What is an Essential Oil ?
Essential oils are the volatile, aromatic oils obtained by steam or hydrodistillation of botanicals. Most essential oils are primarily composed of terpenes and their oxygenated derivatives. Different parts of the plants can be used to obtain essential oils, including the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, stems, bark, wood, etc. Certain cold-pressed oils, such as the oils from various citrus peels, are also considered to be essential oils but these are not to be confused with cold-pressed fixed or carrier oils such as olive, grapeseed, coconut etc. which are non-volatile oils composed mainly of fatty acid triglycerides. Other aromatic, plant-derived oils, which technically aren't essential oils because they are solvent extracted, include Absolutes (hexane followed by ethanol extraction), CO2's (liquid carbon dioxide used as the solvent) and Phytols or Florosols (fluoro-hydrocarbon solvent).
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is derived from the ancient practice of using natural plant essences to promote health and wellbeing. It consists of the use of pure essential oils obtained from a wide assortment of plants, which have been steam distilled or cold-pressed from flowers, fruit, bark and roots. Aromatherapy can help ease a wide assortment of ailments; easing aches, pains, and injuries, while relieving the discomforts of many health problems.
Aromatherapy also acts on the central nervous system, relieving depression and anxiety, reducing stress, relaxing, uplifting, sedating or stimulating, restoring both physical and emotional wellbeing. The appropriate oils can have powerful results, both on the body and the spirit. "Fragrance Oils", "Perfumes" and other artificially made substitutes for Pure Essential Oils can not produce these amazing results.
Essential Oil Uses
Introducing essential oils into your lifestyle can be quite easy, fun, and therapeutically beneficial. Below are a few ways in which you can get started. These methods are intended as guidelines only, and you do need to pay special attention to all safety pre cautions applicable for each oil that you choose. It is also important to remember that essential oils are flammable.
- Easy Inhalation - Place 3-4 drops of essential oil on a tissue. Place the tissue near your nose and inhale. When trying an oil for the first time, use only one drop to ensure that you do not have a sensitivity or reaction to the oil.
- Steam Inhalation - Boil 2 cups of water. Pour the water into a bowl and add 3-7 drops of oil to the water. Use fewer drops if you are using an oil that may cause irritation to your mucous membranes (i.e. cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, pine, thyme, cajuput, etc.). Place your nose about 12" away from the bowl and inhale. Don't inhale the steam constantly and if you notice any irritation or discomfort, stop immediately. Steam inhalation can help with colds and influenza. Use of energizing or relaxing oils can also make this method useful any time of day or night.
- Room Freshening - Use the steam inhalation method noted above but don't directly inhale into the bowl. Use up to 10 drops of oil. Use fewer drops if you are using an oil that may cause sensitization. Other methods including use of an aromatherapy diffuser or lamp scent ring available through many aromatherapy companies.
- General Household Freshening - Add a few drops of oil to your trash can, laundry wash, drain, vacuum bag filter, or on a tissue for placement in your drawers.
- Bug Repellent - Many essential oils including citronella, lavender, and peppermint act as a natural repellent against insects. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil onto tissues or cotton balls and place near your doorways and windows to help repel insects. Be sure to read all safety data on the oils you use as some oils may not be suitable for use around pets. Be careful not to apply the essential oil directly onto fragile surfaces.
- Massage - Add up to 20 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce carrier oil such as sweet almond oil and massage onto yourself or partner. Keep away from eyes and genital areas. Do not apply essential oils to the skin without first diluting them. Be sure to also read the safety data for the essential oils you choose to use.
- Bath - Add 5-7 drops essential oil to 1 ounce carrier oil. Add this blend to your running bath water and mix well before getting into the tub. Be sure to read the safety data for the essential oils you choose to use.