Although we start to get a better understanding of how aromatherapy oils work, we still seem to take them with a pinch of salt. Unnecessarily! Even though they are thought to be useful only in terms of unconventional medicine practices, these oils can be as effective as the medications we buy at the pharmacy. Essential oils have been proven to steady our nerves, induce relaxation, have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects, as well as accelerate healing of wounds and provide headache relief. They can mitigate symptoms of cough, flu or even female discomforts. However, essential oils may also be dangerous! Certain oils are not recommended for asthmatics, pregnant women or children below the age of 6. Because the oils truly work!
What is aromatherapy?
The history of aromatherapy dates back to the ancient times. A man adding wood to a fireplace thousands of years ago must have felt a distinctive scent that was either energizing or soothing. Egyptians are the best examined civilization in terms of different applications of aromatherapy. Already in the 30th century B.C. they have been using aromatic substances for the purpose of producing perfume and medications or embalming bodies. Nowadays – by analyzing extracts from flowers, leaves, seeds and wood of various plants – scientists have discovered interesting chemical compounds such as esters, aldehydes, alcohols, phenols and oxides. When breathed in, these substances reach our brain and start working. They influence particularly our limbic system, which is responsible for controlling emotions such as fear or enjoyment. Therefore, we can now improve the effectiveness of these fragrant therapies by taking an aromatic bath or staying in rooms filled with therapeutic scents. Likewise, you are welcome to try a massage, an inhalation or even put a few drops of pure lavender, tea tree or rose oil (they are the least allergenic) on your wrists. Each of them has its unique properties.
How to use essential oils?
Traditional inhalation involves adding around 5 drops of essential oil to hot water and then inhaling the vapor (it is best to place a towel over your head). A good alternative may be putting a few drops of essential oil on your pillow or use an essential oil diffuser. All it takes is pouring hot water into the diffuser, adding 5 to 10 drops of essential oil (e.g. citrus or geranium) and lighting a candle under the bowl. But hey, a good oil body massage is obviously what we like most. To make it work, 3 to 5 drops of essential oil (e.g. rosemary or patchouli) need to be diluted with other neutral plant oil (e.g. almond or primrose). If you would like to accelerate healing of a wound, a burn or cure your headache, just dilute 4 to 5 drops of essential oil in a litre of water in order to make a compress. Then, let a folded piece of cotton material soak up the prepared solution and apply it to the areas to be treated.
Nonetheless, one of the most popular methods of using essential oils is taking a bath. You only need to add 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (e.g. sandalwood or orange) to a bathtub filled with 38 degree water. Your bath should take 10 to 15 minutes. If you prefer taking a shower, just add 30 to 50 drops of selected essential oil to 200 mL of an unscented shampoo. Another way to benefit from aromatherapy is an essential oil mouthwash. It is most common to mix 50 mL of water with 3 to 5 drops of antiseptic essential oil. Rinsing your mouth with just a spoon of this solution for 2 minutes is perfectly enough.
How to choose the right oil?
A true essential oil has nothing in common with cheap fragrance oils. Unfortunately, many products now available on the market are enhanced by adding synthetic fragrances or being excessively diluted. Why? The answer is rather simple. In order to produce a litre of pure lavender oil, 200 kg of lavender flowers are used. But it is the rose oil which sets highest price records. It is produced from petals obtained from different types of one rose species called a Damask rose. To produce one kilogram (litre?) of rose oil, we need… Well, 4 to 5 tons of its petals. This is the reason behind its terrific price and frequent attempts to falsify the oil. Therefore, it is recommended to look for information about an ISO certificate, IFEAT membership or PTA recommendation on the label before purchasing the product.
Despite countless benefits of essential oils we should be aware of their possible irritating properties. The most allergenic oils are: cinnamon, clove, lemongrass and citrus. And one more – our skin will become more vulnerable to UV radiation when using: archangelica, verbena, yarrow, perforate St. John’s-wort, lemon balm and all citrus oils. It is also worth noticing that glass bottles containing oils should be stored in cool (certain oils such as jasmine and neroli oil need to be kept in the fridge) and shady places because they are sensitive to sun rays. An open bottle should be used within 3 years.
Cheat sheet for the end
Headaches, migraines – lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, grapefruit Rheumatism, arthritis – pine, eucalyptus, clove, sage, cinnamon, rosemary Compromised immunity – oils from tea tree, clove, thyme, lemon Hyperactivity, hypertension, insomnia – lemon balm, lemon, orange, lavender, geranium Oedema – lavender, rosemary, juniper Anxiety – lavender, lemon balm, orange, sandalwood Frigidity – ylang-ylang, rosemary, patchouli Circulatory system disorders – rosemary, pine, lavender Low blood pressure, somnolence – thyme, eucalyptus, sage, clove, cedar Menopause symptoms – cypress, sandalwood, lemon balm, lavender, pine.