What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the extracted aromatic oils of plants and can be found in flowers, leaves, stems, bark, roots, wood and resins. Some oils are easily extracted such as orange oil from the peel of an orange. Other oils are less profuse. For instance, it takes a ton of rose petals to produce 300g of rose oil. Some plants also produce different oils from different parts of the plant.
Aromatic plants and oils have been used for thousands of years in perfumes, cosmetics, culinary and medicinal applications. The use of essential oils for their therapeutic properties came about after a French chemist accidentally discovered the healing properties of lavender oil on a severe burn. This started a growing interest in discovering the various therapeutic applications of essential oils or aromatherapy oils. Each essential oil has an individual combination of constituents that interacts with the body’s chemistry and affects the body’s organs or systems as a whole. Essential oils not only (mostly) smell wonderful, but also affects the mind, body and spirit and can be used in a wide manner of applications to improve well-being.
Essential oils are the highly concentrated active ingredients of plants. They should always be diluted in a base before use and should not be taken internally without professional recommendation.
- Baths: Add 5 – 10 drops of essential oil(s) to a warm run bath. If skin is sensitive, blend the essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil first. Close the door so the vapours don’t escape. Soak for at least 10 minutes relaxing and breathing deeply. For added moisturising dilute the oils in 10ml of carrier before adding to the bath.
- Massage: add 5 – 6 drops of essential oil per 10ml of carrier oil. Mix thoroughly and apply liberally to the skin.
- Inhalations: Add 4 – 5 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head, close your eyes and lean over the bowl. Inhale the vapour for a few minutes.
- Burners and Diffusers: Fill the bowl of the burner/vaporiser with water and then add 3 – 6 drops of essential oil. Light the candle and the oil will evaporate as the water heats up. Do not let the bowl dry out.