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HOW I GOT STARTED
I started using essential oils in the late 1970s. As a chemist, I spent a lot of time around powerful chemicals. Eventually my body said, enough, and I was no longer able to handle any chemicals, anywhere in my life. This included everyday cleaning products, personal care items and even toothpaste. I started making all of my own products using a few simple ingredients; baking soda, vinegar and Castile soap. But there was something missing. I tend to have a very keen sense of smell and realized how much I missed pleasant aromas. My definition of pleasant had changed, but my desire for pleasing this sense had not gone away. So I started using vanilla extract, which is a delightful perfume by itself and also began using essential oils. I used about 5-10 favorite oils and my life felt whole again.
About 10 years ago, I was able to quit my stressful ‘day job’. I had spent my career working in veterinary medicine, public health, and microbiology. I loved the sciences and caring for others, but the politics and demands of these positions took a toll on my health.
This sparked a new and impassioned drive to really play with these amazing oils. I enrolled in an aromatherapy certification course. I felt like I got my life back when I could use my love for chemistry with these amazing, natural oils that were actually good for me. It sparked something deep inside of me. I then moved onto a Scholar level program in aromatherapy and am now working on a French Aromatherapy course as well. It was a perfect fit, the science and art of chemistry, without the risk to my health.
Working through these classes, I found the science easy and fun for me, but what was really a revelation for me was my creative side. Science is very important, but it was the ART of blending that captured my soul. I realized that this artistic, creative and intuitive part of blending was very powerful and that I needed to include it whenever I blended essential oils for any purpose.
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SELECTING ESSENTIAL OILS
I always start my blending process with the chemistry, the science. Obviously, it is important to base a blend upon the solid foundation of research and experience. Science adds confidence to any blend and helps ensure support for health and wellness. I begin with chemical families. In most cases I like to choose from a couple of families in order to give my blend a broader range. The age, gender and specific health concerns of who the blend is for will direct me towards or away from a particular family.
After selecting my 2-3 chemical families, I will proceed to the specific constituents within each chemical family. Does one or another constituent demonstrate the action that I am looking for in this particular blend? This same process is used with all of the chemical families I have selected for this blend.
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HOW TO DELIVER THE OILS
Once I have my list of 5-10 essential oils that I feel would be beneficial for a specific situation, it is now time to determine the best mode for delivering this blend to the client. First I determine if it will be a salve, topical oil, gel, inhaler or aerosol spray.
- SALVE – I like the extended time release nature of this form, especially helpful for overnight care
- OIL – is especially helpful for pain blends with the added benefits of massage
- GEL – tends to act quickly, but doesn’t last as long, it is also a nice oil-free version for those that prefer this option
- INHALER – is fast-acting and is less invasive than other forms, especially helpful in minimizing the exposure to oils in the case of those that may be sensitive to chemicals, and especially beneficial for respiratory concerns
- AEROSOL SPRAY – I have found this form to be especially helpful for Shingles or other skin conditions, when it is too painful to touch the affected area to apply a solid blend
Once the determination has been made that a salve or oil is the best route for this client, options for carrier oils are explored. I feel carrier oils are often underestimated in the value they bring to the blend. I have my go to favorites for different concerns, but review this each time I blend for someone in particular.
- OLIVE OIL (Olea europaea )- has a great shelf life, it is protective, demulcent and emollient for the skin, and I can infuse it with herbs to give an extra punch to any blend as a huge bonus1,2
- CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis) flower for any inflammatory skin blend3
- ARNICA (Arnica montana) flowers for painful muscle and joints4
- CAYENNE (Capsicum annuum) fruit for stubborn pain5
- ST JOHNS WORT (Hypericum perforatum) flower for nerve pain6
- JOJOBA WAX – (Simmondsia chinensis) also has a great shelf life, because of its similarity to our natural sebum, it penetrates the skin well, reduces skin lesions and improves the overall skin condition including acne7
- CASTOR OIL (Ricinus communis) – antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic and significant anti-inflammatory activity properties8
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THE ART OF BLENDING
After doing my scientific research, I start to incorporate the artful, intuitive portion of blending. During the blending process, my training dictates certain things I should do, but my heart and gut yearn for a slightly different or modified approach. I have discovered that every time I listen to this subtle dialog, I always end up with a more effective blend for my client.
