Aromatherapy is the process of enjoying certain scents, which are commonly used in scented candles and bath salts.
Many do not realize this, but certain scents have calming effects and enable the individual to feel more relaxed and free of stress.
Beginning ‘bona fide’ aromatherapy, beyond burning a scented candle or soaking with a pleasing pre-packaged bath salt blend, can be a little daunting to many people.
All those little bottles of pricey liquids, electric contraptions, and fancy-sounding blends – how does one actually use essential oils to improve their health, happiness, and well-being?
It’s easier than one might think – getting started can open a whole new world of fun and effective natural remedies that can lift your mood, calm your nerves, and support healing of a great many common ailments.
The basics of aromatherapy are simple, once a few fundamental concepts are understood.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils – the aromatic compounds of plants, extracted through steam distillation or other methods.
The oils act as the chemical messengers and protectors of the plant kingdom.
Each essential oil can contain hundreds of different ‘volatile’ (easily evaporated) compounds, most of which are very compatible with the physiology of the human body.
What’s so wonderful is they can also do for us what they do for plants – act as chemical messengers through affecting our smell sense and limbic system, and defending the body against foreign invaders by their antibacterial and anti-viral actions.
Essential oils are best used in one of two simple ways: through inhalation, where the oils can directly affect certain areas of the brain, and through topical application, where the oils are easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
(Note: Oral ingestion can be an option, but only under experienced medical supervision – further, SOME OILS CAN BE TOXIC, and other even seemingly harmless oils should not be used under certain conditions. If you are pregnant or have specific medical needs, consult a knowledgeable practitioner before continuing!)
Inhalation of Essential Oils
Essential oils when inhaled directly affect our limbic system, the brain’s emotional centers. Many oils have been found to sharpen concentration, reduce tension and anxiety, and even reduce depression.
How can we reap these magnificent benefits?
There are a few simple, cost-effective ways to prepare essential oils for inhalation – and experience these wonderful effects. These are the ‘handkerchief method’, making your own ‘smelling salts’, and making your own aromatherapy ‘mister’.
The handkerchief method is pretty straightforward – put a drop or two of oil or blend on a tissue and inhale. Be careful with some oils, though – peppermint, for example, can burn the sensitive skin around your nostrils if put in direct contact.
You can even leave the tissue or ‘handkerchief, or piece of cloth, or cotton in a room or your work-space and the oil will continue to evaporate and have its effects.
Making your own ‘smelling salts’ is similar, though your preparation will last a while longer. To make the salts, fill a small vial (dark glass with a good cap is best) with natural sea salt and drop essential oils into the salt.
The amount of oil is not too critical – enough that there is detectable aroma, and not so much that the salt gets completely wet.
Just unscrew the cap and inhale from the bottle whenever you need a lift, or, like the handkerchief, leave the vial open in your space, letting the aroma slowly fill the area.
A ‘mister’ can be used infuse a room with aroma – just add essential oils to water in a small spray bottle, shake (before each use) and spray!
Here are a few easy recipes for the inhalation method
(Note: in all recipes, the number of drops of oil and/or amount of carrier can be used as a ratio, which you can increase or decrease as you need):
For uplifting the mood and brightening the mind:
4 drops of Rosemary Cineol
3 drops of Lavender
2 drops of Lemon
and 1 drop of Peppermint
OR 3 drops Clary Sage
2 drops Bergamot
and 1 drop Sweet Orange
For calming anxiety:
equal parts of Roman Chamomile, Bergamot, and Orange
OR 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Neroli and 1 drop Bergamot
For creating a harmonious atmosphere:
3 drops Jasmine
1 drop Ylang Ylang
and 1 drop Sandalwood
OR equal parts Geranium, Patchouli, and Bergamot
For the topical application method, usually, this is described as aromatherapy massage. Ideally, this is done with a partner, but self-massage will work as well.
Creating your own massage oil is a straightforward process – just dilute 10 – 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.
There are a variety of carrier oils available, though Sweet Almond is a great all-around oil and is recommended for general aromatherapy massage.
For massage purposes, people often mix more than one essential oil to give the desired effect. The most common of these is the lavender, clary sage, and lemon blend. It is known as the stress blend.
As for the massage, itself, any technique will do – let your intuition be your guide. When you wish to get a little more advanced, do a little further research to create synergy with certain essential oils and certain acupressure points.
The same blends for inhalation can be used for massage, though here are a few more fun recipes:
For a sensual massage, per ounce of carrier oil, add – 8 drops Sandalwood, 6 drops Rose, 4 drops Lavender and 2 drops Ylang Ylang.
For opening the heart, try 4 drops Spikenard, 4 drops Lavender and 2 drops of Rose.
Finally, for sheer relaxation, use 6 drops Lavender, 4 drops Neroli and 2 drops Bergamot.
Don’t be afraid to create your own blends! You will certainly find particular oils that you enjoy – and aromatherapy is like that.
It is the oils you find most enjoyable that are likely those that are most effective for you. My only recommendation is to change the ratios of oils you are blending very slowly.
Start with one drop of each oil in a small vial, mixing them and allowing a few minutes for them to blend before adding more oil 1 drop at a time.
In general, citrus oils like Orange, Bergamot, Lemon or Lime tend to bring alertness while calming at the same time.
Herb oils like Peppermint or Rosemary tend to be invigorating, while floral oils tend to be relaxing such as Lavender, Chamomile, Jasmine or Neroli.
This is only a guideline – many oils have complex properties and will affect individuals differently – use your nose as a guide.
