This meme has been around before – and it is one that makes my husband and I laugh – because I am that person. I was first introduced into essential oils when I was working as an OT assistant with Queensland Health in 2015. At the time I was working 8 hour days, commuting to/from Brisbane and the Gold Coast (2.5+ hours a day) and waitressing on the weekends. This was all to save up money before I started my Master’s degree in 2016.
The stress and lack of sleep was real so a colleague made me blend to calm the nervous system for sleep; and one to keep on my desk at work for the extra long paperwork days! I was hooked; and have used them (almost) daily since then. So here is a little blog about what essential oils are, why I love them, and a few tips on how to use them!
The History of Essential Oils:
The pure essences of plants have been used throughout ancient cultures to treat ailments and promote good health and emotional wellbeing and is not a new concept. The Egyptians would use plants for spiritual purposes, cosmetics and embalming dating back to 3,500BC. The Chinese have been utilising plants for medicinal purposes since 4,500BC and the Romans used plants in rituals, ceremonies and for bathing and massage.
Today, these plants & essential oils we are used in both personal and professional settings to heal mind, body and soul. Aromatherapy seeks to identify and direct the mood altering properties of smells and so enhance the body’s ability to heal itself and the connection between nasal receptors and brain is the reason why aromatherapy works.
Sensations perceived by the body are organised into two major groups: general sensations such as touch, pressure, pain, and temperature, and special sensations such as vision, hearing, taste, smell, and the sense of body position and movement. The olfactory nerve is one of the few cranial nerves that carries sensory information only and is responsible for our sense of smell. The odour information originates in the epithelium of the nasal cavity and is transported to the brain via the olfactory pathway. The information captured by our sense of smell goes from the olfactory bulb to other structures of the limbic system. Our limbic system is a network of connected structures near the middle of the brain linked within the central nervous system. The limbic system works together which affects a wide range of behaviours including emotions, motivation, and our memory.
How are they used?
The essential oil itself is created through a process of distillation of plants, which can be flowers, fruit, wood, bark, herbs or spices.
Beneficial effects of diffusion:
- mood enhancement
- promotion of a sense of wellbeing
- improved breathing & decongestion
- heightened energy & awareness
- relaxation of muscles
- improved digestion
- improve healing for wounds
- relief from menstrual cramping
- better respiratory function
- reduction of inflammation
- improved circulation.
(photo from: galmcorner.co)
There is some research to suggest that aromatherapy, in both applications, has been found to be extremely effective in the prevention and treatment of stress related disorders. Stress is now commonly believed to be the underlying cause of many of today’s common health problems which include migraine and other headaches, muscle pain, insomnia, inertia, depression. One of the most attractive attributes of aromatherapy is that it does not involve the ingestion of substances likely to have nasty side effects as well as benefits.
What / Where to Buy?
The range of essential oils are endless; and with so many to pick from; which to choose?
Ranges available include:
- DoTerra & Young Living
- Eco Modern
- Plant Essentials (Townsville store)
- Australian Wholesale Oils
- Chemists/Naturopath Clinics/Wellness Stores
I personally use a combination of Plant Essentials & DoTerra; but you need to find what works for you (affordability and smell). Often but not always – the cheaper the essential oil, the more chemical combinations it will have in it; and may irritate those with sensitive lungs or respiratory / health issues. The cheaper the oil, the more likely it will be less pure. For example Rose Oil is incredible and when purchased in it’s purest from can range from $88 – $130 for 50mL; however a blended essential oil being sold with part flower extract and part synthetic rose smell will sell for $20 – $40.
Here are some easy ways you can introduce aromatherapy into your routine at home
- Diffuser: this can be used to clean the air, eliminate odour, make your home/office smell nice, mood enhancer & assist with energy grounding.
- Steam inhalation: Adding essential oils to a bowl of steaming water & cover the head with a towel. Close the eyes & inhale deeply for 5 minutes. Repeat as needed. Alternatively, you can add them to a bath. Note: not all essential oils are suitable to be used in the bath.
- Shower: Sprinkle essential oil on the recess of your shower floor (some oils can create a slippery floor – so be careful where you step)
- Massage: Typically done with an experienced massage therapist combined with the benefits of aromatherapy. However, we can use essential oils with at-home massage for lymphatic flow & digestive assistance. Sensitive skins may wish to perform a patch test to the skin before the massage.
- Pillow: several essential oils are beneficial to help with relaxation & encourage a good night’s sleep. Add a drop to your pillow before sleep. I prefer to spritz it over the sheets and pillow cases with a diluted mixture.
From Our AWP Family to yours!