Ayurveda and Aromatherapy

Ayurveda and Aromatherapy
By Margi Macdonald

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is the science of life which was first understood by the Vedic Rishis – or Seers – of ancient India at least 4000 years ago. The Seers observed life and the universe and described this system of understanding which was subsequently handed down through the generations.

The knowledge was recorded in Sanskrit as poetic verse, and first, describes the creation of the universe which began with the sound Om. Energy and Matter came into being, and from them arose the Five Great Elements of Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. This is the guiding philosophy of Ayurveda – Sankhya – behind which there is considered a state of pure existence or awareness, beyond time or space, without beginning or end.

Gunas

The Gunas are the primary qualities or attributes of all things in the universe. They are Sattva, the higher principle of harmony, equilibrium, and subtleness; Rajas, the intermediate principle of energy, motion, and lightness; and Tamas, the lower principle of inertia, and density of matter.

Within the Pranic and mental fields, the Gunas manifest as Prana, Tejas, and Ojas.

Prana is the first air of creation, the universe, and the body. This is the life-force or energy which holds body, mind, and spirit together, and animates their functions. It is infused with the life of all organisms. Also meaning breath, Prana is closely associated with respiration.

Tejas is the subtle fire which helps maintain metabolism while producing combustion. It carries the vital essences of radiance, color, and luminosity to every cell in every organism.

Ojas is the cumulative essence upon which our physical, mental and spiritual strength depend on. Our aura – the strength and glow we are meant to exude -is produced from abundant Ojas.

Doshas

Doshas – perhaps the better known of the Ayurvedic concepts – are the more physically material, biological forms of Prana, Tejas, and Ojas. Called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, they are condensations of the Five Great Elements. Each Dosha is a pairing of two elements. Vata is Ether and Air; Pitta is Fire and Water; Kapha is Water and Earth.

Each Dosha exhibits and holds the attributes of its Great Elements, which have specific activities and structures in the body and the mind. With regular and mindful observation of the Elements in nature all around us, we effortlessly understand their activity and presence in our body-mind.

We are each made up of a unique mix of the three Doshas, which provide us with our greatest strengths and greatest challenges as we move through life and fulfill our destiny. This unique mix which we inherit at birth is called Prakriti. Disease, pain, emotional distress and other states of disharmony are the body-mind alerting us that we have moved out of our state of Prakriti.

The general functions of the Doshas are summarized here:

Vata: transmission of nerve impulses, blood circulation, respiration, transport of secretions, movement of food and waste, childbirth, expression of emotions, creativity, enthusiasm.

Pitta: digestion, metabolism, body heat, discrimination, vision, coloring, hunger, and thirst, conversion of sensation to nerve impulses, thought processes, appreciation, reasoning, intelligence, confidence.

Kapha: Mucus to lubricate food in the gut, mucus to ease respiration and trap dust particles, synovial fluid in the joints, physical matter in the body, insulation, endurance, sleep, long term memory, flexibility, compassion, patience, stability.

The Doshas direct and influence body type and structure, tissues and organs, mental ability and emotional state, memory, personality, libido, skin and hair color; and texture, the shape and arrangement of our teeth, our ability to lose and gain weight, our senses and body tissues, our sleeping patterns and our dreams. Even our money management and cooking skills are directed by the balance and proportions of the Doshas.

When a Dosha is in excess, or disharmony, certain conditions may occur. The goal is to provide healing activities and exercises, natural substances and external stimuli which will restore the usual balance. Essential oils are an ideal group of natural remedies as they work on the physical, mental and emotional levels.

Vata in excess will manifest as agitation, anxiety or fear, weight loss, dry skin, feeling cold, scattered thoughts, ungroundedness, unpredictability, wind, gas, or constipation, cracking joints, light sleep or sleep-talking. Vata needs to be warmed and calmed with essential oils such as cardamom, patchouli, ginger, nutmeg, basil, coriander, spikenard, bergamot, clove, elemi, frankincense, vanilla. Vata’s dry excess benefits immensely from regular application of body oils.

If Pitta is excessive, there may be fiery outbursts, rashes, heartburn, thirst or mouth ulcers, hypertension, inflammatory conditions, or intense headaches. Pitta in excess needs to be cooled and soothed with essential oils such as sandalwood, kewda, roman and german chamomile, lavender, vetiver, rose otto, yarrow, geranium, clary sage, ylang-ylang, jasmine, champa, lemon lime.

Kapha in excess manifests with fluid congestion or retention, weight gain, and heaviness, lethargy, clinginess, stuck or foggy thinking. It too needs to be warmed, so any of the spice essential oils are a good choice. Kapha also needs to be activated and stimulated with drying, energizing and uplifting essential oils such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, angelica, neroli, rosemary, juniper, grapefruit, myrrh, fennel, spruce, the cedar woods, myrtle.

Many essential oils can benefit more than one Dosha, particularly when combined in a synergistic blend, making them a pleasurable, effective, economical and useful addition to our lives.

There are many resources available to us if we choose to understand a little more about healing ourselves with Ayurveda, the ‘mother’ of all healing systems. The best place to start is with a self-assessment tool which enables us to discover our Prakriti. One of the most helpful books for understanding Ayurveda and Aromatherapy is Dr. Light and Dr. Bryan Miller�s Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom & Modern Healing.

The Author:

Margi Macdonald is an Australian Acupuncturist and TCM practitioner, Aromatherapist, and Reiki Healer. Ayurveda was the first of the ancient life sciences Margi studied before formally qualifying with a Bachelor of Health Science in Acupuncture. The principles of Ayurveda and Aromatherapy guide her work in the emotional and mental realms of healing.

What is Aromatherapy?

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants for healing. Although the word “aroma” makes it sound as if the oils are inhaled, they can also be massaged into the skin or — rarely — taken by mouth. You should never take essential oils by mouth without specific instruction from a trained and qualified specialist. Whether inhaled or applied to the skin, essential oils are gaining new attention as an alternative treatment for infections, stress, and other health problems. However, in most cases, scientific evidence is still lacking.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants. Each contains its own mix of active ingredients, and this mix determines what the oil is used for. Some oils are used to promote physical healing — for example, to treat swelling or fungal infections. Others are used for their emotional value — they may enhance relaxation or make a room smell pleasant. Orange blossom oil, for example, contains a large amount of an active ingredient that is thought to be calming.
What is the history of aromatherapy?
Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for nearly 6,000 years. The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them in cosmetics, perfumes, and drugs. Essential oils were also commonly used for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes.
More recently, René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, discovered the healing properties of lavender oil when he applied it to a burn on his hand caused by an explosion in his laboratory. He then started to analyze the chemical properties of essential oils and how they were used to treat burns, skin infections, gangrene, and wounds in soldiers during World War I. In 1928, Gattefossé founded the science of aromatherapy. By the 1950s massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, and other healthcare providers began using aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy did not become popular in the United States until the 1980s. Today, many lotions, candles, and beauty products are sold as “aromatherapy.” However, many of these products contain synthetic fragrances that do not have the same properties as essential oils.

HOW DOES AROMATHERAPY WORK?

Researchers are not entirely clear how aromatherapy may work. Some experts believe our sense of smell may play a role. The “smell” receptors in your nose communicate with parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus) that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. When you breathe in essential oil molecules, some researchers believe they stimulate these parts of your brain and influence physical, emotional, and mental health. For example, scientists believe lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells in the amygdala similar to the way some sedative medications work. Other researchers think that molecules from essential oils may interact in the blood with hormones or enzymes.
Aromatherapy massage is a popular way of using essential oils because it works in several ways at the same time. Your skin absorbs essential oils and you also breathe them in. Plus, you experience the physical therapy of the massage itself.
What happens during an aromatherapy session?
Professional aromatherapists, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and massage therapists can provide topical or inhaled aromatherapy treatment. Only specially trained professionals can provide treatment that involves taking essential oils by mouth.
At an aromatherapy session, the practitioner will ask about your medical history and symptoms, as well any scents you may like. You may be directed to breathe in essential oils directly from a piece of cloth or indirectly through steam inhalations, vaporizers, or sprays. The practitioner may also apply diluted essential oils to your skin during a massage. In most cases, the practitioner will tell you how to use aromatherapy at home, by mixing essential oils into your bath, for example.

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY GOOD FOR?

