Feeling tired, stressed out or anxious? We at Better Living Naturals™ want to introduce you to an alternative to traditional Western medicine and invite you to sniff your way to feeling better today! This information is designed to give you a quick overview of the healing world of aromatherapy. Enjoy!
Essential oils have a long history of use in alternative medicine for the treatment of different medical conditions such as stress, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and many more. For over 5,000 years, aromatherapy has been a trusted practice among cultures all over the world. Natural healers turn to aromatherapy for the many antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of aromatic essential oils. Aromatherapy was used by Egyptian priests and Hippocrates recommended baths for overall well-being and health.
Essential oils are extracted from different plants and trees. In alternative medicine, each plant and tree has certain active or volatile ingredients, and they are linked to certain properties, which can specify its particular health use. For example, lavender essential oil is associated with calming properties. For this reason, it may be used for the treatment of stress in alternative or herbal medicine. More information about research supporting many of the traditional uses of essential oils that can be found at http://nlm.hih.gov.
Human and animal studies have shown that aromatherapy oils can have sedative and stimulant effects, plus positive effects on the immune system and central nervous system. Recently, studies conducted using functional imaging scans have showed that fragrant aromatherapy oils have positive effects on the primitive region in the brain called the limbic system, which helps control both emotional responses and behaviors. Next time your boss is demanding that report, get out your lavender!
Robert Tisserand researched how our sense of smell could be triggered to activate the release of neurochemical hormones (neurohormones). These substances include serotonin, adrenaline, oxytocin and endorphins, and they govern physical functions such as respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. They also play a part in regulating basic emotions such as fear, hunger, sexual desire, and euphoria. In fact we believe all the emotions are associated with the production of neurohormones. Some of them also influence cognitive function. Tisserand called this field of research Psycho-aromatherapy. He discovered that specific types of molecules in essential oils and specific essences acted predictably on all human beings by activating one or several hormone producing glands of the endocrine system.
Type of Emotional Conditions Relieved
Essential Oils Used to Treat Condition
Part of Brain Triggered by Essential Oil
Anxiety with Depression
Menstrual or Menopause Imbalance
Lack of Confidence
Difficulty in Concentrating
How Essential Oils are Used
- Topically– essential oils can be applied directly on your skin, either neat (without diluting) or diluted in a carrier oil.
- Internally– certain high quality essential oils are safe for internal use.
- Aromatically/Inhalation– diffusing essential oils in the air or through aromatherapy jewelry is a great way to get the benefits of essential oils. Click here to see our Sniff and Go Collection aromatherapy jewelry.
What to Look for in Essential Oils
When it comes to using essential oils, get the highest quality you can afford. While some companies produce essential oils that are pure enough to be used internally, many essential oils have been diluted with a carrier oil or the plants and trees they are derived from were grown using pesticides, which creates a product you don’t want to take internally (essential oils are very concentrated). Also there are no industry quality standards and many companies utilize multi-level marketing to sell their products. In fact, an essential oil only has to contain 10% of the oil to be considered 100% pure. According to Burﬁeld and Kirkham (2006-07), “many aromatherapists have unfortunately become unwitting victims of a marketing ploy by essential oil traders that advertise “approved” essential oils of ʻtherapeutic gradeʼ. Let us be quite clear on this – there is no such thing as a ʻtherapeutic gradeʼ essential oil, and no quality standards for the authentication of essential oils speciﬁcally exist in aromatherapy”.
Look for companies that are certified organic or grow their plants without using pesticides. Click here to see Better Living Naturals essential oils. Use your nose! Look for oils that are tested for purity before they’re sold. You want oils that are as pure as possible, without any additives like carrier oils. Consider aspects of the oil such as Latin name (exact genus and species), country of origin, part of plant processed, type of extraction (distillation or expression), how it was grown (organic, wild-crafted, traditional) and chemotype (when relevant). Common essential oil tests include:
- Mass Spectometry– ionizes chemical compounds to generate charged molecules and measure their mass-to-charge ratio.
- Gas Chromatography– separates the different compounds to test for purity.
- Sensory evaluation – oils are tested/evaluated to ensure color, odor and clarity are within the company’s standards.
