As people search out alternative health treatments and age-old remedies for feeling better, the use of essential oils and aromatherapy is rising dramatically, especially with the rising cost of health care. Aromatherapy is a technique used to promote better psychological health and physical well-being. The practice involves the use of essential oils, the purest essence of a plant, to bring about positive health effects. There are over 90 recognized essential oils in existence and many are commonly connected with modern-day aromatherapy techniques.
People are discovering and beginning to use essential oils for a variety of uses including cleaning products, treatment of health conditions, and in aromatherapy treatments.
Common Aromatherapy Essential Oils
Essential oil aromatherapy can be traced back centuries. It is believed the Chinese culture may have been the first to use the essence of aromatic plants to improve health and create life balance by burning the plants to release the oils. Egyptians followed up by creating a distillation machine to extract oils, with India later improving upon the technology. While the word ‘aromatherapy’ was not coined until the 20th century, there is evidence of essential oils usage for better health dating back thousands of years.
Today, some most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy treatment include:
Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot is an essential oil extracted from the Beragamia tree, a citrus tree native to Southeast Asia and found in Italy. The oil is extracted from the fruit’s rind. In aromatherapy, Bergamot is used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and stress. It has also been shown effective in healing infections of the skin, including eczema. Bergamot is also used to help stimulate the digestive system and provide a boost to those struggling with tiredness.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile is widely known for providing a calming effect within the body and mind, which is why chamomile tea is recommended before bedtime. The essential oil of chamomile is extracted from the plant’s leaf and, in addition to being used for soothing nerves in aromatherapy practices; chamomile is used as an antiseptic, a treatment for urinary tract issues, and to aid in eliminating acne.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus is a well-known essential oil, used most often for treating respiratory problems. The oil is extracted from the leaves of Eucalyptus trees using a steam distillation process. Through aromatherapy, eucalyptus has been shown effective as a decongestant, as a topical muscle relaxant, and as an antiseptic.
Lavender Essential Oil
One of the most popular essential oils in today’s market, lavender has long been recognized for its effective treatment of stress-related issues. Lavender offers a wonderful scent. Its essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant and has also been used in aromatherapy as an anti-inflammatory agent, a deodorant, and a sedative.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil comes from the lemon peel via the cold-press extraction technique. Lemon is used in aromatherapy for help in improving circulation, promoting better digestion, and relieving skin irritations. Lemon essential oil is also very popular in homemade house cleaning products thanks to its fresh scent and disinfectant properties.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Practically every nose can immediately recognize the smell of peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is extracted from the flowers of the plant and is often used in vaporizers and massage oils. When inhaled oil, peppermint has been shown to increase focus and improve moods.
Rosemary Essential Oil
The essential oil of the Rosemary plant is known for its ability to boost memory capability and improve mood. Historically, Rosemary oil has been heralded as an all-powerful oil, used to increase the brain’s capability, relieve symptoms of depression, ease aching muscles, reduce migraine headaches, and treat a number of skin issues.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is regarded as one of the most versatile essential oils available, especially in aromatherapy treatments. Tea tree oil is extracted from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree leaves and used as an inhalant or used in products applied directly to the body. Tea tree oil has been shown effective in boosting a body’s immunity. It can also treat burns, cuts, and cold sores. Tea tree oil has been used to combat the flu, treat athlete’s foot, and stop dandruff.
Use of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy Techniques
There are several ways to use essential oils in aromatherapy treatments. These techniques include:
There are diffusion devices which can continually provide the smell of the essential oils throughout a home. Diffusers range in size and prices but can be an effective way to remain exposed to the benefits of essential oils. Diffusers are often used during massage treatments and during meditations. More people are using diffusers around their homes on an everyday basis to freshen their space and improve their overall feeling of well-being.
The most therapeutic diffusers use straight oil. Atomizing diffusers (waterless, cold air) disperse essential oils as a fine vapor throughout the air so they can be absorbed gently into the body through the respiratory system. The aroma can prompt the nervous system to transmit signals to the limbic system in the brain – the same part of the brain that houses emotion and memory. The brain may respond by initiating various physiological functions, such as a release of hormones, relief from pain, or a positive boost in mood.
A few drops of a favorite essential oil can be added to a tissue or a handkerchief. The cloth can then be placed near the nose and the scent of the oil inhaled. There is also a steam inhalation process, where a few drops of the essential oils are added to boiling water. It is the steam from the water which is inhaled for aromatherapy effects. Steam inhalation is often used to treat stuffed up noses and other cold symptoms but can be used for a quick boost of energy or as a relaxing technique.
Many people have begun keeping bottles of essential oils in the pantry to use as a room freshener and cleaning agent. The smells resulting from the oil use in the home can also be effective at boosting moods and other healing benefits relative to the oil being used.
Professional spas offer aromatherapy massage services where essential oils are added to the massage oil. At home, massages can be ramped up by adding a few drops of essential oils to a carrier oil, such as almond or coconut oil. The oil can then be massaged into the skin to promote muscle relaxation, as well as the inhaled benefits of the oil’s scent. Essential oils can also be added to a warm bath for the same effect.
Miscellaneous Use Ideas
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ordinary natural products to make them extraordinary. Products like shampoos, shower gels, lotions, and other health and beauty items get an additional boost with the addition of essential oils.
- Add lavender to lotions or shampoos to help reduce stress
- Diffuse frankincense during meditation to increase focus
- Add a drop or tow of peppermint essential oil to a hot tea
- Add a few drops of lemon oil to a fresh glass of drinking water then add a few more drops of the oil to the dishwasher for a spot-free cleaning
- A few drops of eucalyptus oil to a warm foot bath relax tired feet.
Other ways to use essential oils include:
Home refresher – add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil to a load of laundry or 5 drops of oil onto the vacuum cleaner bag.
Shower cleaner – remove scum and kill mold from bathroom doors and walls using 4 drops of tea tree oil and 4 drops of eucalyptus oil added to a spray bottle of warm water.
Insect repellent – soak cotton balls in a drop or two of lavender, peppermint, or citronella oil and place them around windows and doors to naturally repel pesky insects.
Clean produce – add a few drops of lemon oil to a bowl of fresh water to clean fruits and vegetables.
Detox paint – to get rid of harmful paint fumes, add a few drops each of peppermint and eucalyptus oil to a gallon of paint before use.