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Aromatherapy: The Miraculous Natural Cure

Aromatherapy is now a very popular practice. It started way back during the times of the
early civilizations of China and Greece. It then began to be widely used all over the world.
Today a lot of people from all parts of the world adhere to this practice. Traditional Chinese
doctors use plants and other natural products to ease symptoms. Some used it to produce
aroma to fill the room. They believed that it would ease certain symptoms. And true enough,
recent studies have shown that these aromatic oils are indeed effective in addressing various
health concerns.
As an effective and useful practice, it grew popularity all over the world. Aside from inhaling
them they can also be applied to certain parts of the body as disinfectant or as relief for pain.
One of the top essential oils around is the lavender oil. Many love it because of its mild scent
and the benefits that it can give. Lavender oil is an extract from lavender flowers. The
extraction process involves distillation. The essences coming from this process are being used
for aromatherapy and other health and wellness practices.
Aromatherapy is the systematic use of volatile plant oils known as essential oils for the
treatment or prevention of disease. It is a form of complementary therapy designed to treat
the whole person and not just the symptom or disease by assisting the body's natural ability to
balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself.
Essential oils consist of tiny aromatic molecules that are readily absorbed via the skin, and
whilst breathing they enter the lungs. These therapeutic constituents next enter the
bloodstream and are carried around the body where they can deliver their beneficial healing
powers. Because they are highly concentrated, only a small quantity of essential oil is
required to bring about results.
When using good quality essential oils correctly, the soothing combination of beautiful
aromas, massage, aromatic baths and other treatments all work to regulate, balance, heal and
maintain your entire being by working with nature, and not against it. A far cry from
allopathic medicine, which tends to take a 'sledgehammer to crack a nut' approach.

A holistic approach
Today, aromatherapy is one of the most popular of all complementary therapies, offering a
wide range of highly effective treatments to both the acute and chronic stages of illness and
disease. At the same time, regular use of aromatherapy treatments and home-use products can
help to strengthen the immune system, thereby establishing a preventative approach to overall
health.
One of the reasons that aromatherapy has been so hugely successful is because it uses a
holistic approach, whereby the aromatherapist takes into account a persons medical history,
emotional condition, general health and lifestyle before planning a course of treatment. The
whole person is treated - not just the symptoms of an illness - and this is in direct opposition
to the modern trend of just treating the presented condition.
Backache, irritable bowel syndrome or headaches, for example, are often the result of stress
and not actually a physical problem. Therefore no amount of pill-popping is really going to
provide a long term solution since it only masks the symptoms without addressing the
problems. By looking at the causes of the stress and providing treatments to ease and manage
it, the aromatherapist will alleviate the condition in a much more efficient manner.

Stress makes you sick


It has long been known that stress accounts for a staggering amount of illness in modern
society, and aromatherapy offers one of the finest ways of combating the ravages of stress
without having to resort to drugs which can be habit forming and damaging to your health.
This is yet another reason that aromatherapists believe taking an holistic approach with
aromatherapy promotes positive physical and mental balance.
Scientists and doctors have known for a long time that negative and positive emotions really
can change the complex chemistry of our bodies, and these changes can have a negative or
positive effect on the immune system. For example, research has shown how prolonged stress
can cause the body to over-produce cortisol and adrenalin which are hormones produced by
the adrenal glands.
These two hormones are normally secreted to produce a burst of energy as part of the 'fight or
flight' response, and of course this response is an essential tool for survival. Prolonged

periods of emotional and psychological pressures however, means that the over-production of
these hormones can begin to weaken the integrity of the immune system because they reduce
the level of T-helper cells, and inhibit the production of natural killer cells.

Evidence based results


Research is continually re-affirming the efficacy of aromatherapy treatments, and the results
are now very hard to dismiss. A recent study in the USA has confirmed the long held belief
of aromatherapists that Jasmine is a powerful relaxant and an effective aid to restful sleep.
The researcher explained that the purpose of the study was specifically to investigate some of
the beliefs behind aromatherapy.
Dr. Bryan Raudenbush and his colleagues at the Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling,
West Virginia, found that people who slept in rooms fragranced with Jasmine appeared to
sleep more peacefully and reported higher afternoon alertness than when spending the night
in a Lavender-scented room, or one with no added fragrance at all. Similar research around
the world has proven time and again the wide range of benefits that can be received from the
multifaceted art of aromatherapy.

Cruelty-free therapy
This natural form of complementary therapy dating back to ancient times is being warmly
embraced by today's environmentally conscious and caring society, in which people are
increasingly unwilling to accept the cruelty inflicted on animals in the unnecessary testing of
drugs and beauty products.
The essential oils used within aromatherapy have been tried and tested on humans for
thousands of years, and with great success. Therefore, when used correctly we can be
absolutely sure of their safety and efficacy without the need to test them further on animals.

How Aromatherapy works


When applied to the body, essential oils penetrate the skin via the hair follicles and sweat
glands and are absorbed into the body fluids, where they not only help to kill bacteria and
viruses but also stimulate the body's immune system, thereby strengthening resistance to
further attack.
Some essential oils increase the circulation and help with the efficient elimination of toxins,
others promote new cell growth and encourage the body's natural ability to heal itself. Each
essential oil has its own character and aroma, exhibiting a varying number of properties and
benefits which are unique to itself, since no two essential oils are quite the same.
The minute molecules of essential oils are readily absorbed into the bloodstream when they
are inhaled as the lungs work to oxygenate the blood. This form of absorption is most
efficient when inhaling essential oils from a tissue, diffusing them in a vaporizer, or adding
them to your bathwater. The aroma sends a signal directly to the Limbic System in the brain
which is the centre of emotions, memory and sexual arousal. This is why essential oils have
such a powerful effect on our moods and general state of mind, as we will see later.

Magical combination
Massage is one of the best ways to enjoy aromatherapy because you not only receive the
therapeutic properties of the essential oils, but you also get the wonderful benefits of the
massage itself. The therapeutic action of the essential oils when brought together with the
revitalising effects of massage stimulate all of the organs in the body, plus the skin, muscles,
nerves and glands. The increased circulation of the blood and lymph flow also assists with the
clearing away of body toxins.
Because essential oils can influence our emotions, aromatherapy can help to lift depression,
soothe irritable nerves and generally encourage a better state of mind. It has been discovered
that relaxing oils such as Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Clary Sage, Sandalwood, Frankincense
and Ylang Ylang work by stimulating a neuro-chemical called serotonin that is naturally
produced by the body to help relaxation and induce sleep. It is this action that makes these
oils so invaluable in helping long-term conditions such as insomnia, stress and tension.

Cycle of illness
Physical illness that has continued over a long period of time causes a negative emotional
state, and this can eventually lead to a compromised immune system. This situation can be
particularly devastating since the weakened immune system will now be more vulnerable to
further infection, and another new infection can lead to even further emotional depression. A
downward spiral of emotional and physical health can ensue, producing a vicious cycle of
illness that can be very difficult to break without the correct treatment.
Scientists have proven that negative and positive emotions really can change the complex
chemistry of our bodies, and these changes can have a negative or positive effect on the
immune system. For example, some research has shown how prolonged stress can cause the
body to over-produce cortisol and adrenalin which are hormones produced by the adrenal
glands.

