olio essenziale, olio cosmetico, relax

Aromatherapy is the practice of utilizing the scents of different plant extracts to help out with healing the mind, body, and soul. The use of aromatherapy dates back over 5,000 years and has recently been rediscovered as a way of holistic healing.

Around the World

The most famous Egyptian technique utilizing aromatherapy was embalming. However evidence exists to demonstrate that aromatherapy was also utilized in medicinal and cosmetic applications. During the same period, records from China indicate that countless plants were identified to exude therapeutic aromatic properties. Ayurvedic medicine, which spans the history of India, has consistently integrated rosemary to its healing procedures and spiritual practices.

The early Greeks were quick to embrace aromatherapy from Egypt and started using olive oil as a base. Romans learned these approaches from Greece and were soon using scented oils in their famous bathrooms. Although Native Americans and other indigenous cultures around the world continued to use the effects of plant extracts, following the collapse of the Roman Empire the listed information on aromatherapy has been lost and Western Civilization would need to re-learn everything.

It required the scourge of the plague during the Middle Ages to start to revive an interest in this ancient technique. It was discovered then that plant extracts appeared to avoid the spread of disease and help in decontaminating a home after its occupants were afflicted.
A Persian philosopher, Avicenna (980 AD – 1037AD), accounts for the reintroduction of aromatherapy. Once a system of distillation was discovered by the Arabs, it did not take long for the unlucky Crusades to deliver back these strategies to Europe.

Recent History

Very slow to catch on, it took until the 19th century before Europe and Great Britain spent any time analyzing the efficacy of aromatherapy on people. (I imagine we were finding different uses for the Arabic distillation procedure.) Finally, following a French chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, burnt his hands and treated it with a lavender oil he wrote a book on the antimicrobial properties of certain essential oils. Thus, aromatherapy as we know it today was born. . .again.

If it were not for Dr. Gattefosse and his burnt hands, we might not have this overpowering olfactory experience as we walk through a shopping mall. Most of the perfumes, perfumes, lotions, bath salts, etc. that we use now are based on the basics of aromatherapy. After all, we do not really want to smell a few of those ingredients listed on our favourite body lotion do we? However if we take this step ahead and learn how to utilize the immense energy of plant extracts we very well may spend less time in the physician’s office and more time, well. . .shopping for bubble bath!

The sense of smell

The average human can distinguish over 10,000 distinct odors and individuals who lose their sense of smell often suffer from depression and anxiety. It’s thought that odor is processed in the limbic system, the portion of the brain which controls moods, memory, emotion, and learning. When an individual’s brain waves are monitored, it’s been found that smelling lavender increases alpha waves in the back of the brain that are associated with comfort while jasmine stimulates beta waves in the front part of the brain and are connected to stimulation and endurance.

Further research have allowed scientists to break down these scents in the following functional groups:

      • Monoterpenes: antibacterial, antiseptic, bactericidal, and can be quite irritating to the skin. Examples: lemon, pine, frankincense
      • Esters: fungicidal, sedating, and very aromatically pleasing. Examples: bergamot, Clary sage, Lavanda
      • Aldehydes: sedating and antiseptic. Examples: melissa, citronella, cirtronella
      • Ketones: alleviate congestion, help flow of mucus, can be poisonous. Examples: fennel, hyssop, sage
      • Alcohols: peppermint, anti-viral with uplifting qualities. Examples: rosewood, geranium, rose
      • Phenols: bactericidal and strongly stimulating, can be quite irritating to the skin. Examples: clove, thyme, oregano
      • Oxides: expectorant and bactericidal. Examples: rosemary, tea tree

Essential oils are very distinct from fatty oils (e.g. almond oil or sesame oil). Essential oils are volatile and will evaporate quite quickly when exposed to air. Essential oils are soluble in fatty oils allowing the fatty oils to act as a carrier or foundation for the vital oils. This is quite useful when using a vital oil topically which could be bothersome at full strength. Dissolving into a fatty oil dilutes the irritant when enabling the healing properties to be easily absorbed into the skin.

A safer and more gentle solution to rare essential oils are hydrosols. These hydrosols are a by-product of the distillation process and contain the identical therapeutic properties of the vital oils but in much smaller quantities. Hydrosols are also not as expensive and can easily be utilised in a mister or spritzers.

safety precautions

      • Never ingest essential oils
      • Never allow essential oils to come in contact with the eyes
      • Take care when using candle-lit diffusers
      • Some essential oils are irritants or pose different hazards. Research the use of any essential oil Before implementation

Applications for essential oils

      • Bath: fill the tub with bath water. Add 9-10 drops of essential oil to the bath water, mix before getting into tub. Or add 9-10 drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil, such as jojoba oil and add & mix into the bath water so the essential oil is soluble in the carrier oil before adding to the bath.
      • Liquid Soap: add about 30-45 drops of essential oil to 8 ounces of unscented liquid hand soap or unscented liquid shower body wash. Shake vigorously.
      • Body Oil: add about 12-15 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil, such as jojoba oil and shake to mix.
      • Body Lotion: add 50-60 drops of essential oil to 16 ounces of unscented body lotion. Stir with a spoon or stirring stick to blend the essential oil into the lotion until smooth.
      • Body Mist: add 10-15 drops of essential oil to a 1 ounce glass misting bottle filled with spring or distilled water. Shake well and shake before each mist.
      • Liniment: add 25-20 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil, such as jojoba oil. Shake well to combine.
      • Compress: add & mix 3-5 drops of essential oil into a bowl of warm or cool water. Soak a wash cloth, wring and apply.
      • Shampoo/Conditioner: add 12-15 drops of essential oil to one ounce of unscented or mild shampoo and conditioner. Shake well to blend.
      • Hair Brush: place three drops of essential oil into the palm of the hands; rub over the natural bristles of a hair brush. Brush your scalp and your hair.
      • Diffuser: add essential oils to an electric diffuser, candle burner or a lamp ring.
      • Room Mist: add 17-20 drops of essential oil to a 1 ounce glass misting bottle filled with spring or distilled water. Shake well and shake before each mist.
      • Scent: add five drops of an essential oil to a hanky or tissue and carry with you through the day. Or place under your pillow case to ease you into sleep.