What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy which involves using essential oils for balancing mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Essential oils are concentrated liquids derived from flowers, leaves, stems and root of plants. They are produced through the process of steam distillation or cold pressing. Essential oils vary in colour ranging from amber to yellowish, depending on which part of the plant the oil is derived from. The theraputic effect of each essential oil varies from being calming, relaxing, uplifting to refreshing or stimulating. Using certain essential oils can also ease stress related symptoms.
History of Aromatherapy
Some scholars believe that the history of aromatherapy dates back to 40,000 years. Egyptologists credit ancient Egyptians for using plant oils in healing between four and six thousand years ago. They used these plant oils for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, including bathing, perfuming and healing properties. The term aromatherapy has been credited to Rene Maurice Gattefosse who, in his book, wrote about the anti-bacterial affects of essential oils. However, it was not until French Biochemist Madame Margaret Maury came up with massaging using the essential oils of plants as a healing practice did the history become realized.
Therapeutic properties from plants, herbs and natural raw ingredients are beneficial for improving your overall health and can help with:
• Increasing your energy levels
• Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
• Ease premenstrual and menopausal symptoms
• Difficulty in sleeping or insomnia
• Stress, depression or anxiety
• Muscular aches and pains
• Improve your skin and hair
• Restoring balance in body and mind
Mixing Essential Oils
Blending different essential oils and carrier oils in various proportions can yield you some fabulous products. You should have the right knowledge and a will to experiment various combinations. There are several effective methods of using oils that combines all its essential properties with the therapeutic powers. These include massage, soothing bath soak and steam inhalation. The oils should never be used undiluted and should always be blended with a carrier oil such as Grapeseed oil or Sweet Almond. It is suggested that you use good quality essential oils and always use a dropper in the bottle to make it easy for measuring the actual number of drops required. When blending oils a correct dilution percentage for essential oils is recommended.
Essential Oils Health and Safety
- Essential oils are affected by sunlight therefore should be stored in dark glass bottles, with tight stopper caps in a cool environment. The cap should be secured properly and the bottle stored in an upright position.
- Always ensure the integral dropper is in place as this acts as a guard against over consumption when blending essential oils.
- Keep essential oils out of reach from children.
- Store essential oils in plastic bottles. Good Essential oils have a shelf life of several years if properly stored, except citrus oils which have approximately a shelf life of 6 months.
- Always carry out a patch test 24 hours before commencing any treatment as certain oils may cause skin sensitivity or an adverse reaction in some individuals.
- Discontinue use immediately any skin irritation occurs while using essential oils.
- Some essential oils (mainly citrus oils) are photo toxic and cause skin irritaion. Avoid exposing skin to the sun 24 hours after treatment.
- If essential oil gets into the eye quickly flush the eye with cold full fat milk to dilute the effects. If stinging continues, seek immediate medical advice.
- Do not take essential oils internally unless under strict medical supervision or if in advised by a qualified Aromatherapist. If taken internally by accident then seek medical advice immediately.
- Never use an undiluted essential oil directly on the skin, always dilute in a suitable base product. Only Lavender & Tea Tree can be used neat in very small amounts 1-2 drops but not on a regular basis.
- If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, suffer from epilepsy, have high/low blood pressure or any other health conditions please seek professional advice from a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils.
- Always check for any contradictions between medication and essential oils as some essential oils can interfere with certain prescribed medication.
- When adding essential oils to bath water dilute it first in a small amount of full fat milk or a dispersing bath oil so it does not settle on the top of the water and cause skin irritation or burns.