Aromatherapy is the art of using pure essential oils extracted from many parts of natural botanicals to enhance wellness of the body, mind and spirit. 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 and some humidifiers have reservoirs intended for essential oils as well. In a pinch, a few drops of essential oil can be added to some water and placed in a dish over a radiator or heat grate. The heat will evaporate the water and diffuse the oil while heating your home!
- Bath: Add 6-8 drops to bath water. Dissolve oils 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!!
- Spritzer: 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, Grapeseed or Fractionated Coconut Oil.
- Body Lotion: Add 6-10 drops to 1oz of any 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. Use caution going 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 oils uncapped as they 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 Camphor, 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.
A patch test should always be done prior to full, lavish application of any essential oil to children. Use an insensitive part of the body (eg. a leg or arm) and wait a full 24 hours to discern if any redness or irritation occurs. If still unsure, an effective option is to apply diluted essential oils just to the feet rather than a full body skin application.
Never apply essential oils to a child’s face. And if any part of the child’s body could end up in his/her mouth (eg. foot/hand) ensure this body part remains covered after application.
Newborns: (0-12wks) No essential oils are recommended for the first three months. This has to do with allowing the mother’s natural scent to be the only one baby is exposed to until breastfeeding is firmly established. Newborn skin is also very sensitive and permeable so even small amounts of essential oils should be avoided. With this in mind, the use of unscented carrier oils like Grapeseed, Sunflower or deodorized Coconut oil for massage is advised.
Babies: (12 wks – 12mths) Use 1 drop of lavender, chamomile or mandarin diluted 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.
IMPORTANT: Aromatherapy products are for external use only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Professional medical advice should be obtained by anyone who is on medication or under the care of a medical practitioner before use.