Updated: Apr 23
During Covid-19 pandemic, Aromatherapy can bring more balance into our lives. Aromatherapy is a therapeutic method that uses essential oils to bring physical and emotional well-being. For this it is important to know how to use essential oils and diffusers. Let's first talk about diffusers and in the next post we'll talk about essential oils.
There are several types of diffusers on the market. Your choice will depend on price, location size and purpose. It is important to buy good quality essential oils (reliable suppliers, origin, price, chemical analysis certificate or gas chromatography analysis done by a reliable laboratory) in order to obtain the desired effects as many of them are adulterated and can cause damage to health. Essential oils are not aromatic essences. Aromatic essences are synthetic, while essential oils are natural and have therapeutic properties.
Inhalation is one of the most efficient methods of absorbing essential oils into the body. It allows them to be absorbed up to a range of 70%, being more efficient than topical absorption (skin). Inhalation can be done in several ways, active (personal inhaler, nebulizer, electric or ultrasonic diffuser and even inhalation with hot water and a towel covering the head) or passive (aroma paste, sticks, adhesives). Inhalation is an efficient method for mood modulation, energization, anxiety reduction and can also be used to directly address respiratory problems.
Diffusion is the process of dispersing essential oil molecules in the air so that they can be inhaled. When we inhale we will be smelling and at the same time, the molecules of essential oils will go to our lungs and the olfactory/limbic system, being absorbed into the bloodstream. The bloodstream will then carry the molecules around the body and they will interact with the cells causing an effect.
Personal diffusers are great for travel and don't bother others with the smell of essential oils.
One of them is the necklace made of ceramic (or terracota- unglazed ceramic), wood or metal with a space to drip drops of essential oil. (2 drops)
Another type of personal diffuser is the personal inhaler or aroma stick. It uses a wick (cotton filter) that is soaked with essential oil inside a plastic or glass tube. In the wick you will drip 10-15 drops of essential oil or you can also use a blend of oils. To use, place the inhaler close to your nostrils, then inhale slowly as you rock the inhaler back and forth. For a stronger effect, place the tip in one of your nostrils, inhaling deeply. Then repeat with the other nostril.
They are usually made of ceramic or metal and have a space to place the candle and a container on top to hold the water and drops of the essential oil. The heat of the candle heats the mixture, transferring the aroma scent to the air. Choose a taller model, in which the flame is further away from the top. Otherwise the candle will transfer a lot of heat to the ceramic and the essential oil will evaporate too fast and will lose some of its properties. Be careful, as essential oils are flammable. The advantage, however, is the low cost. (From 2 -4 drops in water)
They can be made of reed diffusers (wood sticks) or porous ceramic (terracota), commonly found in the form of decorative objects. They absorb essential oils and release them at room temperature, without the need for a heat source. The diffusion, in this case, is punctual and for small places.
Preferably made of enameled ceramic, it has the advantage of generating a more constant and suitable heat source for essential oils. Ideal for small environments. Its disadvantage is that the oil evaporates quickly and therefore needs to be replaced constantly. (Follow manual recommendations)
The room diffuser is an electric unit that uses low levels of heat to volatilize the essential oils on a refil pad. It is good for travelling and inexpensive but you will need to replace the pads. (Follow manual recommendations - usually 5-15 drops)
Ultrasonic diffusion is perhaps the most popular active diffusion method, and ultrasonic diffusers are widely available. Drops of essential oil are added to a water reservoir and ultrasonic vibrations are created by a small disk under the surface of the water which causes the essential oil to break up into tiny micro particles. This vibration disperses the essential oil and water in the air, making it available for inhalation. It has the advantage of humidifying dry air. There is very little to no noise associated with ultrasonic diffusers, making them perfect for nighttime use. This method is generally very reliable and low risk, although the cost of an ultrasonic diffuser can be an obstacle for some. (Follow manual instructions for use. Generally 3-5 drops per 100ml)
Nebulization is another very popular diffusion method. Nebulizers work by using a pressurized air jet to disperse essential oil in the air without using water. This is also a reliable and safe method, but it tends to use more essential oil than ultrasonic diffusion. It is most recommended for those who need to cover a larger area.
Nebulizers can be more difficult to clean than other types of diffusers and glass containers can be expensive to replace if broken. They may also not be suitable for certain situations due to the noise level of some devices. (Follow manual recommentations)
Homemade inhalation is done by using a bowl of boiling water and 3-4 drops of essential oil (or a blend of oils). Close your eyes (as some oils can irritate) and place your face next to the bowl inhaling the steam until the heat dissipates, covering your head with a towel (no longer than 15-20 min). Repeat the procedure 2-3 times a day if necessary. This method helps to alleviate sinusitis, congestion, cold and breathing problems.
You will get better results if you use the diffuser intermittently than constantly, throughout the day. Use the diffuser for 15 minutes on (30 min to maximum 1hr) and then 15 minutes off (30 min to maximum 1hr). This is not only safer, but also more effective, as our body and nervous system get used to essential oils after this period of time. Whenever you are using the diffuser, it is advisable to ventilate the place with fresh air.
It is not advisable to use diffusers close to pets. If you have pets, they must have free access to other places in the house or be able to go outside.
Be careful when selecting essential oils as they have contraindications, consult a professional in aromatherapy when treating children, elderly patients, people with chronic diseases, pregnant and lactating women. Essential oils can cause adverse reactions for people with asthma, breathing problems, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, migraine, etc.
We will leave some links/book that can be useful as a source of information and consultation.
Essential oil safety - Robert Tisserand & Rodney Young
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy - Salvatore Battaglia
Aromatherapy for Health Professionals - Shirley & Len Price
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