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“Smelling Up Your Life”
Are Essential Oils ONLY for Spa Treatments?

By Frances Fuller, BS, LMT, Reiki Master
November 2005

Are you one who thinks that essential oils are useful only within the parameters of a spa treatment? It is true that the delicious aromas that greet us as we approach a spa are responsible for causing us to begin to sink into that beautiful state of relaxation…and that the effects of all spa treatments are enhanced by the addition of appropriate essential oils. However, they can also be quite useful in our daily lives in a myriad of ways throughout our homes and offices. We can literally “smell up our lives”!

It is the preference of this writer to purchase pure, therapeutic-grade single essential oils rather than essential oil blends. This gives far more flexibility in their use as they can be used individually or in various combinations according to the situation. In addition, one can never be sure just how much of a blend is truly essential oil, and how much is carrier oil (vegetable oil).

The three oils that are mentioned in this article are very common ones, but the suggestions for their uses may be quite un-common.

The first essential oil on the list for most aromatherapists is LAVENDER. This complex oil has hundreds of chemical constituents just waiting to assist you and your body in coming to balance – a state called homeostasis.

Since essential oils are natural substances, they do not work to treat symptoms, but rather, to assist the body in balancing itself, as good health is a state of balance. Because lavender essential oil has so many components, it is like offering a giant buffet for the body to choose whatever it needs. That which is not needed is just eliminated through the urine, provided that one drinks plenty of water. Therefore, one need not be overly concerned about the exact amount of oils used, although “more” is not always “better”!

So how can lavender be utilized other than to relax the mind and “smell pretty”? Pure lavender essential oil is the most powerful healing substance known for burns of any sort. NOTE: This refers to pure lavendula agustafolia (the Latin name). Occasionally, manufacturers will add the less-expensive oil, lavendin, to lavendula agustafolia and call it “lavender”. Lavendin contains camphor, which could cause burns to become worse. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that the “lavender” that you are using is pure lavendula agustifolia. Application of one drop of pure lavender to burns accelerates the healing process amazingly, and many times there is no trace of a scar when lavender has been used right after the burn. It also can assist in the prevention of sunburn when a few drops are added to avocado, hazelnut, or wheat germ oil and applied before exposure to sun.

Lavender is also excellent for cuts, scrapes, bruises, and sprains. If the oil is applied to an injury immediately – either right from the bottle, or blended in a small amount of pure vegetable oil, there is often minimal swelling and/or bruising. Lavender is always in this writer’s handbag! “Don’t leave home without it!”

Need more reasons to keep lavender close at hand? How about using it for hair growth??? When a few drops of lavender essential oil are added to your favourite natural shampoo, the results are often amazing! Hair loss usually ceases, and new growth is noticeable within a few weeks. In addition, the lavender essential oil assists in maintaining shiny, healthy hair.

Although there are many, many more uses for this beautiful oil, the last one that will be mentioned here is to achieve beautiful, healthy, youthful skin. The wide array of constituents in this essential oil will give “tired” skin a tremendous boost. Even those who may be acne-prone or have active breakouts may find that the skin clears up, revealing soft, moist, and healthy skin within days.

PEPPERMINT is another incredibly versatile essential oil to use throughout your home and office. Far more than the refreshing and uplifting aroma, this oil is a “miracle in a bottle”. NOTE: Peppermint is considered a ”hot oil”, which means that those with sensitive skin may choose to dilute it with a very small amount of pure vegetable oil rather than using it “neat” (undiluted).

When headaches threaten to ruin your day, reach for the bottle of peppermint. One drop rubbed on the temples and back of the neck can often take away the pain entirely. However, be sure also to rub your hands together, cup them over your nose, and inhale deeply several times. By inhaling the tiny volatile molecules, they will go straight to your brain to relieve the throbbing headache within seconds!

If your pain is somewhere else in the body, peppermint may be the perfect choice. Alone it has major pain-relieving properties, and when used over another essential oil in a process called “layering”, peppermint works synergistically to magnify the pain relieving properties of the first oil.

What if someone has a fever? One drop can be put on the bottoms of the feet (on the soft skin in the middle of the foot), and within minutes the body temperature begins to drop! This application is especially helpful as often nausea accompanies fevers, and oral remedies are not suitable. Because essential oils are natural, they can even be used on children!

(NOTE: If a child is very young, put the peppermint essential oil in your palm, rub your hands together, wait 30 seconds, and hold the bottoms of the child’s feet.)

Perhaps you are not “sick”, but are just “hot”. Peppermint essential oil can assist in making you more comfortable in the soaring tropical temperatures. Simply apply one drop to your palm, rub your hands together, and rub them across the back of your neck and the tops of your shoulders. If desired, you can lightly massage your scalp as well. The cooling effect will keep you fresh and comfortable for hours!

The list of benefits from this amazing oil goes on and on. . . If one has challenges with digestion, peppermint can often balance the situation within minutes. For diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion, or nausea, rub one drop of peppermint essential oil on the tummy. If it is a young child, you can put the oil on your palm, rub your hands together, and then place your hands on the child’s abdomen.

Are you convinced yet? A friend in Singapore wrote that her poor dog was plagued with fleas, and nothing seemed to help – until she began rubbing the dog’s feet and tummy with peppermint essential oil. Now, her pet no longer suffers from the fleas, AND the family does not have to contend with fleas in their home!

Perhaps your “pests” are not fleas, but ANTS. The constituents in peppermint essential oil repel ants, particularly when the oil is diluted in water and sprayed in the area. The oil will not kill the ants, but the ants will choose to leave! An additional benefit is that the home always smells fresh and clean!

Finally, the perfect antidote for drowsiness is a drop of peppermint essential oil in the palm. Just rub the hands together, cup hands over your nose, and inhale deeply several times. Not only will you be revitalized, but your aches and pains will dissipate as well.

Could you get excited about having better brain function? Scientific research determined several years ago that sesquiterpines have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing the cells of the brain to be oxygenated directly without having to go through the circulatory system. It is lack of oxygen that is the primary cause of mental fatigue and lack of clarity. CEDARWOOD essential oil has the highest percentage of sesquiterpines of any natural substance. This means that within seconds of inhaling the delicious aroma, the tiny molecules are on their way to your brain to oxygenate and revitalize the tired brain cells! Imagine the benefits of inhaling cedarwood while studying or working……or in an important business meeting!

Just as cedarwood can oxygenate your brain cells at home or in the office, it can effectively eliminate “jet lag” when used before and during flights. It is often the reduced oxygen, particularly on long flights, that causes the symptoms that are associated with “jet lag”. Allow one drop of cedarwood fall from the bottle into your palm; use the fingers of the other hand to apply the oil to the base of your skull (at the back of your neck), to the rims of your ears, and to your temples. Then rub your hands together and cup over your nose, inhaling deeply several times.

This writer likes to use all three of the oils mentioned as her “Jet Lag Prevention Kit”. Lavender will relax not only you, but all others on the flight; peppermint will have the effect of eliminating any motion sickness, headaches, or minor aches and pains; and cedarwood will oxygenate your brain cells. Know that when you arrive at your destination, you will feel relaxed, pain-free, and energized!

As you begin to use essential oils in your daily life, unleash your creativity! Have fun, and allow your imagination to play! It may be YOUR idea that offers the perfect solution to a chronic challenge that you or someone else has faced for a long time.

This article was published in SpaAsia magazine