What is Aromatherapy?
According to WebMD.com, "Aromatherapy may promote relaxation and help relieve stress. It has also been used to help treat a wide range of physical and mental conditions, including burns, infections, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. But so far there is limited scientific evidence to support claims that aromatherapy effectively prevents or cures illness."
Aromatherapy is based on general principle. Aromatherapy uses oils extracted from flowers, seeds, leaves, roots, fruit and twigs for special effect. These essential oils are formulated to work in harmony with the body and have an ability to affect a person’s well-being.
Coming directly from the parts of plants or trees, essential oils possess a complex nature that is difficult to reproduce outside of nature. In fact, some oils contain substances that don’t occur anywhere else naturally.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years. Aromatherapy is the century-old practice of using volatile plant oils, also referred to as essential oils, to support overall health and well-being. It is part of the holistic healing spectrum that, in addition to essential oils, also utilizes other natural ingredients like vegetable oils, jojoba (a liquid wax), herbs, sea salts, clays and muds.
Aromatherapists apply aromatherapy oils directly to the skin via aromatherapy massages, but they also use the oils to freshen the air of their living spaces via sprays or diffusers. The oils can also be inhaled directly, although one should be careful not to swallow or consume the liquid oils.
"Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that fragrances in the oils stimulate nerves in the nose. Those nerves send impulses to the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion. Depending on the type of oil [the scent], the result on the body may be calming or stimulating." (WebMD.com)
Health Benefits of Aromatherapy
Take a whiff of the air around you. What do you smell? Are you immediately put in a good mood with the smell of fresh cut flowers? Suddenly craving pie with the smell of baked apples and cinnamon wafting through the halls? Or feel like gagging after being blasted with exhaust from the bus?
It’s easy to see how our sense of smell impacts our feelings. The sense of smell is incredibly powerful. Your body can distinguish about 10,000 different scents. But, aromatherapy isn’t just about appealing smells; it also offers many health benefits including the following:
- Relaxation and stress relief
- Mood enhancement, balance and well being
- Relief of minor discomforts
- Boosting the immune, respiratory and circulatory systems
Aromatherapy can be a great, natural, complementary health treatment in a variety of situations. It’s certainly not a replacement for traditional medical treatments or prescription medications because it doesn’t cure major illnesses, but it is effective at alleviating many of the discomforts associated with them.
To find out which scents may help you, find an aromatherapy book at your local library or do some online searching to find out about popular essential oils and get recipes for mixing your own rejuvenating scents.
Blending Essential Oils
Different oils can be blended together to achieve a synergy. This means that the respective powers of the oils change to enhance their energy. When a level of power has been reached, you achieve a synergy. Recipes for blending need to be followed exactly and the oils should be left to age for at least a week before adding them to carrier oils.
Essential Oil Dilution
Once you have chosen your essential oil, you can add it to base products, to enhance your favorite health and beauty items. To dilute essential oils, simply add them to unscented bath oils, hand and body lotions, massage lotions and shower gels.
Massage.......................... 5 drops per tsp. of base oil or lotion
Inhalation....................... 1-2 drops in boiling water or on a tissue
Light Bulb Ring............... 1-2 drops
Bath................................ 8-10 drops in bath water
Sauna.............................. 2 drops to 2 ½ cups water
Facial............................... 2-3 drops in base product
Foot Bath........................ 8 drops in bowl of water
Facial Sauna................... 10 drops in bowl of water
Cleanser.......................... 20 drops in 4 ounces of base product
Body................................ 5-15 drops in base product
Chest Rub....................... 10-20 drops to 1 oz of carrier oil
Washing Machine.......... 10-20 drops per load
Vacuum Cleaner............ 5-10 drops
Auto Vent Outlet........... 2-3 drops
Artificial Holiday Tree... 10-15 drops
Common Carrier Oils to Essential Oils
The healing scent of an essential oil can evaporate quickly, so they are often combined with a carrier oil. Carrier oils usually come from the fatty portion of a plant and help the essential oil's scent maintain for a longer duration of time.
- Almond Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Olive Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil
How to Use Essential Oils
Here are a ton of different ways to use essential oils. Each one of these fantastic suggestions was submitted to us by one of our Facebook fans. If you'd like to participate in conversations about essential oils or other natural health topics, I definitely recommend you connect with our Facebook page by clicking the like button below.
• Make my own laundry detergent and use them to scent it! - Keri L.
• I love to use essential oils to make my own "salt scrub" with almond oil. Makes skin feel so soft! - Sandi N.
• I love to use essential oils to refresh furniture. I mix a spray bottle with half hot water, half vinegar, drop fresh cut lemons in along with Lavender and Clove essential oils....amazing!!! - Bobbi A.
• I use essential oils to make mouthwash, in lotion for skin, in bath water, on the steam radiator's so when it heats up, the whole house smells good as well. - Timothy S.
• Lavender oil, especially in combination with aloe vera gel (preferable straight from the plant) is great for burns. - Bryan S.
