Our aromatherapy guide can help bring clarity to how essential oils can help improve your well-being. More and more people are turning to aromatherapy to help treat a variety of conditions, from stress to skin problems.
Aromatherapy—the therapeutic use of essential oils made from aromatic plants—has been practised for centuries in cultures around the world. Certain essential oils are known for their physical and emotional benefits.
Essential oil uses
One of the most common uses of aromatherapy is for relaxation, but essential oils can be used to treat a variety of conditions including acne, burns, colds and insect bites. There are hundreds of essential oils, all with their own uses and benefits. Here are three of the most popular.
Eucalyptus essential oil has a bright, sharp, medicinal scent with woody undertones. Excellent in a diffuser, hot bath, or steam to help soothe cold symptoms and sore muscles.
This oil by Buhbli Organics is 100% pure, USDA organic certified and therapeutic grade.
Lavender essential oil is soothing and relaxing, so it’s great to use at bedtime and in the bath. It blends well with many other essential oils, like peppermint and lemon, so you can have fun creating a scent that works for you.
Lavender essential oil can also help soothe burns: apply a few drops to gauze and wrap it around the injured area to help reduce pain and encourage healing. This oil by HoMedics is 100% pure and therapeutic grade.
How to get started with aromatherapy
- If you’re just getting started with aromatherapy, it can feel a little overwhelming knowing which essential oils are right for you.
- Essential oil sets are a good way to start with because they offer a well-rounded selection of useful essential oils such as orange, lemon, peppermint, frankincense and more.
Don’t just pour essential oils straight into your bath water. The oils will clump on the surface, leaving them in their concentrated state, which can irritate or even burn your skin. You need to mix the essential oils with a dispersing agent such as a carrier oil, body oil, castile soap or Epsom salts before adding to bath water.
A general rule of thumb is to mix five drops of essential oil with a tablespoon (15 ml) of carrier oil or castile soap or 28-56 grams (1-2 oz) of salts.
There are lots of ways to get the benefits of essential oils through inhalation. To freshen up around the house, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to unscented laundry detergent, sink drains and garbage cans.
When you’re feeling anxious, put a drop or two of relaxing oil, such as lavender or ylang-ylang on a handkerchief, hold it near your nose and breathe. To help soothe cold symptoms, add peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil to hot water and inhale the steam.
Aromatherapy diffusers are one of the most popular ways to enjoy breathing in essential oils. These diffusers mix the oil with water and send a fine mist into the air.
You can diffuse a single essential oil or try expert blends that are meant to stimulate joy, calm or easy breathing. You might also enjoy blending essential oils to create your favourite, custom scent.
This PureGuardian aromatherapy ultrasonic oil diffuser quickly and continuously fills the room with natural oil essence and automatically shuts off when empty.
Lightweight and compact, it’s ideal for a home, office or hotel setting.
Essential oils are extracted from the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots and other parts of aromatic plants. Because essential oils are naturally derived from plants, people often underestimate their potency. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so it’s important to treat them with caution, as you would any medicine.
- The oils from an aromatic plant can be poisonous and should not be consumed.
- Never apply undiluted essential oils to your skin or near your eyes.
- Always do a skin test before using aromatherapy to treat your skin. Place a drop of the diluted essential oil on a cotton ball and dab it on the inside of your elbow or the back of your wrist. Wrap in plastic for 24 hours. If you see any reactions, do not use that essential oil.
- Some essential oils, such as citrus oils, are photosensitive or phototoxic. Applying these oils to the skin before sun exposure can cause serious burns and other reactions.
- Essential oils can have unintended side effects (as listed on West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy) for pregnant women, people with medical conditions or on medication. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using an essential oil.
- Children should always receive half the amount of an essential oil that an adult would get.
- Fragrance oils, which are not the same as essential oils, contain synthetic chemical properties. They should never be used as essential oils.