Aromatherapy is used in a wide range of settings — from health spas to hospitals — to treat a variety of conditions. In general, it seems to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of relaxation. In fact, several essential oils — including lavender, rose, orange, bergamot, lemon, sandalwood, and others — have been shown to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.
Several clinical studies suggest that when essential oils (particularly rose, lavender, and frankincense) were used by qualified midwives, pregnant women felt less anxiety and fear, had a stronger sense of well-being and had less need for pain medications during delivery. Many women also report that peppermint oil relieves nausea and vomiting during labor.
Massage therapy with essential oils (combined with medications or therapy) may benefit people with depression. The scents are thought by some to stimulate positive emotions in the area of the brain responsible for memories and emotions, but the benefits seem to be related to relaxation caused by the scents and the massage. A person’s belief that the treatment will help also influences whether it works.
In one study, Neroli oil helped reduce blood pressure and pre-procedure anxiety among people undergoing a colonoscopy.
In test tubes, chemical compounds from some essential oils have shown antibacterial and antifungal properties. Some evidence also suggests that citrus oils may strengthen the immune system and that peppermint oil may help with digestion. Fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary sage have estrogens-like compounds, which may help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause. However, human studies are lacking.
Other conditions for which aromatherapy may be helpful include:
  • Alopecia areata (hair loss)
  • Agitation, possibly including agitation related to dementia
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation (with abdominal massage using aromatherapy)
  • Insomnia
  • Pain: Studies have found that people with rheumatoid arthritis, cancer (using topical chamomile), and headaches (using topical peppermint) require fewer pain medications when they use aromatherapy
  • Itching, a common side effect of those receiving dialysis
  • Psoriasis

SHOULD ANYONE AVOID AROMATHERAPY?

Pregnant women, people with severe asthma, and people with a history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician.
Pregnant women and people with a history of seizures should avoid hyssop oil.
People with high blood pressure should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and spike lavender.
People with estrogen-dependent tumors (such as breast or ovarian cancer) should not use oils with estrogens like compounds such as fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary sage.
People receiving chemotherapy should talk to their doctor before trying aromatherapy.
Is there anything I should watch out for?
Most topical and inhaled essential oils are generally considered safe. You should never take essential oils by mouth unless you are under the supervision of a trained professional. Some oils are toxic, and taking them by mouth could be fatal.
Rarely, aromatherapy can induce side effects, such as rash, asthma, headache, liver and nerve damage, as well as harm to a fetus.
Oils that are high in phenols, such as cinnamon, can irritate the skin. Add water or a base massage oil (such as almond or sesame oil) to the essential oil before applying to your skin. Avoid using near your eyes.
Essential oils are highly volatile and flammable so they should never be used near an open flame.
Animal studies suggest that active ingredients in certain essential oils may interact with some medications. Researchers don’t know if they have the same effect in humans. Eucalyptus, for example, may cause certain medications, including pentobarbital (used for seizures) and amphetamine (used for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to be less effective.
How can I find an aromatherapist?
While there are currently no boards that certify or license aromatherapists in the United States, many professionals are members of professional organizations. To locate a qualified aromatherapist in your area, contact the National Association of Holistic Therapy at www.naha.org. Many aromatherapists are trained in some other form of therapy or healing system, such as massage or chiropractic, and include aromatherapy in their practice.
What is the future of aromatherapy?
Although essential oils have been used for centuries, few studies have looked the safety and effectiveness of aromatherapy in people. Scientific evidence is lacking, and there are some concerns about the safety and quality of certain essential oils. More research is needed before aromatherapy becomes a widely accepted alternative remedy.

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Ballard CG, Gauthier S, Cummings JL, Brodaty H, Grossberg GT, Robert P, Lyketsos CG. Management of agitation and aggression associated with Alzheimer disease. Nat Rev Neurol. 2009 May;5(5):245-55. Review.
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How Aromatherapy Works

Essential oils are composed of molecules of aromatic compounds. One essential oil might contain hundreds of these aromatic compounds, which contribute to the oil’s unique aroma and physiological actions. Chemists call these “volatile compounds” because their molecules easily evaporate, or volatilize, into the air. This is contrasted with fixed oils, such as cooking oils, which do not evaporate as quickly.

Essential oils can enter your body via absorption through your skin. In addition, the aromatic molecules floating around in the air enter your nose and are picked up by olfactory receptors. These transport information to the olfactory bulb located at the top of the nasal passage at the base of your brain. From there, scent information is passed on to the limbic system, a primitive part of your brain responsible for very basic body functions. The limbic system communicates with the hypothalamus and pituitary, master glands that affect and regulate fundamental body processes including the secretion of hormones and the regulation of moods, digestion, appetite, sexual arousal, and heartbeat. Aromas also stimulate the parts of your brain that control memory.

aromatherapy-how-it-works

Practice of Aromatic Alchemy

When we approach an essential oil with concentration and mindfulness it begins to reveal hidden dimensions of beauty, power, and intelligence that are not ordinarily noticed. As we integrate these new perceptions into a greater awareness of our own physiological reactions to the plant’s essence, we begin to understand how we are deeply connected to all of life, specifically to the photosynthetic beings that give us nourishment and medicines. By exploring this biological unity through our own senses, we come to realize directly that the processes of life occurring in and around us are truly the expressions and manifestations of an underlying miraculous and profound consciousness, as so eloquently described by the language of Ayurveda. For that reason, we call this practice “Aromatic Alchemy.”

There are two basic ways to use essential oils with meditation practice. The first is to use the oils to enhance meditative states, and the second is to use meditation to study the oils. In this program, we use both these approaches, both separately and together.All of our senses can be used to support meditation, contemplation, and concentration. Music and mantra are used to relax and focus the mind and uplift consciousness through the sense of hearing. Inner visualization and concentration on external symbols use our visual sense. Massage, acupuncture, yoga and other physical therapies utilizing the sense of touch have always played an important role in supporting a spiritual practice. Diet, herbs and the sense of taste play crucial roles in helping nourish our meditation practice.

The use of fragrance in meditation, contemplation, and devotional practices is widespread in the form of incense and altar offerings. Many of the “sacred scents” such as frankincense, sandalwood, palo santo and agarwood that are used routinely in ceremonies and rituals now have documented research confirming their psychoactive properties as antidepressants, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety) and general mood enhancers.

However, the use of specific fragrances to enhance meditation and concentration is, in my opinion, underutilized. Because of the links among olfaction, the limbic system, and awareness, when botanical aromatics are used consciously and deliberately to support meditation practice, their effects become more powerful than when used superficially as a background fragrance. Likewise, a contemplative approach that reveals the inner dimensions of the plant consciousness responsible for creating the aromatic compounds is also lacking in most aromatherapy programs. Therefore, a meditation retreat that encourages us to become focused and attentive allows the mind to concentrate more deeply and thereby learn about the hidden dimensions within sensory phenomenon more effectively. This is how we use meditation to study botanical aromatic medicines.

The basic philosophy of this system of meditations and teachings is that there exist a biological unity and interrelatedness between the influences of sun and moon and the pranic intelligence of plants; the pranic intelligence of plants and their metabolism of environmental elements; the elements of the environment and the production of aromatic molecules within the plants; aromatic molecules and the human respiratory system; the respiratory system and the olfactory pathways; and the olfactory pathways and perception of fragrance within consciousness.

In other words, when we smell a botanical fragrance with deep concentration we are able to gradually perceive all these levels, because they are all present in the oil, both as molecular compounds and the cosmological energies they convey. In this way we can study not only the fragrance and its therapeutic effects but also the underlying elemental influences that were metabolized by the intelligence of the plant; ultimately, we can come face to face with the botanical intelligence itself. Through this practice of contemplative aromatherapy, we can develop an understanding of how human consciousness is inseparable from the processes of life within the biosphere and the greater cosmos.

THE SEVEN BEST WAYS OF USING ESSENTIAL OILS FOR HEALTH AND HEALING

1. INHALATIONS

This is the use of essential oils on the hot compress, in diffusers, or in hot water for inhalation. The standard dose is 10 drops.

*Caution: prolonged inhalation of concentrated essential oils can cause headaches, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, and lethargy.

Benefits: Best for respiratory, sinus problems, and headaches.

2. BATHS

The best way to use essential oils in the bath is to mix them first with salts or an emulsifier such as milk or sesame oil. Aromatic bath salts disperse the oils safely into the water while milk and sesame oil emulsify the essential oil so that it disperses. Without salts or an emulsifier, drops of essential oils will float on the water and then get directly on the skin. Combined with the heat of the water, this can cause dermo toxicity, especially if the oils are of a heating nature.

Recommended Herbs in the Bath: The oils that are generally considered mild and safe for bath are lavender oil, clary sage oil, rose oil, geranium oil, frankincense oil, sandalwood oil, eucalyptus oil, and conifers such as cedar oil, fir oil, pine oil, pinon pine essential oil, spruce oil, and juniper oil to name a few. A generally safe dose is 5 – 10 drops, mixed with 1/2 to 1 cup of salt or emulsifier.

Herbs to Avoid in Baths: Oils that should be avoided in the bath include spicy oils such as cinnamon oil, oregano oil, thyme oil, and tulsi; phototoxic oils such as citruses, especially bergamot oil, and those with specific irritant potential such as lemongrass oil.

Benefits: Aromatic baths are excellent for skin problems, circulatory problems, respiratory symptoms, stress, and nervous tension, insomnia, muscular, and menstrual pains.

*Caution: Overuse of essential oils in the bath can cause irritation. Use only mild, non-irritating oils for baths, such as lavender oil and clary sage oil.

3. COMPRESSES

10 drops oil in 4 oz hot water. Soak cloth and wrap.

Benefits: Good for bruises, wounds, muscular aches and pains, dysmenorrhea, and skin problems.

4. FACIAL STEAM

1 – 5 drops of the hot water in a pot, cover head with a towel, steam face.

Benefits: Excellent for opening sinuses, headaches, and as a skin treatment.

5. MASSAGE

Pure essential oils are about 70 times more concentrated than the whole plant. Dilutions are typically 2% – 10%. For adults, a 2.5% dilution is recommended for most purposes. For children under 12, 1% is generally safe. A 2.5% blend for a 1-ounce bottle of carrier oil is 15 drops of essential oil.

1% blend = 6 drops per oz
2% blend = 12 drops per oz
3% blend = 18 drops per oz
5% blend = 30 drops per oz
10% blend = 60 drops per oz

Floracopeia infuses oils of jasmine, neroli, rose and vanilla with marula oil for our different massage oil blends.

6. DIRECT PALM INHALATION

Caution: This method of use should only be done with oils that can be safely applied to the skin (see the toxicology and safety section below). Apply 1-2 drops of oil to the palms, rub together gently and inhale deeply. This is an excellent method of use for a quick and easy exposure to the antimicrobial and other therapeutic uses of essential oils.

7. DIFFUSERS

There are various types of diffusers on the market with different advantages and disadvantages.

CANDLE DIFFUSERS
Usually a heat resistant vessel for water and essential oils, and a heat resistant platform that holds the vessel over a small candle.

Advantages: Very simple to use; provides light background fragrancing.
Disadvantages: Does not produce strong concentration for therapeutic benefits.

ELECTRIC HEAT DIFFUSERS
Small absorbent pads are placed inside of a heating chamber with ventilation that allows the aromatic compounds to evaporate into the surrounding air.

Advantages: Easy to use; minimal maintenance; can diffuse thicker oils.
Disadvantages: Heat damages some aromatic compounds.

COOL AIR NEBULIZING DIFFUSERS
A system that uses air pressure generated by a compressing unit to vaporize the essential oils. A glass nebulizing bulb serves as a condenser, allowing only the finest particles of the essential oil to escape into the air.

Advantages: Strong diffusion maximizes therapeutic benefits in respiratory conditions.
Disadvantages: Diffusers need to be cleaned regularly. More viscous oils cannot be diffused (such as sandalwood oil or ylang-ylang oil).

Electric heat and cool air nebulizers can be purchased with timers to produce intermittent diffusion. This reduces the amount of oil consumed and prevents over-saturation in a room.

THE ABSORPTION AND EFFECTS OF ESSENTIAL OILS

Glandular
Essential oils probably exert their most powerful and direct pharmacological effects systemically via the blood supply to the brain. They also have an indirect effect via the olfactory nerve pathways into the brain. Essential oil fragrances are absorbed through blood circulation and nerve pathways from the sinuses into the central glands of the brain, which control emotional, neurological, and immunological functions.

Skin
Essential oils are absorbed in minute quantities through the skin, depending on the oil, dilution, and application (carrier oil, compress, etc). Many of the indications for specific oils include various skin conditions.

Respiratory
Essential oils are inhaled during treatment, which has a direct effect on the sinuses, throat, and lungs. Many essential oils are specific medicines for respiratory conditions.

Circulation
Many essential oils have beneficial effects on circulatory problems, both through dermal and respiratory absorption. These oils enhance the circulation stimulating effects of massage.

Safety When Using Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a very old healing art using essential oils, which was used by the Chinese as early as in 4,000 B.C. In all probability, the Chinese were the first to make use of essential oils for remedial purposes. It is also known that the ancient Egyptians used aromatics during their rituals as well as for curative purposes, counting various forms of massage. In addition, they also employed aromatics as cosmetics and for embalming. In fact, it has been possible for us to learn about the extensive essential oil use by ancient Egyptians because they had carved several formulas used by them on the walls of their stone temples. However, it was as late as the 17th century when the very first medical manual describing the several uses of oils derived from plants was published. By the time we progressed into the 19th century, use of chemicals that replaced the plant oils became very popular and this nearly brought the use of unadulterated natural oils to a halt.

It may be noted that aromatherapy or healing with aromatic essential oils helps to enhance the life’s quality on physical, emotional as well spiritual levels. In effect, aromatherapy is based on the use of the fragrant essential oils – the crucial essence of the life of sweet-smelling plants as well as flowers, which are present in a pure and intensified form.

Before we delve deeper into this topic, it is worth mentioning that all plants do not enclose essential oils; it is found in just about 20 per cent of all plants. And the over 150 plants that do have essential oils or the concentrate enclose it in particular glands found in the flowers, foliage or other materials. Precisely speaking, people have used all plant parts, including the leaves, stems, roots, bark, blossoms, flowers, fruits, seeds, nuts and even resins to acquire the essential oils. For the plants, their essential oils are an element of their individual immune system. When these oils disperse or evaporate, they build a sort of barrier covering the leaves or the other parts of the plants and, hence, help to lessen the water loss by means of evaporation inside the plant. In reality, essential oils seem to offer the plants some kind of protection against infections, reinforce their immune system, in addition to drawing insects that are crucial for pollination.

It has been found that plants containing essential oils mostly grow in environs that are hot and dry. These essential oils are present in the plants in maximum amounts during particular points in time during the daytime and at specific periods every year. Therefore, that particular time is most suitable for extracting as well as distilling the essential oils. The precise amount of essential oil made by any plant is greatly dependent on the prevailing conditions in the place where it is growing – for instance, the soil type, rainfall and also the total sunlight received by the plant. As the essential oils are produced in very tiny amounts, it usually requires several plants to obtain just an ounce of the oil – as much as six pounds (about 2.72 kg) of lavender blooms are required to produce just as little as one ounce (28.35 grams) of essential oil, whereas 300 pounds (136.08 kg) of rose petals are needed to make only one ounce of rose oil.

aromatherapy-oils1

The majority of the essential oils are acquired by means of a process called steam distillation. This process entails packing big containers with plant parts that are subsequently steamed at extreme pressure. The hot vapor makes the plant materials to exude the essential oils, which are not water soluble and, hence, would eventually drift to the surface of the water. Next, the essential oils are scooped from the top of the water. Eventually, these unadulterated plant ‘essences’ are made available for use in several dissimilar means.

Essential oils are present in an extremely concentrated form and are constituted exceptionally comprising plant hormones, vitamins, and antibiotics. Compared to dehydrated herbs, the essential oils are about anything between 75 and 100 fold additionally concentrated. As essential oils form the most powerful constituents of the plants, they are required in just a tiny amount to be effectual.

The consistency of essential oils is akin to the stability of water, and a majority of them are usually lighter compared to water. Basically, essential oils are different from the vegetable oils and they are not at all greasy. The majority of them are colorless, but volatile, denoting that they evaporate very rapidly when they come in contact with air.

The essential oils have a holistic action on our body, blending the physical and psychological aspects of an individual. In fact, they work in tandem with the entire facets of our body – reinforcing, instead of debilitating it with a view to making them competent to assist in the curative as well as the recuperative process.

As far as the application of essential oils is concerned, they are very flexible. They possess the aptitude to have an effect on individuals at several different levels – physical, psychological and emotional. This is something that is lacking in other curative arts. You may include them in several of your routine activities without any difficulty. In effect, unadulterated essential oils are useful in all homes as well as in every lifestyle. Essential oils are basically the alternatives provided by nature to several man-made chemicals that have actually overrun our homes and lives on the pretext of health, vigor, hygiene as well ecological improvement.

IMPROVING HEALTH AND WELL-BEING:

essential-oil-bottles-plants-herbs-flowers-1024x695-5Essential oils are made naturally from hydrocarbon molecules. The variety of impacts of using an essential oil depends on the nature of molecules it is composed of. There are a number of essences that contain as many as 250 dissimilar elements that make it impossible to duplicate them by synthetic means. When applied, the fragrant molecules of these essences get in touch with the sole part of the brain which is outside the body and open to the elements – the olfactory bulb. In fact, the olfactory bulb is responsible for our awareness to odor and is 10,000-fold further sensitive compared to all our other senses.

The different fragrances directly bind to the brain’s neocortex – the portion of the brain which deals with emotions and memory and also the place where the stimulation of basic drives takes place. Therefore, when you inhale the essences, you bring forth different types of reactions that encourage a feeling of health as well as well-being. The molecules making up the essential oils are also understood to seep into the skin from where the circulatory and lymphatic systems transport them to our internal organs. Irrespective of whether you inhale the essential oils or they are soaked up by the skin, when their reach the body fluids and the bloodstream, the essences have a therapeutic effect – provided you use them in small doses.

Chemicals present in these essences work to release the ability of our body to heal itself. In fact, the essential oils can have an influence on every aspect of the functioning of our body – including the tissues, organs, cells, body fluids, in addition to our emotional condition and our spiritual facet.

It is worth mentioning here that aromatherapy produces very individual results and it has a unique effect on each individual. In addition, it is also possible that an individual will experience different effects using the same essence subject to the environment, his/ her mood and at the precise time during the day.

The concept of aromatherapy entails first finding the aromas that are unique to every individual and stir up helpful physical sensations as well as emotions and, subsequently, introducing the particular aromas to our daily life with a view to augment our health and well-being. In fact, the natural aromas help us to remain grounded – an attachment with the earth, scintillating our emotions as well as memories and, at the same time, curing the inner self.

THE ESSENCE:

essential-oil-bottles-jpg

We mainly use most essential oils in the form of flavoring agents for foods and aromatic substances. Although they are also used by the pharmaceutical industry, they are only of interest to the chemists who work to segregate the ‘active principle’ of these essential oils. Nevertheless, a number of essential oils are still used in their normal condition by aromatherapy experts as well as practitioners of herbal remedies.

Essential oils are often also referred to as ‘volatile oils’ or ‘essences’, potently aromatic liquids present in fragrant plants, grasses, and trees. It is worth mentioning here that the expression ‘essential’ has been drawn from the term ‘quintessence’, which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is ‘something drawn out from any material enclosing its principle in the most intense state’. In primeval alchemical or philosophical terminology, the word quintessence was associated with ether (also known as the fifth element) and it was believed that quintessence is actually the spiritual trait of any substance. In addition, it is fascinating to note that occasionally essential oils are also referred to as ‘ethereal oils’ – a Germanic expression that appropriately depicts their apparent features because essential oils evaporate when they are exposed to air, similar to vapor disappearing into the ether.

WHERE ARE THEY FOUND?

essential oils and medical flowers herbsEssentials oils are not enclosed by any particular part of the plant but they may be found in various parts. Usually, they are present in the leaves (eucalyptus); flowers (rose); bulbs (garlic); rhizomes (valerian); bark (cinnamon); seeds (caraway); citrus rind (lemon); heartwood (sandalwood); resin (frankincense); the aerial parts of a plant (marjoram) and even the roots of grasses (vetiver). While essential oil is obtained from the leaves as well as the flowers of lavender, orange trees yield three dissimilar aromatic oils having different therapeutic attributes – an identical, but not as superior fragrance as that of petit grain (leaves); the invigorating sour-sweet neroli (blossoms); and the cherry orange scent (from the fruit’s rind).

While occasionally the essential oils are belittled as the ‘wastes’ produced during the metabolism of plants, findings of several types of research have revealed that they actually help the plants in their reproductive as well as protective activities. In effect, plants generally use their essential oils for drawing insects to help in pollination; shielding them from ailments and also to keep away predators. Nevertheless, in general, the essential oils are not crucial for the survival of the plants – something contrary to the meaning of the term ‘essential’. While it is a fact that majority of the plants have some kind of smell – you can sense it provided your nose is sensitive, all plants do not produce essential oils. Only a small fraction of plants yield essential oils.

It has been found that the essential oils build up in particular tissues of the plants that possess oil glands. In effect, the number of oil glands possessed by a plant is directly related to a number of essential oils produced by it. Specifically speaking, a plant having relatively more oil glands will produce additional amounts of essential oils, making its price cheaper, while plant having lesser oil glands will yield comparatively less volume of its essence, making it quite expensive. For example, while just about 1/2 liter essence is obtained by steam distilling 100 kg rose petals, it is possible to produce about three liters of essential oil from 100 kg lavender.

As essential oils are extremely concentrated, they are seldom used undiluted. However, there are specific essential oils like tea tree and lavender which are occasionally employed neat in the form of an antiseptic. Nevertheless, when essential oils are used for aromatherapy they are always used after diluting them incompatible ‘carrier’ oils like olive or sweet almond. In addition to dissolving in common vegetable oils, the essences are also soluble in other substances such as egg yolk, alcohol, and waxes (for instance, jojoba or thawed beeswax). On the other hand, essential oils dissolve partially in water and somewhat more in vinegar.

COLOR AND CONSISTENCY:

In theory, the essential oils are categorized as oils; but the plant ‘quintessence’ or essences are somewhat unlike the ‘fixed’ vegetable or fatty oils; such as the oils derived from sweet almond; corn or sunflower seed. These oils are extremely unstable or ‘volatile’ and they are exposed to the atmosphere; they disappear rapidly without even leaving a mark. Essential oils are found in a number of colors – mostly colorless (peppermint); while some have a greenish hue (bergamot); others are yellowish (lavender); amber colored (patchouli) or deep brown (vetiver); there are some that have unique or strange colors. For instance, German chamomile has a wonderful deep blue hue; whereas tagetes are found to have yellowish or deep orange color. While most essential oils evaporate when exposed to air, many essences like lavender, rosemary, and peppermint have the same consistency similar to alcohol or even water. Other essential oils like vetiver and myrrh are glutinous or sticky; while rose otto is partially firm when it is kept in normal living room temperature but it turns into a liquid when warmed even slightly.

MOST COMMONLY USED ESSENTIAL OILS:

  • Allspice ( Pimenta officinalis )
  • Angelica ( Angelica archangelica )
  • Anise ( Pimpinella anisum )
  • Argan ( Argania spinosa )
  • Basil ( Ocimum basilicum )
  • Benzoin ( Styrax tonkinensis )
  • Bergamot ( Citrus bergamia )
  • Black Pepper ( Piper nigrum )
  • Cajuput ( Melaleuca leucodendron )
  • Camphor ( Cinnamomum camphora )
  • Caraway ( Carum carvi )
  • Cedarwood ( Cedrus atlantica )
  • Chamomile ( Chamaemelum nobile, Matricaria chamomilla / recutita )
  • Cinnamon ( Cinnamomum zelanicum )
  • Clary Sage ( Salvia sclarea )
  • Coriander ( Coriandrum sativum )
  • Cypress ( Cupressus sempervirens )
  • Eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus globulus )
  • Fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare )
  • Frankincense ( Boswellia carteri )
  • Geranium ( Pelargonium odorantissium )
  • Ginger ( Zingiber officinale )
  • Hyssop ( Hyssopus officinalis )
  • Jasmine Absolute ( Jasminum officinale )
  • Juniper ( Juniperus communis )
  • Lavender ( Lavandula officinalis )
  • Lemon ( Citrus limonum )
  • Lemongrass ( Cymbopogon citratus )
  • Marjoram ( Orinanum majorana )
  • Melissa ( Melissa officinalis )
  • Myrrh ( Commiphora myrrha )
  • Neroli ( Citrus aurantium )
  • Niaouli ( Melaleuca viridiflora )
  • Orange, Sweet ( Citrus sinensis )
  • Patchouli ( Pogostemon patchouli )
  • Peppermint ( Menta piperita )
  • Petitgrain ( Citrus aurantium )
  • Rose ( Rosa gallica, Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia )
  • Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis )
  • Sandalwood ( Santalum album )
  • Sweet Almond ( Prunus amygdalus )
  • Tea Tree ( Melaleuca alternifolia )
  • Thyme ( Thymus spp )
  • Vetiver ( Chrysopogon zizanioides )
  • Wintergreen ( Gaultheria Procumbens )
  • Ylang – Ylang ( Cananga odorata )

CARRIER OILS TYPES:

As discussed earlier, essential oils need to be diluted by adding well-matched carrier oils when used in aromatherapy. Some of the widely used carrier oils are discussed briefly below in their alphabetical order.

  • Apricot kernel oil: This carrier oil can be used effectively for any skin type, particularly skin that is aging and sensitive. Apricot kernel oil is among the lightest oils used in the form of carrier oils in aromatherapy and is excellent oil for application on your face.
  • Avocado oil: This base oil is rich in nutrients having elevated amounts of vitamins, lecithin, and proteins in addition to essential fatty acids. It is useful for all types of skin, particularly for dry, wrinkled, itchy and mature skins.
  • Evening primrose oil: This base oil is very costly but excellent for nurturing your skin, because it not only enhances and safeguards the functioning of the skin cells, and also works to revitalize the skin. This oil is especially beneficial for people having dry skin and also for treating psoriasis and eczema. Evening primrose oil should always be stored in a refrigerator because it may decompose very quickly. You may include a very small amount of it in your skin lotions and creams with a view to augment their value.
  • Grape seed oil: This is pleasant, light and odorless carrier oil, which, by itself, is fine massage oil. Grape seed oil and sweet almond oil may also be in a combination. It not only suits every skin type, but the skin also soaks it up easily.
  • Jojoba oil: This base oil not only nourishes the skin, and the hair too. As it contains elevated levels of vitamin E, jojoba oil may be used independently and also in combination with other carrier oils. It is excellent for every skin type and possesses antibacterial attributes and, hence, is excellent for treating acne. Jojoba oil is basically a wax and, therefore, dissimilar to many different types of vegetable oils, it is not likely to decompose soon.
  • Sweet almond oil: It is wonderful base oil for incorporating in products meant for massage, skin care, body, and bath, as it nourishes the skin excellently. Sweet almond oil encloses an assortment of minerals as well as vitamins, especially vitamin D. This carrier oil suits every skin type, particularly dehydrated or inflamed skin.
  • Wheat germ oil: This oil possesses antioxidant properties. You may add a little amount (for instance, one tablespoon to each two ounces of a body or massage oil) to any basic blend with the purpose of retaining the combination’s freshness and also to enhance the shelf life of the product. This oil is rich in vitamin A, B, and E content, in addition to protein and minerals. While wheat germ oil is especially useful for mature and dry skin, it also aids in healing scarred tissues; smoothing stretch marks, and alleviating burn injuries.

BLENDING:

Combining or balancing different essential oils is an extremely vital element of aromatherapy. In fact, it is the innovative side of this healing art. While all essential oils have their individual quintessence, when they are blended with other companionable essential oils, the blend is all the more potent compared to the total of each of their attributes. To be precise, the combination of two or more compatible essential oils result in a synergy – creation of a compound chemical that is further powerful compared to any essential oil used independently and even without enhancing the dose; the combination can yield far superior results. It is vital to understand the therapeutic attributes of all the essential oils with a view to attaining such a combination. However, there are a number of parameters that assist you in carrying out tests to prepare your personal blends. A few of the guidelines are mentioned below.

First and foremost always combine essential oils having the same attributes (for instance calming; stimulating and others). While developing your own blends, it is advisable that you use three essential oils at the most till you are familiar with the fundamental principles. In addition, at one time you should only blend one drop of an essential oil as just one drop has the aptitude to change any blend. It is advisable that you blend the essential oils in bowls, glass cups or bottles as it will help to avoid any chemical reaction. It is also important that you only produce little amounts of the blends unless you are certain that you would be requiring the blend more often.

Most importantly, you need to note down all the blends as this will help you to successfully prepare the blend while avoiding the combination of the essential oils that failed to yield the desired results.

Compared to unemployed base carrier oils blends, aromatherapy blends will last for a longer period but would eventually go past their sell-by date. Hence, to ensure that they remain usable for a minimum of six months you need to store them appropriately. It is advisable that you store these blends in glass bottles that are opaque and label them suitably mentioning their constituents, proportions, and others. Also, mention the date of preparing the blend and seal the bottles tightly.

Last but not the least, never be afraid of experimenting with essential oils.

AROMATHERAPY SAFETY:

Contrary to the general belief, all essential oils are not useful similar to the fact that all herbs are not beneficial for us. Although anything that is obtained from nature (any natural and not artificial) generally has a positive impact on our health; but it is not guaranteed. In fact, use of a number of essential oils may prove to be dangerous. Among the several hundred essential oils made and sold commercially, trained aromatherapists usually use just around 100 very frequently. Precisely speaking, about 30 of these 100 essential oils can be considered reasonably safe within your means and available easily making it possible for you to use them at home for sure.

All essential oils are actually extremely concentrated constituents of plants that possess strong therapeutic as well as cosmetic attributes. Some among them help in unwinding, are sedating, revitalizing; stimulate and also augmenting our memory. These essential oils possess several therapeutic attributes, including anti-spasmodic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic. However, some of them also cause the skin to become irritated; are neurotoxic or phototoxic; cause cancers. In addition, there are some essential herbs that are abortive and these are not given to children or pregnant women. While using essential oils for aromatherapy for babies, it is necessary to water down the oils used for adults by 50 percent or even more with a view to making them harmless for use by children.

The use of a number of essential oils is strictly prohibited during pregnancy. This is primarily owing to the fact that these essential oils have the aptitude to unwind the muscles, encourage contractions or even probably pass onto the stillborn baby. Some essential oils are believed to possess abortifacient properties; denoting that they may potentially result in abortions. Therefore, it is important that you be careful to stay away from employing these essential oils during pregnancy – they may prove to be unsafe.

As essential oils are always available in the extremely concentrated state and a few of them may also cause the skin to become irritated, it is advisable that you should use them in a diluted condition. This is definitely the safest way to use them. On the other hand, a number of essential oils such as tea tree and lavender, are friendly to our skin and, hence, you may use these two essential oils ‘neat’ or directly on the skin. They need not be diluted before use. Nevertheless, there is always exceptions and the majority of the essential oils should be diluted before use.

It is worth mentioning here that the essential oils are not found in abundance in nature – they are basically very small, minuscule drops present the structure of plants in very tiny amounts and cannot be seen by our naked eyes. Hence, when you undertake any experiment to examine these gifts of nature, you need to begin by making use of essential oils that have been diluted extremely. The fact is that when you use essential oils in highly concentrated form, it may bring about a result that is just the opposite of what you desire. For instance, use of lavender essential oil which is known to have calming and relaxing effects, in excess amounts may possibly result in restiveness, sleeplessness, and agitation.

HAZARDOUS – NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PERSONAL USE:

It is advisable that you stay away from the personal use of a number of essentials oils because they may prove to be detrimental to your well-being. These oils are believed to be toxic for your mouth, skin, liver and kidneys, besides causing cancer and being cautionary. There are a number of essential oils which the scientists are yet to experiment with and you will be better off if you keep away from using these oils. In fact, when you are using any essential oil for the first time, it should essentially be done under the direct supervision of a qualified and veteran healthcare provider.

  • Ajowan
  • Arnica
  • Bitter Almond
  • Boldo Leaf
  • Buchu
  • Calamus
  • Cassia
  • Clove
  • Elecampane root
  • Horseradish
  • Jaborandi
  • Mugwort
  • Mustard
  • Parsley Seed
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peru Balsam
  • Rue
  • Sage
  • Santolina
  • Sassafras
  • Savin
  • Savory
  • Southernwood
  • Tansy
  • Thuja
  • Tonka bean
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormseed
  • Wormwood

PHOTOTOXIC ESSENTIAL OILS:

Some essential oils are known to cause photo-toxicity and their use augments the skin’s reaction to sunburn and also tanning booths. Usually, these oils should not be used on people having a history of large moles, widespread dark freckles, and/ or skin cancer.

  • All absolutes and concretes
  • Angelica Root
  • Bergamot (expressed)
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon (expressed)
  • Lemon verbena
  • Lime (expressed)
  • Mandarin
  • Orange (expressed)

AVOID DURING PREGNANCY:

pregnancy

All essential oils in the dangerous list, in addition to the following.

  • Aniseed
  • Armois
  • Basil
  • Birch
  • Cornmint
  • Fennel
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Lavender Cotton
  • Marjoram
  • Myrrh
  • Oregano
  • Pimenta racemosa
  • Plectranthus
  • Star Anise
  • Tarragon

IRRITANT-PRONE ESSENTIAL OILS:

Irritant-prone essentials oils which can cause irritation to sensitive, irritated, or allergic skin types.

  • All absolutes and concretes
  • Aniseed
  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Benzoin
  • Camphor
  • Citronella
  • Fennel
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Peppermint (when used undiluted will cause skin irritation on all skin types)
  • Rosemary
  • Rose (in high concentrations)
  • Ylang ylang (in high concentrations)

COMMON SENSE SAFETY POINTS:

Prior to using any essential oil, it is important that you exercise certain general precautionary measures. For instance, you need to stay away from using any essential oil that may possibly be unsafe and never use any of them orally. In addition, you need to store all the essential oils in such a place that is not accessible to children. Also, keep them away from any source of heat and light.

Always bear in mind that essential oils are strong medications as well as cosmetic agents. Therefore, you must be careful only to use real and reliable essential oils that are not adulterated and possess therapeutic properties. Also, be careful not to use them close to your eyes or handle them in such a manner that they get into your eyes.

As mentioned earlier, always use the essential oils in diluted form. Avoid using most of them during pregnancy and if you have to use any during this period, ensure that you dilute them properly – to the extent of one percent or even less. Prior to using any essential oil, be sure that you are not allergic to it or have any type of sensitivity to it.

It is advisable that you undergo a skin patch check to ascertain if you are susceptible to sensitivities owing to use of essential oils. Adopt additional precaution not to use essential oils on any part of your skin that may be cracked or damaged. Most importantly, be careful to stay away from essential oils that cause photo-toxicity and have a history of developing skin cancer.

MOST COMMONLY USED ESSENTIAL OILS:

  • Allspice ( Pimenta officinalis )
  • Angelica ( Angelica archangelica )
  • Anise ( Pimpinella anisum )
  • Argan ( Argania spinosa )
  • Basil ( Ocimum basilicum )
  • Benzoin ( Styrax tonkinensis )
  • Bergamot ( Citrus bergamia )
  • Black Pepper ( Piper nigrum )
  • Cajuput ( Melaleuca leucodendron )
  • Camphor ( Cinnamomum camphora )
  • Caraway ( Carum carvi )
  • Cedarwood ( Cedrus atlantica )
  • Chamomile ( Chamaemelum nobile, Matricaria chamomilla / recutita )
  • Cinnamon ( Cinnamomum zelanicum )
  • Clary Sage ( Salvia sclarea )
  • Coriander ( Coriandrum sativum )
  • Cypress ( Cupressus sempervirens )
  • Eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus globulus )
  • Fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare )
  • Frankincense ( Boswellia carteri )
  • Geranium ( Pelargonium odorantissium )
  • Ginger ( Zingiber officinale )
  • Hyssop ( Hyssopus officinalis )
  • Jasmine Absolute ( Jasminum officinale )
  • Juniper ( Juniperus communis )
  • Lavender ( Lavandula officinalis )
  • Lemon ( Citrus limonum )
  • Lemongrass ( Cymbopogon citratus )
  • Marjoram ( Orinanum majorana )
  • Melissa ( Melissa officinalis )
  • Myrrh ( Commiphora myrrha )
  • Neroli ( Citrus aurantium )
  • Niaouli ( Melaleuca viridiflora )
  • Orange, Sweet ( Citrus sinensis )
  • Patchouli ( Pogostemon patchouli )
  • Peppermint ( Menta piperita )
  • Petitgrain ( Citrus aurantium )
  • Rose ( Rosa gallica, Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia )
  • Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis )
  • Sandalwood ( Santalum album )
  • Sweet Almond ( Prunus amygdalus )
  • Tea Tree ( Melaleuca alternifolia )
  • Thyme ( Thymus spp )
  • Vetiver ( Chrysopogon zizanioides )
  • Wintergreen ( Gaultheria Procumbens )
  • Ylang – Ylang ( Cananga odorata )

Aromatherapy Healing ~ Aromatic Research

Aromatherapy can help a person to cope with psychological issues, from depression and anxiety to poor memory. That something as noninvasive as natural fragrances can affect our thoughts is quite exciting. Medical researchers hope someday to treat a number of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and memory disorders, with fragrance. This idea is not as far out as it may seem. When we smell, the information that we receive is sent to specific areas of the brain that influence memory, learning, basic emotions, hormonal balances and even our basic survival mechanisms, such as the “fight or flight” response. Researchers have found that fragrance can even improve interaction and communication among people: Pleasant smells can put people in better moods and even make them more willing to negotiate, cooperate and compromise. Put these same people in an unscented room, and avoidance, competition, and conflict are more likely.

Scientific evidence supporting aromatherapy is just beginning to surface. In a 1992 issue of the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, aromatherapy is described as a treatment to “promote health and well-being” through massage, inhalation, baths and the application of compresses, creams, and lotions. The author of this article suggests that fragrance can reduce stress and depression, sedate or invigorate, stimulate sensory awareness and provide pain relief. Working with International Fragrance and Flavor {IFF}, a New York-based fragrance company that has made a multi-million dollar commitment to research, Gary Schwartz, M.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, studied how fragrances can be used to alleviate fatigue, migraine headaches, food cravings, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and irregular heartbeat. Another scientist funded by IFF, Craig Warren, PhD., tested more than 2,000 subjects in order to better understand how some fragrances can relieve pain, call up deep-seated memories and generally affect personality and behavior. He is particularly interested in discovering which scents prevent insomnia.

IFF officials believe that companies will eventually market stress-relieving perfumes and that it will someday be commonplace for people to chose everyday items such as shampoo according to their emotional needs as well as their cosmetic requirements. In fact, the mainstreaming of aromatherapy has already begun.

Aromatherapy has captured the imagination not only of medical researchers but also of marketers, who find that fragrance sells. Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., the director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago and a psychiatrist and neurologist at the University of Illinois, is studying how different odors change a consumer’s reactions.

You may not realize it, but you have probably already experienced aromatherapy – maybe when you bought a car or a house, or even laundry detergent. Most of the products we purchase are scented to make them more appealing. Real estate agents know that the smell of freshly baked brownies makes a house more appealing to a buyer. Similarly, used-car salespeople spray a fragrance into cars because customers are more likely to think that the vehicle is in good shape if it smells new. Most detergents are lemon-scented to associate the smell of citrus with cleanliness.

Aromatherapy Healing ~ The Emotions

The fragrance captures the attention: the sweet smell of a rose, the enticing aroma of a freshly baked cinnamon apple cake, the appealing scent of a cup of warm peppermint tea, the pleasing fragrance of your favorite perfume. Just the word “aromatherapy” conjures up intriguing images, and with good reason. As much as we take our sense of smell for granted, fragrance affects us in a way that is both primal and provocative.

When I first began giving tours through my herb garden in the early 2000’s, I couldn’t help but notice how each fragrant herb produced its own unique effect. I also observed that each group of visitors responded the same way to particular fragrances. The lavender inevitably produced smiles and everyone who sniffed it noticeably relaxed. Chamomile soothed the group even more – so much, in fact, that everyone began speaking much more softly. That is until they reached the peppermint bed, which sent them chattering a mile a minute!

As a masseuse, I wondered how I could capture such mood-altering properties in a massage oil. I wanted to help send my clients into deeper relaxation and use fragrance to relieve their stress or to perk them up, depending on what they needed. Lavender has always been one of my favorite scents, so I selected it for my first experiment. It produced such relaxation in the first client I tried it on that she fell asleep – that was all the encouragement I needed! I designed a set of massage oils, each with a different effect: calming or energizing, coping with emotional conflicts and providing mental clarity.

The results from these oils were exciting, but little did I realize how popular aromatherapy would become a few years later. In the 2000’s, aromatherapy stepped into the world of modern science and marketing.

The term “aromatherapy” was first coined in the early part of the twentieth century by the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who used this word to describe the medicinal use of essential oils. In actuality, however, aromatherapy was not a new practice even then; it had always been a part of herbalism. Many traditional remedies had multiple purposes –  a single potion often served as cosmetic, perfume and medicine. This is no surprise since many aromatic herbs that are used as cosmetics are also medicinal.

What makes aromatherapy different from herbalism is that it uses only the herbs that contain essential oils. These herbs are easy to identify because they are all fragrant. When you read a herb book, keep in mind that all the medicinal properties found in a herb are not necessarily contained in its essential oil. Most herbs are filled with other compounds in addition to essential oils. However, the essential oils are often responsible for a herb’s antiseptic properties, and many of them perform other medicinal duties as well.

Not all aromatherapy deals with the effects of fragrance on the emotions. For example, fragrant herbs and essential oils are used in massage oils to loosen tight muscles.

Using Aromatherapy.

As mysterious as it might seem, aromatherapy is easy to use. It is also highly individual, built on the concept of finding the fragrances that are appropriate to each person’s emotional needs. The simplest way to determine the best healing fragrance for you is to determine which scents you find most appealing. After all, aromatherapy should be enjoyable. The best way to find the scents that are right for you is to try different scents one by one. If you don’t like a particular scent, pass it up and go to one that you find more attractive.

Most people prefer familiar fragrances. If a particular odor has a negative or positive association, it may evoke the same emotion the next time you smell it. When students participating in a study at the Olfaction Research Group at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, were told that they performed poorly after taking a test in a scented room, they became depressed every time they smelled that odor. Students told that they were successful had the opposite reaction: Their self-confidence was boosted whenever they sniffed that aroma.

I know of children who have disliked the smell of strawberries ever since they experienced strawberry scented masks to help relax them during surgery. Many of us have known people we found romantically attractive, except for something vaguely unsettling. Then you realize that the person’s cologne or perfume is the same one that was worn by someone who broke your heart years before.

I once observed a similar phenomenon while giving an aromatherapy lecture. As a sample of lavender was passed around, each student who inhaled its fragrance relaxed and smiled, until it reached one man who immediately stiffened up with the most painful look on his face. When I asked if he had any past association with lavender, he remembered that it was used in his hometown funeral home. Many people he had been close to had died when he was a child and the scent of lavender produced a flood of painful feelings. I am sure that no matter how much he learns about the positive qualities of lavender, that man will never be able to truly enjoy its fragrance.

Many times I am asked if a person can overcome his or her dislike for a particular fragrance. It is not easy, but you can try to recondition yourself – providing your original negative experience with that scent was not too dramatic. When you are in an enjoyable place and mood, sniff a faint amount of the problematic scent combined with another scent that you like. After trying this a few times, you may find yourself experiencing the once-disliked fragrance more pleasantly.

