Aromatherapy is an interesting topic. I have always felt a strong belief in the healing properties of essential oils, even if it just the soothing effects of smelling natural aromas. Perhaps it is because my mother has involved them so strongly in every different type of illness treatment for better health. Now I am just programmed that way. Many people have a strong sense of smell and they all seem to use it differently. Whether it be to make decisions on people, overcome or avoid nausea or to help with cleaning.
What do you use scent for? How do you use it?
Biologically there are different levels of scent so allow me to clarify which I am referring to. I am not going to discuss pheromones, which are chemicals an animal produces which changes the behaviour of another animal of the same species (animals include insects). I am also not referring to the more superficial scents associated with bodily functions, such as sweat and breath, even though these can have great power over our ability to sleep, especially if it is in your immediate environment.
I want to talk about organic aromas that originate from flora and plant matter, not animal glands. This oil is generally distilled (most frequently by steam or water) from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant and is not always oily in feeling or to look at.
The best definition I have found about this is as written below, from the Natural Association of Holistic Aromatherapy:
The term “essential oil” is a contraction of the original “quintessential oil.” This stems from the Aristotelian idea that matter is composed of four elements, namely, fire, air, earth, and water. The fifth element, or quintessence, was then considered to be spirit or life force. Distillation and evaporation were thought to be processes of removing the spirit from the plant and this is also reflected in our language since the term “spirits” is used to describe distilled alcoholic beverages such as brandy, whiskey, and eau de vie. The last of these again shows reference to the concept of removing the life force from the plant. Nowadays, of course, we know that, far from being spirit, essential oils are physical in nature and composed of complex mixtures of chemicals.
-( Sell, Charles. (2010). Chapter 5: The Chemistry of Essential Oils. (Can Baser K H, and Buchbauer G. Editors) in the book Handbook of essential oils: science, technology, and applications, (pp. 121-150). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.)
So you see, the idea of the healing properties of these natural remedies is in no way a new concept, trailing all the way back to Aristotle.
Knowing that these oils may work and simply looking on a shelf to find the right one for your illness or health will not necessarily help you. In fact, only some can be used in the ways you may prefer, and many vary greatly in price or availability. This means that while essential oils appear easy or basic in comparison to using drugs or medications to work your way through an issue they may not actually be the healthiest or safest method.
I am not a naturopath, aromatherapist or therapeutic specialist that can tell you anything too in-depth about these oils and their use as natural remedies. Having said that I can tell you some of the common natural oils attributed to aid in natural sleep assistance and whether or not my research found them to be safe and affordable. At the bottom I will also detail the methods of usage described for each essential that I use to benefit my health.
- Can cause skin irritation and mild allergy in some people, but otherwise okay for skin application
- Inhalation through a vaporiser
- A drop on tissue or pillowcase
- Great to wrap up and leave fresh by the pillow
- The essential oil is safe for skin application, but spot test first, best on the chest and feet
- Good for vaporisation, okay for pregnant women
- As an essential oil this is okay for vaporisation
- Great to wrap up fresh and leave by the pillow
- As an aroma it can be calming but as an essential oil ocotea has slight possibility of toxicity as it contains a small amount of toxic chemical cinnamaldehyde
- A 5ml bottle of Ocotea essential oil also sells for anywhere above $70 Australian.
- This essential oil is used in Vicks Vapo Rub but can induce seizures when swallowed in this form
- Do not apply to the skin
- Do not add to a vaporiser
This has seizure inducing properties, can have serious consequences for unborn foetuses and is toxic.
There are a big and wonderful variety of vaporizers now available on the market, many of which can be purchased easily through your local chemist or pharmacy. They should be able to use any essential oil brands you buy, but we aware of the purpose of the essential oil. Wherever you get it, I would strongly recommend looking at the strength of the motor, vaporisation time lengths and safety capabilities. Do some online research.
An essential oil vaporiser that plugs into the wall and glows while in use is advisable. This means there is less potential for battery damage and all can see when it is on (ie children). This is also good because they shouldn’t make much noise. My own one has four time settings, increasing in intervals for 30 minutes and three light colours which can all glow bright or soft and which turn off as the cycle ends.
Part of having #goodsleep is setting and sticking to a #routine. I know telling an #insomniac to #meditate is like telling a diabetic to balance their blood glucose levels, but there is a reason some practices are constantly referred to. I like to smell #relaxing #essentialoils but was beginning to worry about their effect on my skin. I bought this #vaporiser by #inessence and drop some #lavender, #camphor, #lemongrass, #orange or #peppermint into it each evening and hour before I go to #bed. I take a mug of hot #pepperminttea and a bottle of room temperature water. I make sure all my mess is tidied up, turn my phone on silent and leave my tablet in the #study. I read two or three pages of a #fictionnovel (as you know) by the soft light of my lamp and then lay down and turn of the light. It is really working a treat, especially now it's getting cooler. #bedbug #relaxation #sleepwell #deepsleep #comfort #restful #minfulness #wellness #mentalhealth #rejuvenate #recouperate
There are two ways to work this trick, one is to soak the case in a small bucket of water which has had two or three drops of the oil added to it. Then it is left to dry and covers your pillow. I find this preferable as it is subtle and consistent so you still get the aroma when you roll over. The other way is to simply dab a drop onto either side of the pillowcase, towards the edge.
Sleep balls and fresh tissues
Making a pocket out of fabric, or taking a fresh tissue or handkerchief, pluck a fresh sprig of the flower or leaves from the garden and tuck these inside. I find warmth and a bit of dryness helps to set these aromas off. Perhaps try microwaving them for 10 seconds before you go to bed. Then tuck the pocket under the edge of your pillow and enjoy the benefit.
Oil burner for diffusion
Similar to the vaporiser, but preferable for some who like the lit candle. In this manner take a tea light candle and place in the bottom of a candle diffuser. In the top bowl above th3e candle add enough water to almost fill it and a few drops of the oil. As the water warms the oil will diffuse into the air like the vaporiser. The danger with this is the bowl burning dry, or falling asleep with the candle lit. Also, the burner only lasts as long as the candle. Therefore it must be a good candle that burns constantly for a decent length of time.