Aromatherapy is very popular today and you hear people everywhere talking about it. What do you need to know in order to explore and use it safely and to its full capacity? Below are a number of questions that need to be answered when you decide to explore the realm of aromatherapy.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils as a complementary health approach. Basically, it is a hands-on approach to help restore balance to the mind, body, and soul.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the fragrances that we smell in nature. They are liquids that are generally distilled or extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a wide range of aromatic or medicinal plants. They are highly concentrated and a little goes a long way.
What is a Carrier Oil?
A carrier oil is derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts. Essential oils are added to these carrier oils in order to properly dilute them for safe use. Some examples of carriers oils are:
- Coconut oil (fractionated, virgin, or refined)
- Olive oil
- Jojoba oil
- Sunflower oil
- Avocado oil
- Sweet Almond oil
How to know if you are buying a good essential oil?
Make sure that you are buying from a reputable source. The labels should always state “100% pure essential oil”, contain both the “botanical” name as well as the common name (ex Citrus x paradisi = Pink Grapefruit or Lavandula angustifolia = True Lavender), the country of origin, and a batch number.
What essential oils would you recommend for a beginner?
My recommendation for a beginner is to start with some of the following essential oils: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis), Lemon (Citrus limonum), Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), and Peppermint (Mentha piperita). I am also partial to Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) and Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) as they are both bright, uplifiting oils.
Where can I get more information about aromatherapy?
Websites: I highly recommend taking a look at the Aromahead blog (https://blog.aromahead.com). Andrea Butje is very well known in the Aromatherapy world and offers a lot of great information on essential oils, their safe use, and shares some great recipes. She also has a YouTube channel where she shows you how to make a number of different items. As well, she recently published “The Heart of Aromatherapy” which is a great introduction to aromatherapy and a number of essential oils.
Facebook: There are a lot of good groups online that will help with questions about essential oils and their uses. However, it should be noted that there is also an awful lot of misinformation out there in cyberspace. To know that you are joining a good group, there should be an Aromatherapist listed as one of the Administrators. They are ultimately there to ensure that improper use of essential oils is not handed out, but know that an Aromatherapist cannot provide medical advice online. A couple of groups that I would recommend if you are exploring essential oils are:
- Safe Essential Oil Recipes
- Essential Oils, Herbs and Homeopathy
Pinterest: I would avoid most of the Essential Oil Blends & Applications that you find on Pinterest. The amount of essential oils recommended in a lot of these blends is well beyond the safe usage rate. As well, a lot of application recommendations are very questionable. Better to be safe than sorry!