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Aromatherapy

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Aromatherapy

How many times have you smelled a particular aroma, or blend of aromas and instantly have a flood of memories wash over you because it triggered a long forgotten time in your life? Who amongst us hasn't smelled chocolate chip cookies baking and not been transported back in time to a place in our childhood when life was sweet and simple, and our only worry of the day was if that cute little curly haired boy in our class liked us? (and in case you're wondering..... no..... I don't have chocolate chip cookie essential oil!! lol)

The power of aroma is something that cannot be denied, but a lot of the time it is something that many of us seem to not take notice of during the course of our busy lives. We're so wrapped up in all the worries and necessities of daily life that we quite literally forget to stop along the way and smell the roses. If we only knew the soothing properties that actually comes from the scent of a rose, perhaps we wouldn't walk past them in such a hurry.

Whether you are aware of it or not, or even if you just plain ol' don't believe, I want to help you see that certain smells have the ability to promote healing of our body, mind and spirit and also to help improve the general well being of our mental outlook on life. Not only do the scents themselves help promote healing of our minds, but certain oils applied to our skin have the powers to heal and improve it's appearance. Think about it....... what did our ancestors use before all of these chemical based products came onto the market? They used plants and trees. They used the leaves, bark, pulp and the oils that came from them. Why reach for a spray can of chemicals to soothe that sunburn when all natural lavender oil and aloe gel can do a better job? The lavender oil and aloe will actually HEAL the sunburn, and be honest, wouldn't the wonderful aroma of the lavender make you feel better while it's healing? In this case it serves a double purpose, because it heals the skin and relaxes our mind at the same time.

Would like to share with you some of the many wonderful properties I have learned about the wonderful art of aromatherapy. will attempt to give you a basic working knowledge of which oils blend well with others, and which ones clash and cause an upheaval in our senses. I will share some of my own personal "recipes" for several blends of oils that can help in a myriad of daily uses, from anything such as deterring and banishing pesky head lice (yuck!) to other things like soothing a burn; uplifting depression; skin care; home environment and also a sexy blend of my own favorite "love potion". :)

Aromatherapy has long been a passion of mine, and I am never without my trusty tried and true oils. I'm sure that at times I must sound like a broken record when someone asks me "What should I use for _______ ?" (fill in the blank) because a lot of the time my answer is "Lavender oil".
I was pleasantly surprised that lavender has so many healing properties, not to mention that it just smells heavenly. Of course I absolutely love patchouli oil too, and a lot of people don't like the smell of it, so as with anything, it's all a matter of personal likes and dislikes.
However, I hope that you won't avoid a certain oil just because you don't like the scent of it, because to do so would be to deny yourself something that can actually heal your body. If you are looking for scents that simply are pleasing to the nose, then of course stay away from the ones you find offensive. But, be informed... there is a big difference in essential oils and fragrance oils.

Essential oils are made from the flowers, leaves, bark and resins of plants and trees. Fragrance oils usually contain little to no essential oils at all (and sometimes contain lots of chemicals), and won't give you the same benefits as pure essential oils . Rest assured though that any fragrance oils you purchase from The Celtic Connection are of the highest quality, and the same goes for our essential oils.

So, with my brief (???) introduction written and out of the way, won't you please stay around and join me on the wonderful journey that I call "The Magick of Aromatherapy"? You've read this up to this point, so what's a few more paragraphs? :)

Before beginning, perhaps now is the time for a few basic definitions of some words or phrases you may come across several times.

 

ESSENTIAL OIL: An essential oil is extracted from certain species of flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, bark, resins, roots and trees. Do not be fooled by "perfume" or "fragrance" oils, as these are usually man-made and contain little to no actual oils of whatever it is supposed to smell like.

 

AROMATHERAPY: A method by which the use of certain essential oils are either combined or used alone to promote healing & well being by applying the oils directly to our body or by inhalation.

 

SYNERGY: Combining two or more oils to bring about a more powerful effect than using just one oil. Mixing them together creates a chemical compound that is different from the lone oil itself. An increased potency can be attained with a synergistic blend without increasing the dosage.

 

CARRIER OIL or BASE OIL: An oil that has basically no aroma and can be used to dilute the highly concentrated essential oils, so as to use them for massage. For example: You may only need one drop of a particular essential oil for a particular treatment. Obviously, one drop won't go very far, so it is mixed with a carrier (base) oil to cover a larger area. Base oils are vegetable, nut or seed, many of which have therapeutic properties of their own.

