The use of essential oils in aromatherapy is very popular in recent years. However, faced with the diversity of oils, it is not easy to navigate. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to heal or to maintain health. You can find all about essential oils and aromatherapy in this article.
Aromatherapy is part of so-called “soft” medicines. It is a therapeutic approach that uses plant essences.
1 – What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are fragrant and volatile substances derived from plants and collected by various extraction processes. These odorous substances, in the form of liquid, are volatile. The evaporation of this liquid can return to the odor state without leaving any traces.
Today, the use of essential oils is as widespread as herbal medicine and it is found under the term of phyto-aromatherapy a combined use of essences and plants. It is necessary, however, to be well informed because the aromatherapy is subjected to rigorous rules, and thus has advantages and disadvantages.
*** The various names of essential oils
In the liquid state, one meets various names such as vegetable essences, essential oils, volatile oils, aromatic essences, rinsing spirits and aromas. All these denominations describe the same product.
Note: in literary, technical or commercial use, the terms “essential oils” and “plant essences” will be used more often.
*** Composition of essential oils
A set of components comes into play in each essential oil (HE), in various proportions depending on the type of gasoline involved:
– the ketones,
– The lactones,
Although they have a greasy and oily feel, essential oils are not fat. In addition, they contain no fatty acids, vitamins or minerals.
*** States of essential oils
Essential oils are not all alike. It will be necessary to know how to differentiate essential oils, depending on whether they are:
– artificial or synthetic,
– rectified species,
– Deterpened essences,
– reconstituted or semi-synthetic essences.
2 – The Use of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy: History
Their origin goes back quite far and one sees appearing in 1937 the first work entitled “Aromatherapy“.
*** The use of essential oils in aromatherapy: first steps
The appearance of essential oils could be traced back to around 4500 BC. What is sure is that from this time, we were interested in the therapeutic virtues of plants and the use of balms and aromas.
*** First appearance of the term “aromatherapy”
In 1937, a certain RM Gatefossé examines the medicinal use of plants but his notes will not be published until 1937 when Dr. Foveau de Courmelles decided to preface his work and publish it under the term: “aromatherapy” .
Interest in the use of plant essences for therapeutic purposes has increased mainly since 1945.
3 – Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used internally or externally. They can also be diffused in the air we breathe. Whichever method of administration is chosen, dosage precautions should be followed and essential oil that has been stored or stored under optimal conditions should be used.
The absorption of essential oil by the body can be done by internal use or external use. These are the first two therapeutic indications which come next to be subdivided according to the cases.
The indications and contraindications are often briefly listed on the product leaflet: so do not hesitate to seek the advice of a specialist, if something does not seem clear to you.
The use of plant essences is subject to some precautions for use. Once you know the dosage and you know what are the modes of administration for this or that type of treatment, you must follow scrupulously the indications and possible contraindications of the species that you have been advised.
4 – The Use of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy: The Precautions to Take
Essential oils also called “plant essences”, must be thoroughly studied before being used. There is a large number of books on aromatherapy and you can seek the advice of specialized people if there is any doubt about the use of essential oil.
Here are some important pieces of information:
– essential oil can burn the skin;
– essential oil can cause disorders of digestion – when it is an essential oil prescribed for internal use;
– there are many contraindications for pregnant women;
– we must also know the contraindications of certain essential oils for children;
– People with fragile health and heavy medical treatment must check that there is no interaction with their treatment and seek the advice of a doctor in case of doubt.
*** Essential oils: precautions for use
The absorption of essential oil by the body can be done by internal use or external use. In one case, as in the other, and with rare exceptions, they will always be mixed with an excipient that is to say with a substance associated with the active ingredient and whose function is to facilitate the administration of this active ingredient to its site of absorption “(Larousse). Examples of excipients:
– for internal use: yogurt, cottage cheese, honey, jam …
– for external use (especially for massages): lotions or vegetable oils. Sweet almond oil, for example, which is excellent for the skin and scented. We can also advise avocado oil that is interesting for cosmetic use or wheat germ oil.
