aromatherapy and essential oils

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

aromatherapy and essential oils
aromatherapy and essential oils

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a branch of alternative medicine, using essential oils that are made from different parts of medicinal plants, to enhance psychological and physical well-being.

As we begin our journey into the captivating world of essential oils, it’s crucial first to understand what essential oils are and how they are made. This understanding will not only enhance your appreciation for these potent substances but also equip you with the knowledge to choose and use them correctly.

Stem, seeds, roots, flowers are only a few of the parts that contain these naturally occurring aromatic compounds.

Essential oils can be extracted from various parts of a plant, including the leaves, flowers, bark, stems, or roots. Each essential oil carries a complex mix of active compounds that gives it specific therapeutic properties. Some oils may offer calming effects, like lavender, while others, like lemon, provide refreshing and invigorating benefits.

  • Leaves from eucalyptus plants
  • Grass, like lemongrass
  • Herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary, peppermint
  • Fennel seeds
  • Flowers like rose and geranium
  • Zest from fruits like orange, grapefruit lemon
  • Bark or wood from trees like pine or cedar
  • Resin from frankincense trees

The aroma we inhale from the Essential Oils, stimulates the brain, having an influence on the limbic system. These oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream, having a direct influence over the health of the body.

It is important to talk with your doctor to see whether Aromatherapy and using Essential Oils may be helpful and safe for your specific health condition.

Aromatherapy is regaining its status, being used for a variety of applications, helping in: mood enhancement, pain relief and even increasing the cognitive function.

Essential oils give plants their distinctive smell. They also protect plants and have their role in plant pollination.

Therefore, for over 5000 years, aromatherapy has been a trusted practice among cultures spanning the globe. Natural healers were using essential oils for their many antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

In addition to their benefits to plants, these oils have long been used for beauty treatments, health-care practices and food preparation. Some popular aromatic oils you might recognize include Lavender, Tea Tree and Peppermint oil, used in most of the products, from laundry detergent to tooth paste.

1 Essential Oils History

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the first records we have about Aromatherapy, date back in Ancient Egipt, India and much later, Persia.

Burning leafs, resins and other aromatic plant materials for medicinal purpose has been a religious tradition throughout history. Seems like Greece and Rome conducted extensive trade in aromatic oils with the Orient, thousands of years ago.

Modern distillation was invented by Arab alchemists in 9th century A.D.

Also, our ancestors used herb infused oils, meaning they let the herbs into oil (olive oil for example) for several weeks. Most noteworthy, the knowledge of distillation was spread to Europe, during the Middle Ages.

French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, is the one who rediscovered the healing power of Essential Oils. After he suffered a laboratory explosion, he managed to treat the gas gangrene that developed on his hand, using Lavender Oil. Gattefosse devoted his work to research the Essential Oils benefits.

2 What are Essential Oils?

Volatile aromatic compounds, we were talking about, earlier in the article, are small organic molecules. These molecules are rapidly changing their form from solid or liquid state to a gas state.

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that capture the natural fragrance and beneficial properties of the source plant. These oils are aptly named “essential” because they encapsulate the plant’s “essence,” reflecting its unique aromatic and therapeutic characteristics.

The name volatile comes from this ability to quickly change aggregation states. Opening an essential oil bottle will make you instantly notice its smell, even from a certain distance. The smell of essential oil quickly moves through the air, due to the chemical and physical properties of the volatile compounds.

Essential oils were proved to be successfully applied for a large variety of emotional and physical wellness treatments. You can use single oils or complex essential oils blends. It all depends on the user experience and, of course, on the complexity of the situation we are using them for.

3 How to obtain Essential Oils

Steam Distillation Essential Oils
Steam Distillation Essential Oils

 

Essential oils are extracted :

  • either by steam distillation
  • or by pressing.

Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is the most commonly used method for extracting essential oils. In this process, steam is passed through the plant material, causing the essential oil to evaporate. The steam and oil vapor are then cooled and condensed into a liquid form. The oil and water are separated, and the oil is collected, resulting in the pure essential oil.

