All posts by jessica

Fragrant homes and aromatic living: 6 steps to make aromatherapy diffuser oil

Do your family members have health problems? Is stress, tension and misunderstanding a constant in your family? Do you suffer from disruptions in family relationships, lack of happiness or gloomy, restless atmosphere? If your home or family environment is imbalanced, you can bring in health, wealth and joy into your family through aromatherapy.  You can achieve the desired result by choosing from the multifarious aromatherapy blends and diffusing them on to your living atmosphere.

Diffusing essential oils is useful as it benefits everyone in the room or space where the oil is diffused. However, preparing a diffuser quality blend is not easy and demands patience and knowledge. This article will elaborate in detail on the steps  to create an aromatherapy diffuser oil at your home:

1. Get to know about essential oils: Before you start off experimenting with essential oils, get to know about them as much as you can. Read about which essential oils are good for health, which treat the ailment you are suffering from, which alleviate stress, reduce pain or bring in happiness and peace. For example, Peppermint and Citrus oils are said to be very uplifting on account of their refreshing properties, while Lavender and Chamomile are thought to encourage relaxation due to their soothing properties.

2. Purchase essential oils online or at store: You can purchase oils at natural food store, fragrance shop or online. Choose scents that you would enjoy for a long time. This would be specially helpful when you diffuse oils as you would need to breathe them for a long time. See to it that your family members too like the aroma if you plan to place the diffuser in your living area. Better to go for general healing aromas.

3. Start blending: Once you are done with choosing your essential oils, add 20 to 30 drops of each of your chosen essential oil in a dark glass bottle. If you use just a few scents, it is important to use 40 to 50 drops of each scent. If you are using multiple oils, you can use fewer drops. You can test essential oils by adding them on to a tissue and inhaling them before buying or diffusing them.

4. Shake vigorously: Screw the lid on to the bottle and shake it vigorously. See to it that the ingredients mix and blend well.

5. Add more oils if required: Once the blending is complete, inhale the essential oils and check if you like the aromas. If not, add your favorite oil to balance the fragrance and then, consider it for use in a diffuser.

6. Use oil in diffuser: Once everything is perfect, add 5 to 10 drops to the diffuser to generate a lovely scent for the entire room or space where you keep the diffuser. You can also add the oil to a bubble bath or to a massage oil and use it for personal care.

Celebrate love, honey: 5 sensual aromatherapy tips for lovers

Love is an inherent drive to great accomplishments. It animates and ushers joy into our lives. It brings a sense of physical and psychological well-being, easing out even the stressed and troubled mind. To honor your love and your loved one is an act of gentle warmth and affection. Aromatherapy can help you do that in the best way possible.

Essential oils to increase libido: Sometimes we hardly remember the magic of love. We forget the pleasure we derive in the presence of our loved ones. In this maze of routines, 9 to 5 jobs and fast-paced life, we forget the excitement and euphoria that love brings. Aromatherapy can pep up your mood toward love and sensual enjoyment and open up your body and mind to sex. Tapping into your senses, you can reawaken your libido using sensual aromatherapy recipes. Since smell is connected to the limbic system, there is an instant emotional and physical response from your body. This can change your moods and switch your gears from work to play. Some of the essential oils that can be used in aromatherapy are – Black Pepper, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Clove, Jasmine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Neroli, Pine, Rose, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Patchouli.

You can use these oils in many ways – as incense, in the diffuser, as bath oils, massage oils, as face and body tonics etc. Below are a few aromatherapy tips to reawaken your libido and enjoy private time with that special someone:

1. Sensual Bath: You can use essential oils to prepare an aromatic, sensual bath for the two of you. Bathing relaxes you and sets you in mood for love. For inducing your sense of mischief and playfulness, use 1 drop of Rosemary with 1 drop of Patchouli, 2 drops of Bergamot and 2 drops of Orange. For tuning yourself and your someone into love and romance, add 2 drops of Rose with 4 drops of Sandalwood. This blend contains oils that are aphrodisiacs that work in harmony to induce the masculine and feminine energies in you and your partner.

2. Seduction Lotion: Take an un-perfumed body lotion and add a few drops of your chosen oil to it. Rub on your body slowly and steadily to relax and soothe your tensed muscles. If you want to the lotion to be more seductive, add 3 drops of Orange, 3 drops of Neroli and 1 tbsp of Sweet Almond.

