For centuries people across the world have enjoyed the aromatic pleasures and health benefits of the wonderful oils that come from natures many plants and herbs, flowers and trees. Aromatherapy is a gentle art that can have profound effects on the mind and body. It is also a science. Essential oils are complex packages of molecules that have many life-enhancing qualities.
Put simply aromatherapy is a therapy using aromas. It works in two ways through our sense of smell and through our skin.
Smells register via the nose as we breathe, these components travelling up the nasal passage and triggering nerve impulses which fire directly into the brain. Thousands of these reactions occur on a daily basis. Because our sense of smell is so closely linked to our emotions it can trigger different moods and emotional states. This in turn can trigger internal chemical changes, relaxing or stimulating the body.
The skin is the other avenue aromatherapy works. With many complex layers, the deeper ones richly supplied with blood vessels, nerves, sweat glands and oil glands, when essential oils come into contact with the skin the tiny molecules pass through the top layer of the skin and enter the bloodstream. From there they can be used by the body where needed, passing out via the kidneys. Massaging a sore aching back with Rosemary for example will give a feeling of warmth to the muscles improving local blood supply and easing soreness and stiffness.
Essential oils fall into different categories according to what they do. Calming oils such as Lavender, Chamomile and Orange help to ease physical pain, soothing aching muscles or headaches and have a sedative, relaxing effect on the mind and body.
Pungent oils such as Black Pepper, Cardamon and Vetiver have an energising effect on the mind and body, increasing circulation and producing a sense of vitality. Fresh herbal oils such as Peppermint, Lemongrass and Rosemary are stimulating and help cleanse and detox the body, and improve concentration. Citrus oils such as Lemon, Grapefruit and Bergamot tonify all body systems and help lift depression.
The regular use of essential oils can greatly enhance well-being, help relieve the pressures of stress and every day modern living. It has been documented that daily use of essential oils can even increase self-esteem and confidence and it is well known that they can change the way you think and feel in seconds.
Diffusing is a fantastic way to change the environment, set the mood and effect the way you think and feel. It is a great way to help keep your mind alert and improve concentration. Aromatherapy baths, inhalations and massage can all help improve your immune function and increase your resistance to viruses and infections like colds and flu’s.
When it comes to purchasing essential oils it is important to choose oils from a trusted source. A company that is committed to providing the highest quality oils, preferably organic. Essential oils will vary in price due to the way they are extracted, the yield of that oil and where they are from. For instance a 10ml bottle of pure Rose oil will cost around $1,000 as it will take approximately a tonne of rose petals to produce that amount, whereas a 10ml bottle of pure organic Lavender will cost around $30 due to a much higher yield and better availability. Many companies will adulterate oils by adding synthetic counterparts or diluting them to keep the price down, sometimes to even trick the consumer and make more money. The key is to be aware and do your homework.
There are also contra-indications to be aware of, when essential oils should not be used. Some oils are contraindicated during pregnancy like Basil, Clary Sage, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram and Peppermint, some are sun sensitive (photo toxic) like Bergamot, Lemon and expressed Lime and some should be avoided with conditions such as epilepsy like Basil, Peppermint and Rosemary. Check an excellent resource for a full list of contraindications. Robert Tisserand’s Essential Oil Safety is a must-have.
Because essential oils are highly concentrated – often 70-100 times more concentrated than the aroma in the original plant – some oils can take a bit to get used to their intensity. That’s why we recommend you waft the bottle about 10cms from the nose when inhaling for the first time. It is also the reason why less is best. You only need a few drops at a time for any chosen method of use as follows:
Essential oil quick-reference blending guide for Adults
Massage: 100ml massage carrier oil : 50 drops (2:1 ratio = 2.5% dilution)
Body Boost: 6ml massage carrier oil : 3 drops
Vaporising: 6–8 drops
Bathing: 3–6 drops
Compress: 3–4 drops
Inhalation: 3–4 drops
Footbath: 3–6 drops
Spritzer: 3–6 drops
Direct application: Place 1 drop on a damp cotton bud
To Celebrate and Uplift your spirits these are the perfect oils, Clary Sage, Sweet Orange, Rosewood, YlangYlang and Grapefruit. This is your ‘happy’ blend. The one to promote joy and celebration into your life. A fantastic ‘pat on the back’ blend too!
To De-stress and Revive try these oils, Petitgrain, Bergamot, Rosewood, Grapefruit Pink, Sandalwood and Neroli. A great blend when things are getting on top of you or deadlines are looming. A lovely positive start to your day and great to use when you have a lot on your plate.
