Essential Oils for Beginners: The Guide to Get Started with Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

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This crude distillation produced something similar to what we nowadays call hydrosols, which contain minute amounts of the essential oil from the distillation process. There is no doubt that the ancients realized the fragrance was something more than just pleasant. Such was the confidence in the therapeutic power of aromas that, at one point, the entire prevailing theory of disease centered around bad and good smells!

Where ancient and modern use differs, however, is that we are now able to isolate the essential oil — not simply include it, but use it exclusively. An herbal oil is herbal matter infused with an oil such as olive, so that it contains the essential oil albeit in very small amounts alongside many other compounds from the plant.

There are fewer compounds, obviously, since the plant matter is strained away and discarded, but there are still many, creating a highly usable oil infused with a range of medicinal properties. This is usually accomplished using steam distillation to release the droplets and then catch them. It comes down to this: for herbed oils, the oil is now medicinally stronger than it was before, but the herbal matter is more varied and less concentrated than an essential oil.

For aromatherapy essential oils, the oil is concentrated and specific in use, condensed from large amounts of herbal matter that have been isolated for a single component, therefore compressed into much, much smaller volumes of oil. Cinnamon, for example, is a delicious spice. The cinnamon that you sprinkle onto toast is essentially ground-up bark and is the culmination of a combination of many chemical components — yes, including essential oils.

In cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon, the oils are dispersed amongst the other components, giving you a wide range of substances to stir into tea or add to Christmas pie. Now, to make cinnamon essential oil, that same bark would be placed through a distillation process, releasing and separating the essential oil. Great amounts of bark would be used in the process, and precious vials of aromatherapy essential oil would be the result.

Same bark, same plant. But would you shake your cinnamon essential oil bottle all over your morning toast, just like you did with the powder?


When you use an essential oil, you should use it for the very specific benefits that those specific molecules can provide. In other words, it could really hurt your skin or the tender lining of your mouth and throat if you were to use it just like cinnamon sticks or powder.

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These are volatile oils, remember? They are pretty delicate in their composition and will adapt based on their conditions and use to the plant.

A Beginner’s Guide To Buying Essential Oils

Pretty powerful stuff! The progress that we have made since Aromatherapie was first written allows us to choose aromatherapy essential oils for specific uses based on what we know of their composition. Rather than burning whatever smells good and hoping it chases away disease, we can combine the art and science of aromatherapy to be intentional and effective in our use. The term aromatherapy was coined to combine aroma and therapy , indicating therapeutic benefits using fragrance. This is still the heart of aromatherapy, but essential oil use has expanded in many ways and toward many uses.

The main categories of use are 7 :. Not only is inhalation the oldest form of aromatherapy essential oil use, it is also arguably the safest. Oils diffused throughout a room are relatively safe for most people in most cases due to the low level of concentration when used correctly.

More direct effects can be obtained by breathing in a steam directly or inhaling right from the bottle, or from a few drops on a cloth. This carries the volatile oil directly into your respiratory system and mucous membranes, diffused throughout the steam or air molecules. Topical use is a step further than traditional inhalation-based aromatherapy, though still familiar in the context of massage therapy, which often utilizes fragrant aromatherapy essential oils for massage applications.

Instead of the broad diffusion through air droplets that inhalation provides, topical use of aromatherapy essential oils is much more direct.

But at the same time, the oil is absorbed through the barrier layers of skin, while inhalation moves quickly through the thinner mucous membranes. Knowing your oil and the goal you have in mind can help you determine which application is more appropriate.

A Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils

In theory and in professional practice, some aromatherapy essential oils can be used on the skin undiluted. However, the safest application is via dilution. Carrier oils like olive, coconut , jojoba and avocado oils usually have benefits of their own, and you can easily combine a couple of drops in a teaspoon to dilute the oils and help bypass potential irritation. These are NOT the oils you want to use for you or your family. For instance:. Crazy right? But when you consider you can replace DIY and household cleaning products with essential oils, it usually come out to be cheaper and more natural.

She blogs over at Holistic Health Herbalist. Get glowing skin and learn how to make your own DIY beauty products with simple ingredients from your kitchen. Plus, get my 7-day essential oils course to get gorgeous skin from the inside out. Please tell me the difference between Thieves and Thieves Vitality. I have Thieves oil and several of the Thieves cleaning products. They are actually the same oil.

Thanks for this info!! I have been to many sites that push a certain brand and they all say the same thing and have the exact lotion bar recipe word for word. This is a very refreshing blog!

What Are Essential Oils?

You may want to start with their Introduction to Aromatherapy section, where you can learn even more about the essentials of essential oils. Learn more about essential oils with the best the Aromatherapy world has to offer, by visiting the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy website. The NAHA have been the leaders in educating the world on the use of essential oils in Aromatherapy for over 25 years, and continue to promote Aromatherapy as a professional science and art.

You can expect to find a plethora of information on EOs for beginners and experts alike. Start with their Explore Aromatherapy section, and move onto their in-depth blog posts and recommended literature. Explore the NAHA today! You can always contact one of our many Edens Garden professionals to discuss any questions, inquiries, concerns, or suggestions you might have. You can also call, email, or message us through any of our social media platforms.

Thank you for pointing out that Aromaweb is the best online essential oils booklet for resources on oil profiles, oil safety, and oil uses.