As the nights draw in and we head towards winter it may be helpful to look at how we can benefit from Aromatherapy. This is the use of plant based remedies for therapeutic benefits. Nature and nurture at its best.
Essential oils can be as effective as medicines. They are herbal extracts with fantastic antiviral cleansing properties and affect our mood to awaken or relax. Using these small bottles of essence makes me feel like I am in potions class at Hogwarts! It’s fun and (used safely) without side effects.
How do they work?
When we breath in the aroma of these oils a message is sent to our brain which can unlock memories and emotions to affect our mood. Aromatherapy essences used in baths and rubbed on skin can slow our breathing and affect our hormones. You can use them to ease aches, for dry or spotty skin or aid sleep. What’s not to like?
You can buy pre mixed blends for diffusers, bath, body or you can mix your own. Choose the smells you like by inhaling from a tester and notice how it makes you feel. Lavender is popular for insomnia for example but if you hate the smell it’s not going to work for you.
There are some important guidelines to follow including never use oils neat, don’t take them internally and use a low concentration for children or on your face. If you are pregnant do seek advice first. For further advice please consult a professional aromatherapist.
For oils used in baths or added to un-perfumed body lotion think ‘half drops to millilitres’ so you may use up to 5 drops of tea tree oil in 10ml of base oil as a first aid foot blend or 3 drops lavender in 5ml of milk for a soothing evening bath (the fat in the milk helps disperse the oil). Frankincense oil has rejuvenating properties; you could add 1 drop to each 5ml of skin cream. To make aromatic bath salts dissolve 10 drops of oil per cup of sea or Epsom salts.
There is a wide choice. Rose oil is like a hug in a bottle to me but you may disagree. Geranium is refreshing and aids stress and hormone balance. Citrus (orange, lemon, lime) are zesty and clean to refresh. Tea tree is your first aid and spot remedy. Eucalyptus can ease headaches and clear a blocked nose. Ginger and black pepper are warming and easing for aches and pains. Rosemary helps memory (exam blend!) and peppermint eases stomach discomfort and cools.
Combinations of oils can enhance each other’s properties (synergy) and you can add value by choosing a ‘carrier’ base oil such as peach kernel for a velvety feel or some rosehip oil to help repair scars and stretch marks.
For PMS symptoms I have found lavender, camomile and mint effective. A popular soothing combo is geranium, sweet orange and lavender. You can soothe headaches with a drop of peppermint and eucalyptus. The simplest way to use aromatherapy is a drop or two on a tissue inhaled throughout the day.
During lockdown I gathered all my empty room fragrance bottles together, and made some blends which are still effective now!
Where to buy
You can buy premixed blends from chemists and many shops; you do tend to get what you pay for. If you want to be brave and custom mix your own blends try G. Baldwin & Co. for mail order or Neal’s Yard Remedies, as well.
Happy potions class! 😀