Aromatherapy is a wonderful resource that can support your mind, body and spirit, not only during the holidays, but all year round. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy defines Aromatherapy as: the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants (referred to as essential oils) to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of the body, mind and spirit.
Dating back to well before ancient Egypt, people have used plants and their aromatic qualities to:
- Purify and cleanse the air
- Influence mood
- Bring clarity of mind
- Cleanse the body and spirit
- Relax and bring a sense of calm
- Support meditation
Seeking a Path to Wellbeing?
The holiday season is a wonderful time for feeling appreciation and gratitude, remembering our loved ones, giving and receiving, celebrating, and being with family. And while “joy to the world” and “peace on earth” might be our hope, life circumstances may not be so harmonious, turning holidays into a time of extreme stress.
Seasonally, as the temperature drops, the shorter days and lack of sunlight can impact your mood as well. We are now also collectively experiencing multiple additional worldly stressors that bring out additional emotions such as anxiety, insecurity, sadness, depression, fear, frustration and anger. The vast majority of people feel some level of stress and are seeking a sense of relief.
How can you stay happy, or at the very least, calm, emotionally balanced, and centered?
Open Your Mind to Aromatherapy
Of all the senses, smell is the most sensitive. When inhaled, natural chemical compounds in a scent can trigger a psychological response, impacting your mental and physical state to create a profound sense of relaxation and wellbeing.
Aromatically, essential oils have the ability to travel directly and impact the part of the brain that controls memory, stress levels, and hormone balance, thereby creating some very profound psychological (and physiological) influences. Frankincense essential oil is the only natural substance that is known to have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Applied topically, essential oils can rapidly penetrate cell membranes and enhance cellular function, taking only 20 minutes to fully travel throughout the entire body, which is what makes them so effective.
Therapeutic Properties of Essential Oils
To attract pollinators and also to ensure their survival, aromatic plants create compounds in response to stresses in their environment. This is important because it’s these very compounds, found in many essential oils, which offer immune, antibacterial and antiviral benefits. That is a physical benefit we can all use…especially during these times!
The effects of an essential oil can be physical, mental-emotional, and/or spiritual. Diluted essential oils work more on the emotional and subtle energetic level, while less diluted work more on the physical.
Essential Oils vs. Synthetic Fragrances
Once used extensively in the food and body care industry, essential oils were preferred until the development of synthetic equivalents. Synthetic fragrances are now used in everything from air fresheners, candles, skincare, shampoos, soaps, and bath and body products. These chemical fragrances, which do not come from living plants, are not internalized the same way by the body, and do not offer any therapeutic benefit…even though marketing and company advertising may lead you to think differently.
Pure essential oils—which are the distilled, natural fragrance and life-force of the plant—are true aromatherapy and can offer many therapeutic benefits. These oils can be derived from leaves, bark, tree resins, flowers, fruit (peels), seeds, and roots of aromatic plants. Nature still does it best!
While generally safe, essential oils are highly concentrated volatile aromatic oils, sometimes 60-100x stronger than using the straight herb. It is always best to educate yourself and do your research so you know how best to use each essential oil specific to its qualities and properties, and any safety issues that it might present. There are precautions for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under 12, and some contraindications to be aware of.
The Significance of Using a Carrier Oil
Due to the evaporation rate and the high concentration of essential oils, using a carrier oil is recommended for general daily use. A carrier oil helps dilute the potency of the essential oil and keep it in contact with your skin until it is fully absorbed into the body. Always do a small test patch first when using an essential oil topically.
Many carrier oils have therapeutic qualities that should be considered part of the effectiveness of the recipe. The general application is for body massage, applying to a specific area on the body, or for a roll-on applicator.
