Overview of Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is defined as the use of essential oils from plants that can promote spiritual, mental and physical wellness (Koyama & Heinbockel, 2020). Many of us have experienced essential oils through diffusion (inhaling them), our skin (through a carrier oil), or through ingestion (in this case, I mean through the physical plant). These avenues of experiencing essential oils directly act on our body through several pathways:
- Interaction with our detoxification system I.e. our skin
The essential oil used can have a direct impact on the system used. Let's use lavender as an example. It has a high concentration of a compound called linalool, which is known to be anxiolytic, which reduces anxiety (Pokajewicz et al., 2021). The other primary chemical constituent (among others of course), linalyl acetate, has also been shown to reduce inflammation in several animal studies (Pokajewicz et al., 2021).
The research on humans will always be more difficult due to constraints in study design; however, we can use what we know from the current research to infer the benefit of essential oils when used safely.
Seasonal depression, or SAD is connected to a change in seasons, particularly in the fall/winter months (Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - Symptoms and Causes, 2021). It can impact many of us and I personally dread the thought of the absence of the beautiful sunlight that dances along my face after 5pm EST once September rolls around.
It is one of the biggest reasons why Lavender angustofolia is a staple in my products and can be found diffusing in my home on any given day. Studies have shown that some individuals can use this particular oil to assist with inducing sleep, reducing heart rate, and helping to calm breathing patterns (Grecu et al., 2021).
How to Use Essential Oils Like Lavender
If you are looking to utilize essential oils like lavender in your daily routine as the seasons change, here are three ways to do so:
Use a diffuser with Lavandula angustifolia (yes the chemotype matters)
- Be sure to diffuse in an open area (lavender essential oil is one of the oils safe for pets but I do not recommend diffusing this oil with children under two years of age)
- Diffuse for 15 minutes at a time
- Use lavender in a carrier oil and place it in a rollerball (MCT, apricot kernel oil or sweet almond oils are good conduits).
- Use the oil in a bath (diluted in a carrier oil. DO NOT place an essential oil directly in the bath).
Of course, you should not use essential oils to treat a medical condition. Always consult with your doctor to determine if any item can be used to support your health journey.
Not sure how many drops to put in your carrier oil?
Typically you can add as little as 7 drops (of lavender specifically) to a 1 ounce bottle, but of course, your nose knows. If you are new to using essential oils note that when you begin using them they may smell very different if you are used to experiencing them from a food/cosmetics perspective.
Want more ideas in addition to lavender?
- Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) (minimum 7 drops) (top note)
- Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) (minimum 5 drops) (base note)
- Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) (minimum 7 drops) (base to middle note)
GRECU, M., HENEA, M. E., TRIFAN, M., & RIMBU, C. M. (2021). BENEFITS AND USES OF LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL AS A COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE THERAPY–A SHORT REVIEW. SCIENTIFIC PAPERS VETERINARY MEDICINE LUCRĂRI ȘTIINȚIFICE SERIA MEDICINĂ VETERINARĂ, 26.
Koyama, S., & Heinbockel, T. (2020, February 25). The Effects of Essential Oils and Terpenes in Relation to Their Routes of Intake and Application. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(5), 1558. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051558
Pokajewicz, K., Białoń, M., Svydenko, L., Fedin, R., & Hudz, N. (2021, September 18). Chemical Composition of the Essential Oil of the New Cultivars of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Bred in Ukraine. Molecules, 26(18), 5681. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26185681
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - Symptoms and causes. (2021, December 14). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651