Essential oils and aroma therapy have become very popular over the past decade or so. But they have always been around. Not only were they valued for their medicinal purposes, but also had spiritual meanings as well.
The use of essential oils can be dated back as far as 18,000 B.C in the Dordogne region of France as well as 4500 B.C Egypt. In Egypt each fragrance was associated with a specific God. Some of the scents were even smelled on mummies upon excavation.
However we may be more familiar with the Indian use of essential oils in the ancient practice of Ayur Veda. This practice has been done for more than 3000 years, in which they incorporated essential oils into their healing elixirs. In fact the use of essential oils have been seen in almost every ancient culture as a form of medicinal practices.
So What is an Essential Oil
Basically an essential oil is a compound extracted from a plant. The oils are concentrate so they contain the essence, characteristic and scent of the plant. In some cases the extracts become much more potent than the plant themselves.
These extracts can then be used for anything that the plant is known for, rich in and it’s medicinal uses.
However not all extracts are considered essential oils. For example plant essences that are extracted through chemical means are not considered essential oils.
The process to make essential oils is relatively simple. Commonly they are made with a plant, distilled water and a pot in which the plant is simmered, allowed to cool with the oil in the water the essential oil. This can be done several times for a more potent oil.
What is an Aroma oil
An Aroma oil which is used in aroma therapy is a diluted or mixed essential oil. The essential oil is usually around 93% pure essential oil. An Aroma oil can be as low as 2% and sometimes higher depending on the plants potency. Aroma oils are generally mixed with a base oil or another essence to maximize aroma, taste and or absorbency into the skin.
How do I use Essential oil and Aroma Oil
Both essential oils and aroma oils can be used in much the same way. However you have to be mindful of the potency and strength of the oils.
Generally Essential oils are not used in diffusers unless you have a special diffuser which are sold. The reason being is that sometimes the essentials may be too potent and can cause discomfort or even ruin a good aromatherapy mister.
Both can also be used topically however it would be much safer to use Aroma oils on the skin rather than essentials. For something like an oregano essential oil which is very hot on the skin or could irritate the eyes, you may want to blend it with a base oil or a lotion.
Aroma oils are milder and can be used a bit freer than the essentials.
What are essential oils used for?
Essential oils are used for a myriad of ailments.
- Oregano – can be rubbed on aching muscles to help with pain and swelling
- Peppermint: When smelled can help with energy and when ingested can help with digestive problems
- Lavender: The scent can help with stress relief
These are just a few as there are many plants that have different purposes and uses.
What is Aromatherapy used for?
Since aromatherapy is usually diffused or put in a mister, it has much the same qualities as essential oils. However the modality is through scent. Once the scent hits certain part of the brain. A reaction is linked to an emotion which in turn links to hormones, memories, and even breathing patterns.
The effects of aromatherapy are very subtle but most do feel an effect from it.