oils are the highly concentrated essences of aromatic plants. Aromatherapy
is the art of using these oils to promote healing of the body and the mind.
Basics of Aromatherapy:
Each of the essential oils used in Aromatherapy can
be used either alone or in combinations to create a desired effect.
Before using essential oils as part of an Aromatherapy treatment, it
is important to understand the effect that the oil(s) have, and how
The oils are found in different parts of the plant such
as the flowers, twigs, leaves and bark, or in the rind of fruit. For
example, in roses it is found in the flowers, in basil it is in the
leaves, in sandalwood in the wood, and so on.
The methods used to extract the oil are time consuming
and expensive and require a high degree of expertise. Given that it
takes in excess of 220 pounds of rose petals to produce only 4 or 5
teaspoonsful of oil, it is a process probably best left to professionals!
Due to the large quantity of plant material required,
pure essential oils are expensive, but they are also highly effective
- only a few drops at a time are required to achieve the desired effect.
Synthetic oils are available at a lesser price, but they
simply do not have the healing power of the natural oils.
Essential Oils Work:
Essential oils have an immediate impact on our sense of smell, also
known as "olfaction". When essential oils are inhaled, olfactory
receptor cells are stimulated and the impulse is transmitted to the
emotional center of the brain, or "limbic system".
The limbic system is connected to areas of the brain
linked to memory, breathing, and blood circulation, as well as the
endocrine glands which regulate hormone levels in the body. The properties of the oil, the fragrance and its effects,
determine stimulation of these systems.
When used in massage, essential oils are not only inhaled,
but absorbed through the skin as well. They penetrate the tissues and
find their way into the bloodstream where they are transported to the
organs and systems of the body.
Essential oils have differing rates of absorption, generally
between 20 minutes and 2 hours, so it is probably best not to bathe
or shower directly following a massage to ensure maximum effectiveness.
of Essential Oils:
Essential oils are often described by their "note".
The three categories of classification are top note, middle note and
base note, and these terms relate to the rate at which they evaporate
- or how long the fragrance will last.
Top Notes are the most stimulating and uplifting
oils. They are strongly scented, but the perfume lasts only for approximately
3 - 24 hours.
Examples of Top note oils are:
- clary sage
Middle Notes are the next longest lasting, at
about 2 - 3 days, and affect the metabolic and body functions. The
perfume is less potent than that of top note oils.
Examples of Middle note oils are:
Base Notes are the slowest oils to evaporate,
lasting up to one week. They have a sweet, soothing scent and a relaxing,
comforting effect on the body.
Examples of Base note oils are:
To create a balanced
perfume, a combination of all three notes will produce the best results.
It is important to state that when making Aromatherapy blends, there
are no fixed rules. The more familiar you become with the fragrances
and their effects, the easier it will be to create combinations that
are right for you!
Be sure to visit
our individual guide pages for recipes that can help you discover your
Essential Oils in the Bath