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*Spotlight On* Aromatherapy

In November our *Spotlight On* was for Doreen Virtue's Oracle Cards. This month the Spotlight is on Aromatherapy!

Here is some information about Aromatherapy, written by me:

Aromatherapy is a massage therapy using aromatic essential oils. The essential oils are extracted from the leaves, stems, roots, saps and flowers of plants, trees, shrubs and herbs. The oils have many substances and the chemical composition of the oils change according to the time of day as well as the season of the year, so it is important to collect the plants, flowers and leaves at night time, so that the highest quality and quantity of oil is obtained. The oils have special properties that can benefit a client’s spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical problems.

Aromatherapy can act as a preventative treatment as it can help to relieve small problems that would have built up into bigger ones and perhaps even a serious illness had a client been left untreated.

As well as massage, Aromatherapy can also be utilised by using essential oils in other ways, such as adding them to bath water, using them in skin or hair products, using them as perfume, using an oil vaporiser or spray to scent your house or workplace or through inhalation.

The oils enter the body through the skin during massage, as well as through the lining of the lungs when we inhale their scent. They are then absorbed into the bloodstream, where the medicinal properties of the oils can start their healing work. They can help us in many ways, as they can soothe, uplift and refresh us when we need it, as well as help us to heal on many levels. The scents of the oils affect the limbic system of our brain through the olfactory tract and they also affect our autonomic nervous system, as well as our hormonal system. The scents can evoke many reactions in us and help with anger, fear, stress and memory.

Carrier oil is used with essential oils by making a blend which can then be used for massage. This blend, which contains a pure, high quality vegetable oil mixed with one or a few pure essential oils will ensure that the essential oils are safely carried to and penetrated into the skin in order to heal the client on many different levels, whether that be physically or psychologically. It is important to dilute essential oils so that they can be used safely on the skin during massage. Essential oils can be dangerous if they are used on their own, since they are very concentrated. Oil is used for massage so that the massage therapist can safely and easily glide their hands over their patient’s skin without pulling it or hurting them with excessive friction.

Here is some information on some of the different types of Carrier Oils that can be used:

Grapeseed oil comes from the seeds of grapes and it is a pale yellow colour with a medium texture.

Almond oil comes from the almond nut and it is a clear pale yellow colour, is light in texture and is very good for the skin.

Apricot Kernel oil comes from the kernel of apricots. It is easily absorbed and is good for use on the face and neck.

Sunflower oil comes from sunflower seeds and is great for body massage. It contains Vitamin E.

Soya oil comes from the soya bean and is easily absorbed, so it is great for oily skin.

Avocado oil usually comes from the fleshy pulp surrounding the avocado pit. It is very rich in texture, so is fantastic for dry skin and it contains Vitamins A and B.

Wheatgerm oil comes from the germ of wheat and is very rich, so it can be useful for dry skin. It contains Vitamin E.

Sesame oil comes from sesame seeds and is a very rich oil with a nutty smell.

Here are 12 essential oils that I studied during my Aromatherapy Diploma:

Basil is used for mental tiredness, the nerves, chest problems, migraines, gout, colds, fainting, for regulating the menstrual cycle, for focus, insect bites and digestive problems. It cannot be used during pregnancy and it can be a depressant with over use. It has a herbaceous, clear, sweet smell.

Bergamot is used for skin problems, tension, depression, fever, cystitis, as a tonic and as an appetite stimulant. It can cause problems if used before sunbathing or using a sun bed. It has a light, refreshing citrus scent.

Chamomile is used for calming, inflammation, insomnia, menstrual problems, nerves, stress, irritability, digestive problems, allergies, skin problems, sprains, headaches/migraines and eye problems. It has to be avoided during the first 3 months of pregnancy and cannot be used directly into the eyes.

Eucalyptus is used for colds, chest problems, rheumatism, skin problems, viruses, migraines, urinary problems and to repel mosquitoes. It is a strong oil which has to be avoided if using homoeopathy. It has a sweet, menthol smell.

Juniper is used for liver problems, detoxification, skin problems, urinary problems, obesity, period pains, ulcers and rheumatism. It should be avoided if you are pregnant or have kidney problems. It has a clean, herbaceous smell.

Lavender is used for burns, skin problems, flu, stress, headaches, joint and muscle problems, high blood pressure, fainting, insomnia, allergies and respiratory problems. It has a clean, floral scent.

Lemon is used for digestive problems, colds and flu, skin problems, nerves, to repel insects, arthritis, high blood pressure, the heart, liver purification, nosebleeds, sore gums, corns, warts and veruccas. It can irritate sensitive skin and must be avoided before sunbathing or using a sun bed. It has a light, refreshing citrus scent.

Peppermint is used for digestive problems, headaches, migraine, colds and flu, fevers, inflammation, arthritis, painful periods, chest problems, fatigue, shock and as a mosquito repellent. It must be avoided if using homoeopathic remedies. It should not be used at bedtime, as it can cause insomnia, and it can irritate the skin in high dosages. It has a minty, menthol, refreshing scent.