Fight or flight
These two hormones are normally secreted to produce a burst of energy as part of the 'fight or
flight' response, and of course this response is an essential tool for survival. Prolonged
periods of emotional and psychological pressures however, means that the over-production of
these hormones can begin to weaken the integrity of the immune system because they reduce
the level of T-helper cells, and inhibit the production of natural killer cells.
The research leading to this discovery supports the claims of aromatherapists who have
always believed that the sense of well being produced after using essential oils in a treatment
can help to boost the immune system, especially in cases of stress and depression where the
immune system has become depleted. Regular treatments using essential oils and
aromatherapy massage

helps

to

break

the

cycle

of

depression

which

causes

immunodeficiency, whilst at the same time helping to boost the depleted immune system.

Two way street


It has also been proven recently that a communication network exists between the immune
system and the nervous and endocrine systems. This points to the mind-body communication
pathway being a two-way street - not only do your emotions and thoughts influence your

health, but the immune system appears to inform the brain and endocrine organs of the
changes.
Small protein hormones called cytokines are secreted by many types of white blood cells and
also in the brain. Cytokines appear to act as chemical messengers in this communication
network, and the results of all this research opens up a mind-boggling range of exciting
possibilities for future medicine. Further research into this fascinating subject will no doubt
continue until what has been learned can be put into practice with modern medicine.
Meanwhile, those of us who enjoy aromatherapy will quietly carry on putting into practice
what Plato had discovered over 2,000 years ago. Since it has now been proven by scientists
that essential oils can influence both the mind and the body - as we have always claimed perhaps the skeptics will accept this and at last understand why aromatherapy has been so
effective and popular for all these years.

Last word
Aromatherapy excels as a form of complementary and alternative medicine, helping and
bringing relief to millions of people where conventional medicine currently fails. Of this
there can surely be no doubt. But there is one more area where aromatherapy is more
effective than possibly any other healing paradigm.
It has long been understood that preventative measures go a very long way towards protecting
the body against all types of illness. Therefore the relaxing and de-stressing influence of
essential oils and massage, together with their effect on the immune system, places
aromatherapy in the pre-eminent position as the finest preventative medicine.
And no matter what your opinion or beliefs may currently be about the efficacy of
aromatherapy, there is one thing that we can all surely agree on: Prevention really is much
better than cure.

The History of Aromatherapy


Pt 1: 3,500 BC - 199 AD
The roots of Aromatherapy can be traced back more than 3,500 years before the birth of
Christ, to a time when the use of aromatics was first recorded in human history. In reality, the
history of aromatherapy is inexorably linked to the development of aromatic medicine, which
in the early days was itself combined with religion, mysticism and magic.
This was a time when the ancient Egyptians first burned incense made from aromatic woods,
herbs and spices in honour of their gods. They believed that as the smoke rose up to the
heavens, it would carry their prayers and wishes directly to the deities. Eventually, the
development of aromatics as medicines would create the foundations that aromatherapy was
built upon.

Look to eternity
During the 3rd Dynasty (2650-2575 BC) in Egypt, the process of embalming and
mummification was developed by the Egyptians in their search for immortality.
Frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, cinnamon, cedarwood, juniper berry and spikenard are all
known to have been used at some stage to preserve the bodies of their royalty in preparation
of the after-life.
The valuable herbs and spices they needed were laboriously transported across inhospitable
deserts by Arab merchants for distribution to Assyria, Babylon, China, Egypt, Greece, Rome
and Persia. The most sought after materials were frankincense and myrrh, and because during
those early trading years demand outstripped supply they had a value equal to that of gems
and precious metals.

Masters of perfumery
The Egyptians loved to use simple fragrances in their daily lives and did so at every
opportunity. At festivals and celebrations women wore perfumed cones on their heads which
would melt under the heat, releasing their beautiful fragrance. After bathing, they would

anoint their bodies with oil to protect them from the drying effects of the baking sun and to
rejuvenate their skin.
During the period between the 18th and the 25th Dynasty (1539-657 BC), the Egyptians
continued to refine their use of aromatics in incense, medicine, cosmetics, and finally
perfumes. Until just a few hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Egyptian perfumery
industry was celebrated as the finest in the whole of the Middle East and beyond. So great
was their reputation as master perfumers, that when Julius Caesar returned home with
Cleopatra after conquering Egypt around 48 BC, perfume bottles were tossed to the crowds to
demonstrate his total domination over Egypt.

Enter the Greeks


The richness of the Egyptian botanical pharmacopoeia had already been assimilated by many
other cultures during previous millennia; the Assyrians, Babylonians and Hebrews had all
borrowed from their vast knowledge of aromatic medicine. As the Egyptian Empire crumbled
into decline around 300 BC, Europe became the heart of empirical medicine, where new
methods were steadily evolving into a more scientifically based system of healing.
The earliest known Greek physician was Asclepius who practiced around 1200 BC
combining the use of herbs and surgery with previously unrivalled skill. His reputation was
so great that after his death he was deified as the god of healing in Greek mythology, and
thousands of lavish healing temples known as Asclepieion were erected in his honor
throughout the Grecian world.

The Father of Medicine


Hippocrates (circa 460-377 BC) was the first physician to dismiss the Egyptian belief that
illness was caused by supernatural forces. Instead, he believed the doctor should try to
discover natural explanations for disease by observing the patient carefully, and make a
judgment only after consideration of the symptoms.
His treatments would typically employ mild physio-therapies, baths, massage with infusions,
or the internal use of herbs such as fennel, parsley, hypericum or valerian. Hippocrates is said
to have studied and documented over 200 different herbs during his lifetime. He believed that
surgery should be used only as a last resort and was among the first to regard the entire body

as an organism. Therefore we have Hippocrates to thank for a concept fundemental to true


aromatherapy - that of holism.

Founders of botany & pharmacology


After Alexander's invasion of Egypt in the 3rd century BC, the use of aromatics, herbs and
perfumes became much more popular in Greece prompting great interest in all things
fragrant. Theophrastus of Athens who was a philosopher and student of Aristotle,
investigated everything about plants and even how scents affected the emotions. He wrote
several volumes on botany including 'The History of Plants', which became one of the three
most important botanical science references for centuries to come. He is generally referred to
today as the Founder of Botany.
The next great luminary was the Greek military physician Dioscorides (40-90 AD) who
served in Nero's army. In order to study herbs, Dioscorides marched with Roman armies to
Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain, recording everything that he discovered. He described the
plants habitat, how it should be prepared and stored, and described full accounts of its healing
properties. His results were published in a comprehensive 5 volume work called 'De Materia
Medica', also known as 'Herbarius'.
This epic publication was the first ever systematic pharmacopoeia and contained 1000
different botanical medications, plus descriptions and illustrations of approximately 600
different plants and aromatics. His magnificent work was so influential he has been bestowed
the accolade, the Father of Pharmacology.

Of gladiators and emperors


Perhaps the most brilliant and influential of all Greek physicians was Claudius Galen, who
lived from 129-199 AD and studied medicine from the age of seventeen. He began his
medical career aged 28 under Roman employ treating the wounds of gladiators with
medicinal herbs. This unique experience provided him with the opportunity to study wounds
of all kinds, and it is said that not a single gladiator died of battle wounds while under the
care of Galen.
Due to his phenomenal success he quickly rose to become the personal physician to the
Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and since Rome was a thriving academic center during

the lifetime of Galen it was the ideal place for him to conduct further research. Galen was the
last of the great Greco-Roman physicians, and within 100 years of his death the Roman
Empire would begin to decline, plunging Europe into the dark ages.
As the Romans began pulling out of Britain, much of their medical knowledge was discarded
and all progress in the Western tradition of medicine came to a halt for hundreds of years.
During this period, Europe sank into the lowest depths of barbarism recorded in history, and
it would be the turn of another culture to carry the torch of aromatic medicine forward.

