Alternate Essential Oils for Beginners
Essential oils are complex substances and, before you use essential oil for the first time, you should understand both its potential benefit and the potential cautions associated with it. It can be confusing for the beginner to aromatherapy to know where you start. In addition to reading some quality aromatherapy books, it is advisable to take a course in aromatherapy to fully understand the subject of essential oils. Here are three alternate essential oils you may wish to consider as a beginner to aromatherapy.
Spearmint Essential Oil
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil is a popular essential oil that is often used by beginners to aromatherapy. However, peppermint essential oil actually contains some volatile chemical components and should not be used with, or in the vicinity of, babies and children under five years of age. Breathing difficulties may occur in the underdeveloped lungs of this age group. In addition, peppermint essential oil can cause sensitivity.
An alternative to peppermint essential oil is spearmint (Mentha spicata) essential oil. Spearmint essential oil has a less sharp aroma than peppermint essential oil, more reminiscent of a popular brand of chewing gum! Spearmint essential oil contains a less percentage of menthol, which causes possible sensitivity. Spearmint and peppermint essential oil have similar therapeutic properties. However, both essential oils should be avoided in pregnancy.
Rosalina Essential Oil
Rosalina (Melaleuca ericifolia) essential oil is a relatively new essential oil to the market but it can be used for similar purposes as tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)essential oil. As it contains more alcohols, it may be more suitable for use with children. However, it is still potent enough to tackle the symptoms of colds, flu, and respiratory problems.
Rosalina essential oil is not as common in usage as its more popular cousin, tea tree, but it can handle similar sorts of problems, and maybe a good alternative for beginners to aromatherapy.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a confusing essential oil for beginners; not only is it available in various chemotypes, but the plant produces two different types of thyme essential oil: white thyme and red thyme. White thyme essential oil (high in alcohols) is considered to be the more “gentle” essential oil and is probably the best essential oil for beginners to aromatherapy. One of the most popular white thyme essential oils that are high in alcohols is usually labeled as Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool and is one that I would recommend for beginners to aromatherapy. However, there are many different chemotypes of thyme; for further reading see Shirley and Len Price’s book, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 4th Edition (2012), pp. 8 – 10.
Both white and red thyme essential oils have similar therapeutic properties, so enjoy with this Alternate Essential Oils.
The Psychological Effects of Essential Oils
Fragrance perception is a subjective experience; we have to experience the fragrance in order for us to perceive it and what smells pleasant to one person may be offensive to another. Individual perception is a subjective and unique experience; two people may never describe a smell the same way. Aromatherapy applications affect mood, emotions, and memory. Aromas have been found to be a very effective tool used in relaxation work because it directly targets the inner mind and bypasses the verbal, conscious mind. Often the physiological effect of a certain aroma is overridden by the individual’s specific emotional associations and psychological preferences. The study of the psychological effects of aromas is called aromachology.
When making a therapeutic blend these things must be taken into account to be so certain that the client will have positive psychological responses; whether the person finds it stimulation or sedating, any universal associations the aroma has, for example, rose suggests femininity, love, divinity, and sweetness to most cultures, meaning of the aroma according to the environment, society, and cultural factors, for example, frankincense is associated with incense burned in the Roman Catholic church and the first impression of the aroma the person has because of personal associations and preferences whether positive or negative.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing and that’s very important to remember with aromatherapy. A subtle, pleasing aroma is more beneficial for obtaining mood, emotion or psychological effects, but if our sense of smell is overwhelmed by overuse of aromatics, the body can react negatively. For example, erogenous scents should be very alluring and pleasurable in small amounts, but if the scent is too concentrated it will more than likely have a repulsive aroma then an aphrodisiac aroma.
The sense of smell is the only sense that is directly linked to the limbic lobe of the brain, where the emotional control center is located. This is where anxiety, depression, fear, anger, joy, and other emotions come from. The limbic system is connected to the brain that controls heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance – that’s why essential oils have both physiological and psychological effects. The sense of touch, taste, hearing, and sight are all linked to the thalamus, which is the brain’s switchboard, passing stimuli onto the cerebral cortex. This is why the scent of a special fragrance can bring up memories, moods, and emotions before we are even aware of it
We all have experienced aroma association, we smell a certain scent and right away it makes us think of something. There is an enormous effect on a person’s physiological and psychological response because of the individual’s perception of an aroma. Emotions linked with aromas are subjective and lifestyle and culture have a large influence on this, for example, many people who are accustomed to Asian cuisine think of food when they smell ginger.
While exposed to an aroma and experiencing emotion at the same time, the next time exposure occurs to the same aroma the emotions experienced are related to the first emotions felt that first time. Always allow the person to experience the aroma of the oils before a blend is finalized or an aromatherapy treatment is started to let them experience the aroma. Duration is also critical; from time to time changing the oils used is a good thing to do, that way the person is not affected by conditioning which will slow the treatment down.
The power of positive suggestion goes a very long way; if you’re told a scent is pleasant the reaction should be positive and being told the scent is unpleasant the reaction most likely will be negative. Just thinking about an aroma changes the brain waves. If a person needs to calm down after a long day and is told that the blend will help them calm down, after using the blend they will be more likely to calm down because of the power of suggestion.
The best way to look at this is that aromas affect us all differently and there are many factors that make the oils affect us the way they do, that’s why an essential oil will have a different effect on different people.