AROMATHERAPY INTRO & SAFETY
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the controlled use of plant-derived aromatic oils for medicinal purposes – whether to remedy a cold, assist in healing a burn, to uplift or reduce stress, or even to aid the insomniac in falling asleep. It concerns the effects of pure and natural Essential Oils on both the body and the mind, achieved by absorbing the oils through the skin via methods like massage, compresses or aromatic baths, or via the nose using oil diffusers, inhalers or vaporisers. Pure essential oils have varying documented therapeutic benefits, from oils that have an influence mentally, to specific effects on the body. If you have a specific issue that needs treating, chances are there is an oil that can help – naturally.
TRUE OILS VS SYNTHETIC / BLENDED
The oils that we use in aromatherapy are called ESSENTIAL OILS. They are 100% pure and completely plant derived, with the oil extracted from various plant parts including seeds, rind, petals, leaves, twigs, roots, bark or heartwood. Some are cold pressed, eg the rind/peel from citrus fruit; others are steam distilled, which is the most common method; the more precious oils often come from delicate petals, or don’t yield much oil, so can be solvent or CO2 extracted for efficiency.
All of these different methods, and the fact that some plants yield less oil or are harder to grow, mean that prices vary greatly from one oil to the next. While oils such as Rose or Neroli can be quite a financial investment, other oils like Sweet Orange or Eucalyptus are significantly cheaper as they are much less expensive to produce.
On the other side of the coin, we have Fragrant / Perfume oils like our ‘Fragrant Burner Oils’, which are simply synthetic copies – a combination of chemicals to emulate a certain scent. You might find these for a couple of dollars in your local discount store, or used in candle-making – some sound like natural plants or flowers, others have ‘perfumey’ names like ‘baby powder’ or ‘Chanel No 5 Type’. Many are believed to be toxic or even carcinogenic, though in low enough readings to be approved as legally ‘safe’. They have many names, usually to make the product sound less chemical and thus more desirable – parfum, perfume, scent, fragrance, fragrant oil or essence – all are synthetic, and as they have absolutely no therapeutic qualities, these have no place in the realm of aromatherapy.
Unfortunately there’s often confusion as to whether an oil is natural or man-made, because marketing companies aim to tap into the fact that many people do prefer to use natural products. So advertising may say ‘Aromatherapy’ even if there’s no plant-based essential oils in their product and it’s scented entirely with synthetic perfumes.
Or a company may use MOSTLY synthetic fragrances and add a tiny token amount of essential oil, to advertise that it’s ‘made with essential oils’. Read the ingredients list of a scented product in your local supermarket (‘aromatherapy air fresheners’, ‘aromatherapy candles’ etc). If the ingredients list says ‘Parfum’, ‘Perfume’, ‘Fragrance’ etc, then it contains synthetic fragrance – the higher up the list, the more of that ingredient if included. So if it says ‘Parfum’ up high, and ‘Essential Oil’ as one of the last ingredients, it probably contains only a token inclusion of essential oil – probably in an amount too low to be of any aromatherapeutic benefit.
How Can I Tell if an Oil is the Real Deal?
Oils for use in aromatherapy need to be pure Essential Oils, with nothing added to them – no preservatives, fillers or chemicals.
A quality essential oil should give the full plant name (eg Roman Chamomile instead of just ‘Chamomile’ – some are more useful than others, so you need to know which type you are purchasing). The plant part that has been distilled is also important (eg Cinnamon Bark vs Leaf); as is the full Latin plant name, as the genus has a bearing on any benefits that you’re going to receive. If a seller doesn’t advertise, or can’t tell you any of this information, then it’s unlikely to be a real, plant-based oil.
A pure essential oil must be derived from a single plant type, not a ‘blend’ of different plants or plant extracts. The oil should have only one country of origin – if that isn’t guaranteed then the oil is probably a ‘blended natural’, ‘blended origin’, ‘reconstituted’ or ‘nature identical’ type, which can be a mix of various plant extracts, or cheaper oils from different countries, resulting in a similar scent but not the same therapeutic qualities.
Price is another indicator: if a seller’s full range of oils are all a similar price, then it’s almost guaranteed they are synthetic. Some oils like citrus oils are incredibly easy to produce so will be cheaper in price; precious oils that are the most difficult to extract (eg Rose) can cost hundreds of dollars a bottle. If a precious oil is cheap, and the price seems too good to be true, then it’s probably fake.
A pure oil must be stored in amber, cobalt or green glass to preserve it, as essential oils are susceptible to light. An oil packaged in clear glass COULD be natural, but its use in aromatherapy may be limited. Avoid oils packaged in plastic – most pure essential oils will eat through plastic (unless extremely diluted in a carrier oil).
Are AQ Oils Therapeutic Grade?
All Aroma Queen Premium Essential Oils and Blends are 100% pure, plant based oils with no added filler, preservatives or padding. The reason we can offer them at such a great price is that we ONLY sell directly, often sourcing the oils straight from the distiller, packaging them ourselves and then sending them to you. By cutting out the middle men, and not part of a franchise that needs to send a portion of profit to every tier of seller along the way, we are able to offer high quality oils at fantastic prices.
