Beginning to use essential oils is the start of an incredible aromatic journey. I created AromaWeb over 20 years ago because essential oils played a highly beneficial role in my life and I was (and still am!) eager to share insight into the safe and effective use of essential oils. Below are several important aromatherapy tips for beginners and those that are new to using essential oils.
What is an essential oil? Typically created through the process of distillation — which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming — they are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. In fact, sometimes they are called volatile aromatic oils because of their high concentration of the aromatic compounds. (1) They also are simply called aromatherapy oils.
Aromatically – this may be the most well know way to use essential oils. Through a diffuser you’re able to fill the air with the essence of that essential oil allowing it to get into your lungs and therefore you’re blood stream. Be sure to look at your diffuser to get the correct water to oil ratio. Even if you don’t have a diffuser you could simply take a few drops from the bottle into the palm of your hands. Cup your hands around your mouth and nose and take deep breaths in of the oil.
Cumin oil, which is safe to use in your food, can cause blisters if you put it on your skin. Citrus oils that are safe in your food may be bad for your skin, especially if you go out into the sun. And the opposite is true, too. Eucalyptus or sage oil may soothe you if you rub it on your skin or breathe it in. But swallowing them could can cause a serious complication, like a seizure.
Frankincense also demonstrates anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects when tested in lab studies and on animals — specifically, helping to fight the cells of specific types of cancer. (7c) A 2012 study showed that a chemical compound found in frankincense called AKBA may kill cancer cells that have become resistant to chemotherapy. (7d)
Evidence for the efficacy of aromatherapy in treating medical conditions is poor, with a particular lack of studies employing rigorous methodology. A number of systematic reviews have studied the clinical effectiveness of aromatherapy in respect to pain management in labor, the treatment of post-operative nausea and vomiting, managing challenging behaviors in people who have dementia, and symptom relief in cancer. However, some studies have come to the conclusion that while it does improve the patient's mood, there is no conclusive evidence on how it works with pain management. Studies have been inconclusive because of the fact that no straightforward evidence exists. All of these reviews report a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of aromatherapy.
According to a review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “at least 90 essential oils can be identified as being recommended for dermatological use, with at least 1,500 combinations.” What gives these oils their skin benefits is their ability to fight against pathogens that are responsible for dermatological infections. Oils can also help to improve inflammatory skin conditions, like dermatitis, eczema and lupus, improve the general appearance of your skin and even aid wound healing. (16)
Orange essential oil has a sweet, bright aroma reminiscent of a blossoming orchard of orange trees. Start your day with an uplifting burst of liquid sunshine by diffusing Orange as you get ready in the morning. With just a few drops, you can fill any space with a sense of peace, harmony, and creativity. Orange is delightful on its own, or you can combine it with complementary oils such as Grapefruit or Cinnamon.
Young children and the elderly may be more sensitive to essential oils. So you may need to dilute them more. And you should totally avoid some oils, like birch and wintergreen. In even small amounts, those may cause serious problems in kids 6 or younger because they contain a chemical called methyl salicylate. Don’t use essential oils on a baby unless your pediatrician says it’s OK.
Another useful essential oil for digestion is peppermint. Research shows that peppermint oil works to provide rapid relief of IBS symptoms. In a 4-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 72 patients with IBS received either peppermint oil or placebo. The peppermint group experienced a 40 percent reduction in total IBS symptoms after 4 weeks, which was superior to the 24 percent decrease of symptoms reported by the patients in the placebo group. After just 24 hours of using peppermint oil, the treatment group experienced a decrease in symptoms of 19.6 percent. (8)
Some oils, such as clary sage, geranium and thyme, help to balance out estrogen and progesterone levels in your body, which can improve conditions like infertility and PCOS, as well as PMS and menopause symptoms. A 2017 published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters indicates that geranium and rose have the ability to influence the salivary concentration of estrogen in women. This may be helpful for women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms that are caused by declining levels of estrogen secretion. (2)
There is no good medical evidence that aromatherapy can prevent or cure any disease. For cancer patients, aromatherapy has been found to lower anxiety and depression symptoms. In 2015, the Australian Government's Department of Health published the results of a review of alternative therapies that sought to determine if any were suitable for being covered by health insurance; aromatherapy was one of 17 therapies evaluated for which no clear evidence of effectiveness was found.