Aromatherapy includes using essential oils, incense, attars, scented wood burning, candles, dried and fresh flowers and floral essences. In recent time the most common form of aromatherapy are essential oils. As its popularity grows we need to learn how to use them in a correct manner and derive most benefit from them.
Aromatherapy is a therapeutic use of “aroma of a plant” that has medicinal impact. Aromatherapy has a variety of health benefits and can be used in massages, cosmetics, cleaning products and to purify the air. It can be used safely in combination with many other therapies.
Ayurveda and Aromatherapy:
In Ayurveda aroma or essential oils collected from the plant are considered their ‘life force’ or ‘soul’. The innate intelligence of the plant captured in essential oil can awaken our body, mind and senses. From an Ayurvedic perspective the ‘aroma’ or the ‘smell’ is the life force or Prana, uplifting quality of the oils increases our Ojas (immunity) and the response of the body or the interaction of the body with the oil can improve Tejas (radiance and glow). Ayurvedic practitioners use essential oils, incense, attars and floral water to uplift the mood, calm and relax the nervous system, relieve imbalances of the doshas and improve cognitive and other physiological as well as psychological functions of the body.
Practitioners believe using the essential oils according to your dosha or body type is an ideal way to apply the oils for personal use. Therefore learning about the dosha and discovering which oils are best to pacify the aggravated dosha will be most beneficial and propel one towards faster recovery. For example, Pitta aggravated individuals often suffer from heat related disorders, therefore cooling quality essential oils such as sandalwood, rose, and khus are used to calm the Pitta mood. Lavender and musk can combat the fear and anxiety which are the cause of Vata dosha aggravation. Lastly, Kapha dosha imbalances such as laziness, dullness and boredom can be taken away with oils such as eucalyptus and frankincense.
Ayurveda also indicates to be mindful about the seasonal changes when using essential oils. During summer sandalwood, khus or flora oils (rose, lavender) can be used. In winter strong, spicy and hot oils such as eucalyptus, thyme or camphor can be used.
About Essential Oils
Essential oils are the highly concentrated plant extracts or, the aromatic or volatile constituents of the plants. They are generally obtained by steam distillation from the flowers (rose), fruits (orange), seeds (fennel), resins (frankincense), leaves (basil), bark (cinnamon) or roots (licorice) of plants.
Essential oils contain aroma and volatile oils which are not water-soluble. Chemically these oils are made up of alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, phenols, terpenes, sesquiterpenes, ethers and esters.
The essential oils – in a living plant, are used as hormones for growth and reproduction, plant pheromones (secretions) for aroma to attract insects to pollinate, defense mechanism to protect against various bacteria, viruses, fungus, insects and herbivores as well as to protect against rough environmental changes. The plants are able to adapt to its surroundings with the help of these therapeutic oils inside their body.
Why Use Essential Oils in Aromatherapy?
Research shows that essential oils potentially are antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. They also have the ability to alter body chemistry and therapeutic responses.
- It is a great non-invasive way to support a variety of health conditions.
- Faster response is experienced
- Assists the immune systems to fight infectious conditions, cold, flu etc.
- Has the ability to relax the nervous system and the mind.
- Relaxes the muscles and the overall body.
- Combat various pain.
- Balances the endocrine system and hormones.
- Has proven results for skin care, such as maintaining elasticity, reducing wrinkles and cellulite.
- Added as a natural and beneficial ingredient in personal care and cosmetic products.
- Used as cleaning products.
- In certain circumstances they can be used as natural first aid remedies.
How Essential Oils Work in Our Body:
Essential oils are composed of tiny molecules that can easily penetrate the skin and cells of the human body. Some compounds in essential oils can cross the blood brain barrier.
Skin is our largest organ and it is permeable through the pores. The active chemicals in the essential oils are absorbed through the pores. Various factors affect the absorption of the oils. In Ayurveda massaging the body before applying essential oils helps to improve circulation of the body. After the body is massaged essential oils can be applied for improved absorption.
I also prefer applying essential oils on my palm, soles of my feet, back of head and armpits (mixed with baking soda) so greater and faster absorption.
Essential oils are also absorbed into the blood stream through inhalation. The blood vessels in the lungs absorb the essential oils and as we breathe they circulate the essential oils throughout the body.
The olfactory lobe is situated on the under surface of the frontal lobe and it includes all organs and cells related to the sense of smell. When essential oils are inhaled through the nose, airborne molecules from the oils reach the olfactory organs and from there to the brain and the lungs. Essential oils affect the brain through various receptor sites such as the limbic system (also known as the emotional brain). The limbic system is directly connected to part of the brain that controls heart rate, blood pressure, breathing memory, stress levels and hormones. This is the reason why smell triggers memory and emotions.
How to Store Essential Oils:
One of the benefits of using essential oils is they do have a naturally longer shelf life. Because they contain no fatty acids, essential oils are not susceptible to rancidity like vegetable oils, however to protect them from the degenerative effects of heat, light and air, they must be stored in tightly sealed, dark glass bottles away from any air, heat and light source. Properly stored oils can maintain their quality for years. (Exceptions: citrus oils are less stable and not be stored longer than six months after opening).
