Your Guide to Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts, also known as essential oils, to aid in improving emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. If you suffer from anxiety, headaches, stress or poor sleep patterns, aromatherapy is an excellent choice to consider.
Essential oils are the essences extracted from flowers, herbs and tree parts like bark, roots, leaves and petals. True essential oils are not blended with other chemicals or fragrances.
Experts believe that essential oils work by stimulating receptors in the nose that carries messages through the nervous system to your brain. Our sense of smell activates certain areas of the brain such as the limbic system that plays a key role regulating emotions as well as the hypothalamus which responds by releasing feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. Although aromatherapy alone will not take away all the stress and anxiety, using essential oils is a sure-fire way to help activate those feel good emotions to keep us centered and calm.
So, how do you use them? It is easy to use essential oils. Just keep these precautionary measures in mind.
– Check quality of the brand. Look for trusted manufacturers that make pure oils without added synthetic ingredients or fragrances.
– Natural essential oils can be very potent and irritating if applied directly to the skin. Perform a patch test and use dilution if necessary. A carrier oil such as grapeseed, avocado, coconut or jojoba can minimize skin sensitivity.
– Some essential oils can be toxic and should not be digested. If you have questions or concerns, contact you doctor.
– Follow label and packaging instructions for use.
– Practice safe storage and keep out of reach of children.
– Avoid applying essential oils directly to or near broken skin and sensitive areas like eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.
– Avoid oils that are considered “hot oils” on the face, broken skin or sensitive areas. “Hot oils” include cassia oil, cinnamon bark oil, oregano and thyme oils, among others.
How to Use Essential Oils
Diffusing is one of the easiest ways to use essential oils. Mix oils with water in an essential oil-water diffuser. If you do not have a diffuser on hand, you can achieve the same benefits by other methods:
Misting – Mix oils with water in a spray bottle to mist over fabrics, furniture, carpets, linens and vehicle
Cleaning – Use a few drops of oil in household surface cleaners
Essential oils penetrate the skin easily for more localized benefits. Beneficial areas of topical use include:
Warm bath – Add a few drops to a warm bath
Hot/Cold Compress – Add a few drops to hot/cold water, submerge washcloth, towel or sponges, then apply to desired area
Body – Apply to acupressure points, add to body lotion or carrier oil to moisturize skin, or use in massage. The areas that are most beneficial to aromatherapy are the neck, forehead and temples, the chest, abdomen and back, as well as inner arms, legs and the hands and soles of the feet.
Not sure which essential oil or scent to start with? Here are some of the most common types and benefits of essential oils, categorized by profile and mood.
Known to help settle and resolve uncertain ambiguous feelings.
– Clary Sage is native to the Mediterranean and has a clean, refreshing scent. It’s known for inducing a sense of wellbeing and offers antibacterial properties.
– Cardamom has a distinct scent that promotes a positive mood, providing a sense of openness and mental clarity.
– Geranium is equally clarifying as it is grounding. It is used in science for its antimicrobial properties for skin irritations.
– Melaleuca is also commonly known as tea tree oil. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.
– Eucalyptus is a clarifying and purifying aromatic that boosts immune system function and fosters clearer thinking. Inhaling the diffused oil clears the chest, aiding to expel mucus for easier breathing. It is also used to reduce pain and inflammation in muscles and joints.
Energizing & Invigorating
These naturally stimulating oils encourage motivation that helps activate the mind and body.
– Basil is a warm, spicy herbaceous oil that encourages alertness.
– Fennel has a distinct aromatic blend of sweet licorice and honey, which is invigorating. Add it to a diffuser to boost focus when you need to have a productive day.
– Peppermint promotes easy breathing and clear airways when diffused in the air. Add to carrier oil and apply topically for an effective cooling massage for sore joints and muscles.
– Spearmint is milder than peppermint and has a clean, energizing aroma that encourages focus and supports a healthy nervous system.
Evoke mental and physical responses meant to help revive, strengthen and rejuvenate.
– Clove has a warm spicy aroma that can be stimulating and provide a sense of warmth simultaneously. It holds powerful antioxidants. Blend with a carrier and citrus oil for a warming massage.
– Cypress has a refreshing aroma with antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits. Also known for its energizing effects and reducing anxiousness.
– Lemongrass is known for its powerful yet clean citrus scent. It helps to relieve headaches, pain, anxiety and depression. It also holds anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.
– Rosemary is an herbaceous essential oil that encourages clarity, improves brain function and concentration, and reduces tension and fatigue.
The composition of these oils is meant to be inspiring, eliciting feelings of exhilaration and refreshment.
– Bergamot has a light citrus scent with floral undertones. It can be both uplifting and calming making it ideal to ward off both anxiety and depression.
– Blue Tansy has a sweet herbal balsamic fragrance. It is recognized as a popular ingredient in skincare products due to its healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. The oil delivers soothing, uplifting benefits to central and nervous systems.
– Grapefruit is known for its bitter and fresh aroma; it’s said to have anti-fungal properties that reduce harmful bacteria.
– Lemon essential oil is loaded with antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and boost energy levels.
Calming & Relaxing
These oils are helpful for mental and physical relaxation, stress relief, meditation and preparation for sleep.
– Arborvitae has a warm earthy aroma that encourages a sense of peace and calmness.
– Chamomile imparts a light floral and herbal scent, so this oil diffuses tension, soothes, and emits a subtle calming effect, while also alleviating irritation from skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
– Lavender has a calming scent that when sprayed on bed linens, pillows or placed at the bottom of your feet can induce relaxation and sleep. Diffusing and deeply breathing lavender helps alleviate tension, headaches and migraines.
– Rose is a popular scent due to its sweet floral essence. When inhaled, it is found to be useful in anti-depressant therapies, reducing anxiety and uncertainty.
Soothing & Stabilizing
These oils are typically known to stablize nerves and encourage more balanced emotions.
– Cedarwood has a nutty, woodsy and warm yet sweet aroma, encouraging a peaceful, comforting atmosphere.
– Ginger is warm and earthy by nature, and it facilitates elimination of toxins, boosts digestion and can ease GI discomfort by reducing inflammation.
– Vetiver is grounding, sweet and woodsy. Vetiver essential oil is calming and found to support the immune system.
– Ylang-Ylang yields a spicy yet sweet aroma that alleviates anxiety, aids in relaxation and boosts mood and awareness.
How To Combine Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
You do not have to be an expert to reap the effective benefits of the oils for mood management through aromatherapy. Consider your mood and experience to customize essential oils to your desired outcome.
Here are a few tips to blend oils from different aromatic categories:
– Citrus essential oils pair well with woody, herbaceous, earthy and mint oils.
– Floral essential oils pair well with woody, spicy and citrus oils.
– Herbaceous essential oils pair well with woody and mint oils.
Here are a few of our favorite essential oil combinations:
Awakening: Clary Sage + Lemongrass + Grapefruit + Ylang-Ylang
Immune Boost: Clove + Eucalyptus + Tea Tree
Concentration: Vetiver + Rosemary + Patchouli + Lemon
Be Centered: Bergamot + Orange + Tangerine + Patchouli + Cedarwood
Wind Down: Cardamom + Clary Sage + Lavender + Marjoram