Bathing (also referred to as balneotherapy) is a well recognized treatment in its own right and essential oils can be administered in this way, too - not just to the whole body but by foot bath, hot tub, Jacuzzi, sauna, shower, sitz bath, spray shower, washing etc.
Besides being a pleasant form of relaxation, it can relieve aches and pains (e.g. Chamomile essence, or Lavender essence). The benefits accrue from water vapor (e.g. Camphor essence, or Eucalyptus essence) as well as via the skin. Pine baths have been shown to increase white blood cell counts, indicating that the immune system is enhanced.
The most beneficial essential oils for bathing are considered to include: Chamomile, Lavender, Melissa essence, Oak Bark, Pine essence, Rosemary, Thyme, Valerian and Yarrow.
Only soak the body, or feet, for 10 minutes. Suitable oils for the feet include: Cypress essence, Juniper essence, Lemon essence and Tea Tree essence. Oak bark is recommended for problems of “sweaty feet”.
A hot tub, or Jacuzzi, is another popular form of bath. Remember that essential oils are not water soluble and may leave a residue in or around pipes.
In the sauna, or sweat lodge, the essential oil is added to the water which is poured over the rocks to evaporate (e.g. Camphor essence, or Eucalyptus essence).
Aromatherapy is also an excellent way for keeping the hair in good condition. Essential oils can be added to a natural shampoo. A concentrated form, of Eucalyptus, or Tea Tree, with Lavender and Rosemary essence is recommended for headlice.
The most beneficial use of an essential oil is as a final rinse. Geranium essence, Rosemary and Rosewood essence are recommended for brunettes; Chamomile essence and Lemon essence for blondes.
While showering, an essential oil preparation can be placed on a washcloth and applied in that way. The German people are particularly fond of invigorating, cold showers with certain essential oils, including: Camphor essence, Eucalyptus essence and Rosemary essence.
A sitz bath (literally a sitting bath, only immersing the legs and buttocks) is another popular mode of bathing, especially for gynecological problems. Chamomile may be recommended for hemorrhoids. Cypress essence and Lemon essence may be blended for both hemorrhoids and varicose veins of the legs.
A"spritzer", or facial spray, can be made, as well. Essential oils are added to warm water, which is filtered (a coffee filter is fine) before being placed in a spray container. This can provide additional moisture to the facial skin in dry environments.
Bruises, sprains, pains, congestion, and skin irritations can be treated by using age-old methods like compresses and poultices.
A compress may be cold or hot. If an injury is recent and there is bruising, swelling and inflammation, or for a headache, a cold compress is advised. Hot compresses are better for old injuries, menstrual pain, cystitis, muscle pains, boils and other such skin conditions.
For a compress you need a soft piece of fabric - lint, toweling, or an old sheet are best. If using lint it should not be medicated.
If you are making a cold compress, use pint of ice-cold water containing between 6 and 10 drops of essential oil. Place the fabric on the top of the water and squeeze it to prevent it from dripping but not too dry. Put the compress on the area to be treated; a wrap of plastic film helps to seal and secure it. The compress should remain in place until it has warmed up to body temperature at which point it may need replacing.
For hot compress, the quantities of water and essential oil are the same but the water should be as hot as you can bear. Initially, a protective towel, or two, can be interposed, as removed, as the heat is lost. The compress should be renewed once it has cooled to body temperature. It sometimes helps to place a prewarmed towel over the compress followed by a blanket. Ideally, compresses should be left in place for about two hours.
If you want to treat the back or a similar sized area of the body you will need a larger piece of material. The water should then be placed in a bowl big enough to accommodate the size of the material. Add 10 drops of essential oil and allow the material to soak up the liquid. Place a warm towel on the bed, followed by plastic sheeting and then by the compress. The person being treated should lie down on top of the compress and be covered by a warm blanket.
The simplest way of inhaling the fragrance of an oil is to apply it neat to a handkerchief or paper towel (about 5 to 10 drops) and then sniff. If you have a cold, drops can be placed on your pillow at night to help relieve congestion. Even more simple still, is to put a drop of essential oil onto your hand, rub your hands to warm them up and then cup your hands over your nose, allowing no gaps, and inhale deeply.
