Flat rate shipping. Plus, connect yourself to our wellness newsletter for a discount on your first order!
March 13, 2023
I’ve been speaking with a lot of people recently about aromatherapy. Many people have a similar story to tell. You are interested in essential oils but don’t know much about them. Or you have some essential oils and would like to use them but they sit on a shelf in your house, or in a box. You think to yourself, “one day I will be excited to use those, I just need to know how. They smell amazing.”
It’s important to understand the tools in your toolbox before using them. Aromatherapy is an effective modality of wellbeing. When used properly, aromatherapy can help us in a number of ways.
What are essential oils
Essential oils are aromatic essences derived from plants that carry therapeutic value. They are usually quite scented. Lavender, Sage, Geranium, Rosemary, and Frankincense, are all examples of essential oils that we can get from plants. Let’s unpack this a bit.
Many plants carry therapeutic value. You are already aware that certain teas have a purpose beyond being a soothing beverage. Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that signals to your brain that you are sleepy.[i]Both peppermint and ginger teas have been used for upset stomach. The menthol component of peppermint tea is said to calm spasms in the intestine and colon.[ii] Ginger contains gingerol, which speeds up digestion, and allows for food to not sit as long in the stomach. Some evidence now suggests that ginger may inhibit the brain’s receptivity to wanting to vomit, which may be why ginger tea reduces nausea.[iii] Green tea has been studied for its polyphenols, which contain antioxidant properties, and which may slow down tumour growth. These same polyphenols may increase cognitive function.[iv]
Essential oils work in a similar way, just don’t drink them. You can use essential oils diluted in a carrier oil (discussed below) and applied to the skin, through scented oils, lotions, and balms. When applied topically, the oils penetrate the layers of the skin and make their way into your bloodstream. Topical application is most effective when applied directly to the site of discomfort. You can also effectively use essential oils through inhalation. Inhalation is one of the fastest routes of absorption, with oils affecting the central nervous system very quickly. You can use a personal inhaler, add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser, or place one or two drops into a bowl of hot water and carefully inhale the steam.
Being derived from plant material, essential oils are part of organic chemistry, having carbon-hydrogen bonds. Plant chemists can separate the chemical components contained within an essential oil by molecular weight and derive conclusions from the components that are extracted. For example lavender essential oil is relaxing, yes, but it is the chemical components linalool and linyl acetate within the lavender oil that produce the relaxing effect. Each essential oil is made up of different chemical components, and a different number of them. Science has been able to determine many, but not all components. There is still work to be done.
Over 3000 plants give us essential oils that we know of. This diversity allows us to effectively use oils in a variety of ways. The chemical components in essential oils let us know if the oil has specific properties such as anti-inflammatory, sedative, skin healing, carminative, antitussive, analgesic and the list goes on. Unfortunately, we can’t use essential oils willy nilly. While they do contain many beneficial properties, there are also safety restrictions. Some essential oils are penetration enhancers which can encourage your body to metabolise any medications that you are on more quickly than your prescription intends. Some essential oils affect blood pressure, and others should be avoided for use in the sun or on tanning beds as they are phototoxic. Essential oils are skin irritants that should not be used on the skin directly without a carrier oil. They also break down certain types of plastic. When using essential oils, products made should be packaged in glass or PET/HDPE plastic.
Store your oils in a cool, dark place, and remember that they have a shelf life. Each oil’s shelf life can differ. If you think you have expired oils and you are not sure what to do about it, read my blog post on How to Dispose of Essential Oils.
If you are new to using oils, consult a certified aromatherapist for guidance. You can use my Contact Us form on this website to book a consultation about oils.
How do we get essential oils
Essential oils come from different plant parts. Knowing the part of the plant that your oil comes from can give some insight into how it might be effectively used. Some of the plant parts that we get essential oils from include fruit, flowers, leaves, bark, or roots.
In the case of citrus fruits, essential oils can be extracted from cold pressing the rind. Leaves, wood and root oils can be extracted by steam distillation, as can some flowers. Flowers, however, can be very delicate and not survive the steam distillation process well, leading to the use of a greater amount of the plant material to yield oil. As an alternative, their oils can be extracted using a solvent like hexane. In this case, you will find the word “absolute” in their name. The most popular of these are rose absolute, and jasmine absolute.
What about carrier oils?
Carrier oils are much less aromatic, on average. They usually come to us from nuts and seeds. Many carriers can be used on the skin undiluted, although I find that using them in combination works better. Examples of carrier oils include olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and sesame seed oil. Butters such as cocoa butter, and shea butter, are also consider to be carriers. We’ll be discussing carrier oils in my next post.
Putting it all together
Coming back to the original question then, what is aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is the safe and effective use of essential oils and carrier oils for mind, body, and soul healing. When you are able to intentionally add essential oils to carriers oils with a specific outcome in mind you can create a pantry of ingredients for a wide variety of concerns.
Yours in wellness,
The information on our website is not intended to cure, diagnose or treat medical conditions, nor is it a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with a physician before beginning this or any other new health care program. The information contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be substituted for the advice provided by your doctor or other health care professional. If you rely upon any programs or techniques, or use any of the products and services made available by or through the use of our website for decision making, without obtaining the advice of a physician or other health care professional, you do so at your own risk. The views expressed on Standing Stone Wellness have not been evaluated or endorsed by any private or public entity.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
March 27, 2023
March 20, 2023
March 06, 2023