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Aromatherapy to Boost Overall Health & Skin

May 19, 2018

AROMATHERAPY TO BOOST OVERALL HEALTH AND SKIN

Aromatherapy is used by alternative health and holistic healers to calm, soothe, and boost your overall health, including the health of your skin. Aromatherapy uses essential oils that come from plants, flowers, herbs, roots, and trees from all over the world. Many essential oils have medicinal properties.

The botanicals chosen for essential oils typically have powerful antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and/or antioxidant properties. Many are used for calming anxiety and reducing stress, and others are used for everything from soothing joint pain, improving digestion, boosting immunity, and even fighting some kinds of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli

Essential oils are produced by distillation, a process that separates the oil and water-based plant compounds by steaming. They are highly concentrated and as a result - they have intense aromas! The essential oils used for aromatherapy can be sprayed, misted, or diffused in order to be inhaled and they also may be diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to skin.

THE HISTORY OF ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils have been used as far back as 3000-2500 B.C. for everything from religious ceremonies to beauty aids to food preparation. While credit is usually given to the Egyptians for being the first to use them, there is also some evidence that they were used in China and India around the same time period. The Bible, both in the old and new testaments, also makes many references to these aromatic oils, such as when the Magi bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, and many mentions of ‘holy anointing oil.’

ALWAYS DILUTE ESSENTIAL OILS IF AROMATHERAPY IS USED DIRECTLY ON SKIN

You can use essential oils indirectly such as sprinkling drops of oil in the shower or misting out of a spray bottle to scent your home. But if you wish to use essential oils directly onto your body, never apply an essential oil to your skin without diluting it into a carrier oil and also by patch-testing on your body (try the forearm on the 'inside' of the elbow). This is important because essential oils are too potent for application to your skin. As a general guideline, use 1-3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. 

Some of the best carrier oils are:

  • Argan oil: Not only is it non-irritating, but it’s rich in vitamins A, C and E, which are considered to be the most important skin vitamins. Argan is also packed with minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, linolenic acid, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
  • Jojoba oil: This is another non-irritating oil and a good choice if you are prone to skin conditions, as it is especially effective for treating psoriasis, acne, and eczema. Jojoba contains glyceride oils so (unlike the synthetic glycerol) it’s more like our own skin sebum. It has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Coconut oil: This contains lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties, and as a lovely bonus - it smells great!
  • Sweet almond oil: One of the most versatile oils on the market today, sweet almond is a liquid version of the popular nut. It contains: olein, linoleic acid, glucosides, protein, minerals, and vitamins.

IS AN AROMATHERAPY DIFFUSER THE SAFEST WAY TO USE IT?

With an aromatherapy diffuser, you experience all of the positive effects without the worry of triggering asthma the way incense or candle smoke can, or the danger of burns and wax spills from candles.

Those big fears aside, you still need to be mindful of general safety. For example, if someone in your family (including pets) is allergic to a certain plant, keep in mind that an aromatherapy diffuser will still be putting that plant’s components into the air in such a potency that it can create indirect skin contact.

The information isn’t clear, but some do say that diffusers should be on for approximately 30 minutes. Shorter bursts of diffuser time seems to be more effective than long exposure, with 30-45 minutes deemed an ideal amount of time for an aromatherapy experience.

Here are 5 reasons why you should use an aromatherapy diffuser every day. You’ll benefit from a constant stream of aromatics that can:

  1. Improve your mood. Inhalation of aromatics can relax or energize or both! Not only will it help you, but you can also use it to lift the moods of other people during parties or other social gatherings. Aromatherapy can even set a positive atmosphere for business meetings and many companies have now identified signature scents for their brand that they diffuse in their stores or headquarters.
  2. Stabilize your emotional state during hormonal mood swings. There are several essential oils known for their ability to balance the body’s hormones, which can greatly affect moodiness, such as when one is in perimenopause or menopause.
  3. Decrease illness. Use of an aromatherapy diffuser can help keep cold and flu germs at bay. If the oils used have antimicrobial properties, airborne germs will come into contact with those properties long before they get to your body. Aromatherapy diffusers can also double as humidifiers, helping to keep your airways moist and healthy.
  4. Make breathing easier. Essential oils reduce inflammation and congestion in clogged airways so you breathe more easily, which is especially good for those with allergies.
  5. Reduce “brain fog.” Many oils have adaptogenic qualities. They can soothe you when you’re stressed or give you a pick-me-up when you’re feeling down or sluggish. Essential oils can calm your mood and that helps you focus. As the Harvard Business Review states, our brains are wired for stress. Frazzled leaders resort to binary choice-making, limiting the options available to them, resulting in making decisions with premature conclusions.

GENERAL SAFETY RULES FOR USING AROMATHERAPY

Just because something is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe. Right now, there’s a big increase in the use of essential oils. That’s great, but we all need to think about basic essential oil safety. There are many concerns, and a lot of confusion and contradictory information out there, and so our goal is to clarify the information and explain the need for safety.

Essential oils are highly concentrated, which is obvious when you know that, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it takes about 220 pounds of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender oil!

Essential oils are also volatile and can evaporate very quickly when exposed to air, so remember to recap the bottles of oil you’re working with or you could lose some to evaporation.

That said, practice safety with essential oils by:

  • Consult your doctor if you have any health issues, such as heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, or epilepsy.
  • Consult your pediatrician before exposing children to essential oils. Certain ones such as lavender and chamomile are fine for children, but others, such as peppermint, rosemary, or eucalyptus shouldn’t be used until the child reaches the age of three.
  • Use an aromatherapy diffuser, especially if you have kids or pets, because they are a safer way to dispense the essential oils than candles or incense.
  • Consider using a hydrosol. Like an essential oil, a hydrosol goes through the distillation process, but it’s processed at a lower temperature than an essential oil. It’s also water soluble, making it slightly less potent. If someone is prone to a plant allergy, they may not have the same reaction to a hydrosol version of it as they would to its essential oil.
  • Think of allergies. If anyone in your family (including pets) has allergies or asthma, it may not be a good idea to expose them to essential oils at all. Speak with your physician.
  • Essential oils should be 100% pure, preferably organic (especially if the user has any health conditions) and stored in a cool, dark place since their quality deteriorates when exposed to light and heat.

CAN I USE ESSENTIAL OILS WHILE PREGNANT?

The information on this is confusing and often contradictory, so it’s best to consult your physician and adhere to general safety guidelines. Right now, it seems that primary concern is that essential oils may possibly cross over to the placenta, says the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. This organization also reported that there have been no known cases of miscarriage due to essential oil use.

Other sources say to avoid certain essential oils, such as clary sage, cinnamon, clove, and rosemary because they cause uterine contractions which could possibly trigger labor. Others say it’s okay to use them after the first trimester. Just to be completely safe, it’s best to avoid using essential oils for the entirety of a pregnancy.

CAN I USE AROMATHERAPY ON MY CHILD?

Today’s Parent reports that you should be as alert to reactions to essential oils as you would be when introducing a new food to your child’s diet. Symptoms of a sensitivity to an essential oil can include coughing, sneezing, labored breathing, seizures, or other complaints. Don’t let children consume essential oils, and don’t let them apply the oils to their skin. Remove the temptation to play with the tiny bottles of oil by always storing them safely out of reach.

Some say not to use certain oils on children such as peppermint, rosemary, and wintergreen. These contain high doses of chemicals, like 1,8-cineole (also known as Eucalyptol) and methyl salicylate (also known as oil of wintergreen or wintergreen oil), that have more potential than others to cause breathing problems when inhaled.

The bottom-line: ALWAYS consult your pediatrician first!

TO INGEST OR NOT TO INGEST ESSENTIAL OILS?

