Aromatherapy and essential oils
Aromatherapy is the use of natural plant essences (Essential Oils) in healing, relaxation and stress.
Plant essences are natural concentrations of the "power" in the plant. Authentic essential oils are rarely used directly on the skin and certainly never rubbed into the skin. They are much too strong and need diluting in water (as in a hot bath) or in natural oils (for use as cosmetics or in massage). Pure essential oils are not cheap. They are highly concentrated essences that go a long way.
Beware of so-called 'aromatherapy oils' which do not declare their ingredients. These are likely to be cheap vegetable oils with a tiny unknown amount of fragrance, often synthetic, especially when the 'aromatherapy oil' claims to be using expensive oils such as neroli, jasmine and rose.
How Essential Oils are used
Essential oils are ideal in a hot bath. Add a few drops to the water just before you get in and stir the water briskly to disperse the oil evenly. If your skin is sensitive use very small quantities, i.e. 2-4 droplets.
Add 2-5 drops of essential oil to 10 ml of vegetable oil. Nut oils such as Sweet Almond, Peach Kernel, Apricot Kernel are excellent for this and good for the skin. Shake well after mixing and before use.
Essential oils make ideal room fresheners. Many are antiseptic. Create your own atmosphere (relaxing, stimulating, refreshing) by your own choice of oils. Add a few drops to water on top of a warm radiator or in a light bulb ring. Never use near an open flame for most oils are flammable.
Essential oils evaporate quickly in boiling water. Add a few drops to a bowl of boiling water and cover head with a towel. Take care NEVER to get essential oils directly near the eyes.
Usually too strong except in sweet-making e.g. Peppermint, Aniseed. You can try Rosemary oil and Basil oil in cooking but you may find it overpowering. Try diluting in vinegar for use in salads.
In natural cosmetics and perfumes
Refer to table "Natural Essential Oils" which gives you a list of the oils and describes some of the main ways in which essential oils are used.