Aromatherapy Guide

Aromatherapy, or essential oils therapy, can help relieve stress after a long, tiring day. This article on aromatherapy discusses some of the more common essential oils and their uses.

Aromatherapy 101

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils made from aromatic plants to soothe stress and relieve ailments. Certain essential oils can be emotionally and physically beneficial to your health. For example, eucalyptus oil can help soothe cold symptoms and basil oil can help calm muscle cramps. While aromatherapy won't cure illnesses, it does have medicinal properties that can relieve discomfort caused by a sickness or aid in the process of healing. Benefits from essential oils have been known to relieve burns, infections, irritated skin and insomnia. This natural, organic method of therapy has been practiced for centuries in cultures throughout the world.

Essential Oils

Essential oils, also known as volatile oils and ethereal oils, are oils extracted from the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots and other parts of aromatic plants. There are hundreds of essential oils available, and most are also found in the herbs, spices and fruit in your kitchen. Common applications include using eucalyptus oil to relieve cold symptoms and basil or marjoram to relax sore muscles. Additionally, other oils like lavender, lemon and pine are becoming popular as ways to create a cleansing aroma in households. Not recommended for everyday use, essential oils should be used only when you're in need of a natural remedy. 

Popular Essential Oil Treatments:

Tea tree oil is a healing remedy you can massage into your scalp to treat bacteria, itching and dryness.
• Peppermint oil can also ward off bugs and is especially useful in the summertime to relieve itchy skin caused by insect bites.
• Lavender, a plant known for its popular fragrance, is widely used for soaps and perfumes, but also assists in soothing burns and certain infections.
• Patchouli oil is a specialty remedy for skin conditions like acne, eczema and dandruff, and is often used in beauty products.

Carrier Oils

To prevent essential oils from evaporating, they are frequently mixed with carrier oils such as almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil and coconut oil. These oils are pressed from the fatty parts of plants and will not evaporate. In general, carrier oils exhibit minimal aroma or color and may go rancid with time. Since some highly concentrated essential oils can irritate the skin, they must be mixed with carrier oils before application. Carrier oils are also natural lubricating agents, so they're useful when massaging or rubbing essential oils into the skin. 

Aromatherapy Cautions:

• Fragrance oils, which are not the same as essential oils, contain synthetic chemical properties and should not be used in the medicinal way essential oils are used.
• The oils from an aromatic plant should not be consumed and can be poisonous.
• Essential oils can produce varying reactions ranging from stimulating to relaxing, depending on how much you use.
• Never apply undiluted essential oils to your skin, as they are very concentrated and can have a powerful reaction.
• Do a skin test before using essential oils on your body.

Skin Test

An essential oil skin test is important if you have allergies or sensitive skin. It's especially important for children and the elderly. Children should always receive half the dose of an essential oil that an adult would get. The testing method is the same used in hair dying to check if the dye will irritate your scalp. To find out if your body will have a negative reaction to an essential oil, place a drop on a cotton ball and dab it on the inside of your elbow, the back of your wrist or under your arm. Then wrap that area in a plastic wrap, and leave it unwashed for twenty-four hours. If you see any negative reactions, such as irritated skin or redness, you should not use that essential oil. 

Skin Treatments

Your skin naturally absorbs the elements on it, and essential oils can produce a soothing reaction, especially when applied during a massage or reflexology treatment. When rubbing an essential oil into your skin, first add drops of the oil to a lubricating carrier oil or lotion. After an exhausting day of hard work, a few drops of alleviating oil diffused into a warm bath can help you decompress. For serious conditions like burns, apply drops of lavender oil to gauze and wrap it around the injured area to help reduce pain and encourage healing. 

Aromatic Uses

There are lots of ways to use essential oils through inhalation. To freshen up around the house, add a few drops of calming rose oil to your laundry detergent, sink drains, and garbage. If you want to smell your chosen oil without diffusing the odour throughout the entire house, use a few drops on a handkerchief, place it over your mouth and breathe easy. Frankincense oil, a known sedative, can be used this way to help calm the nerves. Steam inhalation, which is great for soothing colds, involves adding droplets of essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus into boiling water and inhaling. 

Cooking with Essential Oil Plants

Though essential oils are not meant for consumption, you can cook with the plants they're derived from to get some of the benefits. The leaves from most of these naturally therapeutic plants are regularly sold in the form of herbal teas like chamomile, or cooking herbs that increase the flavor of a dish. Fruits, like lemon, are extremely versatile in cooking, while lemon oil is often used in beauty products. Even the ground up seeds used in spices can produce the effects of essential oils. 
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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