Updated: Jun 17, 2021
1. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, are they the same thing?
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that uses Essential Oils (EO) as main ingredient, these EO must always (with some exceptions) be diluted prior to use; the most common way to dilute the EO is by blending them with a base oil: they can also be diluted in a cream, wax, alcohol, shampoo, water, cleaning products, etc.
Essential oils are aromatic substances extracted from a single plant using a distillation method (mainly steam distillation or expression).
EO evaporate quickly in the air, they are non-greasy and they are flammable. EO can be found in the leaves, flowers, root, tree bark, seeds, fruit pulp and peel; often referred as The Plant’s “life force”.
2. What are the differences between base oil and essential oil?
Base oils are extracted from plants, flowers and seeds, they do not have a strong fragrance like EO, they are greasy and they don’t evaporate…base oils do not need to be diluted; they are also called fix oils or carrier oils and they are used to dilute the Essential Oils and help “carry” them into the skin.
Base oils can also be very beneficial for the skin when used on their own; always make sure you buy pure, cold pressed base oil.
3. Are Essential Oils (EO) safe to use?
Most EO if diluted correctly, can be safe and very therapeutic; the right dilution depends on how you are planning to use EO. Some guidance about right dilution and safety of EO:
· For a massage – 2% Dilution= 8 drops in 20ml.
· To Apply in a small area that you want to treat =
3-5% dilution. 3% dilution =12 drops in 20ml.
· For children, fragile or elderly people - 1% dilution =4 drops in 20ml.
· Avoid using EO with babies or during pregnancy.
· Avoid using EO with high contend of chemicals from the phenols and ketones family, as they can be irritant or toxic. I recommend the book “Essential Oils in Colours” by Rosemary Caddy to have more understanding about chemistry & safety of EO.
· Some oils are not compatible with Homeopathic remedies or can be a contraindication with conditions such as asthma, epilepsy and hypertension.
· Avoid certain EO before and after exposure to the sun, as they can be phototoxic (they can irritate your skin when exposed to sun).
Within doubt, always get advice from a qualified Aromatherapist.
4. Do Essential Oils really work?
Without any doubt; we have all heard about the emotional benefits of EO through inhalation, due to their fragrances, a less heard off aspect of EO is their chemical composition, many of their therapeutic properties are related to their chemistry, for example cineol, a chemical found in Eucalyptus, has expectorant properties and this is why this oil can be so effective for respiratory complaints. In addition to this, there are 3 key points you must get right:
1- Quality of Essential Oils, this is paramount so that EO maintain their therapeutic properties (read my blog 5 Things to look for before buying Essential Oils).
2- Correct dilution, not too little as there must be a minimum concentration for the oils to work and not too much as it can give you side effects.
3- Quantity that you are using; once you have made a blend with the right dilution, you have to use a fair amount so that the blend is effective, for example if you are using my Total Relaxation oil (3% dilution), I would recommend to apply 2-4 ml (the lid of a tetra Brik bottle) into you neck and shoulders; for a massage, I use an average of 20ml every time I give an Aromatherapy Massage at 2% dilution; If you want to treat a very small area, then you can use only a few drops at 5% dilution.
I hope this information helps you!