Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
Article by Don Goldberg
Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
What is aromatherapy?
“The power of aroma is evident through its capacity to affect the emotions and the body. For example, the scent of a rose can stimulate feelings of happiness and euphoria. The fragrances of lavender and chamomile are helpful in combating insomnia. Aromatherapy is an approach that obtains aromatic, essential oils from herbs and flowers and assigns them as therapeutic treatments.
“Aromatherapy dates back thousands of years. The term aromatherapy was first established when French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse published his work, Aromatherapie, in 1937. (Years earlier, Gattefosse had experimented with the use of essential oils to treat wounds. He personally experienced the healing properties of lavender when he applied it to burns on his own hands.) In the 1950s, Marguerite Maury, a French woman whose husband was a homeopathic doctor, researched essential oils for medical and cosmetic applications. Aromatherapy was eventually brought to Great Britain through the work of massage therapists and estheticians. Since then, its practice has grown extensively.”
(Credit, Hartunian & Nowak. Your Guide to Complementary Medicine. Avery. 1998)
What conditions respond well to aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy can improve general health and relieve/reduce a number of specific conditions, including:
~ Eye, ear, nose, throat problems
~ Muscle strain
~ Back problems
~ Poor circulation
~ Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
~ Hormonal imbalance
~ Colds, coughs, sore throats
~ Skin conditions
~ Low blood pressure
~ Varicose veins
~ Eating disorders
~ Motion sickness
~ Water retention
This approach also can contribute to the achievement of the following health goals:
~ Enhancement of mood
~ Increase in vitality
How does aromatherapy work?
Your sense of smell is connected to the part of your brain that controls the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. As a result, you respond immediately and involuntarily to scent. The powerful perfume of the essential oils stimulates the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. These brain chemicals can have effects that are calming, sedating, pain-reducing, stimulating, or euphoriant. In addition, when essential oils are applied to the skin in specially prepared lotions, they can serve as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and astringency agents. Each essential oil is known for its aroma and characteristic therapeutic effects.
The essential oils used for aroma therapy are derived through a steam-distillation process. Plant materials are heated in water, resulting in the release of oils in the form of vapors. These vapors, as well as the steam from the water, then move through a cooling tube in which they are converted back to liquid form. From this liquid, the concentrated essential oil is gathered. The oils produce therapeutic effects on the mind, emotions, and respiration through several methods of inhalation: placing drops of oil on a handkerchief or in steaming hot water; using a diffuser-a device that, when heated, spreads the vapors throughout a room; and soaking in therapeutic baths, which utilizes both inhalation and absorption.
When diluted in prepared lotions, oils can be applied directly to the skin. The aromatherapist generally uses such lotions during massage treatments. This method allows you to benefit not only from the aroma, but also from the absorption of the oils into the skin. Practitioners believe that these oils are carried throughout the body via the bloodstream, and can strengthen and heal muscle tissue, joints, and organs.
The Essential Oils
What do you look for when buying essential oils? Willner Chemists now has a line of essential oil products in the Phyto-Tech™ line. These oils are 100% Pure, Sustainably Harvested, Quality Tested, prepared in a GMP Certified Facility, Kosher Certified and, reasonably priced.
Quality of Essential Oils
Our 100% pure essential oils are highly concentrated botanical oils and are never adulterated. All of our oils are validated by GC-MS (Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) and FTIR (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy) to positively identify the oil. Most important, each oil gets inspected organoleptically. The primary organoleptic indicator of quality for essential oils is olfactory evaluation or smell by someone trained in aromatherapy. The oils are also physically inspected for color, clarity, and viscosity. We source our essential oils by quality, not price, to ensure the best grade for aroma therapeutic use.
We want to supply our customers with all the information available regarding these essential oils. All of our labels list the latin/botanical name of the plant, extraction method, plant part used for extraction, country of origin and cultivation method.
