Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – An introduction to the therapy by Sally Cronin

Welcome to the repeat of the 2018 series about essential oils and aromatherapy and I hope those new to the blog will enjoy.

Twenty-two years ago I ran a health food shop and diet advisory centre here in Ireland and we sold essential oils for aromatherapy. I thought that I should learn more about it and took a course on the subject. I am looking forward to sharing this relaxing therapy with you.

What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which have been extracted from specific sweet smelling plants for therapeutic massage. They are blended with specialised carrier oils to ensure that they are used in a diluted form and are easily absorbed by the skin. The oils can also be used to add these therapeutic aromas to our environment as well with the use of burners.

One of the first things that I learnt on my course, was that the original Coca-Cola was developed as a nerve tonic by pharmacist John Pemberton in 1886 by blending the essential oils of orange, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and neroli together. And of course the unknown secret ingredient to this day ‘7X’. How cool is that.

How does aromatherapy work

Essential oils enter the body through the skin mainly because of their very small molecules. Apart from being absorbed into the skin during a warming massage, the aromatic molecules are also breathed in, and when they hit the nerve receptors in the nostrils, it sets of a reaction resulting in brain activity. This also occurs when using essential oils to bath water which adds to the relaxation of being immersed in the warm environment.

The history of essential oils.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years as the mainstay of a healer’s medicine chest. With experimentation over centuries the uses and the recipes were refined and eventually became commercially available.  One of the issues of course is finding unpolluted plant sources which is increasingly difficult. One of the largest growing areas for Lavender which is one of the most popular essential oils in in Provence in France. In the early days of its cultivation weeding was done by goats and sheep who fertilised the crop too!

These days there are very strict regulations governing the production of essential oils in the region and you can find out more here:

Making your own essential oil preparations.

You can use essential oils in the preparation in many of the products that you currently buy in bottles and plastic. For example here in Ireland you can buy wonderful handmade soaps that contain all natural ingredients and feel and smell wonderful. I bought some when I was selling my books at Christmas fairs and there is no comparison to the shop bought products. Some also provide training days to get you started on making your own soaps and this is just one that is south of us. Crobally Irish Soaps

Elements Collection Soap BarsSome of you might have used Arnica in the past in one form or another to reduce bruising or inflammation. It can also be used for painful joints, sprains and muscle strains. The problem with shop bought premixed lotions is that many can contain petroleum and other chemical additives. This first link will show you how to make your own arnica salve, using another of my essential natural ingredients for lotions….Coconut Oil salve

I do recommend that you buy your essential oils or products made from them from a reputable source and that you opt for the organic makes.

Medicinal benefits of essential oils.

Whilst essential oils have been used as I mentioned, for thousands of years, there is now a lot of scientific research into the the use of the oils in modern medicine. Some enlightened doctors actually have aromatherapists working in their practices. The oils have varied properties, some are effective against viral or fungal infections, some such as Arnica are useful as an anti-inflammatory and relieving pain.

My all in one essential oil.

The one essential oil that is always in my medicine cabinet and my toiletries is Tea Tree Oil.

I discovered its benefits when I was learning about essential oils back in the late 1990s and I have used for mosquito bites, tooth ache, in a soap, shower gel, face cream and toothpaste ever since. It is a powerful oil and has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral,  fungicide and insecticide properties, to mention just a few. Great for athlete’s food, or other fungal conditions as well as keeping hair clear of predators!

With regard to aromatherapy its primary property is as a stimulant and has that effect on blood circulation, hormone secretion and on the immune system. You do not take Tea Tree orally, but it is still effects your internal body systems with its absorption into the skin during massage. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect on sore muscles and joints.

Next time I will be giving you a list of essential oils, where they are extracted from and their uses.

But first a little safety warning.

  • Never take essential oils internally.
  • Keep out of your eyes and away from children
  • Do not apply undiluted (ways to dilute and blend later)

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid the following: (hormone and other stimulating effects) and check the qualifications of your therapist with regard to pre-natal massage.

  • Cinnamon,
  • Basil
  • Juniper
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Clary Sage
  • Oregano
  • Clove
  • Nutmeg
  • Bay
  • Pimento Berry
  • Sage
  • Hyssop
  • Wintergreen
  • Birch Oils.

If you are going to be in direct sunlight within four hours avoid citrus essential oils such as Bergamot as they increase your sensitivity to the sunlight and can result in burning.

Thank you for dropping in today and I look forward to your feedback and seeing you again more on essential oils next week. Thanks Sally

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

35 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – An introduction to the therapy by Sally Cronin

  1. Hi Sally thank you for this post. Over the past 2 years I have been gradually building up my stock of essential oils. I am learning about compatible blends to use in a defuser . I have also made some blends with carrier oils for aches and pains, sinus relief, and perfume.
    What is the best way to store essential oils ?. Mine are stored in a closed wooden box. Should I take the warm climate into consideration? Xx💓

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – An introduction to the therapy by Sally Cronin | Retired? No one told me!

  3. I am also looking forward to this series…I have managed to press this without too much trouble..slightly different format but didn’t take me very long I hate to admit it was quite painless I will however still be using the classic editor for my posts…Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a helpful article, Sally – and so great to get a clear definition of essential oils and aromatherapy. I’m pleased to hear your endorsement of tea tree oil – it’s in my current moisturiser and i find it very purifying and refreshing. Toni x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, Sally for this series. I love essential oils and always have half a dozen in the bathroom. My only complaint is that I can never get lavender oil to smell like fresh lavender – it always smells too strong even when I only use a dip. I love neroli and frankincense. I have a couple of books about how to mix them etc and I love reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We use essential oils in the salves we make for my husband’s back. And I used to make my own soaps, candles, lotions and shampoos. I didn’t remember all the uses for Tea Tree oil. That would be a good one to have on hand. 🙂 Great post, Sally.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I used arnica on the elbows and knees of all the children and grandchildren, love lavender and use peppermint oil to ward off headaches. Tea tree has come in very handy with the unwanted visitors on the scalps of aforementioned family members, and I can’t resist giving a squeeze to sprigs of rosemary when I pass it in the garden. I’ve quite an extensive herb patch now but most of them are grown for their taste or smell without any real knowledge of their benefits and so I’m really looking forward to this series!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sally, I am with you on the efficacy of essential oils. We always have tea tree oil in our medicine cabinet. I also have one vial in the car, so that when we go on trips we can treat insect bites and other nuisances without going to a care clinic.

    This morning, my web guy pulled out a wee container of hand cleanser with a scent of eucalyptus. It smelled heavenly. I doubt it contained an essential oil, but the label read “stress reducer.” Thanks, Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 20th – 26th September 2020 – Community, #Streisand, #Canberra, #Waterford, Books, Reviews and funnies. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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