What is Aromatherapy?
The IFPA (International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists) define aromatherapy as:
“the controlled and informed use of essential oils to maintain and/or improve the health of the mind, body and spirit”.
A clinical Aromatherapist will aim to treat the person, not the disease. This involves careful consideration of quantity of oil and why each oil is chosen for its specific effects.
The term ‘aromatherapy’ was first coined by French chemist Rene Gattefosse. He burned his hand in a laboratory accident, plunged his hand into a vat of neat lavender oil, the only liquid available to him, and was amazed by how quickly the burns healed. He then proceeded to discover the healing qualities of essential oils by treating wounded soldiers in WWI.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are aromatic, non-greasy plant extracts composed only of the volatile molecules from the plants concerned.
All aromatic substances are volatile, they float away, and their molecular structure will depend on how quickly they float away. The volatility affects the lasting power of any blend and should be considered when blending in a diffuser.
What is a good quality essential oil?
Before we start looking at essential oils, we need to look at the quality of essential oils on the market. Essential oils grown for and used by the aromatherapy industry determine quality by the consistency of ‘wholeness’, all aspects are equally important. The food industry determines quality by taste, perfumery by smell and pharmaceutical by the quantity and quality of the active ingredients.
Farming methods will affect the quality of the essential oil. Plants grown close to main roads or areas of high pollution would create an essential oil that would contain a contaminated reside, when we put the essential oil onto our skin, the skin of family and children or through inhalation, we do not want to be using an oil that would pass pollutants into the bloodstream. Again, when possible, plants should be grown without the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers for the same reason. This is why we offer you the finest vegan 100% pure organic essential oils.
Unfortunately some essential oils are often ‘added to’ to make them more profitable or cheaper.
e.g Lavandin is used in many soap and detergents etc and sold as lavender, lavandin can be produced in higher quantities for less money.
As you start to use your oils more frequently, which we would LOVE you to do, making them a part of your lifestyle, you will become familiar with their fragrance. As a natural product it can vary slightly from one harvest to the next due to weather changes.
You will also start to know that you can’t buy a good quality Rose for £5 a bottle.
Essential oils will evaporate completely from a tissue, if an oily stain is left then you will know that the oil has been mixed in a carrier. They shouldn’t feel greasy when rubbed between your fingers.
You could easily think that inhaling a beautiful essential oil is just a ‘lovely smell’. It is however an incredible chemical reaction that begins as the molecules of the essential oils enters your body and start to produce a chemical change.
The molecules of the essential oil reach the mucous membranes inside the nose and in the respiratory system. The membrane inside the nose is only one cell layer thick and packed with capillaries which are rich in blood supply and will deliver these aromatic molecules direct to your blood stream.
This is why inhalation is the quickest way of getting essential oils into the body and benefit from their therapeutic properties.
If you want to essential oils to tend to a respiratory condition, affect the mind / body quickly or enter the blood stream quickly, inhalation would be your best application method.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body and is much thicker than mucous membranes which makes it a much slower delivery method than inhalation. However for skin that needs nourishing through its many layers, this may be the best method of application. Did you know the skin has 5 layers, which are excellent at expelling waste products e.g sweat, toxins but it is still permeable and will allow substances in.
These layers allow the essential oil to be absorbed gradually, providing nourishment as it works its way inwards. There are also benefits to physical discomfort in a topical application.
Due to the slow delivery method of topical application, essential oils will always need a carrier to carry them through the layers of the skin without causing irritation and sensitivity. A carrier oil, lotion, cream or balm are wonderful bases to work with and of course have their own therapeutic properties that provide balance and nourishment too. Sweet Almond oil and Sesame oil are our favourites.
Looking after your oils
Oxygen, heat and light will degrade the quality of your essential oils. To prevent this you will need to keep oils in airtight bottles, in an upright position. Bottles should be dark and stored in a cool, dark environment with minimum temperature changes. Evaporation also occurs quicker depending on the oils top, middle or bottom note. Lemon is a top note therefore will evaporate quicker in the air compared to Geranium which is a middle note:
Please check out our full blog post on notes here
Please check how to store your oils here
How can I use my Oils?
Tips & Tricks:
- Diffuser: Add 5-8 drops to 100ml cool water in your diffuser. Or use with other BCALM organic pure essential oils, to blend some magic depending on your mood! Start with our signature day or night scent for inspiration.
- Pillow talk: A few drops of oil on your pillow will help relax and help you drift off to sleep
- Quick fix: A few deep inhalations from the bottle can help when you are at work, in the car or anytime you need a quick break.
- Inhalation: Place 3-4 drops on a tissue and breathe deeply for maximum benefits or place in a bowl of hot water and inhale. Some oxide rich oils are irritants to asthmatics, the eucalyptus family, tea-tree and some of the tree oils. Please speak with a clinical aromatherapist if you have asthma or a respiratory condition. Asthmatics must not use the water inhalation method. Our diffuser keyring for inhalation.
- Shower: Add 2-3 drops to the corner of the shower and enjoy the benefits of steam inhalation.
- Bath: Add 2-3 drops (or more) diluted in a carrier oil or salts (like our bath brew). The BCALM bath brew is filled with rose buds, lavender, orange peel, epsom and pink himalayan salt. Stir the water to disperse the blend and relax in the bath for at least 10 minutes. For children under the age of 12, use 2-3 drops of essential oils. Do not drop neat essential oils neat into a bath of water.
- Topically: Mix 15-30 drops (5-10%) with 5ml carrier oil (sweet almond recommended) and apply to wrists, chest or back of the neck. Can aid healing of bruises if applied twice a day to the area. For a headache place on the neck, temples and hairline to help. Our Roller ball to apply topically.
- Hand or foot bath: Add 2 drops to a bowl of water.
- Compress: Add 2 drops to a bowl of water. For treating inflammation or to cool down use cold to room temperature water. For aching tight muscles use warm to hot water. Agitate a face cloth in the water, wring out excess moisture and apply cloth to the affected area. Repeat two or three times as the compress cools down or warms up.
- Steam Treatment: Add 2 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming hot water. Place your face close to the bowl and cover the back of your head and bowl with a towel to trap the aromatic vapours. Caution due to risk of burns or scalding and keep eyes covered during treatment.
- Vacuum Cleaners – 4-6 drops on a cotton wool ball/pad in the vacuum bag
- Steam irons – 1-2 drops in the water inlet
- Room Spray – 20 drops in 500ml spray bottle, shake and spray towards the ceiling
- Disinfectant – 200ml water into a spray bottle, 10 drops of tea-tree and 5 drops of lemon oil, shake to blend
There are some family members and our pets that may need oils to be more diluted.
Babies and young children, pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, the frail and the elderly. Topical applications need to be at much lower dilutions, as low a 1% (1 drop in 10ml of carrier oil) and not all essential oils are recommended.
Please see our faq here and if you unsure always take advise from a clinical aromatherapist for best practise.
Reference and support: https://www.thewellschool.co.uk/
Providing professional courses and are the leaders in the UK bringing you the very best training in organic aromatherapy, essential oils and massage.
Sending Healthy Wishes and happy oiling!
Richie, Becky, Bella and Betsy x