Absolutes - what they are and how they're


made
The delicate nature of many flowers means that steam distillation can not be used to extract
the fragrant oil because the intense heat destroys the flowers, causing them to become
compacted into a solid mass that steam is unable to penetrate. If the steam is unable to move
freely through the flowers during distillation it is impossible to extract the oil.
Even where special apparatus has been developed to assist the penetration of steam, the very
high temperatures needed to produce the steam will often have a negative effect on the aroma
of the oil that is extracted. So with the exception of a few oils such as neroli and rose otto,
steam distillation is usually unable to capture a true representation of the flowers fragrance,
often producing an oil that is totally unlike the aroma of the original plant. Obviously, this is
not ideal.
To address this problem a special process was developed that does not damage the delicate
flowers and captures far more of the flowers true aroma than is possible with steam
distillation. In addition, because this process does not use any heat or water, none of the
important water-soluble aromatic compounds are lost as they are in steam distillation. This
means a higher yield is obtained from a crop when producing absolutes rather than extracting
the oil by steam distillation.

How are absolutes made?


In the first stage of the process the plant material is placed in a cylindrical drum along with an
organic solvent, usually hexane or toluene. The drum is rotated to aid the absorption of the
solvent and to separate the odiferous extract, and this extract is then subjected to vacuum
distillation to remove the solvent which can then be recycled. The aromatic material obtained
after this first process is known as a concrte or resinoid, depending if the extract is waxy or
resinous.
Concrtes and resinoids are used in a wide range of industries, but specialist knowledge is
required to use them because they are very difficult to work with due to their thick, heavy

consistency. This is why concretes and resinoids (with the exception of benzoin) are rarely
used in aromatherapy.
The second stage in this process involves using ethanol (alcohol) to separate the aromatic
compounds from pigments and waxes, which are usually present in the extracted material if it
is derived from a flower or herb. Many of these waxes have little aromatic value and make
the oil difficult to use due to their insolubility, although these waxes are useful in skin care
products. After being chilled, the waxes and non-odiferous materials become separated and
are removed, the remainder is filtered, and finally the alcohol is recovered using vacuum
distillation.

Heavier consistency
When an aromatic oil is extracted this way the oil is referred to as an absolute rather than an
essential oil, and its fragrance is far more concentrated than an oil obtained either by steam
distillation or cold expression. Absolutes are often much thicker in consistency than essential
oils too, and many need warming to make them mobile enough to pour out. Some absolutes
are so viscous that they set completely at the bottom of the container, but simply placing the
bottle in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes will get the oil flowing properly.

Closer to nature
When extracted expertly, an absolute will contain far more of the aromatic principles of the
flower than its steam distilled counterpart which is why it smells closer to nature. Because of
this, many popular herbs and spices such as basil, cardamon, clary sage, clove bud, geranium,
ginger, lavender and peppermint are also extracted using this process and are often the
preferred choice for manufacturers in some industries.
Because absolutes are so concentrated they usually overpower the untrained nose and need
diluting before they once again smell like the herb or flower they were extracted from.Few
aromatherapy students can identify the aroma of undiluted rose absolute when first
introduced to it because it completely overwhelms their olfactiry system. Fortunately, the
human brain quickly adapts and with practice the aroma soon becomes recognizable.
Examples of other absolutes of a floral or leafy nature used in aromatherapy include
champaka, jasmine, mimosa, orange flower (neroli), tuberose, violet leaf and ylang ylang. If

you are not already familiar with these fragrant delights you may well wonder why you have
not heard or read more about them, especially if they smell so good. There is a simple answer
to this question . . .

Bad press
Unfortunately, absolutes have acquired a bit of a bad reputation in aromatherapy due to
misinformation being recycled in books and on the net. The concerns are related to the
solvent and alcohol residues left in absolutes which are claimed to be unacceptably high for
use in aromatherapy. However, this issue dates back to the late 1950s when this process was
still in its infancy and quality standards were a great deal lower, as pointed out by experts at
that time such as Steffan Arctander (Perfume and Flavour Materials of Natural Origin, 1961).
The world was a very different place back in the 1950s, especially when it came to
extracting oils, and notions of quality and purity were not the same as in todays ethicallyaware society. At that time benzene was often used as the solvent for producing absolutes
(plus many other things), but today it is known to be a carcinogen and its use is highly
restricted. When manufactured correctly today using safer solvents, any residues remaining in
absolutes should be in the order of around10 parts per million. This means that when they are
diluted down to their correct level at around 1%, any residues will be diluted down to parts
per trillion!
Perhaps it could be argued that poor manufacturing standards may result in unacceptably high
levels of residues, but it should be noted that because many absolutes are permitted food
flavourings the levels of residues are strictly monitored to meet FDA, EEC and WHO
regulatory controls. In any case, solvents are very expensive and manufacturers are more than
keen to recapture every last drop of them for recycling, so there really is no incentive for
them to leave residues of any kind in the product. Of course, analytical testing with
GC/GCMS helps reveal unwanted residues.

Sense of proportion
Others have cited alcohol residues as a reason to avoid the use of absolutes in aromatherapy,
but a sense of proportion would be helpful here. There are thousands of skin care products
that contain alcohol and far worse ingredients at much higher levels therefore common sense

should rule when debating these issues. Regulations for the food industry are generally far
more stringent than those applied to cosmetics, so if absolutes are permitted as food additives
they should be perfectly safe on the skin provided they are of a good quality.
If you still feel unsure about using absolutes on the skin, remember that of course they are
great when vaporised to help address a wide range of emotional conditions. Many
experienced aromatherapists have found that absolutes are more effective than essential oils
on emotional states and prefer to use them for this purpose.
Absolutes really do offer a wonderful way to recapture floral fragrances more accurately, and
it always seems a pity for people not to enjoy the benefits due to misinformation. Whilst there
are several other methods of extracting essential oils that do not use solvents, the cost of the
specialist equipment required is much more expensive and this drives up the cost of the final
product.
Until such time that prices begin to fall for oils produced by these other methods of
extraction, nothing else comes close to the value for money that absolutes offer lovers of
aromatherapy when it comes to floral extracts. Dont let the recycled, outdated
misinformation still circulating in aromatherapy deter you from enjoying their many
therapeutic benefits.
The lavender extract exudes a mild flowery fragrance that a lot of people love. Because of
this, it has become a popular scent for soaps, lotions, body sprays and other beauty products.
Yet theres more to it than just the scent because it also offers so many health benefits.
Here are some of the things you can get from lavender oil:
Relaxation-the mild scent that it emits calms your nerves and allows you to relax. It
provides relief from all the stresses and can also aid in sleep problems. Behavioral or
mood disorders can also be addressed by lavender oils.
Massage-the use of lavender oil for massaging can also relieve some aches and pains.
It helps improve blood circulation and is a really good relief for rheumatism and
arthritis.

Hair and skin care-lavender essential oils can be used as anti-bacterial and antifungal solutions. This helps treat or prevent acne and other skin infections. Aside
from that, it can also be used to treat hair problems such as dandruff. Lavender oil is
not just good for aromatherapy but for various other uses as well.

