The Ancient Art of Aromatherapy

This article is intended to give you insight into the use of aromatherapy oils and to help you to select oils which may be appropriate to you. You will find information on individual oils and oils recommended for specific complaints.

If you are in any doubt about using an aromatherapy oil, please consult a qualified aromatherapist.

Aromatherapy is the systematic use of essential oils in holistic treatments to improve physical and emotional well-being. Essential oils, extracted from plants, are reputed to possess distinctive therapeutic properties, which can be utilised to improve health and prevent disease.

The earliest records of Aromatherapy show that it was used in Sumer at the mouth of the Euphrates River around 3000BC. Simple stills were used where Myrrh, aromatic grasses and gums were heated in water to provide a fragrant steam.

The Egyptians even had a God of Fragrance and Perfumes, Nefertem, that was how important aromatics were considered to be for the well-being of the mind and body.

An essential oil is an aromatic, volatile substance extracted from a single botanical source by distillation or expression. Essential oils have been utilised in fragrances, flavours and medicines for thousands of years. There are some 400 essential oils extracted from plants all over the world. Some of the popular oils used in aromatherapy today include chamomile, lavender, rosemary and tea tree.

Using Aromatherapy Oils.

Aromatherapy oils should never be used neat on the skin, the only exceptions to this rule are tea tree and lavender. Oils should be diluted in a carrier oil to be applied to the skin, diluted in water for gargling or inhalation or added to the bath. Neat oils can be used in a burner.

Ratio of Essential oil to carrier oil or lotion

35 drops in 100ml

20 drops in 60ml

10 drops in 30ml

5 drops in 15ml

For inhaling add 3 to 4 drops of an essential oil or blend of oils to a basin of hot water. Cover your head with a towel and lean over the basin and inhale the vapours.

In the bath add a total of 6 to 8 drops of oil to a warm bath. If you have very dry skin you can dilute the essential oil in two teaspoons of carrier oil before adding it to the water.

For mouthwashes and gargling add 3 drops of essential oil to a glass of water. Stir well before taking each mouthful. Wash your mouth or gargle with the liquid and then spit it out.

For massage, dilute 5 drops in 15ml of carrier oil. Choose light oils such as grapeseed or almond oil.

Essential oils are categorised as top, middle or base notes.

  • Top notes ~ the fastest acting, evaporate most quickly, stimulating and uplifting to mind and body.
  • Middle notes ~ primarily affect the general metabolism and physical functions of the body.
  • Base notes ~ the slowest to evaporate, they are the most sedative and relaxing oils.

When mixing your own blend of oils, try and choose an oil from each category.

Storage of oils.

Store essential oils and pre-mixed oils in a cool dark place, ensuring that bottle tops are firmly secured. Distilled essential oils can keep for several years if stored correctly.

A to Z of Oils

Basil ~ top note ~ blends well with bergamot, geranium, hyssop.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Indigestion, vomiting, intestinal infections, gastro-enteritis, earache, colds, sinus, migraine, muscle spasm, anxiety, depression, hysteria, indecision, nervous debility, asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, hiccups, soothes wasp stings.

Benzoin ~ base note ~ blends well with rose, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Cystitis, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, emotional exhaustion, tension, asthma, bronchitis, coughs, flu, dry skin, dermatitis.

Bergamot ~ top note ~ blends well with cypress, jasmine, lavender, neroli.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Colic, flatulence, gastro-enteritis, indigestion, cystitis, urinary infections, sore throat, tonsillitis, anxiety, depression, bronchitis, acne, psoriasis, ulcers. Do not use bergamot neat on the skin as pigmentation can occur.

Black pepper ~ middle note ~ blends well with frankincense, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Colds and flu, catarrh, nausea, colic, food poisoning, indigestion, constipation, low blood pressure, rheumatism, muscular aches and pains, arthritis.

Cedarwood ~ base note ~ blends well with bergamot, cypress jasmine, juniper, neroli, rosemary.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Throat infections, colds and flu, bronchitis, asthma, acne, dandruff, hair loss, insect repellant, cystitis.

Chamomile (German) ~ middle note ~ blends well with benzoin, bergamot, geranium, jasmine, lavender, lemon, marjoram, neroli, palmarosa, patchouli, rose, ylang-ylang.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anxiety, depression, insomnia, eczema, acne, indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation, stomach ulcers, gastritis, cramp, rheumatism, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, pre-menstrual syndrome, menstrual pain, irregular periods, menopause problems, infant colic, nappy rash.

