What are Aromatherapy Essential Oils?
Aromatherapy is a treatment where essential oils are used to target certain health concerns. These oils are plant-based and are extracted from different parts of a plant such as the flowers, bark, peels and roots. These parts of the plant have certain characteristic properties and aroma to them which defines the “essence” of the plant. This extracted essence is known as essential oil which is used in Aromatherapy extensively.
Because of how concentrated and potent essential oils are, their production requires a lot of plant product. In some cases, 200 pounds the plant product gives only 1 pound of the essential oil. All natural essential oils do not have any artificial fragrances or chemicals in them. This makes them 100% safe for external and internal use, but only if used in correct recipe and dilution. Why dilution? Because essential oils are highly concentrated and potent and will have harmful effects if not used with moderation and heavy dilution in a suitable medium.
How Does Aromatherapy Essential Oils Help?
Aromatherapy is not a course of treatment that can be used as a replacement for your regular medical treatment. However, consistent essential oil Aromatherapy can help alleviate some symptoms associated with health issues, help with feeling physically and mentally better.
When an essential oil (diluted) is massaged into the skin, it activates the skin receptors that are present on the surface of the skin. This causes a response in the skin which travels to targeted areas of the body such as joints and aching muscles.
Other essential oils such as lavender and peppermint have a very strong scent. This scent activates the smell receptors present in the nose. This activates the nervous system and sends feel-good chemicals such as serotonin to the brain. These chemicals help release stress, fights depression and help treat insomnia.
Difference between Herbal Oil & Essential Oil
The main difference between a herbal oil and essential oil is their composition. Essential oils are very potent and volatile oil that is extracted from a part of a plant. The extraction process of the oil is usually through the process of steam distillation where the plant product is steamed at very high temperatures. The vapour droplets are collected to form the essential oil.
The herbal oil, on the other hand, is the name given to an oil comprising of different herbal matter which may include one or more essential oils. Thus, herbal oils contain different beneficial compounds and may contain a small amount of essential oil in them. Herbal oils can hence contain other essential oils but essential oils cannot contain other herbal oils.
What are the Best Aromatherapy Oils?
1. Cinnamon Oil
Cinnamon oil is derived from the Cinnamomum verum tree. Historical records have shown that cinnamon oil has been used for its health benefits since 1550 BC by the Egyptians. Cinnamon oil has a spicy and musky scent that instantly makes one feel cosy and warm. Cinnamon oil is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. It also contains different potent antioxidants that can fight heart disease, neurological disorders and respiratory problems. It is used to relieve pain, treat chest colds and soothes tense muscles.
2. Lavender Oil
Lavender Oil is extracted from the flowers of the Lavandula angustifolia plant by the technique of steam distillation. The oil itself contains different compounds such as camphor, linalool and eucalyptol. Lavender oil is said to be a powerhouse of antioxidants. It also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Some of these properties make lavender oil great for skin care and massage as well. Lavender oil aromatherapy is highly sought out as the scent of the oil helps one to relax. It also acts as an antidepressant and sedative, thus treating insomnia, stress and anxiety.
3. Lemon Oil
Lemon oil is extracted from lemon and is universally identified as a very fresh and clean scent. The zesty scent of the oil makes it a popular choice in household cleaners and soaps. However, lemon oil also has many beauty and health benefits. The oil is a powerful antiseptic and antibacterial agent. It can also be used as an astringent. One of the major components of lemon oil is D-limonene which is beneficial in diminishing wrinkles and fine lines, while promoting toned and healthy looking skin. When lemon oil is inhaled, the vapour acts as an antidepressant and instantly elevates one’s mood and is thus used in lemon oil aromatherapy.
4. Lemongrass Oil
Lemongrass oil is extracted by the process of steam distillation from the lemongrass plant which is native to South India, Asia and Africa. The oil has a very pleasant, sweet and lemony scent and has been commonly used since time immemorial in the treatment of gastrointestinal issues. Lemongrass oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. Its antifungal properties make lemongrass oil helpful for hair through the treatment of dandruff and promoting hair health. Consistent use of the oil has also shown potential to reduce the growth of benign and malignant tumours.
Extracted from the Eucalyptus tree by the process of steam distillation, the Eucalyptus essential oil has a powerful scent which is easily distinguishable. Eucalyptus oil aromatherapy helps stimulate the body, cools it down and provides instant relief against migraines, fevers and headaches. It is also effective in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as chest congestion, wheezing and cough.
6. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil/Melaleuca oil is extracted from the leaves of tea tree that which is native to Australia. Traditionally, the oil was used as a quick fix against wounds and skin ailments. However, in the world today, tea tree oil is used for numerous health benefits, including Aromatherapy. The anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties of the oil make it the perfect choice in the treatment of a sore throat, gingivitis, dandruff and even cancerous tumours. The oil acts similar to benzoyl peroxide, thus treating acne by drying it down in no time at all.
7. Frankincense Essential Oil
An age-old Middle East discovery, Frankincense Essential Oil has numerous skin benefits. Known as the King of essential oils, it has remarkable healing properties and can treat rashes, burns and bleeding wounds. Massaging the oil onto the chest can reduce anxiety as well as open up a congested chest. Its anti-inflammatory properties help treat acute joint aches and arthritis. Because the oil smells so pleasant and earthy, it helps overcome feelings of stress, depression and anger.
8. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is one of the freshest smelling essential oil that is used in Aromatherapy. Extracted from the flowers of the Peppermint herb by the process of steam distillation, the oil has a cooling scent which boosts one’s energy and enhances mental alertness. The oil finds application in massage oils, lotions, vaporizers and mouthwashes. Other health benefits of Peppermint oil include healthy digestion, decrease in chest congestion and fights skin irritation.
9. Rosemary Oil
Not unlike the rosemary herb itself, the Rosemary essential oil makes the room smell like a tropical forest. Because of its potent and wonderful smell, it is used extensively in natural bath products. Rosemary oil aromatherapy helps decrease the level of the cortisol hormone which is responsible for stress. Studies have indicated that topical application of the oil increases brain wave activity. This, in turn, boosts the nervous system and stimulates the healthy functioning of the body. The oil is also beneficial in stabilizing blood pressure and boosting the immune system. Read here about all the benefits of rosemary oil.
10. Clary Sage
The Clary Sage oil is extracted by the process of steam distillation of the flowers and leaves of the Clary sage plant. Commonly found in the Mediterranean and North African regions, the plant is known for its benefits for the skin. The oil has antiseptic and astringent properties which improve blood circulation to the skin, promotes even skin tone and treats acne. The oil’s scent is said to have antidepressant effects, especially in postmenopausal women.
Extracted from the flowers of the tropical Ylang-Ylang tree by the process of steam distillation, the oil is distinguished by its almost sickly sweet fragrance that acts as an aphrodisiac and stress reliever. Though commonly used in diffusers or vaporizers, the Ylang-Ylang oil is also used in Aromatherapy for massages. Main health benefits of using the ylang-ylang oil consistently include increased hair growth, regulated blood pressure and reduced occurrence of intestinal problems.
Bergamot is a citrus tree which is native to Southeast Asia. The bergamot oil is a strong citrus-scented essential oil which is extracted by squeezing out the oil from the rind of the fruit. Its citrusy and fresh scent is the reason why it is a popular choice in aromatherapy, colognes and perfumes. Because bergamot essential oil is so potent, it is always used with a carrier oil and can treat anxiety, stress, depression, digestive disorders, and skin infections such as eczema and psoriasis and even liver diseases. Learn about all the benefits of bergamot oil in this infographic.
The versatile and benefiticial Jasmine essential oil is extracted from the Jasminum grandiflorum, an evergreen plant that is native to China. It is extracted by an extensive process which takes many days called solvent extraction which makes the oil more expensive than other essential oils. Known to be a fairly safe essential oil, the scent of jasmine is known to reduce stress and treat depression. It also acts as an aphrodisiac, enhancing one’s libido.
Chamomile Essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the Chamomile plant. There are two varieties of this plant, Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile. The oil itself is obtained by the method of steam distillation and finds application in Aromatherapy. Chamomile is said to be a powerful calming agent, thus acting as an antidepressant and mood-lifter. It also treats inflammation, acne and other skin related disorders.
3 Ways for Using Aromatherapy Essential Oil
Aromatherapy essential oils can be used in different ways depending on the therapeutic benefits that are needed. The 3 main ways of using essential oils are:
Inhalation is the oldest form of using essential oils in Aromatherapy. The inhaled oil is carried through to the respiratory system of the body, making it the most efficient and safe method of use.
Best way to use
Mix a few drops of essential oil in hot water. Gently breathe into the steam. You can even put a few drops of the oil on a cloth and inhale it.
Diffusion works best for oils that are a blend of 2 or more essential oils. Mix 2-3 drops of each essential oil and drop into a diffuser. The diffuser will disperse the fragrance throughout the room. This will help calm and energize the body, promoting memory and concentration at the same time. Choose a suitable diffuser using this guide.
Topical application of essential oils in Aromatherapy helps the oil to get absorbed quickly through the skin barrier. The combination of essential oils with carrier oils such as olive oil and jojoba oil nourishes the skin as well.
Best Way to Use
Massage the essential oil, mixed in with a carrier oil onto the targeted area of the skin. Since essential oils are highly concentrated, they cannot be used on the skin or hair directly and any topical use requires the essential oils to be diluted heavily with a carrier oil.
Some oils such as cinnamon and lemon oil are used for ingestion in very small doses, and one must do it only as recommended by their doctor/expert. Remember that these oils can prove to be too strong and can irritate the body. Thus, it is best to dilute the oil with coconut oil or water.
Best Way to Use
Add a drop of the essential oil in a glass of water. Do not overconsume the essential oils in this manner.
4. Aromatic sprays
Aromatic sprays can be spritzed on linens and clothes to disinfect them. These sprays have antibacterial properties in them which protect the body against infection. You can also massage these oils into the skin, as in Aroma therapeutic massages. Best essential oils that are used in Aromatic sprays are lemon, tea tree and thyme.
Things to Consider While Buying Aromatherapy Essential Oil
There are two main parameters to consider while buying Aromatherapy Essential oil. They are
Because of the tedious extraction process of the essential oil, the essential oils are not cheap. Thus, steer clear of ridiculously cheap essential oils as they may not be of the best quality or might not be natural at all.
Though 100% pure essential oil is extremely hard to manufacture, look for oils that stay true to their composition. This means that the oil should be free of any chemical fragrances or additives.
So go on