Explore the history and science behind Aromatherapy, which uses one of the most powerful of the “five senses” to help you feel scent-sational.
Essential Oils – Beauty and Therapy in One Application
The use of essential oils (EOs) can be traced as far back as 5000 BC. Ancient Egyptians were masters in the documentation and use of essential oils. Religious, spiritual, therapeutic and social purposes were all recognized as important opportunities for their application.
The 20th century saw a renewed interest in essential oils. In Europe today, essential oils are used by both the natural and medical communities due to their anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial prowess. In North America the support for this methodology is primarily practiced in the holistic health industry, however, there are a number of studies in recent years that may encourage the medical community to consider their application.
- Tea Tree Oil prevent cross-infection with Gram-positive and Gram-negative epidemic organisms http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/5/639.full.pdf+html
The primary chemical compounds found in essential oils are: Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes, Alcohols, Phenols, Aldehydes, Keytones Oxides and Esters. Each group contains additional constituents that contribute to the specific therapeutic action of that particular essential oil. For example; Monoterpenes, prominent in citrus, juniper, pine, cedarwood and frankincense, are known to have antiseptic, antibacterial and decongestant qualities. Alcohols, prominent in Neroli, Lavender, Patchouli and Sandalwood, contribute to their antifungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects. Different combinations of these functional groups are found in every EO helping to explain the multiple therapeutic actions in just one single essential oil.
Diffuser’s can spread the scent of Essential Oils
The use of EOs are found through their topical application, which is always used in conjunction with a carrier oil such as almond oil, or through inhalation; using an ultrasonic diffuser to effectively disperse the oil’s vapours.
The inhalation of EOs using an ultrasonic diffuser is very effective as this technology was originally created for the medical community allowing the patient to receive their medication through inhalation. Applying this technology to the use of essential oils is a perfect solution for the passive inhalation of these therapeutic oils. The scent and the chemical constituents are carried to the brain’s limbic system via the olfactory system (sense of smell). The limbic system supports a variety of functions that trigger emotions, behavior, motivation and memory formation. It is recommended that no more than six drops in total (one or more EO) are needed when using a diffuser.
Some caution must be considered when using essential oils topically (includes bath application) as they are extremely concentrated and can irritate the skin if they are not used in conjunction with a carrier oil. In saying this, topical application is considered the safest and most effective method of use. It allows the constituents of the EO to be directly absorbed through the skin, sinuses, blood and lymph, eventually being safely eliminated through the kidneys, liver, and lower GI tract, sweat glands and breath. This process may take from 3-16 hours and the length of time is typically dictated by the health of the individual. Healthier constitutions will allow for a quicker process of elimination.
When considering one application for topical use (creating bath oils too), a 3% solution of essential oil to carrier oil is the strongest dilution recommended, however for spot treatment a 5% solution may be used.
- In 30 ml carrier oil
- 1% solution = 6 drops EO – this dilution is advised when using EOs on children
- 2% solution = 12 drops EO
- 3% solution = 18 drops EO
- 5% solution = 30 drops EO – spot treatment – small amount applied to effected area
Carrier oils are the base component in making your own moisturizing creams as well. The DIY moisturizer starts with choosing the best carrier oils for your skin type and your desired results. Combining several options offers the best results.
- Jojoba oil – all skin types – dry, aging, oily, normal, or acne-prone skin – richest oil
- Apricot kernel oil – all skin types – light and mixes well with heavier carrier oils
- Sweet almond oil – a light oil, exceptional, all-around moisturizer
- Grapeseed oil – rich in protective antioxidants – all skin types – oily, or acne-prone skin
- Avocado oil – rich in nutritives such as vitamin A, D, E and amino acids – dry and aging skin
Adding water, emulsifiers and your favorite essential oil, will all help to create a pure, effective, preservative free moisturizer. The diverse applications of EOs and carrier oils are at your fingertips. Enjoy!
Marva Ward CNP