3. Passion Lotion: Love without passion is nothing. To bring in moods of passionate love, combine 2 drops of Bergamot with 1 drop of Black Pepper, 1 drop of Patchouli, 2 drops of Sandalwood and 1 tablespoon of Sweet Almond oil. When used on the body, this lotion will set in a mood of passion and boost your libido energy.

4. Sensual Massaging: Nothing works sensually like a massage. The very act of massaging can make you sensual and in mood for love. To relax and reconnect to your sensual side, use the following aromatherapy massage blends on your body. For softer breasts, massage a blend combined with 1 drop of Ylang Ylang and 1 teaspoon of Sweet Almond. For hand-holding, add 1 drop of Rose to 1 teaspoon of  Jojoba oil. To play footsie, add 1 drop of Jasmine with 1 drop of Ylang Ylang and one teaspoon of Jojoba oil.

5. Scent your bedroom: Scent your room with aromatic sensual oils for a romantic and blissful evening. Combine 3 drops of Lavender with 3 drops of Marjoram in an oil burner or diffuser.

The art of synergistic blending: Blend classifications of essential oils

Blending essential oils is an art. Whether you do it for therapeutic purposes or for the simple pleasure of creating an aromatic blend, you have to be careful and cautious while using essential oils. True. Some essential oils have strong chemical properties which can harm you or your skin. Essential oils like Bergamot has to be handled with caution as its phototoxic properties can be hazardous to you. Some oils can be contraindicated for ailments and that can cause havoc to you. So, when you are sure that you are perfect with your materials and know what is the byproduct of your creativity, start blending your oils.

Blending classification of essential oils:
Essential oil blends work well if they are blended properly. To accomplish this, you need to know a few basic things regarding which oil to be used first, second or third in a blend. For instance, if you are making a therapeutic blend for headache cure, and you are required to add Lavender, Peppermint and Eucalyptus, if you use the oils in the wrong proportion or add them in the wrong order, you will end up making a chemically useless blend that has no effect on your headache. This is why you need to follow a sequence in blending your oils. The four blending classifications of essential oils are Personifiers, Enhancers, Equalizers and Modifiers. Let’s take a look at them in detail:

1. Personifiers: These are essential oils which have a sharp, strong and very aromatic scent. They usually form 1 to 5% of an ideal blend. Their dominant properties react on ailments and induce a powerful therapeutic action in your body. Oils that come under this category are: Angelica, Birch, Cardamom, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Clary Sage, Coriander, German Chamomile, Ginger, Mandarin, Neroli, Nutmeg, Orange, Peppermint, Rose, Tangerine, Spearmint, Wintergreen, Ylang Ylang and others.

2. Enhancers: These are essential oils which enhance the blend with their blending properties. They do not have sharp scents like Personifiers, but blend well with other oils to induce and enhance their properties. They generally form 50 to 80% of the blend so that they can balance the oils in the blend and make them heal better. Basil, Bergamot, Birch, Cajeput, Cedarwood, Dill, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Geranium, Hyssop, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Marjoram, Melissa, Myrtle, Orange, Oregano, Palmarosa, Petitgrain, Ravensara, Roman Chamomile, Spruce, Thyme, Rosemary and Wintergreen.

3. Equalizers: These oils form 10 to 15% of the blend. They are useful in creating synergy and balance in the blend. They equalize the blend and do not have sharp or strong aromas like Personifiers. Essential oils that are classified in this category – Basil, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Cypress, Fennel, Fir, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Juniper, Lavender, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Tea Tree, Myrrh, Myrtle, Neroli, Oregano, Pine, Roman Chamomile, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Spruce, Thyme etc.

4. Modifiers: Essential oils of a mild and short fragrance are classified as Modifiers. They usually form 5 to 8% of the blend as they bring in harmony to the whole blend. Some of the oils under this category include: Angelica, Bergamot, Cardamom, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Grapefruit, Hyssop, Jasmine, Mandarin, Melissa, Neroli, Petitgrain, Rose, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang.

A peek into aroma families: 8 major categories of essential oils

Essential oils are sources of great well being. An essential oil is nothing but a plant extract which is concentrated and highly rich in healing and aromatic properties. Often volatile liquids, these essential oils contain small oil-like molecules produced by plants during photosynthesis. It is these extracts which are present in plant cavities like roots, petals, seeds and peels, that protect the plant from various infections, parasitical hindrances and other environmental issues, making it grow without trouble. The same valuable volatile liquids act wonderfully to prevent and treat ailments in human beings too. This makes them special and this is why these essential oils are used to heal/prevent/treat many health disorders in people.

Aroma families: There are a whole range of essential oils in the market. Some are grouped as just fragrances, some act as herbal liquids, while some serve the purpose of treating ailments. One classification of essential oils is based on notes – Top Notes, Middle Notes and Base Notes.

Essential oils classified under Top Notes normally evaporate faster and tend to be more antiviral, invigorating and refreshing. They are highly volatile and hardly last long. However, they make their mark with their aromas and light nature. Middle Notes oils have a balancing effect and normally take a couple of minutes to establish their scents. This is because they are warm and soft fragrances which are a bit heavy than the Top Notes variants. Base Notes essential oils are very solid and strong in their aromas. They last a long time and even slow down the evaporation of the oils mixed with them. Heady fragrances that relax the body mark the Base Notes category.

There is also yet another way of classifying essential oils other than the one based on Notes. A broader classification can be made based on the aromas of the oils. Some people have even classified oils depending on the reaction they have on people. But the below categorization is a different one based on the aromas of the oils:

1. Citrus oils: Essential oils that have a distinct citrus flavor fall into this category. Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Orange and Tangerine are some of the Citrus oils.

2. Herbaceous oils: Oils that are extracted from plants which are otherwise most useful herbs are called Herbaceous oils. Basil, Chamomile, Melissa, Clary Sage, Hyssop, Marjoram, Peppermint and Rosemary are some of this kind.

3. Camphoraceous oils: Essential oils which have particular healing properties and camphor-like aromas are grouped under this category. Some of these essential oils are – Cajeput, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus oils.

4. Floral oils: Oils made from floral parts or which carry the floral essence of plants fall under this group. Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Rose, Neroli, Chamomile, Ylang-Ylang etc. are some of these oils.

5. Resinous oils: Essential oils extracted from the resins of plants. Benzoin, Elemi, Frankincense and Myrrh are more resinous than others.

6. Woody oils: Essential oils that are woody in aromas or extracted from the barks and other woody parts of plants are termed Woody oils. Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Cypress, Juniper Berry, Pine and Sandalwood etc are some of these oils.

7. Earthy oils: Essential oils that have a distinct earthy aroma or are extracted from plants’ roots and other earthy parts are grouped here – Angelica, Patchouli, Vetiver and Valerian are some of these oils.

8. Spicy oils:
Oils extracted from spices or spicy plants. You can know it from their names itself. Aniseed, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Ginger and Nutmeg are some of these oils.

On the wisdom of the ‘smell brain’ and how aromas affect our body

The sense of smell is one of the most neglected senses of the body. We heed our nose for everything, but we fail to recognize its specialty and role in our day to day activities like eating, remembering and even emoting. Aromatherapy touches this particular sense of the body and evokes the desired response from an individual. But how is this possible? How can a mere sniff affect a whole lot of emotions and regulate bodily functions? This article has answers to all questions on how aromas work and have the power to alter almost anything in the body.

The smell brain and the limbic system: Let us go technical and look into details on how we perceive and respond to smell. Though the nose is said to be an organ of smell, it is just a mere organ, engaged in nothing but being a passage to the brain. Olfaction or the sense of smell does not begin at the nose, but the brain or the olfactory bulb. Each of the nasal passages contain about 50 million sensory receptors waiting to carry ‘odor’ messages to your smell brain. When the receptors or neurons sense odorous molecules coming through the nasal passages, they send their axons to the olfactory bulb, a projection of the brain on the upper part of the nose. Specific odor molecules bind to their respective chemoreceptors. The process then moves into the limbic system of the brain, where memory is used to recognize and sort out the odors as pleasant, unpleasant, old, new or recent.

The limbic system is one of the oldest parts of the human body and was initially referred to as ‘rhinencephalon’ or ‘smell brain’. It is the smell brain which plays a vital role in making aromas effective. Since the limbic system is also the seat of emotion, memory and important body parts, smells are associated with memories, so much so that particular smells evoke particular memories from the  past. Basically, the memory aroused will evoke an emotional response depending on the experience associated with the memory. A simple example would be, if you had a bad experience with beef tallow in your young age, the smell of tallow would evoke an unpleasant response from your limbic system. This, in turn, will set off a series of unpleasant sensations and unhealthy changes in the parts of the body controlled by the limbic system.

