Guide To Essential Oils


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Essential oils are distilled from plant extracts and are used in aromatherapy for a variety of reasons, including relaxation, mental clarity, improving mood and relieving stress. Essential oils contain therapeutic properties that can help your mind and body feel better.

Please be aware that certain oils should not be used if pregnant, we found Parents.com very informative about this.

What are the benefits of essential oils?
As an alternative to certain over the counter medications, essential oils are often used to help relieve certain symptoms. They can be used in different ways to help with pain, sickness and respiratory conditions. Why they are used? It is very common to have side effects to certain types of medication, as essential oils are not digested and can be diluted they have a reduced chance of having side affects. 

A few of the benefits include:
1. Reduced stress
2. Improve mood
3. Sleeping better
4. Relieve headaches
5. Soothe sore muscles
6. Improve concentration 
7. Reduce anxiety and depression

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are derived from plants, they are highly concentrated with the benefits of the particular part of the plant. Lavender oil for example is extracted from the flower of the lavender plant, this is then concentrated to absorb the beneficial compounds that the lavender plant contains. This gives us the benefits of Lavender oil in a pure form that we can then apply or dilute as needed. 
 
The use of medicinal plants has been estimated to have been used since 3500 BC by many different cultures all over the world, they was also used as perfumes as well due to the unique aromas. In 1910 a French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse had found that distilled Lavender oil helped the burn on his hand heal very quickly and was amazed. He even went on to help soldiers in WW1 using a variety of essential oils that contained anti-septic properties.
 
The idea of using essential oils have become more popular in todays world as many people are looking for more of a natural solution to their problems. Check out our post talking about some of the Benefits of Aromatherapy.
Essential oils are used for a wide variety of reasons such as helping skin conditions to making perfume. As most oils are sold in a pure highly concentrated form, they can have an overpowering aroma and may need to be diluted. Ylang Ylang oil has many benefits but using too much can overwhelm the senses and may even trigger a headache. Most people use it in a oil burner and would use a drop or two while the rest of the oil burner would be full of water.
 
When looking into aromatherapy, many people consult with aromatherapists who specialise in their knowledge of oils and their benefits. 

How do they Work?

Essential oils can be used a variety of ways and combinations, they are usually inhaled or diluted and applied to the skin depending on which oils you are using and what you are trying to achieve.

When inhaled they travel through your smell receptors to the brain and can have an effect on the amygdala, this is how oils can be used to impact your mood and how you feel.

The essential oils can have an impact on stress, anxiety, depression, blood pressure and heart rate to name a few. When used as part to target certain symptoms they can be combined to make them even more effective. 

The great thing about essential oils is that there is so many of them with each having its own aroma, but a lot of them share the same properties like Lavender and Chamomile. This means if you don't like a particular scent, you can more than likely find one that shares the same properties you are looking for, such as trying to relax.

How to Use Them

Essential oils can be used in a wide variety of ways and even mixed together. If you are looking to mix them just be aware of the strength of pure essential oil and to compensate for using more than one. An example would be putting two drops of an essential oil into a oil burner would still be two drops if using two oils, you wouldn't want to add two drops of each or it wouldn't be diluted enough.

Oil Burners

Oil burners are used with water and a few drops of essential oils. They work on the principle of heating up the diluted oil into vapour that spreads around your home. This is the most common way oils are used due to how easy it is. There are two main types of burners, tea light oil burners and electric oil burners. 
Tea light oil burners uses a tea light candle at the bottom to heat up the bowl above it, this slowly heats the oil until it starts to steam into a vapour. With tea light oil burners you will of course be spending money on tea lights, depending on your size of your oil burner, one tea light candle normally is enough to steam the bowls contents in one sitting.
Quick tip, if you fill the bowl with hot water it'll heat up a lot quicker and to get the aroma released in the air in half the time.

Electric oil burners are deemed safer as you do not need to have an open flame around the house, this would be a better choice if you have children or pets that may be at risk. Electric oil burners usually maintain the same temperature and release the aroma at a more consistent rate, they normally use little actual energy in case your worried about your electric bill.
Oil Diffusers
Oil diffusers work differently to oil burners as they do not heat the oil up, rather they disperse diluted oils into the air directly without turning it into a vapour. There are two types of oil diffusers, reed diffusers and electric diffusers

Reed oil diffusers are usually made with a single or a blend essential oils. They are usually in a glass or plastic container and has reeds sticking of the top, the reeds absorb the oil and raise it to the top where it releases the aroma in a very subtle way. Reed oil diffusers are usually used as a more natural way to add a pleasant aroma to your home, due to this they tend to be sold with more of the floral scents of the essential oil range.

Electric oil diffusers create a mist that is sprayed gently into the air. Unlike the reed diffuser you can set the strength as you apply the oil into the water tank to create your own dilution, you can even mix oils that complement one another. Electric oil diffuser work immediately as they use kinetic energy rather than heating, the energy creates a water vapour that contain the oils.

Diluted with base oils
Base oils are other known as carrier oils as they are often blended with essential oils, they are thicker than essential oils and are easily absorbed by the skin. Most of them don't have any smell so they mix with the aroma of the essential oil well. Each base oil has its own properties that can be used to help with muscle aches or skin conditions and when mixed with an oil that has the same benefits, it becomes even more effective.
It is worth noting before applying to your skin to do a patch test just in case you have reaction. It is rare, but it better to be safe when applying anything to the skin.

Using base oils can be a bit difficult as you have to mix oils and get the right measurements, it can also be a bit messy when starting out. If you have a passion for aromatherapy then it is worth looking into working with base oils. Some people even make their own blends for a more natural moisturiser and hair conditioner if they have allergic reactions to the chemicals found in certain products.

Applied to the bath
Essential oils can be applied directly to your bath, but same as with the base oils, please make sure you are not allergic to the essential oil by doing a patch test. When applied to the bath the essential oil will be diluted and will come into contact with the skin and the heat will release the aroma in a vapour. Due to this some people believe this is the most effective way to use an essential oil.
Many essential oils are good for the skin such as Lemongrass which has anti-microbial properties to help fight against spots but also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory effects. Lemongrass is also used to help reduce anxiety and stress, which makes it a good choice if your deciding which oil to use.

You only need to apply a few drops, please be aware that when applied to the bath oils can make it more slippery than normal.

The Different Types of Essential Oils

There are many different types of essential oils, they have categorised in eight types.

1.Floral
2. Minty
3. Spicy
4. Citrus
5. Musky
6. Woody
7. Herbaceous
8. Camphoraceous  


This can be used when trying to asses which oils might compliment each other if you wish to mix them. Even if they are part of the same group does not mean they will blend well together, some oils have a stronger aroma and one may over power the other. If you want to find out more about this then click on the following link about the Different Types of Essential Oils

Conclusion

Essential oils are a great way to relieve many aches and pains as well as help with various other symptoms of many illnesses. They are not for everyone, while others will them all the time. It is important that if you do wish to use essential oils then find what properties you are looking for such as helping with anxiety, and looking at your delivery method, will it be a oil burner or diffuser? Like most things in life, it is worth doing your research to fully maximise the benefits from using essential oils.

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