19 Essential Oils for Beginners

    Is Aromatherapy Herbalism?

    No and yes. No, because they are very different disciplines using botanical materials in different ways. Yes, because aromatherapy is used by many herbalists to complement an herbal treatment, or in many cases, to complete it. Both disciplines use plants for healing body, mind, and soul. Herbalists treat a person holistically considering all aspects of their dis-ease. In using both herbal remedies (infusions, decoctions, tinctures, etc.) and essential oils (water insoluble components of the plant), an herbalist creates a broader holistic approach to treating illness.

    Don't go on a "Diet". Diets are notoriously ineffective, and rarely work well in the long term. Instead of going on a diet, try adopting a healthier lifestyle. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it. Weight loss should follow as a natural side effect of better food choices and improved metabolic health.

    19 Essential Oils For Beginners

    Aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for healing. Essential oils are volatile substances extracted from plants typically by a distillation process. These properties are not released in any significant amount in typical herbal preparations. Essential oils are comprised of numerous chemical constituents, with each chemical having a particular signature and mode of action. The majority of the constituents in essential oils are produced by the plants either for their own protection, to attract pollinators, or to heal wounds. Their modes of action and therapeutic properties are also effective on humans, and we can use essential oils to affect our physical and emotional health in various ways.

    Set boundaries and stick to them. I find that most people know they “should” incorporate more self-care, but their lives are moving so fast that it’s challenging to slow down. Carve out an hour of alone time to make two lists: things in your life that give you energy and are life-giving and things in your life that drain you. Figure out which draining activities you have control over and start making an action plan of how you will reduce time spent on these activities — set boundaries, say NO.

    There are over 100,000 aromas found in nature, but as humans we can recognize only about 300 of these. It is through receptors in our sinuses (the olfactory bulb) that lead to the limbic system of the brain that corresponds to our emotions and feelings. When we inhale aroma molecules, we have a direct path to our emotions and memories. That is why when you smell certain aromas, such as a cake baking in the oven or a soup pot on the stove it can bring you back to a different place and time. You have effectively experienced aromatherapy! This is a very simple example for a very complex healing art, but you get the point I’m sure.

    Remember that sodas, granola bars, muffins, rice and soy milk, desserts and potatoes are extremely high in starch and sugars (and therefore carbohydrate calories). Artificial sweeteners are no good either…

    Essential oils are most commonly administered aromatically via inhalation and topically via absorption through the skin. Rarely are essential oils taken internally, and never without the supervision of a professional health care provider with extensive knowledge in the practice of aromatherapy and its effects on the body. Safe use of essential oils is paramount! Learn more about safety guidelines for aromatic, internal, and topical use as well as dilution recommendations in the article Essential Oil Safety.

    Many essential oils are antiviral and antibacterial and can be used in diffusers to help fight cold and flu infections as well as relieve congestion. Essential oils with nervine properties can be used to calm anxiety, release tension, soothe headaches, and alleviate sleeplessness. The stimulating effect of some essential oils can be used to energize the mind and body, improve mental focus and memory, and relieve mental fatigue.

    Get An Instant, Youthful Skin Lift Using Antioxidant-Rich Natural Actives. Avoid the neurotoxin Botox and other more invasive procedures and look to nature instead. Antioxidant-rich and hydrating natural actives can lift and protect the skin naturally. And, one of the ingredients in quality organic skin care serums is Pullulan, which has an instant lifting effect, naturally! It is a polysaccharide produced from starch by cultivating the yeast, Aureobasidiumpullulans. It provides an antioxidant effect as well as an instant lifting effect that helps improve the overall texture and appearance of the skin. Long-term use of Pullulan will help strengthen the integrity of the skin.

    Remember that our skin is our largest organ and is not to be ignored. However, essential oils are very potent and are usually mixed with carrier oils before using them on the skin. When essential oils are used in skin products, they can promote cell growth, improve circulation, and help rid the body of toxins. Essential oils can also be helpful for alleviating pain, swelling, and itching from bruises, bug bites, stings, and burns.

    Aromatherapy in Herbalism

    Herbalists use botanical material (flowers, leaves, bark, seeds, roots) to make remedies that can be taken internally. Many herbs are actually food and can be eaten or drunk on a daily basis. Aromatherapists use the essential oils of the plant, and for the most part they are used externally or topically, although internal use is sometimes recommended under their experienced supervision.

    Cleanse Your Skin With Almond Oil. Switch from bar to liquid soap that doesn’t lather. Instead of stripping your skin with foamy cleansers, nourish your skin while you cleanse for a healthy clean glow. You can use oils such as argan and almond oil to cleanse the skin naturally or use a natural cleanser.

    An herbalist may complement an herbal treatment with an essential oil to help stimulate feelings or emotions that may indeed support the healing process. They may also include essential oils as part of their prescription to help build immunity or to reduce stress and encourage relaxation. Essential oils can be used for these purposes in salves, lotions, ointments, and other skin preparations; in steam inhalations and simply diffused into the air; and in dental hygiene products and throat sprays. A thoughtfully made herbal preparation with essential oils has therapeutic value not just from the essential oil itself, but also the other ingredients with which the essential oil is combined. This, along with the careful, holistic consideration of the dis-ease profile, makes for a powerful holistic remedy.

    Curry favour. Hot, spicy foods containing chillies or cayenne pepper trigger endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Endorphins have a powerful, almost narcotic, effect and make you feel good after exercising. But go easy on the lamb, pork and mutton and the high-fat, creamy dishes served in many Indian restaurants.

    19 Essential Oils For Beginner Herbalists

    19 Essential Oils For Beginners

    Here are some essential oils that one may want to have in their home kit. For suggestions for a starter kit with four essential oils, see this Basic Essential Oils for Daily Living article.

    Essential Oil

    Scent

    Therapeutic Properties

    Bergamot

    Light and citrusy

    May help nervous tension

    Chamomile (Roman)Fruity, woody

    May help relieve stress, tension and anxiety, improves digestion, reduces pain, heals skin

    Citronella

    Lemon - citrus

    Insect repellant, may help with fevers and digestion

    Clary Sage

    Sweet and spicy

    Calming, may help with muscle fatigue, improve sleep, uplifting, tension tamer and aphrodisiac

    Cypress

    Light and woodsy

    Works to reduce cellulite, calming and uplifting

    Eucalyptus

    Camphorous

    Helps relieve pain, improves mental clarity and reduces congestion

    Frankincense

    Warm, exotic, sweet and spicy

    Calming, may help with aging skin

    Geranium

    Floral, spicy

    Promotes emotional balance, helps reduce cellulite, relieves stress and tension

    Ginger

    Strong spicy scent

    Stimulating, improves mental clarity, relieves pain and nausea

    Grapefruit

    Citrusy

    Improves mental clarity and memory

    Jasmine

    Sweet, heavy floral smell

    Helps with depression, may help improve skin elasticity, reduces stretch marks, aphrodisiac

    Juniper

    Fresh, Fruity, woody

    Helps with mental exhaustion, obesity, water retention

    Lavender

    Floral

    Reduces cellulite deposits, helps reduce pain and inflammation, promotes relaxation and restful sleep

    Lemongrass

    Lemony

    Uplifting, improves mental clarity

    Neroli

    Heavy, floral

    Calming and uplifting

    Rose (otto)

    Floral, damp, invigorating

    Helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety

    Rosemary

    Menthol, earthy

    Helps reduce cellulite, relieves mental fatigue, relaxes tight muscles

    Sandalwood

    Earthy, spicy, floral, woody

    Calming, aphrodisiac, reduces stress

    Tea Tree

    Camphorous

    Antibiotic, anti-fungal, antiviral

    Get Enough Sleep. The importance of getting enough quality sleep can not be overstated. It may be just as important as diet and exercise, if not more. Poor sleep can drive insulin resistance, throw your appetite hormones out of whack and reduce your physical and mental performance. What's more, it is one of the strongest individual risk factors for future weight gain and obesity. One study showed that short sleep was linked to 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults.

    Herbalists are life-long learners and a well-informed herbalist will want to embrace the use of aromatherapy in their art and practice, but not without educating themselves first. It is important to remember that essential oils are not the same as their whole plant counterpart, and may have very different properties, so developing a thorough understanding of them is essential to using them safely and effectively. Through education we can better inform ourselves to take care of ourselves and those that we love. Aromatherapy and herbalism are serious studies that require dedication and commitment.

    Get Enough Sleep. The importance of getting enough quality sleep can not be overstated. It may be just as important as diet and exercise, if not more. Poor sleep can drive insulin resistance, throw your appetite hormones out of whack and reduce your physical and mental performance. What's more, it is one of the strongest individual risk factors for future weight gain and obesity. One study showed that short sleep was linked to 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults.



    Learn more about essential oils in Using Essential Oils blog series.

    Marlene Adelmann is the Founder and Director of the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course, Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.
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