Smells have a very powerful effect on us. They can transport us to a specific time and place. They can make us cringe away from their foulness, or they can make us melt into relaxation. The practice of aromatherapy plays on this biological mechanic to incredible results; practitioners hold that can improve quality of life on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. The idea is to find the scents that evoke positive feelings and emotions, and then to introduce those scents into our everyday lives to enhance well-being.
At its core, aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, particularly essential oils, and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering one’s mood, cognitive, psychological or physical wellbeing. Aromatherapists use a medley of therapeutic essential oils that might be applied to patients topically, inhaled or soaked up in a bath. To aromatherapists, it is both an art and a science as they discover scents and methods that are effective.
The need to experiments arises because each human body is different, thus resulting in unique reactions to differing aromas. There are general uses that practitioners agree upon regarding certain oils, but no two persons are affected by the same essential oil in exactly the same way. In fact, even the same person can be affected differently by the same oil depending on surroundings, time of day or mood.
This is why when you begin your practice, you must take the time to experience scents for yourself, and create a personal connection to essential oils. Think about these questions as you test scents for the first time. Describe the aroma: Is it sharp? Is it subtle? Is it balanced? Is it light or heavy? Is it warming or cooling? Is it sweet, spicy, woody, floral, fruity, and so on? Now describe how you perceive the aroma: Do you like or dislike it? Do you associate the aroma with any personal experiences? What emotions do you have that are connected to these experiences? Does the aroma produce those emotions now? Does the aroma affect your awareness: does it rejuvenate, energize or relax?
Now, as you shop around, you might discover that essential oils have quite the price tag. This is because of the very involved process that takes place to make essential oils. Enormous amounts of plants are needed to produce essential oils. One of the most extreme cases is the Bulgarian rose, taking 4000 pounds of the plant to produce 1 pound of essential oil. Other plants like lavender only take 100 pounds of plant material to produce a pound of essential oil…and that’s the lighter end!
- Find a reputable aromatherapy supplier.
Get to know your aromatherapy supplier. It’s best not to buy from someone you’ll only meet once, such as a traveling vendor or crafts fair seller, at least as you’re starting out as a beginner and have less of an eye for quality. Be sure to ask them lots of questions, and look for oils in amber or other dark colored bottles that have been independently tested for purity. Building a relationship with the supplier never hurts! For more information on where to get essential oils in the area, you can ask a local aromatherapy expert in your area.
- Don’t waste your money!
Saving your money from bad purchases is a big part of the essential oils game. This can be why finding a trustworthy essential oil supplier can be a lifesaver. You might end up buying the wrong thing! Perfume oils are not essential oils and will not have the same effect, even though they might look and smell similarly. Also, be on the lookout for sub-par essential oils. You want the purity-tested kind in dark bottles, not a diluted version from an untrustworthy source. Finally, don’t buy essential oils with rubber glass dropper tops. Essential oils are very strong, and the more potent ones can actually dissolve the rubber it’s stored in, polluting the essential oil. Of course, you’ll need a dropper to use the essential oil; just store them separately.
- Start with small sizes of a few basic oils.
Until you know exactly what you’re doing, you don’t need to buy the big, jumbo sized bottles from the store. Small samples will do as you experiment. Start with the basics: lavender, rosemary and lemon. These are great because they’re on the lower end of the price spectrum and are diverse in their uses. You don’t have to get fancy with them; in fact, in general, less is more. With some of the more powerful essential oils, you won’t want to put more than a drop in a mixture. You also never want to let pure essential oils touch your bare skin without a carrier oil or dilution.
That’s why simple 4 mL vials of each of these can be effective. Take the time to learn the basics to use your essential oils wisely!
You can try these beginner techniques; • Lavender is great for relaxation. Put a few drops on your pillow before going to bed to help you sleep. • Rosemary is great for concentration. Use a few drops in your class or office to help you focus while you write your projects. • Lemon is great as a deodorant. Use it to freshen a musty room.
- Get a storage box.
Newbies might miss out on the know-how of tips and tricks of keeping essential oils. Keeping your bottles in a cool, dry and dark place is the best way to make them last and keep their potency. They come in dark bottles for this purpose, but you can help them out by storing them properly and avoiding having the buy more too soon. Usually, this involves a wooden box for most aromatherapists, but a simple, sturdy covered cardboard box will do just fine, or a cabinet you aren’t constantly going in and out of. Take good care of your essential oils, and you can make them last for years.
- Make your essential oil products instead of buying them.
From lip balm to lotion, essential oils and the effect of the smells they produce are the key ingredients in many natural products. However, by making your own, you can make what you want in large batches that you can store and keep for long periods of time.