This beginner’s guide to aromatherapy can give you a crash course on the benefits of aromatherapy, should you choose to use it. Aromatherapy was developed in the west after a French perfumier burned his arm and plunged it into the nearest vat of liquid, which happened to be lavender oil. His arm miraculously healed with no scarring, and it became popular here thereafter.
Used for medical and beauty use, don’t take aromatherapy oils internally or if you have epilepsy, asthma or other medical conditions, unless under guidance of a fully qualified aromatherapist (they should also not be used during pregnancy or nursing, or near young children.
Pets have better noses than us, and you should not use them (nor spray perfumes or burn scented candles near them – cats, ferrets, birds and reptiles in particular cannot tolerate them or break down down – so if your kitty sleeps on your bed, avoid using say lavender oil to help you sleep).
Essential oils are very strong, made by distilling rose petals to rosemary leaves. You can use the odd neat drop of tea tree oil to zap a spot or swish a few drops in a full bath, but usually they are blended with a carrier oil, and used for massage. They have a very interesting history and are very powerful: in ancient Egyptian times, bodies were massaged with myrrh to preserve them as mummies. And in Tasmania, there is an island where a man bitten by a deadly spider managed to save his own life by using the local tea tree plant – amazingly, both the plant and the spider only live in that area of earth – could nature be telling us something?
Some essential oils are photo-toxic, which means they could cause reactions if you go out in the sun. So if using on a sunny day, wait for a few hours before you venture out under the beams of sunlight.
Books on Aromatherapy
- Just the Essentials is a well-written book by natural beauty expert Adina Grigore. She was skeptical of the benefits, until she began to research them, and now offer a full history and tips to use them for acne & tooth infections (tea tree oil), circulation, pain & headaches (cinnamon oil), and digestion and cleaning (peppermint oil). If you have heartburn, peppermint can actually make it worse by forcing food back up again as it relaxes your digestion system, but for other stomach problems, it sometimes helps.
- The Family Guide to Aromatherapy will show you how to mix the right oils to help everything from acne and anxiety, to indigestion and insomnia. Learn about the honest limitations and potential risks, along with aromatherapy for every life stage, and each chapter includes safety watch-outs. Includes a glossary of 30 common essential oils and their properties.
- Essential Oils for Soothing Anxiety includes profiles on the 10 best essential oils for calming including bergamot, cedarwood and lavender, along with soothing rituals for massage, meditation and breathing techniques.
Some within the nursing profession have touted tea tree as a good alternative to toxic anti-bacterials when cleaning, to help prevent infections. However, although research is still in its infancy on its usefulness say for fungal infections, can must be taken, as it’s a strong oil that could cause reactions (both internally and externally) for allergic patients.
The Ultimate Guide to Aromatherapy is a lovely introduction to this popular form of health and beauty. Aromatherapy involves steaming the oils from natural flowers, to produce oils that when blended with carrier oils, are often used for massage. You can also swish a few drops in a full bath.
Essential oils should not be used near pets or young children (cats cannot detox the oils from their livers, so never use aromatherapy oils on your bed, if pets sleep with you – and air rooms after spraying or diffusing them). Also avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and allergies or illness like epilepsy, unless prescribed by a qualified aromatherapist. Finally, don’t go out in the sun after using some photo-toxic (usually citrus) oils, or it can cause burns.
This book by two leading voices, is a progressive approach to using aromatherapy for healing and wellness. It charts the history and methods, then offers techniques developed over decades of teaching, to benefit from over 50 plant profiles and beauty or health recipes including:
- Hand & Body Wash for Flu Recovery
- Tummy Massage Oil for indigestion
- Self-Love Botanical Perfume