Aromatherapy and emotions: Aromas can have a huge impact on your emotions. After being processed through the olfactory bulb, aromas enter the limbic system and affect your emotions, moods and even your health quotient. The concept of aromatherapy is pivoted on one basic fact – changes in emotion/mood can help relieve the symptoms or disorders caused by a disease. As the limbic system or smell brain controls other regions also, it regulates bodily functions too.

Mood-effects and Hedonics in aromatherapy:
Not all essential oils are liked by everyone and not all aromatherapy sessions suit every patient. Only specific oils, scents and herbs work well with regard to particular ailments. This is because of a factor called Hedonics – the personal degree of pleasantness a person would place on a specific odor or smell. Research reveals that smells can effect mood-swings and alter health conditions in a person. This means, a pleasant smell can increase your health ratio while an unpleasant odor can take you toward disease and ill-health. Since odors can create or alleviate stress, aromatherapy or essential oils can influence a person’s positivity and self-confidence levels.

In brief, the limbic system or the smell brain is more than just a brain. It is an integral part of the human body, which creates a profound effect on your body cells. When treated with aromas, the smell brain responds instantly (unlike drugs or medications) and cures immediately, without side effects or other medical issues. With aromatherapy, nothing chemical happens as everything is 100% natural and effective.

What happens in a therapeutic aromatherapy session? An insight

Aromatherapy, as we know, is a holistic medicinal system, which uses oils extracted from plants, herbs and scrubs for treatment. These oils, the “life-force” of plants, are used in appropriate proportions and are either massaged on to or inhaled into the body. Essential oils are never ingested unless approved and prescribed by an expert aromatherapist. For all the talk we do about aromatherapy, there is no sufficient information on how an aromatherapy session takes place and how a client is handled by the aromatherapist within four walls. This article will provide insight on what is an aromatherapy session is and how it is conducted for a new customer.

Aromatherapy for beginners: The first thing that is daunting to beginners is the question of trust. A novice customer maybe worried about the safety, confidentiality and the modesty of an aromatherapy session. Understand that all reputed aromatherapists respect your modesty and keep customer’s interests first. And every customer’s personal wishes would be addressed in the session. So, if you prefer massaging only certain body parts, your aromatherapist will definitely address your wishes and act accordingly. You should be frank and open with your therapist as the therapist has your best interests in mind.

Start of an aromatherapy session: How does an aromatherapy session begin? An aromatherapy session begins with an analysis and examination session with your aromatherapist. Your expert aromatherapy practitioner will analyze you for the following:

  • Existing body condition
  • Current ailments
  • Current treatments
  • Any previous treatment through aromatherapy
  • Your sensitivities & vulnerabilities
  • Root cause of your problem

After thorough examination, the aromatherapist will check which essential oils have a positive effect on you and to which scents you respond well.

Initial Massaging: Based on the above analysis, your aromatherapist will choose five essential oils and a carrier oil and will blend them together. Then, the oil blend is massaged on to the affected areas of your body to stimulate a positive effect. If your body responds well, you will notice a relaxing effect and a pleasant feeling. Basically, the oil blend will aim to do the following:

  • Improve your blood circulation
  • Increase supply of oxygen & nutrients to cells
  • Improve tissue drainage
  • Reduce harmful stress hormones
  • Enhance immune system
  • Stimulate energy and have a relaxing effect

If your response to the oil blend is positive, the same approach is adapted during the next session. If it is negative and you have a distaste or unpleasant effect toward the blend, another set of 5 oils will be tried on you. The duration of sessions and the number of times the sessions ought to be carried out may vary depending on the ailment addressed. If you find relief in the very first session, you may not have to go in for more sessions. Generally, it is considered best to do more than one session over a period of time to alleviate the symptoms of any ailment.

Things to follow during aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is not like visiting your hairdresser. You cannot go through an aromatherapy session without preparation. You need to free yourself from regular chores on that day and spend your time only for the therapy. This will not only set you in mood for a session, but will also make your therapist’s job easier. In the same way, you should take rest after a session. You should not travel nor take bath. This is because the essential oils applied will take about four hours to be absorbed into your body. Since the absorption time varies with several blends, it is better to leave a gap of four hours of rest after the session.

Aromatherapy101: 24 common aromatherapy terms you MUST know

Aromatherapy is a vast medicinal system comprising of many terminologies, extraction procedures and blending methodologies. Though not everyone can know everything about aromatherapy (but for an expert and licensed aromatherapist), as a beginner, you may need to know certain things about the science. This article will explain in brief the common terms used in the world of aromatherapy and essential oils.

