Aromatherapy is used by alternative health and holistic healers to calm, soothe, and boost your overall health, including the health of your skin. Aromatherapy uses essential oils that come from plants, flowers, herbs, roots, and trees from all over the world. Many essential oils have medicinal properties.
The botanicals chosen for essential oils typically have powerful antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and/or antioxidant properties. Many are used for calming anxiety and reducing stress, and others are used for everything from soothing joint pain, improving digestion, boosting immunity, and even fighting some kinds of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
Essential oils are produced by distillation, a process that separates the oil and water-based plant compounds by steaming. They are highly concentrated and as a result - they have intense aromas! The essential oils used for aromatherapy can be sprayed, misted, or diffused in order to be inhaled and they also may be diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to skin.
Essential oils have been used as far back as 3000-2500 B.C. for everything from religious ceremonies to beauty aids to food preparation. While credit is usually given to the Egyptians for being the first to use them, there is also some evidence that they were used in China and India around the same time period. The Bible, both in the old and new testaments, also makes many references to these aromatic oils, such as when the Magi bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, and many mentions of ‘holy anointing oil.’
You can use essential oils indirectly such as sprinkling drops of oil in the shower or misting out of a spray bottle to scent your home. But if you wish to use essential oils directly onto your body, never apply an essential oil to your skin without diluting it into a carrier oil and also by patch-testing on your body (try the forearm on the 'inside' of the elbow). This is important because essential oils are too potent for application to your skin. As a general guideline, use 1-3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
Some of the best carrier oils are:
With an aromatherapy diffuser, you experience all of the positive effects without the worry of triggering asthma the way incense or candle smoke can, or the danger of burns and wax spills from candles.
Those big fears aside, you still need to be mindful of general safety. For example, if someone in your family (including pets) is allergic to a certain plant, keep in mind that an aromatherapy diffuser will still be putting that plant’s components into the air in such a potency that it can create indirect skin contact.
The information isn’t clear, but some do say that diffusers should be on for approximately 30 minutes. Shorter bursts of diffuser time seems to be more effective than long exposure, with 30-45 minutes deemed an ideal amount of time for an aromatherapy experience.
Here are 5 reasons why you should use an aromatherapy diffuser every day. You’ll benefit from a constant stream of aromatics that can:
Just because something is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe. Right now, there’s a big increase in the use of essential oils. That’s great, but we all need to think about basic essential oil safety. There are many concerns, and a lot of confusion and contradictory information out there, and so our goal is to clarify the information and explain the need for safety.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, which is obvious when you know that, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it takes about 220 pounds of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender oil!
Essential oils are also volatile and can evaporate very quickly when exposed to air, so remember to recap the bottles of oil you’re working with or you could lose some to evaporation.
That said, practice safety with essential oils by:
The information on this is confusing and often contradictory, so it’s best to consult your physician and adhere to general safety guidelines. Right now, it seems that primary concern is that essential oils may possibly cross over to the placenta, says the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. This organization also reported that there have been no known cases of miscarriage due to essential oil use.
Other sources say to avoid certain essential oils, such as clary sage, cinnamon, clove, and rosemary because they cause uterine contractions which could possibly trigger labor. Others say it’s okay to use them after the first trimester. Just to be completely safe, it’s best to avoid using essential oils for the entirety of a pregnancy.
Today’s Parent reports that you should be as alert to reactions to essential oils as you would be when introducing a new food to your child’s diet. Symptoms of a sensitivity to an essential oil can include coughing, sneezing, labored breathing, seizures, or other complaints. Don’t let children consume essential oils, and don’t let them apply the oils to their skin. Remove the temptation to play with the tiny bottles of oil by always storing them safely out of reach.
Some say not to use certain oils on children such as peppermint, rosemary, and wintergreen. These contain high doses of chemicals, like 1,8-cineole (also known as Eucalyptol) and methyl salicylate (also known as oil of wintergreen or wintergreen oil), that have more potential than others to cause breathing problems when inhaled.
The bottom-line: ALWAYS consult your pediatrician first!
There are two schools of thought on this. Some say it’s okay to ingest certain ones, but others says it’s never okay to ingest essential oils. If you personally believe that ingestion is okay, please understand that ingesting essential oils is not a time for the philosophy of “the more, the better.”
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported one near fatality due to peppermint oil poisoning. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also reports that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid ingesting lavender because it can cause uterine bleeding.
Whatever you decide, always be cautious and follow dosing directions in detail, and if you have any questions, please consult your doctor before using essential oils for aromatherapy!
There have been numerous stories surrounding peppermint oil, so let’s take a closer look at this powerful oil including its uses and the cautions that will keep you safe.
Peppermint can help to calm irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems, as well as the common cold, headaches, and other conditions. Peppermint oil can also be used topically (applied to the skin) for headache, muscle aches, itching, and other problems.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there’s some evidence that it may help to relieve heartburn when taken orally in combination with caraway oil, but more research needs to be done.
When using peppermint essential oil, practice these precautionary measures:
Aromatherapy has been proven to boost overall health, and here are some essential oils that are especially great for skin. Many essential oils such as lavender and rose have proven track records for nourishing aging skin, but here are a few more that you might also want to consider: