You have probably heard the term Aromatherapy and wondered what exactly that funny word, ‘aromatherapy’ actually means. It is the use of plant oils in there most essential form to promote both mental and physical well being. The use of the word aroma implies the process of inhaling the scents from these oils into your lungs for therapeutic benefit. If you have ever used a vapor rub for a cough then you have tried aromatherapy, although not in its purest form. As a matter of fact, you probably have been using aromatherapy on yourself and your family for many years without realizing it through vapor rubs or electric vaporizers.
Vicks or other brands of vapor rub use eucalyptus or menthol to clear out stuffy chests and noses. Imagine if you used the undiluted essential oil of eucalyptus how clear your lungs would feel.
If you are just beginning your journey with essential oils and aromatherapy there are a few oils that will help you get started. These are some of the easiest to find yet versatile essential oils. Not only are they used for therapeutic purposes but can also be used in many other applications. Some of these include making natural cleaning products and gardening. In addition to the oils you will need some way to get them into your lungs. An aroma diffuser is a good way to do this.
An aroma diffuser puts the essential oils into the air quickly and spreads them about the room which allows you to get your therapy by just relaxing and breathing deeply. They come in all different shapes and styles so you can purchase one that matches the décor in each room of your home.
Before we go into the different diffuser mixtures you can experience, let's go over some of the most common natural scents that you will most likely use.
Lavender is a non toxic and non irritant essential oil. It is extracted through steam distillation from flowering tops of the lavender plant. Lavender has long been a folk remedy used to calm an upset stomach. Lavender has both soothing and reviving properties. Lavender oil should be clear to pale yellow in will smell sweet with floral and woody undertones. It blends well with other floral and citrus essential oils. As aromatherapy it has a variety of health benefits. It’s pleasant and calming scent makes it helpful in treating nerves and headaches, anxiety, depression, and emotional stress. It also increases mental stamina and calms exhaustion. Lavender essential oil is often recommended to treat insomnia as its scent can induce sleep. Massage with lavender oil can remedy all types of soreness and pain even when it is deep in the joints.
The vapor form of lavender oil is used to treat all sorts of respiratory problems including, colds, flu, chest congestions, whooping cough, sinus congestion, and asthma. Lavender has been used to promote good blood circulation and stimulate the production for gastric fluids to treat stomach ailments.
Tea Tree essential oil is also a non toxic and non irritant but can cause sensitization in some people. This oil is extracted through steam distillation from the leaves and twigs of the Tea Tree. Tea Tree has long been used by the aboriginal people in Australia and is named for their use of it as an herbal tea. The oil should be a pale-yellow green or water white color. Tea Tree blends well with lavender, clary sage, rosemary, and many spice oils. Tea Tree oil is known for being anti bacterial, anti microbial, anti septic, and anti viral. In short, it can almost be called a cure-all because it has so many properties to ward off disease and germs. In Australia it is found in nearly every household because of these properties.
Tea tree oil can be used as an anti bacterial to cure all sorts of bacterial infections including the treatment of wounds. As aromatherapy it can be used to treat coughs, colds, congestion and bronchitis. It can also keep fungal infections at bay and even cure dermatitis and athlete’s foot. Tea tree can be used as a stimulant to hormones and circulation and to boost ones immune system. Tea tree oil can help remove toxins by opening pores and promoting sweating which removes uric acid and excess salt and water from your body.
Peppermint essential oil is non toxic and when diluted is a not irritant. It can cause some skin irritation because of the menthol properties it holds and should be used with temperance. The use of Peppermint has been seen as far back as Egyptian tombs from 1000 BC. It also has a history of use in China and Japan since the earliest times to treat all sorts of health anomalies. Peppermint essential oil should be pale yellow or greenish in color. It has a strong grassy mint scent. Peppermint works well with other mint scents like eucalyptus as well as rosemary and lavender.
Peppermint has been studied in the science community and its health benefits proven. Because of this peppermint oil is available in pill form. It contains many minerals and nutrients like iron, magnesium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins A and C. Peppermint is an excellent remedy for respiratory problems and is widely used as and expectorant to remove nasal and respiratory congestion. As an aromatherapy it can be used to treat nausea, headaches, depression, and stress. It has also been known to treat irritable bowel syndrome. As a skin care product peppermint oil can improve oily skin and replenish dull skin.