How to Choose the Right Essential Oil?


A Quick Recap on Aromatherapy
Stress has become an inseparable part of our lives. To fight it, people are consuming a large
number of medicines and chemicals that can eventually damage their bodies. The best
approach to reduce stress is to concentrate on the mind rather than the body since a refreshed
mind can drive away stress. There are many natural methods to reduce stress such as physical
exercise, yoga, massage, traveling, or just plain relaxing. Another natural method of stress
reduction is aromatherapy. Let us first explain what aromatherapy is.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a process of using essential oils for therapeutic benefits. Several scientific
studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of aromatherapy and all of them have
accepted that aromatherapy can reduce stress and provide therapeutic benefits. The distinctive
nature of this therapy is that the extracted oils have a typical aroma that helps to bring
comfort to the body and mind. In fact, because the main process of healing is dependant on
the aroma of the oils, the therapy is called aromatherapy.

What are Essential Oils?


Essential oils are oils extracted from natural resources like tree bark, roots, fruits and flowers.
These kinds of oils have healing properties and can assist in healing physical as well as
mental ailments.
ESSENTIAL OIL

An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds


from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or
simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is
"essential" in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant.

While the unique chemical and molecular properties of essential oils are a topic of study,
they are commonly defined by the fact that they convey characteristic fragrances. It follows
that the common tendency to speak of essential oils as a category, as if that implied
anything in particular about their medical, pharmacological, or culinary properties, is highly
unreliable and often actually dangerous.
Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. Other processes include expression, or
solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products, for
flavoring food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products.
Various essential oils have been used medicinally at different periods in history. Medical
application proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to
remedies for cancer, and often are based on nothing better than historical accounts of use
of essential oils for these purposes. Claims for the efficacy of medical treatments and
treatment of cancers in particular, are now subject to regulation in most countries, and to
avoid criminal liability, suppliers of fringe remedies are becoming increasingly vague in what
they promise.
As the use of essential oils has declined in evidence-based medicine, one must consult older
textbooks for much information on their use. Modern works are less inclined to generalize;
rather than refer to "essential oils" as a class at all, they prefer to discuss specific
compounds, such as methyl salicylate, rather than "oil of wintergreen".
Interest in essential oils has revived in recent decades with the popularity of aromatherapy,
a branch of alternative medicine that claims that essential oils and other aromatic
compounds have curative effects. Oils are volatilized or diluted in a carrier oil and used in
massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer, heated over a candle flame, or burned as
incense.
The techniques and methods first used to produce essential oils was first mentioned by Ibn
al-Baitar (11881248), an Andalusian physician, pharmacist and chemist.

Distillation
Today, most common essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus, are
distilled. Raw plant material, consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or
peel, is put into an alembic (distillation apparatus) over water. As the water is heated, the
steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the volatile compounds. The vapors
flow through a coil, where they condense back to liquid, which is then collected in the
receiving vessel.
Most oils are distilled in a single process. One exception is ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata),
which takes 22 hours to complete through a fractional distillation.
The recondensed water is referred to as a hydrosol, hydrolat, herbal distillate or plant water
essence, which may be sold as another fragrant product. Popular hydrosols include rose
water, lavender water, lemon balm, clary sage and orange blossom water. The use of herbal
distillates in cosmetics is increasing. Some plant hydrosols have unpleasant smells and are
therefore not sold

A Short note on the History of Aromatherapy:


Aromatherapy has been discovered by a chemist called Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. Maurice
Gattefosse discovered essential oils and their therapeutic benefits when he accidentally burnt
his hand and used lavender oil (one of the essential oils) to ease the pain. The effect was
miraculous and this led the French chemist to investigate further into the therapeutic benefits
of essential oils. He researched for many years and his research clearly revealed that essential
oils could effectively cure ailments afflicting both the body and the mind.

How to Choose Essential Oil and Benefits Of Aromatherapy Explained


There are many benefits of aromatherapy. In this chapter we list a few of them.
Aromatherapy can help you:
combat stress and depression
minimize physical pains and aches
calm down nerves and fight neurological disorders.
fight skin infections and other infectious diseases.
boost immunity systems
relieve menstrual cramps
get relief from tension related headaches.

True, Aromatherapy cannot cure serious diseases; however it can assist in relieving various
minor ailments (especially those induced by stress and tension!)

Here are some great benefits of aromatherapy:


Medicinal - Its original purpose of medication still remains up to this day. A lot of these
oils have medicinal purposes. Some have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that
can be helpful when inhaled or even when they are applied to infected surfaces. Menthol oils
can also be inhaled to relieve cold symptoms.
Calming - A lot of aromatic fragrances can help calm you down.
Stress relieving - Stress can easily be driven away by these aromatic oils. The nerves are
being calmed thus allowing you to think clearly and in a relaxed manner.
Sleep inducing - Those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders can benefit a
lot from aromatic oils. The relaxed feeling from these scents will help calm you and put you
to sleep during stressful and restless times.
Healing - Aromatic oils are not just medicinal but also pain relieving. As a relaxant, it can
help soothe body aches and joint pains.
Boosting the immune system - The best immune system booster is to get rid of stress and
have enough sleep. This helps prevent you from getting sick too often.
Modifying behavior-A lot of people find it hard to handle their moods at times. But studies
have shown that those who use essential oils become less irritable and have better moods.
This is useful especially for those who have hormonal imbalances or even mood disorders.
In fact essential oils used in aromatherapy have specific benefits which we will list for you.
Lavender Oil: This is a calming, relaxing oil which can help to combat stress related
symptoms. It also has therapeutic effects like helping a person to fight abdominal pains,
allergies, bowel disorders etc. If you are a person suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome
this oil may help you.
Rosewood Germanium: Can be used to combat many mental ailments such as depression,
nervousness, trauma, and insomnia.
Tea Tree Oil: Acne and Other Skin Problems can be treated with Tea treeoil. It can also
assist in promoting looking younger skin.
Grapefruit and sandalwood oil: If you have rough, problematic skin, then these two oils are
suitable for you. They can soothe and heal problem skin. At the same time, both these oils act
as an astringent and helps to clean skin pores.

Thymus Vulgaris and Peppermint Oil: Are effective remedies for skin problems such as
blackheads. These oils are also extremely effective in skin cleansing.
Lavender Calendula infused oil: Are you suffering from chapped or cracked skin in the
winter? Then this oil will help you.
Orange oil: If you have skin which looks aged, this oil has the ability to instantly revitalize
your skin.
Eucalyptus oil: This oil has many beneficial properties and one of its prime properties is that
it is extremely effective in fighting infections. It also acts as a bug repellant.
Cranberry Seed Oil: Does your hair lack luster and appears dull? Then Cranberry Seed Oil
will promote strong and healthy hair.
German Chamomile oil: This oil is extremely effective in fighting cough and colds and
helps to combat chest congesation.
Palma Rosa: This oil is effective in fighting eczema.
Rosemary Oil: If you are suffering from migraine headaches, then this is the oil to use. It
also helps to combat depression.
Lemongrass oil: This oil has a hydrating effect on the skin and helps to promote younger
looking skin.
Carrot seed Oil: This essential oil can help you to heal persistent scars and wounds.
Neroli Oil: Post pregnancy stretch marks can be effectively reduced by neroli oil. This oil
can also assist in fighting sexual disorders such as frigidity.
Helichrysum oil: If you are suffering from digestive ailments and bacterial infection, this oil
can help you.
How to Use Essential Oils in Aromatherapy
Now that you know the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, you need to know how to use
them. These oils can be applied by any of the following methods.
Apply it directly
Inhale the aroma.
Apply it on a handkerchief or pillow
Spray the oil in the air or use a diffuser to spread the scent.
Whichever method of application you choose, make sure to note the following dos and
donts.
Dos
Follow the instructions religiously.
Use natural base oils.