Using steam to is particularly useful for colds, flu and coughs. (There is one very big caution, however. If you suffer from asthma do not try this method as it could bring on an attack.) Assuming that the method does not pose a hazard for you, fill a bowl with a pint of near boiling water and add 2 to 4 drops of essential oil, depending on the strength of the oil. Breathe in the scented steam for between five and ten minutes. The treatment is rendered more effective if you keep your head and the bowl covered with a towel to make a sort of tent. You may need to repeat the treatment three times a day.
For a room fragrance it is now possible to obtain essential oil burners and aromatherapy rings which you impregnate with the oil and then place on your light bulb so that the heat evaporates the oil and gives off the scent. The scent "diffuses" through the air of the room, so the item may be sold as a diffuser.
There are also units which spray a fine mist into a room, known as nebulizers.
Or even just put the drops onto a light bulb itself whilst it is still cold. You can make an atomizer with a plastic spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of oil. Spraying a room with essential oils is extremely beneficial if the occupant is sick. This practice helps to disinfect a room and to prevent the spread of germs. Cinnamon essence, clove essence, eucalyptus essence, lavender essence, lemon essence, peppermint essence, pine essence, rosemary essence, tea tree essence and thyme essence are especially useful.
If the aim is to create an atmosphere for, say, a party or for a good night’s sleep choose the oils that will enhance that effect - chamomile essence, clary sage essence or lavender essence for bedtime, or bergamot essence, lemon essence or orange essence add zest to a gathering.
If you are going to use essential oils in massage, however, always do a skin test first, to rule out an allergic reaction.
Apply one drop of oil with a cotton bud to an area of soft skin, like the inside of the elbow or the back of the wrist. Leave unwashed for 24 hours. If the area comes out in a rash, or itches, do not use that oil.
Essential oils should always be diluted in a carrier, or base oil (a discussion of exceptions follows).
There are a number of such oils which are particularly suitable for mixing with essential oils and they also have properties which are beneficial to the individual (such as vitamins A, D and E) particularly if they are cold pressed. In addition, they can help to balance and stabilize an essential oil. The vitamin E in wheatgerm oil, for example, acts as an antioxidant and enhances the keeping power of a massage oil once the essence has been blended with the vegetable oil.
The usual life for a massage oil after dilution is usually only two months, but nearer three if wheatgerm oil is added.
The oils that are the best carriers for essential oils are almond, grapeseed, soya, wheatgerm, peach or apricot kernel, avocado, corn, sunflower, calendula, and castor. The oil needs to have little of its own smell and should be able easily to penetrate the skin. They should be 100 per cent pure and unrefined. Some aromatherapists like to use a fragrant oils such as coconut, sesame or olive oil.
The almond oil used in aromatherapy is extracted from the sweet almond (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis). It has nourishing and revitalizing properties and is beneficial for dry and wrinkled hands, eczema and skin irritations. Castor oil is more viscous and may have to be mixed with another oil to make it more penetrative. It has benefits for eczema and very dry skin. Grapeseed has a consistency almost like that of water. It is therefore very easily absorbed. It is more astringent in its effects and is therefore useful for such conditions as acne. Extracted from the soya bean, soya oil, too, is easily absorbed. It is sometimes used for its medicinal properties and is known to lower cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Wheatgerm oil is especially good for skin conditions for the reasons mentioned above. It is more beneficial to add a drop or two of this oil to other remedies and, in fact, it is not often used on its own as it is quite rich and heavy; similarly with avocado.
(Sweet) Almond oil Apricot Avocado Calendula Canola Castor Coconut Corn Grapeseeed Hazelnut Jojoba Olive Peanut Safflower Sesame Soy Sunflower Wheatgerm
Sweet almond and grapeseed are considered lightly lubricating.
Avocado oil is rich and nourishing to dry skin.
Wheatgerm and vitamin E are rather sticky but provide natural antioxidants which extend the life of a blended oil. Once an essential oil is mixed with a carrier oil, it tends to oxidise, or turn rancid, more quickly.
Be careful to mix small quantities at a time.
