Essential oils have been used therapeutically for nearly 6,000 years. The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans not only used them in cosmetics, perfumes, and drugs, but also for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes.
A range of essential oils have been found to have various degrees of antimicrobial activity and are believed to have antiviral, nematicidal, antifungal, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties.
How can we use them???
Here are two safe and totally chill ways to enjoy aromatherapy:
One: Inhalation - - -
- You can make use of a diffuser, a spray bottle, or add drops to a hot, steamy bath... Aside from obviously smelling delightful, aromatherapy oils can aid you psychologically and physically. For example: peppermint and eucalyptus can help to decongest you if you're feeling stuffy...lavender or thyme can help to sooth you if you're feeling stressed or anxious. How it works is pretty neat. As you inhale, the molecules connect with your the limbic system. (The limbic system is the part of your brain that supports a variety of functions including: emotion, behavior, motivation, and long-term memory. Our emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system which has a great deal to do with the formation and retention of memories.) So as the molecules dance with our brains, they can affect our emotions, our heart rate, our blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and even our hormone balance - thus having a multitude of possible positive effects in our bodies.
- This means: massage, a compress, baths, etc. Bath and skincare products are absorbed through the skin (which is why it's CRITICAL not to use chemicals and weird shit on your skin, but that's a story for another day ;) ). At any rate, natural essential oils can be safely absorbed through your skin, BUT it's important to note: if you are going to use an oil topically you'll need to dilute it with a carrier oil. Many pure essential oils can be too potent for direct application so you'll want to blend them with a base oil like jojoba, almond, apricot kernel, avocado, grapes, walnut, and even olive oil. A good place to start is by adding approximately 10 drops of essential oil to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil.
Note: do your best to ensure your essential oil is a pure and natural essential oil. This is super important so read the label! Often, essential oils are cut with synthetic oils or chemically altered to make them cheaper, unfortunately this also makes them useless for therapeudic purposes. Okay, well, here are a couple of scents to get your started in playing with essential oils. Have fun!
- Eucalyptus: one of my faves to wake me up / bring me back to life - can also help relieve the airways during a cold or flu (especially when combined with peppermint)
- Jasmine: stimulating...research has shown that jasmine increases beta waves which are linked to alertness
- Lavender: super soothing - enhances relaxation and sleep which is why it's the go to for products marketed as "relaxing" (like lotions and linen sprays and stuff)
- Peppermint: like SO invigorating, don't you think?!
- Tea tree: commonly used in shampoos for dandruff and other skin care products (it seems to work for me to put a little on a q-tip and then wipe it over a wannabe pimple...)
- Thyme: empowering - said to reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress, but I mean - you tell me ;)