This installment of the basics of holistic treatments is about aromatherapy.
In a nut shell, Aromatherapy involves the use of Essential Oils (EO's) in healing. To elaborate a bit, Essential oils are natural substances, the volatile oils that are extracted from grasses, flowers, herbs, shrubs, trees, resins, and spices. These oils contain a number of properties that affect the body on physical, psychological and/or emotional levels. They can soothe, relax, rejuvenate, heal, energize, reduce or relieve pain, act as antibiotics, antiseptics, antifungals, and/or antivirals. They work by stimulating the body to use its own healing abilities via the sense of smell.
The first step is to identify the oil or oils that will impact the ailment you are seeking to get relief from. There are currently around three hundred essential oils, however you only need seven to create a "first aide kit" that can soothe ailments from the common cold to heart palpitations, and from black eyes to sprained ankles. These much needed basics are; clove, geranium, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, rosemary, and thyme. For more details on essential oils see this previous post; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/10/essentials-of-essential-oils.html or any of the several posts from October to December of 2008, where I go through the alphabet of oils, detailing their uses.
Once you have decided the oil (s) that you need to utilize, you must decide the best delivery method. Generally speaking, the oils must be either Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin, sometimes reaching the bloodstream, or inhaled through the nose, affecting the brain through the olfactory system. Know that essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin. Although technically there are a few exceptions to this rule, generally speaking, they should always be diluted in a carrier oil. Which carrier oil you use will be largely dependent upon your personal needs and tastes. Some oils are better for dry skin, some better for oily skin, and some have a longer shelf- life than others. You can read up on the differences in carrier oils here; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/10/lets-get-carried-away.html
Certainly there are others that I didn't cover, just remember that experimentation is half of the fun, so try something new to you!
Pure essential oils can be added to bathes for a soothing experience, added to compresses to alleviate chronic or acute pain [chronic pain is a backache or arthritis, and acute is like a sprained ankle or headache], or diluted and used for treating body parts or even full body massages. They can be mixed in water and alcohol for a refreshing room spray, or vaporized in burners to eliminate unpleasant odors or to create an atmosphere where you can simply inhale and reap the benefits of that particular oil.
For inhalation, place 5 drops of essential oil on a tissue and sniff for five minutes. This is a fast and easy way to give yourself an inhalation treatment. You can also put a few drops on your pillow before retiring at night, or add 6 to 8 drops of essential oil to a bowl of almost boiling water, then lean toward the bowl, place a towel over your head and the bowl, and inhale for five minutes. This type of steam treatment is especially great for facials or cold and sinus ailments. For some great recipes see http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/06/step-two-to-facial-care-is-steam.html For massage add 15 drops of essential oil to any carrier oil, or mixture of carrier oils that you desire. Be sure to read the tips for massaging and see the recipes in this post; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/09/reach-out-and-touch-someone-or-touch.html For bathing add 5 to 10 drops to warm bath water and soak for about 20 minutes. To prevent that oil ring around the tub, you can mix the essential oil in a cap full of pure liquid Castile soap or baby shampoo. You can also add 10 to 15 drops to an ounce of coconut oil and pour that into your bath. Compresses; For chronic pain such as aching joints, tired or sore muscles, backaches, earaches, etc., prepare a hot compress by diluting 4 to 6 drops of essential oil in a large bowl of almost boiling water. Dip a cotton sheet strip (about 4 inches wide) into the liquid and wrap it around, or apply it to the affected area. Repeat when the compress has cooled off. For acute pain such as headaches or sprains etc., prepare a cold compress by diluting 4 to 6 drops of essential oil in a large bowl of ice water. Dip a cotton sheet strip (about 4 inches wide) into the liquid and wrap around, or apply to, the affected area Vaporization; Add a few drops of essential oil to a light bulb ring, fragrance burner or diffuser. Dilution Rate; To be safe and effective, most aromatherapy formulas are blended at a 2 1/2% concentration rate. Although the number of drops will vary slightly with the density of the oil and the diameter of the dropper opening, you can use the following measurements as a pretty accurate base for measurements.
- 2-3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon carrier oil
- 7-8 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil
- 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil
- 500 drops of essential oil per liter of carrier oil
Essential oils are quite potent and you should NEVER take them internally without being under the care of a knowledgeable, professional practitioner. And, prior to your home use of these, you really should familiarize yourself with the indications and effects of the oils. Education is the key to being safe, as some of these oils can thin blood, raise or lower blood pressure, induce seizures, and/or negatively impact fetuses, and more . You should also report any use when giving medical history so that your physician will be fully informed. You certainly would not want to have surgery while using an EO that thins blood without you Doctor knowing ahead of time. For more information on essential oil safety considerations see; http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/09/essentials-of-using-essential-oils.html
Once again, this type of therapy is also being used by Veterinarians to treat dogs. To use for the dog you simply place ten drops of the chosen EO into a cup of hot water, and place the cup near the dog's head while they sleep. It works better if you try to keep it warm for about one half hour, using a candle or coffee cup warmer.
The following EO's are frequently used in treating dogs;
* Peppermint for gastritis
* Rosemary for certain heart problems
* Peppermint to suppress kennel cough
* Peppermint relieves itching if your dog has mange
* Geranium and Rosemary for oancreatitis
* Many oils are used for the treatment of various emotional issues
* Eucalyptus for pneumonia. **As with any medical problem, do not attempt to diagnose or treat without seeking professional services. This is obviously a serious respiratory problem and you should consult your Veterinarian as soon as symptoms are noted.