What's the best way to use essential oils for aromatherapy?

Is it best to burn oils in a burner, add them to the bath or place drops on a pillow etc? Can you use different oils at different times of the day, e.g something to make you alert in the morning and then another to promote sleep at night?
Asked by AngharadM

5 answers

Top answer
Hi Angharad, using a burner is best if you have a problem with the respiratory system like a cough, cold,sinusitis, bronchitis etc, makes sense if you think about it as you are breathing the essential oils into the nose, throat, lungs, etc where you want them to help you. Actually even better is a little steam inhaler (you can get them cheaply in Bodycare). A burner isalso an excellent method for using the mental and emotional aspects of the oils, such as uplifting, relaxing, balancing, because our sense of smell connects directly to a part of the brain called the limbic system which controls our mood, our emotions, and links in to our nervous and hormonal systems too.
Massage is best for other physical effects as all the oil goes into the body, none is lost, and particularly if you massage the part effected, for example if you have a digestive problem, or a sore muscle. The bath is a mix of oils going into the skin and through the nose.
Of course you have to take into account what is easy, convenient, fast or pleasurable as well, so using a burner is just a lovely way to scent your home as well as benefiting from the therapeutic properties of the oils; a few drops of say lavender on your pillow is a quick and easy way to ease you off to a good nights sleep (though I find rubbing a drop into the sole of each foot is very effective!) and of course relaxing in a scented bath is a lovely way to relax.
Re different times of day - absolutely. Citrus oils are a great energy boost in the morning - they can even help reset your body clock and help you get over jetlag when you are travelling - grapefruit is particularly good for this. Or if citrus is not a fave scent type, peppermint is really good too, or perhaps Rosemary, particularly if you need to be mentally alert and focused. For sleep at night, lavender is the one I always use, and its such an amazing all round oil, good for so many things, that anyone should have it in their collection.
Just make sure you know how to use essential oils safely, eg how to dilute them in a carrier oil for applying them to the skin and so on. My top tip for using them in the bath is - add to a little full fat milk before adding to the water - its safer than putting them straight in the water and avoids making your bath oily by diluting them in a carrier oil. Re the pillow - lavender is safe to go directly on your pillow as it is one of the few that are safe for undiluted use on the skin - but anything else you are better putting on a tissue or hanky and popping it inside your pillow case.
Best Wishes,
Ceri Turner / Holistyx


Thanks Ceri, really helpful! :-)
You are welcome! :-)
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Hi Angharad, I would agree with Lordor below. As a Clinical Aromatherapist, I would ask why you want to use essential oils and look at it that way too e.g. are you having problems with stress, sleep etc and try with you to work out the cause of the problem. Looking at things holistically, we would be able to help you manage your symptoms better. Essential oils are a great way to do this and give you back control of your own life. However, caution must be mentioned as some essential oils can react on the skin if used incorrectly. Doses vary and are not the same when you are trying to use them therapeutically i.e. to achieve a state of relief, skin care problems etc. Hope this is useful.
Hi Angharad,
I've added a link to my website where you can down load several pdf's full of information that answer all of your questions above + more information on base oils and their various uses and 47 essential oils and their properties. There are some oils that are fab for invigourating and others or fab at relaxing and soothing, others balance and restore.
One of the best mainstream books on Aromatherapy and Essential oils is the Julia Lawless "The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils".
Thanks for a great question.
Cheers, Sue Carberry
Oils can be used in all these ways depending on the effect you want to achieve. For example if you have a heavy cold or blocked sinuses you can add a few drops of Eucalyptus to your bath or to your pillow on an evening to help you breath easier. The same can be done with oils such as Lavender and Swt Marjoram to help you sleep but remember not to overdue the number of drops you use or you could be up all night with a headache. To invigorate you in a morning you could add a few drops of essential oil to your shower gel or put in a burner in the bathroom, but be careful not to leave the burner unattended. Different oils can be used at different times of the day but remember if you use too many your system could become overloaded with the essential oil components. Always follow the guidelines particularly if you have a medical condition or during pregnancy and get expert advice from a qualified aromatherapist who can make blends up for you.
HI, Angharad. Essential oils can be used in very many different ways and you have listed some of them already. I am pasting one of my web pages where it says how to use the essential oils and how to use them safely.
It is a vast subject as there are 100s of essential oils, all with many therapeutic properties but to answer your question about the different oils to use at different times of the day, then yes: some oils such as Rosemary and Peppermint may help you feel alert and others such as Ylang Ylang, Sweet Marjoram and Lavender may help to promote a good night's sleep.
It is best to get a good book or ask a trained Aromatherapist (eg one who is a member of the International Federation of Aromatherapists) if you would like to find out which oils are right for you or just trust your nose to guide your choice.
However do take note of the safety data as some oils are contraindicated if you are pregnant, have blood pressure problems, have epilepsy or other ailments.