Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty

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9781583331309: Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty
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Aromatherapy, the centuries-old practice of using botanical scents and oils for physical and psychic benefit, reached its peak of popularity in the early 2000s. Roberta Wilson's essential resource for aromatherapy offers hundreds of healing recipes for compresses, baths, inhalants, air fresheners, and skin-care products specifically designed to assuage common disorders and complaints. Organized in a handy A-to-Z format, Aromatherapy is the most trusted sourcebook for this gentle healing art. First published in 1995, Wilson’s guide is here revised and expanded to cover a wider selection of essential oils, more health conditions, and more ways of incorporating aromatherapy into your life.

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About the Author:

Roberta Wilson, a certified aromatherapist and makeup consultant, has designed aromatherapy products for several natural cosmetic companies.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Part One

THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF AROMATHERAPY

What Is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the practice of using naturally extracted essences of aromatic plants to promote the health and well-being of your body, mind, and emotions. These essences, called essential oils, contain the vital life force of fragrant botanical plants. Pure essential oils are the key to success with aromatherapy. They can restore balance and harmony to your body and mind, while adding depth, dimension, and definition to your life. The use of pure essential oilscharacterizes and distinguishes true aromatherapy, which always substantiates the work and supports the intentions of pioneers in aromatherapy.

USES AND ACTIONS OF ESSENTIAL OILS

You can use essential oils in a variety of ways. Inhale them directly from the bottle. Use them for skin care, hair care, and body care, as well as for numerous other beauty purposes. Use them for personal hygiene and oral hygiene. Take aromatherapy baths. Soak your tired, aching feet in a foot bath fragranced with essential oils. Dangle your fingers in a delightful hand bath. Give and receive aromatherapy massages. Breathe in aromatherapy blends to relieve congestion, clear your head, and make your breathing easier. Make delightful fragrances with essential oils.

While essential oils are the primary tools of aromatherapy, other plant derivatives can benefit you as well. Smelling a fragrant flower or an aromatic herb is aromatherapy, simple and honest. Crushing peppermint leaves between your fingers releases some of its essential oil. As you breathe in its exhilarating essence, you experience healing qualities of the herb. Spraying rose water or lavender water on your face freshens your skin as it disperses the soothing properties of the plant onto your skin. Floating a sprig of rosemary or a handful of orange blossoms in your bath releases skin-softening and emotion-balancing properties into the warm water. Burning dried herbs such as sage smudge sticks or using fresh herbs in homemade potpourri allows their aroma to waft through your home. Pouring boiled water over herbs for a facial steam bath releases aromatic essences that you can smell and feel immediately. When you squeeze a lemon or lime wedge into a glass of water, its aromatic molecules escape into the air. Eating fresh basil or fennel seeds in your food releases their healing attributes into your body.

Aromatherapy can help prevent or ease an assortment of ailments. Essential oils can boost your immune system and help you stay well. You can treat aches, pains, and injuries with essential oils. Essential oils can also help you reduce stress, lift depression, and restore or enhance emotional well-being. You can even disperse essential oils in the air throughout your home or office to help improve your productivity, alter the atmosphere, or modify your moods.

In this book, you will discover hundreds of aromatherapy blends, each designed for a specific purpose, as well as many different ways you can incorporate aromatherapy into your life. You will also learn how to choose and experiment with essential oils on your own. You can learn how to listen to your body and trust your innate instincts to take care of your body, mind, and spirit. Aromatherapy offers a natural approach to wellness that can infuse your life with a new sense of vitality, vibrancy, and pleasure.

WHAT IS NOT AROMATHERAPY?

The practice of using essences that did not originate from an aromatic plant that was once alive is not aromatherapy. No regulations restrict the use of the word aromatherapy. Anyone can sell anything and call it aromatherapy, and plenty of companies are doing exactly that. The result is that about 95 percent of the products sold as aromatherapy are counterfeits—pseudo-aromatherapy. Their aromas derive from synthetic scents, and they offer no therapeutic value whatsoever. True aromatherapy never uses synthetic aromatic substances.

Pseudo-aromatherapy relies on synthetic petrochemicals that merely smell but have no healing qualities. Simply having an aroma doesn’t make something aromatherapy; fragrant man-made chemicals can never qualify as true aromatherapy.

