Monday, November 9, 2015

Aromatherapy 101: The Science of Essential Oils. Use Aromatherapy Like a Pro

My earliest childhood memories involve the pantry my mom converted into a playroom, her in-house daycare business, and . . . dryer sheets. I used to take a fragrant dryer sheet out of my pocket to inhale deeply throughout the day. At age three I didn't understand why my aunt thought that was hysterical. Now I know my bizarre ritual was connected to a latent ability.

Spiderman has his Spidey-sense, Batman is badass, and I have Cat-Nose! I'm serious, I have a heightened sense of smell! Scent is my obsession. I garden, help teach and take herbalism, vegan and aromatherapy classes because smelling natural aromas is my nirvana.

Of course it was love at first sniff for me and essential oils (or EOs as I'll shorten it occasionally) and I've used them as fragrance for years, but I didn't know that those beautiful oils were medicine until I started my Medical Aromatherapy coursework. These oils are not just pretty smells. They are legit healing modalities; it's SCIENCE! And it's fascinating!

So...What Are Essential Oils? 

  • Essential oils are natural oils distilled from a host plant
  • The oils protect the plant from pests, predators, fungi & disease + attract pollinators
  • The oils can also prevent rival plants from going in the same area (allelochemics)
  • The Essential Oils are what gives a plant its particular smell
  • Essential Oils are stored in microscopic cellular containers in the plant!
  • Many of the products you buy at the store don't REALLY have essential oils. More on that later...

Therapeutic Roll-Ons and a Solid Perfume we make with essential oils. Available here.

How Do Essential Oils Heal You?

  • Essential oil molecules are tiny enough, unlike all other chemicals we use for healing, to pass the blood-brain barrier. This allows the healing, oxygenating, cell-correcting essential oils to pass straight into our bloodstream and start healing. (source)
  • The tiny molecules are also why they can scent a whole room so beautifully, by the by!
  • Because essential oils pass straight into our bloodstream to heal us, we can reap their benefits simply by applying them topically!

Science! Let's Look at the Chemical Components of Essential Oils

  • EOs are composed of active main, secondary & trace components which lend oils their scent
  • Each EO has its own unique healing qualities & different quantities of the components
  • The three main categories are: Monoterpenes, Sesqui-terpenes and Phenyl-propanes
  • The important sub-categories are charted with examples below:



For Example...

Let's look at a favorite of mine, Rosemary. Its MAIN components are:

ketones (verbenone), terpene oxide (cineole) and terpene hydrocarbons

Which contribute to its main effects being: headache relief, muscle pain relief, cell-regenerating (skin care), digestion promoting, mucolytic, tissue stimulation

Chakra essential oil roll-on scents we formulated in class as one of our tests.

Choosing the Right Essential Oil for You:

  • Books and of course, good 'ole Google can yield loads of results for oils for your specific issue
  • BUT knowing the specific chemical constituents and their results above will help you create specialized healing salves, lotions, sprays, soaps, tinctures, etc.
  • There are different types of essential oils (There are three Rosemary types for instance: Camphor, Cineole and Verbenone) with slightly different uses. Check to see where the oil was grown/produced and what type to maximize your results

But Some Precautions, My Friends...

  • UNDILUTED Essential oils are extremely volatile NEVER apply them directly to your skin. NEVER consume them. ALWAYS dilute them in water or a carrier oil.
  • ALWAYS consult a doctor before trying any medical treatment. Any well-trained Aromatherapist or Herbalist is going to ask for your medical records and have you see a trained physician first!
  • All that said...don't fear natural products with essential oils. They are diluted, usually by a lot!
/ / / / / / /

I LOVE my essential oil roll-ons and sprays on-the-go. So does the people around me!

Resources and Recommendations: 

- Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy and Medical Aromatherapy: Healing with Essential Oils my medical textbooks

- Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils will help you look up an essential oil for any ailment + measurement charts, scent notes, application suggestions

- I loved this page that details the essential oil chemical constituents. Great website.

Using essential oils for healing is both effective and gentle, and it's often the first round of defense a herbalist or natural health practitioner will use before moving on to more invasive treatments. Use them in your home, use them on friends and family, you will see a difference! Spray grapefruit essential oil into the air at a party and watch the crowd energize, or put lavender oil on a wound and be amazed at how quickly it heals! I've healed wounds overnight with custom-made salves and cured minor hangovers with rosemary essential oil. Because the oils pass the blood brain barrier, they are swift mood boosters, too. I keep my roll-ons and essential oil sprays on hand and use them throughout the day! And whoever's around almost always requests some sprays their way! Locally, my mom and I can't keep up with the demand for our healing eczema soaps and lotions, loaded with essential oils. (Hence the lack of full announcement for our online soap shop. We'll bust ass and get on it as soon as possible!)

I didn't think I could love plants and their oils and nutrients any more but clearly, I was wrong. I will study the science of their components and how to heal with them for life! I'll continue to share natural recipes, tips, and information in the future. (Like how to know which oils are real and which ones to buy, which is tricky!)

Do you use essential oils? Which are your favorites? Any questions? Let's discuss...
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  1. Thanks for such an awesome in depth post on essential oils! I love Rosemary too but my favorites would have to be lavender or something citrusy like orange or lemon.

  2. I've actually avoided them because I heard a bunch can be harmful to cats. So, instead of risking anything since I'm uncertain what's actually okay, I just don't use anything.

    1. These links go into it a little bit:

    2. It's true. I took a pet aromatherapy class and too much isn't good for their little systems. Their livers don't have the necessary enzymes to break down not just essential oils but different medications and household cleansers which causes a toxic build-up in their bodies. You can use certain hydrosols on cats, they're higher in safer monoterpene alcohols. Avoid high phenol essential oils like: oregano, thyme, clove, cassia and winter/summer savory. They're also sensitive to all the citruses.

    3. All that said, my teacher has a cat and a dog in her studios and they are healthy. It's not the ideal environment for the animals but she gives them the best life possible. There are many natural ways to treat your cats without using essential oils.

    4. Oh that's a bummer. Yeah, I vaguely remember something about citruses -- I think that's how I found out since citruses are my favorite and I was using them at the time that I first read about it!

    5. It's fine to use them in the house as long as you're not putting them on your animal undiluted. Most houses have glade plugins, scented candles and toxic cleansers that are worse and their kitties live long lives.

  3. Thanks for sharing! Bookmarking this and reading later this week :-) I always love citrus scents and lavender. I would love to get to know a bit more and not just use them for their lovely smell!

    1. Citrus is wonderful, it's one of my top favs too. The scent sadly dissipates easily but it's so light and uplifting. Hope the article helps. I'll have many more coming on how to buy the right oils, various treatments, etc. :)

  4. Of course, how could I miss the essential oils for beauty? Natural oils are added to bath products or cosmetic products in order for them to function as a beautifying agent to our body. These oils have that property to radiate a certain glow that will make people think that you are fresh and stress-free.Buy essential oil that you need from Young Living Essential Oil to experience the serenity and peace that these naturally extracted fluids can bring. Essential oil can act as an agent that will help each of us to achieve the healthy and relaxing life that we all long for. anxiety health

  5. Aromatherapy is good for health. This is a very nice sharing. Its an informative post which is helped for the others. Thank you for your nice sharing.

  6. Essential oil - for me it's a new discovery. You can experiment with flavors endlessly ...

  7. If I needed to pick amongst resting and perusing this blog, I'd unquestionably run with this blog.
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