Aromatherapy is a popular branch of alternative medicine. Treatment involves the use of fragrant essential oils extracted from plants to relieve tension and cure minor ailments. They can be applied to the skin or inhaled.
Essential oils produce a pleasing, natural aroma which can have a positive psychological effect. Each oil contains the true essence of the plant it was derived from and is highly concentrated. They are usually sold for individual use in very small bottles. To avoid deterioration these should be stored in a cool, dry place.
Perfume or fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils. They contain unnatural chemicals and do not provide the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
Oils that are applied to the skin are in time absorbed into the bloodstream. In their concentrated form, essential oils are very powerful and should NEVER be applied to the skin undiluted. Rather, they should always be diluted with a carrier oil such as:
- Sweet almond oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Grapeseed oil
On some people, certain oils can cause an allergic reaction. So, when using a new oil for the first time, administer a little amount only onto a small area of skin. Then wait 24 hours to see if there is any form of reaction.
Inhaling essential oils is believed to offer both psychological and physical benefits. The aroma stimulates the brain to trigger a positive effect, while the natural components of the essential oil are drawn into the lungs to provide physical benefits.
Some essential oils can act as a natural repellent and pesticide. One example is citronella which, when used in candles, produces a vapour which will keep mosquitoes at bay.
WHEN TO AVOID ESSENTIAL OILS
- During pregnancy
- If suffering from asthma or epilepsy
Treat these products as you would medicines, ie keep them in a safe place and NEVER let children use essential oils unsupervised.