What is Aromatherapy, and Why Use Essential Oils?
You may have noticed how popular essential oils have become over time. However, there is so much more to them than their use in an air freshener or candy.
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, aromatherapy is a complementary practice that uses essential oils, carrier oils, and even hydrosols to support our body’s ability to maintain it’s daily function.
Aromatherapy has a strong scientific background that supports how to blend essential oils to create amazing synergies. From a historical perspective, essential oils have been used for thousands of years, and many practices are used currently to treat various ailments.
Today, scientists and other practitioners have been studying essential oils to understand their chemical properties to determine how we can use them in other areas such as hospitals, clinics and even dental offices.
So how can you be sure to reap those benefits in your day to day life?
Essential Oils: What and How?
Simply put, essential oils come from plant matter. They can be harvested from flowers, buds, stems or even from roots of the plant. The chemical makeup of essential oils naturally take on the plant that they have come from, and they have antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have shown that essential oils that are rich in compounds such as geranial, linalyl acetate, and alpha pinene can reduce anxiety and stress.
The compounds mentioned may not mean much at first glance, however, many of us are familiar with them:
Geranial: Lemongrass, Palmarosa, Citronella
Linalyl Acetate: Lavender, Cardamom, Bergamot
Alpha pinene: Carrot Seed, Frankincense
How do Essential Oils Help with Stress Management?
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Services LLC Associates and RewardStyle affiliate, we may earn a small commission for any purchases made through affiliate links. You can read our full disclaimer and disclosure statement here.
Because of the chemical structure of essential oils, many of them have been shown to have antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. They work by interacting with our nervous system to reduce our body’s response to stress. There are many methods to experience essential oils to determine how your body will respond. You can try out any of the following:
Always diffuse essential oils in a large space.
Try not to diffuse essential oils longer than three hours
If you have pets and small children, it’s best to diffuse in an open space, but keep them away from the diffuser itself.
You can place a dime sized amount essential oil such as lavender with sweet almond or sunflower oil in your hand and can inhale the essential oil to enjoy its benefits
You can place 2-3 drops in a cotton ball to inhale an essential oil. Keep in mind that you may be sensitive to certain oils. You will need to test out a few to make sure it doesn’t have a negative effect on you.
In a bath
You will always need a dispersant, or a carrier for the essential oil. If you simply place the essential oil in a bath, they will sit on the surface of the water and can cause skin irritation. Place your essential oils in a carrier oil prior to adding it to the bath. Once you are ready to take a bath, add the oil blend right before.
In a carrier oil
Sometimes you may want to apply an essential oil to your skin. When you are not under the direction of an aromatherapist, always dilute your essential oil in a carrier oil. Many essential oils can cause skin irritation and you want to be safe. Always perform a patch test to make sure you don’t have an allergy to a carrier oil or the blend itself.
Safety with Essential Oils
It’s best to be on the modest side when using essential oils, especially when you are new to them. With small children and pets, you want to be very careful. There are many resources that can help you understand which essential oils can be used around pets, but you can also work with your furry friend to figure out which they prefer!
Some of my favorite resources for safe essential oil use around pets:
Essential Oils For Pets: Ultimate Guide for Amazingly Effective Natural Remedies For Pets (Natural Pet Remedies,Essential Oils Dogs, Essential Oils Cats,Aromatherapy Pets,Essential Oils For Pets,) by Alexander Huffington
With children (five and older), one drop in a carrier oil is usually sufficient. However, I always recommend that parents place that blend on them and hug their child if they are six months and older, for example. Their systems are highly sensitive and we want to keep them safe as well.
For women that are pregnant or nursing, here is a list of essential oils that are generally safe during those times; however, it is VERY important to work with a healthcare provider that also understands essential oils to ensure a healthy pregnancy:
Need a hug in a bottle? Try this recipe:
4 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops frankincense essential oil
1 drop of bergamot essential oil
1 ounce of a carrier oil
As a reminder, always share with your doctor about alternative medications/therapies that you’re using, because you don’t want any essential oil to counteract your current medication.