The best form of application is by aromatherapy diffusers since they diffuse the
essential oils into the air so that you can inhale them.
Donts
These oils are highly concentrated so you should use them sparingly.
Most essential oils are inflammable so you need to be extremely careful while using
oil burners to heat essential oils.
Keep in mind that essential oils are not a magic solution but they can be very effective
for certain ailments.
Never drink the essential oils. In fact, they can be very toxic when swallowed. Keep
away from children.
Be careful when using essential oils during pregnancy. You should consult with your

doctor first before using it. Refrain using these oils on newborn infants.

About Carrier Oils


Before essential oils can be used in aromatherapy they must be diluted in a 'carrier', since
they are too powerful to use neat. Whilst there are other carriers such as base creams and base
lotions that can be used to dilute essential oils in aromatherapy, carrier oils are the most
commonly used medium due to their versatility.
Carrier oils provide the necessary lubrication to allow the hands to move freely over the skin
and not 'drag' whilst massaging, whilst at the same time carrying the essential oils into the
body. They must be light and non-sticky for this penetration to take place effectively, and
preferably have very little odour.
See the complete range of Quinessence Carrier Oils.

Significant role to play


Carrier oils play a far more significant role in aromatherapy than many people realise, and in
comparison to the essential oils some people feel they are of little importance. To believe this
would be a mistake though, because they offer a wealth of health-giving benefits of their
own.
They contain vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, and many of them soften and
improve the condition of the skin. Some of them are also highly effective in treating irritated,
sensitive conditions such as eczema and psoriasis as well as helping to reduce wrinkles and
scar tissue. And in case you hadn't already done the mathematics; carrier oils make up 98% of
a typical aromatherapy treatment. Think about it.
Technically classed as 'fixed' oils because they do not evaporate, carrier oils are also known
as base oils and vegetable oils. They are largely derived from nuts and seeds, although there
are a few exceptions to this generalisation. For example, coconut oil is extracted by a special
process from the white flesh which is known as 'copra', and jojoba oil is extracted from a
leathery-leaved shrub and is actually a liquid wax rather than an oil.

Extraction methods
The oil obtained from nuts and seeds is usually extracted by one of two different methods.
The first process is known as 'cold pressing' and is restricted to relatively small scale
production these days due to the higher cost. The nuts or seeds are placed in a horizontal
press with a rotating screw known as an 'expeller' and the oil is literally squeezed out. Despite
the processing name, a certain amount of heat is produced during the process due to friction,
but this rarely exceeds 70 or 80 C and causes little damage to the oil. The oil is then filtered
and sold as a finished product.
Large scale industrial production uses a method called 'hot extraction' and uses a similar
process, but tremendous heat is applied during the process to increase the yield of oil, and
temperatures used can reach up to 200 C which destroys the important vitamins and fatty
acids. The waste product from both methods of extraction, known as 'cake' is often reprocessed using solvents to extract even more oil. This oil is re-heated again, refined,
deodorised and the colour is bleached out. Finally, artificial colour, preservatives and
vitamins are added back.
These highly refined, solvent extracted oils usually end up on supermarket shelves for use in
cooking and are therefore totally unsuitable to use in aromatherapy. All the vitamins,
minerals and fatty acids have been destroyed during the extraction process and they are a
'dead' product. You should always buy cold pressed oils for aromatherapy and your skin will
be sure to feel the benefits. Regrettably, grapeseed oil can not be produced by cold pressing
since a realistic yield of oil can not be produced without applying heat.

Refined or unrefined?
Some oils like Avocado, Coconut and Wheatgerm are available in both a 'refined' and
'unrefined' form, and where you have the choice you should always choose the unrefined oil.
Unrefined Coconut oil is impossible to use since it sets like butter, and is therefore made
available in the form of a 'fractionated' oil and is very useful in aromatherapy.
Unrefined Avocado oil is a dark green colour and has a very strong odour which is not to
everyone's liking, but nonetheless is rich in lecithin and vitamins A and D. Likewise

unrefined Wheatgerm oil is a dark orange colour with a strong fragrance typical of the cereal,
and contains high levels of essential fatty acids and some vitamin E.
The cosmetics industry prefers refined oils since the darker colours and heavy odours can
have an adverse effect on the final product. Because of this, unrefined oils are often only
produced in much smaller quantities and can be a little more difficult to find - especially if
you only buy from health shops. Fortunately, most reputable aromatherapy stockists will
normally offer a selection of unrefined, cold pressed vegetable oils.

How to choose a carrier oil


There is a wide range of carrier oils to choose from, plus some other infused or macerated
oils such as Calendula and St Johns Wort. The variety of vegetable oils available to a
newcomer can seem a little bewildering at first, since there is very little written on this
important subject in many books. But choosing which one is for you is not really complicated
at all.
Choosing a carrier oil is exactly the same as choosing an essential oil really, - you choose one
with the properties that you need for your particular needs. You just need to know some basic
facts about the properties, actions and viscosity of vegetable oils, and then choosing becomes
easier. Our simple reference chart below will help get you started.
All of these vegetable oils are the very finest that you can use for intensive facial treatments
and body massage, and they can be combined to suit your particular requirements.
Experiment with your oils until you find what works best for you - that's one of the keys to
success with aromatherapy.
Sweet Almond, Peach and Apricot oils are highly versatile and can be used for both body
massage and facial treatments since they are light and easily absorbed. If you are concerned
about the possibility of nut-allergy reactions then Sunflower is a perfect body oil since it is
extracted from seeds, and the same applies to Grapeseed.
Black Seed, Borage, Evening Primrose, Jojoba and Rosehip oils all deliver outstanding
results in facial treatments, but may need diluting with another lighter oil if you want to use
them in body massage. None of these oils are extracted from nuts either.

Unrefined Avocado and Wheatgerm are perfect for nourishing the skin in an overnight
treatment, but are a little too heavy to use in body massage. They have a strong odour that
some people do not like, but please don't let that put you off! They are excellent, deep
nourishing oils that will provide essential fatty acids and nutrients to soften your skin.
If you want to use these richer oils in body massage or facial treatments just add them to a
lighter oil such as Almond, Apricot or Peach oil at around 15-20%, - then you can enjoy all
their therapeutic benefits without the odour. Of course you can do the same with any of the
other deep-nourishing oils - and it helps keep the cost per treatment down too.
To complete your massage or facial oil simply add 1 drop of pure essential oil to every 5mls
of carrier oil that you use. If you are having a facial treatment remember to avoid the delicate
under-eye area and don't apply too much oil - a little goes a long way. Gently work the oil
into the skin until it has all been absorbed, and your skin will be left feeling soft and silky
smooth.