For more Energy and Vitality at any time, this uplifting combination of oils will help, Rosemary, Spanish, Basil, Lemon, Lime and Black Pepper they are the perfect pick-me-up. The best combination of oils when you want to get yourself up and out of bed with vigour and into your day with ease. A great afternoon blend when it is common to feel most lethargic and you need a pep up and brilliant to help enhance concentration and study!
For more Balance and Harmony and to bring stability and strength. A beautiful combination of oils such as Clary Sage, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Neroli and Rose will all help balance emotions and regulate body cycles which can sometimes go out of balance when stressed or over worked.
To give your body an Immune Boost and take care of yourself through the winter months or if you are not feeling 100% try this potent combination of Eucalyptus, Lavender, Tea Tree, Cedarwood and Pine, they are all perfect for strengthening the body’s immune system to get you back on top fast and feeling great. A powerful decongestant with anti-bacterial properties, these oils are great to use as your safeguard and a general immune booster.
To bring Instant Calm and relieve anxiety use the soothing properties of Lavender, Mandarin, Orange, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile and Neroli as they will help strengthen an overburdened nervous system and restore calm. A great oil blend if you need to calm
your emotions and relax before bed. Also a great combination of oils to soothe muscle aches and pains.
To help improve communication and enhance Romance and Intimacy try a sensual combination of Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, Rosewood, Sandalwood and Sweet Orange which enhances loving relationships, romance and positive communication. It is also the
perfect blend to use when you need to show some TLC for yourself.
To Detox and Strengthen the mind and body try these oils, Juniper, Rosemary, Spanish Cypress, Lemongrass, Grapefruit Pink, Black Pepper and Rose are all activating oils to help boost the body’s ability to cleanse and detox and ideal to support weight-loss. It is the kick-butt body and mind blend to give you strength and endurance through any challenge. A powerful blend to call on when you need that added stamina and fortitude, motivation and will power.
Place 6-8 drops of the energy and vitality oils into a Diffuser and use these oils as your ‘anchor’ whilst you are studying. On the day of an exam place a drop of these oils on a tissue and take into the exam with you. Take 3 deep breaths of your aromatic tissue before you even open the paper relaxing your diaphragm and centring yourself. A neuro-chemical loop will be reactivated giving you a sense of confidence and calm just as you were when all your books were in front of you.
Relaxation is not just the physical letting go of tight muscles; it is also the releasing of tension in your thoughts. Fill a sink with warm water and add 3-4 drops of the de-stress and revive oils or the instant calm oils. Immerse a face cloth into the sink and squeeze out excess water. Compress onto the face taking nice deep breaths. Repeat 3 times. This will help ease the mind, relieve a headache or relax a tired brain!
Top 6 oils for every home
Geranium is the oil to call on when calm and balance is needed. Excellent for emotional extremes, when late nights are prevalent or anxiety levels are rising. The perfect oil to bring stability and comfort and when life feels like it is getting out of control.
Lavender is your first aid kit and dream mum in a bottle! A must-have oil in every home to help nurture, heal, calm, soothe and restore. It is the safest to use directly on small burns, bites and stings and is the perfect sleep aid with one drop on your pillow.
Orange is an incredibly versatile oil. Whilst it is uplifting and radiating it is also relaxing and calming. Use with stimulating oils to help enliven the atmosphere and increase energy or with sedating oils to help promote relaxation and a good nights sleep!
Peppermint is a refreshing and stimulating, warming and cooling oil, this versatile oil is nature’s remedy for upset tummies, nausea and to support good digestion. Fantastic combined with Lavender for an energising foot bath. It is also the secret ingredient in the healthy Chocolate Almond Peppermint cake.
Rosemary is your activating oil. Use it to get you up in the morning, to focus and to stimulate brain activity. A great oil to help relieve muscle aches and pains and also known as the oil for remembrance, making it a fantastic study oil.
Sandalwood is your endurance oil especially for those long busy days. Use specifically when you want to feel grounded and centred but not sedated – like during a speech, formal presentation, exams or an interview. It is an excellent oil to help centre and ground the mind.
Aromatherapy has so many benefits. Some are more obvious like recovering from the flu or relieving muscle aches and pains. Others are more subtle and instinctive responses such as feeling stress and tension dissolve or getting a better night sleep. Psycho-aromatherapy enables us to take control of our thoughts and emotions, it helps us to acknowledge how we are feeling and gives us the natural tools to make positive changes.
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