What should everyone know about essential oils?
Aromatic plants and their extracts have been used for thousands of years. However, the distillation of essential oils took place around the 10th century, and the term aromatherapy was not coined until 1937 by the French chemist René-Maurice Gatefos. These facts were shared with me by one of the greatest minds in the field of aromatherapy and essential oils – Robert Tisserand. I had the wonderful opportunity to be his student.
How exactly do aromatic molecules work?
Essential oils from different plants are much more than aromatic liquids. They contain medicinal substances. I will give a few examples of ingredients that are often found on labels of various skin products:
- Limonene is a monoterpene and has antibacterial properties, so you will often see lemon and orange oil in the composition of cleaning products. It is a constituent in all citrus oils, in spearmint oil, black pepper and frankincense. At the same time limonene has also a positive anti-anxiety effect on the nervous system.
- Linalol has a relaxing effect and you will find it in lavender, sage and bergamot oils.
- Cedrol is contained in cedar oil and promotes good sleep.
- a-Pinene has an antirheumatic effect and is a constituent in frankincense, juniper, cypress, immortelle, black pepper and Siberian fir oils.
How to use essential oils
Essential oils can be inhaled and applied to the skin, diluted in a carrier oil. Internal use is risky, and not all branches of aromatherapy recommend to ingest essential oils, so I will not cover it here. Ceramic aroma lamps with a candle underneath should also be avoided. The essential oils can become toxic when heated in this way.
One of the most pleasant ways to use essential oils is in an ultrasonic diffuser. The ratio is up to 5 drops per 200 ml of water. The diffuser disperses the molecules into the air, from where through our lungs the therapeutic substances are transferred into the blood. You can use the appliance at home or in the car. If you’re interested in recommendations on how to choose a diffuser, check this blog post. LINK
It is important that essential oils are first diluted in а carrier oil before applying them on the skin. Carrier oils include olive, almond, jojoba, grape seeds, coconut and many others. This is a very important step, because, for example, the essential oil of cinnamon applied directly to the skin can cause severe burns. Before applying diluted essential oils on a larger area of the skin, it is also advisable to do a test on the inside of the elbow, waiting for at least 12 hours for a possible adverse reaction.
Pregnant women should be careful with essential oils, since some of them, such as thyme, might cause uterine contractions. Please consult with a clinical aromatherapist when planning to use essential oil for babies and children.
As a general rule, 1% dilution is recommended for adults for application on the face and 3% on the body. It is recommended to reduce this percentage to 0.5 and for children and people over seventy years old.
Example of dilution: 9 drops of essential oil in 10 ml of base will give us 3% dilution.
What essential oils to buy and from where?
There is a wide selection of essential oils online or at stores and pharmacies. It would be best to go for organic products.
Best carrier oils are sold at organic stores. Please note that those for cooking are usually sold at better prices than the same type of carrier oil in the cosmetic section of the shop. Jojoba oil is the most durable and least oily because as a chemical composition it is actually wax. Other carrier oils to consider are olive oil, coconut, hemp, almond, sesame, grape seeds, etc.
Here is the recommended list of manufacturers and companies, arranged in alphabetical order for online purchases:
Alteya is my favorite brand, not only for essential oils but also for cosmetics:
The company offers very clean organic essential oils and products with them, they operate in several European countries
German brand for high quality oils. There are many interesting varieties that are missing in other manufacturers.
They understand essential oils like no other and never compromise on quality, using only 100% natural pure essential oils. The most reputable expert in aromatherapy worldwide – Robert Tisserand is behind the brand.
How to I choose an oil?
This is an extensive topic on which I will publish periodically in the blog. There are recipes and recommendations on the sites, which I have listed above. You can also download free e-books in English from the following link:
Dr Axe website offers excellent articles that discuss the origin, health benefits, possible uses, potential side effects and drug interactions of essential oils. Each publication is based on studies and always fact-checked:
My list of favorite books for beginners in aromatherapy are: