Aromatherapy is an accidentally discovered therapy. A cosmetic chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosa, burnt his hand during research. In great pain, he put his hand into a nearby container, containing cool lavender oil. The pain lessened and in a couple of days, the burnt hand healed completely without leaving scars. This was the start of aromatherapy.
As its name implies, aromatherapy is carried out using the aroma present is the essential oils of flowers herbs, trees, spices, etc.
The volatile, essential oils required are prepared from natural plant substances. When these oils are used in proper combination, they are more effective than using with single oil only.
The volatile oil is extracted from leaves, buds, flower, bark, roots, seeds, etc of the plant. Some 1300 varieties of the plant – oil is used worldwide in Aromatherapy. Of these, 300 varieties of oil have special effects. India imports 10 varieties of Essential oil – the quantity imported are 8000 tons.
These oils have a lot of applications and fomentation, Massage, Steam bath, oil bath, etc. Aromatherapy includes putting a few drops of scented oil on a kerchief (which could be smelt frequently) or below the pillow while sleeping.
Benefits of Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are anti-virus, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. They reduce swelling and pain. They lessen depression and afford mental peace. Appetite is stimulated and digestive power improves. It removes body odor, bad breath and makes the body smell nicely.
Unlike herbal medicines, these essential oils are administered externally or by inhalation. They are not given internally. The oils enter the body through the pores of the skin. For some type of sicknesses, steam inhalation using the oil is recommended.
Aromatherapy can be used for all age groups. It can be done at home, with simple precautions – which are – the oils must be kept in bottles tightly closed and away from the reach of children and also far from the fire. These oils are highly volatile and inflammable.
Aromatherapy is particularly good for stress-related anxiety disorders, depression, rheumatic pain, muscular pains, digestive disorders, menopause, menstrual problems, Insomnia, etc. It could be administered externally, by inhalation, by application of lotions, creams, shampoos, etc, gargles, douches and compression.
Aromatherapy is a gentle therapy. It can be used for children and the elderly. The oils are excreted through sweat, urine, farces, etc. The mode of excretion varies from oil to oil, For example, sandalwood oil gets out through urine, Geranium oil through perspiration, Garlic oil through exhalation.
Applying Essential Oils
Essential oils are classified into 3 groups based on their rate of evaporation. Most volatile oils are referred to as “Top Notes.” oils of this group are quick to evaporate, fast-acting and stimulating. Examples are lemongrass oil, peppermint oil.
Moderately volatile oils are called “Middle notes”. Oils of this group are lavender, rosemary and cypress. “Base notes” refer to slowly evaporating oil like rose, sandalwood, and tea tree oils.
To get the best benefit out of these oils, the strength of the oil to be used is very important and also its selection for a specific disorder. The essential oils are better to be used in combinations than using a single oil. Use of mixed oils is safe. They must be blended with “Base oil/Carrier oil” for dilution.
Good base oils are gingerly/sesame oil, olive oil, sweet Almond oil, Wheat germ oil, Corn oil, Evening primrose oil, Sunflower oil, etc. Do not blend more than four oils. It is recommended to use only single oil from the “Top Notes” group.
The general rule for blending in aromatherapy is for every 10 ml of Carrier/base oil, use 6 drops of any two to four essential oil.
Use porcelain or china cups for blending. Metal vessels are not to be used. They may react with oils.
Here is a shortlist of which base oil is to be used for a specific disease.
1. Joint pain – Gingerly oil
2. Hair loss – Olive oil
3. Swelling – Corn oil
4. For skin ailments – Wheatgrass oil
5. Menstrual problems – Evening primrose oil
6. Haircare, rheumatism – Olive oil
7. Premature aging of the skin – Wheat germ oil
8. Relieving inflammation – Corn oil.
Regarding Essential oil, Geranium oil reduces tension, depression. Lavender promotes sleep.
The pregnant woman should not use several essential oils. Better avoid aromatherapy or consult Doctor.
How to select Essential oils
1. Do not go by the cost of the oil. Cheaper oils may be adulterated.
2. There should be complete information about the oil – its scientific name, contents, etc on the label of the container of the oil. Look for full labeling.
3. Buy standardized reputed brands from a reliable pharmacy.
4. Essential oils are to be packaged in dark amber glasses, which is the proper method. Check this before buying.
Storage of essential oils
1. Essential oils are to be stored in airtight bottles. The oils are highly volatile.
2. They should be stored in amber-colored bottles. The oils are photosensitive.
3. Keep away from fire and beyond the reach of children.