Find out the right way to use aromatherapy at home.
From your local spa to Walmart, trendy essential oils can be found just about everywhere these days. Yet just like so many products in our lives, there’s more than meets the eye about how to select and use them effectively to reap the many benefits, including relaxation and pain relief.
“Aromatherapy is using good-quality, plant essential oils therapeutically to balance body, mind and spirit,” says Roz Zollinger, founder of Heal Center in Sandy Springs, who has been practicing aromatherapy for 35 years. Here, she and colleague Shaheen Bharde, who co-teaches an aromatherapy course at Heal Center, offer their advice for beginners.
Know the Categories
Aromatherapy essential oils fall into different groupings. Those that calm and nurture the nervous system are handy for sleep problems and anxiety, while oils that stimulate the nervous system can be helpful for focus. Anti-inflammatory oils can take away the sting of a bee or subdue breakouts, and the antispasmodic ones aid in lessening muscle pain.
Discover the Tools
Incorporate aromatherapy into daily life by inhaling the scent with a room diffuser, pocket-friendly inhaler (typically a small tube with a changeable cotton wick inside) or spray bottle, or by applying it to your skin as a salve. “Anything that you smell through olfactory nerves affects us immediately,” Zollinger says. When applying essential oils directly to the skin, it’s best to mix them with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, fractionated coconut or apricot oils, to avoid skin sensitivities. “I try to stay away from nut oils because [some] people have allergies,” Zollinger says.
Look for Quality Cues
Buying quality products and finding companies with reputable production methods are of utmost importance to get the full benefits of the oils. A synthetic oil that calls itself an “essential oil” might smell good but not do anything or be irritating. “The chemistry dictates how it works in the body or mind,” Zollinger explains. Bharde adds, “If an oil isn’t extracted properly, it might not work.” Seek out brands that specialize in wild-crafted, organic and therapeutic-grade essential oils, such as Eden Botanicals, Mountain Rose Herbs and Nature’s Gift. Zollinger also produces AromaBlends, a line specifically formulated for the different body systems or to target issues such as anxiety, energy clearing or heart soothing. “I don’t work with [multi-level] marketing companies and don’t believe aromatherapy belongs to that space because it becomes a business versus a healing modality,” Zollinger notes.
Pay Attention to Shelf Life
Essential oils have different shelf lives, but a good general rule of thumb is they should last between two and five years. A pure, well-distilled oil will simply lose its potency over time while a synthetic oil will become rancid. “Citruses have shorter shelf lives because they can oxidize. The resinous oils like vetiver and sandalwood get better with age,” Zollinger says. “Don’t buy really big bottles unless you plan to use them a lot.” Keep your oils closed and away from sunlight and heat to preserve them.
Use Caution with Children
Never use essential oils on babies. “Their lungs are not mature enough to take it,” Zollinger cautions. “And keep the oils out of reach of small children because they put everything in their mouths.” A small child will be more sensitive to oils than an adult but don’t let that scare you away from using the oils; they can provide effective, gentle relief for things such as nausea, sleep issues, colds, skin rashes and bug bites.
BEGINNER ESSENTIALS ADD THESE OILS TO YOUR STARTER KIT
Geranium balancing, good for hormonal system
Eucalyptus sinus issues
Peppermint digestive and antispasmodic for pains
Rosemary stimulate circulation
Tea tree antiseptic and antifungal
Bergamot or sweet orange mood swings, depression and anxiety
Fennel a digestive, diuretic, hormone balancing
Chamomile anxiety, sleep, digestion
DIY Anxiety Blend
In a 1 oz. spray bottle, add a few drops of vodka to serve as an emulsifier, then add the following essential oils:
8 drops geranium or
6 drops frankincense
6 drops neroli
6 drops bergamot
8 drops lavender
6 drops ylang ylang
Fill with water. Spray on your clothes, skin or pillow.
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Sandy Springs 30328
Managing Editor and Wellness Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Blogger at Badass + Healthy.