Aromatherapy can have a powerful impact on your health and happiness. When scents waft by your nose and hit the olfactory nerve, they have a direct influence on your limbic system – the emotional center of your brain. You may notice that certain aromas trigger a childhood memory, make you feel relaxed or even give you a burst of energy. With so many bouquets and combination of fragrances to choose, you can create the perfect aromatherapy elixir for whatever your mind, body and spirit needs.
Before you get started with an aromatherapy practice, remember to never apply undiluted essential oils to skin, as this can cause irritation. A safe and effective ratio for external skin application is 15 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil (such as jojoba, olive or avocado). Otherwise, if you’re looking for more specific health benefits, follow these guidelines to help detox your skin, clear your sinuses and put you in an overall better mood.
Apply a few drops of grapefruit or lemon oil to a soft bath brush for dry skin brushing once a day. Remember to always draw the brush from the tips of your fingers or toes toward your heart, brushing in long soft strokes in order to stimulate your lymphatic system. Dry skin brushing can also be extraordinarily calming to your nervous system.
For healthy sinuses and lungs:
In a large salad bowl, add 3 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint or thyme oil (or use 1 drop of each oil for a lovely blend). Pour boiling water into the bowl. Quickly create a towel tent over your head and the steaming bowl, close your eyes and breathe! If the first waft of steam is too hot, just let in some air but continue to breathe deeply. Keep breathing in until the water cools, usually about 5 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times a day until the congestion has let up.
For healthy skin:
Suffering from acne? Mix a few drops of tea tree and rosemary essential oils to moistened clay, and then apply to your face like a mask. Keep the oil-infused clay on your face for at least 30 minutes, or until the clay has dried. Wash off thoroughly, making sure to avoid contact with your eyes, mouth and mucous membranes. Repeat daily for maximum benefits.
For manageable menstrual cycles:
Make a hot compress using lavender, rose and clary sage essential oils that you can apply to your abdomen and/or sacrum. To make the hot compress, boil 2 cups of water and pour into a medium bowl. Add 5 drops of each essential oil, and mix as well as you can. It’s best to use a whisking motion, as if you were whipping eggs with a fork. Soak a soft cloth in the water – preferably cotton or flannel – wring out well and apply cloth to your lower pelvis. Cover the cloth with a warm, thick towel and leave on until the cloth no longer feels hot. Repeat 2-3 times in order to promote circulation and help relieve menstrual cramping and general discomfort.
For lifting your mood:
Use essential oils to elevate your spirit by choosing scents that are known to have calming, nourishing and uplifting properties. Some of my favorite oils include lavender, bergamot, mint and clary sage. You can drop these oils into your bath, spritz on your body or pillow and diffuse them in your work space or home. It may take a few tries, but find the essential oil – or combination of oils – that resonates best with you!