Making Scents of Aromatherapy
Feb 28, 2010 11:33PM
Aromatherapy is about much more than fragrance. It’s the therapeutic use of aromatic plant extracts known as essential oils. These oils consist of components made in different parts of the plant at different times of a plant’s life cycle. They are as varied and complex as we are, lending themselves to a wide variety of uses.Â Â
Aromatherapy oils support many of the body’s systems such as circulation, endocrine and digestion, and they can help relieve physical aches and pains. The simple inhalation of an essential oil can have a profoundly positive effect on our emotions.Â
They also support the body by creating a hostile environment for all kinds of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that compromise our health, much in the same way they protected the plants they were extracted from. Unlike synthetic drugs, regular use of an essential oil actually strengthens the immune system.Â Â
For effective therapeutic use, it is crucial that only high grade, pure essential oils be used. The market is flooded with chemical copies of natural essences that simply do not work. It is important to be certain the oil you are using is actually obtained from the plant whose therapeutic properties you desire.
Producing a genuine, authentic essential oil is both a science and an art. There should be no chemicals used at any stage of their production. Plants should be from the proper botanical species, distilled at low pressure over a long period of time at low temperatures. This allows time for the many, varied molecules of a plant to distill over, making it a complete oil. These are referred to as therapeutic grade essential oils and finding oils that meet these criteria can be a challenge.Â
A vast majority of aromatics on the market are produced with cost in mind, compromising the distillation process and adulterating the oils with synthetic chemicals and other extenders. Rosemary and Lavender are two examples of the most commonly adulterated oils out there.Â
With therapeutic grade oils in hand, here are a few simple ways you can begin to explore their use.Â Lavender (lavendula angustifolia) is unparalleled when it comes to healing burns. A drop or 2 applied directly to the burn will take the pain away almost immediately and continued use will quicken the healing process and reduce the likelihood of scarring. There’s no substitute for a therapeutic grade lavender when healing burns. Anything less could cause more irritation, or even worsen the burn.Â
Using essential oils in the shower is both refreshing and therapeutic. The lipophilic nature of the skin provides a perfect environment for the oils to escape the water and penetrate the skin. Placing 4 or 5 drops of Eucalyptus (eucalyptus radiata) oil into your hand and rubbing it onto your body during a shower will open up your sinuses and give you an overall sensation of well being.Â
A safe, easy way to introduce your self to ingesting essential oils is by putting a drop or two of lemon (citrus limon) oil in a glass of water and drinking. Lemon oil is a tonic to the liver and kidneys, and it tastes great.Â
A drop or two of valerian (valeriana officinalis) essential oil in a capsule before bedtime can make for a good night’s sleep. Mixing a few drops of marjoram (origanum majorana) oil into a teaspoon of vegetable oil and rubbing it on sore shoulders or back can relieve muscle pain.Â Â Â
The ambient use of essential oils by cold air diffusion in a room can significantly reduce the chance of the spread of disease and infection. It can also reduce or eliminate mold from an environment. And don’t forget to put a drop on the palm of your hand and take the time to sit and inhale!
Learning about essential oils is a dynamic process and personal exploration is your best teacher. Have fun, and let your intuition lead you - it makes scents!Â Â
Tacy Apostolik is a (ARCB) Board Certified Reflexologist and an Internationally Certified Aromatherapist. She is also an NCBTMB and ARCB approved continuing education provider.Â For information about her ongoing CE classes, visit: