Here’s How You Start An Aromatherapy Tool Kit, And What To Do With It
Aromatherapy is one of the world’s most ancient healing modalities and it’s been undergoing a renaissance of popularity thanks to social media and the fact that we’ve all been thinking about how to live healthier lives lately. Even major manufacturers of shampoo, lotion and other home goods have been incorporating fragrant botanicals into their new formulations. But always be sure to read the ingredient list, because not all scents are created equal—some can even be harmful. Synthetic room fragrances and a wide range of other household products often contain phthalates, a group of chemical compounds that texturizes plastic and makes lotion more absorbable by the skin. But the problem is, phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, diabetes, and a range of other health concerns. So when it comes to incorporating scented products into your life, nothing beats assembling botanical remedies at home from your own essential oil apothecary. Here are some tips for starting an aromatherapy tool kit and how to use it.
Starting your Aromatherapy Tool Kit
You don’t need to amass dozens of fragrances in order to experience the benefits of aromatherapy. In her book, “Essential Oils Everyday,” Hope Gillerman, a Los Angeles based expert on Aromatherapy and Natural Healing suggests starting out with five scents: lavender, peppermint, lemon, tea tree and frankincense. Be sure you are choosing 100% pure and natural essential oils, and go organic whenever possible. A 1 oz. bottle is usually sufficient for a starter kit, but the larger 4 oz. bottles are always an excellent value and often come with medicine droppers, which are easier to operate than bottle-top droppers.
If you are someone who likes to dive in head first, an essential oils sampler is a great way to build your apothecary. The 14 oil set from Plant Therapy is composed of excellent quality, therapeutic-grade oils in 10-oz bottles.
Using a Diffuser to Fill Your Home with Fragrance
Some aromatherapy practices take time to develop, but diffusers are the quickest, easiest way to put essential oils to use around your home. In recent years, traditional ceramic candle diffusers have been replaced by electric vaporizers which are safe and require little maintenance. The beautiful wood grain diffuser from HACME can run continuously for 10 hours, and powers off when depleted of water. It has multiple speeds and light settings and comes with a remote control. Similarly, the Art Naturals diffuser has a variety of no-noise settings for producing scented vapor. It comes in a kit with 8 natural oils, making it a fabulous gift. If you’re looking for something a little sleeker, you can go with the Zoe diffuser from Pilgrim Collection, complete with remote control, handmade glass and carved oakwood.
Natural, Nontoxic Fabric Refresher Sprays
I make my own fabric refresher sprays using rubbing alcohol with 20 drops of a botanical scent which has natural antibacterial properties, such as lavender, peppermint and rosemary. Spray it on furniture, carpets, comforters, throw pillows and curtains to kill germs and odors.
Refillable Glass Bottles, $12.98
Majestic Pure Peppermint, $17.10
Radha Beauty Rosemary, $16.95
Mary Tylor Lavender, $15.95
Essential Oils in the Laundry
We have become so accustomed to clothes detergents and fabric softeners that smell like “summer rain” or “fields of flowers” that we associate clean clothing with synthetic fragrances. To make your laundry clean and nontoxic, I suggest using a natural, unscented detergent such as Tide’s Free and Gentle and adding 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil during the rinse cycle. When I began using Rosemary in my wash, my neighbor was so enamored with its refreshing scent that she by stopped by to inquire as to its origin.
Essential Oils for Pest Control
If you are a frequent traveler, then you know that bed bugs have become an international pandemic. A few years ago, I stayed at a five-star hotel in Asia that was infested with bed bugs, but I didn’t know it until after I checked out. Now whenever I stay in a hotel, I spray the bed thoroughly with a fabric-refreshing solution of alcohol and Tea Tree oil. Bed bugs love human flesh, but not as much as they hate Tea Tree oil.
Naturenics Tea Tree Oil
To deter mosquitoes from making a meal of you, Valerie Ann Worwood (in The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy) recommends using a blend of 2 parts Lemongrass, and 1 part each of Thyme, Lavender and Peppermint. This nontoxic blend will ensure that you smell abhorrent to mosquitos but sweet to humans.
