Essential oils, Properties & Applications.
Essential oils are organic compounds of volatile aromatic esters or ethers, contained in the various parts of plants (leaves, flowers, root, fruit, pith or bark).
They are produced by pressure, compression, extraction or steam distillation.
The majority of essential oils are colorless and have a high refractive index. They are soluble in most organic solvents, but show very little solubility in water and less density than water. They are in liquid form at ambient temperature, but become volatile at boiling temperatures (between 50 – 320 ° C). Due to their high volatility, they have a characteristic aroma, which stimulates the olfactory nerve endings, transferring corresponding stimuli to the brain. On this basis the principles of aromatherapy were developed.
Aromatherapy is an alternative science that uses essential oils from plants to treat physical and mental ailments. There are two branches of aromatherapy, aesthetic and holistic. The first concerns the application of essential oils by beauticians only externally, while the second combines the use of essential oils and the massage technique.
The history of using essential oils on the human body began from 2,000 BC. In the Bible there is evidence of the use of plants and oils for therapeutic as well as religious purposes.
The Egyptians used them widely to create cosmetics and also to embalm their dead. In China they were known perhaps even before this time. Gradually their use passed to the Greeks and the Romans, who in turn brought the idea to the rest of Europe.
In the Middle Ages they were essential preparations for the treatment of various conditions and ailments. In fact, the oldest written text for the use of essential oils in England dates from the 13th AD. century. Since then, a great increase has been observed, both in the production of aromatic oils, and in their application in various forms of treatment. In our time, they come back again and again and dynamically in our lives in various ways both for the beautification of the face and body but also for therapeutic purposes. The tendency of people to return to natural healing methods is undeniable and is increasing day by day.
Essential oils are applied in the following ways:
Inhalations: Add a few drops of essential oil to a pot of boiling water and inhale deeply over the pot. We place a towel around our head and the container so that the water vapor is not lost. Be careful not to get burned by the vapors.
Bath: Add a few drops of essential oil to the warm bath water. The aromas released cause well-being, stimulation and relief, depending on the properties of the essential oil we choose.
Compresses and pads: Add a few drops of essential oil to 1 liter of water and mix well. Wet compresses with this water and use them on the spot we want to treat. It is a method used in migraines, rheumatism, arthralgias and myalgias, skin irritations and itching, varicose veins, varicose veins, etc.
Rubbings: We usually add essential oils to the base oils, at a ratio of 2-3%, and rub (massage) the body. Rubbings can be done for the relief of rheumatism, arthralgias, myalgias, neuralgias, gripes, colds, cleaning and exfoliation of the skin, relaxation massage or even for a sensual massage.
Mouthwashes: Some essential oils can be used for mouthwashes and gargles after first diluting them in a little water.
Room aromatization: We add a few drops of essential oil to a container of hot water or boiling water (as in inhalations) so that the aroma diffuses with the water vapor into the atmosphere of the room. We can also put a few drops on the wood of the fireplace or on special combustion devices, on candles to absorb cigarette smoke or on drawers and cupboards to combat moths and perfume.
House cleaning: Some have antibacterial and antiseptic properties, while others simply smell pleasant and natural.
Cooking and confectionery: Some essential oils can be used in the kitchen to add flavor to your food and sweets. But be careful because not all are suitable for internal reception.
Preparation of cosmetics: Essential oils can be added to creams, ointments, lotions, cosmetics and deodorants for face and body care, but also to treat any chronic or acute dermatological problem.
Essential oils for internal use should be completely natural and free of impurities and chemicals.
In order to be used internally, they must be mixed with a decoction, tincture, or various pure edible oils. They should not be used as such, without being added to the above means, because they are irritating and may cause poisoning or severe allergic reactions.
Essential oils also have antimicrobial activity. In order to find out which essential oil is suitable for dealing with the specific microorganism that concerns us, there is the possibility of the aromatogram .
Some usage tips
- Essential oils should not be used during pregnancy and lactation, in infants and children under 3 years of age. In older children to be used carefully in the dosages recommended by the specialist.
- Essential oils should never come into contact with the eyes.
- Roughly, 1 ml of essential oil gives 20 drops. We use up to 6 in the combustion device, 10 in the bath, 7 in the foot bath, 18 in 30 ml of massage oil, 9 in 30 gr of base cream.
- When we inhale, the eyes should be closed.
- Always use natural carrier oils to dissolve them. Never synthetically.
- Avoid the use of essential oils by people suffering from hypertension and epilepsy, without medical advice.
- Essential oils for internal use should always be taken diluted, in the ways I mentioned above.
- People practicing homeopathy should avoid using essential oils containing camphor and peppermint.
- You will find detailed instructions and precautions for the use of essential oils below.
- The above information is informative and does not constitute medical advice. Consult your doctor before using or taking any such preparation.
Precautions for using essential oils
Use essential oils sparingly and carefully. They are extremely concentrated and very powerful substances.
Do not put on mucous tissues, eyes or the area around the eyes.
If they come into contact with these areas, wash off with vegetable oil or even water and inform your doctor.
It is forbidden to use them directly on the skin (except for those that state otherwise, explicitly, in their instructions for use).
Always keep essential oil bottles out of the reach of children. The majority of oils need to be diluted before use in a base oil or combination thereof.
A skin tolerance test should always be done on the inside of the elbow or wrist, at least 24 hours before normal use.
If you notice a reaction (redness, irritation, itching, etc.), do not use the mixture. Some oils cause photosensitivity (such as angelica, orange, bergamot, lemon, etc.).
After applying these oils, avoid exposure to sunlight.
In general, the use of essential oils is prohibited in pregnant or lactating women, in people with epilepsy or with chronic diseases, in infants and children under 3 years of age, without medical instruction.
Essential oil injections are strictly prohibited. In case of a history of respiratory allergy, avoid direct inhalation of essential oil vapors.
Do not combine essential oils and medication of any nature without medical advice.
Their use should always be done with caution and by consulting the instructions for use and the indications - contraindications of each oil. Seek the assistance of a qualified aromatherapist for any therapeutic indication or oral treatment.