The following is a list of some oils that can be used as a carrier oil, and some of their uses, depending on which particular problem you are trying to address:
 - Sweet Almond: good for all skin types. Helps relieve itching, soreness dryness and inflammation.
 - Apricot kernel: all skins types, especially prematurely aged, sensitive, inflamed and dry
 - Carrot: premature aging, itching, dryness, psoriasis, eczema. Reduces scarring. Corn: soothing on all skins
 - Evening Primrose: multiple sclerosis, menopausal problems, heart disease. Excellent for treating psoriasis and eczema. Helps prevent premature aging.
 - Grapeseed: all skins types
 - Hazelnut: slight astringent action; good for all skin types
 - Jojoba: inflamed skin, psoriasis, eczema, acne, hair care, all skin types; highly penetrative
 - Olive: rheumatic conditions, hair care, cosmetics; soothing
 - Peanut: all skin types
 - Safflower: all skin types
 - Sesame: psoriasis, eczema, rheumatism, arthritis; all skin types
 - Sunflower: all skin types
Wheat germ: eczema, psoriasis, prematurely aging skin; all skin types.
I realize that several of the oils I have listed above are useful for a lot of the same things, but not all oils are available in all places, so I wanted to make sure you had a lot to choose from. However, most of these shouldn't be too hard to find, with some of them being available in most grocery stores.

When shopping for essential oils, look for shops that cater to natural and health concerns like a health food store or a shop that deals strictly in essential oils. Stay away from stores that are only concerned with perfuming the air and body. Essential oils are PURE plant oils; perfume oils are primarily man-made and contain little to no natural oils at all.

Always make sure when you are buying oils, that you are getting the actual oil and not just a cheap imitation. Price is usually a good indicator............ REAL oils aren't cheap. However, don't let yourself be ripped off by some unscrupulous dealer who is only interested in one thing, which is parting you from large sums of your ca$h!

Familiarize yourself with your local vendors. Ask questions.... lots of them! Anyone who truly knows their oils will gladly answer them. Shop around. Buy several different brands and experiment to see which ones give you the best results.

There are different "grades" of oils. The finest quality being more expensive than a much lesser quality. The rarest oils will undoubtedly fetch a handsome price. Keep in mind that no reputable dealer will sell all essential oils for the same price. Unfortunately, I can't really give you a reliable price guide since prices fluctuate with the availability of the oils.



How the Treatments Are Done

Although many gift boutiques have taken to marketing scented candles, pomanders, and potpourri as "aromatherapy," genuine treatments rely on the use of highly concentrated essential oils extracted from various healing herbs. In most cases, these oils are produced by steam distillation or cold pressing from a plant's flowers, leaves, branches, bark, rind, or roots. The volatile, flammable oils are then mixed with a "carrier"--usually a vegetable oil such as soy, evening primrose, or almond--or diluted in alcohol before being applied to the skin, sprayed in the air, or inhaled. Although you can pursue treatments under the supervision of a certified aromatherapist, many people simply use the oils as a form of home remedy.
There is a notable lack of agreement on such issues as the amount of oil necessary to achieve a desired effect, the most effective method of administration, and the length of time necessary to continue treatment.

However, some of the more typical approaches are as follows:
Inhalation: For problems with respiration, try adding 6 to 12 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head, and deeply breathe the scented vapors.
Diffusion: Aromatherapists often suggest spraying oil-containing compounds into the air. This technique is said to calm the nerves, enhance a feeling of well-being, and even to improve respiratory conditions. In any case, it freshens the air. Commercially available spray units can be used. Add 10 drops of an essence to 7 tablespoonfuls of water. If you will not be using the entire amount at one time, add 1 tablespoonful of vodka or pure alcohol as a preservative. Shake the mixture and fill the sprayer.
Massage: Rubbing aromatic oil into the skin may be either calming or stimulating, depending on the type of oil used. Some people use it as a remedy for muscles sprains and soreness. Most preparations contain 5 drops of essential oil blended with a light base oil. A higher concentration could irritate the skin.
Bathing: Use no more than 8 drops in a bath. Add the oil to a tubful of water. You can also add 10 to 15 drops to a Jacuzzi or hot tub, 4 to 5 drops to a foot bath, or 3 to 4 drops to a hand bath (for chapped skin). If you shower, after washing yourself, dip a wet sponge or cloth in an oil-water mixture and apply to your skin while you are under the spray. Do not use this technique if you have any skin allergies.
Hot and cold compresses: For muscle aches or pains, bruises, or headaches add 5 to 10 drops of oil to approximately 4 ounces of water. Soak a cloth in the solution and apply to the sore area. Other aromatherapy techniques include placing 2 or 3 drops of essential oil on a pillow or shoe rack, heating the essential oil in a ring burner, or sprinkling the oil over the logs in a fireplace.

Warning: Never take aromatherapy oils internally. They are extremely potent and many can be poisonous.

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What Treatment Hopes to Accomplish Fragrant oils have been used for thousand of years to lubricate the skin, purify infectious air, and repel insects. However, aromatherapy as we know it today dates from the late 1930s, when René-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, dunked his badly burned hand into a container of pure lavender oil. Amazingly, the pain and redness disappeared and the burn healed within hours. In later experiments he found that other oils also alleviated skin problems. Other French scientists who were impressed with his research, developed techniques that are still in use today. Aromatherapy first appeared on this side of the Atlantic in the early 1980s, when there was an upsurge in the popularity of "natural," non-toxic healing methods that cost less than conventional medications and produce fewer side effects. Practitioners in California used essential oils to treat everything from viral and bacterial infections to depression, anxiety, and sexually transmitted diseases. They insisted aromas could heal wounds, stimulate the immune system, cure skin disorders, improve circulation, relieve pain, reduce swelling, and even improve memory.
According to these enthusiastic therapists, fragrant oils had the power to heal malfunctioning ovaries, kidneys, veins, adrenal glands, and many other organs. However, none of these claims has ever been scientifically substantiated. Indeed, relatively few attempts to verify aromatherapy's purported benefits have ever been made at all, and of those, only a few have delivered promising results. In one trial for arthritis pain, some of the participants were able to reduce the dosage of their potent anti-inflammatory drugs. In another study, the scent of lavender successfully put insomniacs to sleep. Other research has documented improvement in cases of erectile dysfunction, and a reduction in pain following childbirth. However, attempts to prove that aromatherapy can cure shingles have failed (although fragrant creams can reduce some of the pain). And a 1958 paper extolling the ability of essential oils to fight and conquer infections could cite no positive human or animal tests.
Advocates of aromatherapy propose a variety of mechanisms for its reported effects. The most widely accepted theory suggests that fragrances do their work via the brain. When aromatic molecules enter the nasal cavity and stimulate the odor-sensing nerves, the resulting impulses are sent to the limbic system--the part of the brain that's believed to be the seat of memory and emotion. Depending on the scent, emotional responses then kick in to exert a calming or energizing effect on the body. Alternatively, some proponents suggest that certain aromas may work by stimulating the glands, prompting the adrenal glands, for example, to produce steroid-like hormones that fight pain and inflammation. Others believe that the essential oils, whether inhaled or rubbed into the skin, react with hormones and enzymes in the bloodstream to produce positive results. Whatever the truth of the matter, aromatherapists assign specific properties to each essence.

Here are typical claims for some of the more common essential oils.
Lavender: Heals burns and cuts; destroys bacteria; relieves depression, inflammation, spasms, headaches, respiratory allergies, muscle aches, nausea, menstrual cramps; soothes bug bites; lowers blood pressure.
Peppermint: Alleviates digestive problems; cleans wounds; decongests the chest; relieves headache, neuralgia, and muscle pain; useful for motion sickness.
Eucalyptus: Lowers fever; clears sinuses; has antibacterial and antiviral properties; relieves coughs; useful for boils and pimples.
Tea Tree: Fights fungal, yeast, and bacterial infections; useful for skin conditions such as acne, insect bites, and burns; helps clear vaginitis, bladder infections, and thrush.
Rosemary: Relieves pain; increases circulation; decongests the chest; relieves pain, indigestion, gas, and liver problems; lessens swelling; fights infection; helps alleviate depression.
Chamomile: Reduces swelling; treats allergic symptoms; relieves stress, insomnia, and depression; useful in treating digestive problems.
Thyme: Lessens laryngitis and coughs; fights bladder and skin infections; relieves digestive problems and pain in the joints.
Tarragon: Stimulates digestion; calms neural and digestive tracts; relieves menstrual symptoms and stress.
Everlasting: Heals scars; reduces swelling after injuries; relieves sunburn; fights infections such as bronchitis and flu; treats pain from arthritis, muscle injuries, sprains and strains, tendonitis.