Chamomile (Roman) ~ middle note ~ blends well with geranium, lavender, patchouli, rose.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anxiety, depression, insomnia, eczema, acne, indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation, stomach ulcers, gastritis, cramp, rheumatism, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, pre-menstrual syndrome, menstrual pain, irregular periods, menopause problems, infant colic, nappy rash.

Citronella ~ top note ~ blends well with bergamot, cajuput, eucalyptus, geranium lavender, neroli, peppermint, petitgrain, sage, ylang-ylang.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Depression, insect repellent, headaches, migraine, neuralgia.

Clary sage ~ top note ~ blends well with cedarwood, citrus oils, frankincense, geranium, jasmine, juniper, lavender, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, sex drive problems, throat infections, high blood pressure, pre-menstrual syndrome, menstrual pain, irregular periods, menopause problems.

Clove bud ~ base note.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Diarrhoea, indigestion, sinusitis, toothache, neuralgia, asthma, bronchitis, pleurisy, measles, lupus, scabies.

Cypress ~ middle note ~ blends well with juniper, lavender, pine, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Insomnia, eczema, asthma, cough, diarrhoea, fluid retention, cellulite, varicose veins, cramp, rheumatism, arthritis, muscle cramps, menstrual pain, menopause problems.

Fennel sweet ~ middle note ~ blends well with geranium, lavender, rose, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Colic, colitis, constipation, flatulence, food poisoning, nausea, vomiting, menopausal irregularities, fluid retention.

Frankincense ~ base note ~ blends well with basil, black pepper, camphor, citrus oils, geranium, lavender, pine, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Stretchmarks, cystitis, anxiety, tension, catarrh, inflamed skin..

Geranium ~ middle note ~ blends well basil, citrus oils, rose.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anxiety, depression, sex drive problems, throat infections, colds and flu, eczema, acne, stretch marks, herpes simplex, dandruff, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, fluid retention, cellulite, pre-menstrual symptoms, menopause problems, head lice, diarrhoea, gastro-enteritis.

Ginger ~base note.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea, flatulence, sluggish digestion, sore throat, rheumatism, arthritis.

Grapefruit ~ top note ~ blends well with basil, bergamot, cerdarwood, chamomile, citronella, frankincense, geranium, jasmine, lavender, palmarosa, rose, rosewood, ylang-ylang.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Stress, water retention, cleanses kidneys and vascular system, liver tonic, pre-menstrual tension, migraines, headache, jet leg.

Hyssop ~ middle note ~ blends well with citrus oils, clary sage, lavender, rosemary, sage.

Commonly used in these conditions:

high blood pressure, flatulence, gastro-enteritis, scanty periods, calming, asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, hayfever, bruises, eczema.

Jasmine ~ base note ~ blends well with all oils especially citrus oils.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Pain, uterine disorders, depression, listlessness, nervous debility, breathing difficulties, bronchial spasm, catarrh, cough, dry skin, dermatitis.

Juniper ~ middle note ~ blends well with benzoin, cypress, lavender, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Mental fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, eczema, acne, dandruff, indigestion, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, fluid retention, cellulite, varicose veins, rheumatism, arthritis, menstrual pains, irregular periods, cystitis, infantile colic.

Lavender ~ middle note ~ blends well with citrus oils, clary-sage, patchouli, pine rosemary.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, throat infections, colds and flu, sinusitis, eczema, acne, insect bites, sunburn, stretch marks, herpes simplex, athletes foot, dandruff, hair loss, indigestion, mouth ulcers, nausea, palpitations, high blood pressure, fluid retention, cellulite, sprains, rheumatism, arthritis, pre-menstrual syndrome, irregular periods, vaginal thrush, menopause problems, head lice, nappy rash.

Lemon ~ top note ~ blends well with lavender, orange blossom.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anaemia, chilblains, poor circulation, varicose veins, high blood pressure, vomiting, conjunctivitis, laryngitis, mouth ulcers, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, catarrh, colds, flu, boils, herpes, insect bites.

Lime ~ top note ~ blends well with bergamot, geranium, lavender, neroli, palmarosa, rose, ylang-ylang.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Apathy, anxiety, depression, colds, sore throat, flu, cough, catarrh, sinusitis, tonifies immune system, digestive stimulant.

Marjoram ~ middle note ~ blends well with bergamot, lavender, rosemary.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anxiety, insomnia, headaches, bronchitis, asthma, catarrh, indigestion, constipation, high blood pressure, cramp, sprains, rheumatism, arthritis, menstrual pain, infantile colic.

Myrrh ~ base note ~ blends well with camphor, lavender.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Stretch marks, mouth ulcers, vaginal thrush, diarrhoea, flatulence.

