Aromatherapy by definition is the use of essential oils for health and beauty purposes. It is not the synthetic fragrance of ‘freesia’ or ‘lilac’ that is added to dishwashing soap and labeled aromatherapy. It must be the aromatic extract of a plant, flower, herb, tree, or fruit to be truly therapeutic. I could write an entire book about my love affair with essential oils but I have narrowed it down to my top 5 reasons why I find them so awesome.
- They make things smell nice without exposing you to toxins -Synthetic fragrances are in everything – perfume, cosmetics, household cleaners, laundry detergent, and (cough, cough) home fragrances like Glade and Febreeze. They are linked to a wide array of health problems including asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances and cancer. They are also known to damage marine life when they are washed down the drain and into our water systems. Choose products made with essential oils rather than fragrance by reading the labels or purchasing from a reputable eco-friendly company. Don’t buy products that list ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ in their ingredients. Once you begin using essential oils, it will be easy to note the difference between real and synthetic – one will smell fresh and amazing and the other will smell cheap and may give you a headache.
- They are germ warriors - Essential oils are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. Stubborn foot odor can be tackled with tea tree oil, the common cold can be annihilated by oregano oil and wounds can be healed quicker with lavender oil. The best part? Using essential oils is nature fighting nature - as bacteria and viruses evolve and change, so do essential oils.
- They soothe pain and discomfort – It is astonishing how affective essential oils can be for relieving common aches and pains. Rosemary is anti-inflammatory and relieves joint and muscle pain while chamomile can provide warm, relaxing relief to menstrual cramps. Peppermint constricts capillaries to combat stubborn headaches providing a healthy alternative to popping pain medication.
- They are healing to the skin - No matter what the issue is – eczema, insect bites, sunburn – there is an essential oil that will soothe and heal it. Lavender is the all-purpose skin healing oil. You can basically put it on any skin condition and it is likely to work. Other great oils for the skin are helichrysum and chamomile.
- They help beat the winter blahs – In the winter months, we don’t get as much sun and fresh air. We are stuck in our homes and workplaces with the windows shut in dry, lifeless air. We are not exposed to the lovely aromas of the warmer months. Essential oils will bring those fresh, natural scents back into your environment and help you combat the winter blues. The best oils for this are grapefruit, bergamot, lemon, orange, lavender, and ylang ylang.
What’s not to love about essential oils? They are your medicine cabinet, cleaning cupboard and happy place all in one tiny amber bottle. You can find them in most health food stores, some grocery stores and all over the web. Remember to always dilute them in water or oils - they are very powerful and can irritate your skin and strip woodwork or other finishes in your house.