And Essential Oils - The Basics
Aromatherapy is the use of oils extracted from various,
primarily fragrant, plants to aid in the relief of
a range of physical or mental discomforts or illnesses.
These oils, commonly referred to as "essential oils"
are also used to enhance or encourage positive responses
in the user. These oils may be used by direct application
or by inhaling the aromas, hence the name "aromatherapy".
The inhaled aromas can be dispersed by candles prepared
with the essential oils, by applying the oil to some
object, such as a handkerchief or pillowcase, by spraying
a mix of the essential oil and water into the air,
or by means of a "diffuser". A diffuser is a device
generally available from essential oil providers which
uses heat to disperse molecules of the chosen essential
oil into the air.
Although long used in other parts of the world, such
as the East and Middle East, aromatherapy is essentially
new to Europe and the United States. In the last few
years, in addition to an increase in the numbers of
aromatherapy practitioners, a broad interest and corresponding
retail market in aromatherapy, essential oils, and
related items such as candles, perfumes, and diffusers
has sprung up. It is now very easy for someone knowing
little or nothing about aromatherapy to buy the necessary
supplies and reap the benefits of aromatherapy.
EFFECTS OF ESSENTIAL OILS AND AROMATHERAPY
There are several essential oils, some having effectiveness
in more than one situation. The list is not complicated,
but is too long to go into in this article. You may
wish to visit http://eherbsstore.com/aromatherapy/
to view a short list of some of the more common oils
and their uses.
Overall, the effects may be divided into two basic
groups. Some essential oils have actual physical effects.
For example, eucalyptus oil can be inhaled to help
clear sinuses and the respiratory tract. This would
obviously relieve some symptoms of an upper respiratory
infection (URI). Some oils may be used topically (directly
on the skin, where they would usually be absorbed
by the body, or on a wound) to possibly relieve swelling
or fight certain infections.
Secondly, aromatherapy, usually thru the inhaling
of the molecules of the essential oil, can affect
moods and emotions. Since feelings and emotions are
more and more appearing to be hard-wired to the health
of the body, it is beginning to become apparent that
improvements in such areas as moods can affect the
actual health condition of the body in addition to
simply making the individual feel happier, or more
energetic, or more alert. Studies have shown, for
example, that the status of someone's emotional state
can affect the ability of their immune system to fight
ESSENTIAL OILS IN OTHER PRODUCTS
Essential oils can be used in other products such
as perfumes, lotions, cleansers and other cosmetics
and personal care items. Essential oils are even used
in such common items as household cleaners and toothpaste.
Many people even use essential oils with other elements
to create their own products. One company even offers
a Health, Home and Beauty Kit so that those interested
in aromatherapy can use essential oils to "...create
hundreds of blends for everything from women's concerns
to cleaning your bathroom tiles."
SCIENTIFIC STUDY TENDS TO SUPPORT AROMATHERAPY
Being an alternative form of healthcare, aromatherapy
was, until recently, looked down on by the traditional
medical community. However, with the increasing tide
of evidence of the importance of the mind-body connection
in health, and with an increasing volume of empirical
and anecdotal evidence, the scientific community has
begun to accept aromatherapy and the affect of essential
oils on health...at least to some extent.
In the last few years, researchers at the Kurume University
School of Medicine in Japan, the University of Miami
School of Medicine, the University of Alaska, and
the University of Pittsburgh, to name a few, have
shown positive results in subjects through the use
of aromatherapy. Subjects have experienced improved
mental and physical functions after the use of essential
oils. Subjective measurements have indicated positive
experiences in participants, while objective measurements,
such as electroencephalograms (EEG) have borne out
these results as well.
Participants have used essential oils to improve their
immune systems, improve athletic ability, increase
alertness, ease depression, be more effective students,
and to quit smoking.
PRECAUTIONS BEFORE USING ESSENTIAL OILS
While essential oils are natural products and may
be inhaled directly with no harm, you should always
be careful to merely inhale the aroma rising from
the container, much as you would inhale the scent
of a cologne or perfume. Do not place essential oils
directly into nasal passages. Using a diffuser, candle,
or item with the oil on it to release the molecules
are the most common ways of experiencing the actual
Essential oils are stronger than what would be experienced
when sniffing a rose, for example, so it is best to
ease into their use. Essential oils usually come in
small vials or bottles and are used a drop or two
at a time. Products from various suppliers may have
different concentrations, so the product from A may
only need a drop while that from B needs two drops.
Take time off. Prolonged contact with the oils can
result in allergic reactions in some cases or even
mild toxic reactions. Always follow your distributor's
recommendations and make sure you have a distributor
who can and will give warnings and recommendations.
If using a product claiming to be an aromatherapy
product by virtue of its ingredients, always check
to make sure that it is actually using essential oils.
While the smell which reminds us of the fragrant flower
or plant it copies might produce positive feelings
in most of us, the genuine essential oil itself will
be more effective.
Unless you are under the guidance of a skilled, experienced
aromatherapist, you should never ingest essential
oils. Children and pregnant women should never ingest
Lastly, while essential oils used in topical applications
or inhaled during aromatherapy can certainly produce
beneficial results, they should never be used in place
of professional medical treatment.
author first became fascinated with anything having
to do with health, fitness, exercise, weight loss,
and nutrition in the early 1970's. He operates a herbal
health site at http://eherbsstore.com
where you may find aromatherapy products. You may
find more information on health related subjects at