Essential Oils & Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy refers to a type of holistic healing that uses the inhalation or
application of pure essential oils to promote physical health and emotional
well-being. Natural essential oils are highly concentrated substances that
provide fragrant plants and trees with their characteristic smells. They are
called essential oils because they are considered the 'essence' of the plants
and contain most of their healing properties.
Aromatherapy is about more than just smelling these oils. Essential oils are
actually absorbed into your body, entering your bloodstream. When you inhale
them, they can enter through capillaries in your nose, or the alveoli in your lungs.
Essential oils can be absorbed through the mucous membranes in your mouth
and through your skin. Also, the molecules of essential oils are very tiny and are soluble in fats. The combination of all of these make them very fast-acting.
Aromatherapy tends to be a very safe, non-invasive method of healing with no side effects. This combined with being fast-acting, it is a very desirable form of holistic healing. We should note, however, that essential oils should be used properly. Our Aromatherapy page lists safety rule.
Essential Oils for Cold & Flu Season
Essential oils are quite powerful substances. They are easily and quickly absorbed by our bodies,
making them fast-acting. That's exactly what we want during cold and flu season! And since this
year seems to be particularly bad, we're going to give you some information about some of our
favorite cold-fighting essential oils.
Unless you are going to close yourself up in the house for the next couple of months, you're likely
to be exposed to the germs. One step is to purify the air around you. Use a diffuser when possible.
We carry necklaces with charms that you can add a couple of drops of essential oils to. Also,
simply rubbing some into your skin will help warn off those bad bugs!
Essential oils are naturally anti-microbial, so using them as a hand sanitizer is an awesome idea.
Try mixing some into a spritzer bottle with water or fractionated coconut oil and simply spritzing
If you do manage to catch something, try using essential oils in your diffuser or a steam mist (pour
boiling water into a bowl, add a couple of drops of essential oil, and inhale). Peppermint and
eucalyptus are excellent for steam inhalation. Try a combination of pine, clove, thyme, lemon and
frankincense for a diffuser - it works great!
Another fabulous treatment for colds and flu is a chest rub. Give this simple recipe a try:
Combine and rub into chest before bed.
Here's a good referral list for choosing essential oils:
Antibiotic for bacterial infections : lavender, oregano, tea tree, thyme, rosemary
Antiviral for fighting viruses: eucalyptus, marjoram, teat tree, thyme
Antifungal for fungal infections: geranium, lavender, myrrh, tea tree
Expectorants for expeling mucus: eucalyptus, peppermint, pine
Antispasmotic for relaxing spasms: clary sage, marjoram, Roman chamomile.
Most of us already know that lemon has a lot of cleansing benefits. Lemon essential oil, which comes from the peel, is an excellent, handy way to take advantage of some of these benefits. Lemon essential oil is antiseptic, antitoxic, antiviral, and antibacterial. It's also uplifting and rejuvenating, clearing the mind and dispelling sluggishness.
Use lemon essential oil for cleaning and disinfecting. Add 20 to 30 drops to your laundry, especially useful to deodorize. You can also add a few drops to your dishwasher for sanitizing. Plus, add some to water in a spray bottle - great for sanitizing or deodorizing about anything!
Dr Jean Valnet, a pioneer in aromatherapy research, found lemon essential oil to be the number one air disinfectant. Just like with Guardian and Thieves, you can use lemon oil in your diffuser or as a spritzer. In fact, you can add a couple of drops of lemon oil to your Guardian or Thieves for an extra punch.
Essential Oil Recipes for Kids
Here are some aromatherapy recipes for many common childhood issues.
Blend 2 tablespoons almond oil, 1 drop Roman chamomile, 1 drop lavender,
1 drop geranium. Apply to stomach and back.
Combine 2 tablespoons carrier oil, 2 drop tea tree, 1 drop lemon, 1 drop
rose otto. Massage onto neck and chest.
Dilute ginger, orange, or rosemary in a carrier oil and massage onto stomach and/or feet.
Gently rub diluted chamomile oil onto the stomach.
Add diluted chamomile or lavender oil to a full bath. Or mix lavender and chamomile oils to an ounce of carrier oil and massage into feet.
Dillute 2 drops lavender, 1 drop Roman chamomile, and 1 drop tea tree in 2 ounces of oil. Massage around the outside of the ear and down the neck.