Distillation was always both a science technology and an art. The most common method of extracting essential oils is a low-heat steam distillation.

Pressurized steam is circulated through plant material. The essential oils are liberated from the plant and carried away by the steam. When the steam cools, the water and oils naturally separate and we collect the oil. Temperature and pressure are the two important factors for obtaining a high quality essential oil.

Cold Pressing

Cold pressing, also known as expression or mechanical pressing, is primarily used for citrus essential oils like lemon, orange, and bergamot. In this method, the rind of the fruit is mechanically pressed to squeeze out the oil. The extracted oil is then centrifuged to separate the oil from the juice and other solid particles.

This method, also known as “expression”, is used to obtain citrus oils, such as Orange, Lime, Lemon, Bergamot, and Grapefruit.

 

4 How Do We Use Essential Oils?

The application method and the dilution are two of the most important aspects when we speak about aromatherapy healing capabilities. Because they are so highly concentrated, it is not often recommended that you apply essential oils in their pure form directly on the skin.

You will experience better results if you use small amounts of the oils, diluted in a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oils.

Essential Oils
Essential Oils

A. Aromatic Vapor Inhalation (Aromatherapy)

First of all, one of the cornerstones of aromatherapy treatment is the vapor technique.

Since many essential oils have beneficial effects on sinus and respiratory system, steam inhalation is a very popular application method.

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.

The smell receptors quickly absorb the Essential oils, and transport them to the limbic system by way of the olfactory nerve. The brain`s limbic system supports functions like smell, emotions, memory and behavior. Therefore, no wonder essential oils have such a powerful effect in aromatic applications.

Most noteworthy, diffusion is one of the simplest methods for using essential oils aromatically. However, the aromatic use or the essential oils does not automatically require a diffuser.

Essential oils can be diffused into the air using a diffuser or inhaler.

A few drops can also be added to a hot bath or in a shower to create a steamy, scented retreat.

Some people like to add a drop or two of essential oil to a piece of fabric or tissue and inhale the scent throughout the day.

Read what are the Pros and Cons for each type of diffuser, on DoTerra official site.

How Do We Use Essential Oils?

  • Place 1-3 drops of essential oil in the palm of your hand(mixed with 3 drops of carrier oil), cup hands around the nose and breathe deeply.
  • After inhaling, maintain the air in the lungs for 2-3 seconds, then exhale.
  • This practice will help for a better absorption of the oil. Repeat 2-4 times/day.

Other aromatic uses:

  • Apply oil to a cotton ball and place in the air vents of your vehicle
  • Apply 1 drop of essential oil when washing the laundry
  • Household surface cleaner
  • Necklace / watches accessories
  • For those who don`t have a diffuser, don`t panic, the old-school method works just as fine as the diffuser one:
  • Add five drops of essential oil to steaming water and inhale the aroma using a towel tent. Place the towel around your head so the aroma doesn`t escape while you inhale it.

Essential Oils Use
Essential Oils Use

B. Topical Use: Baths, Aromatherapy massage, Lotions & Compresses

Essential oils can be applied directly to the skin, but since they are very potent, they should always be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba oil, almond oil, or coconut oil to avoid irritation. The typical guideline for safe topical use is to dilute an essential oil at a 2% to 5% concentration, which is roughly 10 to 25 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

Essential oils can be applied to the skin in many ways. Some people prefer to apply the oils to the soles of the feet, where the skin is less sensitive. Others apply them to pulse points like the wrists or temples, or use them in a massage. For example, lavender or peppermint oil can be applied to the temples and forehead to help relieve headaches.

This is a very effective application method, also, due to the easiness they penetrate the skin. Once absorbed, they stay in the applied area for a localized benefit. Therefore, using a carrier oil or a light massage, will increase the oils absorption.

Some of the oils need a carrier oil, like Fractionated Coconut Oil, to decrease the possibility of developing skin sensitivity.

