The scent or odor of something can have a powerful and immediate effect upon our state of being, but also a lasting one. From “Whew….What’s that smell?” to “Boy, that sure smells good!”
Both of those expressions are accompanied with a nearly immediate emotional change in our internal state of being. Sometimes, also triggering powerful memories as well – good and sometimes bad as well.
Lasting? Yes that too. Many of us remember the smell of Christmas or our grandmother’s baking which often brings to mind reveries of happy childhood days.
One of the ways most of us are familiar with the use of essential oils is through aromatherapy. The benefits of aromatherapy are gained from the airborne scent which you naturally inhale to derive the internal benefits.
The reason for this is that the olfactory nerves on the roof of the nasal cavity connect ultimately to centers in our brains such as the amygdala (responsible for storing and emotional states – both pleasurable and traumatic). This center in turn in turn passes on the sensation to other parts of the brain including the hippocampus (thought to responsible for long term memory storage).
The activation of these brain centers, just as happens with smells and memories, is how aromatherapy through the use of essential oils can have an impact on your well being. Additionally, it is why it can be a supplementary aid to you.
This is also why quality is such an important issue in your essential oil selection.
Eventually, the particles which produce the scent also end up in your biological system. If the oils you select produced commercially or without regard to quality, such as with toxic chemical solvents, the residue of those solvents now in the oil is also carried with the scent. This, in turn, introduces toxins rather than helpful therapy.
There are a number of ways to use essential oils as aromatherapy:
Direct Inhalation – Introducing the scents directly, through inhalation, is a very simple way to produce an impact. You can simply hold an opened essential oil near your nose and inhale. Kind of like that “smelling salt” you’ve heard of so many times.
Direct Dispersion – You can disperse a drop or two of a diluted oil or oil blend on your palm. Cup your hands and hold them over your nose. Do not use this method however unless you first dilute the oil with a carrier oil because of the highly concentrated nature of essential oils and potential allergic effect which may arise from direct contact with the skin.
Absorptive Dispersion – Another method is to use a cloth, tissue, paper towel, cotton ball even a cue tip. Put a drop or two of the chosen essential oil on your medium of absorption. Then, bring it near the nasal area and inhale. This is a quick and non-technological way to introduce your selected scents.
Hot Water – Place a few drops of essential oil into some hot water. Then, let it diffuse through the rising vapor from the heated water. Although, not highly efficient, it will still disperse the scent.
Vaporization -If you have a vaporizer, you can use this as a means of dispersing the scent into the air as many used to do with Vick’s Vapo Rub. However, keep in mind that the heating aspect does tend to reduce the effect of scent dispersion. Cool mist dispersion is a better method.
Diffusion – The most popular method of dispersing essential oils is through diffusion. To do this you need a diffuser which I’ll cover in a bit more detail as there is choice involved here.
There are two general kinds of diffusers. One kind involves heat and the other does not.
If you are going to efficiently work with aromatherapy, the most common method is through the use of a diffuser. There are a variety of diffusers. This quick breakdown that will be helpful.
Cool Air Nebulizer – In this type of diffuser, there cold air pressure helps to vaporize the essential oils. The essential oil drops are put into a container of water. When the unit is turned on, the condenser in the tank gently diffuses the vapor into the air so that the oils and their benefits are released into the air supply.
The amount released is a micro fine mist. The result is that a good cool air diffuser efficiently disperses the essential oil scent into the air covering a good area.
Some cool air diffusers offer ultrasonic diffusion which converts the oil mixed with water to additionally aid the dispersion.
The instruction manual which comes with the diffuser should be read to maximize its operation. Generally however, about 4-5 drops of essential oil blends or individual oils are enough for each type of diffuser per use. There are a fairly wide variety of blends that have been developed to help promote the right atmosphere in the environment for different needs.
The greatest benefit is derived from diffusing only about 15 minutes per hour so that your olfactory system doesn’t get overwhelmed, which could also mute the benefit. Timers can be set to do this with a setting of 15 minutes on and 45 off in successive increments. The diffuser is plugged into the timer and the timer does the work of activating and deactivating for you. The timer recommended here can be set for up to 8 off and on cycles.
Blends have been developed to promote cheerfulness, enhance focus and concentration, reduce anxiety, promote a meditative and calming influence, aid ailments like asthma and more.
Generally however, diffusion or aromatherapy is directed more towards enhancement of the your mental state or emotional attitude rather than a specific ailment or symptom. Topical or internal use of essential oils can better target more specific symptoms.
Diffusion Driving Tip: Use a blend to produce alertness or serenity if you drive in urban areas. You can purchase a cigarette lighter electric heat diffuser to disperse a scent to keep you alert or perhaps even calm or cheerful etc. while you drive.
Another way to use the travel method is to use a small glass jar and cotton balls. Put 4 or 5 drops of your blend on some cotton balls. Open your jar and remove an oil treated ball when you want to benefit from the aromatherapy effect.
Take one cotton ball out. Replace the lid to preserve your store. Then, place your treated cotton ball somewhere in the driving area where the scent can disperse to produce your desired impact.
In the next segment we will move on to the topical use of essential oils which is a bit more symptom specific in some cases while also incorporating the emotional and mental targets of aromatherapy
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