Every day, thousands of consumers unknowingly purchase pseudo-aromatherapy products as mass marketers strive to gain a greater market share of the aromatherapy “trend.” In fact, aromatherapy is not a trend. For more than 5,000 years, people have been practicing aromatherapy as a sincere healing practice. Many mass-market merchandisers have corrupted the category and robbed the word aromatherapy of its original meaning and its authenticity.

In their confusion, and through misplaced trust, millions of people mistakenly purchase “aromatherapy” products they believe will improve their health and well-being. If deceit was the only offense, it would be bad enough, but these petrochemical impostors possess the potential to seriously harm the health of the people who seek healing from them. Another sinister side effect is that these potent petrochemicals numb the senses to the subtle aromas of nature.

Below are some considerations to help you detect pseudo-aromatherapy products and petrochemical impostors:

· Place of purchase. Don’t expect to buy quality products containing pure essential oils at department stores, discount stores, drugstores, national or international chain stores, or supermarkets. Rarely, if ever, do these products contain pure essential oils. Likewise, your chances are slim of finding pure essential oils or true aromatherapy products in the bath and body boutiques in shopping malls or at most beauty salons. Nowadays, even few health-food stores offer products that contain pure essential oils.

· Type of product. The following are frequently sold as aromatherapy products but almost always are impostors: aerosol air fresheners, bath oils, bath salts, bubble baths, candles, electric oil burners or plug-ins, facial sprays and toners, feminine hygiene products, hair dyes and perms, nail polishes and nail polish removers, potpourri and simmer herbs, scratch-and-sniff products, sexual lubricants, shampoos and hair conditioners, and most skin-care products. These products rarely contain pure essential oils. Even if they did, the amounts of essential oils in them would be so minute as to be useless.

· Other ingredients. Always consider the other ingredients in the product. Essential oils can accelerate the absorption of these ingredients into your body. Read the list of ingredients of any product you are considering and think about whether you want them entering your body. What therapeutic value are essential oils if they are swimming in synthetic chemicals such as emulsifiers, stabilizers, surfactants, propellants, petroleum waxes, and preservatives? Often, these ingredients are petrochemical derivatives that compromise the integrity and negate the effects of the essential oils.

· Price of the product. Price can often indicate whether or not a product is true aromatherapy. Think about whether “rose” aerosol spray selling for $4.00 or a “jasmine” candle priced at $6.00 could possibly contain pure essential oil, when even one drop of pure rose or jasmine oil can cost several dollars.

Do your arithmetic. Consider the price of an “aromatherapy” body lotion that sells for $20.00. Subtract the retailer’s typical 100-percent markup, about $10.00. Next, subtract the cost of packaging, advertising, and freight, about $5.00. Estimate the manufacturer’s profit, about $3.00. That means the manufacturer likely spent a total of about $2.00 on allthe ingredients. At that price, the lotion cannot contain any therapeutic levels of pure essential oils.

Before buying, always ask yourself: How likely is this product to be true aromatherapy? You are wiser to invest your money in pure essential oils and make your own cosmetics. Don’t just trust labels or clever advertising. Use your common sense.

WHAT AROMATHERAPY CAN DO FOR YOU

Through essential oils, nature provides us with a network of therapeutic plant essences that have valuable healing properties. These highly concentrated essential oils are ideal for treating an array of physical, mental, and emotional problems. People around the world are searching for safe, effective, and environmentally responsible alternatives to conventional medicines and cosmetics. Those who have discovered aromatherapy have found exactly what they need to help maintain and improve their health and take care of their skin, hair, and bodies. Women, men, and children are all benefiting from the use of aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy works with your body in a very natural, holistic way. By gently activating your body’s own healing energies, aromatherapy helps to restore balance to your body, mind, and spirit. Aromatherapy complements almost any other type of therapy or healing practice, whether conventional or alternative.

Aromatherapy offers you easy ways to enhance the quality of your life and improve your health. Aromatherapy can prompt your body and mind to function more efficiently. It can help boost your immune system. Often, you can prevent common ailments or illnesses with aromatherapy. If you do get sick, you can use aromatherapy to minimize the discomforts and speed up your recovery. Aromatherapy can help you get back on your feet after an illness. It also makes a safe and effective first-aid treatment.

