Hippocrates the father of modern medicine said that, ” the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day”. He recognised that inhaling certain aromatic substances offered protection from contagious diseases, and the use of essential oils is known to have a positive effect on blood circulation, which helps deliver nutrients to the tissues and remove wastes.
As part of the mid winter cleanse I have been having a cleansing bath with a blend of aromatherapy oils which has reminded me of the strong medicinal effects of smell. We often think that aromatherapy oils just smell nice, without realising their strong therapeutic value.
Adaptogens are balancers, oils that help us create a balance within the body, acting on the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine / hormonal system. Lemon for example works on the autonomic nervous system acting as a sedative or tonic depending on the bodies need. Peppermint is another example of an adaptogen in that in can be either stimulating or relaxing depending on how the body uses the smell to generate a homeostatic response (achieve balance).
Synergy is where the addition of two or more oils enhances their therapeutic effect, these synergistic blends are very particular and powerful. For example, the anti-inflammatory action of Chamomile is greatly enhanced by the addition of Lavender. It is important when blending to get the proportions correct for maximum benefit.
How to use aromatherapy oils
There are many ways aromatherapy oils can be used a few are listed below:
|Perfume||Variable||There are two methods: you can simply dissolve aromatherapy oil in alcohol or carrier oil (such as almond oil) and apply to the body as you would perfume.|
|Tissue||1 drop||Sniff when required|
|Inhaled as a vapour||2-3 drops||Pour hot water into a bowl, add the aromatherapy oil, cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl with face about 250cm away and your eyes closed. Breathe deeply through the nose for about a minute|
|Bath||up to 8 drops||Run the bath, then add the oil. Close the door so that the vapours don’t escape. Soak for at least 10 min|
|Shower||up to 8 drops||Wash as usual, then add drops to your facecloth and rub briskly all over your body, whilst standing under the running water. Breathe deeply|
|Candles||1-2 drops||Light the candle then wait until wax is beginning to melt, then add to the melted wax. Aromatherapy oils are inflammable so be careful not to get onto wax|
|Room-sprays||4 drops per 300ml water||Use a new sprayer and warm but not boiling water. Put water in first then add oil and shake before use. Be careful, aromatherapy oil will damage wood furniture.|
Your basic care kit
Tea Tree / Manuka – Powerful antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, use for fungal infections, sunburn, acne, all kinds of infection.
Peppermint – Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, improves circulation and respiration, use for colds and coughs, headaches, skin irritation and rheumatism
Chamomile – Antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, analgesic, nervous system relaxant, use for rheumatism, eases nerves, burns, eczema, asthma, digestive complaints
Eucalytpus – Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic and deodorising, use for colds and coughs
Geranium – Nerve tonic, balances emotions, antiseptic and sedative, use for skin, menstrual problems, and to ease nerves
Rosemary – Physical and mental stimulant, good for muscular aches and antiseptic, use for study, in bath after a long tiring day to ease muscles, for colds and coughs, headaches and memory loss
Thyme – Antibiotic, antiseptic, antiviral, detoxifying (strong effects use with caution, don’t use undiluted and not on children), use in room diffuser or candle when someone has flu, for neuralgia and rheumatism
Lemon – Antibacterial, antiseptic, improve lymphatic drainage and stimulating, use for tension headaches, insect bites and helps disperse cellulite
Clove – Antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic (don’t use undiluted on the skin), use for asthma and muscular disorders
Aromatherapy oils are powerful tools we can incorporate in our daily lives to deal with stress, keep the immune system strong and to disinfect and keep our homes free from germs. This post is based on a book by Valerie Ann Worwood, The Fragrant Pharmacy. An invaluable reference for using aromatherapy oils in all areas of our lives.