Are you starting to use essential oils? Here’s a little guide with some necessary notes about essential oil safety. There are three traditional methods of using oils for aromatherapy which have been called the English, French and German models.
The English model includes what is now called ‘aromatherapy massage’ – involving the dilution of important oils in carrier or base oils and application topically to the skin. Since both the essential oils and the carrier oils work with the skin, the oils are absorbed into the blood stream with subsequent physiological effect. Most essential oils need significant dilution (typically to less than 3% of the overall volume) as they can trigger skin inflammation. Lavender oil and chamomile oil are two oils that can be applied neat or without dilution. Others, such as cinnamon oil and oregano oil, must never, ever be used topically undiluted. They may be applied, once they are extremely watered down, to the bottoms of the feet.
The interesting thing about topical application is that essential oils tend to travel through the skin fairly rapidly, as they are lipotropic (fat soluble) and their molecular structure is relatively small. In this way, their possible results can be targeted – if one has digestion issues, rubbing peppermint oil diluted in a carrier oil (a pure vegetable or nut oil) into the abdominal area may help. In the same way, rubbing chamomile oil or lavender oil into the solar plexus (bottom pointer of the breast bone) may help relieve stress.
The French model consists of ingestion and undiluted topical application of essential oils. Possibly these methods are a result of the French producing some of the world’s finest lavender oils – likewise considered one of the safest oils in aromatherapy. As in the English model, essential oils will easily pass through the skin and into the blood stream.
The German model is that of inhalation, where the essential oils will directly affect the lymbic system, and the intimately associated emotional and hormonal systems. Oils are frequently diffused in a cold-air diffuser, warmer or oil lamp – these tools distribute tiny oil droplets into the surrounding air. When inhaled, the oils connect directly to the nervous system’s chemical sensors. Specific oils that are high in sesquiterpines such as myrrh, sandalwood, frankincense and vetiver oils, have actually been noted to significantly increase activity and oxygenation in certain areas of the brain when used in this way.