Note that there is also an olfactory use of plant species: all you need is a diffuser (evaporation system) and scrupulously follow the indications of the manufacturer.
*** Some important tips to consider
Fashion is perfumes and aerosol therapy. It is however recommended not to diffuse essential oils for more than 20 minutes to avoid irritation.
All routes of administration should not be used without medical advice.
– The essential oils of Clove or Thyme, rich in phenols, are irritating for the mucous membranes and cannot be applied pure in external use nor to be used in a diffuser and thus inhaled.
– Essential oils rich in phenols and ketones, such as mint (menthol), thyme, or Thuya or Sage must never be administered in children.
– Pure essential oils should not be used rectally, genitally, aurally, nasally or ophthalmically. In case of accidental contact with the eye, for example, rinse with vegetable oil, the essential oil is not soluble in water, and contact your doctor.
Some essential oils are photosensitizing: do not expose yourself to the sun after applying the essential oil on the epidermis. This is particularly the case of bergamot, sandalwood, lemon, mandarin.
If you want to use essential oils (EO) in a bath, allow 10 drops for 5 ml of neutral gel, neutral foam bath gel, or a suitable dispersant, knowing that whole milk (15 drops for half a day) glass) can do the trick. Mix well before adding it to the bath water.
*** Regulation for certain essential oils
Because of their neurotoxin, irritant, phototoxic or even carcinogenic properties, 16 essential oils can be sold only in the pharmacy, they are those of:
– Large wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).
– Small wormwood (Artemisia pontica).
– Artemisia (Artemisia vulgaris).
– White wormwood (Artemisia herba alba Asso).
– Tree wormwood (Artemisia arborescens).
– Thuja Canada or white cedar (Thuya occidentalis).
– Korean cedar (Thuya Koraenensis Nakai) or “cedar leaf”.
– Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis).
– Sage officinale (Salvia officinalis).
– Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare).
– Thuya (Thuya plicata Donn).
– Sassafras (Sassafras albidum).
– Sabine (Juniperus sabina).
– Street (Ruta graveolens).
– Wormweed (Chenopodium ambrosioides and Chenopodium anthelminticum).
– Junciform mustard (Brassica juncea).
5 – Aromatherapy: Advantages and Disadvantages
The internal absorption of essential oil (EO) or its external application are subject to precise rules.
As soon as the indications and contraindications of each plant species are taken into account, we can obtain very interesting results for our well-being and our health.
The purpose of this article is not to scare the reader with an important enumeration of inconvenience, but it is about doing prevention. Too many people use aromatherapy because they have read a few books or because they have been told of the good of this or that essential oil.
Good to know: Always consult a doctor, naturopath or aromatherapist if you are not sure.
You will find that the benefits are also numerous. We have made the overall summary, without focusing on the individual characteristics of the essential oils that are the subject of the indications and contraindications part.
*** Main benefits of essential oils
– No addiction possible
– Ease of use
– Ease of elimination – complete and fast
– Antiseptic properties
– Sanitizing properties
– Very interesting purifying properties in the case of microbes and bacteria
– Facilitate detoxification
– Easy osmosis through tissue
– Fluidifying blood
– Antispasmodic …
*** Disadvantages of certain essential oils
– Agitation, tremors,
– Muscle spasms
– Very quickly toxic
– Delirium tremens
– Depression of sympathetic tone
Good to know: some species deserve greater vigilance on the part of users. These are essential oils that become more quickly dangerous than others: dill, anise, mugwort, wormwood, caraway, lamb’s-quarters, hyssop, mustard, rosemary, rue, sabine, sassafras, officinal sage, tansy and cedar (most of these HE are only available in pharmacy).
6 – Price of Essential Oils
Essential oils have, most of the time, a therapeutic use, even if one meets them in other fields of application. People who are interested in aromatherapy and want to heal themselves in a natural way should be vigilant about the use of essential oils in accordance with indications and contraindications and dosage.
