(Health Secrets) Aromatherapy and essential oils have become popular in recent decades because of their curative effects. If you have not yet been exposed to them, here is basic information about aromatherapy and essential oils to help you develop an understanding of how to use them and the benefits they may provide.
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of plant-derived, aromatic essential oil to promote physical and psychological well being. It is sometimes used in combination with massage or other therapeutic techniques as part of a holistic healing protocol. The three traditional uses of essential oils in aromatherapy are inhalation, topical application, and ingestion. The inhalation and topical uses are the focus here.
Herbal products usually contain pieces of the actual plant in a dried form, while essential oils contain the concentrated essence of the plant. When an essential oil is produced, distillation is used to extract the compounds and constituents of the plant. This process concentrates the benefits so only a tiny bit of essential oils are needed.
Essential oils are lipotropic (fat soluble) and tend to pass through the skin easily. Because of their fairly small molecular structure, they can pass into the bloodstream and surrounding tissues quickly, allowing their possible affects to be targeted. Many acupressure points that correspond to different parts of the body have been identified on the feet, hands and ears. Using reflexology and massaging the feet, hands, or ears with essential oils can positively affect the corresponding internal organs. You can obtain reflexology charts online at the first link below.
Essential Oils can be absorbed and have positive effects on glandular, skin, respiratory, and circulatory systems. They are absorbed through blood circulation and nerve pathways from the sinuses into the central glands of the brain, which control emotional, neurological, and immunological functions. When properly used, essential oils are quite safe and highly beneficial. However individuals can hurt themselves by using these highly concentrated oils improperly.
How to use aromatherapy and essential oils topically
Topical application of aromatherapy tends to be more common than inhalation and is the preferred method of use for many essential oils. Since essential oils can cause skin irritation they require significant dilution. It is a good idea to try a small skin test of the essential oil to check for skin sensitivity.
Lavender oil and camomile oil are two essential oils that can be applied without dilution to the skin. Cinnamon oil and oregano oil may be applied only when highly diluted. The best idea is to consult an aroma therapist or herbalist on essential oils for your needs, and to receive instruction on the best application technique.
A diffuser or oil lamp (burner) passes a continuous stream of air over your chosen oil source, often simply straight from the bottle, and creates a fine evaporated mist. A candle lamp incorporates a small bowel to which a small amount of water and a few drops of essential oils are added and are gently heated by the candle.
Do not over do it—remember that essential oils are highly concentrated. If you notice a dislike for the smell or mild headache coming on, the concentration of oil in the air has gotten too high. The affects are very personal – if you don’t like the smell of a particular essential oil or combination of oils, there’s probably a reason. Your intake could be too high, or the oil(s) may not be compatible with your body chemistry at that time.
Seven techniques for using essential oils
1) Inhalations: Use with hot compress, diffusers, or in hot water for inhalation. Standard dose is 10 drops. Best for respiratory and sinus, and headaches. Caution: prolonged inhalation of concentrated essential oils can cause vertigo, dizziness, nausea, and lethargy.
2) Baths: A generally safe dose is 5 – 10 drops of milder oils mixed with 1/2 to 1 cup sesame oil or milk then poured into the bath. Put oil on water immediately before entering bath, disperse. Caution: overuse of essential oils in the bath can cause irritation. Use only mild, non-irritating oils for the bath, such as lavender and sage.
3) Compresses: 10 drops oil in 4 oz hot water, soak cloth, and wrap. Good for bruises, wounds, muscular aches and pains, dysmenorrhea, skin problems.
4) Facial steam: 1 – 5 drops on hot water in a pot, cover head with a towel, steam face. Excellent for opening sinuses, headaches, and skin treatment.
5) Massage: Be sure to dilute the essential oil typically to 2% – 10%. For adults, a 2.5% dilution is recommended for most purposes. For children under 12, 1% is generally safe.
6) Direct Palm Inhalation: Caution this method of use should only be done with oils that can be safely applied to the skin (ask an aroma therapist for an oil recommendation). Apply 1-2 drops of oil to the palms, rub together gently and inhale deeply. This is an excellent method of use for a quick and easy exposure to the anti-microbial and other therapeutic uses of essential oils. Over the counter tea tree oil would be appropriate.
7) Diffusers: Use with candle diffusers, electric heat diffusers or cool air nebulizing diffusers. Each has advantages and disadvantages
- Do not use essential oils internally
- Do not apply directly to skin; always dilute with carrier oil
- Keep out of reach of children.
- Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membrane
- Do not use citrus oils before exposure to UV light
- Use only pure essential oils; never use synthetic fragrances
- Do not use essential oils on infants, pregnant women, the elderly, or those with serious health problems without the direction of an aromatherapist
- Avoid prolonged exposure without ventilation.
- Store essential oils and carrier oils properly to avoid degradation and rancidity.
In case of accidental essential oil ingestion immediately call your local Poison Control Center. Do not induce vomiting. Do not give water if breathing or swallowing is difficult.
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