should mix easily in bath water but dissolving first removes the possibility of an adverse reaction.
- Bath Salts: Add 3-6 drops to 1/4 cup sea salt and mix well. You may also use Epsom Salts. Dissolve salts in warm bath water and soak for 20 minutes.
- Salt Scrub: Add 1-2 tsp of olive oil, canola oil, sweet almond oil or any other vegetable oil to sea salt mixture above. Use during your bath to exfoliate and soften skin. Do not use on face!!
- Spritzers: To make a facial mist use 8-10 drops of essential oil per 4oz of distilled water or 25-30 drops per 4oz of body spray
- Massage/Body Oil: Add 6-10 drops to 1oz unscented oil. Try Sweet Almond or Grapeseed Oil.
- Body Lotion/Cream: Add 6-10 drops to 1oz of some unscented lotion.
- Perfume: Mix at least 25 drops of essential oils with 2 1/2 oz of pure grain alcohol.* Shake for a few minutes, then let sit for 48 hours (or up to 6 weeks – the longer it sits, the stronger the smell). Add 2 Tbsp distilled water, stir, then pour through a coffee filter and put it in a bottle. *Be sure to use pure grain alcohol from the liquor store.
- Compress: Add 3-6 drops essential oil to a bowl of warm water. Mix well. Saturate a washcloth and wring out then apply to the skin. Use the same dilution in a bowl of hot water for a steam inhalation.
- NEVER ingest essential oils
- DO NOT apply essential oils directly on the skin without first diluting in a carrier (oil/lotion)
- Keep essential oils away from the eyes and mucous membranes
- Please keep all essential oils out of reach of children
- Skin test oils before using. Dilute a small amount and apply to the skin of your inner arm. Do not use if redness or irritation occurs.
- All citrus oils make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light. Do not go out in the sun with these oils on your skin.
- Store essential oils away from harsh lighting or sun, in a cool dark area away from heat.
- Do not leave uncapped as oils evaporate easily.
- Remember, these oils are VERY concentrated so NEVER exceed the recommended dosage.
Lastly, the results of aromatherapy are very individual. While there is general agreement about the actions of certain oils, no two people are affected by the same essential oil in exactly the same way. Even the same person can be affected differently by the same oil depending on surroundings, time of day or mood. Taking the time to experience scents is the best way to learn about and create a personal connection to essential oils.
PREGNANT & NURSING MOTHERS
Used in moderation and with common sense, the external use of most essential oils is safe during pregnancy. The exceptions are Birch and Wintergreen oils. Clary Sage should be avoided by anyone with a history of early miscarriage.
As a precaution, avoid all essential oils during the first trimester. After that time, if still unsure, further dilute the recommended dosages by 1/2 until delivery. A 1% dilution or 5-6 drops per ounce of carrier oil or lotion is a good guide.
Care must be taken in treating children with essential oils, although there are any number of safe ones. Use 1/3 to 1/2 the adult dose, or a 1% dilution (see above) and don’t forget that some citrus oils may irritate the skin.
Newborns: (0-12wks) No essential oils are recommended for the first three months. Use unscented carrier oils like Grapeseed or Sunflower for massage.
Babies: (12 wks – 12mths) Use 1 drop of lavender, chamomile or mandarin in 10 ml of base oil for massage or bathing.
Toddlers: (1-5yrs) Use 2-3 drops as above
Children:(6-12yrs) Use as for adults but in 1/2 the recommended dosages.
Teenagers:Use as directed for adults.