Like medicine with its areas of specialization aromatherapy, too, is becoming known for different areas of practice and specialization.
Here are just a few areas of aromatherapy specialization currently practiced.
Cosmetic and Spa Aromatherapy
These are therapies that use essential oils for the skin, body, face and hair. This area of the aromatherapy industry is seeing incredible growth with the development of many cosmetic and spa products. These products are developed and used for a wide variety of beauty and wellness effects such as cleansing, toning and moisturizing.
An especial area of focus in the cosmetic and spa branch of aromatherapy is healthy skin. Aromatic oils have been used since ancient times for beautification and healing. The Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, who was famously known for her beauty, is reputed to have used aromatic oils in her daily baths and anointing her skin.
Certainly today men and women readily seek out beauty and skin care products made with essential oils for their daily beauty rituals. The power of scent to transform and heal is gaining increasing popularity worldwide. One of the great attributes of essential oils is that, even though some like Rose oil are expensive, only a few drops are needed for getting results, making them very affordable.
Massage with a lubricant like oil or lotion that contains essential oils. Swedish massage, by far, is the most popular form of aromatherapy massage which uses long, sweeping strokes to the skin and kneads the muscles to improve circulation and promote relaxation. Inhaling the essential oils present in the massage lubricant and absorbing them through your skin adds to the delightful and pleasurable sensations experienced. Popular carrier oils of essential oils used for aromatherapy massage include fractionated or light coconut oil, almond and jojoba.
Essential oils have long been used for their transformative effects on our mind and emotions. Scent can be used to stimulate or relax. Our sense of smell is mysteriously connected with our memories, so one whiff of a particular essential oil can bring back pleasurable memories from long ago. Aromatherapy has been researched for its effectiveness in treating depression, one of the greatest health concerns worldwide, affecting more than 350 million people. Studies showed that aromatherapy was effective therapeutically for relieving depressive symptoms in a wide range of subjects.
Essential oils are often diffused into the air using some type of diffuser or an aromatherapy spray device. This branch of aromatherapy is often being used to create the ambiance desired in a particular area whether in the home, office, or retail store. The psychology of scent has been well researched to understand its influence on human behavior. A few of the fascinating results discovered were published in Psychology Today.
A branch of aromatherapy that focuses on the subtle, metaphysical and spiritual levels of life i.e. chakras, angels, astrology and meridian therapy to name just a few. For this purpose an essential oil or blend may be inhaled or diluted in a suitable carrier oil and applied to an energy center or meridian point to promote and enhance the flow of subtle energies.
Used as a complement to medical treatment this branch of aromatherapy uses essential oils to promote relief and treatment for medically diagnosed ailments. Research chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefossé, who coined the term aromatherapy and considered by many to be the founder of modern aromatherapy, was among the first medical aromatherapists. Gattefossé had researched essential oils for their antiseptic properties in his laboratory and, when serving as a medic during World War II, used essential oils therapeutically with patients who were undergoing surgery to ward off infections. Thus, modern day 'medical aromatherapy' was born.
Essential oils can be wonderful to use with your animals. However, especial care should be taken when administering essential oils with your animals and pets. Your animal friend’s olfaction process is similar to humans though much more acute.
Animals are SUPER sensitive to smells!
Remember less is more with essential oils. Only a tiny amount is needed for results. 1-3 drops of an essential oil is equivalent to 1-4 cups of plant matter. You must always dilute essential oils in a suitable carrier like aloe vera, jojoba or light coconut oil for safe skin application. Compresses are also an effective method for using essential oils with animals.
As animals have extremely sensitive olfactory senses use them in very low percentages of less than 1% to achieve the results desired. A few general uses, include: pet wash, grooming spray, fleas and ticks, anti-fungal, breath freshener, horseflies, stress and anxiety and muscle rub.
USE SELF SELECTION OF ESSENTIAL OILS with your animals which means to include them in the selection process of the essential oils to use. Pay close attention and listen to how your animal or pet responds to a tiny amount of an essential oil first before using it.
A WORD ABOUT CATS: Please remember to take especial care when using any essential oil on a cat. They simply can’t metabolize them the way dogs, horses and humans do. When diffusing oils for your own use, make very sure that your cat can exit the room if he/she chooses. Hydrosols or floral waters, on the other hand, are safe and gentle for our feline friends.
Babies & New Moms Aromatherapy
This is a wonderful branch of aromatherapy that’s emerging. As with animals and the elderly and infirm a little bit of essential oil goes a long way. Aromatherapy can really help a woman throughout her pregnancy and is especially useful in the birthing room. However, for the newborn, little if any, essential oil should be used. It’s been my experience that the aroma of essential oils can interfere with the subtle natural scent bonding of a newborn baby and his/her mother.
Research supports this need for close physical bonding. When speaking about mother child bonding, Deepak Chopra says, “Close attachment can prevent diseases, boost immunity, and enhance IQ in your baby.”
Young children can benefit greatly from using essential oils though the amount used is much smaller than for adults. The amount used increases with age. Please see Guide for Safe Dilution of Essential Oils.
GUIDE FOR SAFE DILUTION OF ESSENTIAL OILS
- Adults - 15 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Age 18 - 10 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Age 10-18 - 6-9 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Age 5-10 - 5 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Age 4 - 4 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Elderly/infirm - 4 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Age 3 - 3 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Age 2 - 2 drops EO in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
- Newborn- age 2 - 1 drop in 30 mls or 1 ounce carrier oil
Elderly & Infirm Aromatherapy
This an especially exciting and evolving branch of aromatherapy. Scent is now used to calm anxiety and agitation in the elderly and infirm, as well as to boost memory recall. Studies showed that your sense of smell is, “Closely connected with your brain function and health” and that, “Losing your sense of smell as you age could mean you’re at greater risk of developing dementia.”
Essential oils have been used by the food industry for many, many years as food flavoring agents. However, now we are beginning to see essential oils used in fine culinary institutes to spice and flavor dishes. I included a number of culinary recipes in my newest book, The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide: Over 250 Recipes for Natural Wholesome Aromatherapy. You invite you to check it out if you haven’t.
Next week, I’ll show you a few of the best essential oils to include in your ‘specialized’ holistic medicine bag and their uses and effects (pharmacology).