Aromatherapy oils have become part of our daily lives as many people use them for a variety of things from mouth washes, douches and oil burners to medicines and skincare. We don’t even realise that essential oils are often included in familiar products. For instance, many burn creams contain lavender and many anti-bug products include citronella. Whether we are aware of this or not, essential oils have made a great impact on our lives and will continue to do so for centuries.
Why are essential oils so effective?
Smell is a very powerful sense and can awaken our oldest memories from times long forgotten. The mind links smell to memories and emotion. That is simply the way the human brain is wired. There is a long scientific explanation for this. If you would like to do further research, this phenomenon is called sensory memory. This research suggests that it is even possible for smell to bring about positive thoughts and experiences or heal buried emotions so that inner development can take place.
Herbology is the research which suggests that plants have different effects on the human body. Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and by extracting the oils, a much more potent and concentrated form of the plant is available. Bach flower remedies are a perfect example of plants being used to heal emotional disturbances, while most other herbal medicines treat physical ailments.
Ease of use. Topical application or inhalation are the most popular methods of using essential oils and both these methods are very easy and have little toxicity for the body as compared to taking medication. Oils are readily absorbed by the skin and make their way into the blood stream within a few minutes.
Caring for essential oils
Keep in mind that essential oils are highly volatile, within a few days they can evaporate if not stored/sealed properly. An amber glass bottle is best for keeping out UV rays which can spoil the oils. They also react with plastic containers, so always keep them in glass and also keep them cool and dry.
Safety with essential oils
Tea tree oil must NEVER be ingested, it is highly toxic and a tea spoon of the oil is enough to kill a person. Never use too much tea tree oil on anything. In this case, less is better.
Aroma oils are also highly toxic to cats and birds, do NOT put the oils near them or burn them in the same room as your animals.
Many oils are phototoxic (react with sunlight on skin and cause pigmentation). A common group of phototoxic oils are the citrus family and even Arnica, just to name a few.
Certain oils can actually aggravate fatigue by sedating a person, for example, Clary sage. Clary sage is a very interesting oil. If combined with alcohol it increases narcotic effects, and also leeches iron out of the body, causing uterine contractions which can result in miscarriage if someone is pregnant.
Certain oils can cause miscarriages via uterine contractions, a few are: cinnamon leaf, german and roman chamomile (1st trimester only), cedarwood and clove.
If you have grass allergies then certain oils must be avoided. An example of this is lemongrass.
I trust this information will assist the reader to make informed choices when it comes to aromatic oils. Always make sure that you are being treated by someone who is qualified in this field.
Battaglia, S. 1995. The complete guide to aromatherapy. The perfect potion, Australia, 467pp.
Gattfosse, R.M. 1993 Gattefosse aromatheray. C.W. Daniel, U.K., 239pp
Lawless, J 1997 The complete illuatrated guide to aromatherapy: a practical approach to essential oils for health and well-being. Element press, U.K. 224pp.