Rosemary is used for headaches, muscle and bone problems, fatigue, alopecia, dandruff, circulation, chest congestion, intestinal upsets and fluid retention. It should be avoided during pregnancy and if you have epilepsy. It has a fresh, herbaceous, menthol smell.

Sandalwood is used for skin problems, urinary problems, sunstroke, bronchitis, laryngitis and stress. It has a gentle, warm, woody smell.

Tea Tree is used for fungal, viral and bacterial infections, cold and flu, skin problems, cold sores, cystitis, candida, burns, to repel insects, stings, chest problems, immune system, veruccas and warts. It has a medicinal, disinfectant scent.

Ylang Ylang is used for anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, the heart, skin care and sexual problems. It has a floral, heady scent.

Each essential oil has many properties, for example, some oils are astringent, anti-depressant, antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, analgesic and antispasmodic.

It is important to use essential oils in exact concentrations, treat them with respect and never use them in excess as this can be dangerous. Too much essential oil can create allergic reaction and cause nausea, headaches and toxicity in the body. Essential oils are very concentrated and strong, so only need to be used in small amounts.

When storing essential oils, they should be kept in glass bottles, away from heat and sunlight. They should be labelled correctly and the tops of the bottles replaced firmly after use. Most oils can last for a year. If they have been diluted with a carrier oil, they will last around a few months. Any oils that smell rancid should be discarded.

With blending essential oils, you have to take into consideration the top notes, middle notes and base notes of them. The top note of an essential oil is the scent that you usually smell first. It is the most volatile and the quickest to disperse. It is usually intense and either very sharp or very sweet. Some examples are Eucalyptus and Thyme. The middle note of an essential oil does not smell too light or too heavy, it just rests in the middle. This note is detected under the smell of the top note. Some examples are Cypress and Hyssop. The base note of an essential oil is a heavy aroma that lingers the longest and is the slowest to disperse. It is the last note that we smell and can linger for quite a period of time, even after the scent of the top and middle notes have gone. A base note oil can fix other notes, slowing down their volatility and giving the overall scent more staying power.

Also when blending, oils from the same family usually go really well together, such as all the flower scents, all the herbal scents or all the spice scents. Spices and citrus go well together, as do woody scents and citrus scents. Some oils which have a strong scent can take over any blend, such as Peppermint, Fennel, Tea Tree, Clove, Thyme and Chamomile. Lemon can lighten the Chamomile scent if required. It is not always a good idea to mix menthol and flower scents together. Oils such as Rose, Jasmine, Orange, Ylang Ylang and Sandalwood smell really nice on their own, so do not always need to go into a blend.

If you are making a blend, use around 20mls of carrier oil and add 6-8 drops of essential oil (for example if you were using 3 essential oils you would use 2 drops of each oil). You can use more carrier oil for a full body massage, depending on how big or small the client is, or how dry or oily their skin is.

There are three purity categories of essential oils, which are Absolute, Pure and Blends. Absolute is obtained when a vacuum using a liquid solvent in a closed apparatus yields a solid substance called a concrete. This concrete which is essential oil, natural waxes and colour is washed with alcohol to remove the waxes, leaving a thick liquid which is the absolute. Pure essential oils are oils that are not adulterated and have been extracted using methods that leave them without traces of solvent, waxes etc. Blends are adulterated oils which should not be used for therapy, as they may contain synthetic materials or be made from various oils mixed together.

Three methods of extracting essential oils are Enfleurage, Masceration and Expression.

Enfleurage is where flower heads are placed on a glass sheet covered with purified fat until all the oil is absorbed into the fat. This is repeated with fresh flower heads until the fat is saturated with the essential oils. The fat is then called “pomade” and can be used as perfume or ointment. These days we tend to dissolve the pomade in alcohol. The essential oils go into the alcohol, the fat content separates from the oils and we heat the alcohol which then evaporates to leave the pure essential oils.

Masceration is similar to Enfleurage except the flowers or leaves are crushed to rupture the oil cells first before they are added to the vegetable oil or purified fat, which is then put in a warm place so that it can absorb the essential oils. This is repeated until the oil or fat is saturated with the essential oils. The vegetable oil can be used for massage and the fat can be treated with alcohol to obtain pure essential oil.

Expression is where essential oils are extracted from plants by squeezing them with the hands.

Four types of massage that can be used during an Aromatherapy Massage are Effleurage, Petrissage, Tapotement and Friction. Effleurage is a stroking movement that should always be done towards the heart. It is very soothing and calming and is used to improve circulation and relax the muscles. Petrissage is a kneading action which can help to get rid of adhesions from the tissues. It can reach the deeper layers of the muscles that other forms of massage can’t reach. Tapotement is a type of Percussion, such as hacking and tapping that can help improve the interchange of fluid by bringing the blood nearer to the surface of the body. Friction is where the fingers are used in small circular movements to press on underlying tissues. This can help to break down rheumatic or fatty nodules or knots. It can also help to release tension and bring pain relief.

I hope you have enjoyed this lovely insight into the world of Aromatherapy!

Compiled by Catherine Robson of Angelic Light

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