• I use it with vinegar for a great laundry softener! - Megan L.
• A few drops of lavender oil in my enemas. - Donna W.
• I removed badly burned food from a pan by boiling water with lemon oil in it and putting a lid on. The lemon oil helped the water to get under the burnt stuff so it came off easily. - Rinda F.
I make my own toothpowder, 1/2 himalayan sea salt and 1/2 baking soda mixed in my coffee grinder, then Peppermint Essential Oil to taste. I have used it for years and it is wonderful! - Kathy W.
• I put a few drops of lavender oil on a folded handkerchief and keep it in my pollowcase for a calming bed time aroma. - Kaichita M.
• I use tea tree and lavender in a home made disinfectant spray with water and vinegar. I also mix 20 drops essential oils with Borax for a home made carpet powder (helps with flea control too). - Diana B.
• I use it for just about everything in the home. I just recently made a batch of lip balm and body lotion. I even use it as a bug repellent for my home. - Eunice H.
• Instead of buying expensive cleaning sprays that are full of chemicals, I put a bottle of Pine Needle essential oil in a large spray bottle and fill with water. I use it to clean counters, stove, fridge, bathroom sinks, etc. Just about any place that you would use a spray cleaner. I even spray my floors with it and let it sit for a couple of minutes before I mop. besides having the benefits of no chemicals, it cleans great and smells wonderful! - Lynn L.
• I dab some on cotton balls and add them to my vacuum. I use them in the humidifier water and on the furnace filter. I mix water and the essential oils for my Febreeze. - Sue M.
• Add it to my homemade laundry detergent. - Peggy B.
• I use peppermint on my knees because it helps with pain and stiffness. Also, I use lavender in a diffuser to put a pleasant scent in the house. - Karen F.
• I put an essential oil of my choice in organic unrefined coconut oil and brush my teeth with it! - Carol L.
• Lavender is great on any bug bites or stings. We had a couple of wasp bites this summer and within an hour you could hardly tell where the bite was. Make sure to get it on the sting right away for best results. - Mary R.
• We use them on our birds - to heal feather picking and healing. - Tammy C.
• In a vaporizer....excellent. - Jerry G.
• We drink a couple of drops in hot water and honey for colds and sinus issues. - Deborah A.
• Spray the car interior with lavender oil in alcohol. - Barbara B.
• I put a few drops in organic coconut oil and rub all over my skin after a shower. I dab vanilla behind the ears. - Diane C.
• I rub a drop of peppermint oil and/or eucalyptus onto my forehead when I have a stuffy nose or a sinus headache. - Jennifer D.
• Home made air sprays, face creams and cosmetics. - Joyce O.
• Orange oils are fantastic for killing insects on contact. - Jack G.
• My son is playing with his play dough (I hate the smell of it!). Next time I make it, I am adding an essential oil to the water. - Michelle T.
• Any of the oils to get sticker off books. They slip right off. - Mary K.
• I am a yoga teacher. During final relaxation in my classes I rub levender essential oil on my hands, then go to each student and hold my hands near the nose so they can inhale the scent. They all LOVE it! - Michelle S.
• Inhale tea tree oil mixed in a boiling pot of water. - Susan M.
• Cintronella on tops of my shoes to cut the grass, not one bite on me this summer and bugs love me. - Carol F.
• Love the aroma of any of the floral scents mixed with jojoba oil used as a perfume. It's safer on the skin & less costly than perfume. - Marcia W.
What Different Essential Oils Are Good For
There are intriguing myths and folklore associated with aromatherapy and essential oils. Essential oils—the fragrant, concentrated liquids extracted from the flowers, leaves, roots, bark, and fruit of an aromatic plant—are the main ingredients in aromatherapy treatments. There are many, many essential oils ranging from spices and herbs to fruit extracts and florals. Each oil has a unique scent and properties that can be applied to many different conditions. Here are some popular essential oils and the common uses for them:
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is purifying and invigorating and is often used in topical preparations.
- Ginger: Ginger can be used to stimulate the appetite and relieve headaches.
- Juniper Berry: The restoring and supporting benefits come from the berry of the juniper tree.
- Lavender: Used in baths, sprays, lotions, oils and more, lavender promotes a calm and relaxed feeling.
- Lemon: Lemon is a refreshing and cheering oil that should be heavily diluted if you plan on applying to the skin.
- Peppermint: Refreshing and cooling peppermint can invigorate you with its powerful minty aroma.
- Rosemary: This clarifying scent is often used in household sprays, soaps and shampoos.
- Sage: Just one drop is all you need to enjoy the warming effects of the camphor scent.
- Spearmint: This refreshing and cooling essential oil can help tighten pores if you add a few drops to your bathwater.
- Tea Tree: Tea tree oil can treat bacteria, fungi, viruses and stimulate the immune system.
- Ylang Ylang: The ylang ylang plant was originally cultivated in the Philippines, but it soon made its way around the world because of its distinctive scent and beautiful appearance. This essential oil is used to relax both the mind and body.
