Jeremy Ohara

Jeremy Ohara

Exploring the Science of Aromatherapy: How to Use Essential Oils

  Jan 17, 2024
Reviewed by Ravinder Kaur


Natural and holistic approaches to health and wellness have become a common sight. Aromatherapy — the therapeutic use of plant-derived, aromatic essential oils — is enjoying a resurgence of interest. It’s noteworthy, however, that its origins date back thousands of years, with roots in ancient civilizations that recognized the diverse and powerful properties of these plant extracts.

They are complex compounds, each comprising a myriad of chemical constituents that confer various therapeutic effects. In the scientific and medical community, aromatherapy is moving beyond being perceived as simply an alternative wellness practice, as more studies have suggested benefits including pain relief, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, as well as specific uses such as antibacterial action and cognitive enhancement.

Nonetheless, the safe and effective practice of aromatherapy hinges on their correct usage, and a deep understanding of their unique characteristics, extraction methods, and application modes. 

This article delves into how to safely and effectively use them, explores the best practices for blending oils for specific therapeutic results, and discusses important precautions, so you can then head out to buy essential oils in Perth, or wherever you may be now, in the world.

Use Only Top Quality Essential Oil

As with any therapeutic tool, the quality of the materials used in aromatherapy significantly impacts the results. They are no exception. Using top-quality, pure essential oils is paramount to ensuring safety and effectiveness.

Essential oils are potent extracts of plant material, often requiring significant amounts of raw plant matter to produce small quantities of oil. The quality of these raw materials and the methods employed in their cultivation, harvest, and extraction play pivotal roles in determining the quality of the final product. Ideally, plants should be grown in their natural habitat, harvested at the optimum time, and extracted using methods that preserve the integrity of their aromatic compounds.

The most pervasive issue in this market is adulteration, where they are diluted or mixed with synthetic compounds to reduce costs. These adulterated liquids may not provide the desired therapeutic effects and, in some cases, could even be harmful. Hence, it’s important to source oils from reputable suppliers who prioritize purity and quality.

Apply in Small Quantities First

One of their unique characteristics is their potency. Derived from vast quantities of plant material, its single drop can have a powerful effect. As such, when beginning to incorporate them into your wellness routine, it’s important to apply them in small quantities initially. This approach ensures safety, prevents potential adverse reactions, and allows you to gauge your body’s response to different oils.

When diffusing essential oils, start with a few drops, gradually increasing the quantity if needed. If applying topically, always dilute them in a carrier oil first, as most of them are too strong to be applied directly to the skin.

This personalized approach not only enhances safety but also maximizes the oil’s therapeutic benefits.

Discontinue Use If Your Skin Reacts

Their safe use revolves around awareness and respect for their potency. By paying attention to your body’s responses, using oils mindfully, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can harness the benefits of aromatherapy while minimizing potential risks.

Albeit rare, skin reactions to them can range from mild to severe. Mild reactions include redness, itching, or a slight burning sensation, while severe reactions could manifest as blisters, swelling, or a rash. These reactions could indicate a sensitivity or allergic response to a particular oil and should not be overlooked. If you experience any of these symptoms, wash the affected area with mild, non-reactive soap and plenty of water. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice.

Even in the absence of an immediate reaction, they can sometimes cause delayed hypersensitivity, where symptoms only appear several hours or even days after exposure. This is why conducting a patch test before using a new oil is so important. By applying a small amount of diluted oil to a patch of skin and monitoring for any reaction, you can avoid potentially more serious reactions over larger areas of the skin.

Research has shown that the use of essential oil can be toxic to cats. It can lead to liver damage, seizure, respiratory failure, and even death. 

Consult With A Medical Professional First, Especially If You Have Existing Medical Conditions

Certain essential oils can interfere with medication or exacerbate health conditions. For instance, rosemary and sage may raise blood pressure and are generally not recommended for those with hypertension. Similarly, fennel and aniseed can affect blood clotting, which could be a concern for individuals on anticoagulant medications or with clotting disorders. Those with epilepsy should also exercise caution as some oils, like eucalyptus, can provoke seizures.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and the elderly also warrant special consideration when it comes to using them. There are chances that some of them may pose risks during pregnancy or lactation, and certain oils may be too strong for children or the elderly. Consulting with a healthcare professional can guide safe oil selection and appropriate dilution rates for these populations.

Remember, the goal of aromatherapy is to promote well-being, and this is best achieved when they are used safely and responsibly. Consulting with a medical professional is a key step in this process, helping ensure that your use of them complements and enhances your overall health and wellness strategy.

Practice Safe Storage

They are sensitive to light, heat, and oxygen, which can degrade their therapeutic properties over time. Therefore, they should ideally be stored in dark-colored glass bottles to shield them from light, in a cool location away from direct heat, and tightly sealed to prevent exposure to air.

Avoid storing them in plastic containers, as the oils can degrade the plastic over time, leading to contamination.

Keep them out of reach of children and pets. Although they smell appealing, essential oils are highly concentrated and can be toxic if ingested or improperly used. In case of accidental ingestion, seek medical help immediately.

Furthermore, be mindful of their flammable characteristic. Keep them away from open flames or other sources of ignition.

Finally, while properly stored oils can last for several years, they don’t last indefinitely. Over time, the oil may change in color, consistency, or smell, which can be signs of degradation.

By practicing safe storage, you can preserve the therapeutic integrity of your essential oils, extend their lifespan, and ensure they’re used in a safe and controlled manner.

Final Thoughts

Studies show that the use of essential oils in the aromatherapy market is expected to grow by 11% between 2011-2028. Below, you can see their estimated use in the aromatherapy market from 2020 to 2028, is insane. 

Bar Graph

Aromatherapy, with its rich history and diverse applications, offers an enriching path to wellness that intersects science, tradition, and nature. Essential oils, when used mindfully and responsibly, can be instrumental in promoting physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

One needs to fully understand their chemical compositions, physiological effects, and the most effective methods of use, to harness the potential of these aromatic extracts. Nevertheless, as research continues to evolve, so too should our understanding and application of aromatherapy. The guide above gives you that stable start to use them in the best and safest way possible.