Using concentrated oils extracted from plants for general health promotion or for treating illnesses is known as essential oil therapy or aromatherapy. These highly scented extracts commonly referred to as essential oils contain substances that not only give plants their various smell, they are also reputed to have varying medicinal benefits.
Essential oil applications range from use in massage therapy once blended with a carrier oil, by simple inhalation, added to baths, or probably most used by diffusing into the living space with the use of a mist diffuser or an oil burner.
WHICH DIFFUSER DO I USE?
An ultrasonic mist diffuser uses electricity and generally tends to be the preferred option since it does not involve a flame thus making it a safe option- especially with children around. Ultrasonic diffusers are now appearing to be the preferred standard in many homes. Simply add water to the internal chamber with the recommended drops of essential oils- when switched on this water and oil mixture progressively converts from its liquid state to vapour via ultrasonic vibrations. This is because inside each ultrasonic diffuser is a disc that vibrates when turned on, creating ultrasonic sound waves which agitate the mixture in the process. This works to break the oil molecules, allowing these negatively charged tiny particles to be disbursed into the air as a fine mist by attaching to the positively charged molecules in your home.
Further electronic diffusers nowadays have a timer or a function that automatically turns itself off when the water and oil mixture run out. The biggest gripe with candle oil burners is that the water/ oil blend has a risk of either overheating or worse running dry when the candle is still lit. The main thing when selecting a diffuser is to take into consideration that high heat may evaporate the oils at a quicker rate than it should, and if too high it may risk burning the oils. A good quality diffuser will be set at the correct or optimal temperature so that the therapeutic values of the oils do not ever get degraded.
BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS
For some, diffusing essential oils to stave off the common cold, for air purification purposes, or for purely scenting a space is second nature. Specifically, it's the antioxidant, antibacterial and antiseptic properties of the essential oils, that work to provide these sorts of functional benefits so sought by wellness enthusiasts. For example, research findings by Singh R, Shushni A.M & Belkheir A, propose that the antibacterial activity of peppermint oil showed effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of microorganisms, including some food-borne pathogens. Sandalwood oil, on the other hand, a viscous liquid renowned for its fragrant woody and slightly nutty notes is highly valued in perfumery, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics. The attributes of Indian Sandalwood, are due to two types of sesquiterpene alcohol- Alpha-santalol and Beta-santalol. A-santalol is widely known as the active ingredient that gives sandalwood oil its anti-inflammatory quality- working in a similar way as anti-anxiety medication, by interacting with receptors in the brain that regulate stress and nervousness. On the other hand, another study using crude extracts of sandalwood oil showed antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori, a gram-negative bacterium, which can cause bad breath, stomach, and ulcer diseases.
Therefore, the first step to take in making the most of using essential oils is to determine the intention for its use. This is because the uses or applications and in turn its associated benefits of each essential oil are truly unique. Always use essential oils in accordance with product guidelines. Consult a natural practitioner or aromatherapist if you are unsure or would like to make the most of using essential oils. The Quintis range of high-quality aromatherapy essential oils are worth exploring- the entire range is a homage to Indian Sandalwood or Santalum album. This suite of oils includes six pure essential oil blends (containing 95% feature oil with 5% Indian Sandalwood oil), and 100% pure Indian Sandalwood oil.
As the medical fraternity grows to recognise the benefits of aromatherapy, with more hospitals employing its use as an additional treatment option known nowadays as the pathway of “integrative medicine”. This is where patients are assessed based on their unique health profile, with treatments consisting of conventional Western medicine used alongside evidence-based complementary medicine and therapies.
However, it is crucial to remember that other facets of life such as diet and exercise need to be taken into consideration when using complementary therapies such as aromatherapy. Similarly, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other natural therapies tend to have a more holistic approach, which takes the treatment of patients intimately from a holistic perspective rather than just treating the symptoms. Treatments should therefore not be undertaken in isolation. Since variables in any environment is never constant, and so too are our bodies. In this way, aromatherapy has a pivotal support role in enhancing wellbeing as a complementary practice.
The wonderful plant essences, so rich in anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, immune boosters, and adaptogens all serve to enhance our capacity to restore bodies from dis-ease to a state of ease. Perhaps another way of seeing aromatherapy is to understand its potential for empowering and transforming individuals in the path towards ultimate wellness.
Singh R, Shushni A.M & Belkheir A, ‘Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of Mentha piperita L’, Arabian Journal of Chemistry, Jan 2015, Vol 8, p322-328.
Ochi T, Shibata T, Higuti T, Kodama K, Kusumi T & Takaishi Y, ‘Anti Helicobacter pylori compounds from Santalum album’, Journal of Natural Products, 2005, Vol 68, p819-824.
Kumar A.N.A, Joshi G & Ram H.Y.M, ‘Sandalwood: history, uses, present status and the future’, Current Science, Dec 2012, Vol 103 (12), p1408-1415.
Hongratanaworakit T, Heuberger E, Buchbauer G, ‘Evaluation of the effects of East Indian sandalwood oil and alpha-santalol on humans after transdermal absorption’, Planta Med, Jan 2004, Vol 70 (1), p3-7. [doi: 10.1055/s-2004-815446. PMID: 14765284.]