Simple Aromatherapy Guidelines
I remember when I got my first essential oil starter kit. I was so excited and so clueless. Where do I start? Hopefully this Aromatherapy Guidelines for Newbies article will get you up to speed fast so you don’t just stuff your essential oil kit in the closet neglected and unloved!
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are volatile, aromatic oils that are typically steam distilled from leaves, stems, roots, seeds and flowers of plants. They contain powerful live essences that plants use to maintain their own health by resisting insects, viruses, fungus and bacteria. Those created from blooms contain the lovely scents used to attract birds and bees for pollination.
Each essential oil contains from 200-500 chemical constituents which give them their unique and beneficial properties. These complex plant essences effect us in many ways. Here are just a few of their healing properties:
- Emotional and mood enhancing properties: Calming and balancing, stress relieving, emotional releasing, soothing or stimulating
- Antimicrobial and cleansing
- Properties that enhance skin and hair
- Properties that support healthy respiratory, digestive systems and other bodily systems
Because essential oils are so concentrated, they come in small bottles and are used by the drop. Some oils, like rose, can be quite expensive because it takes so much plant material to create a single bottle. The best essential oils can be more costly because they must undergo testing to ensure they are 100% pure (not synthetic) and free of any harmful pesticides, additives or extenders.
To learn more about how aromatherapy works in your body you may enjoy “How Does Aromatherapy Work?“
Aromatherapy Guidelines – Using Your Oils
Did you know that there are different schools of thought on how to use essential oils? This is quite a topic of debate and therefor confusion. In some countries, oils are primarily inhaled or diluted with carrier oils and rubbed on the skin. In others like France, where essential oils are used extensively in clinical settings, they are also applied ‘neat’ (undiluted) and ingested.
In our family, we use essential oils in all the ways mentioned above. However, not all methods are appropriate for all oils, so be sure to start by reading the directions on the bottle. Ready? Grab your oils and let’s get started!
Ways to Inhale Your Oils
- The easiest way to inhale your oils is to simply sniff them straight from the bottle.
- Next, try putting a few drops on the palms of your hands. Rub them together and inhale from your cupped hands.
- Use an essential oil diffuser to cleanse the air and make your house smell like a luxurious spa! Some essential oil starter kits come with a diffuser or you can buy them separately. Follow the instructions that come with your diffuser.
Apply Essential Oils Topically
- Essential oils can be diluted with a carrier oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil) or applied ‘neat’ (undiluted). The directions on the bottle should let you know the recommended dilution if required.
- Rub onto the skin at the desired area, avoiding areas of sensitive skin.
- Most people tolerate undiluted oils on the soles of their feet just fine.
- Note: You may require greater dilution than other people do if your skin is more sensitive. Or you may find you don’t tolerate certain oils on certain places of your body.
Aromatherapy Guidelines for Ingesting Oils
- Add a drop or two to your water bottle and shake well or put in smoothies.
- Essential oils that are used as supplements can be put into capsules following the instructions on the bottle.
- Substitute orange or peppermint oil for extracts in recipes. Start with about 1/8 teaspoon of oil for 1 teaspoon extract and adjust to taste. Just remember, essential oils are very concentrated and can easily overpower.
- Not all oils are appropriate to ingest so be sure to read the bottle and follow the directions. If it doesn’t have directions for ingesting, don’t ingest it!
- Warning: Many oils are made more for the perfume industry and contain extenders and other ingredients meant to enhance the scent. They are not meant to consume and may be harmful. These ingredients are not required by law to be put on the label. They may also be created synthetically in a lab.
- Look for therapeutic grade, pure essential oils that have preferably been third party tested for purity, toxins and expected levels of therapeutic ingredients.
Aromatherapy Guidelines – Safety & Purity
- Wash your hands after applying oils! This is easy to forget, but if you touch your eyes with oils on your hands it will sting!
- If you do forget to wash your hands and manage to get essential oils in your eyes, apply a drop of pure vegetable oil into the eye. It will dilute the oil and stop the stinging but leave your vision blurry for a while.
- If your skin is irritated by an oil, add more carrier oil to the area.
- Avoid eyes, mucous membranes and areas of sensitive skin. The exterior parts of the ear are fine but do put down into the ears.
- Most oils are fine for children, but some should be avoided on babies and very young children. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Citrus oils can increase sun sensitivity so should not be applied within 12-24 hours of exposure to the sun.
- Check with your health provider for any restrictions before using essential oils if you are pregnant, breast feeding or have a medical condition.
- Always look for therapeutic grade, pure essential oils that have preferably been third party tested for purity, toxins and expected levels of therapeutic ingredients. Whether you are inhaling, ingesting or applying to your skin, essential oils pass rapidly into your bloodstream and into your cells. You don’t want harmful synthetics, pesticides and extenders replacing wholesome, life supporting plant substances in your essential oils any more than you do in your food!
I hope these simple Aromatherapy Guidelines help you get up and running with your essential oils quickly and easily. Essential oils are a big part of our family’s everyday life and I hope they will be in yours as well. I don’t think there is a room in our house that doesn’t contain something to do with aromatherapy these days LOL!
How are you using your essential oils? I’d love it if you would leave me a comment below or come over to my Facebook page and share your ideas.