AN INTRODUCTION TO AROMATHERAPY
HOW TO MAKE AND USE
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
simple formula for diluting oils is:
of carrier oil = 100ml divided by 2 = 50 drops of Essential
Oil in TOTAL
of carrier oil = 50ml divided by 2 = 25 drops of Essential
Oil in TOTAL
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.
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.
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).
is the difference between essential oils and aromatherapy
or fragrance oils?
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.
can I be sure that I've chosen a good, high-grade oil?
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.
are some oils more expensive than others?
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
there any side effects?
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.
if I am already taking conventional medicine?
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.
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
aromatherapy help my children?
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.