Using Essential Oils for Self-Care
post by Maharishi Ayurveda
Using Essential Oils Properly
Essential oils have a number of uses, from meditation practices to stress relief to massage, and many more. Knowing how to make the best use of these gifts of nature adds to their value and enjoyment — and their effect on the mind and physiology. A little goes a long way, and as growing numbers of people are discovering, often the simplest prevention-oriented health tools are the best.
You can completely transform the character of a room in just a few minutes, using a few drops of a favorite aromatherapy essential oil or synergy blend in an aromatherapy diffuser. The diffusers disperse essential oils into the air in a number of different ways — with a cool-air stream or gentle warmth. They are ideal for cleansing and purifying the air and for creating a mood-enhancing, fragrant atmosphere. Use 4-8 drops of essential oil on the replaceable cartridge or pad for cool-air diffusion. Use 25 drops or more in a micro diffuser (atomizer or nebulizer). Use 3-8 drops in aroma lamps (with candle or electric). Refresh as needed.
Massage is considered by many to be one of the best ways to experience aromatherapy due to the combined benefits of touch and the therapeutic effect of the essential oils. Massage relaxes muscles and improves muscle tone, circulation, and lymph flow. It relieves physical tension and relieves mental stress. Essential oils should always be diluted in a good-quality vegetable carrier oil before applying to the skin (i.e., sweet almond, sesame oil, jojoba, olive oil, etc.) The standard dilution is 1-3% essential oil, or about 20-30 drops of essential oil to 2 ounces (60 ml or 4 tablespoons) of vegetable oil or fragrance-free lotion. Sensitive skin may require a lower amount, such as 10 drops in 2 ounces, or even less.
Use 2-5 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce (30 ml) carrier oil (e.g., almond or jojoba oil).
Facial Steam Bath
Add 1-2 drops of essential oil to 2 litres of hot water; put your face over the water.
Mix bentonite clay, healing earth, or oatmeal with water to form a smooth paste and add 2-4 drops of essential oil.
Baths combine the restorative effects of both water and essential oils in a most pleasurable way. They are perfect to relieve muscle strain, soothe skin conditions, and promote emotional balance. Use 5-15 drops to a full tub of water and 3-5 drops for a sitz bath. It is best to mix the essential oils with some carrier oil, a little cream or pure organic raw honey, or with bath salts to help them disperse in the water, and add the essential oil after you have immersed yourself, so you receive the full benefits of the oils as they begin to diffuse in the warm water. Mix the essential oils with an emulsifier such as cream or honey, or mix with bath salts.
After your shower, put 3-5 drops of essential oil in your hands and rub them together. While your skin is still damp from the shower, quickly and evenly spread the oil over your arms, legs, and torso. Allow to dry.
Foot and Hand Bath
Foot baths are a wonderful way to pamper yourself — perfect when you do not have time for a full bath. Remember: when your feet feel good, you feel good all over — and the feet are a very important area in aromatherapy, because their reflex points affect every area of the body, and because the skin on the feet absorbs essential oils rapidly. Hand baths can be soothing for people with aching joints or circulation problems. Use 3-5 drops in a bowl of water. Adjust the temperature of the water to suit your needs; cool water invigorates and energizes, while warm water sedates and relaxes.
Many essential oils are recommended to assist respiration and relieve congestion, such as eucalyptus, fir, rosemary, and spike lavender. In these cases, a chest and upper back rub is beneficial. Dilute 10-20 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce (30ml) of carrier oil and rub on chest and upper back.
Direct Inhalation and Steam Inhalation
Inhale the fragrance, three or four times, through the nose directly from the bottle or from a tissue sprinkled with 4 drops of essential oil. Alternatively, add 3 drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your eyes, place a large towel over your head and inhale the steam deeply. Repeat as required. (Excellent in case of a cold.)
Certain situations require a specific direct application. In these cases, a stronger dilution is used for a brief period of time. The essential oils can be diluted in a carrier oil or other medium such as aloe vera gel or witch hazel. Certainessential oils such as lavender and tea-tree can be used undiluted for small areas such as an insect bite or scratch. Experiment with the strength and adjust to a higher dilution if there is skin irritation. To start: 10 drops of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
A compress is a clean, damp, folded cloth that has been infused with essential oils and is then applied to the problem area. It employs either warm or cool water, depending on its use. Fill a small bowl with water and add 2-5 drops of essential oil. Stir briskly, soak the cloth, wring, and apply. Repeat this procedure as needed.
The antiseptic and antibacterial effect of essential oils can be perfect for freshening the breath and helping to maintain healthy gums, etc. Simply add a few drops of an essential oil to a cup of water and swirl around in the mouth. Do not swallow.
Thoroughly mix the essential oil in a teaspoon of organic raw honey, then dilute with lukewarm water until the honey is dissolved. Use 1-2 drops per 1 ounce (30 ml) of warm water.
Mix 10-20 drops of essential oil in 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil. Apply to one or more of the pulse points — behind the ears, underside of the wrist, inner elbow, behind the knees, and on the backs of the ankles.
Add to Cosmetics
Essential oils can be added to pre-made, fragrance-free products. Use 10-15 drops per 2 ounces (60 ml) of moisturizer; 20-30 drops per 8 ounces (240 ml) of lotion; 20 drops per 8 ounces of shampoo; and 20-30 drops per 8 ounce of conditioner.
Misting is a convenient way to impart the enticing aroma of essential oils in the room or on your skin. Fill an 8-ounce mister bottle with 20-30 drops of essential oils. Shake vigorously each time before misting.
Put one drop of essential oil on the hot rocks or mix 5 drops of essential oil in one cup of water and pour over the rocks.
Cooking and Food Flavoring
Use ½-1 drop essential oil for salad dressings, sauces, sweets, and drinks.
Using aromatics for meditation practices and spiritual experience has been done for thousands of years. Maharishi Ayurveda has several oils well suited for this purpose, such as frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, and myrrh. Diffuse the oils in the meditation environment or put a drop in your hands, rub the hands together, and inhale the aroma.
A true aromatherapy hydrolate (or aromatherapy hydrosol) is the water that is collected when plants are steam-distilled for their essential oils. Hydrolates (also referred to as flower waters and hydrosols) have a delicate nature and a light aroma. They are ideal for situations that require gentle aromatic care — especially for children, the elderly, the highly sensitive. They do not require dilution and can be applied directly to the skin. Some of their most popular uses are:
- To hydrate and moisturize the skin
- To soothe sunburn
- To cool the effects of hot flashes
- For refreshing facial toners for all skin types
- For soothing eye-pads
- For facial masks
- To flavor natural yogurt
- To mist house plants
- For home fragrance (room sprays)
Medicinal Uses of Essential Oils
According to the laws governing the sale of essential oils, there are very strict guidelines concerning what vendors of essential oils can claim about the medicinal properties of the products that they sell. While we are happy to abide by these guidelines, we would like to point out that authors of books on aromatherapy are not subject to the same constraints, and there are many books available which have a wealth of information about essential oils and their known effects in all areas of life.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.