Our oils feature premium country of origin, plant parts, plant genus and grade wherever possible, representing high quality oils at a fraction of the price.
As for ‘Therapeutic Grade’, there is no actual certification for ‘Therapeutic Grade’ or ‘Aromatherapy Grade’ – they’re just terms some companies use to indicate their oils are sourced from reputable distillers, and are of good quality for use in aromatherapy – as ours are.
It’s also a bit of sneaky marketing to try to scare customers into not buying from anywhere else. Just remember, ultimately it is not the BRAND that makes an oil suitable for therapeutic use: it is the quality of the oil, the way it has been distilled and the plant it is derived from.
Can I Ingest AQ Oils? Are they ‘Food Grade’?
See our other DISCOVER pages for a full discussion: In Australia it’s been an accepted guideline for many years that essential oils are NOT to be ingested or eaten, even when diluted, unless specifically prescribed for you and your condition by a qualified aromatherapy practitioner.
What is a Carrier Oil?
Carrier Oils are named so as they’re often used to ‘carry’ essential oils for application to the skin. Essential Oils are very concentrated and should never be applied neat, while Carrier Oils are safe to apply directly, undiluted, so make an excellent medium to dilute essential oils into and ‘carry’ them to the skin in massage or topical applications.
Carrier oils used in aromatherapy are typically cold pressed vegetable oils like Sweet Almond or Jojoba oil. They are similar to cooking oils (thicker oils with little scent), however the ‘cold press’ process preserves their valuable nutrients so they can be used in skincare with great benefit. Carriers are also used for massage, either on their own or with added essential oils, as they have great slip.
Adding Essential Oils to Other Mediums
As a general rule, to apply essential oils to the skin use no more than 3% total essential oil in a carrier oil base for application to the body, and no more than 1% for the face (20 drops of essential oil = approximately 1ml). Skin creams or balms can also be used as the medium, but avoid petrochemical creams like sorbolene, as these form a barrier that stops the oils from being absorbed.
To learn more about the different methods of using Essential Oils CLICK HERE.
NEVER APPLY OILS TO SKIN NEAT: Always dilute essential oils in a Carrier Oil or base cream before application to the skin. Dilute at no more than 3% total oils for application to the body, or 1% for the face. The only exceptions are neat Lavender or Tea Tree, which may be used directly on burns or small wounds.
PREGNANCY: Most Aromatherapists advise against using Essential Oils during pregnancy, though others disagree. Oils to definitely avoid during pregnancy include: Arnica, Basil, Birch, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Cypress, Fennel, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rosemary & Thyme. Steer clear of Lavender & Rose during the first four months of pregnancy.
EPILEPSY: Anyone suffering from epilepsy should avoid Sweet Fennel, Sage & Hyssop.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: People with high blood pressure should stay away from Hyssop, Rosemary, Sage & Thyme.
PHOTOSENSITISATION: Some oils cause photosensitisation – sensitivity to UV light – and should not be applied to skin before exposure to the sun. These include: Angelica, Bergamot (unless ‘Bergaptene Free’), Cumin, Lemon, Lime (unless ‘Distilled’ rather than ‘Cold Pressed’), Orange & Verbena.
NEVER INGEST ESSENTIAL OILS: Always KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Even small amounts of Essential Oil may be toxic if swallowed. Immediately contact your local Poisons Hotline if ingested. See our other DISCOVER pages more on this topic.
If Essential Oils get into eyes, immediately wash with whole milk or carrier oil, followed by water. Some people may experience an allergic reaction or sensitisation to a specific oil. If this is the case, discontinue use immediately.
Aromatherapy & Children
When using Aromatherapy around children, ALWAYS use less oil/s than you would with adults. Always use very diluted oils around children, and do not use them too regularly. A single drop of oil in a burner is more than adequate for a small child – see the accompanying graphic for safe recommendations for using our own OILS 4 KIDS Blends around children, which feature oils known to be kinder to younger souls.
We also strongly recommend you avoid using Aromatherapy around premature babies, or babies less than three months old. We recommend that you do NOT apply oils in any way to a baby’s skin (massage, creams or baths) until they are slightly older: infants have very delicate skin at the best of times, but especially when younger than three months; they may also rub their eyes with their fists or suck their hands or fingers.
A double-sided OILS 4 KIDS Safety Card is included with every AQ Oils 4 Kids Blend.
The advice within this page is general and not specific to individuals and particular circumstances. Before using essential oils or other natural treatments, check all cautions and restrictions. Aroma Queen cannot be held responsible for any injury, damage or otherwise resulting from the use of any treatments or products within this website. Do not attempt self-diagnosis or self-treatment for long periods or for serious problems, without first consulting a qualified medical practitioner.
Always seek professional medical advice if symptoms persist.
Always remember, Aromatherapy is intended to complement, not replace traditional medicine.