Looking after your physical and mental wellbeing is vital at any time of year, but as the weather gets colder and the lead-up to Christmas gets busier it’s more important to take care of ourselves than ever… so what part can Essential Oils play in keeping you calm, balanced and healthy? Here’s our essential guide to Essential Oils and how to use them.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential Oil therapy – more commonly known as Aromatherapy – has been practised across the world for almost 6,000 years. Essential Oils aren’t oils at all – they are scented particles drawn from plant sources like flowers, seeds and roots that are absorbed into our body to encourage good health, decrease stress, and fight infection. Once they’ve been diluted with a carrier oil (like sweet almond oil or jojoba oil) they can be massaged onto the skin or added to bathwater. Steaming, fragrances and sprays are also popular ways to introduce Essential Oils into the body, although the application method depends on which oil you’ve selected and the effect it’s intended to have.
Once inhaled, Essential Oils stimulate our olfactory system (the area of the brain that’s connected to smell) and pass through our lungs to reach the other parts of our body. They possess various psychological, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits and have been shown to reduce everything from muscular pain to menstrual pain, combat depression, improve breathing and circulation, and promote restful sleep. Aromatherapy has also been used in cases of hair loss and psoriasis and can aid digestive problems. However, Essential Oils should never be swallowed unless a healthcare professional advises otherwise.
Essential Oils for massage
- Geranium Essential Oil is perfect for relieving stress
- Lavender Oil soothes, relaxes, aids sleep and boosts stamina
- Coriander Oil promotes a healthy digestive and circulatory system
- Frankincense oil aids breathing (it’s great for soothing coughs) and has antidepressant properties
- Black Seed oil strengthens the skin and accelerates the healing of scar tissue
Essential Oils for bathing
Essential Oils should be added to the bathwater just before you get in (don’t forget to dilute them with a carrier oil first), although take care because some oils can sting and others (like lemon, peppermint, camphor and clove) should only be used in very small dosages.
- Lavender oil relieves headaches and is valuable for soothing and assisting in the repair of eczema and dry skin
- Rosemary oil is invigorating, and also good for muscle soreness
- Lavender oil, chamomile oil and frankincense oil are a fantastic pre-bedtime bathtime combination for reducing stress and promoting sleep
- Rose oil, frankincense oil and coconut oil combat fatigue and refresh energy
- Rosemary oil, lemon oil, basil oil and olive oil are useful for improving concentration
Essential oils for steaming
Pour boiling water into a large bowl (be careful!), add 3-4 drops of Essential Oil, and then cover your head and bowl with a towel while inhaling the hot steam for 5-10 minutes or until the water cools down.
- Eucalyptus oil is the best oil for combating colds
- Tea Tree oil is a useful antiviral
- Frankincense oil eases persistent and/or dry coughs
- Peppermint oil can relieve sinus infection
- Lavender oil soothes a sore throat
The main thing to remember is that, although Essential Oils can be a massive benefit to your physical health and mental wellbeing, you should always seek advice before using them at home and make sure you stay within the dosage limits. Also, carefully read any contraindications information before you begin because some oils can have a negative effect on pregnant mothers, small children, or people with certain health conditions. Finally, if you don’t enjoy the scent of an oil, don’t use it. It may have the properties you were hoping for, but if its scent is unpleasant you probably won’t receive its full benefits.
This is only a very brief journey into the world of Essential Oils but we hope it’s piqued your interest enough to find out more. In the meantime, keep reading our blog pages because we’ll be looking at more complementary and alternative therapies in the new year.
Now, where did my frankincense oil go? Don’t tell me those three wise men have borrowed it again…
Alice has a keen interest in beauty courses and enjoys educating people on the great courses at LBTA.