Add 2 drops chamomile and 2 drops lavender to 2 ounces unscented cream. If it's cause by thrush, use tea tree instead.
Dilute lavender and massage neck, feet, etc.
Aromatherapy for Romance
I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck
- Emma Goldman
Not only were aromatics used in ceremonies and for illnesses, but also to enhance fertility,
virility, and love. In ancient Egypt and Rome essential oils were commonly used for matters
of love. Cleopatra is believed to have used rose petals and rosewater to attract Marc Anthony
. Today's perfume industry is based on scents making us more attractive to others.
Scents are interesting. Our other senses are perceived by the brain first, then emotions are
triggered. Smell, on the other hand, triggers emotions first and can have a powerful effect.
They excite the brain, stimulating the limbic system, the part of the brain controlling emotions
Studies show that essential oils stimulate the brain into specific responses, including the sensual
essential oils. Here are some of the most commonly used for romance:
Yes, essential oils can be used for your animals, and for very much the same reasons as people. Animals may also benefits from the antimicrobial, rejuvenating, and detoxing properties of essential oils. Plus, many of us pet owners know that sometimes one of our dear animals is having some emotional difficulty, from separation anxiety to fear of thunder.
Aromatherapy for animals works just like it does for us. The oils are inhaled or rubbed onto the skin and areas of the brain are triggered, whether to calm, rejuvenate, or reduce pain.
There are some precautions you should take, however, before using them with your animals. As we have mentioned previously, essential oils are highly concentrated substances, and animals are often much more sensitive to things like this than we realize. In fact, Juanita typically prefers to use homeopathics over aromatherapy for animals, but there are a number of cases where aromatherapy can be used with great success.
* Dogs have a sense of smell 50 to 100 times stronger than a human's. Therefore, essential oils should always be highly diluted for them (8 to 10 drops to 20 ml of carrier oil is about right). Using stronger dilutions could be compared to you sitting next to someone on the bus or plane with overwhelmingly strong perfume. Headache!
In Indonesia, ylang ylang flowers are scattered on the bed of the bride and groom to encourage romance. It not only arouses passion but also is a powerful relaxant, soothing nervousness and anxiety. Ylang ylang blends well with grapefruit, lavender or sandalwood.
Whether it's for Valentine's Day or any other day, here are a few recipes that can enhance and uplift your evening mood.
Intimate Massage Oil
2 ounces sweet almond oil
2 ounces jojoba oil
16 drops mandarin orange essential oil
3 drops ylang ylang essential oil
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Combine all ingredients and apply.
Passion & Fire Room Diffusion
1/4 cup water
15 drops sandalwood essential oil
2 drops nutmeg essential oil
Place water in bowl of diffuser lamp. Add essential oils and light candle.
Love Potion Spritzer
6 drops ylang ylang essential oil
5 drops rose otto essential oil
1 drop clove essential oil
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients into a mister bottle. Shake before each use.
Exotic Nights Bath
2 drops ylang ylang essential oil
3 drops neroli essential oil
1 can coconut milk
Conbine ingredients and add to a tubful of warm water. This is a rich, moisturizing bath!
If you're interested in trying these without having to buy all of the individual essential oils, remember we have a Mixing Station with over 125 essential oils! Also, we carry a wonderful pre-mixed blend from Aura Cacia called Love Potion that combines Jasmine and Ylang Ylang as well as other essential oils. It's an easy one to keep around to mix with a little carrier oil whenever you want!
In the midst of an illness, add drops of the essential oil to the same number of drops of a carrier oil (olive, jojoba, almond, coconut, etc). Rub onto chest, neck, back, etc. To help protect yourself from becoming sick, use a couple of drops with some carrier oil and rub onto the bottom of your feet. Rubbing essential oils onto feet is also an excellent way to use them on children.
When using these essential oil blends, be sure to test skin sensitivity first. If a reaction occurs, use a bit of the carrier oil to rub it off.
Animals & Essential Oils
Can't Have Just One Essential Oil!
With Aromatherapy as our subject right now, we were talking about what essential oils are must-haves in our homes. Juanita said just like best friends, you can't have just one! At different times of the year different essential oils are helpful. Right now we really need our warrior friends to help keep up our immunity and fight off all of those nasties. Through cold and flu season our best friends are Thieves and Guardian.