How to Use Essential Oils for Hair & Skin Care
Body Spray: In a spray bottle, combine 5 to 10 drops of an essential oil and 4 ounces of water and shake. If you choose citrus oil, be careful when applying it near your face. Citrus oils are photosensitive, making your skin more susceptible to sunburn.
Shampoo: Treat an itchy scalp by adding a few drops of lavender, cedarwood or basil to your shampoo. If you'd like to increase hair volume, try adding rosemary oil to your shampoo.
Skin cream: Add two drops of rose or rosemary oil to your skin cream for anti-aging support.
Make your own body oil: Add up to 5 drops of an essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil, such as sweet almond, olive, apricot kernel, borage seed, jojoba, sesame, sunflower or wheat germ oil.
Add to your hot tub or bathwater: Use up to 6 drops of essential oil in your tub, but avoid culinary oils including cinnamon, lemongrass and peppermint as they can cause skin irritations.
Which Essential Oil Can Help Your Hair Grow?
Not only is Lavender a perennial favorite among aromatherapists, research also shows that it can boost hair growth when used regularly to massage the scalp. Here's a quick at-home lavender massage guide:
- Heat about half a cup of olive oil (not too hot)
- Blend in about 10 drops (or to your preference) of lavender oil
- Apply this blend to your hair and gently massage your scalp
- Wrap a hot towel around your head, sit back and relax for about 20 minutes.
- Follow it up with a natural shampoo and conditioner
How to Use Essential Oils for Home & Hearth
• Deter pests: Place one drop of lavender oil on a cotton ball or piece of cloth to get rid of moths and mosquitoes.
• Humidifiers: To help keep it clean, add up to 9 drops of tea tree oil, which has antimicrobial properties.
• Fire logs: Thirty minutes before burning a fire log, place one drop of cypress, pine, sandalwood or cedarwood oil on it. Do not use several perfumed logs at a time; a little goes a long way.
• Stuffed animals: Soothe your kids with the calming scent of lavender or chamomile on their stuffed animals. Place a stuffed animal in a plastic bag, add a few drops of essential oil and close the plastic bag overnight. The following day the stuffed animal will have the dispersed scent and can be used for up to two weeks before reapplying more oil.
Tip: For maximum effectiveness, use essential oils within one year of opening the bottle.
Making your own, natural repellant at home is easy. A natural bug spray will effectively repel mosquitoes, but keep in mind they require more frequent application and higher concentrations than repellants with DEET. Sunscreens, sweat, water and evaporation from wind or high temperatures can lower effectiveness. Because of the different types of mosquitoes, the best repellents are a blend of volatile plant oils.
Natural Oils Effective to Fight the Bite:
- Castor oil
- Cedar oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Citronella oil
- Clove oil
- Geranium oil
- Lemon eucalyptus oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Peppermint oil
- Rosemary oil
How to Make Your Own Aromatherapy First Aid Kit
Essential oils aren't just for relaxing. In fact, you can even use essential oils at home for first aid.
Not sure which ones to buy? Here's a recommendation from Mindy Green, co-author of Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, on the top 10 essential oils for starting your own First Aid Kit.
Cupressus sempervirens (Cypress)—treats varicose veins and sore throat
Eucalyptus globules (Eucalyptus)—treats cold & flu, congestion, shingles and inflammation
Matricaria chamomilla (German Chamomile)—pain reliever for sprains, bruises and inflammation
Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender)—good for treating bee stings, bug bites, sunburn, headache, rash, sprains, acne and depression
Citrus sinensis (Orange)—helps with lymphatic congestion, digestion, acne and depression
Rosa damascena (Rose otto)—improves liver, digestion and vascular issues
Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)—improves poor circulation, aches, constipation, fatigue and hangover
Mentha spicata (Spearmint)—helps with sinusitis, poison ivy, indigestion and fever
Origanum majorana (Sweet Marjoram)—soothes menstrual cramps, sore muscles and helps with insomnia
Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree)—good for treating warts, athlete's foot, acne, bug bites and cold sores
10 Essential Oils to Avoid
Just like certain plants, some essential oils are not beneficial for skin contact or human consumption. They can cause skin problems or may even be poisonous. The Herb Quarterly provides a list of essential oils to avoid, according to Valerie Ann Wormwood, author of The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.
- Bitter Almond
- Yellow Camphor
Where to Buy Essential Oils & Aromatherapy Products
I hope you've enjoyed this beginner's guide to aromatherapy and essential oils. If you would like to purchase some of your own essential oils, we're happy to say that we offer the lowest prices on essential oils. If you would like more information on essential oils or aromatherapy, please check out some of the links below.
This post was written by Anthony D. Nelson, with the help of our awesome Facebook community.
Do you use Essential Oils or Aromatherapy? How do you use them and how did you first get started?
If you don't use them, what's holding you back from giving it a try?