About Hydrosols and Flower Waters


A hydrosol is the condensate water that is left over after the process of extracting an
essential oil by water or steam distillation. This aromatic water contains the very essence of
everything that was contained within the plant when it was still alive and growing.
When essential oils are extracted by steam distillation, some of the aromatic and healing
principles held within the plant are not captured during the process. These important
components do not escape into another dimension or disappear into a black hole, fortunately
they are absorbed by the steam or water that is used to extract the oil.
This steam eventually condenses back into water, and now contains small quantities of
essential oil plus many of the water-soluble (hydrophilic) parts of the plant. Now
supercharged with more active principles than the essential oil from the plant, this ready to
use product offers a safe and convenient way to deliver a wide range of therapeutic and
cosmetic benefits.
See the full range of pure and natural Hydrosols from Quinessence.

What's in a name?
Technically described as a distillate water, this type of fragrant co-product has been more
recently referred to in aromatherapy as a hydrosol, hydrolate or hydrolat. Prior to this in the
United Kingdom, all distillate waters were collectively known as 'flower waters' or 'floral
waters', and the availability was usually restricted to just a popular few such as lavender, rose
and orange flower.
The historic term of floral water is now seriously outdated since every essential oil extracted
by a process of water or steam distillation produces a distillate water as a co-product. There
are now a much larger selection of distillate waters produced from herbs, needles, leaves,
woods, roots, barks and seeds widely available. So the term floral water is not consistent with
these products and the name of hydrosol is being used somewhat inconsistently as we will see
later.

Aromatic pendulum
Until the Middle Ages the art of water distillation was employed specifically for the purpose
of producing these precious aromatic waters, and amazingly, very little attention was paid to
the precious essential oil that was produced.
Essential oils were utilised of course, but they were extracted by infusing the plant material in
a vegetable oil until it had absorbed all of the healing properties of the volatile oils. The
Egyptians, Greeks and Romans are all known to have made great use of hydrosols for healing
and aesthetic properties along with their infusions and unguents.
The precise time in history when distilled essential oils became popular in Europe is not
known, but a renowned publication called 'Liber De Arte Distillandi' written by Hieronymus
Brunschwig in Strassburg 1507 AD makes reference to only 4 essential oils.
Suffice to say that as essential oils became increasingly more popular, the use of hydrosols
began to slowly decline. By the early 20th Century the healing benefits of these miracle
waters were generally being ignored, with the precious hydrosols actually being thrown away
after distilling the essential oil. The aromatic pendulum had now swung the other way, - but
why is this, you may wonder?

Heavy water
It was the logistics of transportation that had caused this decline in interest, because the high
shipping costs from the country of manufacture far outweighed any realistic commercial
value for this relatively low value co-product.
The only exceptions were perhaps rose and orange 'floral waters' which were still quite
popular up until the 1950's, when they began to be replaced with cheaper synthetics in the
U.K. Pharmacies had begun to sell a synthetic concentrate of rose or orange flower which
was diluted at home and used in cake icing, cooking or salads.
It is only quite recently that there has been an increase in interest for these ready to use
products, and this is of course great news. Unfortunately, newcomers to aromatherapy are
often confused by the different terms used, leaving them unsure as to exactly what is, and

what is not, a true hydrosol. And who can blame them, given the dubious practices of some
less knowledgeable suppliers?

Is it the real thing...


Like essential oils, the aroma of a hydrosol may vary from season to season even when it
comes from the same geographical location. This is because the weather can have a dramatic
effect on the plant whilst growing, and during seasons of extreme heat, rain or drought, the
plants delicate chemistry is changed which in turn affects the fragrance of its essential oil.
In addition, the chemistry of a plant is affected by the soil that it is grown in, therefore the
aroma of a particular essential oil or hydrosol will be different according to its country of
origin. These slight variations can often be an indication that a hydrosol is natural, and not
man-made.
You may be surprised to learn that many of the 'floral waters' available today have been made
with synthetic compounds which have no therapeutic or beautifying qualities. Others are
produced by adding essential oils or absolutes to water by using alcohol or some other type of
dispersant or solvent. This may appear to be perfectly acceptable, since the finished product
contains essential oil and has a pleasant fragrance similar to a natural hydrosol.
However, this type of reconstituted product lacks the wealth of vital healing properties
present in a true hydrosol, - remember, many of the plant constituents were dissolved into the
water whilst extracting the oil, so they were never present in the essential oil in the first
place! Therefore adding an essential oil to water will never create a product with the same
range of healing benefits as a true hydrosol. There is simply no substitute for a true hydrosol,
so don't let anybody try and fool you.

Buyer beware!
Of late it has become quite common for these man-made products to be misleadingly referred
to as hydrosols or hydrolats by some manufacturers and suppliers, thus making the situation
extremely confusing. Be sure to seek reassurances that you are buying a natural, co-product
and not a re-constituted counterfeit.

Take care when buying hydrolates produced from sources such as citrus fruits or flowers that
are usually extracted by solvents. Since citrus essential oils are cold pressed and not steam
distilled, these hydrosols must be specially made and are not at all common. Jasmine
'hydrosol' is another example that should be purchased with caution since the oil is almost
exclusively extracted by the use of solvents and can not be steam distilled. Always make
enquiries before buying hydrosols such as these.

Aroma-therapeutic uses
Hydrosols are highly versatile and can be used for personal care and around the house. In
skincare, Rose, Orange Blossom (Neroli) and Lavender hydrosols are great for hydrating dry
skin and cooling hot and sensitised skin. If you have been out in the sun too long and got
burned, Lavender hydrosol is soothing and comforting as well as healing. Used in the final
rinse after shampooing hydrosols help to condition hair and add a shine.
We know of no better remedy for puffy, dark circles under the eyes than Chamomile
hydrosol. Just soak two cotton wool pads with the hydrosol and cover each closed eyelid for
around 5 minutes, and finish off by rinse off the residue completely. This can often bring
about an immediate and dramatic reduction in puffiness. Regular use can help diminish those
dreaded dark circles too.

Perfect for summer


During the summer hydrosols are perfect to use as a cooling body mist, and the most cooling
of all is Peppermint. Make sure you take some with you to use on holidays, on the beach and
even to cool those aching tootsies when you are out shopping! Hydrosols help to revitalise
you when your energies are beginning to flag, and a few sprays onto a tissue makes a handy
wet-wipe for all sorts of applications including babies and grubby children.
To calm a restless baby try adding a few tablespoons of Lavender or Chamomile hydrosol
into their bathwater. This can be especially beneficial if your baby is suffering from nappy
rash or eczema, because the soothing properties of these hydrosols help calm the irritation
and speed up the healing process.

Hydrosols are quite safe to use on young children, and since they only contain a small
amount of essential oil they do not need diluting much further except as above when using
with very young babies.
Hydrosols such as Rose or Neroli can be added to the final rinse water in your washing cycle
as well as used as a fragrant linen spray whilst ironing since they smell much nicer than their
synthetic counterparts. Around the house, hydrosols are great to freshen the air instead of
using aerosols which of course are harmful to the environment.

Methods of Use - How to use Essential Oils


One of the great things about essential oils is their tremendous versatility and ease of use in
aromatherapy. An amazing amount of power is packed into each drop, and this makes it very
easy to use them in daily life to improve your health and wellbeing.
It can be great fun learning how to use essential oils and trying out all the different ways they
can be enjoyed, but you must use them properly to get the best results. And because they are
so powerful, they need to be diluted before you can use them safely.
The correct way to dilute and apply them is very important if you are to receive all the
benefits of an oil, because no matter how good its quality may be, inhaling essential oil from
a tissue or burner wont do much to ease an aching back!
Here are some of the most popular ways to use essential oils, - simply choose the method that
best suits your particular needs. However, to really experience the benefits and versatility of
aromatherapy - you should try them all, but not all at the same time!

