“Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived.” ~ Helen Keller
Of all of our senses, our sense of smell is the only sense that links immediately and directly to the brain unfiltered.
The scent transmits to the limbic system (specifically the hippocampus) which is the section of the brain that's responsible for memory, emotional reactions, creativity and sexuality. In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the body as they can affect our breathing, stress levels, hormone balances, emotions and heart rate.
Aromatherapy is thought to be an art and a science as it takes the goodness of natural plant extracts to improve the health of the body, mind and spirit.
What is Aromatherapy?
Author Jade Shutes writes:
“Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is an art and a science which seeks to explore the physiological, psychological and spiritual realm of the individual's response to aromatic extracts as well as to observe and enhance the individual's innate healing process. As a holistic practice, Aromatherapy is both a preventative approach as well as an active method to employ during acute and chronic stages of illness or 'dis'-ease.
It is a natural, non-invasive modality designed to affect the whole person not just the symptom or disease and to assist the body's natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself by the correct use of essential oils.“
As a holistic approach to finding balance and harmony of the body, mind and spirit, aromatherapy is the process of working with essential oils and specifically inhaling the natural aromatic essences extracted from plants, flowers, herbs, roots, leaves, stems, bark, fruits and wood.
Essential oils are plant medicine in liquid form and are the most concentrated, highly potent plant medicine. These naturally extracted aromatic oils are commonly diluted with a carrier oil or cream. As aromatherapy works through the sense of smell and skin absorption, essential oils are often used in diffusers, aromatic spritzers, inhalers, facial steamers, bath salts and body oils.
Although aromatherapy isn't meant to target specific symptoms, it's powerful in supporting the body's natural ability to regain balance and recover from health-related issues.
Aromatherapy & Spirituality
Essential oils can be immensely valuable in spiritual work and energy healing. Each light-worker has their own style and approach, but aromatherapy forms an integral part of my various healing sessions such as reiki, massage, yoga, meditation and crystal healing to enhance balance and well-being.
From grounding and awakening to cleansing and purification, aromatherapy can benefit both the mind and body as well as enhance your spiritual practice. Imbued with energies from the earth, each type of essential oils has differing healing properties and benefits.
Crystals and essential oils are a naturally powerful combination and layering on these vibrational energies to balance Chakras is especially effective. Just as there are crystals that resonate with specific Chakra centers, there are also essential oils that vibrate at the frequencies that are beneficial to Chakra balancing. For example; the Heart Chakra resonates with Rose Quartz crystal and Rose Essential oil. For years practitioners have been experimenting with these types of tools in their practices and teaching, many claiming to have seen remarkable results.
One thing to keep in mind however, not everyone loves scent and some people have problems with aromatherapy sprays and oils being diffused, or have a strong dislike for a specific essential oil. There could be many reasons for that, but if you are in a public place, or hosting a type of healing session or spiritual practice with others, it’s always considerate to ask first, or shut it down if anyone complains or is bothered. Because if it’s bothering someone, it’s really the opposite of aromatherapy in action.
How does it work?
Essential oils are a power packed highly concentrated form of plant medicine. In recent years, their ease of use and transportability have skyrocketed their popularity.
So, where does all the goodness come from? Well, it’s the chemical makeup of the plants that give the oil it’s healing properties. And the healing properties can range from calming to stimulating, warming to cooling, relaxing to invigorating, immune boosting, anti fungal, antiviral and so on.
A single oil can have from 10-200 chemical components that translate to healing properties, and that explains why an oil like Lavender for example is such a jack of all trades with over 100 constituents.
Now, the healing value - number of constituent properties - is severely impacted by the distillation process.
So not all essential oils are created equal.
It quite literally depends on the earth, water, sun, moon and stars. Essential oil quality is also largely dependent on the harvest time and the amount of time that passes between harvesting of the plant material and the distillation of the oil.
Essential oils penetrate the body through the skin, nasal passages, lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Some of the oils will enter the bloodstream through the lungs. Then they are carried through the blood and lymph systems.
A rule of thumb when working with pure essential oils: Less is More. You don’t need to keep adding drops, sometimes 1,2,3 drops is all you need.
Blending essential oils is not only fun, a blend has increased effectiveness because a combination of essential oils is exponentially higher than the sum of its parts. So for example you can add a drop of lavender, a drop of rosemary, and a drop of tea tree to a diffuser and the benefits will be greater than using one single oil. If you plan to blend oils, the best place to start is with diffusing so that you don’t have to worry about any of the precautions associated with topical use.
If you are applying essential oils topically there are many safety considerations that are not limited to but include the below:
• Oils should always be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied directly to the skin
• Sensitivity - each individual is different and may have a different reaction to essential oils applied to the skin, this is one of the reasons it’s advised that you don’t apply oils directly to your skin without a proper dilution rate and carrier oil that you will not have an allergic reaction to
• Thoroughly research the oils and quality of the brand before taking essential oils internally
• Some oils should be avoided all-together during pregnancy
• If you have a family, avoid the use of essential oils with babies and research the best essential oils for children before use.
• There are many oils out there that are also highly toxic to animals such as tea tree and eucalyptus, so be sure to do your research first to keep your furry friends safe.
• There are oils to avoid with high blood pressure and low blood pressure
• Some oils are photo-toxic and when worn on the skin can increase the likelihood of your skin burning in sunlight
• Basically, if you or someone you love has complicated health issues, it’s best to ask a professional, or do your own research and homework before applying essential oils topically.
How Can you work with Essential Oils Daily?
The easiest way to work with essential oils involves the use of an aromatherapy diffuser.
You can go with a simple and inexpensive candle diffuser or you can choose an electric diffuser with a timer and other special features.
Additionally, you can find natural materials that act as a diffuser like a terra cotta pendant, or a lava stone. Both of these stones will absorb the essential oils and diffuse them in the air around you. You can wear them on a mala, a pendant or as a bracelet.
Direct inhalation is another approach - and this is where you are directly inhaling the essential oil. It can be overwhelming to do this directly from the bottle, but easy to add a drop to a cotton ball or tissue that you can have with you and discreetly inhale.
There are so many different ways that you can work with essential oils and these are just a few ideas to get you started. The important thing is that you just start to bring the benefits of aromatherapy into your life. Start simple, be smart and safe.