Aromatherapy 101 – Essential Oils for Wellness

by B. Ready Wellness Editor

Feb
2021

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What are the health benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy?

“Aromatherapy changed my before-bed routine into a mini-spa experience,” you think as you spritz your face with Happy Spritz. Self-care is important. It keeps us more balanced, inspired and content. While incorporating personal wellness may seem to be something there is no time for, choosing natural alternatives to improve our health and well-being can be simple. Read on to explore the myriad of health benefits and decadent “scent-sations” found in the intoxicating (not literally) realm of essential oils and aromatherapy.

  

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a type of holistic healing treatment that utilizes aromatic oils medicinally to support health and wellbeing. The positive effects are experienced by either inhaling or topically applying plant essential oils for absorption through the skin. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts. Depending on the plant and its unique beneficial components, extracts are made from specific plant parts including the flower, leaves, seeds, bark, roots, stems, and peels.

Typically, the essential oil is derived through a distillation process with water, steam, or through a dry distillation method. The final product is very potent due to the high concentration of the extract. With essential oils a little goes a long way.

 

What are the health benefits of aromatherapy?

Plant essential oils―think lavender oil, peppermint, sweet orange, oregano oil― can provide relief from a wide range of ailments including nausea, memory loss, congestion, skin issues, inflammation, and headaches. In addition to stimulating the nervous system, utilize aromatherapy for stress relief, to improve sleep, manage pain, and kill bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Adding essential oils to your medicine cabinet is a great way to naturally support health and wellness both gently and without negative side effects.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils


When did aromatherapy become a treatment method?

People have used plant essential oils for health since the beginning of medicine. Aromatherapy dates back to at least 6,000 years ago. Ancient texts from Asia, Egypt, and the Mediterranean describe rituals and procedures involving aromatic perfumes used to lift the spirit and provide healing treatments with ointments, oils, and poultices made from plants. Mood enhancing aromatic oils, particularly derived from citrus, stem from China. Egyptians are credited with the creation of the first distillation machine, which extracted plant oils like cedarwood, cinnamon, and clove used to embalm the dead. In Greece, Hippocrates (460-377BC), the “father of medicine” regularly incorporated plant essences for fumigation during the plague and is quoted with saying “the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.”

 

What are the most popular essential oils and how can I start exploring them?

Each essential oil has its own unique properties, benefits, and scent. The five most popular essential oils are lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, and tea tree. These oils can be used alone, or often plant oils with similar or complimentary properties may be carefully blended to produce synergistic and powerful blends (more on that below). Other oils becoming more mainstream include oregano, bergamot, ylang ylang, frackincense, lemongrass, sweet orange oil (found in our Nature Loves You - Hand and Surface Sanitizing Spray) and sandalwood.

One of the most popular oils is lavender essential oil. Chosen for its relaxing, balancing, and calming properties, lavender is often found in massage oils and bath products. Research shows it may be helpful with treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Also, with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, this amazing essential oil is effective for soothing minor burns and bug bites. (Product reference?)

 

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Another popular plant oil with a cooling effect is peppermint. Through inhalation, peppermint soothes respiratory infections, and eases motion sickness and headaches. When applied topically, this oil can calm itchy skin, and ease aches and pains. Eucalyptus is praised for its decongesting properties, while it also helps relax and clear the mind. This essential oil can even give the immune system a boost. At our B. Ready’s shop, we have just added Breathe Deeply Aromatherapy Spritz, made with 100% pure essential oils, it is a cool, minty and refreshing blend of organic peppermint, eucalyptus, and other oils.

Lemon is often used for household cleaning as a powerful degreaser. Its scent is invigorating and uplifts environments and can improve focus. A 2006 study titled “Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice” demonstrates this powerful essential oil both improves mood and reduces anxiety. Tip: A bowls of fresh lemons will create a harmonious energy in your kitchen or dining space.

Tea tree essential oil is widely used for keeping hair, skin, and nails healthy as it has powerful antibacterial and antifungal qualities. Used to fight acne, help wounds heal, eliminate nail fungus and athlete’s foot, and control dandruff, this essential oil is a must for the medicine cabinet. Tea tree oil has also been shown effective as an insect repellent.

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What are popular aromatherapy treatments?

To benefit from the inhalation of essential oils, try putting a few drops of oil in a home diffuser. Experience a healing spa-like treatment by opting for a facial or steam bath. For a wonderful bedtime ritual to fall into restful slumber, try an aromatic spritzer like our Sleep Deeply Darling Aromatherapy Spritz. Thoughtfully blended with organic peppermint, eucalyptus, and additional therapeutic oils, this refreshing spritz is perfect for your travel wellness kit. Spritz and breathe deep for improved mental alertness, to relieve stress, or anytime you need a natural pick-me-up. Another great travel option is an essential oil inhaler such as the Motion Ease Aromatherapy Inhaler.  Peppermint is the primary ingredient, along with a proprietary blend of black pepper, lavender, orange, patchouli, and ylang ylang essential oils. Add this therapeutic inhaler to any travel safety pack for relief from travel sickness, nausea, and to help settle the stomach.

For topical applications, select aromatic oils and lotion for massage care and skin moisturizing. Try skin-loving facial masks and compresses, or ease muscle tension and aches and pains with bath salts and bombs. Safe for hands and most non-porous surfaces, stay germ-free and enjoy the benefits of citrus essential oils in our Nature Loves You Hand and Surface Sanitizing Spray found in the Premium Wellness Pack and the Cruise Travel Pack.

Breathe


Are there risks, unpleasant side effects, or times not to use aromatherapy?

Although plants are natural, they still contain chemicals and can cause adverse reactions in some people. To do an essential oil allergy test, first dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil, like olive oil, to twice the concentration that is planned for use. Next apply a quarter-sized amount to the inside of the forearm. Wait 24-48 hours to see if a rash develops. Please note topical essential oils generally have a maximum concentration of 5%.

Be aware of phototoxicity, which is an increased sensitivity and potential to burn in the sun if applying oils topically before spending time outside. This most commonly occurs with citrus oils like lemon.

Further, it is not recommended to consume essential oils since some are toxic when ingested. Keep in mind that pregnant women and children may have a higher sensitivity to plant extracts. Additionally, animals including birds, cats and dogs may have adverse allergic reactions to certain aromatherapy essential oils like tea tree oil, so it is best not to use certain plant oils on animals or in a diffuser in the same room. Many essential oils are toxic to our animal companions. When in doubt, use caution and contact a health care provider or veterinarian.

If incorporating aromatherapy to compliment medical treatments or if taking prescription medication, talk with your medical professional to tailor a supportive plan and avoid unwanted side effects.



B. Ready with aromatherapy

While stress is part of life, choosing mindful responses can make a powerful and positive impact on our health and wellness. And learning to be more present allows us to find boundless joy in ordinary moments. Incorporating aromatherapy into everyday experiences can make a stressful event more relaxing, provide emotional comfort when it is needed, and restore and revitalize ourselves so we can embrace the journey every day.

To read about a powerful healing plant, visit our recent travel mag wellness post: The Natural Superpowers & Immune Boost of Elderberry.

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