DIY Oil Blend: Thieves
We've talked about how aromatherapy has been used for centuries. One of the most well-known blends is Thieves. Legend has it that during the bubonic plague of the 15th century, four thieves were arrested for robbing the dead and dying. When asked how they they prevented themselves from becoming infected, they told of herbs that they rubbed on their hands, ears and temples. Today people use a blend of essential oils that includes some of the herbs these thieves used.
Here's a Thieves Recipe:
200 drops of Clove Oil (Syzgium aromaticum)
175 drops of Lemon Oil (Citrus Limon)
100 drops of Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum)
75 drops of Eucalyptus Oil (Eucalyptus radiata)
50 drops of Rosemary Oil (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Store in a dark glass container.
Dr. Valnet also found lemon oil to be a liver decongestant and diuretic, plus a powerful body cleanser. Lemon essential oil can also helps with gallbladder congestion, circulation and indigestion and is an immune stimulant.
Lemon oil can also benefit your skin. It's an astringent and detoxifying, so it helps with blemished and oily skin. It's also a great rejuvenator for dull skin. Due to its detoxing effects, lemon oil can also help reduce cellulite.
Precious Gifts: Frankincense and Myrrh
Many of us know frankincense and myrrh as two of the precious gifts given to the baby Jesus
by the Wise Men. But do you know how precious these really are? Both frankincense and
myrrh have been treasured for centuries as for their healing properties.
Myrrh is one of the oldest known medicines. The ancient Egyptians used myrrh in embalming
because of its excellent preservative properties. They also used it in perfumes, cosmetics, and
other skin care. Today it's still used in many skin creams as well as toothpaste. It's great for
many types of skin problems including ringworm, eczema, and psoriasis. It's also been believed
for ages to help improve stretch marks, scars, and wrinkled skin.
Beyond skin care, myrrh has a number of other benefits, including:
Frankincense also dates back to the Egyptians, as well as the ancient Chinese. It, too is good for skin problems, helping to heal and protect the skin, softening wrinkles and stretch marks and helping dry skin. Here are a few more attributes of frankincense:
These two essential oils are so beneficial and could be an important part of your aromatherapy kit!
Categories of Essential Oils
Essential oils are often categorized into one of six groups, each with different actions and aromas.
These oils include Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin, and Grapefruit. In general this group of essential oils are uplifting, being considered antidepressants. They're also good cleansers. All tend to have pungent, sweet aromas.
In this group are Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Tea Tree. These are all strongly anti-microbial, plus can be refreshing and stimulating. Aromas are fresh and bracing.
These include Clary Sage, Geranium, Lavender, Marjoram, Pine, Thyme, and Oregano. They are balancing and tonifying oils. Some of them are stimulating and others relaxing. Their aromas are not quite as specific as the others, but all of them tend to have 'green' smells, maybe like an herb garden.
Cinnamon and Clove are in this group. These are warm and stimulating oils, plus are anti-microbial. As you can probably guess, they are spicy, warm, exotic aromas.
In this are Chamomile, Helichrysum, Jasmine, Neroli, and Rose. They are relaxing, soothing and sensual herbs. Aromas from these tend to be deep, heady and complex (and, of course, floral!).
These are Frankincense, Myrrh, and Sandalwood. These are grounding oils, having strengthening, relaxing and spiritual properties. Their aromas are woody, deep and pervasive.
Babies and young children respond especially well to massage. Babies who are massaged regularly tend to be more relaxed and sleep better. Also, foot massage is often highly recommended as it lessens the chance of them getting it in their eyes, etc plus the oils are easily absorbed through the feet. For babies and young children, use about 5 drops of essential oil in and ounce of carrier oil. You can increase to 10 drops of essential oil for children over two. Sweet almond oil is usually recommended for babies.
Baths can also be used. Dilute 10 -12 drops of essential oil in a carrier oil, bath gel, or milk and add to a full bath. You can do foot and hand baths as well, adding a couple of drops to carrier oil and putting it in a bowl of warm water. Beware of using hand baths with young children who still put their hands in their mouths.
Aromatherapy for Children
Children often enjoy and benefit from aromatherapy as much as adults. Essential oils can be very effective, with their immune-boosting, anti-microbial properties. However, due to their highly concentrated nature, extra care should be given when using them with kids.
First, while I know we have mentioned this many times over the past few weeks, please make sure you are using high quality, pure essential oils. Essential oils are not all created equal and children are more sensitive to what is entering their little bodies.
