T he essential oils
of plants and flowers have been used across many cultures for thousands of years to
improve both physical and emotional well-being. Interest in Aromatherapy has recently been
re-ignited as it has become obvious that the natural plant extracts called essential oils
have the power to influence your moods and feelings, healing the body, mind and spirit.
What are essential
Essential oils are natural plant extracts
which give the plant its vitality and health. These oils contain the ingredients that
nourish, energize, defend and regenerate the plant. When the pure oils are extracted from
parts of the plants (leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds or roots), they still possess these
The essential oils are also aromatic in
nature and this is in part responsible for the healing. The body and mind are healed
safely and naturally and actually take part in the healing process with no side effects.
Pure oils are extracted from particular
varieties of plants which are grown especially for this purpose. Not all plants and
species contain essential oils and some plants contain more than one. If this is the case,
the oils from that one plant will contain common properties as well as some individual
Each plant has unique characteristics and
its own molecular make up giving the different fragrances of each essential oil. The
plants used in Aromatherapy have been cultivated over many years and contain billions of
active cells, some producing oil. The plants are carefully harvested and the oil is
extracted and nothing else is added to it.
Essential oils are different to fragrant
oils, the latter has synthetic substances added to it and is only for pleasant smells.
Essential oils are potent and powerful, having many therapeutic properties. They are
antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, sedative and stimulating. They should also not be
The majority of essential oils are
extracted from the plants by steam distillation which is a highly scientific and precise
process. The plant material is put into vats and steamed creating a water and essential
oil mix of vapour. As the steam is cooled down the water separates from the essential oil.
This gives floral water and pure essential oil. Not all oil will be used for distribution
and some will be of differing qualities.
Some other essential oils are extracted
through cold pressing. This will get the oil out of rinds of fruits. Pressure is applied
to the rind which causes the essential oil to seep out.
How does it work
Aromatherapy works in two ways:
physically as the essential oils enter the body in tiny quantities by going through the
various layers of the skin to the bloodstream where they can work to heal. And emotionally
via your sense of smell.
The fragrance of the oil effects the
section of the brain which controls your feelings and emotions. These two actions
combined, provide a potent healing effect on the human body and mind.
Buy only pure oils
There are oils on the market that have
not been extracted correctly and are best avoided as their healing properties are
questionable. They may also have undergone additional processing or have additives in
them. The oil must have AustL or AustR on the label. This
indicates that it meets with Australian standards.
It must also be 100% pure essential oil and
be packed in a dark glass bottle. Some oils will be more expensive that others but be
weary if they are too cheap - the quality may be compromised.
When to use
You will get the most out of
Aromatherapy when it becomes part of your life. There are many ways to use your essential
oils - as treatments, in your beauty regime, when under stress, insomnia, to help studying
teenagers, to uplift and seduce. Aromatherapy is a way of taking charge of your vitality
Aromatherapy Essential Oils
You can choose your oils looking at
their different qualities, and traditional uses. Then when you have chosen a good sample
of oils start sampling their aroma to see if you feel comfortable with those particular
ones. Your feelings about the aroma affect the benefit you will receive from the oil. So
choose instinctively out of the selected range.
If you try all the oils at once you may
become overwhelmed and confused. You will respond to a select few more easily.
Aromatherapy oils are divided into 3 types
for ease of use. These are
Top notes -
which are more volatile and evaporate quickly. They are uplifting , light, refreshing,
clearing and emotionally stimulating. The top notes are Basil, lemongrass, bergamot,
mandarin, clary sage, orange (sweet), eucalyptus, palmarosa, fennel, peppermint, ginger,
petitgrain, grapefruit, rosewood, lemon, tea tree oil.
Middle notes -
are a medium evaporation. These oils are emotionally balanced, fragrant and
harmonising. They include black pepper, marjoram, camomile (German), myrtle, clove bud,
neroli, cypress pine, geranium, rose, juniper, rosemary, lavender, ylang ylang.
The base notes
- are the least volatile. They are heavy, sedating, calming and grounding. They
include cedarwood, frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver.
