Essential Oils are the foundation of Aromatherapy. But don't forget aromatherapy also includes carrier oils, synergy blends, hydrosols, and infused oils. The information is vast and can quickly become overwhelming.
The aromas from Essential Oils can ignite emotions and feelings like nothing else. In fact, the scent is typically what comes to mind first. The scent of Lavender can relax you. Sweet Orange can brighten your day. There is a strong connection with the sense of smell and your emotional and physical well-being.
Essential Oils are complicated wonders of nature. They are volatile, medicinal, and extremely concentrated. Read the safety and reference information so that you are prepared to use them efficiently and safely. Enjoy!
4 Quick Tips for Beginners
Start slowly - Pick one essential oil that you like. Not sure which one? Try Lavender. Lavender is the most popular essential oil. Both men and women tend to like the scent and it is a very versatile essential oil. You can't go wrong here. Don't forget to buy a carrier oil to go with it. Sweet Almond or Grapeseed are both good choices for beginners.
Do some research on the web - Buy some books if you are so inclined. Get familiar with the oil you choose. Learn which properties it has that you want to benefit from.
Try a simple recipe - If you bought an EO because you like the scent, add it to a diffuser or an oil burner. The aroma will fill up a room. See how it makes you feel. OR in a spray bottle add 20 drops of your EO to 1 oz distilled water. Shake gently. Use as a room or linen spray. These are 2 very easy things to familiarize yourself with the essential oil.
If you bought your EO to treat a particular physical issue, muscle pain for example, try this very simple recipe. Add 1 drop of your EO to a 1/2 teaspoon of carrier oil. Massage into the area. That's it.
Try out another oil - Once you decide that you like this essential oil, don't be afraid to check out some other ones. Enjoy the journey!
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils and carrier oils for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It has been found that aromatherapy is effective and beneficial when used correctly.
Aromatherapy can also include herbs, clays, butters, and other natural ingredients. All of these greatly compliment each other and work hard to keep you healthy.
Many people are now looking to natural products to help promote a healthier and more natural lifestyle. Just remember, Aromatherapy is not a quick acting solution. It takes time for natural methods to work. Be patient and enjoy the journey. The end results are usually well worth the wait.
Something I like to recommend is that you find a doctor that also believes in using essential oils alongside conventional medicine to better your health. These doctors do exist. Especially if you are new to Aromatherapy or have a serious illness, please consult your doctor. Let them help you find the best way to blend both worlds so that you benefit the most.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential Oils are the liquids obtained from the scented parts of a plant - usually the flowers, roots, leaves, bark, etc. Although they are called oils, they are not really oily-feeling at all.
A great thing about essential oils is that they do not go bad - ever. But they do evaporate and they do start to oxidize. Because of the oxidization they will begin to lose their therapeutic properties. Store your EOs in a cool dark place out of direct light. They will keep longer this way.
They are typically distilled from steam, although the citrus oils are cold pressed to obtain the oil from the peel and absolutes are solvent extracted, usually with alcohol.
Essential oils should never be used directly on the skin, also called "neat". This can cause irreparable damage to your skin.
You may also like to consider carrier oils as an alternative, or better yet, in addition to essential oils. They compliment each other greatly and you need a carrier oil anyway if you want to use essential oils on the skin. Have the best of both!
What are Carrier Oils?
Carrier Oils are oils extracted from the fatty parts of a plant, such as the seeds, nuts, kernels, etc. This is why most of them have an "oily" type scent. Essential oils get all the glory because they are extracted from the scented parts of the plant.
Another difference between COs and EOs are that carrier oils do go rancid - they go bad after a time. Usually between 1 and 2 years. Be sure to keep them in a cool, dark place out of direct light. Some need to be refrigerated and others don't. The brand you buy should specify this.
Carrier oils are many of the same benefits that essential oils do. And they are quite safe to use all on their own. They are used for anti-aging products, hair and skin care and many carrier oils offer internal benefits as well.
There are many nutrients and essential fatty acids in carrier oils. While carrier oils are finally being recognized for how useful they are in personal care, we still have a long way to go. I truly hope you become as passionate as I am about using these amazing oils and enjoy all the benefits they have to offer.
What are Absolutes?
Sometimes the steam distilling doesn't work for a particular plant or the method will harm the plant. This is when the solvent extraction method is used instead. The product resulting from this method is called an Absolute.
Absolutes are like essential oils and are usually put in the same category for the sake of simplicity. It's just that the extraction method is different and is much more complicated. This is also why Absolutes tend to be extremely expensive.
Absolutes are even more concentrated than essential oils because of the solvent extraction method that is used. Alcohol is the solvent most commonly used. And while it is removed after the absolute is extracted, there is always the possibility that a very minute amount has remained in the oil. This is one reason why you don't ingest Absolutes. It is much safer not to.
What are Synergy Blends?
Synergy Blends are pure essential oils that are blended together in order to create an effect that a single essential oil cannot achieve on its own.
When EOs are blended in the proper proportions, these synergistic blends are quite particular and powerful. The effects that are achieved are greatly increased.
This is why when using a blend that is specifically created for a particular ailment, it works so much better than the singular oils can - even if you used all of them. They need to be blended in the proper proportions in order to function at their highest level. They compliment each other in just the right way.
Our Synergy Blends are created with only the 100% pure therapeutic quality essential oils that we sell. There is nothing unnatural added, and no bases, additives, or synthetics.
What are Infused Oils?
Infused oils are a fantastic combination of carrier oils and herbs. You add herbs to a carrier oil -and you get the therapeutic properties of both the oil and the herb.
Some plants cannot be extracted for their essential oils and these plants are often used instead in infused oils so that you can still get the therapeutic value. Calendula is a prime example of this as the herb is a very popular one for infusion.
What are Hydrosols?
When an essential oil is steam distilled, the water that is left is called the hydrosol, aka Floral Water. It's essentially a by-product, but in a good way. In fact, some plants are specifically processed for their floral waters - rose water is probably the most well-known.
Hydrosols are very gentle and need no diluting. They are water based products with an infusion of the plant. Instead of using water for your body products, floral waters make an excellent substitute.
What are Fragrance Oils?
Fragrance Oils are not a natural product. They are synthetic fragrances man-made in a lab. They have no place in aromatherapy or in natural product creation. In fact, they can be very harmful if you use them for Aromatherapy.
Fragrance oils are created for scents like baby powder or pumpkin pie. I used to love the scents of fragrance oils, but once I started using all essential oils for everything in my life, I no longer like the aromas. They now smell too fake to me.
Fragrance oils do have their place if you are not concerned with creating an all natural product. For example, they are used to scent soaps and shampoos, body washes and even laundry detergent. They are also extremely popular for use in scenting your home in oil burners or wall plug-ins.
You don't have to shy away from fragrance oils, but do not ever use them in Aromatherapy. Treat them for what they are - pleasant scents, not therapeutic products.
Let's explore a few of the most common ways to enjoy Aromatherapy.
Applying to the Skin - When you apply essential oils to the skin, they are absorbed into the bloodstream. The body will receive the therapeutic benefits this way and it can help with many physical ailments. Acne, wrinkles, arthritis, muscle pain, chest congestion - the list goes on and on.
*Remember to never put undiluted EOs directly on the skin. Always dilute with a carrier oil first and never more than a 3% dilution.
Inhaling the Aroma - Sometimes all you need is a little whiff of an EO to reap the benefits. When you inhale the aroma of an essential oil, it stimulates the brain and the lungs. You can inhale the aroma straight from the bottle, add to a diffuser, humidifier, or oil burner.
Personal Care Products - Go to the store and look at body care products. These days you will find many companies are now incorporating essential oils and carrier oils into their products. This is great. However, there are still tons of other ingredients in the products that are not natural and are not so great.
So why not make your own? I make my own face wash, body wash, hair rinse, toners, moisturizers, shampoo, etc. The only thing I still buy is conditioner. I have yet to find a great natural conditioner for my hair. But I'm working on it! And once I perfect a formula, you'll be the first to know.
When you make your own personal care products, you have all the control. No more sulfates, no more harsh chemicals that scratch your face. It's awesome. I love doing it and my family is starting to love it too.
Essential oils offer wonderful skin care properties. There are oils that reduce the appearance of scarring, wrinkles, aging, and inflammation. It's such a nice change. And it's healthier.
Household Products - This is my favorite way to use essential oils. I make just about every one of our household cleaning products. Laundry detergent, dish detergent, carpet freshener, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, etc. I have a few ingredients that I use and add EOs for the scent and added therapeutic properties. Many essential oils are antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic. You aren't just getting a lovely scent, you are also getting natural cleaning remedies that are much safer for you family. Cheaper too!
Essential Oil Notes
Essential Oil Notes are most important when you are blending your own synergies. Using the note classifications is one of the easiest, safest, and most common way to create your own Synergy Blends.
So what are the notes? Notes are the types of scents of essential oils. There are 3 types:
- Top Notes
- Middle Notes
- Base Notes
Let's take a look at each one.
Top Notes are the scents you first smell in a blend. The aromas are lighter and fresher than other notes. Top notes evaporate quickly. Common top notes are Tea Tree, Basil, Eucalyptus, and the Citrus oils. You add these to your blend last.
Middle Notes are the balance, or heart, of the blend. It is usually what the blend is built around. They tend to be floral, spicy, green, and fruity scents. The middle notes also help to cover up more unpleasant base note aromas. While top notes evaporate quickly, middle notes last 2-4 hours. Being in the middle, they bring the top and base notes together to create just the right synergy blend. Common middle notes are Lavender, Rosemary, Chamomile, and Cinnamon. Middle notes are added 2nd in a blend.
Base Notes are the foundation of a blend. They hold the blend together and last the longest. The aromas last the longest, up to 72 hours when applied topically. Base notes are often from roots, gums, and resins. Patchouli, Frankincense, Cedarwood, and Jasmine are all base notes. Base notes should be the first oil(s) added to the blend.
Essential Oil Storage
Follow these tips and you should have no issues with your oils.
Store your essential oils and carrier oils in a cool, dark place. Refrigeration is best for essential oils. Carrier oils vary with their needs. Some need refrigeration and some should not be refrigerated. Refer to your product label regarding storage for each individual carrier oil.
Do not keep your oils in an area where the temperature often changes.
Essential Oil Extraction Methods
Steam Distilled – Many plants may decompose if extracted using high temperature forms of extraction. The steam heats the plant material in such a way that the oil does not lose its therapeutic properties.
Solvent Extraction - This is reserved for plants that are extremely sensitive such as rose or jasmine. Alcohol is used for most solvent extractions.
Cold Pressed – Citrus Oils are extracted with minimal heat that is kept low enough so as not to disturb its therapeutic properties. Temperatures do not exceed 90° F.
Carrier Oil Extraction Methods
Cold Pressed - Oils are extracted with minimal heat that is kept low enough so as not to disturb its therapeutic properties. Temperatures do not exceed 90° F. This is the preferred method, but is not practical for all oils.
Expeller Pressed - This is a natural and practical method of oil extraction for many carrier oils. There is still a limited amount of heat used and is typically between 120°-200° F. This is acceptable for cosmetic use because this form of extraction has left the oil only slightly disturbed and it still retains most of its therapeutic properties.
Carrier Oil Refinement Process
Refined – Oils that are refined have been extracted using any number of refining methods. These include winterization, deodorization, and bleaching. Temperatures can get as high as 450° F and as low as -30° F. Refined oils are still wonderful for cosmetic uses because they still hold most of their therapeutic benefits, but are not food grade oils and are not recommended for ingestion. Some oils must be refined because they may not otherwise be stable for use.
Partially Refined – Carrier oils that are partially refined tend to be oils that go rancid quickly or need a heavy odor or color removed. The partial refinement helps to stabilize the oil and lets it keep more of its therapeutic properties than fully refined oils. Partial refining uses the same methods mentioned above regarding fully refined fixed oils.
Unrefined – Oils that are unrefined have not been touched at all. They are either cold pressed or expeller pressed and nothing else is done to them. Only oils that are safe in their unrefined form are left in this natural state. Unrefined oils are typically the most sought-after and most expensive. They keep their strong flavors, scents and colors. They are always darker in color and richer in scent.
