The word, ‘aromatherapy’ has become very popular over the last 20 years, with it appearing on many cosmetic labels, air-fresheners, foodstuffs and even laundry products. However, aromatherapy is more than just pretty smells, and the widespread use of the term has perhaps distracted from the real focus of how we can use plant essences in a properly beneficial and therapeutic way to improve our health and state of mind.
In its true form, aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to evoke a beneficial action on a person’s well-being, by improving their physical, mental and emotional state. This means that by using essential oils, there are many aspects of our whole being that we can affect positively.
But what are essential oils, really? Perhaps paradoxically, they are not actually an oil, however, they are the fragrant essences that can be extracted into liquid form from all types of plants, from trees to flowers and roots to leaves, normally by the use of steam distillation, cold pressing or CO2 extraction. They are sourced for their healing and beneficial properties, and as well as having an amazing fragrance, they hold great potential in helping us to stay healthy, or overcome sickness. Being completely natural substances they are not to be confused with synthetically formulated fragrance oils, which are neither therapeutic nor healing in their effect.
Essential oils are extremely potent, and a little goes a long way, so you have to use caution when you’re using them. It is advisable to learn about using essential oils first before you start using them, as this means you will be using them safely and correctly. There are many great aromatherapy resources both in book form, and online that will help you get started: Patricia Davis’ book ‘An A-Z of Aromatherapy is a good starting point, or if you’re pregnant, you might like my own recently published book, AromaBump – The Belly Bible for Aromatherapy in Pregnancy. You will find that essential oils can be used to enhance well-being in a number of ways and can be used in a variety of different manners. The most common means of effective application, and exposure to them, are:
Massage – A specific blend of essential oils is created to address presenting issues or conditions and diluted in a vegetable carrier oil. This is then applied to the skin using therapeutic massage techniques.
Bath – A specific blend of essential oils is created and diluted in a vegetable carrier oil and added to a warm bath.
Inhalation (through vaporisation, or diffusion) – Specific essential oils can be added to the likes of a facial sauna and can then be inhaled directly by placing the face within breathing distance of the steam source*. If you have an oil burner, 3 or 4 drops of essential oils can be added to the water which then evaporate around your room. (*Use caution with your steam vaporiser that you do not have your face overly close to the steam source so as not to burn yourself.)
Dermal application – Essential oils can be incorporated into the formulation of face and body products and then applied onto the skin in creams, lotions, balms, body oils or gels.
As a professional aromatherapist who specialises in pregnancy treatments, and as a mother of three children, I use essential oils on a daily basis and love how they can really improve how I feel, physically and mentally . I use them in personal care products and around my home. However, less is definitely more with essential oils and as such, must be used correctly, and with guidance.
If you have any questions regarding the use of aromatherapy and essential oils, please feel free to contact me or visit my website HERE or come follow my social media pages Facebook, Twitter & Instagram