Nature's Sunshine Guardian Essential Oil
If you are not interested in mixing your own, we have another wonderful warrior friend that comes pre-blended: Guardian. Guardian provides a blend of essential oils that act synergistically to counteract the effects of weakened immunity and fight bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Guardian is particularly beneficial for disinfecting the air to help prevent the spread of infectious airbourne pathogens. It contains Lavender, Ravensara, Roman Chamomile, and Tea Tree.
Using These Blends
Both blends are excellent for fighting the cold and flu bugs going around. Not only can you help ward them off but you can also get over them a little quicker.
Diffuse them in your essential oil diffuser to purify the air. You can also add many drops to water in a spritzer bottle to carry around with you. It's great as a hand sanitizer, or for spraying the air around you, or sanitizing surfaces. Add a few drops to your natural household cleanser to boost its cleansing abilities).
Rose has a long history of stimulating romance, from Cleopatra as we mentioned above to roses being a sign of romance today. The essential oil can be used alone or is wonderful when blended with others, including lavender, geranium, or frankincense.
Jasmine is said to attract a lover as it is irresistible. It's been long believed that is helps with frigidity and impotence. It can also be used alone or is complimented by grapefruit or lavender.
Neroli (Bitter Orange Blossom)
Victorian brides wore sprigs of neroli in their headdresses and put them in their bouquets to help calm nerves and stimulate romance. It's good for those with loss of romantic interest. Neroli blends really well with citrus essential oils.
* Use of essential oils on cats is controversial. Cats can not excrete oils from their livers like we and other animals can so essential oils can be very damaging and many recommend avoiding using them. There are many others that have used essential oils successfully on cats. They say there are two keys: the purity of the oil and using it very well-diluted. Also, if you choose to diffuse essential oils with a cat around, it's best to leave an area open to your cat where they can get to fresh air.
* Pay attention to their size! It's generally agreed to not use essential oils on puppies/very young animals and very small animals. They can also be toxic to birds.
* Avoid using essential oils on pregnant or sick animals. Avoid eyes, nose, anal, and genital areas as well.
That said, let's talk about how to use aromatherapy for your animals.
It's well-known that animals in the wild will search out different plants to self-medicate. When using essential oils with your animals, a similar approach should be taken. Offer the diluted oil to you animal and see how they react. Most likely they will lick it, inhale it, or turn away. Allow them the choice on whether or not the essential oil will be used.
Here are a few recipes and ideas for using aromatherapy with your animals. If you have some to share, email us and will pass it on!
Fly Spray Recipe
This is from our customer, Laurie. Use it for dogs, horses, or people! Thanks for sharing!
Makes 1 quart
Catnip Oil 1/2 tsp
Peppermint Oil 1/2 tsp
Cedarwood Oil 1/2 tsp
Lavender Oil 1 tsp
Tea Tree Oil 1 tsp
Dish Soap 1 tbs
Aloe Vera 4 tsp
Lemongrass 1 1/2 tbs
Neem Oil 1 1/2 tbs
Citronella 1 1/2 tbs
Titanium Dioxide Powder 2 tsp
White Vinegar 1/2 cup
Water 2 3/4 to 3 cup (to make a quart)
Put everything into a blender for a few seconds. Then mix with water and shake before using. Can be sprayed or rubbed on animals and human with no ill effects to date.
Human Fly/Mosquito Spray (also from Laurie!)
4 to 5 drops Catnip Oil
1 ounce water
Put into a spray bottle and shake.
2 drops Geranium Oil
5 drops Rosewood Oil
3 drops Lavender Oil
2 drops Myrrh Oil
Blend with 8 ounces of carrier oil or water in a spray bottle.
5 drops Geranium
5 drops Ylang Ylangl
5 drops Roman or Blue Chamomile
Blend with 8 ounces of carrier oil or water in a spray bottle.
Lavender and Roman Chamomile can be used individually for calming.
Blend Rosemary, lavender and ginger diluted into carrier oil and massage.
Peppermint diluted with carrier oil and rubbed onto stomach.
The great amount of suspicion and fear through the Dark Ages stopped some use, but there is evidence of their use. Monks, however, often cared for the sick and were known to have excellent gardens with medicinal herbs. Somewhere around the 16th century bathing started being seen as sinful. During this time people started using aromatics to mask body odors. People also used aromatic plants to 'ward off evil' during times like the Bubonic Plague. While there was less direct use of oils in healing, many of these aromatics used have anti-microbial properties and possibly contributed for more than scent.
