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Aromatherapy for Health and Well-Being

 Several years ago, a stressful life change turned my world upside-down. It was then that a good friend introduced me to my first essential oil: lavender. Its ability to help me de-stress was nothing short of incredible, and I loved the way it helped me drop off to sleep even when I was feeling anxious and overwrought.

I tried peppermint oil next. I caught a nasty stomach bug and the same friend encouraged me to try it for nausea. I was skeptical, even though I was no stranger to herbal and homeopathic remedies. Despite my misgivings, I was desperate enough to put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on the soles of my feet. The relief was almost immediate, leaving me both grateful and intrigued—I was hooked! How could something so simple (and weird?) work so well?
Soon, I was experimenting with aromatherapy and digging deep into books about it. I learned to create some of my own blends, making some “interesting” mistakes along the way. Luckily, essential oils are forgiving. An overpowering blend is easily toned down with the addition of more carrier oil, and an unappealing mixture can be used in a nontoxic household cleaner if adding other oils fails to redeem it.
My introduction to essential oils happened before aromatherapy enjoyed the surge in popularity that has brought it into common use today. There were a few good companies offering quality essential oils at the time, but availability was limited, and prices were higher.
These days, there are many more essential oils and blends to choose from, and they are easier to find.
It’s great to have so many options, but there is also lots of marketing hype surrounding certain essential oils and brands. This can create some confusion for beginners. Do I have the right oils? Do I have the best brand? Am I going to be harmed because I don’t have essential oils from a company that claims its products are superior to others?
The Benefits of Using Essential Oils
Aromatherapy can provide natural, nonpharmaceutical relief for a variety of symptoms and can replace some over-the-counter medications. For example, peppermint oil can help soothe indigestion, ease cold symptoms, and stop headaches. If you need a quick energy boost or a way to wind down, aromatherapy can help. Just add a few drops of rosemary to your shower for an energizing morning boost, or diffuse frankincense to ground yourself after a hectic rush-hour commute.
With a few deodorizing and germ-killing essential oils, you can keep your home fresh and clean. By mixing a little bit of clove, lemon, or tea tree essential oil with simple, inexpensive ingredients such as baking soda or rubbing alcohol, you can create homemade cleansers that replace a cupboard full of toxic concoctions with scary warning labels. Lavender is a fantastic example of a versatile essential oil: It can be diffused to freshen a room, provide a relaxing atmosphere, applied topically to treat minor injuries and irritations, and mixed into cleansers for your home. You can even use it to help keep fleas from pestering your pets.
Aromatherapy in Five Steps
W hile anyone can buy essential oils and start diffusing them immediately, learning in a systematic and methodical way can build a good foundation for those who want to dive deeper and explore aromatherapy safely. It doesn’t take long to start integrating essential oils into your regular routine; all it requires is a bit of basic knowledge and a willingness to forgo the temporary pleasure of instant gratification.
Knowing what you want and need is step one. As in so many areas of life, you need a goal for your aromatherapy practice. Second, you want to avoid becoming overwhelmed when you shop for essential oils and start using them. Third, you want to avoid common pitfalls, as well as use your oils in the safest, most effective way possible. Simply put, you need to create a plan that works for you.

This simple five-step approach will help you do just that:
1. Determine your needs.
2. Go shopping.
3. Prepare your recipes.
4. Use your oils safely.
5. Store your oils well.
Let’s look at each step in more detail.
Lemon and grapefruit essential oils mingle here to boost even the bluest mood while awakening the senses. This simple blend can be used in aromatherapy jewelry or essential oil inhalers, and it can be added to bath products, as long as you follow precautions regarding exposure to sunlight. MAKES ABOUT
30 drops grapefruit essential oil
30 drops lemon essential oil
1. In a dark-colored glass bottle with a dropper or orifice reducer, combine the grapefruit and lemon essential oils. Let them rest for at least 1 hour.
2. Add 3 or 4 drops of the blend to a diffuser and use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Repeat any time you need cheering up.
3. Keep your diffuser blend in a cool, dark place between uses.
Tip: If you decide to expand your aromatherapy repertoire, consider adding other citrus oils to this blend. Bergamot, lime, and mandarin are some wonderful ones to try.
Lavender is known for its ability to fade scars, including stretch marks, and sesame oil offers healing and nourishing properties of its own. This simple remedy works best when applied to new stretch marks.
32 drops lavender essential oil
½ cup sesame oil
1. In a bottle with a tight-fitting lid, combine the lavender essential oil and sesame oil. Cap the bottle and shake well to combine.
2. With your fingertips, apply about ¼ teaspoon of the massage oil to each affected area, using a little bit more or less as needed. Gently massage, and give the oil time to absorb into your skin before dressing. Repeat at least twice daily.

3. Keep your massage oil in a cool, dark place between uses.
Tip: If you don’t love the smell of sesame oil, make this blend with shea butter instead. It’s another good carrier for stretch mark-fighting blends.
Stress feels terrible, and too much can damage your health. It’s impossible to avoid stressful circumstances completely, but you can use aromatherapy as a strategy for taking mini-vacations and rebalancing your mind. Most essential oils can help improve your mental state; it’s a good idea to experiment and find out what feels best to you.
Helpful Essential Oils: clary sage, clove, frankincense, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, patchouli, Roman chamomile, rosemary, thyme