Once these areas are known, all you have to do is buy your essential oils and if you still have some doubts, hire a specialist to find the right advice.
The prices of essential oils vary depending on the type of gasoline. On the one hand, if you demand the organic label, it will cost you a little more. On the other hand, the more expensive the extraction process, the higher the price or the harder to harvest – or rare – the higher the cost.
7 – Aromatherapy: Conservation of Essential Oils
If you are a neophyte in aromatherapy, know how to recognize essential oils easily and how to preserve them optimally.
*** The essences of plants: how do they present themselves?
Essential oils are packaged in small bottles – usually 15 ml – and the material is a yellow or blue glass to protect the essence of light. It happens to meet 5 ml bottles for the most expensive species.
These bottles are found in pharmacy and drugstore, in organic shops and on specialized websites. The name of the plant essence is accompanied by its name in Latin.
Clogging is done with a dropper plug. Although vials can be purchased in cardboard presentation packaging, do not hesitate to open it to verify that the bottle has not been shocked and that the cap is properly sealed.
Good to know: When buying essential oil, remember that you will have to use it in most cases with an excipient.
*** Plant species: how to preserve them?
To effectively preserve your plant species, follow these tips:
– keep your bottles away from light,
– make sure they are tightly closed,
– keep them out of reach of children – if necessary put them in a lockable cabinet, type medicine cabinet.
8 – Aromatherapy: Labels of Essential Oils
For the main use of plant essence for therapeutic purposes, it may sometimes require more quality: this is why many brands submit their essential oils to regular checks that achieve a seal of quality.
This does not mean that essential oils that have no label are of poor quality, but if you want to be sure not to go wrong, for a higher price, you may opt for a labeled product. There are several labels on essential oils.
*** Bio: a quality label for essential oils
Choosing an organic essential oil is choosing a product certified by Ecocert to guarantee the biological origin of the essential oil. There is also the O.F. (Organic Farming) label which has the same meaning.
An essential oil whose bottle is stamped ECOCERT is a product which has been subjected to the regular control of a certification company (the Ecocert organization) which is approved by the public authorities. This company is able to ensure that certain standards specific to organic farming (O.F.) have been respected.
– HEBBD: Quality Label for Essential Oils
An essential oil whose bottle is stamped H.E.B.B.D. that is to say, Essential Oil Botanically and Biochemically Defined – means that each batch of essential oil benefits from an analysis bulletin established with the CNRS.
– The OF Label
The O.F. label – for Organic Farming – meets very strict standards. We meet this label on any product that we usually call organic and that we buy in specialized outlets or in some departments of supermarkets (for example food). This label can be found on certain essential oils. This means that the product is necessarily composed of a minimum of 95% of ingredients from organic farming, a necessary condition for obtaining this label.
*** Cosmebio: a quality label for essential oils
It can be said that Cosmebio is the cousin label of OF, but it is rather reserved to the field of cosmetics: we speak about Organic Cosmetics. It is often found on essential oils but you should know that this label is only on products that scrupulously respect certain standards, namely:
– 95% of the ingredients that make up the product come from Organic Farming;
– A minimum of 10% of organic ingredients must be found on the finished product;
– Total plant ingredients must contain 95% organic ingredients.
– This label forbids any trace:
* synthetic conservator,
* synthetic fragrances,
* ingredients from oil,
* GMO (genetically modified organism).
9 – Other Applications of Essential Oils
If aromatherapy was originally a term essentially designating therapy through the use of essential oils, the fields of application are today a little more numerous: house, animals, cosmetics, cooking, etc.
As a Conclusion
If aromatherapy refers exclusively to essential oils therapy, phytotherapy refers to therapeutics by plants (decoctions, infusions, maceration, local application of plasters, etc.).
Since 1940, the craze for the use of plants in all its forms has led to an increase in these two therapies simultaneously, bringing up the concept of phyto-aromatherapy.