Although the contemporary practice of modern aromatherapy originated within the last hundred years, the use of essential oils can be traced back to all the major ancient civilizations of the world. Aromatic plants played a central role in the healing arts of early human kind.
Our ancestors learned through trial and error , through observing which plants, roots, berries or leaves sick animals were eating and which helped or aggravated symptoms and even occasionally caused death. The wisdom was passed down from one generation to another, together with new discoveries and innovations. This knowledge was eventually transmuted into the herbal medicine we know today.
Here are a few of the many examples of how you can use and enjoy essential oils at home.
After massage, aromatic bathing with essential oils is the most effective and enjoyable aromatherapy treatment. The therapeutic effects of water and bathing are well known, but adding essential oils makes the experience special.
Aromatic baths offer simplicity and versatility. A bath with essential oils can be relaxing, stimulating, refreshing or aphrodisiac. You can treat skin conditions and relieve aching muscles. However, aromatic baths are most commonly used to promote relaxation and dispel stress.
Adding essential oils to your bath:
Fill the bath with water, sprinkle 4-8 drops of essential oil on top and-given that essential oils don’t disolve in water-agitate the bath water to disperse the oils. Don’t add essential oils beforehand or much of the highly volatile oils will be lost.
You can make a moisturising bath oil using a dispersant bath oil base, or a base oil such as sweet almond . To 5 ml (1tsp) of base oil, add 4-8 drops of essential oils of your choice, then add this mixture to the bath, as described above. A classic relaxing bath blend is 2 drops of lavender, 2 drops of geranium and 2 drops of chamomile
Vaporisers and diffusers
A delightful and natural way to perfume a room is to diffuse essential oils into the atmosphere. Essential oil burners offer a convenient way to vaporise essential oils. They are usually constructed of pottery or stone, and have a lower chamber for a tea-light candle and a top bowl for water and essential oils.
Also available are electric aromatic diffusers and light-bulb rings, which work in a similar way to burners. Even placing a small bowl of hot water on a radiator creates a simple device for vaporising oils.
Using essential oils in a burner
Light the tea light, and pour some warm water into the top bowl to half-fill it. Then sprinkle on 8-10 drops of essential oil. As the water heats, the essential oils vaporise and fragrance the air.
Lemongrass will keep insects at bay, while geranium and bergamot will deodorise and neutralise cigarette smoke and pet smells. To prevent infection spreading, use ti-tree, rosemary or eucalyptus, and to create a relaxing atmosphere, try frankincense and sandalwood.
If using a burner or an electrical diffuser is incovenient or not to your taste, you can make up room sprays instead, using water and essential oils. The effect is less powerful than when you vaporise essential oils, but some people prefer a less intense aroma. Room sprays also have an instant effect.
Do not use plastic bottles, as essential oils can chemically react with the plastic. It is important to remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water, so you must shake the bottle vigorously every time before spraying.
Making a room spray with essential oils:
Take a glass bottle with a spray attachement and almost fill it with cold water. For each 5 ml(1 tsp) of water, use 3 drops of essential oils. For instance, a 100 ml(3 1/2 fl oz) bottle will take 60 drops of essential oils.
A room freshener might include lavender, rosewood, bergamot and sweet orange. For a bathroom or toilet, a suitable blend could be cedarwood, juniper, pine and lemon. to create a sensous evening atmosphere you could try rose, patchouli, mandarin and sandalwood.
Although it is not recommended to use essential oils internally, when they are incorporated into foods and drinks in tiny amounts, they are heavily diluted and unlikely to cause an adverse reaction. The flavourings industry uses essential oils to flavour food, drink and toiletries such as toothpaste, so we already ingest tiny amounts of essential oils.
Using essential oils as flavourings:
Make fruit syrup by boiling 100 g (4 oz) of sugar with 600 ml (1 pt) of water for five minutes. Cool, then add 1 drop of lemon, orange, grapefruit or lime essential oil. Stir thoroughly. Add a tablespoon or two of fruit juice before pouring the syrup over ice cream, fruit or sponge cake.
Make a hot punch using 1 litre(1 3/4 pt) of red wine mixed with a pot of strong tea made with 4 teabags. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar, slices of orange and lemon, an a small glass of brandy. Five minutes before seving, add 1 drop each of cinnamon, clove, cardamom and ginger essential oils, and stir well.
Scent for paper and linens
It is very romantic to receive a perfumed letter from a loved one. Scented note paper used to be popular before e-mails drastically reduced the number of letters we write, so making your own scented note paper might inspire you to write more letters. Alternatively, try scenting your bed linen or even your underwear!
Scenting items with essential oils:
Take half a dozen paper tissues and place one drop of essential oil onto the corners and centre. Interleave the tissues between sheets of paper in a box of quality writing paper. after two days the paper will be delicately scented, but not stained with essential oil. The most romantic fragrance is rose, while lavender is suitable for your mother, grandmother or aunt.
Place paper tissues scented with essential oils in the linen cupboard between sheets to gently perfume your bed linen. Try a mixture of lavender, ylang ylang and bergamot.
Scent for cleaning products
Most cleaning products you can buy have synthetic fragrances. However, some biodegradable, unscented cleaning products are available, and adding essential oils perfumes them pleasently and naturally. Unfragranced liquid clothes wash, fabric softener, floor cleaner and toilet cleaner are all suitable produtcs.
Perfuming your cleaning products with essential oils:
Keep an old bottle of cleaning fluid, and half-fill it from a new bottle of the same product. After adding essential oils, shake the bottle vigorously so that the oils are thoroughly mixed in. A 1/2 % dilution is achieved by adding 1 drop of essential oil to 10 ml (2 tsp) of cleaner, so a 500 ml (17 fl oz) bottle of cleaner will take 50 drops of essential oil. Lavender, lemon and pine are traditional scents for cleaning fluids.
When vacuuming carpets, put 4-6 drops of essential oil onto a cotton wool ball and place it in the dust bag. This freshnens and perfumes the room while you are cleaning.