Chamomile is a non toxic and non irritant. It is extracted through steam distillation of the flowering chamomile plant. Chamomile has been used for over 2000 years in Europe for medicinal purposes. The oil should be a pale blue that will turn yellow as it ages. It will have a warm, fruity, sweet smell. Chamomile blends well with lavender and geranium as well as sage and jasmine.
Chamomile is well known for its calming properties. So much so that it can be used in aromatherapy to treat nervous disorders, headaches, and migraines. It is also used to calm allergies and asthma. Many women use it for the treatment of PMS or to relieve a teething or colicky baby.
Eucalyptus is relatively new to the aromatherapy family as it has only been used for the past few centuries. It is a non irritant but can be extremely toxic if ingested. It is colorless as an essential oil but has a distinct pine like scent. The essential oil is from the leaves of the evergreen eucalyptus tree that is native to Australia. As an aromatherapy it is used to treat respiratory problems like sinusitis, nasal congestion, sore throat, runny nose, coughs, colds, and bronchitis. It is able to treat all of these ailments because it is antibacterial, anti fungal, and a natural decongestant.
Eucalyptus also has a cool and refreshing scent which makes it great for treating exhaustion and mental disorders. Eucalyptus can also be used around the house as a room freshener, in making natural soaps, in saunas for its antiseptic properties, and even as in mouth wash or toothpaste.
Geranium has many healing properties but can cause some sensitization and influence hormone secretions so it should not be used by expectant mothers. Geranium oil blends well with citronella, lavender, orange, lemon, and jasmine. If used in aromatherapy Geranium oil is a great astringent. It promotes the tightening of muscles to keep skin from hanging loose.
It has anti bacterial and anti microbial properties to help stave off infections of many kinds.
The essential oil is also known to be a cytophylactic which means it encourages cell growth. It can also be used to treat many mental disorders like depression, anxiety, anger, and pre menstrual syndrome.
Although Rosemary is considered non toxic and non irritant when diluted it should be avoided by epileptics, expectant mothers, and those who have high blood pressure. The flowering tops of the Rosemary plant go through a steam distillation process to form the essential oil. It should be a clear or pale yellow liquid with a strong herb-mint scent. Rosemary is one of the first plants that was used for both food and medicine. In the middle ages it was used to protect against the plague and to drive out evil spirits.
When used in aromatherapy Rosemary oil can help to boost mental stamina and increase brain activity. It can also treat depression, mental strain, and forgetfulness. When one inhales Rosemary they will immediately feel uplifted making it excellent for relief of fatigue. It can also clear your respiratory tract and relieve sore throats, colds, and coughs. Around your home Rosemary can be used as an air freshener and bath oil.
Thyme essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from fresh or partially dry leaves and flowering tops of the Thyme plant. The oil should be red, brown or orange in color. It has a spicy and pungent odor. Thyme was one of the first plants used in Western herbal treatments mainly for respiratory and digestive health problems.
Thyme is anti bacterial, when used in its aromatic form it can prevent bacterial growth in and outside of your body. It is able to cure lung, larynx, and pharynx infections without effecting the rest of your organs like prescription cough medicines. Thyme is also know to boost memory and to treat depression. Thyme essential oil is used as an insecticide both around the home and on your body. It can also help in treating bad breath and body odor.
Lemon essential oil is non toxic but, it may cause skin irritation so it should be used with restraint. Lemon oil is phototoxic so exposure to sunlight is strongly discouraged. In Spain Lemon is known as a cure all being used for everything from fever to arthritis. The oil will be a pale green-yellow color that turns brown as it ages. It has a light citrus smell and blends well with fennel, lavender, sandalwood, and chamomile. Lemon is very popular for cooking and for its fresh scent. As aromatherapy it can aid in the relief of stress, anxiety and fatigue.
The scent of lemon helps to increase concentration and alertness and bring an overall positive sense to those who inhale it. Lemon has also been used in treating coughs and colds and it the treatment of asthma. The high amount of vitamins in Lemon oil make it an immune system booster. It can also improve circulation and stimulate white bloods cells further aiding ones ability to fight disease. Lemon has also been used as an aid in weight loss. As a household cleaner lemon can be used on metal surfaces like knives to disinfect them. It can also be used in soaps and facial cleansers as it has antiseptic properties.
Clove Tree Image Courtesy of: Professor Chen Hualin.
Clove oil should be used with extreme care. It can cause mucus membrane irritation and severe skin irritation. As such it should only be used sparingly and well diluted. The buds, leaves, stems, and stalks of the clove plant are distilled with water to extract the essential oil. It should a pale yellow color with a spicy scent. Clove mixes well with sage, allspice, lavender, and rose. Clove has been used all over the world for centuries. It can be used to season food as well as for medicinal benefit. Clove contains many minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Clove has many health benefits, namely in the form of dental care. It has germicidal properties that aid in relieving tooth aches, gum sores, and ulcers in the mouth. It can also help relieve a sore throat.
Dried Clove Buds Photograph by: Brian Arthur Clove is an aphrodisiac which makes it a great stress reliever when used as aromatherapy. It can also have a stimulating effect and help to ease fatigue. Clove can also be used to treat headaches, bronchitis, asthma, coughs, and colds. Expectant mothers can use clove to relieve the nausea and vomiting often experienced during pregnancy. Clove cigarettes have long been a popular alternative to the traditional tobacco kind. At one time it was thought that adding clove could counteract the negative effects of smoking, this has since proved false. The American Cancer Society notes that there is no scientific proof that clove cures cancer in any way.
MIXTURES RECIPES FOR YOU & THE HOME Remember that essential oils are very strong so follow each recipe with great care. LESS IS MORE when making essential oil treatments.
DIFFUSER MIXTURES FOR:
Attentiveness - 1 drop Cypress, 2 drops Cedarwood, 2 drops Lemon, 1 drop Pine.
Recharging - 2 drops Fennel, 3 drops Juniper, 3 drops Lemongrass.
Alertness - 2 drops Eucalyptus, 3 drops Rosemary, 3 drops Tangerine.
Motivation - 2 drops Basil, 4 drops Bergamot, 1 drop Clove, 2 drops Ginger.
Lucidity - 2 drops Bay, 3 drops Ginger, 2 drops Rosemary.
Calmness - 2 drops Chamomile, 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Marjoram.
Harmony - 2 drops Benzoin, 2 drops Rose, 3 drops Verbena.
Peacefulness - 4 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Clary Sage, 3 drops Cypress.
Soothing - 2 drops Frankincense, 3 drops Melissa, 2 drops Patchouli.
Relax - 3 drops Lavender, 1 drop Sandalwood.
For the Kitchen - 1 drop basil, 3 drops Lemon, 2 drops Rosemary.
For the Bathroom - 1 drop Basil, 3 drops Lemon, 2 drops Rosemary.
For the Bedroom - 2 drops Bergamot, 3 drops Jasmine, 2 drops Ylang Ylang.
For the Office - 2 drops Caraway, 3 drops Frankincense, 2 drops Ginger.
Once you experience the benefits of essential oils you will wonder how you ever lived without them. Soon your home will be free of man made chemicals for cleaning and treating illnesses.
Do not underestimate the power of ridding your home of the scent of bleach and strong household cleaners. Imagine what taking those smells into your lungs does to your respiratory system. Now think of how it feels to breathe in fresh healthy air. This is what happens when you use essential oils to maintain a clean home. You and your whole family will be able to breathe easier and feel better. All of this by using natures essential oils through aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is for you. It is meant to benefit your health and well being. All the tools you need are some high quality, natural oils and a few recipes. More important is the knowledge that you do not have to do harm to yourself to keep your body and home free of germs, bacteria, and negative energy.
So, find a health food store and start stocking up on oils that you like. Smell them all and see which invigorates you. Build a beginner kit and start healing yourself with essential oils. Once you do that your only job is to breathe.