Neroli ~ base note ~ blends well with benzoin, clary-sage, geranium, lavender.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anxiety, palpitations, depression, fear, shock, panic, hysteria, insomnia, palpitations, stress, shock, dry skin, diarrhoea, flatulence.

Palmarosa ~ top note ~ blends well with bergamot, citronella, geranium, jasmine, lavender, lime, melissa, orange, petitgrain, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, ylang-ylang.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Calming and uplifting effect on emotions, reducing body temperature, digestive tonic, skin infections, dry skin, skin regrowth.

Patchouli ~ base note ~ blends well with bergamot, geranium, lavender, myrrh, neroli, pine needle, rose.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Fluid retention, anxiety, depression, heals cracked skin.

Peppermint ~ middle note ~ blends well benzoin, rosemary.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Headaches, throat infections, colds and flu, migraines, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhoea, nausea, varicose veins, irregular periods, menopause problems, insect repellent.

Petit grain ~ top note ~

Commonly used in these conditions:

acne.

Pine needle ~ middle note ~ blends well with cedarwood, rosemary, sage.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Bronchitis, asthma, flu, sinus problems, menopause problems, cystitis.

Rose ~ base note ~ blends well with bergamot, clary-sage, geranium, jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Poor circulation, constipation, liver problems, peptic ulcer, nasuea, vomiting, earache, headache, menstrual irregularities, depression insomnia, nervous tension, stress, dry skin.

Rosemary ~ middle note ~ blends well with basil, cedarwood, citrus oils, frankincense, lavender, peppermint.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Mental fatigue, headaches, colds and flu, asthma, bronchitis, dandruff, hair loss, indigestion, constipation, low blood pressure, diarrhoea, flatulence, gallstones, fluid retention, cellulite, varicose veins, sprains, rheumatism, arthritis, aches and pains, irregular periods.

Rosewood ~ top to middle note ~ blends well with cedarwood, coriander, frankincense, geranium, palmarosa, patchouli, petitgrain, rose, rosemary, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Uplifting, enlivening, throat problems, cough, low immunity, sexual problems (male and female), headaches, jetlag, insect repellant, skin healing.

Sandalwood ~ base note ~ blends well with benzoin, black pepper, cypress, frankincense, neroli, ylang-ylang.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Colic, diarrhoea, gastritis, hiccups, nausea, vomiting, depression, tension, catarrh, cough, sore throat, dry skin.

Sage ~ top note ~ blends well with bergamot, hyssop, lemon, lavender, rosemary.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Rheumatic conditions, aches and pains in joints, nerve tonic, congestion, fluid retention, ulcers, wounds.

Tea tree ~ top note ~ throat infections, colds and flu, bronchitis, asthma, athletes foot, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, vaginal thrush, indigestion, gastro-enteritis.

Thyme white ~ middle note ~ blends well with bergamot, lemon, melissa, rosemary.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Low blood pressure, sluggish digestion, flatulence, colds, flu, headaches, sinusitis, sore throat, tonsillitis, period problems, rheumatism, arthritis, insomnia, anxiety, depression, catarrh, coughs, bronchitis, asthma.

Ylang ylang ~ base note ~ blends well with jasmine, sandalwood.

Commonly used in these conditions:

Anxiety, depression, insomnia, tension, sex drive problems, hair loss, palpitations, high blood pressure, gastro-enteritis.

A to Z of Common Ailments and the oils that might be chosen.

(Please always consult a qualified aromatherapist if you are in doubt about using an oil. This article is for guidance only.)

Acne: Juniper, Lemon, Cedarwood to regulate sebum production and purify the blood. Lavender and Geranium are healing. Roman Chamomile to reduce inflammation.

Anxiety: Clary sage, Geranium, Roman Chamomile, Juniper, Lavender, Neroli, Sandalwood, Sweet Marjoram, Ylang Ylang.

Arthritis and Rheumatism: Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Juniper, Eucalyptus, Cypress, Lemon and Rosemary to reduce swelling/inflammation. Black Pepper, Marjoram and Ginger to relax muscles and relieve pain.

Athletes Foot: Lavender and Tea Tree are anti-fungal.

Blood Pressure Low: Black pepper and Rosemary to improve circulation.

Blood Pressure High: Clary Sage, Lemon, Marjoram, Yland Ylang and Lavender.

Bronchitis and Asthma: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Peppermint as decongestants. Pine and Tea Tree. Sweet Marjoram and Sandalwood to soothe inflamed bronchial tubes.

Bruises: Marjoram, Geranium, Roman Chamomile.