Aromatherapy is a science of essential oils. As you know, there are many different kinds of essential oils in vogue right from the ancient times. Most of these oils are extracted by several types of methods. Some oils are called by unique names based on their properties or components. Here’s a glimpse of all of them:

1. Absolutes or concretes: Absolutes are essential oils in their pure form. They have strong aromas and are highly concentrated.

2. Botanical Names: A botanical name is the Latin name given to a plant species. Since there are  millions of species, botanists use botanical names to identify one species from another.

3. Common Name: The name in which an oil is addressed in common practice. Lavender, Basil, Bay, Hyssop etc. are common names.

4. Carrier Oils: Carrier oils or base oils or fixed oils are vegetable or plant oils that are used to dilute pure essential oils.

5. Hydrosols or Flora waters: These are by-products during extraction of essential oils. They too have medicinal properties and are used for general, less-severe treatments.

6. Dram: Unit of measurement which equals 1/8 of an ounce, used in aromatherapy.

7. Fragrance oils: Called perfume or potpourri oils, Fragrance Oils contain artificial fragrant substances, whereas essential oils contain only the pure essences of plants.

8. Infused oils: Carrier oils into which few medicinal herbs are infused (for extra therapeutic effects) are called infused oils.

9. CO2s: Oils which are extracted by using carbon dioxide are called CO2s.

10. Orifice reducer: A small, clear insert-like dropper used in essential oil bottles for easy dispensation of oil.

Essential oils are often referred to as stimulants, analgesic agents and ones with diuretic properties. Though these are medicinal terms and can be guessed by most of you, when it comes to aromatherapy, it is better not to make assumptions. Here are a few terms that describe the properties of essential oils:

11. Abortifacient: An oil which can cause abortion in a pregnant woman. Toxic oils are often abortifacients.

12. Analgesic: Oils that relieve pain and cause a soothing effect are analgesic

13. Anodyne: Oils that calm restless mind and iron out disturbed feelings or emotions and also offer pain relief are said to have anodyne properties.

14. Aphrodisiacs: Certain oils are used to arouse sexual desires. Such oils are referred to as aphrodisiacs.

15. Carminative: Carminative oils relieve gas in the digestive tract and also reduce bloating of stomach

16. Cicatrisant: Is an agent for healing wounds, cuts, gashes etc.

17. Depurative:
Depurative oils are highly efficient in cleansing the blood. They combat and eliminate impure elements and toxins in the blood.

18. Diuretics: Used in people who have problems with urination. Diuretic essential oils increase discharge of urine.

19. Emmenagogue: Essential oils that assist with PMS, menstruation or menopausal symptoms are referred this way.

20. Expectorant: These expel phlegm and mucous from the body

21. Febrifuge: Some oils are successful in combating fevers and are referred to have febrifuge properties.

22. Parturients: Oils which ease symptoms of pain in pregnant mothers and also aid in childbirth are said to have parturient properties.

23. Stimulants:
Essential oils that invigorate or energize a body are called as stimulants.

24. Tonics:
Essential oils which have a restorative and replenishing effect on the body are called tonics.

Left-over miracle waters: 9 healing benefits of Hydrosols

When aromatherapy was in its nascent stages (as a science of healing in ancient civilizations), floral waters were in vogue. The Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans were known to have used hydrosols extensively for their healing and aesthetic properties. Since essential oils were produced only by the methods of solvent extraction, the Middle Ages paid little attention to essential oils and revered the hydrosols more. With the advent of the science of essential oils and aromatherapy, the floral waters suffered a backlash again. Only in the early 20th century, the aromatic pendulum shifted and hydrosols came to be recognized for their therapeutic properties.

What are hydrosols? Hydrosols are derived from the terms “hydro” (meaning water) and “sol” (meaning solution). These are left-over waters that remain in the extraction container after the steam-distillation of a plant. Hydrosols or hydrolates or hydrolats, by whatever terms the waters be called,  they mean the same.  These condensate waters contain everything that was in the plant and are often more aromatic than even the essential oils. When essential oils are produced using steam distillation, not all the healing and aromatic principles of the plant are captured. But the waters contain the condensate of whatever the plant had when it was alive and growing.