Massage oil
Massage is one of the best ways to enjoy aromatherapy because you not only receive the
healing properties of the essential oils, but you also get the wonderful benefits of the massage
itself. Their therapeutic action when brought together with the revitalising effects of massage
stimulate all of the organs in the body, plus the skin, muscles, nerves and glands. The
increased circulation of the blood and lymph flow also assists with the clearing away of
toxins from the body.
You can choose just one, or up to five different essential oils suitable for your own particular
needs and add them to your carrier using a total of 5 drops to 10ml (1 tablespoon) of carrier
oil or lotion. If you have particularly sensitive skin use only 3 drops of essential oil to every
10ml of carrier base. This concentration is too high for use on the face - see instructions
below for using essential oils on the face.

Bathing
Nothing beats a warm soothing bath at the end of a stressful day, and adding relaxing
essential oils such as Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Lavender, Sweet Marjoram or
Sandalwood makes it a truly blissful experience. Alternatively you can use stimulating oils
such as eucalyptus, lemongrass or rosemary in the morning to give you an invigorating start
to the day.
Add 6 to 8 drops of essential oil to the water and agitate vigorously to disperse them evenly
before getting in, or add a capful of Bath Dispersant to the water before adding the oils.
Whilst relaxing in the bath you are breathing in the aromatic molecules of oil whilst they also
penetrate the skin.
When using several essential oils together in a bath, ensure that you do not exceed a total of 8
drops. Citrus oils may be mildly irritating to some sensitive skins, so use no more than 4
drops. Bathing can be particularly helpful if used in combination with massage oils, but
always take a bath first, dry off, and then apply the massage oil.

Footbath
Footbaths are great after you have been out walking, exercising or perhaps digging in the
garden all day and your feet begin to complain. Comforting essential oils such as Black
Pepper, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Sweet Marjoram or Rosemary can really help to ease
those aches and pains away.
When your feet are hot, a soothing and refreshing aromatherapy footbath using just one drop
each of cooling and refreshing Peppermint, Rosemary and Lavender oil will bring blissful
relief and have you back on your feet in no time at all. A footbath is the ideal alternative to a
conventional bath for the elderly. You only need 3 or 4 drops of essential oil in a footbath.

Compress
This is a highly effective method for both pain relief and emergency first aid. Use a hot
compress for relieving chronic pain, muscle aches, period cramps etc, and a cold compress
for reducing swelling, sprains and headaches.

Put 4-6 drops of essential oil into very hot or icy cold water, and using a folded piece of
absorbent material soak up the oils without fully immersing in the water, wring out excess
and apply to the affected area. Finally, cover the area with a towel or wrap with polythene.

Steam inhalation
Used for centuries to help all respiratory tract problems, this method is a highly effective way
to deliver essential oils into your system. Fill a large bowl with almost boiling water and add
3 or 4 drops of your individual essential oil or mixed blend. Close your eyes, lean over the
bowl and breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes until relief is felt. For best results place
a large towel over the head and ensure it surrounds the bowl entirely to help direct the
vapours.
If you suffer with blocked sinuses or congestion during the winter, you will find that using
Cypress, Eucalyptus Radiata, Fir Silver, Frankincense, Peppermint, Pine, Ravensara or Tea
Tree oils in your vaporiser can bring tremendous relief. When you have a case of the sniffles
or a runny nose remember, these same essential oils all have highly effective antiviral
properties too and are ideal to kill those nasty bugs.

Instant relief
For instant relief if you are suffering from a cold, asthma attack or hay fever, put 3 or 4 drops
of oil onto a tissue or handkerchief and gently inhale. This is a handy method to use when out
of the house, and is the recommended method for asthmatics who should not expose
themselves to steam.

Vaporisers and burners


These devices enable you use essential oils effectively to clear stale cooking odours in the
kitchen, or create a harmonious and relaxing atmosphere anywhere in the home. The natural
antiseptic properties of certain oils can also be employed during illnesses to kill airborne
bacteria and help prevent the spread of infections.
Choose from traditional candle-powered burners or temperature controlled electric models.
The latest electric designs atomize the oils without using heat and give the very best
representaion of the oils true aroma.

Gargle
For a powerful bug-busting gargle add 1 drop of Tea Tree and 1 drop of Ravensara to a halfteaspoon of honey and mix together well. Add this mixture to hot water, take a small
mouthful and gargle for about thirty seconds, then spit it out. Repeat the process several
times, and for maximum effect you should use this treatment every 4 hours.

Facial skin care


Essential oils can be added to our unfragranced Professional Base Creams and Lotions to
create your own personalised facial products. However, when making your own facial skin
care creams, lotions or oils blends etc you must reduce the concentration of essential oils that
you use, since facial skin is much more sensitive than the rest of your body.
Depending on the particular essential oil you are using, you will only need one drop for every
30mls/gms of base cream, base lotion, or carrier oil. Remember that every essential oil is
different and some can be irritant to the skin, especially if they are used every day. So if you
are unsure about how much and which essential oils to use on the face, you must consult an
aromatherapist for advice, read a book that gives information about this area of use, or
Contact Us for advice before buying.

Safety Guidelines
When used appropriately, essential oils and aromatherapy products are safe for all the entire
family. As with all things in life though, some common sense precautions should be observed
when using essential oils since they are highly concentrated.

Undiluted essential oils


Do not apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin except in an emergency; for example
to cuts, burns or insect bites. A single drop of undiluted Lavender, Tea Tree or Chamomile
Roman oil can be used to soothe and protect from infection - but you should only apply them
neat once or twice. Some individuals can become sensitised to neat Tea Tree oil if it is
applied repeatedly.

In particular, undiluted essential oils should be kept away from the delicate eye area,
unattended children, pets and all highly polished surfaces. And never, ever, use undiluted oils
on children under the age of 3. Their under-developed and delicate internal organs can not
eliminate the oils or deal with their metabolites efficiently.

Pregnancy
If you are pregnant you must seek the advice of your doctor, midwife or aromatherapist
before using any essential oils. Once your doctor has given their approval they should be used
only after the first trimester, and then at only a 1% concentration, which is half the normal
strength.
It is also a good idea to seek the advice of your supplier or aromatherapist to ensure that the
essential oils you are thinking of using are not contraindicated during pregnancy. There is a
lot of misinformation about precisely which essential oils should not be used and some
aromatherapy books produce a huge list of contraindicated oils that are completely out of
proportion to the facts.
Much of this misinformation is based on the internal use of the plant in herbal preparations,
and this is certainly not the same as the external use of a diluted essential oil in massage.
Most essential oil experts argue that since many contraindicated essential oils are used as
food additives they can hardly be considered dangerous.
However, if you have a history of miscarriage do not use any essential oils at any time during
your pregnancy since it is better to err on the side of caution under these circumstances.
Essential oils best avoided throughout your pregnancy include:

Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Savin oil (Juniperus sabina) - Never use in aromatherapy

Babies, infants and young children


As already stated, never use any essential oils undiluted on babies up to 3 years old. Essential
oils should be used at a fraction of the usual concentration, and the correct procedure is to
calculate the amount of essential oil to be used by the body-weight of the infant:

1 to 2 stones - 1 drop of essential oil

2 to 4 stones - 2 or 3 drops of essential oil

4 to 6 stones - 4 or 5 drops of essential oil

Internal use
Never take essential oils internally, unless under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist
who has received the necessary training in this very specialised mode of administration. Most
aromatherapists have not had this training, so be sure to check this out first.
You may read articles in magazines and books extolling the virtues of taking essential oils
internally, but you should absolutely never attempt this without expert guidance.