Essential Oils Could Counter Lung and Liver Ailments Caused by Air Pollution

Certain ingredients in essential oils made from plants such as cloves, anise, fennel and ylang-ylang could serve as a natural treatment of lung and liver conditions caused by air pollution. This is according to Miriana Kfoury of the Unité de Chimie Environnementale et Interactions sur le Vivant, Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale in France and the Lebanese University in Lebanon. She is the lead author of a study in Springer’s journal Environmental Chemistry Letters. It is the first of its kind to evaluate the value of using certain essential oil compounds to treat inflammation caused by the fine particles that are typical of hazy, polluted air, and that are known to be carcinogenic.

Plants naturally contain various essential oils that are made up of different compounds. Some of these have been found to have antioxidant value and to also be able to fight inflammation. A group of organic compounds called phenylpropanoids are found in the essential oils of some plants and show promise as possible anti-inflammatory substances. Among these are trans-anethole (a flavor component of anise and fennel), estragole (found in basil), eugenol (which occurs in clove bud oil) and isoeugenol (contained in ylang-ylang).

Kfoury and her collaborators first collected air pollutant samples containing fine particles in Beirut, Lebanon. In laboratory tests, the samples were then introduced to human cell cultures of normal bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) and cancer derived hepatic cells (HepG2). The fine particle matter was found to induce inflammation in the cells – these started to secrete the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 (substances that are secreted during infections and tissue damage). Cytokin levels normally increase when the body’s immune system is fighting a specific infection.

Next, the researchers established that the trans-anethole, estragole, eugenol and isoeugenol all have so-called cytotoxicity, which means that they could cause cell death at relatively high concentrations. In this evaluation, they were able to determine the level of cytotoxicity of these oil compounds. This was important in order to establish the maximum dose to be selected in the next step, namely the assessment for anti-inflammatory properties. In the second round of tests, the four compounds were introduced to the combination of cell lines and air pollutants to see whether these could protect liver and lung cells damaged by fine particle air pollutants. It was found that the essential oil compounds tested to decrease the levels of the two types of cytokines in the samples. The levels of cytokine IL-6 decreased up to 96 percent, and the levels of cytokine IL-8 by 87 percent.

“The findings provide the first evidence that natural essential oil components counteract the inflammatory effects of particulate matter, such as that contained in polluted air,” says Kfoury.

Article: Essential oils could counter lung and liver ailments caused by air pollution, Kfoury, M. et al., Environmental Chemistry Letters, doi: 10.1007/s10311-016-0572-4, published online 23 August 2016.

Using Essential Oils

In actual essence, essential oils do not denote any oil but are unpolluted extracts from a wide range of plant parts, including the leaves, petals, flower heads, seeds, nut kernels, stalks, and barks as well as gums and resins obtained from trees. In fact, the essential oils enclose the active element of any plant in an extremely condensed and powerful form. They are called essential oils as these substances are very vital for various human functions. It is important to dilute the unpolluted and concentrated essential oils before applying them to the skin as they are really very potent.
As mentioned above, although the essential oils are referred to as ‘oil’, they do not possess any oily feeling. In fact, the majority of the essential oils are lucid. However, some of them, like orange, lemongrass, and patchouli have an amber or yellowish hue.
The essential oils are produced in the tiny hollow spaces in the plant cells. Depending on the plant, they may be found in the petals, seeds, roots or even peel as in the instance of the oils extracted from the citrus fruits. These essential oils are removed from the plant parts by the distillation process or cold pressing. It may be mentioned here that the essential oils may differ significantly both in terms of cost and attributes or quality. A number of aspects, such as the scarcity of the plant, the country and the environment in which the plant was cultivated, may have an impact on the price and the quality of the essential oils. The price and quality of the essential oils are also determined by factors like the standard of the distiller and the quantity of oil produced by the plant.

Here are three examples to enable you to comprehend the matter better.

  • While 100 kg of rose petals yield merely 20 ml of rose oil, it required 100 kg of leaves to produce 1 to 1.5 liters of peppermint oil.
  • Although this particular aspect creates a difference in the price of rose oil and peppermint oil, it essentially does not reflect that one is less effectual than the other.
  • As the essential oils enclose the real concentrate of the plant from which they are extracted, a tiny amount of it not only lasts for long but is also extremely effective.
It may be noted here that the essential oils do not mean any perfume or aromatic oil. The essential oils are actually extracted from real plants and offer therapeutic benefits, but the perfume oils are manufactured synthetically. However, the perfume oils contain synthetic substances that create an artificial aroma and hence do not have any remedial value.
The remedial essential oils have the potential of offering several advantages and produce an intense effect on the body as well as the mind. It is possible to get relief from a headache or restore the vigor lost during the day by means of essential oils. The essential oils are fantastic and very simple to use in a bath, footbath or hand bath. When you massage with essential oils in the characteristic aromatherapy manner, it helps to invigorate the blood circulation throughout the body. At the same time, it sets off the natural healing process of the body. The fragrances of the essential oils have an impact on the sensitive hub in the brain and control our feelings.
In order to set free the natural aromas of the essential oils, one must use fragrance burners, aroma stones or spraying flasks. When you do this, you will be amazed to see how wonderfully it works on your body and mind.
Essential oil fragrance burner
Essential oil fragrance burners are normally used for bigger areas so that the fragrance may linger for quite some time. It may be mentioned here that the more space, the more quantity of essential oil will be needed. As the essential oils fade away very fast distributing their aromas all over the room, you may need to add more oil after some time with a view to preserving the impact.
Spraying flask
Usually, spraying flasks are used to produce a brief, but the instant effect in a room or any other place. In fact, spraying flasks may even be used inside a car either to stimulate your energy or to diminish the odor in the interior of the vehicle. In the event of having colds close to you, you may spray with lemon or once you have vacuumed the area, you may use your preferred essential oil or a combination of different oils. Alternately, you may also spray the covers, pillows, and mattresses with lemon and lavender to make them smell clean and fresh.
Aroma stones (Sandstones)
Aroma stones are generally used to emanate aroma for an extended period of time in small areas like toilets, halls, cupboards or even the chests. Using peppermint aroma stones in cars is very beneficial as it enables you to keep your focus and simultaneously neutralize car sickness. In addition, an aroma stone may also be used as a part of the decoration of the house or office.
It is important to keep in mind that you can use the essential oils in abundant ways to reinstate the synchronization of your mind and the body. For instance, you may use the essential oils as a remedy for headaches, air fresheners and even enhance your concentration while studying for examinations. These are only a few ways; there are much more ways – virtually anything that you may think of. You may even blend a number of essential oils with a view to realizing a specific health benefit or merely combine them to enjoy their aromatic sensation. In fact, the chemical constitution and the fragrance of the essential oils are capable of providing you with precious emotional and physical healing advantages. Normally, such benefits may be attained by several means that may comprise breathing as well as external application of the watered down or diluted essential oils on the skin.
As the essential oils are highly concentrated and very powerful, they are normally diluted by adding any carrier oil, such as apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, grape seed oil and others before applying them on the skin. So, when you are using an essential oil, you are actually using a watered down blend of oils. This makes it easier for the skin to soak up the essential oils.
Inhaling the essential oils cautiously also provide important remedial advantages. When you inhale the essential oils in moderation, the oil molecules go into your lungs and are then soaked up by the bloodstream.
One may buy the essential oils in the form of blends of a number of unpolluted essential oils. When you purchase a blend of essential oils, you actually get some benefits. For instance, if you were to purchase a pure blend of essential oils, you don’t need to procure all the essential oils separately. While doing so would not only be very expensive, but you would also have to take the trouble of blending the particular essential oil you purchased proportionately with other oils. It is must be mentioned here that it requires great expertise and some experience to do the job.

UTILITIES OF ESSENTIAL OILS:

Essential oils have multiple and varied uses. They are used in the manufacture of perfumes and to add aroma to skin care items. They are also added as drops to a vaporizer (spray) and also in spraying flask with a view to producing a specific environment, to put off a cold or just to refresh the air. Essential oils are also used in baths, foot baths or hand baths with the objective to warm or loosen up cold limbs. In addition, essential oils are also used for foot baths, hand baths, and baths to generate an invigorating effect. They are used in compresses for cooling effects of sunburn. When added to massages and any skin care oils, the essential oils help in enhancing the blood circulation. Essential oils may also be inhaled directly from a vaporizer or any simple bottle to help in clearing blocked air passages or just to unwind.

