Aromatherapy Basics

In order to reap the benefits, experts say that you must inhale the scents or apply them externally. Although many companies now manufacture candles and potpourri as "aromatherapy," more "genuine" treatments — given under the supervision of a certified aromatherapist — are reportedly more effective. The most standard approaches are as follows:

Inhalation: Try adding 6 to 12 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head, and deeply breathe the scented vapors.

Diffusion: Aromatherapists often suggest spraying oil-containing compounds into the air. This technique is said to calm the nerves, enhance a feeling of well-being, and even to improve respiratory conditions. Add 10 drops of an essence to 7 tablespoonfuls of water.

Massage: Blend 5 drops of essential oil with a light base oil. A higher concentration could irritate the skin. Bathing: Adding eight drops of oil to a tubful of water is usually sufficient. If you shower, after washing yourself, dip a wet sponge or cloth in an oil-water mixture and apply to your skin while you are under the spray.

Hot and cold compresses: For muscle aches or pains, bruises, or headaches add 5 to 10 drops of oil to approximately 4 ounces of water. Soak a cloth in the solution and apply to the sore area.

Warnings

Aromatherapy is not for everyone. Infants and young children, pregnant women, and people with skin allergies may want to avoid it altogether. When using aromatherapy, remember to keep your eyes closed when inhaling the scents, and because oils are highly concentrated, never ingest them. This could lead to a toxic overdose.

Information provided by: the American Council on Science and Health, the National Associatin for Holistic Aromatherapy, and the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy.

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