Ways To Use Essential Oils
In aromatherapy, the benefits of essential oils are experienced two ways – through inhalation or topical application to skin. Essential oils are not ingested in self-therapy, especially by a layman, and only in rare cares under the direction of a licensed medical practitioner.
Inhaling an essential oil increases brain frequency, balances right and left brain activities, and signals the release of hormones to specific areas of the body. Applied to the skin, essential oils enter the blood stream and are drawn to specific body parts that need healing. Essential oils are guided to a particular hormone, body part or system with which it is most compatible and effective. ne specific oil might be effective with muscle tissue, another might be drawn toward bone marrow. It’s as if the aroma molecules are soldiers marching toward a precise target, ready to strike when and where needed.
The simplest and fastest way to inhale aroma molecules of essential oil is to sniff directly from an open vial, or to wear essential oil mixed with a carrier as a perfume. A more intense delivery to the brain is achieved by placing a few drops of oil in the palm, cupping hands over the nose and inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply through the nose, keeping the mouth closed.
Diffusing oil into the air is the most thorough method of inhalation. A wide variety of diffusers range from a pottery bowl heated by a candle underneath to an electrically heated bowl. There also is a nebulizer, vaporizer, humidifier, wick inhaler, plug-in atomizer with wick refills, room spray, potpourri, pillow or linen sachet, and the newest trend, a multi-reed diffuser. With every diffusion method, only a few drops of oil, combined with stream or water, are all that is needed to reap therapeutic benefits.
A full body massage, with properly diluted essential oil, is the most popular way to apply essential oil to the skin. Targeted relief can be achieved by applying essential oils to reflexology points on soles of the feet and palms. With headache, oils can be massaged into the temples. For abdominal relief, a localized massage relaxes muscles used in digestion and elimination.
A leisurely soak in bath water treated with essential oil or scented bath salts is the perfect ending to a massage or a leisurely healing on its own. Diluted essential oil can be added to a hot tub or Jacuzzi, or splashed on sauna rocks. Essential oils added to shampoo, conditioner, soap, face cleanser, lotions and moisturizers are a wise addition to face and hair beauty regimens.
Generally, three to five drops of oil, added one by one, to one teaspoon of carrier oil or lotion is a good ratio; use less in skin care products for the face. Exceptions to this rule for stronger, more powerful oils are noted at the end of each profile in Chapters 4 and 5. For tub water, first dissolve essential oil in honey, vegetable oil, half-&-half, powdered or liquid milk; this will disperse oil throughout tub and prevent it collecting in one spot.
When creating a blend, the main thing to remember is ‘the nose knows.’ Based on your research, choose 3 oils that will do what you want them to do. Experiment with them on swabs to determine your unique ‘recipe’ and the quantities you want to incorporate into a particular blend. Using only 3 ingredients, plus carrier or base oil, mistakes can be corrected easily. With experience, add or subtract additional oils one at a time, for a maximum of 5.
Keep it simple.
Remember to exhale…and enjoy!
GENERAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
The following suggested precautions are not a complete safety reference for essential oils. Please refer to specific safety precautions at the end of each profile in chapters 6 and 7. If you have any questions, please consult your physician or a trained aromatherapist.
A safe rule of thumb is to never use an essential oil undiluted directly on skin, or neat. Exceptions can be made for lavender and tea tree oils, but only after careful experimentation with test-patches. Some persons might be hyper-sensitive even to lavender and tea tree, the two gentlest essential oils in aromatherapy. A skin patch test should be administered prior to every first-time use of an essential oil. Essential oils should only be taken internally under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner.
Essential oils are highly flammable; use extreme care around fire.
In the event of eye injury from essential oil, irrigate eye with a sterile, isotonic, saline solution for 15 minutes. Immediately consult a physician if pain persists after the eye wash.
Keep essential oils in a locked cabinet, away from children.
Asthma and epilepsy patients should avoid fennel, hyssop and rosemary.
Babies and elderly persons require lower doses of essential oils, half that recommended for an healthy adult. Peppermint and eucalyptus have been known to cause respiratory problems with these age groups. Lavender and neroli, despite their gentle nature, can be tolerated only in minute amounts (1 drop in bath water and 1/2 drop per ounce of carrier oil.)
Cancer patients may use mild dilutions of bergamot, chamomile, lavender, ginger and frankincense; fennel and aniseed in particular should be avoided.
Persons undergoing chemotherapy should avoid using essential oils.
High blood pressure patients should avoid essential oils of black pepper, clove, hyssop, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Low blood pressure patients should avoid excessive use of lavender oil.
Persons allergic to nuts cannot use sweet almond or peanut carrier oils. Safer alternatives are sunflower, canola (non-GM) and safflower oils.
Pregnant women should avoid essential oils before the 18th week of pregnancy, especially in cases of prior miscarriage. In the second trimester, essential oils may be used in low doses formulated by a professional aromatherapist or health care provider.
For lots more helpful and informative content on spas and massage, see our Topical Articles.