Introduction:

Aromatherapy is the use of organic compounds called essential oils to improve a person’s mood, mental state, or health. The oils are extracted from various plant parts, such as roots, seeds, leaves, and blossoms, and can be blended together. Treatment involves diffusing oil into the air, dissolving it in a bath, or applying it during a massage, among other techniques.

Methods of aromatherapy include: Diffusion, Room Sprays, Massage (which holds the additional benefit of relieving muscle tension), Perfume or Fragrance Oils i.e. essential oils which have been blended with a carrier so that they can be worn  directly on the skin  and assorted Baths and Skin and Hair products

Researchers aren’t sure exactly  how aromatherapy works, but most believe that chemicals in essential oils trigger smell receptors in the nose that are connected to areas of the brain. For people with depression, certain oils are even believed to bring about a sense of calm or to elevate mood.  Aromatherapy is best when incorporated with other alternative therapies, such as massage or meditation, according to Dr. Mason Turner, Chief of Psychiatry, Kaiser Permanente San Francisco.

Bright, stimulating scents such as Mints, Eucalyptus and Citruses are uplifting and help clear the mind so they are particularly good  to use while studying or when in need of focus. When incorporated into bath and body products, they are excellent additions for morning showers. Rosemary is held to stimulate memory, so when combined with one or more of these, is also a beneficial addition.

Scents associated with baked goods, such as Clove, Vanilla, Cinnamon and Nutmeg can elicit a conditioned comfort response and stimulate fond memories. An old trick to help elicit the sale of a home is to simmer a blend of these warm kitchen scents while showing the house to prospective buyers. People also tend to respond better to those wearing such blends, the person wearing them is perceived as being friendlier and more open, again because of triggered comfort response to the smell of baked treats.

When combined with “exotics” such as Patchouli, Musk or Sandalwood, Vanilla  turns warm and sensual and such combinations are used when a more romantic mood is desired.

Lavender and Chamomile are standbys for soothing and calming the nerves and helping to relieve stress. They are also used to help promote a restful night’s sleep and can be good when bouts of insomnia occur.

Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Clary sage, Basil, Bergamot, Rose, Geranium, and Neroli are also considered to be mood elevating and are used to help lighten the spirits and relive the blues.

Precautions:

When using essential oils and essential oil products it is important to remember that many of them areextremely potent in their native form and should never be used directly on the skin. Doing so can lead to rashes, burning, and photosensitivity among other side effect.

Two notable exceptions are Lavender and Chamomile both of which are very gentle and can be worn directly with no ill effect. Their gentle natures along with their soothing and healing properties are  why these two oils are so commonly found in products used for babies.

Some oils should be avoided if one has high blood pressure or while pregnant such as Rosemary, which contains a chemical raises the blood pressure and stimulates the uterus.  There is a basic list of precautions available on our website, which contains more specific information. You can view it Here

I’ve seen it suggested that Peppermint oil be used to help get rid of fleas on cats which is a very bad practice. Cats’ livers do not function the same way as a human’s and they are very sensitive to essential oils being unable to rid their bodies of certain compounds efficiently. As a result the cat’s natural grooming, the oil gets ingested and can reach toxicity in their bodies and make them quite ill over time. Peppermint oil is effective in repelling fleas, however cat owners should use a Peppermint Hydrosol instead, which is considerably milder and does not contain the elements found in the oil of the plant that can make you cat ill.

Another somewhat alarming suggestion is that of using Orange oil on a wash cloth and adding it to the laundry before putting it in the dryer to help freshen clothes. Citrus oils of all types do smell lovely and they do have the ability to freshen, however please keep in mind that citrus oils are reactive and have a very low flash point meaning they can combust given enough heat.  If you wish to employ this method, consider using a non reactive with a high flash point, such as Lavender instead.

Summary:

While nature does provide us with many gifts, including the means to heal, balance and help ourselves, one should treat essential oils with respect, keeping in mind that not only can they affect our mood, many of them do have properties which can have a direct and physical effect on the body…just because something is natural, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is “harmless”. In keeping when purchasing essential oils, we encourage you to do your research and understand not only the properties but also the proper usage of the oil or oils you are planning to buy.

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