Carrier oils include:
- Apricot seed
- Grape seed
- Liquid coconut oil
- Sweet almond
- Argan-a nutritive oil
- Baobab-a nutritive oil
Dilution Chart for Essential Oils (EO) Applied Topically to the Body
|Carrier oil||1% dilution|
(gentle: for children and elders; special circumstances)
(mild: for healthy adults; general long term use)
(moderate: for specific illness; short term use-3-4 weeks)
(strong: for acute conditions; short term use-1-2 weeks)
|1 teaspoon||1 drop EO||2 drops EO||3 drops EO||5 drops EO|
|1 tablespoon||3 drops EO||6 drops EO||9 drops EO||15 drops EO|
|1 ounce||6 drops EO||12 drops EO||18 drops EO||30 drops EO|
NOW Brand Essential Oils at Heinen’s
- Atlas Cedar: sweet; woodsy; centering; balancing
- Bergamot: calming and relaxing yet uplifting and refreshing; enhances a sense of wellbeing
- Balsam Fir: pleasant woodsy; empowering, strengthening, balancing
- Cedarwood: warm; woodsy; soothing; strengthening; empowering
- Cinnamon: warming, reduces nervousness, good for depression, tonic
- Citronella: pungent; citrus-like; clarifying; freshening; purifying; insect repellent
- Clove: warm and spicy; good for memory and a strong antiseptic
- Eucalyptus: calms strong emotions; helps with mental clarity and concentration; invigorating; good for the respiratory system
- Frankincense: warming; calming; relaxing; helps create a sense of peace; helps clear negative thoughts and open the mind
- Ginger: spicy; warm; clarifying; stabilizing; balancing
- Grapefruit: citrus; floral and fruity; uplifting and stimulating
- Lavender: very calming and relaxing; supports a sense of wellbeing; good for insomnia
- Lemon: cleansing; refreshing; uplifting
- Lemongrass: lemony; natural sedative; tonic and revitalizer
- Lime: citrusy and tart; very refreshing; stimulating and invigorating
- Orange: refreshing and uplifting; brings a sense of peace and joy; helps with nervousness and insomnia
- Patchouli: musky; earthy; balancing; calming; grounding
- Peppermint: cooling action on anger; invigorating; stimulating; eases headaches
- Pine: balsamic; purifying; centering; refreshing
- Rosemary: stimulant; refreshing; tonic; improves brain function and memory
- Spearmint: refreshing; minty; cooling; invigorating; stimulating
- Tangerine: pleasant; cheerful; inspiring; invigorating
- Tea Tree: warm; fresh; camphorous; strong antiviral, antiseptic, fungicidal, bacterial; decongestant
- Vanilla: sweet and warm; comforting; relaxing; nurturing
- Wintergreen: warm and sweet; lessons headache tension; improves alertness; fights inflammation
A wonderful way to use essential oils indoors is to use a room diffuser. There are many styles to choose from at Heinen’s, and the important thing is to select one that is right for the space you plan to diffuse the oils. Your local Heinen’s Wellness Consultant can offer assistance in selecting the right diffuser and essential oils to meet your needs.
These recipes offer some suggestions for essential oils. In time, you may want to try to develop your own personal signature recipes. You can also use your favorite single essential oil for any application that you like.
Room Spray Recipe: Refresh Your Day (uplifting)
- 1- 4 oz. Zevana brand aromatherapy approved glass spray bottle (sold at Heinen’s)
- 1.5 oz. purified, distilled or spring water
- 20 drops Orange
- 20 drops Grapefruit
- 15 drops Lemon or Tangerine
- 5 drops Bergamot or Lime
Note: Be sure to shake bottle before spraying. This recipe can be adapted for a 1 or 2 oz. bottle.
Diffuser Recipe: Be Well (calming and refreshing)
- Purified, distilled or spring water (adjust recipe to your diffuser size)
- 7 drops Lavender
- 3 drops Cedarwood
- 1-2 drops Bergamot or Lemongrass
Roll-On Recipe: Winter Forest (relaxing, centering and grounding)
- 1-10 ml Zevana brand aromatherapy roll on bottle (sold at Heinen’s)
- Carrier oil of choice
- 18 drops Frankincense (20% dilution)
- 3 drops Pine*
- 2 drops Balsam Fir*
- 4 drops Tangerine
- 1-2 drops Vanilla (20% dilution-this oil makes this blend!)
Instructions: Shake before using. Roll across your wrists, base of throat, back of the neck and/or chest.
*Note: If pregnant or breastfeeding, use only 1% dilution for total recipe, substitute lavender for pine and omit balsam fir. Some citrus oils are photo toxic. Avoid exposure to strong direct sunlight or UV rays for 18-48 hours after topical application.
Want to Learn More About Essential Oils?
Books and magazines:
- Essential Oils-A Guide for Using Aromatherapy in Your Everyday Life by Iside Sarmiento
- Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine by Dr. Josh Axe, Jordan Rubin, and Ty Bollinger
- The Essential Oils Handbook – All the Oils You Will Ever Need for Health, Vitality, and Well-being by Jennie Harding
Websites (for safety guidelines and usage of individual oils)
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat a medical condition, nor substitute for appropriate medical advice. It is recommended that you consult your physician or health care professional before using essential oils based on this article.
There are contraindications for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, for children under the ages of 6, and with certain medications that you need to be aware of.
Always do a small patch test to see if you are sensitive to an essential oil prior to use. Avoid direct sunlight exposure to skin for 48 hours after the use of certain citrus oils. If you have questions, consult a reliable and qualified aromatherapy source.