Essential oils are volatile substances
produced by plants for their own survival, to attract pollinating
insects or repel predators or disease. The chemistry of these
essences, which are the basic raw materials of aromatherapy and
perfumery, is complex, but they contain the plant's therapeutic
properties in concentrated form. Most have antiseptic
properties. Some have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties as
well. Tea-tree and Garlic are the most powerful. But
unlike chemical antiseptics, essential oils are harmless to healthy
tissue. Like other herbal medicines, they promote healing by
stimulating and reinforcing the body's own mechanisms.
Another property of essential oils is
their very fine molecular structure which allow them to be absorbed
into the bloodstream or lymphatic system through the skin or through
the mucous membranes of the nose. Aroma has a direct influence
on the central nervous system and an indirect effect on the endocrine
The specific effects of the different
oils can vary between individuals but the following represents the
generally accepted psychotherapeutic uses of some of the popular
Basil is a nerve tonic,
alleviates mental fatigue, stimulates appetite and inhaling the
essence can help de-congest chronic catarrh and rhinitis.
Bay Laurel is used to help ease
digestive problems, colds, flu, tonsillitis and other respiratory
conditions, improve appetite, treat lice and scabies, reduce swollen
lymph nodes, and relieve rheumatic pain. Do not use if pregnant.
Clary Sage is preferable to
common sage which can be toxic even in small doses. Clary sage
is warming and sedative and can help relieve painful periods, ease
anxiety and stress, menopausal symptoms and treat burns and eczema.
However, do not use it during pregnancy.
Eucalyptus is used to ease fever
and fight colds, flu, sinusitis and coughs. Alleviate the
symptoms of bronchitis and treat skin conditions such as boils and
pimples. It must never be taken internally.
German chamomile is used to
relieve digestive problems, menstrual and menopausal problems,
inflamed or damaged skin, burns (including sunburn), acne and boils.
Lavender, most popular and
well-known of the essential oils. is known as the 'mother' of
essential oils and the most versatile at the aromatherapist's
disposal. It is great for skin conditions including acne, cuts,
wounds, insect bites and burns, and is a superb sedative. Also
used to ease headaches, depression, insomnia, any form of nervous
stress and tension, muscular aches, sprains, strains, menstrual pains,
cramping and nausea.
Orange is a warm and comforting
oil which may be used in steam-inhalation for chronic bronchitis.
It will soothe irritated skin in small quantities and is uplifting in
a bath or massage oil.
Peppermint is a well-known oil
used to relieve indigestion, nausea and headache, neuralgia and muscle
pain, bronchitis, sinusitis and motion sickness. However, this
oil should be used in moderation and should not be used in children
under the age of three.
Rosemary is a popular culinary
herb ideal for the treatment of indigestion, flatulence, liver
problems, and bronchitis. It reduces fluid retention and treats
depression. It should be avoided during pregnancy or in cases of
epilepsy and high blood pressure.
Tarragon is another useful
culinary herb and essential oil that helps with menstrual and
menopausal symptoms and digestive ailments including indigestion,
flatulence, hiccups and loss of appetite. It is also used in
stress-related conditions and in cases of shock. Tarragon should
not be used in pregnancy.
Tea Tree is an Australian
essential oil gaining popularity worldwide in the treatment of
respiratory conditions such as colds, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis,
and sinusitis, and skin conditions such as abscess, acne, and burns.
Tea tree an also be used in the treatment of vaginal thrush, vaginitis
and bladder infections.
Thyme is a culinary herb that
helps relieve laryngitis and cough, treats skin and bladder
infections, infectious diarrhea, and relieves joint pain and
flatulence. Thyme should be avoided in pregnancy and in cases of
high blood pressure.
Ylang-ylang is an exotic
essential oil used to treat acne and problems of oily skin. It
also relieves depression, insomnia, impotence and some stress-related
conditions. However use ylang-ylang in moderation as it may
cause headache or nausea.
Essential oils enter the body in two
ways - by inhalation and through absorption. They can be used in
a variety of ways, such as through direct inhalation of essential oils
or through steam inhalation; They are used in electrical diffusers or
vaporizers, burners that use candles, or a ceramic ring warmed by a
light bulb. Essential oils are used most commonly in massage
treatment by aromatherapists for its healing effects. Baths can
be scented with chosen essential oils. Footbaths can also be
used for conditions such as chilblains (an inflammation of the hands
and feet caused by exposure to cold and moisture). It can be
applied to relieve bruising, skin conditions and muscle and period
Today there is increasing evidence
supporting the effects of aroma on mood states. Smell is a
potent wizard that transports us. Smell is one of our most
enduring senses, a fragrance or odour can induce a memory from
childhood. It is also the sense most fully developed at birth,
babies can recognize their mother's presence from her scent meters
away, before their eyes can focus that far. Smell registers in
what is called the most primitive part of the brain, the limbic
system, which also appears to trigger emotions, sex-drive, intuition
and memory, so bypassing our rational brain.