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It is easy and relatively safe to get started using essential oils for aromatherapy, but there are some things you should understand first to maximize the benefits of aromatherapy while reducing the risks.
Three Main Ways to Use Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
- Aerial – This involves using some kind of medium to get the aroma of the essential oil into the air. The best way to do this by using a fixed or portable diffuser. These devices are designed to disperse the aromas into the atmosphere. You get the benefits of the essential oil as you inhale the diffused oil. Using an aromatherapy candle also serves the same purpose.
- Inhalation – In the inhalation method, you put a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and inhale the vapors regularly. Alternatively, you place a few drops of oil into a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam directly. This method is often used as a quick way to get the essential oil into the system to help with disinfection.
- Topical – Topical application involves applying the essential oil directly to the skin as in lotions, carrier oils, compresses, and baths. You should always blend the essential oil with an appropriate carrier oil before applying to your skin as concentrated oils can irritate the skin.
Which Aromatherapy Method Works Best?
No one aromatherapy method works best for everybody and for all purposes.
The method you choose to use will depend on the purpose you are using it for. You will begin to understand the benefits of each method better as you begin to use essential oils in your daily life.
For example, Lavender, Chamomile or Rose essential oils are great for relaxation. Adding a few drops of any of these oils to your bath is an excellent way to de-stress and relax at the end of a hectic day. Nothing works better than soaking in a warm bath to which a few drops of these oils are added.
On the other hand, inhalation is a more effective way to use aromatherapy for treating a headache, stuffed sinus or issues with respiratory passages. You simply put a few drops of essential oil in whatever diffuser you have or put a few drops on a tissue or on your pillow before you go to bed and inhale the aromas.
Topical application or massaging oils into the skin is generally used to reduce joint pain. It is also used to keep skin looking softer and younger.
Aromatherapy and essential oils can go far in treating a number of ailments if you understand the basics first. That will help you know which method will work best and also which essential oil to use for various purposes.
Here’s a snapshot of the different conditions and how you can use aromatherapy and essential oils to treat each one:
- To release tension and relax – Put 1-2 drops of a relaxing essential oil such as lavender, chamomile or bergamot in your favorite diffuser or on the hot melted wax of a burning candle. As the room fills with the soothing aroma, you will feel the tension ebbing away.
- To relieve stress headaches – Rub a drop of lavender oil on the back of your neck. Continue rubbing gently for a few minutes.
- To boost energy – Put 1-2 drops of citrus oil such as orange or lemon and half cup of water into a spray bottle. Spray the air around you.
- To soothe painful muscles and arthritis-related joint pain – Mix 1 – 2 drops of sage with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil. Massage this blend into the affected area.
- To alleviate depression – Put a few drops each of lavender and geranium essential oils in a warm water bath and soak in it for at least half an hour before going to bed at night. The aromas combined with the warm water will reduce depression and help you fall sleep peacefully. Here you can read more about the best essential oils for depression.
- To reduce stress while driving – Put some essential oil onto a cotton ball and leave it under the seat in the car. It will help you stay calm and clear your mind while driving.
- To get over a hangover – Fill a small plastic basin or your bathroom sink with hot water. Add a few drops each of lavender, grapefruit, rosemary, cedarwood, lemon and fennel to the water. Dip a clean washcloth into the solution, ring out the excess water and place the damp cloth on your forehead and/or neck for a few minutes. Repeat several times.
- To boost benefits of your massage – Massages are stress relieving in and of themselves, but adding some essential oils is a great way to reduce stress, cure headaches, eliminate or relieve pain and more.
- To overcome nausea & motion sickness – Put 1- 2 drops of lavender oil behind your ears. The gentle aroma of the oil helps overcome motion sickness and nausea.
- To stop nosebleeds – Make your own compress by adding a drop or two of lavender oil on a tissue or cloth. Press the aromatic cloth under the base of the nose to help stop the bleeding.
- To feel calm and collected no matter where you are – Train stations at peak hours, closed buses, crowded footpaths and even cramped office spaces can leave you feeling stressed. When you find yourself in any one of these situations, inhaling the aromas of lavender oil can do wonders to leaving you feeling relaxed. You can put a few drops on a kerchief or cotton ball and inhale or add a drop to your skin lotion and rub on your hands and arms.
- To soothe angry insect bites – Put 1-2 drops of lavender oil on the affected area and rub gently. The ingredients of the oil calm the skin and reduce the itching and pain.
Equipment You Need to Get Started with Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
To enjoy the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy, it is important to know more about the different types of equipment you need. This will help you incorporate essential oils into your life more easily.
There are several different types of oil burners that you can choose from. You can find electric, metal, glass, ceramic and even soapstone oil burners.
All of these burners work the same way and they are just as effective. They use either a tea light candle or a plug to warm the oil. Their differences lie in their physical appearance and cost. When making a choice look for one that appeals to you most and is within your budget.
