Choosing An Oil

Essential oils are mainly used for the therapeutic effects their chemical constituents have on the human body however they also have value due to the way people have strong emotional associations with scent which can play a large role in psychological wellness.

Therapeutic Properties

The therapeutic properties of essential oils are usually described using traditional names which can be difficult for non experts to decipher. Below is a list of some of the more common properties of oils and what general area of physiology they might apply to. Hopefully this will help you narrow down where to start when researching suitable oils.

SKIN COMPLAINTS
Antiseptic: Kill bacteria and other microbes.
Anti-inflammatory: Reduce the body’s inflammatory response.
Fungicidal: Kills fungal spores (e.g. tea tree)
Immune System Stimulating and Healing agents : promoting healing of cuts, scars, stretch marks etc.
Deodorants: Most commonly antiseptic oils which kill the bacteria that cause bad smells.
Insect repellents: Oils with a traditional use in discouraging pests, citronella is perhaps the best known.

CIRCULATION, MUSCLES AND JOINTS
Hypertensive: Reduce blood pressure
Hypertensive: Increase blood pressure
Rubefaciants: Increase blood supply to the areas (e.g. for stiff joints)
Depurative: Cleansing effect (e.g. for gout)
Lymphatic Stimulants: increase lymph flow e.g. for water retention

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Expectorants: Thin mucous allowing it to flow. E.g. for blocked noses etc.
Antispasmodics: Reduce the need to cough from muscle spasm.
Antiseptics and Antivirals: Oils that reduce infections by killing bacteria and viruses.

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Antispasmodics: Reduce spasm and cramping.
Carminatives: Reduce the sensation of sickness.
Cholagogues: Increase bile flow
Hepatics: Support liver health
Aperitifs: Increase appetite.

GENITO-URINARY AND ENDOCRINE (Hormonal) SYSTEM
Antispasmodics: Reduce spasm and cramping.
Emmenagogues: May help regulate female hormonal cycle.
Galacatagoues: Increase breast milk flow.
Aphrodisiacs: Increased sexual energy
Anaphrodisiacs: Suppress and reduce sexual energy/desire.
Adrenal stimulants: Support your stress response.
Urinary Antiseptics: Specific action for bladder and urinary infections

IMMUNE SYSTEM
Bactericidal and Antiviral Agents: Supporting your immune system
Febrifuge: Reduce fevers

NERVOUS SYSTEM
Sedatives: Calm down mood
Stimulants: Uplifting mood
Tonics: Supportive and nourishing

The Mind

Aromatherapy oils are said to act pharmacologicaly, i.e. like a drug absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin but it is also important to consider the the way your sense of smell affects mood and mind. With this in mind a huge part of the selection process for oils should consider whether the person being treated enjoys the smell of the blend being used.

Combined with massage treatment, aromatherapy can be an incredibly effective tool for supporting psychological health, combining the positive effects of touch with the psychological benefits of the oils which include: relaxing an apprehensive mind; uplifting depression and despair and relieving panic or anger.

Most clinical trials of aromatherapy massage have focused on the psychological outcomes of the treatment. There is good evidence from randomised trials to indicate that massage reduces anxiety scores in the short term, where settings as varied as intensive care, psychiatric institutions, hospices and occupational health have been used. Practitioners and patients report that massage improves self-image in terminal illness.