There are two schools of thought on this. Some say it’s okay to ingest certain ones, but others says it’s never okay to ingest essential oils. If you personally believe that ingestion is okay, please understand that ingesting essential oils is not a time for the philosophy of “the more, the better.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported one near fatality due to peppermint oil poisoning. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also reports that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid ingesting lavender because it can cause uterine bleeding.

Whatever you decide, always be cautious and follow dosing directions in detail, and if you have any questions, please consult your doctor before using essential oils for aromatherapy!

IS AROMATHERAPY WITH PEPPERMINT OIL OKAY OR NOT?

There have been numerous stories surrounding peppermint oil, so let’s take a closer look at this powerful oil including its uses and the cautions that will keep you safe.

Peppermint can help to calm irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems, as well as the common cold, headaches, and other conditions. Peppermint oil can also be used topically (applied to the skin) for headache, muscle aches, itching, and other problems.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there’s some evidence that it may help to relieve heartburn when taken orally in combination with caraway oil, but more research needs to be done.

When using peppermint essential oil, practice these precautionary measures:

  • Peppermint oil should not be used on children under the age of 3 because their nasal passages are too close to their heart and lungs, possibly resulting in sudden apnea and throat constriction. For that same reason, it should never be applied to the chest of infants!
  • Inhalation of large doses of menthol may lead to dizziness, confusion, muscle weakness, nausea, and double vision, according to The Natural Standard Research Collaboration.
  • Jean Carper, medical journalist and author of Miracle Cures, notes that the menthol in peppermint oil increases risk of a miscarriage. It stimulates blood flow to your uterus, which is often used to stimulate menstruation, but could also lead to a miscarriage.

SOME OF THE MOST CALMING ESSENTIAL OILS FOR AROMATHERAPY

  • Lavender. One of the best gifts for a new mom is a bottle of lavender essential oil and a diffuser. (Even though they can’t ingest it if they’re breastfeeding, inhalation is okay). According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lavender offers a wealth of healing powers, and there’s growing evidence on its positive neurological effects, such as calming, sedating, and stabilizing moods.
  • Rose. This seems to have a direct connection to emotions and the heart, so it helps relieve grief, shock, and panic attacks.
  • Chamomile. It calms the mind, reduces anxiety and depression, relieves digestive issues, treats skin conditions, reduces inflammation, promotes better sleep, and is gentle enough for aromatherapy for children.
  • Bergamot. It reduces insomnia by increasing relaxation and decreasing agitation. The National Institutes for Health (NIH) found that bergamot reduced stress response in rats in a 2011 study.

ESSENTIAL OILS THAT ENERGIZE, INCREASE AWARENESS, AND FIGHT FATIGUE

  • Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit or Orange. Any citrus oils can elevate the mood and energize the user. All citrus oils contain healing substances, such as the antioxidant limonene. Lemon essential oil has also been shown to decrease blood pressure and support the liver, resulting in less toxicity and greater energy levels.
  • Eucalyptus. This helps not only with respiratory healing but it stimulates the brain and improves mood and energy levels. Gyms and spas often feature “Eucalyptus Saunas.”
  • Rosemary. A strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, rosemary boosts immunity.

AROMATHERAPY: GREAT FOR BOOSTING OVERALL HEALTH AND SKIN

Aromatherapy has been proven to boost overall health, and here are some essential oils that are especially great for skin. Many essential oils such as lavender and rose have proven track records for nourishing aging skin, but here are a few more that you might also want to consider:

      • Geranium oil. The Egyptians used this to achieve beautiful, radiant skin. Geranium oil is used to stabilize mood and increase energy and emotional wellness. Specifically, it can be useful for treating acne and reducing inflammation.
      • Tea tree oil. This is especially good for oily and acne-prone skin.
      • Frankincense. This essential oil has been shown to have tremendous powers for both your mental state (anxiolytic/anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties) and your physical body (anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic abilities - meaning, it helps stop the spread of malignant cells and helps encourage the process of cell turnover). 

SHOP HERBAL DYNAMICS BEAUTY PRODUCTS WITH ESSENTIAL OILS