Essential Oils for the Mind
With the plethora of stimulants out there these days – coffee, cigarettes, synthetic sugars, Facebook – it’s no wonder that many of us can feel scatterbrained and stressed with the toils of everyday life. We all have different ways of winding down, some less healthy than others. The use of essential oils can be a healthy and all-natural alternative to that glass of rosé at the end of the day – and are much more effective at soothing mind-boggling symptoms like ineffective memory, lack of sleep and moodiness.
MEMORY: Scent has been scientifically proven to be the most effective memory enhancer, so it makes sense that essential oils can improve memory. An old wives’ tale, dating back to the 16th century, calls sage a memory enhancer, and today, there is scientific evidence to show its ability to enhance acetylcholine in the brain. You can also use basil oil, said to have neuro-regulating properties and which acts a nerve tonic, reducing fatigue-induced distractions.
SLEEP: Picking up a bottle of ZzzQuil at the supermarket may seem like the easiest solution to troubled sleep (more than 8.6 million people reported taking sleeping medications in 2013), but they come packaged with a slew of side effects. Try essential oils instead. A combination of orange and rose essential oils are reported to induce relaxation. Geranium oil soothes allergies and improves sleep. Chamomile oil, just like a glass of its tea, can induce drowsiness and calmness.
Mary Tylor Sweet Orange
Artizen Rose Oil
Del Mar Naturals Geranium
Sun Essentials Chamomile
MOOD: Breathing pleasant scents is a way of calming the mind, eliminating the effects of depression and reducing mood swings. Ylang ylang oil – incidentally one of the main ingredients in Chanel No. 5 – can help eliminate persistent negative thoughts and improve hormone balance. Rub a few drops on your wrists, neck, feet and behind the ears to find instantaneously reduce irritability. Grapefruit essential oil invigorates the senses, essentially encouraging your brain to move into a different direction. Experts suggest using a diffuser for grapefruit oil or adding a few drops to your bathwater.
Essential Oils for Healing
Homeopathic medicine has become more and more prominent in the last few years with concierge medical centers cropping up, celebrities launching lifestyle brands and Instagram beauties touting the latest in natural skincare. Unlike some of those more, ahem, extreme methods, the positive effects of these natural supplements have been recorded for centuries. While aromatherapy is not an alternative for professional medicine, it certainly can be soothing.
IMMUNITY: While many essential oils can help improve your immune system, there are a couple of special gems. Bergamot oil has been studied for its stimulation of white blood cells in cancer patients. Eucalyptus not only acts an anti-inflammatory substance but also enhances antibodies. Finally, clove oil has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any natural substance. It can be ingested or made into a homemade gargle to enjoy its antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Essentially Kate S Bergamot
Eve Hansen Eucalyptus
Majestic Pure Clove
PAIN & ANTISEPTIC: Juniper berries are chock-full of antioxidants, making a cleaner alternative to antiseptic that also has some soothing effects on wounds and hemorrhoids. Cayenne is surprisingly a good alternative for relieving more severe types of pain. The capsaicin level in this pepper oil has a naturally soothing effect. Calendula oil is extracted from the common garden flower, the Marigold. Though it is not a readily pleasant smell – it’s musky and woody – it has some tonic and antispasmodic properties, being particularly useful for stubborn wounds, skin ulcers, rashes and eczema.
Majestic Pure Juniper,
Nature’s Brands Calendula
Herb Pharm Cayenne
DIGESTION: Ginger is widely lauded for its soothing effects on the stomach and digestion. Inhaled or ingested, ginger essential oil will help reduce nausea and bloating and soothe and comfort indigestion. Oil of oregano is a quick-fix for times of intestinal distress, as it is able to kill off pathogenic bacteria in your gut, along with its anti-fungal and anti-parasitic healing properties that help maintain a healthy digestive tract.