Here are three of the basic creative, intuitive strategies I have incorporated:
First, I have noticed in my work that people tend to be attracted to aromas that are balancing or healing for them. When I have a number of people smell the aroma of a pre-made blend, I will get three basic responses: “I love it”, “I can’t really smell it”, or “I don’t like it”. This is a recent example, during a workshop I sent around a blend to help calm anger and irritability. I heard the three predicable responses. Then I asked each of them that did not care for the blend how they handle anger. Are they able to communicate their anger or do they hold it inside? Each of individuals that did not care for the blend designed to reduce anger, were very good at expressing their anger. They did not need this blend. When I asked the ones that loved the aroma of the blend, they indicated that they are working on expressing their anger, but that it was still a challenge for them. They would most likely benefit from this blend. Because of this observation, I will often ask a client for their preference between two of the oils I have pre-selected to use and will use their preferred oil(s) in my blend.
Secondly, I may choose to balance the aroma of my blend making it more pleasing to the senses, encouraging faithful usage for maximum benefit. Recent generations have become accustomed to the powerful synthetic options that allopathic medicine has to offer. The difference between these two approaches has created a learning curve for most clients new to essential oils. Familiarities with time release this and extra strength that, requires an adjustment in thinking to remember to reapply essential oil blends more frequently, or at the first sign of discomfort, or as directed by an Aromatherapist. If the client finds the aroma pleasing, they are more likely to continue to use it for the length of time needed to see improvement.
The aroma of the blend is balanced by using the perfume concept of top, middle and base (TMB) notes while taking into consideration any safety dilution factors. I find blends for emotional concerns respond very well to this approach. My basic steps include:
- break all of the researched oils for this concern down into top, middle and base notes
- start with the middle notes – add 60-80% (6-8 parts)
- then add any base note essential oils – add 10-20% (1-2 parts)
- finally add the top notes – add 10-20% (1-2 parts)
- give the blend sometime to sit (24-48 hours) and re-evaluate, is it pleasing to me? Does it need anymore of the oils? Should I share with the client to get their feedback?
- these are just guidelines. I allow myself to break the rules until I find the right combination.
Finally, I may be intuitively motivated to add an extra essential oil anywhere in the process. It’s this little voice that feels this oil would complement the blend perfectly. The funny thing is that after I think of this oil, I can find many scientific reasons to include it in the blend. Often time this inspired oil is a citrus oil. Most citrus oils enhance penetration and tend to uplift the mood. How can this not be helpful for just about any situation?
All in all, healing and the blending of essential oils is a science AND an art.
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- Price L, Price S (1999). Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy And Massage 4th Edition pp.142-143
- Budiyanto A1, Ahmed NU, Wu A, Bito T, Nikaido O, Osawa T, Ueda M, Ichihashi M. (2000). Protective effect of topically applied olive oil against photocarcinogenesis following UVB exposure of mice. Carcinogenesis. 2000 Nov;21(11):2085-90. PubMed – NIH (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11062172
- Preethi KC1, Kuttan G, Kuttan R.(2009) Anti-inflammatory activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis Linn. and its possible mechanism of action. Indian J Exp Biol. 2009 Feb;47(2):113-20. PubMed – NIH (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19374166
- Widrig R1, Suter A, Saller R, Melzer J. (2007) Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomized, double-blind study. Rheumatol Int. 2007 Apr;27(6):585-91. Epub 2007 Feb 22. PubMed – NIH (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17318618
- Fattori V1, Hohmann MS2, Rossaneis AC3, Pinho-Ribeiro FA4, Verri WA5. (2016) Capsaicin: Current Understanding of Its Mechanisms and Therapy of Pain and Other Pre-Clinical and Clinical Uses. 2016 Jun 28;21(7). pii: E844. doi: 10.3390/molecules21070844. PubMed – NIH (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27367653
- Galeotti N1, Vivoli E, Bilia AR, Vincieri FF, Ghelardini C. (2010) John’s Wort reduces neuropathic pain through a hypericin-mediated inhibition of the protein kinase Cgamma and epsilon activity. Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 May 1;79(9):1327-36. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2009.12.016. Epub 2010 Jan 4. PubMed – NIH (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20045676
- Meier L1, Stange R, Michalsen A, Uehleke B. (2012) Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioned skin and mild acne–results of a prospective, observational pilot study. Forsch Komplementmed. 2012;19(2):75-9. doi: 10.1159/000338076. Epub 2012 Apr 19. PubMed – NIH (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585103
- Waseem Mohammed Abdul1, Nahid H Hajrah1, Jamal S.M. Sabir1, Saleh M Al-Garni2, Meshaal J Sabir1, Saleh A Kabli2, Kulvinder Singh Saini3, Roop Singh Bora3 (2018) Therapeutic role of Ricinus communis L. and its bioactive compounds in disease prevention and treatment. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine Volume : 11 | Issue : 3 | Page : 177-185 Onlinehttp://www.apjtm.org/article.asp?issn=1995-7645;year=2018;volume=11;issue=3;spage=177;epage=185;aulast=Abdul