What is Aromatherapy?
And how does aromatherapy differ from essential oils? Aromatherapy is healing with essential oils and other natural ingredients through inhalation, ingestion or skin application.
A little History…. The word aromatherapy was coined by a French Chemist in the mid 1920’s. He burned himself while conducting an experiment in the lab and then put his hand in a vat of lavender essential oil. He was amazed at how quickly the burn healed. He spent the rest of his life devoted to the healing properties of aromatherapy and essential oils writing books and contributing to medical journals.
What are Essential Oils?
They come from plants and are highly concentrated with a variety of therapeutic properties. They also contain energetic healing properties that are more subtle than the physical healing properties, but equally powerful. There are tiny sacs in different parts of different plants that contain the essential oil. These sacs of oil give plants their aroma. They also work for the plants and act as insect repellents and help heal the plants when they are sick.
The Broccoli Story
To get the essential oil from the plant there are a variety of processes, but steam distillation is the most common way. A large amount of plant material is put in a vat with boiling water under the plant material. The steam rises and moves thru a cold pipe where the essential oil and water are separated. The water that separates is called a hydrosol and used in aromatherapy too. It is much less concentrated than essential oils and can be used with children and animals with no safety concerns. Essential oils on the other hand have some safety concerns depending on the oil and should never be used with cats as their kidneys can’t dispose of them and they build up a toxicity over time. Different parts of the plant are distilled depending on which part of the plant gives the most yield or has the most amount of essential oils sacs. Lavender is distilled from the flower tops. Patchouli from the leaves. Vetiver from the root of the plant and Sandalwood from the trunk.
Interesting Tid Bits….
The French are known for their medicinal and internal use of essential oils. You can find them in pharmacies. England is known for it’s safe use of essential oils United States is know for it’s adulterated or bad quality essential oils.
Quality: Why it’s important
When oils are cut with synthetic chemicals they not only lose their therapeutic benefits but pose possible negative health side effects. Fragrance oils are synthetic, man-made oils that consist mostly of phthalates. Phthalates have been linked to cancer, asthma, birth defects and reproductive problems.
How do you shop for quality essential oils?
Look for the following on the label:
- Latin Name
- Country of Origin
- GC/MS tested
What is GC/MS testing?
Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectometry is the full name for GC/MS. It’s a test that gives the exact chemistry of an essential oil. This would show if there are any adulterants such as fragrance oils and if there are any herbicides or pesticides. It’s the only way to know for sure that an essential oil is pure, therapeutic quality.
There are many ways to use essential oils, here are a few suggestions:
- Put 3 or 4 drops orange essential oil in your dish water
- Add 3 or 4 drops peppermint to your dishwasher
- Add 2 drops peppermint to a cotton ball and put in your dryer
- Add 3 to 4 drops patchouli or Release Anxiety in your bath
- Diffuse 5 drops lemongrass in an essential oil diffuser
- Add 1 drop lavender to a bowl of hot water and steam your face
- Add 2 drops eucalyptus to the floor of your shower everyday
DIY Aromatherapy Recipes
Varicose Vein Diminisher
- 1 ounce Aloe Gel
- 5-6 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 5-6 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
- 5-6 drops Orange Essential Oil
Add essential oil drops to container. Pour aloe gel into container. Cap and shake. Apply to varicose veings twice daily.
Tired Feet Foot Soak
Add essential oil drops to a warm foot bath once or twice daily.