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Most Popular Ways to Apply Essential Oils

History of Essential Oils & Aromatheraphy

Throughout history, all around the world, plant extracts, herbs and oils have been used for their medicinal powers. As long as 40,000 years ago it is thought that Native Australians used natural remedies.

The ancient Egyptians used aromatic oils for medicine and cosmetics, their dead Pharaohs being embalmed in exotic oils. The Romans and Ancient Greeks loved to use aromatic oils, particularly in their bath houses, where they were used on the advice of the famous "Father of Modern Medicine" Hippocrates (460BC), who advocated that "the way to good health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day".

The "Perfumes of Arabia" were first discovered by western man and brought back to Europe by the Crusaders, where they became popular and fashionable with the aristocracy.

During the Middle Ages the antiseptic properties of Essential oils made them a useful aid to the doctors of that time. It is said that some doctors carried these antiseptic and aromatic oils in the handles of their walking sticks, which they held to their noses whilst visiting patients. The re-discovery of the properties of essential oils prompted the beginning of scientific research during this era.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated volatile aromatic substances extracted from a single plant part. for example, the petals of the rose and jasmine, the leaves of the rosemary bush, the wood of the sandalwood, the rind of the lemon and orange. These oils are often referred to as the hormones or life force of the plant.

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy, a term which was coined early last century at term which simply means 'therapy using aromas', by a famous French chemist, Dr. R.H. Gattafosse who was involved in considerable scientific research in to the properties of essential oils.

How Essential Oils Work

Essential oils enter the body and have their effect by two routes, the nose and the skin.

How do you feel when you smell the sweet scent of a garden? Do you open up your lungs and take a deep breath? When you enter a hospital or sick room, does your breathing become shallower? Does the whiff of a long-forgotten scent bring back sensations and feelings from the past? The sense of smell has profound effect, influencing us even when we are not necessarily aware.

When inhaling the oils, tiny particles are taken to the roof of the nose where the olfactory system is located. Here the cilia (thin hairs) transmit information to the olfactory bulb that is situated behind the eyes. Smell signals are then decoded and sent on throughout the body.

It is now a scientifically-acknowledged fact that toxic material can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. However, it is also a fact that essential oils have this same ability. Particularly when blended with a carrier oil. The essential oils have a tiny molecular structure, which is minute enough to permeate the skin via the hair follicles and pores. From there the molecules are carried through the bloodstream via tiny carrying capillaries.

In this commercialized and polluted world, essential oils offer a cost-effective way to use remedies which have been in existence since ancient times through the tools supplied to you from Mother Nature herself. Most importantly, they allow you to be in control of the substances you put into, and onto, your own body.

Popular Methods of Use

1. Massage
Massage is an effective way of receiving the therapeutic benefits of Essential oils, as the oils are absorbed into a large area of the skin, while at the same time the muscles are being relaxed which helps move the oil through the body.Add to that, the comforting effect of touch, and you can see the importance of this means of application.
Massage is a pleasurable experience to share with a friend. However this not always convenient or possible, so it is important not to overlook the benefits of self massage.

Dilutions: 50mls (10 teaspoons) Carrier oil to 25 drops of Essential oil blend or 10mls (2 teaspoons) Carrier oil to 5 drops of Essential oil blend. Children dosage: 15mls Carrier oil to 2 drops Essential oil.

2. Inhalation
Inhalations using essential oils are particularly effective for relief of mild upper respiratory problems.

Steam Inhalation: This is most beneficial for relieving symptoms of chest and throat infections.

Method and Dilution:
Fill a large stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl with hot water. Add 2-3 drops of essential oils. (Children 1 drop only).
Lean over bowl, covering head with a towel and breathe deeply for 3-5 minutes.

Caution: Always keep eyes closed. Asthmatics should approach this method with caution, as concentrated steam can cause choking. Never use during an attack. Only use as a preventative measure.

3. Tissue
For another effect, use 2-4 drops of essential oil on a tissue or hankie (1 drop for children) and inhale several times when required. Carry with you to help you get through the day.

4. Pillow
To benefit you whilst you sleep, 1 drop on either side of your pillow. Keep well away from your eyes.

5. Aromatic Bath
A relaxing treat with a double benefit. The oils are absorbed through your skin whilst also being inhaled. The aromatic bath can be effective to stimulate and energise, relax and sedate and enhance sensuality.

Method: Close all doors and windows. Lie back, place towel dipped in bath water and squeezed out, under your neck, breathe deeply and ENJOY for 10 to 20 minutes.

Dilution: 6-8 drops of blend of essential oils to suit your self. (2 drops for children). Add to bath water (not too hot) immediately prior to immersing. Agitate vigorously to disperse oil. To nourish dry skin, add essential oil blend to 5ml (1 teaspoon) of carrier oil.

6. Footbath
The benefits of a foot bath are enormous especially when a full bath is not available. (When living in a flat or unit, and when travelling) as oils are absorbed very effectively through the feet.

Method and Dilution: Fill a large non-plastic bowl with warm water. Add a layer of marbles, and 4-6 drops of essential oil blend. (2 drops for children). Agitate water. As you soak your feet and relax, roll your feet across the marbles as an extra benefit.

7. Vaporisation
When essential oils are gently heated using a ceramic oil warmer, these highly volatile oils turn from liquid to vapour (it is esential oil vapour you smell when you come close to a fragrant flower). These vapours help to keep the atmosphere germ free, and simply by breathing, you can receive the therapeutic effects of the oils, whilst you go about your daily routine. Often you will not even be aware of the aroma at all, but they will still be quietly doing their job.

Dilution: Fill the saucer with warm water and add 6-8 drops of your blend. Light the candle beneath. Note that the water may evaporate after a few hours and needs to be refilled. Place away from drafts and well out of reach of children.

Caution: Do not leave on unattended or whilst sleeping.

8. Compresses
A cold or warm compress using essential oils, is a wonderful way to soothe aches, cramps, swelling and sprains. A warm compress can also become part of your daily skin care regime.

Dilution: Fill a non-plastic bowl or hand basin with water and add 6-8 drops of essential oil blend. (2drops for children). Agitate water vigorously. Fold a clean towel or piece of cheese cloth, immerse cloth in water, gently squeeze out excess water and place on required area.