Essential oils are also known as essences and are the botanical extracts of various plant materials such as flowers, herbs, roots, leaves, etc. Each contains its mix of active ingredients which determines what purpose the oil is used for. Some oils help to promote physical healing such as treating swelling or fungal infections, others are used for their emotional value which may enhance relaxation.

Essential oils can be used effectively through our sense of smell - in diffusers, candles, incense sticks, in our wardrobes, bed linen, potpourri, air conditioner ducts or just sprinkle on bowls of water kept around. The other way they are usually used is through massage, baths, compresses or inhalations. When used in massage and bathing, essential oils are absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. When inhaled the fine molecules of these oils pass through the skin directly into the bloodstream.

  1. Bathing - Add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to your bathtub just before getting in. Put the essential oil in bathwater and swish it gently with your hand, so that the oil forms a film on top. A thin film of oil will come on your body while sitting in it and will penetrate into your skin thereby diffusing into the tissues. If using a bucket for bathing, use essential oil in your last rinse, after bathing take a mug of water and put essential oil in it gently pour the water onto your body. Allow the skin to absorb the oil completely for 5 minutes.

  2. Skin Massage - For skin massage, essential oils are mixed with carrier oils such as jojoba oil, olive oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil. Add 8 to 10 drops of essential oil to a carrier oil and use it to massage your body. During massage oil is completely absorbed by the skin and penetrates deeply into the tissues.

    Following essential oils can be used for massage or bath:
    Relaxation - Cypress/Rose
    Tonic - Basil/ Rosemary
    Refreshing - Lavender/Lemon
    Aphrodisiac - Jasmine/Sandalwood

  3. Vapourisation - Essential oils can be used as air fresheners. They contribute to a cheerful atmosphere. Put a few drops of essential oil onto a source of heat. This could be a light bulb, a radiator or a small bowl of hot water. The oil evaporates and perfumes the air.

    The following oils can be used as air fresheners:
    Lemon Grass

  4. Compresses - Cold compresses are used for sprains, bruises, fevers, headaches, etc while hot compresses are used for boils, abscesses, cystitis and menstruation pain. Add 6 to 10 drops of essential oil to half a pint of water. Use icy water for cold compresses and boiling water for hot compresses. Add the essential oil after the water has been poured into a container. Soak a small towel or a piece of linen in the water. Wring out fabric and place it over the area to be treated.

    Following oils can be used:

    Bruises - Lavender
    Headaches - Lavender, Peppermint
    Sprains - Peppermint
    Boils - Sandalwood
    Cystitis - Cedarwood, Sandalwood
    Painful Menstruation - Rose, Lavender
    Cold - Eucalyptus, Lemon

  5. Diffusers - Diffusers are the best way to keep the fragrance going and make it long-lasting. It is best to use ceramic diffusers. Use 7 to 9 drops of water in a diffuser bowl filled with three-quarters of water. Light the candle below, as the water starts warming up, the essential oil starts diffusing through the room. Electric diffusers can also be used. Essential oils should never be burnt directly as the chemical structure is dramatically changed with incineration.