Essential Oils 101
For thousands of years, essential oils have been used as alternative treatments for the mind, body and emotions. Emotions can affect our behaviours and thoughts. Emotions, such as happiness, love, fear or anger, occur at a particular moment in response to what we see, hear, taste, think or smell. Since our sense of smell is closely aligned to the centres of the brain associated with emotions, stored memories and our instincts, we can change our feelings with a pleasant aroma.
Inhaling an essential oil’s aroma can be a powerful tool. When an essential oil is inhaled, it influences the olfactory system. Inside your nasal cavity holds special nerve endings that captures aromatic molecules. These olfactory nerves transfer messages from the olfactory epithelium to the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb, located in the brain, processes and identifies scents. The olfactory bulb is located next to the amygdala, which processes emotions, long-term memory and stress hormones. Because of the close proximity of the olfactory bulb and amygdala, scents can trigger memories and feelings of calmness and relaxation.
Essential oils are highly concentrated - as little as one drop can be used. Some essential oils should be diluted before applying them onto your skin. Since essential oils do not mix naturally with water, you will need to use an oil or oil-soluble oil to dilute your oils. Diluting oils are called “carrier” oils. Some commonly used carrier oils are fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, mineral oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil or witch-hazel.
Using essential oils
Essential oils mixed with carrier oils can be easily stored in bottles, jars or roll-on bottles. Ensure that the essential oils you use have been throughly tested and are certified as pure, therapeutic-grade essentials oils. Otherwise, the essential oils may contain harmful contaminants and cheap filler chemicals.
Topical: A common way to use essential oils is to apply them directly onto your body. Two drops of an essential oil combined with a carrier oil creates a lovely massage oil. Spreading an essential oil on your skin uses the body’s heat to evaporate the aroma of the essential oil into the air.
If an essential oil causes redness or an uncomfortable sensation on your skin, your skin may have a sensitivity to that oil. First, try diluting the essential oil with a carrier oil, not water. If the sensitivity persists, discontinue using the oil.
Aromatic: Diffusers use evaporation or heat to disperse an essential oil into the air as a fine mist so it can be easily inhaled. You can make a simple diffuser by mixing an essential oil with water in a small spray bottle, shaking it and then spraying the oil into the air to inhale.
Use caution when inhaling essential oils. A few essential oils, such as cinnamon, can cause a burning sensation in your nose if they are directly inhaled.
Here are a few blends to evoke pleasant memories, calmness and relaxation as you embark on creating your own special scent:
Deep breath: 3 drops of peppermint and 3 drops of eucalyptus
Calming scent: 5 drops of lavender and 3 drops of chamomile
Energising blend: 3 drops of orange, 1 drop rosemary and 4 drops of peppermint
Relaxing breath: 3 drops of lavender and 3 drops of bergamot
Connections: 7 drops of ylang ylang, 6 drops of black pepper, 2 drops of tangerine and 15ml jojoba oil
Invigorating: 5 drops of ginger, 5 drops frankincense, 5 drops of grapefruit and 15ml fractionated coconut oil
Relaxing: 9 drops of lavender, 6 drops of chamomile and 15ml fractionated coconut oil
Soothing: 6 drops of peppermint, 4 drops of marjoram, 3 drops of wintergreen and 30ml fractionated coconut oil