What is the recommended essential oils dilution ratio?

Especially relevant, the recommended dilution ratio is typically one drop of essential oil to three drops of carrier oil.

Always start with the lowest possible dose, 1-2 drops. You can repeat a topical dose every 4-6 hours, as you need, during daytime. Also, adjust the dose, according to the age, size and overall health status of the user.

What are the Risks in using Aromatherapy and Essential Oils?

Some essential oils are dangerous for children.

Some essential oils can cause rashes. Other oils can interfere with a child’s hormones. Nobody should use oils near the eyes or mouth, to avoid skin irritation.

Patients with chronic illnesses or conditions should not use aromatherapy without first consulting a doctor. These illnesses and conditions include: lung conditions, skin allergies, pregnancy or any other chronic condition.

Talk with your doctor about any health practice that you would like to try. Your doctor can help you understand and decide on using complementary health practices.

Aromatherapy Massage

               Aromatherapy Massage is probably the most popular method of aromatherapy application. Blending drops of essential oil with carrier lotions (almond, Shea butter, jojoba oil) can affect the body both physiologically and psychologically.

Therefore, it all depends on which essential oils you use. For example, peppermint energizes the body, while lavender oil is a relaxing agent.

Benefit from Applying Essential Oils on your:

  • Neck
  • Chest and abdomen
  • Forehead and temples, the sinuses
  • Also, arms. legs, bottom of feet

Other topical uses:

Prepare your own aromatic sauna, adding a few essential oils drops to a warm bath

Adding aromatherapy oils to your bath is an easy way to cash in on their health benefits. Simply add a few drops to the bathwater and blend it before submerging yourself. The aroma will trigger your olfactory sense, which will in turn enhance your circulation and help to bring about physical balance.

Use face and body lotions & creams

Add a few drops of essential oil to your favorite carrier lotion, massage oil or cream, to stimulate healing properties.

Hot or cold-water compress with essential oils

Finally, add Essential oils to a bowl with warm or cold water,to obtain compresses: Dig a washcloth into the blend and wring out. Using the washcloth as a compress, apply it to different areas of the body. Maybe you need a shoulder or stomach pain relief. Also, warm essential oils compresses are ideal for dealing with menstrual cramps.

Areas to avoid Topic Use:

  • The skin around the eyes
  • Ears and inner ears
  • Also, broken and damaged skin.

C. Internal usage

While some essential oils can be ingested or added to food in small amounts, this should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider or trained professional. Not all essential oils are safe to consume and they can interact with medications and health conditions. For example, citrus oils like lemon or grapefruit can enhance the effects of certain cholesterol medications, leading to potential over-medication.

Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated and potent, so start with a very small amount if you choose to use them in this way. And always follow the advice of a healthcare professional.

In summary, essential oils can be a wonderful tool to support your health and wellbeing, but they must be used with caution. Be sure to do your research and consult with a professional if you have any concerns.

Some of the essential oils we know today, have a rich culinary history,  supporting a variety of health conditions as supplements.

First of all, think about sprinkling cinnamon on your quinoa pudding. In addition, remember the last time you added fresh basil leaves to spaghetti, or a drop of lemon to your tea. These are ways of consuming some volatile aromatic essential oil compounds.

Essential oils have a complex composition. Therefore, each constituent possesses a unique set of biochemical properties that react with cells and organs in different ways. Also, the body is designed to handle certain doses of essential oils, and this needs to be a reminder in order to avoid toxicity.

Other internal uses:

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  • Use oils in recipes for cooking or baking; replace fresh or dried herbs and spices (1 drop)
  • Add oils to water, tea, smoothies, milk or other drinks

Make sure you use these must-have Aromatherapy accessories:

Disclaimer:

The content from this website contains general medical information, which is to be used for informational purposes only. The content represents our personal experiences and findings. Please do not rely on the information from our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. If you think you suffer from any medical matter, please seek immediate medical attention, which is never to be delayed, disregarded or discontinued due to the content from our website.

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