Inhalation: For problems with respiration, try adding 6 to 12 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head, and deeply breathe the scented vapors.
Diffusion: Aroma therapists often suggest spraying oil containing compounds into the air. This technique is said to calm the nerves, enhance a feeling of well being, and even to improve respiratory conditions. In any case, it freshens the air. Commercially available spray units can be used. Add 10 drops of an essence to 7 tablespoonfuls of water. If you will not be using the entire amount at one time, add 1 tablespoonful of vodka or pure alcohol as a preservative. Shake the mixture and fill the sprayer.
Massage: Rubbing aromatic oil into the skin may be either calming or stimulating, depending on the type of oil used. Some people use it as a remedy for muscles sprains and soreness. Most preparations contain 5 drops of essential oil blended with a light base oil. A higher concentration could irritate the skin.
Bathing: Use not more than 8 drops in a bath. Add the oil to a tubful of water. You can also add 10 to 15 drops to a Jacuzzi or hot tub, 4 to 5 drops to a foot bath, or 3 to 4 drops to a hand bath (for chapped skin). If you shower, after washing yourself, dip a wet sponge or cloth in an oil–water mixture and apply to your skin while you are under the spray. Do not use this technique if you have any skin allergies.
Hot and cold compresses: For muscle aches or pains, bruises, or headaches add 5 to 10 drops of oil to approximately 4 ounces of water. Soak a cloth in the solution and apply to the sore area. Other Aromatherapy techniques include placing 2 or 3 drops of essential oil on a pillow or shoe rack, heating the essential oil in a ring burner, or sprinkling the oil over the logs in a fireplace.
Caution: Never take Aromatherapy oils internally. They are extremely potent and some can be poisonous.
Which oils are used as carrier oils?Pure vegetable oils such as soya, almond, hazelnut, avocado, etc. These have an affinity with the skin and when mixed with the essential oils they are able to penetrate the skin very quickly, unlike mineral oil, which must never be used.
How is it used in beauty therapy?Beauty therapy essential oils can be used to treat many different skin conditions (which after all are a result of an organic deficiency) such as acne, diffused redness and even eczema with the doctors consent. They act as regulators in aging skins, tired tissues, very dry and dehydrated skins and oedematic conditions.
What are the treatments Aromatherapy hopes to accomplish?Fragrant oils have been used for thousand of years to lubricate the skin, purify infectious air, and repel insects. However, Aromatherapy as we know it today dates from the late 1930s, when René–Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, dunked his badly burned hand into a container of pure lavender oil. Amazingly, the pain and redness disappeared and the burn healed within hours. In later experiments, he found that other oils also alleviated skin problems. Other French scientists who were impressed with his research, developed techniques that are still in use today.
Aromatherapy first appeared on this side of Asia in the early 1990’s, when there was an upsurge in the popularity of natural, non–toxic healing methods that cost less than conventional medications and produce fewer side effects. Practitioners in California used essential oils to treat everything from viral and bacterial infections to depression, anxiety, and sexually transmitted diseases. They insisted aromas could heal wounds, stimulate the immune system, cure skin disorders, improve circulation, relieve pain, reduce swelling, and even improve memory. According to these enthusiastic therapists, fragrant oils had the power to heal malfunctioning ovaries, kidneys, veins, adrenal glands, and many other organs. However, none of these claims has ever been scientifically substantiated.
Indeed, relatively few attempts to verify Aromatherapy’s purported benefits have ever been made at all, and of those, only a few have delivered promising results. In one trial for arthritis pain, some of the participants were able to reduce the dosage of their potent anti–inflammatory drugs. In another study, the scent of lavender successfully put insomniacs to sleep. Other research has documented improvement in cases of erectile dysfunction, and a reduction in pain following childbirth. However, attempts to prove that Aromatherapy can cure shingles have failed (although fragrant creams can reduce some of the pain). A 1958 paper extolling the ability of essential oils to fight and conquer infections could cite no positive human or animal tests.
Advocates of Aromatherapy propose a variety of mechanisms for its reported effects. The most widely accepted theory suggests that fragrances do their work via the brain. When aromatic molecules enter the nasal cavity and stimulate the odor–sensing nerves, the resulting impulses are sent to the limbic system the part of the brain that’s believed to be the seat of memory and emotion. Depending on the scent, emotional responses then kick in to exert a calming or energizing effect on the body.
Alternatively, some proponents suggest that certain aromas may work by stimulating the glands, prompting the adrenal glands, for example, to produce steroid–like hormones that fight pain and inflammation. Whatever the truth of the matter, aroma therapists assign specific properties to each essence.