An aromatherapist may well use a carrier oil which is a blend of oils such as wheatgerm, avocado and grapeseed. Calendula, from a variety of marigold, is a stable oil which helps to reduce inflammation and can be used for circulatory, digestive, menstrual, muscular, nervous and skin disorders. It is not an essential oil but is quite expensive, so it is commonly blended with other carrier oils.
Mineral oils have no value for aromatherapy as they are not able to penetrate the skin.
Special groups require special treatment!
Half the maximum general dosage is recommended i.e. 5 - 15 drops to 30 mls of carrier.
A quarter of the minimum quantities recommended i.e. 5 - 10 drops to 60 mls carrier oil.
5 - 7 years 5 - 12 drops to 60 mls (2 oz) carrier oil. 7 - 12 years 5 - 15 drops to 60 mls (2 oz) carrier oil. Over 12 minimum quantities (10 - 30 drops to 60 mls).
Half the minimum-maximum general guidelines (i.e. 5 - 15 to 30 mls carrier oil).
Half the minimum-maximum general guidelines (i.e. 5 - 15 to 30 mls carrier oil).
For a small dose of essential oil the suggested method of administration is in a glass or honey and water. To make the honey and water mixture you dissolve 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey in a cup of boiling water. To the mixture is added 1 to 3 drops of the essential oil which, of course, is then drunk.
To keep your mouth fresh and infection free, 2 drops of essential oils can be added to 285 ml (half a pint) of spring water. It is best to use a screw-top bottle which can then be shaken each time it is used so that the oil is dispersed throughout. The best oils to use are Lemon essence and Peppermint essence for fresh breath. If you are treating a mouth infection or gum disorder use Tea Tree Essence. Mouthwashes should not be swallowed.
The internal use of essential oils is controversial. Some practitioners are very much against this for reasons stated earlier - that essential oils should be treated with the same respect as medicines. Some essential oils have the same properties as drugs and should be used with caution. These therapists believe that if the benefits of plants are to be imbibed then, rather than using the essential oil, proper herbal teas should be resorted to. Or herbal oils and vinegars, and even the herbs themselves could be used in cooking or as marinades or in salads.
Another method is to add the oil to tea. Put one teabag into a teapot and add the boiling water. After two minutes stir the tea and remove the teabag. Two drops of essential oil should then be added. Pour out one cup and drink. You can add sugar if that is what you prefer. If you can’t do without milk then the initial tea should be made with two teabags.
Those aromatherapists, or medical herbalists, who do prescribe internal doses have found that they are beneficial for diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, indigestion, stones in the kidney or urinary tract, cystitis, depression, headaches, painful periods, coughs and colds.
Bruises, sprains, pains, congestion, and skin irritations can be treated by using age-old methods like poultices and compresses.
Poultices consist of a herb that is applied, either raw or mashed, directly to the body or after first being moistened. They may be left exposed to the air, or wrapped in a cloth which is then placed on the area needing attention. The most common poultices are linseed, or mustard, for chest complaints and skin problems.
The seeds of linseed are easily crushed. When liquid is added they swell up in size and retain heat well. Use between 3 tbsp and 3 ounces (depending on the size of the area to be covered). They should be ground up and mixed with sufficient hot water to make a paste. You can then add 2 to 5 drops of essential oil.
Spread the mixture on a piece of gauze or muslin which should then be covered with a second piece of the material. Make sure that the ends of the material are folded over so that the contents do not fall out. Place the poultice on the area affected while it is still hot and leave until cool (about ten minutes). This preparation can be applied to the face but as linseed is rather sticky you will need to use a flower water for removal.
Mustard seed poultices should not be applied to the face. They are best used on the back and chest. Again, the seeds should be ground to form a paste with boiling, purified water. (Mustard powder could be added to a linseed, or oatmeal, paste). The poultice should be applied warm. You will find that the skin becomes hot and red. If left on for longer than ten minutes the skin begins to swell, so you should adhere strictly to times. After it has been removed make sure that you wash your hands. You will need to apply a soothing agent, such as talcum powder, to the area treated after use.
How Much Essential oil should I use?
The proportion of essential oil to carrier oil is also variable. However, more is not necessarily better - experience has shown that smaller amounts may achieve far more, particularly if the problem is an emotional or mental one. It is best, when starting with essential oils, to make up average concentrations.