Homemade Aromatherapy Bath Salts
Creating your own bath salts is a terrific way to enjoy aromatherapy at home. Surprisingly, bath salts are very affordable to make and require no harsh ingredients.
In fact, the main ingredients in bath salts include baking soda, table salt, and Epsom salt. Each of these is commonly found in a local grocery or retail store and is safe to use.
Certain bath products, which are found in the world of retail, may contain harsh ingredients that could irritate the skin.
The advantage to creating your own bath salts to use as aromatherapy, however, will ensure that you know which ingredients are going into a product and the peace of mind in knowing that they are safe to use.
Individuals can make their own aromatherapy bath salts by starting with a large mixing bowl and a spoon or other similar utensil.
The next step is to add 3 cups of Epsom salt, 2 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of table salt into the mixing bowl. Once each of the ingredients is added, begin mixing them with your hand or the spoon.
Once mixing is complete, slowly add food coloring to the mixture. Normal food coloring will work fine and should be added according to the color that you prefer your bath salts to be.
Adding more drops will darken the color and adding fewer will make it softer. Some individuals enjoy mixing the colors in order to get a unique hue, but this mixture should be done prior to placing the coloring into the mixing bowl with your other ingredients.
The final step is to add essential oils until the desired scent is achieved. The best way to determine when the scent is perfect is simply by using your own judgment.
Bath salts should be strongly scented in order to allow for less salt to be required for each bath, which will enable them to last longer.
Using the steps and ingredients as noted above, you can also use a bowl with a lid and shake the mixture, food coloring and essential oils until it is perfectly blended.
This will save you time from stirring but, otherwise, the procedure to creating your own aromatherapy bath salts is the same.
Common Aromatherapy Uses
Aromatherapy as used today originated in Europe and has been practiced there since the early 1900s. Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that each oil has a vibration or note, which can be used for different therapeutic applications.
Aromatherapy can be used to relax and soothe the mind and body, to energize or even to arouse. It derived from the use of essential oils to solicit specific emotions.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for their health supporting properties. The powerful aromas of essential oils affect your moods and feelings through your sense of smell.
By selecting a particular scent, you can encourage a state of relaxation, romance, healing or comfort. Essential oils can be used in Aromatherapy, to scent potpourri, lotions, cosmetics, perfumes, food flavorings and medicinally.
Additionally, oils can be used in creating sachets, potpourri, reviving potpourri, and for light bulb scenting.
Essential oils can also be used through bath, diffusion, massage, or compress. Each individual person, fabric, or material may react differently to a particular suggested use.
Essential oils can be mixed in a cream essential oil combinations are applied directly to the skin for beauty care or treatment of sores or irritations.
By using different essential oils, you can control the nature of those benefits.
These essential oils are taken from a plant’s flowers, leaves, stalks, bark, rind, or roots.
The yield of essential oil differs with individual plant species ranging in most cases from about 0.2 to 2.0%.
That’s why literally tons of plant material is required for just a few hundred pounds of oil.
In some cases, different organs of a single plant may contain essential oils of different chemical composition. In the end, even the smallest bottle of essential oil can create a lot of powerful solution.
It is important to note that the benefits of aromatherapy do depend on the unique nature of each person’s response to an aromatic stimulus.
Homemade Lavender Treatment Recipes
If you’re new to the idea of using aromatherapy to help reduce the stress in your life, then start with something simple such as a lavender bath or other lavender essential oil product.
Here is a simple and wonderful recipe that you can try at home in your bath before bed.
Lavender Calming Bath Crystals
You will need:
1 cup Epsom salts
10 drops Lavender essential oil
1 drop of food coloring
You have to:
Shake all ingredients in a Ziploc bag until coated.
Store in a bottle or bag.
Another wonderful way to use aromatherapy to relieve stress is to apply a lovely lavender scented body lotion to your sore aching muscles.
Apply this easy to mix lavender lotion after your bath, or if you’re lucky enough to have a partner who is willing, request a relaxing massage before bed.
Here is a simple recipe for a lavender lotion that you’ll love.
Lovely Lavender Lotion
You will need:
1 oz. glycerin
2 tsp. oil of lavender
You have to:
Put ingredients in a clean glass bottle and shake well. Refrigerate.
When life makes you crazy, remember, you have the power to create a calming oasis in your own home. Take a few minutes for yourself and relax.
What better place to start than in our bath with beautiful scents, sounds and soft candlelight? Our lifestyles need not take over our lives.
Getting started with aromatherapy is easy, and with these simple ideas, you will be able to create essential oil preparations tailored to your needs and enjoyment. This can lead to a lifelong appreciation of these wonderful gifts from nature.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Certain scents have calming effects and enable the individual to feel more relaxed and free of stress.
- Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils – the aromatic compounds of plants, extracted through steam distillation or other methods.
Inhalation of Essential Oils
- Essential oils when inhaled directly affect the limbic system, the brain’s emotional centers
- For massage purposes, people often mix more than one essential oil to give the desired effect.
Homemade Aromatherapy Bath Salts
- The advantage to creating your own bath salts to use as aromatherapy will ensure that you know which ingredients are going into a product and the peace of mind in knowing that they are safe to use.
Common Aromatherapy Uses
- Essential oils can be used in Aromatherapy, to scent potpourri, lotions, cosmetics, perfumes, food flavorings and medicinally.
- Essential oils can also be used through bath, diffusion, massage, or compress.
– Are you comfortable using aromatherapy for the health benefits?
– What benefit of aromatherapy you like best?
– How do you use essential oils?
– Are you familiar with other uses of aromatherapy?
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