Aromatherapy can help you reduce and manage stress. Since none of us seems to be spared from modern-day stress, any reduction in stress will certainly improve or enhance the quality of our lives and restore balance to our lives. Stress plays a major role in almost all illnesses, both physical and mental. The regular use of essential oils can help you control stress, alleviate anxiety and tension, and minimize the physical aches and pains they cause. You can use aromatherapy to relax and unwind after a stressful day at work, at home, or on the road. Or you can use it to refresh and recharge yourself so that you can keep up the pace of your busy life.

Aromatherapy has a positive influence on the emotions. Many essential oils can help you regulate your moods. Some are uplifting and energizing; others are calming and sedating. Some work to restore balance. In Part Two of this book, you will learn about essential oils that can elevate your mood, soothe your emotions, clear your mind, quiet your anger, and even inspire your creativity.

You can make aromatherapy treatments for your skin, hair, and body that will add a new dimension to your beauty or personal hygiene routine. These creations can be among the most natural and effective types of beauty treatments. Aromatherapy can give a healthier appearance to any skin, especially troubled or problem skin. Essential oils can revitalize dry or prematurely aging skin, regulate oily skin, clear problem skin, and add a healthy glow to all complexions. Men as well as women will enjoy using essential oils in skin-care products and for hair care. Men also can employ essential oils in skin-softening and protective aftershave preparations.

In addition to offering a natural, holistic approach to enhancing health and well-being, the practice of aromatherapy supports the environment. Growing plants—lots of them—for the production of essential oils helps the planet and helps us. Too many people, in their race to turn the world into a concrete jungle, forget that without plants, humans could not exist. Plants provide us with a most vital element for life—oxygen. They manufacture and circulate this life-sustaining gas so that we may breathe. In doing this, they utilize the carbon dioxide we exhale—a waste that otherwise contributes to the greenhouse effect. Besides beautifying its surroundings, every plant that flourishes makes the air a little cleaner, reduces some of the effect of greenhouse gases, and diminishes global warming.

Cultivating crops for the production of essential oils has other environmental advantages. By avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides, farmers who grow botanicals using organic methods help to counter soil erosion and reduce the toxic wastes that contaminate waterways and ground water. In developing countries, growing botanical crops can provide farmers with a greater economic return than other, more harmful industries, such as logging, cattle grazing, and growing crops for illegal drugs. People thus have an opportunity to make a better living in ways that are not as destructive to the land or to society.

Growing botanicals can help protect the world’s diminishing forests instead of demolishing them. Farmers need not clear-cut huge tracts of forest for grazing a few head of cattle. They can also restore lands depleted from grazing by growing botanicals for essential oil production. By reducing greenhouse gases, plants may also help preserve the fragile ozone layer. Each time you purchase pure essential oils, you cast a vote for natural botanicals that can have immediate and long-term effects on your health, well-being, and longevity, as well as on the health, well-being, and future of the planet. You send the message to manufacturers that you want to buy products that are good for the planet, that help sustain agriculture around the world, that preserve precious and valuable plant species, and that support life on earth.

You can use your purchasing power to make a significant statement and have a positive influence on the environment. Plants can help us solve some of the problems we face, if we will only let them do what they instinctively want to do—grow. By using botanicals in your everyday life, you can help guarantee plants’ survival. Their survival has a crucial impact on humanity. We need plants. We cannot live on earth without them.

Using pure essential oils has another far-reaching effect: It provides a perfect opportunity to connect with nature. In these stress-filled times, we often forget about nature and fail to appreciate the many advantages that the earth offers. In fact, the neglect of nature is largely responsible for the current global environmental crisis. Could there also be a connection between our irreverence for nature and the rising rates of disease?

Opening a bottle of an essential oil, which possesses the vital life force of a once-living plant, and breathing in its fragrant and therapeutic aroma can subtly yet powerfully remind you that you too are an integral part of nature whether you live on a farm in the rural Midwest or in a penthouse 100 floors above a modern metropolis.

Aromatherapy can make a big difference in your life. In this book, you will learn exactly how you can use aromatherapy for body, hair, and skin care; for creating personal perfumes and fragrancing your environment; for first-aid treatments; for relaxation; for maintaining or improving health; for boosting immunity; for reducing stress; and for enhancing or restoring emotional equilibrium. You will learn how to make many different cosmetics, skin oils, massage oils, fragrances, diffuser blends, inhalants, and therapeutic blends for treating a variety of conditions. You will find out about essential oils—what they are, what they do, and how to select them. You will discover how you ca...

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