I wanted to start writing some blogs about Aromatherapy that you and I can drip in to every so often in order for a mini-series to develop over the next few months, allowing you to learn a little more about this ancient art.
These blogs are not aimed at telling you how to blend oils, use them on yourself, family or friends, or give you the techniques to practice. It is just aimed at giving you background knowledge so that you can identify with your therapist in a deeper manner. If you are interested in the subject, please look to your local education providers so that you can learn how to use these tools safely, as they can be dangerous if used incorrectly.
So where do we start? Do we start with the story of ancient Egyptian wall art depicting the use of oils? Do we look to the Bible and where each book therein tells us how oils, herbs and blends are used? Shall we cover the history of the East and how their techniques of distilling essences travelled West so that we, too, could benefit from what they had to offer? Well, I would love to look at that aspect, but I actually want to look at the oils with you and work out some basic principles for Aromatherapy so that we can plainly see why it is so beneficial to the body.
Base oils are also known as Carrier Oils. The reason is that they carry the essential oils and allow the essences that the therapist chooses for you to enter the skin in a safe, dispersed and easy way. The skin is semipermeable, meaning that the body allows things in as well as gets things out through the skin. When the base oil is massaged into the skin the it allows the Essential Oils to enter the body through the blood stream within 20 - 70 minutes after application, and their effect can last up to 48 hours.
Always ask for Virgin Cold Pressed Oils where at all possible.
- Virgin means that the oils have been collected after it's first initial press, rather than being overly processed (maybe up to three times or more).
- Cold Pressed means that the oil has not been heated over 60 degrees centigrade. Any higher and some of the nutrients may be stripped out of the oil, leaving the oil less potent and acceptable for therapeutic purposes. Machine Pressed also offers these benefits as well.
This thick, green, rich oil is taken rather for granted in our kitchens I think. It is a fantastic nourisher, feeding our skin with numerous vitamins including A, C and E. Vitamin E is the one that we are most interested in at this time of year when we think about helping the skin as it helps chronic dehydration in the skin. Used on its own, I personally find it rather thick and heavy during a massage and I can't think of when I would use it without blending it with another oil, normally Sweet Almond Oil. You will still get all the benefits from the Olive Oil from the this blending process, added with those of the Sweet Almond (which are mainly that it is light, fairly easy to work with and provide a high amount of vitamin A).
The smell that some people find Olive Oil has can be strong, but never so much that it takes away from the blend of the essences during a massage. It's defiantly an oil to have on hand to help anyone with a dryer, thinner skin, so it can also help those with less collagen and elastin in the skin. This type of skin can be super sensitive to touch and will need a rich oil to allow the therapist's hands to glide over the skin to help calm agitated nerve endings. I find that even when I need to use a lot of oil for a client, I can still effectively treat Trigger Points and muscular based tension; it just takes a bit more focus and that can never be a bad thing!
Now this really is a thick, gloopy, fun oil and I love it as it is so rich in Vitamin E! Not only does it help 'Winter Skin' but it is perfect for eczema sufferers as it deeply nourishes the skin, (although beware, never use it on broken skin). When it is cold pressed and at its premium it shimmers a deep green. When heat has been passed through it the colour is more a pale yellow and not something to bother with as far as a therapeutic product is concerned. Again, for an aging skin it is a dream to work with, giving bounce to the skin and in winter it is a must due to it's trace element; Vitamin D. We don't get much sun in the winter here in the U.K, so make sure you get enough in your diet to balance the lack of it in nature.
This is another oil that I would blend with Sweet Almond Oil as it needs to be loosened as it can be too thick to glide on the skin for a massage treatment. It is under-rated by therapists I feel as it can stain sheets. However when used it gives the client a very comfortable skin and is a fantastic carrier for any essence blend during the treatments.
I hope this has given you a clear view of two of my top Base Oils for the winter and that we can carry on from here. Next time in the series I will take you through some Base Oils that are derived from nuts and seeds and then we can look into some quite chunky macerated oils.
Of course, I have used some great books to help with this series of blogs and they are:
Essential Oils by Susan Curtis (Neal's Yard Remedies Publishing)
Aromatherapy An A-Z by Patricia Davis (Daniel Publishing)
The Art Of Aromatherapy by Robert Tisserand (Daniel Publishing).