Essential Oil Safety
Many people get the impression that because it comes from nature it must be safe. This is completely wrong, so please educate yourself first.
Always. read the warning label on all oils
Keep the lids on tight so they don't leak.
Keep essential oils and carrier oils out of reach of children and pets.
Do not purchase essential oils that come in plastic bottles or have rubber dropper lids. True essential oils will eat through the plastic or rubber and ruin your oil.
Essential Oils can remove the finish from wood. Be careful!
Always dilute essential oils before using on your skin. I can't stress enough how important this is. Why? Because essential oils are highly concentrated substances. They can burn your skin or cause sensitization. If sensitization occurs, it is likely that you will never be able to use that essential oil ever again. Essentially, you become allergic to that oil. It may itch or leave a rash on your skin that may or may not ever go away.
This can happen with any essential oil - even supposedly safe ones like Lavender and Tea Tree. The added bonus of diluting your essential oil with a carrier oil is that you not only get the therapeutic benefits of the essential oil, but the carrier oil benefits as well. It's definitely a win-win.
A practice called Raindrop Therapy (RDT) is being used by some practitioners. The essential oils are administered to the skin without diluting. The therapists that practice this dangerous method say the pain and burning that happens is the body releasing toxins. This is not the case and this is extremely dangerous. Don't let this happen to you! The NAHA (The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) does not support this practice.
We recommend a 2-3% dilution for essential oils for adults and only a 1% dilution for children.
Do not ingest essential oils without working with a Certified Aromatherapist. Consuming an essential oil may offer many internal benefits. However, because of their concentrated nature, they are dangerous. There have been cases where people have died from ingesting too much essential oil or ingesting the wrong one. There are several that you should never, ever ingest no matter what and you need to use extreme caution with all the others.
Our essential oils are always labeled "For external use only". This is for your safety.
If you want to ingest oils, please work with a professional. Don't get info from the internet and think it's safe. It's not.
Buy Quality Essential Oils. There are a lot of companies out there selling essential oils. And most of us mean well. But there are some that want to take advantage of the gaining popularity of going natural. And these are the companies to watch out for because they put out an inferior product - often adulterated or cut with chemicals or other essential oils.
You should be buying only 100% pure essential oils with no fillers or additives. There should be nothing synthetic and they should certainly not be adulterated in any way.
The essential oil marketplace is volatile, meaning prices fluctuate regularly. Some oils are extremely expensive and some are very inexpensive. Most reputable companies change their prices according to the market. And most legit companies are pretty comparable in their prices.
If a company is way out of the spectrum - too expensive or too cheap - there is something wrong there and you should proceed with caution. Do your research. Buy quality oils from companies you trust.
Ignore the terms "Therapeutic Grade" or "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade." These mean absolutely nothing when it comes to essential oils. By their very definition, pure essential oils are therapeutic grade because they offer therapeutic benefits.
An essential oil MLM company trademarked the phrase, "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" in reference to their essential oils. It has given the impression that their oils are certified and other companies are not.
Simply put, this just isn't true. Neither the FDA nor the government gives any such designation to essential oils. This company trademarked this phrase and it has brought about many other companies using the term "therapeutic grade" essential oils to show that their oils are also high quality.
There is no such thing as therapeutic grade essential oils. So when searching for essential oils, ignore this term. There is no grading for essential oils in that sense. Buy quality oils from companies you like and trust. If you do that, you should be fine.
Experiment! The beauty of being human is that we are all different, we do things differently, we think differently, and we react to essential oils differently. What works for one person may not work for the next. The only way to know what works for you is to research and experiment with essential oils. Check out the oil properties and check out different recipes. The only way to get comfortable is to use them and enjoy them. You can start small with a very safe essential oil like Lavender or jump in and get an entire set to play with. I can write a thousand articles about how great essential oils are, but if you never use them, you will never find out how great they are for you.
Essential Oils and Pregnancy
This is always a tough one. When you are pregnant there are so many things you can and cannot do. So where do you draw the line?
