Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are to plants what blood is to humans - they are the internal juices of the plant. Essential oils are not a new discovery; they are said to have been used as early as 5000 BC. Oils of a plant are extracted using a steam-based method. These oils are then used to treat both physical and psychological ailments.
FUN FACT: In 1400 AD when the Black Plague was underway, thieves covered themselves in a mixture of clove, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary in order to rob the dead of their belongings without contracting the plague. Their sentences were lessened if they shared their recipe with public officials!
What is aromatherapy?
There are several ways of getting essential oils into your system:
by ingesting (eating) them
by putting them on your skin
by breathing them in
Ingesting essential oils is controversial and generally not recommended. There are so many things hanging out in our digestive systems for the essential oils to react with that it’s considered to be the riskiest method for using essential oils and is only recommended in specific circumstances when supervised by an herbalist.
Applying essential oils to the skin is a widely accepted and effective method. However, essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin without first being mixed with a carrier oil (jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, etc.).
Our favorite method for getting essential oils into our system is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the practice of smelling essential oils to support a physical or psychological imbalance. Smelling essential oils causes you to inhale their tiny molecules, which are then passed into your circulatory system and distributed throughout your body.
If aromatherapy is so great, why doesn’t my doctor prescribe it?
Essential oils and products that contain essential oils are not eligible for patents. Because of this, pharmaceutical companies aren’t interested in researching them, so the body of research-backed knowledge is still relatively small. Unfortunately, until there are more concrete findings, doctors will likely rely on conventional medicine.
However, some exciting findings have emerged in the past year that support the case for essential oils.
The Integrative Health Research Center of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing conducted a study that observed over 10,000 hospital patients. Patients who opted-in were given an aromatherapy treatment in addition to their existing treatment plan. Patients were given lavender, sweet marjoram, mandarin or ginger essential oils to treat pain, anxiety and/or nausea. They were asked to rate their symptoms on a scale of 0 to 10 before and after their aromatherapy treatment.
Research found that patients who received aromatherapy in addition to their standard treatment reported statistically significant decreases in pain, anxiety, and nausea. Additionally, they found that sweet marjoram was the most effective essential oil in managing pain and that sweet marjoram and lavender were both effective in decreasing anxiety. (source)
We incorporated these findings into Waft’s aromatherapy products - you’ll find lavender and sweet marjoram in our formulas that target anxiety and pain!
Is it safe?
Our lawyers won’t let us guarantee anything, but we can tell you that we use these products ourselves every day and give all of our products to our moms! We promise that if you have a negative reaction to any of our products we will help find you a product that you love or give you your money back.
Essential oils are just weaker versions of prescription drugs. Why bother?
The molecules that make up essential oils are much tinier than the molecules of pharmaceutical drugs. Essential oil molecules are so small that they are able to permeate your body’s cell walls, whereas pharmaceutical drugs are not. While we don’t have science to support this (yet! Does anyone have an extra $1B hanging around?), we DO know that essential oils have the potential to be much more powerful in treating illness.