The way oil burners work, is they fill the room with the scent of the oil you put into it. As the oil burner heats up, it warms the oil, causing it to evaporate into the air.
Burning oil like this can reduce some of the medicinal effects but it can be a great way to improve the room ambiance, as well as get the oil into the air quickly and effectively.
A great thing about an oil burner is you can put many different types of oil together to make your own treatment. Of course, you should only do this once you have learned some more about the properties of each oil and how they interact with each other.
Using a compress is the quickest and easiest way to get started with aromatherapy without any major investment. You can make a compress at home using essential oil sheets, a strip of gauze or any clean, soft cloth.
A compress can be hot or cold. Simply put some of the essential oil in some water, then soak the compress, wring it out and place on the affected area.
For example, if you have a headache you can put it on your forehead or your neck. If you have a sprain, place the compress directly on the sprain. Compresses work because essential oils can be absorbed into the skin as well as be inhaled through the nose.
Essential oils come in colored glass bottles, which is great if you are want to use just that one particular oil. However, a few extra colored glass bottles will come in handy if you want to create your own blends.
For example, you might mix mint and lemon into a blend to use for extra energy, or you may want to blend chamomile and lavender to help you relax. Whether you are using individual essential oils or a blend of oils, these must be stored in glass bottles.
Remember to also use glass bottles when mixing essential oils and carrier oils to use on your skin. Do not store your lotion in plastic bottles or containers. Glass bottles will keep the oils fresh longer. Having a couple of extra bottles is a good idea so that you can premix.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should use only dark colored – brown or cobalt – glass bottles as transparent glass will let the light in, which can also ruin the oil.
Here are a few different types of glass bottles that you can choose from, for storing your essential oils.
Diffusers offer a way to distribute the oils into the air so that you can process it within your body. There are pros and cons of each one. Use the method that works best for you depending on the reason you’re using the essential oils.
These are some of the types of diffusers that you can use for aromatherapy:
- Evaporative – Evaporative diffusers work by using a fan that blows air on a cloth or pad that contains drops of essential oils. The draft disperses the oil vapors into the air and blows it around the room. You get the benefits as you inhale in the scented air. Evaporative diffusers make the whole room smell good but on the downside, some of the properties of the essential oils are destroyed in the evaporation process so you do not get all of the healthful benefits of the oil.
- Nebulizing – A nebulizing diffuser works on the same principle as a perfume atomizer. When you press the atomizer, the oil gets turned into very tiny droplets, which get released as a fine mist with a burst of air. When using a nebulizer, you must be careful that you release only a little at a time to avoid using too much.
- Humidifying – In a humidifying diffuser, a combination of vibration and air transforms the oils into small particles that are perfect for inhalation. Works great for respiratory problems and for infusing an entire room with essential oils.
- Ultrasonic – This method of distribution uses vibrations to turn the oil into a very fine mist creating tiny micro particles that are easily absorbed into the lungs. It is accomplished without the use of any type of heat. You get ultrasonic diffusers that are specially designed for the purpose.
- Heat – This method uses a flame or electricity to heat and causes the essential oil to evaporate into the air. Many oils break down with the use of heat and sometimes this can ruin the medicinal effect. This is one of the less popular ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy and is used only in the absence of any other option.
The type of diffuser you use will depend on what you are trying to accomplish and your budget. With diffusion, you can improve the environment, reduce stress, help improve insomnia, feel happier, more alert and even reduce airborne pathogens.
Read my reviews of the ZAQ Allay Litemist Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser and the URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser to learn more about two highly rated diffusers.
Using Essential Oils Safely
While essential oils are all natural and relatively safe, it is important to be aware of issues that can arise with the use of essential oils for aromatherapy.
Read and follow all labels carefully – When you buy any essential oils from a supplier the bottle or packaging may have instructions regarding usage and precautions. Always, always, follow these instructions.
Know your carrier oils – Most essential oils are too strong to put directly on your skin and need to be mixed with a carrier oil before application. There are several different types of carrier oils and you have to know which oils can be mixed together to avoid any potential reaction.
Always test new oils before use – Everyone has different sensitivities and allergies. Be sure to test any new oil that you want to use in a small spot like inside your arm where your elbow bends to ensure that you’re not allergic to it before you soak in it in the bath or put it in an oil burner to inhale throughout a room.
A little goes a long way – Sometimes we get carried away and think that when something is good or helpful for use, more may work even better. But when it comes to essential oils, less is more. Just use a little. If a recipe calls for 2 drops don’t use 4.
Using essential oils for aromatherapy is safe and effective for most purposes but these are potent substances and must be used carefully. Taking proper precautions will help you enjoy the benefits with minimum risk.
Have you just started using essential oils for aromatherapy? Did you have any problems or did it all go smoothly? Reading about other people’s experiences can help all of us get the maximum benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls, so please do share your experience with aromatherapy so far.
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