Photosensitivity
Some essential oils are mildly photosensitising and should be either avoided or used at a low
level prior to sunbathing or using a sunbed. The main photosensitising oils used in
aromatherapy include:

Angelica root oil (Angelica archangelica)

Bergamot oil expressed (Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia)

Bitter Orange oil (Citrus aurantium)

Cumin oil (Cuminum cyminum)

Lemon oil cold pressed (Citrus limonum)

Lime oil expressed (Citrus aurantifolia)

Tagette oil (Tagetes minuta)

If you love Bergamot essential oil and want to go out into the sunshine, be sure to use
Bergamot FCF which has had the photosensitising components removed.

Irritants and sensitisers


Some essential oils can irritate the skin if used in too high a concentration or for a long period
of time. The essential oils below represent the most commonly known among this group.

Bay Leaf oil (Pimenta racemosa)

Cinnamon bark oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Clove oils (stem, leaf, bud) Syzygium aromaticum

Litsea Cubeba aka May Chang oil (Litsea cubeba)

Origanum oil (Origanum vulgar)

Tagette oil (Tagetes minuta)

Thyme white and red oil (Thymus vulgaris)

Use no more than 3 or 4 drops of citrus oils in the bath since some may irritate
sensitive skin.

Oils that must be avoided altogether


Some essential oils should not be used in aromatherapy at all due to the danger of toxicity,
severe irritation, sensitisation or other serious health risk. Most responsible aromatherapy
suppliers do not offer such oils, but those listed below do find their way onto the market and
should only ever be used by those have have undergone the necessary specialist training.

Parsley herb oil (Petroselenium crispum)

Pennyroyal oil (Mentha pulegium)

Savin oil (Juniperus sabina)

Tansy oil (Tanacetum vulgare)

Wintergreen oil (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wormwood oil (Artemisia absinthium)

Flammability
Many essential oils are flammable, so never use or put your bottles of essential oil near a
naked flame, fire, or any source of ignition.

Glossary of Terms
Absolute

Antiseptic

A concentrated semi-solid aromatic material, usually obtained by


alcohol extraction. More info
An agent that can inhibit the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.

Antiviral

An agent that opposes the action of viruses.

Aromatic

A substance with a strong aroma or smell.


Attars are essential oils that have been distilled using a unique

Attar

process into a base of sandalwood oil. The sandalwood acts as a


fixative and enhances the floral notes.
In aromatherapy, a non-alcoholic agent that is used to distribute or

Bath Base

dissolve essential oils evenly onto the surface of the


bathwater. See also Dispersant.
Often a vegetable oil, but it can be a base cream, lotion, gel or

Carrier

shampoo etc which is used to dilute pure essential oils for


application. More info
Plants of the same genus which appear externally identical but

Chemotype

have a variation in the chemical constituents, often due to


climatic, altitude or soil conditions.

Chemovar

This is an abreviation for 'chemotype variety' and is usually


applied to the description of the plant, rather than the extracted oil.
A natural physical process used to extract vegetable oils, and also

Cold Pressed

essential oils from citrus fruits. Vegetable oils extracted in this


way retain their essential fatty acid content since no heat or
chemicals are used in the process.

Compress

Concrete

Cultivar

A folded piece of material or lint applied hot or cold to the body.


How to use them
A waxy semi-solid or solid material derived from plant material
by a solvent.
A variety of plant which has been developed as a result of
cultivation, usually by means of hybridization.

In aromatherapy; a non-alcoholic agent or surfactant that is used


Dispersant

to distribute or dissolve essential oils evenly into the surface of


water. See also Bath Base.
The essence extracted from flowers, plants, herbs, leaves, fruits,

Essential oil

woods and gums by steam distillation or other methods of


extraction.

Fixed oil

A vegetable oil, non-volatile. More info

Floral water

See Hydrosol
A category (in botany) ranking below a family and above a

Genus

species which usually contains a group of species with similar


characteristics.
Any of various viscous substances exuded by plants and trees that

Gum

dries on exposure to air into water-soluble, non-crystalline, brittle


solids.

Heartwood

The central portion of a tree trunk.

Hydrolat

See Hydrosol.
True hydrosols are produced by water or steam distillation of the
flower or herb, and contain most of the hydrophilic (water

Hydrosol

soluble) molecules from the plant or flower material that did not
distil into the essential oil. Also known as hydrolat, hydrolate,
distillate water or floral water. More info

Infusion

A remedy prepared by soaking plant material in vegetable oil or


water. See also Macerate and Phytol
A group of brain structures that is responsible for our feelings,
emotions, motivations and influences the endocrine and

Limbic system

autonomic motor systems. It also plays an important part in


learning and memory. This system includes the thalamus,
hypothalamus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex.
Consists of lymph nodes linked by lymph vessels that carry the

Lymphatic system

lymph fluid around the body. This system collects waste from the
tissues, returning it to the blood after it has been purified.

Lymphatic drainage

A specialised massage technique that encourages the flow of


lymph fluid, thereby draining away pockets of water retention and

toxins. See lymphatic system.


Maceration

A remedy prepared by soaking plant material in vegetable oil or


water. See also Infusion and Phytol.
Naturopathic medicine is a field of healthcare which works with

Naturopathy

the body's own self-correcting mechanisms, or efforts to maintain


homoeostasis.
A naturally occurring exudation from plants and trees that is a

Oleo resin

mixture of an oil and resin, such as the exudate from pine,


frankincense and myrrh trees.

Olfaction

The sense of smell.


Pigmentation or a sensitising reaction on the skin when exposed to

Photo-toxicity

ultra-violet light, due to a naturally occurring component in an


essential oil i.e. - bergapten in Bergamot oil.
1) A remedy prepared by soaking plant material in vegetable oil or
water. See also Infusion and Maceration. Not to be confused with:

Phytol

2) A volatile oil produced by an advanced method of extraction


(Phytonics process) utilising a solvent which boils at a
temperature below freezing point and leaves no solvent residue.
Technically known as a Cold Absolute.

Phytotherapy

The treatment of disease by plants; herbal medicine


(Psycho-neuro-immunology) This specialist field of research

Psychoneuroimmunology

studies the relationship between the brain and immune system,


and how they communicate with each other using various
chemical messengers.

Rectification

A process of re-distillation used with some essential oils to


remove particular constituents.
Any one of a class of yellowish brown solid, or semi-solid

Resin (natural)

substances which are of vegetable origin exuded from plants and


trees e.g; pine, frankincense and myrrh. They are soluble in ether,
alcohol, and other solvents, but not in water.

Resinoid

A material prepared from natural resinous matter such as gum


resins.

A surface-active agent that reduces the surface tension of two


Surfactant

liquids. Used in aromatherapy, a surfactant acts as a dispersant


between oil and water.

Synergy

The effect of two or more agents working together to produce an


effect that is greater than the sum of the parts.
The science or principles of classifying organisms (plants) in

Taxonomy

established categories according to similarities or evolutionary


relationships.