Does it seem like everywhere you go these days, someone is talking about essential oils? If you don’t already use them, you might be curious as to why them seem to be all the rage right now. Well, there are tons of reasons why people regularly use essential oils – we’ll talk about those in a minute – but taking in all that information when you’re a beginner can feel a little overwhelming. So why don’t we start with the simplest way to ease into this natural health realm – how to use essential oils for aromatherapy.
What is Aromatherapy?
Essential oils are highly concentrated fragrances that are extracted from a variety of natural elements, including flowers, herbs, fruits and many other types of plants. Even if you’re not familiar with essential oils, you are probably already using some types of aromatherapy without even realizing it. Whether it’s a favorite candle that you light to relax at the end of a long day, or even the invigorating scent of your favorite shampoo, each has a unique aroma that many believe can trigger certain holistic reactions within the body. If you think about it, this theory makes a lot of sense. Smell has a powerful impact on every part of our being. It can adjust our mood, evoke specific memories, help us to relax, affect your appetite, and even have an dramatic impact on our health. Best of all, the only thing you have to do to benefit from it is to breathe.
Aromatherapy and Your Brain
Essential oils are getting all the credit, but really it’s our brain that is doing all the work when it comes to the benefits of aromatherapy. When you inhale the scent from an essential oil, it begins to stimulate the part of the brain that recognizes smell, known as the olfactory system.
When you inhale a specific scent, those molecules that you breathe in pass through the nose and mouth, into the lungs and are carried to different parts of the body. When those molecules reach the brain they begin to stimulate the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions, memory, stress – even crucial bodily functions such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. This is how the different responses noted with aromatherapy use are triggered.
Who Came Up With It?
We modern humans with our fancy medical technology aren’t the ones who discovered the impact essential oils and aromatherapy can have on a person. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years by various different civilizations and are highly noted in many ancient medical systems, including Chinese and Indian medicine and by the Egyptians. Today, we think of essential oils in less of a medical capacity and more of a holistic tool that can complement and support your health.
Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
Knowing which essential oil brands to choose when you’re just starting out can be overwhelming. They do get complicated – after all, there are a lot of scents to choose from, and we won’t even get started on the blends. So for now, stick with the basics and build your collection from there. We recommended starting with natural products by Wyndmere Essential Oils or from NOW Foods. Once you know how certain scents affect you, you can branch out. The most basic essential oils that are beneficial for just about everyone include:
- Lavender – People most commonly use lavender essential oils because of its calming effects. This scent is often associated with helping to relieve anxious feelings, promote calmness and may help you fall asleep easier. It’s also believed to be quite beneficial for the skin, which is why you often find lavender included in many beauty products.
- Peppermint – Many people enjoy the refreshing scent of peppermint essential oil, because of its tendency to promote alertness and focus. It’s also a great choice for those suffering from headaches due to stress or symptoms of seasonal change.
- Tea Tree – This scent is used in aromatherapy to help promote a healthy immune system and response to illness. It also has a powerful cleansing effect and is great for the skin.
- Lemon – The scent of lemon is often believed to be a mood lifter. It can also promote alertness and focus. Lemon is also a powerful cleanser (the oils can be used to make natural cleaners for your home) but also have can have that same effect on your body, promoting a strong a healthy immune system. A lot of aromatherapy lovers turn to lemon oil when they are struggling with headaches. It’s also a strong supporter for healthy digestion and blood circulation.
- Sweet Orange – There are many benefits of sweet orange essential oils, but one of the most commonly used is as a mood lifter. Many aromatherapy users turn to this scent when they are feeling down or sad. It believed to help calm those feelings and stimulate happy thoughts. Think about it, have you ever felt sad while peeling an orange? It’s also known for its calming effects and is highly regarded as an anti-inflammatory.
- Eucalyptus – This is a great scent for those struggling with illness in the lungs and throat. Studies show breathing in the scent of eucalyptus essential oil helps stimulate the blood vessels which helps them dilate and bring more oxygen to the respiratory system, helping it to naturally clear any blockages.
How to Use Aromatherapy
The basic idea of essential oils for aromatherapy is to breathe in their essence, which means you have many options when it comes to how to use them. To help you determine what method might work best for you, we’ve made a list:
When it comes to choosing a diffuser, again you have many options.
- Ultrasonic Diffuser – This type of essential oils diffuser is also known as a humidifying diffuser. The oils are added to the attached water tank, which contains an atomizer that essentially vibrates really fast to break up the liquid and release the oil and water particles through the air. This option is particularly helpful for those suffering from symptoms associated with seasonal change such as stuffy nose, cough, etc. Good essential oils to try in the ultrasonic diffuser include lemon, orange blossom, peppermint and tea tree oil.
- Nebulizer Diffuser – This diffuser works by releasing soft mists of essential oils into the air. It’s similar to the ultrasonic diffuser, but it doesn’t use water. A lot of people like the nebulizer because you don’t have to bother with refilling the water tank and cleaning it regularly to prevent mold growth. Nebulizers are great for the living room or anywhere you want to sit back and relax with essential oils.
- Evaporative Diffuser – This type of essential oils diffuser uses a fan to move air across the oil and around the room. Most use an absorbent pad or tray where you add the oil of your choice. These are great options for travel because many are small and portable and can be battery operated. They also tend to be less expensive than other types of diffusers.
- Heat Diffuser – A heat diffuser does exactly what it says, it uses heat (usually generated by a heating element such as a coil or candle) to convert liquid oils into a gas to be released into the air. Many people like these because they are often decorative and don’t cost as much as the ultrasonic or nebulizer diffusers. They also tend to work fast.
Those yummy candles you buy to make your house smell nice, that’s a form of aromatherapy! Candles are great because they are simple to use and often come in pre-made blends so you don’t have to worry about mixing scents yourself. Soy wax candles are really popular these days because they are environmentally friendly and burn clean and usually burn soot-free. Best of all, the options are endless so whatever mood you’re in, you can find a candle scent to compliment it – or if need be, change it!
When you’re out and about, you can bring you aromatherapy with you! Honestly, that’s when you might need it the most anyway (annoying traffic, stressful meetings, etc). Again, you have options when it comes to carrying your essential oils accessories with you.
- For The Car – Essential oils air fresheners are perfect for helping you keep your cool when stuck in rush hour traffic. You can also find car diffusers that easily attach to your air vent and release a relaxing wave of essential oils, right when you need them.
- Inhalers – These are great to stick in your pocket and sniff when you need a quick pick-me-up during a boring meeting, or a calming sensation when you’re stressed. These work well in the car as well in case you start to feel drowsy during long drives.
- For the Office – A plug-in diffuser or small mist diffuser is the perfect compliment for your office so you can easily relax with lavender essential oils, or get focused with orange blossom, anytime you need it.
So, are you ready to get started using essential oils for aromatherapy? Make it easy and try out a starter kit. We’d love to hear how it’s working for you! Tell us how you’re doing in the comments below!