Why Add Carrier Oils?:
They do however mix well with pressed vegetable oils which are referred to as “carrier oils”, e.g. olive oil, almond oil, etc. Essential oils are diluted in these carrier oils for safe application to the skin.
- It is not recommended in Ayurveda to ingest any essential oils.
- Oils must be tightly closed and be out of the reach of children.
- Direct use of undiluted essential oils on your skin can have adverse effect. Therefore mixing it with carrier oil is beneficial.
- When applying or inhaling oils keep them away from eyes.
- Apply knowledge and caution during PREGNANCY and when breast feeding.
- Avoid direct sun exposure after applying essential oils, especially citrus oils such as – bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange & tangerine.
- For high Vata disorders or disorders of the nervous systems, such as epilepsy, avoid using the following oils: Fennel, Hyssop, Rosemary & Sage.
- During high blood pressure avoid using hyssop, rosemary, sage & thyme.
If any sort of irritation occurs from applying the oils, remember that the oils are not water because the essential oils are not water soluble. If any gets in the eye, add one drop of pure vegetable oil such as coconut or olive oil to the eye. Rinsing with water doesn’t work. If skin irritation occurs discontinue use and rub the area with vegetable oil.
How to Use Essential Oils in your Daily Life?
Add couple of drops of your favourite essential oil in a diffuser and turn it on to receive benefits through inhaling the air around you. Or, put 1 to 2 drops on a tissue or handkerchief and inhale deeply. Or, add 4 to 6 drops of oil to a sink of hot water, cover head with towel and inhale vapours deeply through your nose. Vapour is the best way to inhale essential oil when trying to combat congestion.
Massage or Body Oil:
Add 6 to 8 drops of pure essential oil or an essential oil blend to 15 mls (1 tablespoon) of carrier oil and use as a body massage. If you know your body type according to Ayurveda, you can easily choose the right carrier oil.
Bath & Shower:
Add 8 to 10 drops to a warm bath. Oils are are absorbed by the skin and nostrils (inhalation). While showering, add couple of drops of oil to a face cloth or sponge to rub on the body.
Add 5 to 6 drops of oil to a bowl of warm or cold water. Soak cloth in water and apply to injured or sore part of the body.
Ointment or Skin Care:
It is recommended to dilute essential oils with carrier oils before applying directly on the skin.
To a 30 mls (1 oz.) of skin care product or ointment, add 10-12 drops of essential oil to make moisturizing cream, lotion or ointments/salves. Chamomile, lavender, rose and sandalwood are the few oils that can be applied directly on the skin (one drop only).
Floral water or hydrosols are also used as toner for the face.
Essential oils can be used for scalp massaging oils. Adding 8-10 drops for every 30 mls (1 oz) of hair care product. For greying hair apply sage, lemon, and lavender essential oils. For hair loss use rosemary, lavender, cedar and birch essential oil.
Cavity, tooth decay are due to poor diet, poor hygiene practice and stress. Using essential oils when brushing can be extremely beneficial. I have my own homemade toothpowder that contains essential oils. For Vata using neem or myrhh essential oils, for pitta mint and fennel essential oils and for Kapha rosemary and sage essential oils are most beneficial.
Home or car diffuser can purify the air in the environment. One can use room sprays either in a form of hydrosols or mixing essential oils with water. I often use Young Living essential oil blends such as Joy, Peace and Calming and Purification.
Attars or perfumes can be made by mixing 5 to 15 drops of Essential Oil with 15 mls of carrier oil.
Rose, jasmine, cinnamon, sandalwood and saffron essential oils are useful in warming the body, dispel inertia and depression, uplift the mood and reduce stress.
Where to buy Essential Oils?
Essential oils available in health food stores, specialty stores and even sometimes online stores are NOT 100% pure, organic or wild crafted. For the past 10 years I have only purchased essential oils from Young Living. They believe in the process of “seed to seal.” Therefore they own many farms globally and completes the distillation and bottling process at the location.
Given that it is a MLM company you can either sign up as a customer or a distributor (no minimum, cancel when you want but save 24% off the retail value of the oils).
Please read the process here:
Check out my Ayurvedic Aromatherapy e-Course here:
The 14 Day Ayurvedic Aromatherapy E-Course teaches you about Ayurveda, the concept of Dosha, and how to use Essential oils Dosha and Chakra Balancing. Additionally it provides information about essential oils for Pain Relief, Emotional and Physical Healing. If you are new to Ayurveda or Essential oils or you want to learn how to effectively use these oils this e-course is perfect for you! Learn – how, where, and when to use these precious oils, how these oils protect the immune system, improve mood, and reduce stress/anxiety. What oils are suitable for your Ayurvedic body type and EOs that assist in first aid, soothe headaches, and relieve pain. Additionally, we will discuss aches, acne, allergies, asthma, rashes, burns, hair loss, colds, and coughs.
A promo video about the e-Course
For more details about the e-course such as course content, reviews and price click here.
Other Blogs on Essential Oils:
Where to Buy Diffusers?
Two of my favourite diffusers