Extraction methods of essential oils can be a good indication of quality. We choose essential oils that are steam distilled and cold pressed to ensure purity and avoid any unnecessary processing chemicals.
During the process, the plant material is heated with water which produces a steam that contains the volatile oils from the plant. The steam is then cooled, which condenses the oil, and it is separated from the water and collected.
For citrus essential oils, the peel of the fruit is separated from the fruit, and the fruit is processed for juice. The peel is cold pressed, meaning no heat is used to ensure that the properties, including scent, are preserved during processing.
Massage is one of the most common applications of essential oils. The essential oils are added at 1-3% into a carrier oil such as jojoba, sweet almond, or olive oil. Essential oils diluted into carrier oils or lotions and can be used as a daily part of your routine. Adding essential oils to baths are another excellent way to enjoy their benefits, however all of the oils should be diluted into a carrier oil (with the exception of lavender) before adding to the bath. Burners and diffusers are also a great way to enjoy the therapeutic properties of essential oils. Usually the oils are used un-diluted for this purpose. Other methods utilized to experience the properties of essential oils include room sprays, saunas, inhalations, compresses, perfumery, and many more.
General Cautions and Safety
Essentials oils are highly concentrated aromatic oils and should be treated with caution. There are many dilution references for essential oils available and special cautions are outlined for babies, pregnancy and people with high blood pressure. Essential oils are not for internal use and should be kept out of reach of children. Citrus oils are photosensitive in high concentrations (they react to light) and should not be used on the skin right before going out in the sun for long periods of time. Essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil before using topically. Also, particularly if you have sensitive skin, do a small patch test before using new oils. Apply the diluted oil to a small patch of skin and wait to make sure no irritation occurs.
The Essential OilsCedarwood, Himalayan
Steam distilled from the roots and stumps of cedar wood trees that remain after timber harvests. Removal of the stumps and roots facilitates the planting of a new tree, thereby promoting sustainability. The native people in northern India have done this practice for generations. Cedarwood has calming, cleansing and harmonizing properties and a woody, soft and sweet aroma. Blends well with lavender, patchouli, and rosemary and adds a nice middle or base note to blends.
The cinnamon tree is an evergreen plant that is widely cultivated in Sri Lanka, India, and several other parts of the world. It is sustainably farmed and is steam distilled from the leaf. It has strengthening, focusing and revitalizing properties and a spicy, warm and clove like aroma. Cinnamon is a powerful oil that should be well diluted for topical uses. It is a strong base note in blends, and blends well with clove, orange, and patchouli.
Clove Bud oil is derived from the buds of a cultivated evergreen tree. The flower buds are removed from the tree, dried and steam distilled. Generally, small farmers do the distillation and then sell the oil to collection centers. This well established system has provided a respectable living to a large number of small farmers in Indonesia. It has comforting, warming and stimulating properties and a spicy sweet aroma. Clove is a powerful oil that should be well diluted for topical uses. Blends well with sweet orange, cedarwood and peppermint and is a grounding base note in blends.
Eucalyptus oil is derived from the namesake tree that is a tall, evergreen that grows to over 250 feet tall. Farmers collect the leaves that the tree sheds, and they are steam distilled. This well established system has provided a respectable living to a large number of small farmers in China. It has cooling, refreshing and purifying properties and camphor like, woody aroma. This top note oil blends well with lavender, lemon, and cedarwood.
The grapefruit tree is large, with glossy leaves, white flowers, and large pale yellow fruit with pink flesh. It grows to about 30 feet tall. The fruit is harvested for its juice and the peel is cold pressed for the essential oil, thereby minimizing waste. We sourced Florida grown pink grapefruit oil for its sweeter aroma compared with yellow grapefruit. It has uplifting, cleansing and refreshing properties and a fresh sweet citrus aroma. This top note oil blends well with lavender, cedarwood and ylang ylang.