Things you should know
about essential oils
Essential oils should not be taken
They are best stored away from light and
They can be combined and still keep their
They are best used in carrier oils such
as avocado, jojoba or apricot kernal oil, or creams which are not made from animal or
Do not use the oils directly on the skin
unless that type of treatment has been recommended by a therapist
Be careful using the oils while pregnant
Do not use on babies less than 2 weeks
old and then only one drop of lavender for children 2 weeks to 4 months old. At 4 months
of age to 12 years use a quarter of adult dosages.
Use with care on the elderly - use very
little essential oil and seek advice from a qualified Aroma therapist
Do not use animal products or mineral
Do not use near eyes
Do not use more than recommended doses
Always use your conventional medicine if
prescribed. Aromatherapy is not a replacement for your recommended treatment.
Massage is a very relaxing and effective
way to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. You will be benefiting both emotionally through
your sense of smell and physically as the oil penetrates your skin.
Your skin is your largest organ and is
subject to abuse from pollution, toxins and the like. With aromatherapy massage, the oil
is absorbed into the body within 30 minutes to 2 hours and any excess is excreted out via
the urine, sweat glands or exhaled through the air.
To make your own blend for a massage use
5ml of essential oil to every 10ml of carrier oil. If you use cream as the carrier use the
following ratio - 8g to 1 drop of essential oil.
Some good hints
for massage blends -
For a body massage use almond or apricot
oils as the carrier.
For a facial massage, you can use carrier
oils such as jojoba, apricot, peach or olive.
Add 5 drops of your chosen essential oil to
your bath just before you turn the taps off. This type of therapy is ideal for sore
muscles or a tired psyche. It is perfect for relaxing baby just before sleep (see comments
above about age of children). You can even add some bubble bath. You do not need the
carrier oil in this instance.
This is a very popular method of using
essential oils as it adds a lovely aroma to your office or home. This is excellent for
relaxing, aiding sleep, stimulating your mind before study or to create a sensual night to
To use, fill the vaporizer with water and
put about 6 drops of essential oil into the water. Light your candle underneath the burner
and the heat will enable the aroma to carry into the air.
Always place the burner on a plate to avoid
staining any surfaces and never use near open windows or draughty areas. Also do not use
these types of vaporizers while sleeping in case an accident occurs and they catch fire.
There are electric vaporizers available these days which are highly effective and
inexpensive to run.
This is a wonderful way to relax tired
feet. Just fill a large bowl or bucket with warm water, put your favourite essential oils
into the water (up to 5 - 6 drops) and place your feet in it for as long as you wish. Some
nice suggestions are to choose ylang ylang and patchouli.
This is an ideal way to gain relief from
respiratory problems such as colds, flu, sinus etc. Add 5 - 6 drops of essential oil into
a large bowl of hot water. Cover your head with a towel, lean over the bowl and breathe
in. Ensure your eyes are shut. Good oils to choose for colds and flu are - cedarwood,
ginger, lemon, myrtle, palmarosa and peppermint. If your nose is blocked try - peppermint,
rosemary and lemon.
Another method which treats common problems
effectively is to use a compress. Compresses are good if you suffer from arthritis,
rheumatism, sore joints, period pain, headaches or any other muscular type pain.
Fill a bowl with warm water to which you
add 6 drops of essential oil. Dip a hand towel into the water and wring out, place over
the affected area. As the compress gets cold, repeat the process. Another more effective
option is to add a plastic wrap around the warm compress. This makes the oil more potent
and keeps the heat in longer.
For arthritis try a few of the following -
basil, black pepper, chamomile, clove, eucalyptus, fennel, ginger, juniper, lavender,
lemon, marjoram, peppermint, pine, rosemary.
You can swish one drop of essential oil in
half a glass of water around in your mouth as a gargle - particularly for sore throats.
Use 1 drop of either lemon, sandalwood or tea tree oil.
Blending and looking
after your oils
Remember these few points before you
start on your way:-
If you need to be healed for a particular
reason, choose the oils based on their therapeutic effects rather than their aroma.
(Except with headache sufferers, they will need to like the aroma or it may make them
worse). If you need an emotional healing, choose the oils based on their aroma.
When blending oils and the quantity you
need is 5 drops, only use 5 drops in total - not 5 drops of each oil in the blend.
Do not blend essential oils with opposite
Use only 3 or 4 essential oils in each