It is wrong to call hydrosols as floral waters as such waters are not just extracted from the flowers. They are extracted from almost everything – herbs, needles, roots, woods, plants, barks, seeds etc. Hydrosols retain the healing properties of plants or herbs in their most pristine form. Even essential oils may contain a residue of solvents in them, with hydrosols you need not have any such worry. They are always pure and 100% natural.

Healing Hydrosols: Hydrosols were not used in the Middle Ages owing to problems with logistics of transportation. Since their healing properties were too less known, people preferred using the smart and neatly-packed essential oils (which work by drops) to the heavy waters of hydrosols. But the 20th century saw hydrosols in a new light and started using it in aromatherapy and general, day-to-day use. Hydrosols are affected by weather changes, climate and soil conditions as a plant’s internal chemistry changes with respect to everything in its environment. So, if you find difference between hydrosols of a same plant, don’t blame it on the manufacturer, but the country and region in which the plants were grown.

Hydrosols are versatile healing waters. They can be used in a multitude of ways – from personal care and general hygiene to skin and hair care. Below are a few uses of hydrosols:

1. Skin care:
Use hydrosols of rose, orange blossom (neroli) and lavender to hydrate skin and cool dry or sensitive skin conditions. Sun-burns can be soothed and cured by these hydrosols.

2. Dark circles: Nothing works miraculously on dark circles like chamomile hydrosols. Just place two cotton wool pads soaked in chamomile waters on your eyes regularly around for 10 minutes and see your dark circles disappear.

3. Body coolant: Peppermint is the ultimate body coolant on sultry summers. They do not just hydrate you, but also offer a calm effect.

4. Washing/Laundry: Use a few drops of rose or neroli waters in the final rinse water of your washing cycle to get a hygienic and aromatic wash. You can even use them as a fragrant to perfume your linen while ironing.

5. Babies: Hydrosols of lavender or chamomile can be added to baby’s bathwater, used in treatment of eczema, diaper rashes and to calm restlessness.

Apart from these, you can use hydrosols in the following situations also:

6. Use hydrosols as a facial mist or toner to cleanse the dirt in your face.

7. Add hydrosols in your bathwater for a natural, aromatic and homeopathic bath experience.

8. Use hydrosols in hair care to treat damaged hair or  as a wonderful conditioner that makes hair grow healthy and strong.

9. You can use hydrosols to treat wounds, open cuts, bruises and many types of injuries. They are harmless and do not cause any serious irritations or side effects.

Healing aromas and olfactory nerves: Aromatherapy as alternative medicine

Years ago, alternative medicine meant something that was below-the-average, that was not-that-effective and that which was crippled all over. It was something that was frowned upon by traditional practitioners and their loyal followers. Only a few innovators were interested and only a very few knew the benefits of alternative medicinal systems. But things have changed now. Alternative medicine is no more looked down upon. Alternative medicinal systems have evolved as full-fledged systems with capabilities to operate on their own. Aromatherapy is an alternative system of health care which uses essential oils in curing ailments, skin disorders and other ill-health conditions.

What is aromatherapy, what are essential oils: Aromatherapy is all about essential oils or plant oils extracted from various plants or parts of a plant – from bark, stem, wood, resin, spices, herbs, seeds, kernels, flowers etc. The life-blood of plants, essential oils are the immune-shields which protect plant life from all types of infections. When extracted and used, they do the offer the same protection in human beings. Essential oils have a strong aroma and are often inhaled through the nose in aromatherapy. Sometimes, they are mixed with carrier or base oils and used for massaging or other topical applications.

Do essential oils work? Yes, they do. They have been in practice for 4000 years though only in the 20th century, the term aromatherapy came into being. Essential oils work because they contact the brain directly. The aromas inhaled by the nose reach the limbic system of the brain through the olfactory nerves. Since the limbic system is directly connected to parts of the brain which control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and blood circulation, the aroma of essential oils affect all these parts to a great extent. Scientists have discovered that essential oils are the easiest and quickest ways to galvanize physical and psychological changes in the body. For instance, oils of lavender, rose, orange and jasmine have a tranquillizing effect (as they regulate the brain waves to form a rhythm), while that of basil, peppermint and cardamom yield a heightened energy response.

Aromatherapy origin and existence:
Essential oils existed right from the ancient times. It is considered as the first of medicines, and was prevalent even before the use of herbs. The French chemist Rene Gattefosse was the first one to coin the term ‘Aromatherapy’ in the 20th century. The medicinal practice was widely used in ancient civilizations like Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, Persia and China.