A native Mediterranean shrub, lavender is the most popular oil in aromatherapy for its wide array of properties, lack of toxicity and balanced aroma. It is steam distilled from the flowering tops. This French lavender is standardized to have a minimum ester content (linalyl acetate) of at least 40% to ensure a consistent floral scent. Among many therapeutic and healing properties, it has calming, soothing and relaxing effects. It is one of the only essential oils that are safe for undiluted use. The aroma is a soft, powdery floral that blends well with any oil.
Bulgarian lavender is known amongst aromatherapists and perfumers as the finest and most therapeutic of all lavenders. It is steam distilled from the flowering tops and has a slightly different characteristic scent that is only found in lavender grown in the unique climate and soil conditions in Bulgaria. One of the most versatile oils, it blends well with all other oils and is safe to use undiluted. Its properties include balancing, soothing and calming, among many others.
The lemon tree is native to India but is now widely cultivated in California, Florida, and several other parts of the world. The oil is cold pressed from the peel of the fruit that is cultivated using sustainable farming methods. Lemon oil has refreshing, cleansing and tonifying properties and a fresh, citrus aroma. This top note oil blends well with lavender, rosemary and ylang ylang.
Like other citrus oils, orange oil is cold pressed from the peel of the fruit. There are many varieties of orange trees grown all over the world. We have chosen Citrus sinensis, or sweet orange, for its fresh and fruity aroma. This popular oil is refreshing and uplifting, but also used for relaxing. Orange is a top note oil that blends well with lavender, ylang ylang and cinnamon leaf.
The oregano oil is blended with cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for a safe way to enjoy its strong therapeutic properties. Our oregano essential oil is standardized to a minimum of 70% carvacrol content. The oregano is wild harvested in Turkey and the oil is extracted by steam distillation from the herb. It takes 100 kilos of plant material, to get 1 kilo of essential oil! It is a medicinal oil, that has a strong herbaceous and camphor like aroma.
Patchouli is a fragrant herb that is native to tropical Asia. It is steam distilled from the leaves by small farmers that do the distillation themselves and then sell the oil to collection centers. This system is successful due to a large number of small farmers in Indonesia. It has warming and calming properties, and is known as an aphrodisiac. Popular in perfumery, this base note oil has a distinctly earthy, herbaceous aroma that is associated with the 1960’s. Patchouli blends well with cedarwood, lavender and ylang ylang.
This perennial herb is steam distilled from the whole flowering herb. Ours is grown and distilled by farmers near the Himalayas in northern India. The majority of peppermint oil is used in the flavor and toothpaste industries. It is a refreshing oil with energizing and stimulating properties. This dominating top note has an herbally, menthol aroma with sweet undertones. It blends well with rosemary, lavender, and tea tree.
A native of the Mediterranean, Rosemary is an aromatic shrub in which the leaves and stems are steam distilled to produce the oil. The primary active therapeutic component in rosemary is cineole which usually comprises 40-50% of the oil. It has stimulating, clarifying and cleansing properties. This powerful middle note has a fresh camphoracous aroma and blends well with lavender, cedarwood and tea tree.
Tea Tree, Australian
Tea Tree is a small tree or shrub native to Australia that has been used medicinally by Aborigines for thousands of years. It is cultivated in large plantations and the oil is steam distilled from the leaves and stems. It has a wide variety of uses, as well as cleansing, purifying and uplifting properties. This top note aroma is distinctly medicinal and camphoracous, and it blends well with lavender, clove, and eucalyptus.
This exotic oil is produced by steam distillation of the flowers of a tall tropical tree. It comes from the Comoros Islands off the coast of East Africa, and has been a part of folk medicine and rituals in tropical Asia for thousands of years. Commonly used in perfumery, this intensely sweet smelling oil has relaxing, sensual and aphrodisiac properties. Only needed in small amounts, ylang ylang is a middle to base note oil and blends well with sweet orange, cedarwood and pink grapefruit.
For a listing of these Essential Oils, Sizes and Prices, Click Here.
|Read more about Don Goldberg|