A carrier oil is an oil that is used as a base to dilute essential oils before they are applied to the skin. Common carrier oils include argan oil, coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil and jojoba oil. Diluting essential oils is ideal when they’re being used on children, pregnant women and elderly people or with particularly strong oils like oregano.
Essential oils should be stored in a dark colored glass such as dark amber, cobalt blue or green to protect the oil from the sun’s UV rays. Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark space away from children and any cooking appliances or flames such as candles. Essential oils and vegetable oils don’t like extreme or repeated changes in temperatures. Carrier and citrus oils can be stored in the refrigerator between 41˚F and 50˚F. Oils stored in the refrigerator can be taken out 12 hours prior to using to allow the oil to come to room temperature.
The recommended dilution rate for general purposes is 2% – 3% for adults and 1% for children, pregnant women and elderly people. Do a skin test before using essential oils topically. In case of skin irritation, stop using the oil. If you’re using it neat, try diluting it before using it again. Keep essential oils out of your eyes. Essential oils that may cause skin irritation are listed below and should be diluted:
|Essential Oils That Should be Diluted|
The percentage of dilution of essential oils will also depend on the age of the person, the essential oil that is diluted, health issues, skin sensitivity and length of use. Drop size may vary with essential oil and the type of dropper. The following chart outlines dilution conversion ratios.
|Amount of Carrier Oil||Drops of Essential Oil for Dilution Ratio|
For example, if you want to dilute 15 mL of lavender 1%, add 5 drops of the lavender to the carrier oil. Below is a Conversion Chart showing metric to US conversions of mL to drops to ounces, teaspoons and/or tablespoons.
|Metric||# of Drops||U.S. Measurement|
|1 mL||30||¼ teaspoon|
|5 mL||150||1 teaspoon|
|15 mL||450||½ ounce = 1 tablespoon|
|30 mL||900||1 ounce = 2 tablespoons|
Using Essential Oils on Children
Some essential oils can be toxic to children if taken in large doses (like Wintergreen) or small doses internally (like Melaleuca). It’s important to treat essential oils like medication and keep them out of reach of children and to teach them about the proper use of essentials oils. To use on children dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil or in the bath. The essential oils can be applied to the bottoms of their feet because the oils still enter the bloodstream quickly, but the tough skin on the bottoms of their feet isn’t as prone to irritation like other areas of the body may be.
Using Essential Oils during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Pregnancy is a special time that requires more caution with any remedy. Here are some extra precautions for essential oil use during pregnancy.
- Take extra caution during the first trimester – The first three months, even the first three weeks, is time of rapid development for your baby. Herbs, foods and essential oils considered safe for pregnancy should be used with caution during this time. Consult your physician prior to using essential oils during pregnancy.
- Rather than applying an oil directly to your body, dilute it first in a carrier oil. You can then apply it to the problem area. Or, you can also apply oils to the bottoms of your feet.
- Use aromatherapy – diffusing oils aromatically is a safe way to use essential oils during pregnancy. Most concern is with the topical and internal use of essential oils.
- During pregnancy you should avoid the following oils:
|Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy|
- Using essential oils during breastfeeding can be done with some extra precautions. The following chart shows which essential oils are safe to use while breastfeeding.
Safe Essential Oils while Breastfeeding
|Clary Sage||Peppermint can reduce milk production. Use sparingly.|
We hope this information has helped you understand the basics of
aromatherapy. We are here to help you find peace and well-being!
Burﬁeld, T. and Kirkham, K. (2006-2007). “The ʻTherapeutic Gradeʼ Essential Oils Disinformation Campaign”. Retrieved on September 30, 2017 from http://www.cropwatch.org/Therapeutic%20Grade%20Essential%20Oils%20corrected.pdf
Shutes, J. “The Quality of Essential Oils” retrieved on September 28, 2017 from http://www.naha.org/assets/uploads/The_Quality_of_Essential_Oils_Journal.pdf
Tisserand, Robert. “Psycho-Aromatherapy Chart” retrieved on September 4, 2017 from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/433471532856742615/
Tisserand, Robert. (May 2017). “Recommended Dilutions for Different Age Groups” retrieved on September 12, 2017 from http://tisserandinstitute.org/learn-more/recommended-dilutions-for-children/
DISCLAIMER: This information was is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional.