Essential oils have gone mainstream! It’s all the rage. But, did you know the practice if Aromatherapy has been around a very, very long time? I’m not going to go into a drawn out story of a French gentleman by the name of Gattafosse (excuse me, I know I missed an accent in there; French is not my native tongue). Nor will I ramble about how he plunged his hand into a vat of pure lavender oil after it burned in a perfumery lab accident. I will tell you, he became amazed at the wonderful healing of his wounds and coined the term aromatherapy….and hence, the modern era craze began.
Essential oils have been around for as long as plants have been around (translation: long darn time). There are historical accounts of using essential oils in ancient Egypt. They are mentioned throughout the Bible and other religious texts of the world. Essential oils are an essential part of history and they are back in a huge way!
About 16 years ago, I had the pleasure of going to Utah for a week of classes. It was a week of intensive holistic education. I learned about different types of administration of remedies, classification of herbs, and so much more…including essential oils and aromatherapy. I consider myself lucky for having been able to attend such an intensive.
I learned a lot about essential oils. I learned about balancing blends; which oils are traditionally used for which complaints; how to dilute oils; and more. One thing I learned, which I think is very important to point out, is that there is no certification body for the “grading” of essential oils in the USA today. What that means is that, at this very moment as I type this, there is no independent certification body serving to grade essential oils as “pure” or “therapeutic” grade or “perfume” grade or whatever other classification you hear a company claiming. There are companies out there that can document and prove to you that their oils are authentic. They are using the word “authentic” to mean that their oils are not cut or diluted down with any synthetic and/or natural substance. This is a good thing. These companies can also tell you exactly from where their oils are derived. This is also a very good thing.
General ground rules for using essential oils
-always dilute your oils
Although distributors of some oils say theirs are different, no one knows how you and your body are going to react to an oil until you use it. It is best to start with a low concentration. You can add more, but you cannot take away.
-do not ingest straight oils
There are companies out there with distributors insisting their oils are safe to ingest. While some essential oils are derived from plant foods and spices, I do not suggest just throwing them your mouth willy nilly! The only oils I’ve ever done this with are peppermint and wintergreen oils. I only did it for myself, and have never recommended anyone else do this. Essential oils can burn. They can burn the skin and the tongue and mouth tissues, too. Caution should be used. Extreme dilution of oils without chemical additives can be done with the proper education and experience. However, I would not suggest jumping right in to something like that!
-do not apply just any straight oil
Some oils are what is referred to as “hot” oils. Oregano, cinnamon, etc are examples of “hot” oils. These may burn the skin and should be applied neat (the term used a straight, undiluted application to the skin). Olive oil, almond oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil are my personal favorite carrier oils for skin application.
-use oils that smell good to you
This is not rocket science. If you think an oil stinks, it probably is not the oil for you.
Please remember that essential oils are extremely concentrated. I’ll leave you with this video showing how a steam extracted oil can be produced. Keep a close eye on the amount of raw materials and the tiny amount of oil. Then, you will understand the cost and the concentration.