Although the word “Aromatherapy” was coined in 1930 by French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefossé, herbs, flowers and plants have been used in the form of unguents, potions and infusions since the beginning of civilizations.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are not exactly oils; Essential oils are the essence of a plant, fruit, tree etc. in a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds, terpenes, esters and other phyto-elements obtained by expression, distillation, solvents or other modes of extraction. Almost all essential oils have medicinal properties (some stronger than others) and few have active principles that will address a specific illness or psychological trauma.
How do they work?
Essential oils work on physical and psychological or emotional levels.Through inhalation essential oils are absorbed through the nose directly to the limbic system triggering an immediate emotional response. The sense of smell triggers memories. Simultaneously essential oil aroma molecules/phyto-molecules enter the lungs and are absorbed through the alveoli by the blood stream and diffused into the body through the circulatory system. Direct application through the skin will target specific areas.
Does it really work?
Today essential oils are used in mainstream medicine to fight antibiotic resistant strains of micro-organisms including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Candida and funguses. Some essential oils are available only through a doctor or pharmacist prescription. Star anise is the main component of the Tamiflu one of the most effective medicines against the bird flu strain.
The use of essential oils in alternative medicine started probably a few thousand years ago with the discovery of distillation by the Chinese then used by Greek and Arab alchemists. Although medicinal use of essential oils was seen as a science of the past by most of the western healthcare community, they have always been used by Ayurveda and eastern traditional medicine. In recent years essential oils have become popular among the general public and advocates of alternative medicine and natural well-being products. Some essential oils are used against drug-resistant strains of pathogens like staphylococcus, streptococcus and candida. Other essential oils such as Cinnamon are even used as a temporary anti-poison. Everyone knows about the properties of eucalyptus, peppermint or lavender. Other essential oils are used in the fragrance and flavor industry, as well as the skincare and well-being industry. By doing some research you will be able to find a lot of the essential oil properties, unfortunately you will have to find older textbooks to better understanding the full spectrum of their capabilities. Recent scientific studies on plants and their phyto-elements are opening new windows on alternative medicine.
Method of application
- Orally: Although the association of aromatherapists, and most of its practitioners, do not recommend taking essential oils orally, many oils are safe for human consumption as they are used for food flavoring but the advice of a doctor or a knowledgeable aromatherapist is always suggested. Essential oils are very powerful remedies and some of them could be toxic therefore they should be respected as such.
- On the skin: Essential oils will pass through the skin and deliver their active principles very fast (15 min-1 hour) therefore they should be diluted before skin application, but again some essential oils can be applied safely undiluted to address specific illnesses.
- Compress: Compresses are a very effective way to administer essential oils. Put few drops of essential oil in cold or hot water depending on the oil and apply to the affected area!
- Massage: A rules of thumb is to dilute your essential oil of choice or the combination of your oils of choice = 15-20 drops to an ounce of carrier oil such as sweet almond oil, grape seed oil or Jojoba etc.
- Bath: 10 to 30 drops of your favorite essential oils in a water filled bathtub.
- Srubs: Use the scrubs as directed.
- Inhalation: A few drops of your essential oil of choice in water or carrier oil for your hot diffuser or 15-30 drops in a carrier for your reed diffuser.
Common Sense & Safety Information
Essential oils are powerful and they should be used carefully. Introducing aromatherapy into your lifestyle should boost your health and well-being but please follow your common sense and some of our suggestions below to enjoy some of the benefits that aromatherapy offers.
WARNING - Do not use essential oils:
- Intravenously or intramuscularly
- In the eyes, nose, ear canal & mucous membrane unless directed by healthcare practitioner.
- Orally if you are not knowledgeable or do not have a prescription from healthcare practitioner.
- Pure undiluted on the skin unless directed by your healthcare practitioner.
- Allergy; Put a drop of the oil inside your forearm. If redness, do not use this essential oil.
- During pregnancy especially the first 3 months
- In children less than 3 years (orally); unless prescribed by your healthcare practitioner.
- Diluted in water, Better use pure edible vegetal oil.
- If you are exposing yourself under the sun (careful with photosensitizing essential oils).
- If you have epilepsy, hypertension, heart or breathing problem or your immune system is low.
- If they are in the list (Hazardous EO list) unless directed by a doctor
NEVER LEAVE ESSENTIAL OILS IN THE REACH OF CHILDREN.