As we discovered in my last blog on aromatherapy, aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years. Aromatherapy is one of the most highly respected and popular complementary therapies. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils to optimise and maintain the health of your mind, your body and your spirit.
Essential oils are obtained from plants – they can come from root, seed, flowers, leaves, bark, or rind. Each essential oil has its own aroma and qualities; essential oils are believed to treat and prevent illnesses, and encourage peace, rest and relaxation of your physical and emotional being.
A quick internet search of ‘essential oil’ will bring up literally thousands of articles. Sometimes these can be confusing and contradictory. You might begin to wonder which are the truth and which are myths? A further search will undoubtedly leave your mind even more boggled!
Unfortunately some of the suggestions may be dangerous to your health and well-being. Therefore, I would recommend that you read the articles and follow the information given by qualified aromatherapists, such as myself, or respected producers and wholesalers.
In the meantime, please find below some of the more common myths explained, and, in some cases, busted!
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to comment below or contact me: email@example.com
Myth Number 1
Essential Oils and Fragrances are the Same
Essential oils are naturally extracted. Each essential oil has its own composition and unique qualities.
Fragrances, or air fresheners, are man-made. Whilst they may ‘smell nice’, they can contain a variety of chemicals, additives, colouring, and synthetic aromas; also, they do not have any of the properties of essential oils.
Myth Number 2
Essential Oils Never Expire
When you purchase your essential oil it will include a best before date. Essential oils have an average shelf-life of two years.
Having said this, a number of things can affect the life of your essential oil, such as how they are stored and what sort of oil it is. For example, citrus oils tend to oxidise quickly so should be used within a year. Other resinous oils such as frankincense and patchouli can actually improve with age.
It is believed most oils last between 1-6 years. Whilst you may not notice the aroma or efficacy of your oil diminishing over time, it is best to keep an eye on those use by dates and replace as necessary.
Myth number 3
Aromatherapy Cures Illnesses
A number of studies have been carried out showing how essential oils can assist in the treatment and prevention of a long list of illnesses and symptoms however, they do not cure.
As well as having a positive effect on a number of conditions, essential oils also calm and relax you, assisting your body to achieve its own healing potential.
Myth Number 4
Essential Oils can Be Ingested
Essential oils come from plants, right? Plants are natural; therefore, if I can eat a basil leaf, why can I not take basil essential oil orally? Just because it is produced from a natural plant, does not mean it is safe to swallow…..deadly nightshade, anyone?
Essential oils are extremely concentrated and each contain a number of chemical compounds. Essential oils do not dilute in water and so, even if you try and drink them, the water will head to your stomach whilst the essential oil attaches itself to the mucous membrane of your mouth, esophagus and stomach and has a field day!
Repeated ingestion can cause:
- Stomach irritation
- Ulceration of mouth, esophageal tract, and stomach lining
- Severe allergic reaction
- Wearing away of tooth enamel
Essential oils are far more concentrated than the natural plant. Basil oil is produced by steam distilling a large quantity of leaves and flowering tops – do not be fooled by its fresh, vibrant aroma; essential oils are nature’s own medicines!
Myth Number 5
Essential oils can be Used in the Bath
This is true – but with caution!
Oil and water don’t mix so essential oils should not be sprinkled into the bathwater.
If you would like to add to the bath they should be mixed with an emulsifier such as unscented bubble bath or infused into bath salts. It is also believed possible to emulsify the essential oil with full fat milk before adding to the bath water.
Myth Number 6
If you Develop a Rash or Redness on the Skin, the Essential oil is Working
If you get any kind of negative or unwanted reaction from an essential oil you should cease using it immediately. If you want to try again then you should ensure you use a weaker dilution.
Redness and rashes show your skin is irritated; it is the skin’s way of saying please stop what you are doing now! If you got a nettle rash, you wouldn’t keep rubbing your bare flesh against the nettles would you.
Myth Number 7
Better Quality Essential Oils are Thicker and More Viscous
The thickness, or viscosity, of an oil is largely dependent upon the type of oil and nothing to do with quality.
Oils that are steam distilled, such as basil and lavender are far more fluid that resinous oils such as frankincense and myrrh.
Myth Number 8
Essential Oils are Completely Safe Because they are ‘Natural’
Essential oils are extracted from plants and so are indeed ‘natural’. However, we should all exercise caution and care when using essential oils to ensure we keep safe.
Essential oils are extremely concentrated and each oil has its own combination of chemical constituents – used carelessly they can cause rashes, redness, allergic reaction or toxicity.
Please be cautious if you are using essential oils at home and follow the suppliers recommendations regarding dosage and usage. A qualified aromatherapist can also assist and advise you with the use of essential oils.