HERBS – OVERVIEW (Essential Oils)
The essential oil extracted from herbs contains the basic aromatic and healing principles of the plant, and has a similar use to the herb itself as used in Herbalism. It is a more concentrated, liquid and storable form of the plant. This makes it possible to keep the essential extract of a herb available on your shelf, in or out of season. The liquid form also makes it possible to use the essence easily in mixtures, and adding to vegetable oil bases.
AROMATHERAPY (Essential Oils)
The aromas and spirituous essence of flowers and herbs become available for use in Aromatherapy. The distilled essence is actually the liquefied and stored aroma, or spirituous vapour of the plant. Essential oils have a direct influence on the mind and emotions through the sense of smell. Gently inhaled aromas also enter the bloodstream through the lungs, and can influence the whole being in this manner. Essential oils applied to the skin also enter the bloodstream, but for this purpose are almost always diluted in a carrier/ vegetable oil base. Aromatherapy dilution’s are usually in the 1-2% or up to 5% range. Essential oils are a concentrated and powerful form of the herb, so always exercise caution.
AROMAS and PERFUMES (Essential Oils)
Some single essences can be used as a scent or perfumery material in their own right e.g. Sandalwood, Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Patchouli. These are single note perfumes and while being unsophisticated can be very effective where the essence is compatible with the personal skin chemistry. Caution using neat oils!
BLENDS (Essential Oils)
Principles for blending perfumes can apply to aromatherapy blends. As in herbalism, one or two main herbal essences can be chosen, with others added to assist or enhance. Practice is required to get the balance right. Use smaller amounts of powerful essences, balanced with softer and more pleasant ones. A final aroma that you like will work better for you.
Carefully chosen essential oil blends are the basis of conventional perfumery. Essences are selected according to their “notes”; like in music it’s a matter of getting a melody, rather than a one-note song. The top notes are the light floral essences, the middle notes are the herbs and spices, the base notes are the woods and resins and more earthy essences. Base notes are also called fixatives and will help to bind and make the blend more long lasting (in perfumery, musks are used for this purpose). Use only top notes, and the mix will be light and “float off” more easily.
HEALING MASSAGE OILS (Essential Oils)
Essential oils can be blended into a carrier/ vegetable oil base to make a healing, or therapeutic massage oil. In aromatherapy the emphasis is on essences that work on the mind, body and emotions. Relaxing or stimulating massage works through the sense of smell and also gentle absorption into the skin. This type of massage/ body oil can also be cosmetic and skin toning.
The traditional liniment style of massage oil can be a more penetrating, stronger, stimulating sports/ rubdown type oil for more penetration into muscular structures. These typically use oils such as Camphor, Rosemary, Tea tree, Wintergreen, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Pine etc.
A massage oil applied to large areas of the body will need to be more dilute, as the area of absorption of the active essence is greater. A light massage oil will be no more than 5% essence in the carrier oil. This means 1 part in 20 (e.g. 5 ml into 100 ml) of carrier oil, or as a handy rule of thumb, 3 drops of essence to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. Experiment with small quantities first.
A stronger dilution could be used where the area massaged is much smaller, say up to 10% essence in carrier oil, or 6 drops of essence to 1 teaspoon base. This is more useful for the liniment type oil. Always exercise caution using strong essential oils.
COMPRESS (Essential Oils)
As an alternative to carrier oil based massage oils and vigorous rubbing actions, try an essential oil compress over the affected part, where the essential oil is diluted with water for extra safety. This is a variation on the traditional herbal poultices, where mashed herbs were wrapped in cloth and applied to the skin. Don’t underestimate the power of the essences to penetrate into the body below the compress and affect the bloodstream and body parts.
Add a few drops of essence to a bowl of warm water, dip in a cloth, soak then wring out excess water, apply over body part. A warm towel or wheat pack can be place on top for extra penetrating warmth. Cold compresses can also be used.
PERSONAL SCENT – OVERVIEW (Aromatic Essences)
Aromatic essences are perfume concentrates
and can be used in the smallest amounts to scent the body.
Try a drop or two on pulse points. Allow a few moments for the essence to breathe on the skin. Fragrant essential oils and related perfumery materials are the basis
of all perfumes.
Because of the strong raw nature of many essential oils they work better when blended to achieve a balance of aroma with pleasantness or fragrance enhanced.
Unlike conventional perfumes and colognes they are not diluted with alcohol and water. With an aromatic essential oil blend, or essence, you have the basic fragrance in the most concentrated from.
Without alcohol or water added, the essence can be added to vegetable and carrier oils to make a massage or body oil. Alcohol, water and vegetable oils don’t mix.
FRAGRANT BODY & MASSAGE OILS (Aromatic Essences)
A massage or body oil is simply a carrier oil base to which has been added a small amount of essence.
The oil base provides lubrication, promotes smoothness and reduces friction during the massage. The small amount of essence is the active ingredient which provides the aroma or fragrance.
The essence is not greasy or lubricating by itself, and in any case would be much too strong for spreading on the body full strength. Add aromatic essence to any vegetable oil or other softening or lubricating lotion or base to make a fragrant
massage oil. (See Premium Carrier Oil) Try about 5% Essence or less which is one part in 20, or 3 drops of Essence to one teaspoon of oil base. “Baby Oil”
is available as a base, but cold pressed vegetable oils are more natural and provide nutrition to the skin.
BATH ESSENCES & OILS (Aromatic Essences)
Add a drop or two of aromatic essence to bath water during the final running of hot water. Soak, relax and a light fragrance will remain on the skin. Or if you prefer,
take a body oil which is 5% essence in carrier oil and add about 1/2 teaspoon to the bath. This will be lightly fragrant, but more “oily” and conditioning to the skin. A
body oil could be used after a shower for smother skin and light fragrance.
AROMATHERAPY (Aromatic Essences)
If it smells good and you like it, if it helps you relax or feel inspired, it’s therapeutic.
POTPOURRI (Aromatic Essences)
Refresh dried flower & potpourri mixes with a few drops of aromatic essence. Traditional potpourri is made with fixative powders such as orris root or sandal.
If possible separate the powder out and rub the fresh aromatic essence into the powder and then remix.
SCENT JARS (Aromatic Essences)
Use some essence in pottery scent jars to scent rooms, drawers or cars. These do not need candles. The essence slowly soaks through the pottery and is released into
the air. Scent jars work better in small spaces or near some warmth, which helps to release the aroma. Cars are ideal as they are usually warm inside. Or simply put Essence on wood, clay or cotton wool, using a saucer to protect surfaces.
INCENSE & JOSS STICKS (Aromatic Essences)
Make your own fragrant incense by dabbing a few drops of aromatic essence onto a blank or unscented stick. If you can’t find blank sticks try using the kind you
can buy in just about any Chinese grocery. Most of these sticks are fairly neutral, just faintly sweet.
OIL VAPORISERS & BURNERS (Essential Oils & Aromatic Essences)
Pottery and other types of oil burner are now the most popular way to use essential oils in home use. The candle warms the water just enough to help the liquid essential oil release its aroma/vapour. Use only a few drops at a time, you can always add more later if needed. Scent the room and practise Aromatherapy at the same time.
Choose an essence that will help you in some way, or simply enjoy your favourite aromas.
Use a single essence or make your own blend. By adding only a drop or two of new essences in your burner you can experiment with the combination without waste; there’s no need to make up large mixtures in a bottle first as you may not like that particular mix, and then you can’t “unmix” the blend.