Use for their healing properties slowly picked up. In 1937, Rene Gattifosse coined the term aromatherapy. He was not a believer in natural medicine, but was in fact a perfumer. When he was badly burned, he covered the injury with lavender oil and was amazed at how well it healed, without infection or scarring. Over the next 40 years, essential oils and aromatherapy became a large part of the alternative healing methods.
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In fact, some essential oils are strong enough that they should not be used at all. Also, most agree that, unless you and/or your health care provider really know, you shouldn't use essential oils on babies under three months. After that, there are a number of essential oils that can benefit them, including chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, neroli, rose, sweet orange, and tea tree. Over two years you can add ginger, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, clary sage, and tangerine.
The two methods used with children are inhalation and topical. As we have talked about, diffusing essential oils can really cleanse and purify the room with their anti-microbial action. If you don't have a diffuser, you can simply use a spritzer bottle. Its may not be as long-lasting as a diffuser but will help.
Topical application can be very beneficial. This first thing to note is that you should always use a carrier oil, especially with children. It's also recommended to do a very small test spot, especially if your child has sensitive skin.
Psycho-aromatherapy is the use of aromatics to influence our emotional state. When scents are inhaled, they stimulate an area of the brain called the olfactory epithelium where there are millions of nerve endings. As a simplified explanation, scents become nerve messages. These messages travel along the nerves, stimulating different areas of the brain, causing different neurochemicals to be released.
For psycho-aromatherapy, essential oils are primarily use through inhalation. Try these by adding a few drops to a carrier oil and use in massage, adding a few drops to a bath, or by using a diffuser.
There are six different groups of essential oils in psycho-aromatherapy. Here are the groups, what they stimulate, and the essential oils:
These essential oils stimulate the pituitary to release endorphins, which promotes sexual arousal and euphoria. They can also be pain killers. These are good for fighting emotional coldness, shyness, impotence, and frigidity. The oils include Clary Sage, Jasmine, Patchouli, and Ylang-Ylang.
Regulating oils stimulate the hypothalamus and the release of various neurochemicals. They work to regulate and balance the systems, having a stabilizing effect on the body. These can help anxiety with depression, mood swings, and menstrual or menopausal imbalance. Oils in this category are Bergamot, Frankincense, Geranium, and Rosewood.
Oils in the Euphoric group stimulate the thalamus to release enkephalins that are uplifting, creating feelings of well-being, and are sometimes pain relievers. These are used for depression, moodiness, and lack of confidence. Oils include Clary Sage, Grapefruit, Jasmine, and Rose Otto.
These oils stimulate the amygdala and hippocampus, releasing a variety of neurochemicals. These help overcome mental fatigue, difficulty in concentration, and poor memory. The oils are Black Pepper, Lemon, Peppermint, and Rosemary.
Sedative oils stimulate the raphe nucleus and the release of serotonin, a well-known sedating neurochemical. These are great for anxiety, stress, hypertension, insomnia, anger, and irritability. Oils used here include Chamomile, Lavender, Marjoram, and Orange Blossom.
Oils in this group target the locus ceruleus, releasing noradrenaline, the 'wake-me-up' neurochemical. Use these essential oils to overcome boredom, lethargy, and immune deficiency. Essential oils in this group include Cardamom, Juniper, Lemongrass, and Rosemary.
The History of Aromatherapy
There is a long history of aromatherapy, dating as far back as ancient Egypt and China.
Here's a few tidbits we found interesting.
In Egypt, precious oils and aromatics, including cedarwood, frankincense and myrrh,
were routinely used for treating illnesses and performing religious ceremonies. There is
also record of ancient Chinese and Indian cultures using aromatherapy. Aromatics were
used in the Ayurvedic medical system.
There are many references to essential oils in the Bible. One reference I was reading said
there were over 500 direct and indirect references! One of the most popular would be the
magi bringing the gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. Many believe the gold given was actually balsam oil.
Greeks and Romans used aromatics often. They discovered using them for their stimulating or sedating properties, plus realized that external applications effected different internal organs. Hippocrates, the 'father of medicine' even used aromatics to fight a plague that was affecting Athens.