Essential Oils

For well over several thousands of years, humans have been employing essential oils for therapeutic purposes as well as sustaining good health. In effect, the ancient Egyptians extensively used essential oils. Currently, essential oils are used extensively in lotions meant for external use, aromatherapy, comforting baths and in a great assortment of herbal medications.
Any attempt to define essential oils accurately as well as in a few words is really difficult. For all practical purposes, one may possibly depict essential oils in the form of natural odoriferous (having potent fragrance) compounds that are present in or separated from plant materials. Generally, essential oils are in liquid form (in some exceptional cases they may be in semi-solid form, but seldom found in solid form), are not water soluble and volatile when they come in contact with steam. Essential oils evaporate at dissimilar paces under normal atmospheric pressure and at room temperature. Therefore, they are alternately referred to as ‘ethereal’ or ‘volatile’ oils too. In fact, the general term ‘essential’ is derived from the Latin expression ‘essentia’ – the ‘quinta essentia’, which the ancient alchemists regarded to be the attribute as well as the most vital element of all natural substances.
The comparatively rapid pace of evaporation of the essential oils and their distinct smell, apart from the chemical make-up of these oils, make them basically different from the stable, fatty oils. Among the several thousands of plant species identified in humans so far, comparatively a very little number of them provide essential oils. The essential oils actually develop either all over the complete plant or only in particular parts. A number of essential oils are found only in the roots, or the timber, bark, leaves, flowers or the fruits of the plants. In a number of instances, different parts of the same plant may possibly enclose essential oils of dissimilar composition.
Over the years, numerous theories have been put forward to elucidate the essential oils’ biochemistry; nevertheless, none of them has been established as being totally acceptable. Possibly, the essential oils are just purging products in the life progression of the plants. If this is the case, they are similar to specific gums, resins, and balsams; however, a number of essential oils definitely seem to be the forerunners of this type of exudation products.
It may be noted that as far as their physicochemical attributes are concerned, the essential oils greatly differ and their chemical composition is generally complicated. Some of them are near exclusively made up of only one element, for instance, the essential oils obtained from sweet birch (methyl salicylate), wintergreen and cassia oil (cinnamaldehyde). However, the majority of the essential oils enclose a greater number of ingredients, sometimes 50 or even more – which is something not atypical. These individual constituents are members of numerous categories of organic compounds, especially the sesquiterpenes and terpenes, and their esters, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, oxides and lactones among other things. A number of these essential oils are open chained while several of them are cyclic and bicyclic. Some of them also belong to the aromatic series, for instance, benzyl acetate and phenyl ethyl alcohol, and findings of recent studies have revealed that the azulenes appear to have a vital function in the essential oils.
An analysis of the essential oils can be achieved by conventional physio-chemical examinations, for instance, finding out the specific gravity, solubility in alcohol, optical rotation, boiling point and others. In addition, it is also possible to verify the free acids, esters, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, phenols and phenol ethers through conventional tests. Recently, scientists have made vast advancement in examining essential oils, especially in isolating as well as identifying individual components, by means of introducing state-of-the-art chromatographic and spectroscopic methods, for instance, infrared and ultraviolet (UV) absorption, nuclear magnetic resonance, gas and thin-layer chromatography as well as mass spectrometry. As the smell will continue to be a vital decisive factor always, the assay of an essential oil will not be absolute without cautious organoleptic examinations. However, it requires substantial experience on the part of the examiner to undertake the organoleptic tests of essential oils.
The majority of the essential oils are actually isolated from different parts of plants, for example, the leaves, stem, wood, roots, flowers, and bark, by means of a process known as hydro-distillation – partially in primordial, changeable stills – and partially in contemporary stationary distilleries. Only in the instance of citrus oils, which are present in the peel or coverings of the citrus fruits, essential oils are isolated by means of expressing the peel mechanically. Specific varieties of flowers are actually extremely fragile and, hence, the essential oils enclosed by them are unable to endure the hydrodistillation process, neither are they suitable for expression. Hence, the essential oils contained in such flowers need to be isolated by means of extraction using volatile solvents (generally, extremely refined petroleum ether) to yield the purported natural flower oils in a real, solid variety than can be converted into complete, liquid form. Such flowers include jasmine, acacia, tuberose, mimosa and the like. It is possible to process a number of flowers, including bitter orange blooms and rose, either by means of hydrodistillation or through solvent extraction.
The amount of essential oil yielded by a plant actually varies depending on the species. In the majority of instances, the yield varies from approximately 0.2 per cent to 2.0 per cent. However, oil rose also known as otto of rose and clover oil are two extreme examples in this case. While rose yields only 0.025 percent of essential oil, clover yields as high as 17.0 percent of clover oil.
It may be noted that several regions of the world produce essential oils, especially those having warm as well as temperate climatic conditions.
Not more than a hundred types of essential oils have already achieved genuine commercial significance. These essential oils are extensively used to add fragrance as well as essence to nearly a limitless assortment of consumer items, including food products, chewing gums, confectionery, pharmaceutical, and dental formulations, alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic drinks, soaps, room sprays, detergents, insecticides, perfumes, and cosmetics. They have also employed to camouflage the odor in artificial products, for instance, rubber goods, leathers, and plastics.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS:

aromatherapy-essential-oilsIt has been proved that the essential oils offer numerous health benefits. They are obtained from the leaves, flowers, stems, barks as well as the roots of plants by means of distillation. Essential oils may have a direct or indirect effect on our body’s physiological system. For instance, taking a few drops of peppermint oil by mouth may promote digestion. Similarly, breathing in lavender oil causes a soothing impact.
A number of essential oils may be taken orally to aid in stimulating digestion while several other essential oils are applied topically to alleviate inflammation and provide relief from pain. Essential oils having antiseptic as well as anti-fungal attributes are also employed to sterilize and cure scrapes, cuts as well as other injuries and skin complaints.
Aromatherapy is one area where essential oils are employed extensively. The use of essential oils in aromatherapy is not only very popular but has also proved to be useful in curing physical, emotional as well as aesthetic conditions. A number of essential oils have a tranquilizing and also invigorating effect on our nervous system and they can either raise or lower the blood pressure and regularize secretion of hormones in some way.
In addition, inhaling the steam of essential oils is helpful in the treatment of respiratory problems, for instance, a cold or influenza. The essential oils that are effectual for inhaling comprise eucalyptus, angelica, cypress, sage, myrtle, lemon grass, lemon, ocean pine, mountain pine, chamomile, juniper, niaouli, thyme, cedar, and hyssop. It may be noted that steam inhalation of essential oil is usually not suggested for people suffering from asthma.
Employing essential oils for lymphatic massage is actually a typical aromatherapy treatment that activates the healing process of the body by means of inciting the blood circulation as well as lymph fluid. It needs to be noted cautiously that nearly all essential oils ought to be diluted prior to applying them directly to the skin since direct application of essential oils may result in acute exasperation.
Normally, essential oils are diluted in the ratio of 15 drops of the oil to one ounce (approximately 28.35 grams) of carrier oil. It may be noted that carrier oil is basically any vegetable oil that is obtained by using the compress method on the fatty part of the seeds, kernels or nuts, for instance, wheat germ, almond, coconut, hazelnut, olive oil, jojoba and aloe vera oil.
There are a number of essential oils that alleviate the taut muscles and augment blood circulation. Such essential oils comprise lemon grass, lemon, rosemary, lemon verbena, juniper, lavender, birch, cinnamon and Swiss pine oils. On the other hand, essential oils that have a calming effect include petitgrain, Roman chamomile, rose, bergamot, lavender, mimosa, neroli, geranium, sandalwood, orange, cedar, rosewood, and tangerine. When you employ the facial and body oils every day, it helps to nurture the skin. Essential oils that are used for deep body massage comprise rose, jasmine, sandalwood, orange, cinnamon, ylang-ylang, nd iris.
essential oils and medical flowers herbs

essential oils and medical flowers herbs

Adding a few drops of essential oils to your bath will help to promote relaxation as well as lift your spirits. You may add five to ten drops of your preferred essential oil to the bath water and enjoy the benefits. Nevertheless, it is advisable that people having sensitive skin ought to dilute the essential oil by adding base oil. Ensure that you wipe the tub properly after the bath, since essential oils may leave stains on some type of tubs.

Having a comforting foot bath using essential oils is a wonderful experience. Add drops of rosemary, peppermint and thyme oils to a big basin filled with water and soak your feet in it for some minutes to bring back life to your tired feet. In order to get some extra comfort, after you have soaked your feet, massage some lavender oil on them.
In addition, essential oils are useful in curing insomnia (sleeplessness) or to bring on a peaceful sleep all through the night. For this, you may add a few drops of the essential oil of your preference to perfume your pillow.
Last, but not the least important, handkerchiefs are an extremely handy means to utilize essential oils. Inhaling a handkerchief perfumed by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil will help to alleviate the tension and pressure that build up all through the day. Adding only two or three drops of the essential oil to a handkerchief will be enough to serve the purpose.
Several types of synthetic or man-made oils are also available and they are generally much inexpensive compared to their natural equivalents. However, such synthetically prepared oils never possess the same curative attributes or results that are present in the natural essential oils. In addition, always bear in mind that essential oils are completely dissimilar to the ‘scented’ or ‘perfume’ oils – which are also known as fragrance oils.
It may be noted that perfume or fragrance oils enclose elements as well as chemicals that are not always obtained from plant sources. Very much similar to the man-made oils, fragrance or perfume oils also do not possess any remedial or healing attributes. This is the primary reason why it is always very important to carefully read the labels on all products that you plan to employ for aromatherapy.