To begin with you may just want to make up enough of a massage oil for one session. It is helpful to acquire a 5 ml plastic medicine spoon for this purpose. The concentration of essential oil should be from 1/2 to 3 per cent of the carrier oil. This will depend on the individual being massaged - their skin type, their age, and the purpose for which the oil is being used - as well as on the strength of the essential oil itself.
If you are going to apply the oil to the face, or if the subject of the massage is a child or elderly, or if the skin is sensitive you should start with a 1/2 per cent concentration. If there is no irritation then you can try increasing it to 1 per cent and then 2 per cent. If an essential oil is very strong it should not be used in concentrations above 1 to 1 1/2 per cent.
To make up small concentrations:
½ per cent - 1 drop essential oil to every two 5ml teaspoons carrier oil.
1 per cent - 1 drop essential oil to every 5 ml teaspoon carrier oil.
2 per cent - 2 drops essential oil to every 5 ml teaspoon carrier oil.
3 per cent - 3 drops essential oil to every 5 ml teaspoon carrier oil.
Use the 2 and 3 per cent concentrations for body massage, subject to the cautions mentioned above.
You may want to make up larger amounts of facial or massage oils. These can then be stored in dark glass bottles for between two to three months. Fill a 50 ml glass bottle with the carrier.
To make up the concentrations:
1/2 per cent - 5 drops essential oil to 50 ml carrier oil.
1 per cent - 10 drops essential oil to 50 ml carrier oil.
2 per cent - 20 drops essential oil to 50 ml carrier oil.
3 per cent - 30 drops essential oil to 50 ml carrier oil.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy uses pure essential oils extracted from many parts of the plant (flower, leaf, resin, bark, root, twig, seed, berry, rind and rhizome) to calm, balance and rejuvenate body, mind and spirit.
Aromatherapy is both an art and a science. Aromatherapists, blend essential oils to produce novel aromas.
The results of aromatherapy are very individual. Aromatherapy descriptions vary as no two persons are affected by the same essential oil in exactly the same way. Even the same person can be affected differently by the same oil on different occasions.
What is an Essential oil?
Essential oils are the highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic essences of plants. They are 75 to 100 times more concentrated than the oils in dried herbs.
Essential oils contain hundreds of organic constituents, including hormones, vitamins and other natural elements that work on many levels.
All the countries of the world provide essential oils, making aromatherapy a truly global therapy.
Some plants, like Rose (see under Rose essence) and Jasmine, contain very little essential oil. Their important aromatic properties are extracted using a chemical solvent. The end product, known as an absolute, contains essential oil along with other plant constituents. Though not a true essential oil, absolutes are commonly used for fragrancing cosmetic products like fine perfumes.
Essential oils absorb into the fluid surrounding the cells beneath the skin's surface for a variety of effects including deep cleansing, nourishing, rejuvenating and balancing.
Of course, you can always just use essential oils because you like the smell, so trust your nose! Essential oils can also benefit your pets and plants!
What are ‘Notes’?
Most essential oils are classified as having ‘top notes’, ‘middle notes’, or ‘base notes’.
The top notes, as you would expect, are volatile. They act quickly, evaporate rapidly to stimulate the mind and body. They smell sharp. Examples include: cypress essence, lemon essence, peppermint essence, tea tree essence, and spearmint essence.
Middle notes are more ‘stable’. They last longer and are more involved in the physical functioning of the body, such as digestion. Examples include: chamomile essence, myrrh essence, pine essence (needle), rosemary essence and ylang- ylang essence.
Base notes last much longer, evaporating more slowly still. They are often used to ‘fix’ or hold on to the more volatile oils and increase their longevity. Base notes have a relaxing, sedative effect and tend to blend in well with other aromas. They tend to smell sweeter and heavier than the other essences. Base note oils include sandalwood essence, patchouli essence, frankincense essence and cedarwood essence.
Some aromatherapists suggest that, for treating small areas, the neat oil(s) can be applied directly to the skin. The area should be covered with a damp piece of gauze or cotton wool held in place by tubular gauze, or tape.
For emergencies involving burns, insect bites, nettle rash, or scalding, the neat oil should be applied at intervals, covering is not necessary.
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