Burns (minor): Lavender oil can be applied neat.

Cellulite: Juniper, Geranium and Rosemary to detox and cleanse. Lavender, Patchouli to decongest. Cypress to assist circulation.

Colds and Flu: Tea tree, Lemon, Geranium, Black Pepper to fight infection. Lavender Rosemary and Tea Tree to boost immune system. Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Cedarwood to clear mucus from the chest.

Constipation: Roman Chamomile, Black Pepper, Rosemary.

Cramp: Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Mandarin and Cypress.

Cystitis: Juniper, Eucalyptus, Pine, Sandalwood.

Dandruff: Lavender, Geranium, Sandalwood for a dry flaking scalp. Cedarwood, Rosemary and Lemon for oil scaling scalp.

Depression: Clary Sage, Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang.

Diarrhoea: Cypress, Juniper, Geranium, Lemon and Sandalwood. Peppermint and Roman Chamomile are good anti-spasmodics.

Eczema: Roman Chamomile and Cypress are anti-inflammatory. Geranium and Lavender are healing. Juniper to purify the blood. Sandalwood if skin is dry.

Fluid Retention: Juniper, Lavender and Rosemary.

Hair Loss: Rosemary and Ylang Ylang to stimulate the scalp. Lavender and Cedarwood to prevent further hair loss.

Headaches: Lavender, Sweet Marjoram for a menstrual headache, Roman Chamomile, Rosemary for migraines.

Head Lice: Eucalyptus, Geranium and Lavender.

Heartburn: Peppermint and Lemon are good for digestive problems. Sandalwood encourages relaxation.

Herpes Simplex: Gernium and Lemon are anti-viral. Eucalyptus and Lavender are antiseptic.

Indigestion and Flatulence: Lemon, Peppermint, Ginger, Juniper, Lavender, Rosemary, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram.

Infantile Colic: Roman Chamomile and Juniper to release gas, Marjoram and Sandalwood to ease spasms and aid digestion.

Insect Bites: Lavender and Tea tree.

Insomnia: Cypress, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Juniper, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang.

Irregular Periods: Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Lavender, Juniper and Rosemary.

Menopause Problems: Lemon, Pine, Sandalwood, Lavender, Cypress, Clary Sage and Geranium to regulate hormones. Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Sandalwood and Peppermint for hot flushes.

Mental Fatigue: Rosemary to stimulate the mind. Clary Sage and Juniper help to relieve tension.

Mouth Ulcers: Tea tree, Lemon, Geranium for viral or bacterial caused ulcers. Myrrh, Tea tree and Lavender are useful anti-fungal oils.

Muscle Aches and Pains: Sage, Thyme, Black Pepper, Roman Chamomile, Juniper, Lavender, Frankincense, Myrrh, Rosemary, Marjoram.

Nappy Rash: Sandalwood, Lavender, Roman Chamomile.

Nausea: Sandalwood, Lavender, Peppermint, Black Pepper. Ginger and Peppermint are good for travel sickness.

Palpitations: Neroli, Lavender, Ylang Ylang.

Panic Attacks: Basil, Bergamot, Thyme, Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Juniper, Lavender, Marjoram, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Neroli.

Period Pains: Clary Sage, Cypress, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile.

Pre-menstrual tension: Lavender, Geranium, Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood to balance emotions. Clary Sage to lift the spirits.

Rheumatism and Arthritis: Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Juniper, Eucalyptus, Cypress, Lemon and Rosemary to reduce swelling/inflammation. Black Pepper, Marjoram and Ginger to relax muscles and relieve pain.

Sexual Energy (lack of): Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Sandalwood, Geranium.

Sinus Congestion: Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Lavender.

Sprains: Marjoram and Rosemary to ease pain, Lavender to calm.

Stress: Clary Sage, Lavender, Juniper, Marjoram, Jasmine, Cedarwood, Neroli.

Stretchmarks: Lavender, Frankincense and Myrrh for prevention and minimising existing stretchmarks. Geranium to improve skin tone.

Throat Infections: Sandalwood, Clary Sage, Lavender for a dry sore throat, Lemon, Geranium, Tea Tree to fight infection, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Cedarwood to clear mucus.

Sunburn: Lavender

Tension: Lemon, Sage, Thyme, Roman Chamomile, Cypress, Juniper, Lavender, Marjoram, Nerili, Ylang Ylang.

Varicose Veins: Peppermint Lemon and Cypress to encourage veins to constrict. Lemon, Juniper and Rosemary to stimulate circulation. Peppermint or Sandalwood to soothe irritation.

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