Types of aromatherapy: There are no distinct types, but commercialization and modernization has brought in two different kinds of aromatherapy – essential oils for therapeutic purposes and essential oils for fragrance, pleasure, recreation or hygiene. Essential oils can be fragrances or perfumes and still lack in therapeutic value. For an essential oil to be therapeutic, it has to be within the therapeutic grade of aromatherapy. Also, an essential oil has to be extracted, prepared and stored well to be therapeutic.

Uses of aromatherapy: Aromatherapy has emerged from a fledgling science to a fully-developed system of alternative medicine. Essential oils are used in pain relief, as stress de-busters, in treating skin infections, in hair care, in several ailments and inflammatory conditions, as antivirals and in reducing symptoms of chronic diseases. Since the work of any aromatherapeutic product depends on the molecular structures of the oil used and its absorption into the body cells, aromatherapy works only if you use the right oils in the right measures. The whole science of aromatherapy is natural and herbal, hence, side effects are out of question.

What can ruin aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is a complementary form of medicinal system that treats symptoms of diseases. It cannot cure major illnesses like cancer or AIDS. Commercialization of all fragrant products as aromatherapeutic is abuse of the very term of aromatherapy. Any practitioner or user of aromatherapy should understand the limitations of the system of medicine and act accordingly, instead of being carried away by false promises of companies.

Toxic essential oils: 11 hazardous oils you need to avoid

Essential oils are definitely wonder oils that can treat many ailing conditions. They bring about a miraculous cure when applied on body parts or inhaled through the nose. They can treat and alleviate viral infections, skin conditions, pain and aches, symptoms of various chronic illnesses etc. They also calm an individual’s mental state, promote cell regeneration and relieve stress, anxiety and pain – physical, psychological and emotional.

Toxic essential oils: Though essential oils can do all these, one has to remember that they are potent compounds that are highly concentrated. Some essential oils can be toxic to the human body. When used in massage therapy or ingested internally, they can produce hazardous and allergic reactions, resulting in fatal conditions. There are a list of pure essential oils which are not used in aromatherapy owing to their ill nature. Some oils carry a high risk of oral or dermal toxicity and hence no essential oil should be taken internally without guidance from a qualified and licensed medical practitioner. Some oils need to be diluted for practical use or to avoid side effects like skin irritation.

Below is a list of essential oils that are harmful and should be avoided in aromatherapy:

1. Sweet Birch oil: This oil has the same ingredient found in drugs like aspirin (methyl salicylate) and hence should be avoided. If you are already on aspirin, then, using this oil could mean an overdose.

2. Bitter Almond oil: Cyanide or Prussic acid is the main constituent of bitter almond oil. Just like the cyanide, taking small amounts of the oil can have lethal effects.

3. Calamus oil: Though the oil is used topically for a lot of ailments like headaches, vertigo and nerve problems, oral intake of it can be dangerous. It has asorone which has carcinogenic properties and can result in convulsions, kidney or liver damages.

4. Camphor oil: Camphor oil is a single compound monoterpene which is toxic to the nervous system, causing mental confusion, nausea and vomiting if taken internally. However, the oil is used in treatment of nasal congestion, chest problems and in pain relief.

5. Tansy oil: Tansy oil can be fatal to anyone. It contains thujone, a highly poisonous substance which causes convulsions, uterine bleeding, vomiting, respiratory problems and cardiac arrest.

6. Mustard oil: Mustard oil contain allyl isothiocyanate which is a toxic skin and mucus membrane irritant.

7. Pennyroyal oil:
The herb is used in treatment of irregular menstrual cycles, PMS etc. But the oil, which is toxic, is an abortifacient that can result in lung and liver damages.

8. Wormseed oil: Earlier wormseed oil was used to kill round and hookworms in children and adults. But later it was found out that the oil caused liver and kidney damages, suppression of heart beat, neurotoxicity and general toxicity in the body.

9. Wintergreen oil: Like the Sweet Birch oil, this too contains methyl salicylate which is similar to aspirin. Though it is used in relief of pain and aches due to arthritis or rheumatism, it is highly toxic and can be a poisonous skin irritant.

10. Savin oil:
Savin or Juniperus sabina is toxic due to the presence of sabinene, sabinol and sabinyl acetate, which are skin irritants and abortifacients.

11. Wormwood: With thujone, neurotoxin and convulsant as active ingredient, wormwood is abhorred by aromatherapists due its abortifacient properties and absinthe constituents.