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April 24, 2018  |  Login
Using Essential Oils
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
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Never apply essential oils before going out in the sun. Oils such as bergamot, cold-pressed lime, neroli, lemon, grapefruit, angelica root, cumin, ginger, lovage, and verbena can cause sun sensitivity.


To get started in aromatherapy, you, of course, need essential oils. But which to choose? High-quality oils can be expensive, and it's worthwhile to select oils that both meet your personal needs and are as versatile as possible.

For general use, focus on ten basic oils: rose, rosemary, peppermint, tea tree, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, sandalwood, juniper, and rose geranium. These ten oils can be blended or used singly, as you desire. Of course, if you have a specific condition that calls for a special oil in treatment, add that one to the list. One caveat is worth mentioning here. Generally, if you do not like the scent of an essential oil, do not use it. Trust your nose to guide you to the essential oils that will be most beneficial to you.

And, as with any treatment, care is called for in aromatherapy. As previously mentioned, never ingest essential oils on your own initiative. Always dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin. And if you experience any discomfort, skin irritation, or sensitivity, stop using that particular oil.

Certain medical conditions require extra caution. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor before using aromatherapy. Likewise if you have cancer, asthma, high or low blood pressure, or epilepsy, or if you are taking any medications-prescription or over-the-counter. In addition, if you are using homeopathic remedies, aromatherapy can diminish their effects. Avoid using essential oils if you are under homeopathic care, or check with a homeopathic practitioner.

Whether you choose to use aromatherapy occasionally or every day, we think you'll find that it's a welcome addition. Sinking into a relaxing aromatherapy bath at the end of a long day's work or indulging in a weekly aromatherapy massage will not only help your body and mind, it will also soothe your spirit.

Of course, even frequent aromatherapy can't counteract the effects of a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, or a stressed-out approach to life. Whether you're trying to overcome a specific physical or mental problem or you're just seeking greater overall health, use aromatherapy to complement your good eating and exercise habits.

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