As you know, when you are pregnant, your baby is being nourished from your body. So everything you use or take, the baby is doing so as well. Essential Oils offer so many benefits when you are pregnant. But there may be some drawbacks. Because your baby is feeling everything you are feeling and is feeding from you, you absolutely have to be careful with what essential oil you use and how much you use.
To be on the safe side I recommend that you do not use EOs when pregnant or nursing. Your body is already going through some serious changes when you are pregnant. If you regularly use essential oils, you will be severely limited by the ones you can use when you are pregnant. If you don't typically use essential oils, you will need to tread very lightly with the ones you do use.
I always err on the side of caution which is why I say don't use essential oils when pregnant. However, if you are adamant, then work with a Certified Aromatherapist that is knowledgeable with Pregnancy and Essential Oils. You should also consult with your doctor to be safe.
That being said, there are some essential oils you should definitely stay away from when you are pregnant. The following oils are abortifacient, which means they can induce heavy bleeding and are not safe for pregnant women.
Alternatively, consider using carrier oils instead of essential oils while you are expecting. Most of them are safe during pregnancy and they offer many therapeutic benefits just as essential oils do.
If you are sure you would like to explore essential oils during pregnancy, please read this book by Judy Godec: Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, & Pregnancy: A Guide for the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Trimesters
Essential Oils for Children
The little ones like essential oils too! Mine enjoys being involved in using them as well. However, little humans don't need nearly the amount of essential oils we need.
The following oils are usually considered safe for children. However, I strongly suggest you do your own research. Use no more than a 1% dilution for kids!
If you would like to delve further into the world of children and essential oils, I highly recommend the book by Valerie Ann Worwood, Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child.
The Importance of the Skin Patch Test
When using any new oil it is important to test your reaction first. This is even more important if you have sensitive skin. It's quick and easy and worth the trouble.
First, test the carrier oil you are going to use to dilute the essential oil.
Take a drop of the carrier oil and rub it on the inside of the wrist or elbow. Wait 24 hours to see if any redness, itchiness, or bumpiness occurs. If not, that carrier oil is safe for you to use.
Once you have established the carrier oil is safe, place 1 drop of the Essential oil in that carrier oil and then rub it on the inside of the wrist or elbow. Once again, wait 24 hours to see if any redness, itchiness or bumps occur. If not, congrats! That EO is ready for you to use.
Nice and simple, huh? Don't disregard this advice thinking it doesn't matter. It does.
Phototoxic Essential Oils
Phototoxic (aka: photosensitive) oils are essential oils that cause a reaction with sunlight and UV rays. They are extra sensitive to light. This causes a negative reaction to the skin if you apply an oil and go out in the sun. Even when diluted, it may cause a severe skin reaction that can be permanent. Stay out of the sunlight for 24 hours after applying these oils.
The side effects are:
- Swelling of the area
- Sunburn - often severe and quite painful
The photosensitive essential oils are:
|Blood Orange||Lemon||Sweet Orange|
A note about Bergamot - The bergaptene content that causes photosensitivity is sometimes removed from Bergamot Essential Oil. If you purchase this type of Bergamot, then it is no longer phototoxic and should be safe to go out into the sunlight.
Our brand of Bergamot is bergaptene free.
Banned Essential Oils
For various reasons, these essential oils are banned by the International Fragrance Assocation. They are generally considered the most hazardous and should never be used in Aromatherapy. They have been shown to contain carcinogens or cause severe irritation or sensitization.
|Cade Oil Crude||Costus Root||Elecampane||Fig Leaf Absolute|
|Peru Balsam-Non Distilled||Pennyroyal||Rue||Sassafras|
|Savin||Southernwood||Stinging Nettle||Stryax Gum|
The following are not banned oils, but need to be used with extreme caution:
- Bitter Almond - contains Cyanide
- Boldo - Cause convulsions
- Camphor - is usually fine for inhaling, but can be toxic if ingested
- Cassia - irritates the mucus membrane; can also cause severe skin rashes
- Tansy - contains high levels of thujone - a poison; causes convulsions, uterine bleeding, organ failure, respiratory arrest, and death
- Thuja - abortifacient, poison, neurotoxin
As you can see, essential oils can be dangerous. Please use good judgement and if you aren't sure talk to your doctor and / or a Certified Aromatherapist.