What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health.
Aromatherapy is thought of as both an art and a science. Recently, aromatherapy has gained more recognition in the fields of science and medicine.
Humans have used aromatherapy for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in China, India, Egypt, and elsewhere incorporated aromatic plant components in resins, balms, and oils. These natural substances were used for medical and religious purposes. They were known to have both physical and psychological benefits.
Aromatherapy and Safety
- Phototoxic oils are essential oils that, if applied before sun exposure, can cause the skin to burn or darken at a faster rate. Angelica root, bergamot, lemon, lime, ginger, mandarin, orange and grapefruit are all phototoxic.
- Essential oils that can be used in their pure form, not diluted, are tea tree and lavender.
- Read about an essential oil before applying it.
- Essential oils can cause a prickly, irritating sensation to the skin. Do not rub water on the area. Doing so will cause the oil to spread. Apply any vegetable/carrier oil to the area; this will cause the essential oil to be absorbed and ease the irritation in minutes.
- Keep essential oils away from your eyes. If contact occurs, rinse with a neutral oil, and then follow with water.
- Keep essential oils out of the reach of children and animals.
- Cats in particular have livers that cannot tolerate essential oils in any amount.
- If skin irritation or an allergic reaction occurs with any essential oil or product with essential oils in it, discontinue use.
- Essential oils should not replace proper health care. If you are under medical supervision consult with your health care provider before using essential oils. Read the safety data on each essential oil before use.
Aromatherapy and Contraindications
Certain oils are not recommended or should be used with caution. Read each oils safety data before use. People with the following conditions should take caution with respect to the below listed oils:
- Epilepsy - people with epilepsy or the risk of seizure should stay away from stimulating essential oils such as: sage, sweet fennel, hyssop, eucalyptus, rosemary. Some oils that are safe: lavender, marjoram.
- High Blood Pressure - avoid oils that will increase circulation and adrenaline: rosemary, peppermint, hyssop, thyme, eucalyptus and sage.
- Low Blood Pressure - avoid oils that are overly sedating clary sage, ylang ylang, and lavender in very high doses.
- Pregnancy - Essential oils can have enormous benefit for pregnant women and as long as they are used according the dosage chart can help women have a more pleasant pregnancy and delivery. Keep dosages down to 1 percent essential oils per dilution as per the dosage chart. Avoid the following essential oils: aniseed, basil, cinnamon, fennel, hyssop, juniper, marjoram, myrrh, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, and tagetes. Oils that are safe during entire pregnancy: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, neroli, palmarosa, petitgrain, rosewood, sandalwood, spearmint, orange, tea tree, vetiver and ylang ylang. Oils that are safe after the first trimester: chamomile roman, eucalyptus radiata, ginger, lavender, jasmine and rose (should not be used until ready to go into labor). Oils that are safe for use in the third trimester or during delivery: cedarwood, clary sage, cypress, peppermint, pine, rosemary and spruce.
- Babies & Children under 5 yrs - Keep dosages down to 1% essential oils per dilution as per the dosage chart. Avoid the following essential oils: aniseed, basil, camphor, cinnamon bark, clove bud, clove leaf, eucalyptus radiata fennel, hyssop, juniper, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, parsley seed, peppermint (under 12), pennyroyal, sage, savory, tagetes and thyme.