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AN INTRODUCTION TO AROMATHERAPY

HOW TO MAKE AND USE BLENDS

PLUS FAQ's

Aromatherapy is the modern name for using natural essential oils extracted from flowers, fruits, roots and plants to help maintain our physical and mental health. Our ancestors began using plants thousands of years ago. By watching animals, they learned that certain plants had ‘mystical’ properties. Certain plant juices helped heal wounds and leaves might make sick people feel better. Other plants would be burned and the smoke inhaled making people sleepy and relaxed or excited or even happy. Some plants, when burned, gave visions and other magical experiences. The use of plants and their extracts has a history record going back over 5,000 years. The Egyptians, then the Greeks and Romans made much use of plants and their extracts.  The knowledge gained in the depths of time is still in use today.  Because of our ancestors use of plants and their extracts there is no need for any testing on animals.

Today’s use of plant extracts (essential oils) came about as the result of an accident in a chemical laboratory. Réné-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, badly burned his hand and discovered that Lavender oil helped to heal a burn very, very quickly. He first used the word ‘aromatherapie’ in 1928, and published his “Aromatherapie” book in 1937.

Aromatherapy is now one of the most popular complementary medicines, taking a holistic (or, if you like, Whole-istic) approach to healing by treating physical, mental and emotional symptoms. Many plants contain essential oils, each with their own characteristics and useful properties. When you peel an orange, the orange citrus smell that fills the air is the fruit's essential oil being released.

Depending on the plant, its petals, seeds, roots, bark, leaves or stalk might be used in the process of producing essential oils.  Extracting and refining the oil is a skilled task, often with large quantities of raw materials needed to produce a small amount of essential oil. For example, Rose or Jasmine are very expensive to produce. It takes 60,000 Rose blossoms to make one drop of Rose Essential oil, making it one of the most expensive. Jasmine flowers are hand picked just before dawn when the scent is strongest.

Aromatherapy works on the basis of allowing the ‘smell’ of essential oils to be inhaled through the nose. The aroma is picked up by the olfactory receptors in the nose, which pass a ‘message’ to the mood center of the brain. A person who inhales a powerful  ‘relaxing’ oil will feel less tension. A ‘stimulating’ essential oil will give a boost if you’re feeling low.

Essential oils, so-called because they are made of the concentrated essence of the plants from which they are extracted, are the basis for all aromatherapy. They are absorbed through the skin as well as through the nose. As a result, aromatherapy massage can have a doubling effect when the fragrance from the massage oil is also inhaled.

CHOOSING ESSENTIAL OIL

There are over seventy essential oils, but only around 40 in regular use. Essential oils fall into one of five fragrance families - citrus, floral, green, spicy or woody. Different families will appeal to different individuals depending on your emotional and physical ‘feelings’. As these change, so will the choice of oils you prefer. Select oils according to their effects and uses as well as your reaction to the aroma. Rose oil might provoke a happy summer memory. Orange oil may remind you of summer sun. Aromatherapy is most effective when smell provokes happy positive feelings. If you don't like an aroma, you will feel uneasy and the oil will not be as effective as it should be.

USING ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be used for massage, bathing, inhalation or vaporisation and will help maintain your health. Many aromatherapy products are “ready to use”. These include massage oils, bath oils, creams and gels where the essential oils have already been diluted. Always read the label.

PLEASE READ PRODUCT INFORMATION - ESSENTIAL OILS.

MASSAGE

Pure essential oils are highly concentrated and (with the exception of Lavender and to a lesser extent Tea Tree) should never be applied neat to the skin. Always dilute into a carrier oil before massage - their potency will ensure you get the full effects, even from a small amount. Too much essential oil in a blend is, potentially, dangerous and very wasteful.

Sweet Almond, Grapeseed and Coconut carrier oils are light and easily absorbed. Wheatgerm, Jojoba and Vitamin E oils are richer oils that benefit the hair and dry or mature skin. These last three oils should also be diluted 1 part to 10 parts Sweet Almond or Grapeseed oil.

Once you have prepared your carrier, add your chosen essential oils (check the volumes used for dilutation – generally, 3 to 6 drops for every 10ml of carrier oil, unless stated otherwise in the Essential Oil description). It is preferable to mix two or three oils together - using 2 or 3 drops of each (up to the maximum required for your blend and/or carrier oil volume) - to get the specific effect you desire.  Oils are synergistic: When combined in certain rations and blends, their strength increases significantly. During massage the skin absorbs the oils and you inhale also the aroma.

A simple formula for diluting oils is:

Volume of carrier oil = 100ml divided by 2 = 50 drops of Essential Oil in TOTAL

Volume of carrier oil = 50ml divided by 2 = 25 drops of Essential Oil in TOTAL

BATHING.

Add 4 - 8 drops of essential oil to 10ml of carrier oil or milk and add to a RUNNING bath for a therapeutic soak. Your body will absorb the oils and you will inhale the aroma from the bath steam.

INHALATION

Add 3 - 4 drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot (but not boiling) water, then cover your head with a towel, close your eyes and inhale the steam for a few minutes. Alternatively, add 2 or 3 drops to a tissue and breathe in.

VAPORISATION

Place about 10 drops of essential oil into a burner, diffuser, vaporiser or vaporising ring. Many different types are available. Vaporising Essential Oils is an excellent way of fighting colds & ‘flu viruses (Eucalyptus, Lavender & Pine for example), clearing stuffy heads or, simply, creating a pleasant, even mood changing aroma (Lavender, Geranium & Ylang Ylang).

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

What is the difference between essential oils and aromatherapy or fragrance oils?

Essential oils are pure, high grade, undiluted and extracted from one plant. Aromatherapy oils may only contain a small amount of essential oil or blended oil and are probably cheaper.

How can I be sure that I've chosen a good, high-grade oil?

A label that says 'pure essential oil' and includes the Latin name is an indication of quality. A high-grade oil should also come in dark tinted bottles, as oils are light sensitive.

Why are some oils more expensive than others?

Essential oils are priced individually according to the extraction process, the amount of raw ingredients needed and the method of collecting the plant materials. See above (An introduction to aromatherapy).

Are there any side effects?

If you experience a minor skin reaction, stop using that particular oil and check you have diluted it properly. If the reaction is severe, bath the area with carrier oil to clear the skin. Water will not help as essential oils are not water-soluble.

What if I am already taking conventional medicine?

Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. It can be used at the same time as conventional medicine, but should not replace prescription medicines. Ask your Doctor or pharmacist first.

Remember that some essential oils are not suitable for use during pregnancy, if you suffer from High Blood Pressure, Heart Problems, Kidney/Liver problems, diabetes, or suffer from Epilepsy.

Can aromatherapy help my children?

People of all ages can benefit, but read the instructions when using essential oils on children, as some are unsuitable. When using essential oils with small (babies & toddlers) children the volumes used should be reduced significantly.

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