Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for the Fall
I think the best choice of essential oils and aromatherapy applications largely depends on how a particular person experiences a season (e.g., allergies, dry skin), but there are some general responses we humans have to the changes in climate (e.g., increased metabolism in the colder months to generate more body heat, a sense of being less grounded during windy seasons).
Still, it’s difficult to generalize about what are the best essential oils or applications for a specific person. Each person and situation is different. For example, we’ve all experienced many different types of colds: some localized more in the head, others more in the throat and still others in the chest, etc.
The information included here is just a sample of all that’s possible. For specific concerns, the best action is to consult a professional aromatherapist. (A word of caution: essential oils sales people are not necessarily trained professional aromatherapists.)
Fall is definitely a season of transition and adjustment. In our area (Washington, DC ), fall brings great relief from the hot, humid and soupy summer. The climate becomes drier, cooler, breezier and fresher. Being outdoors is more pleasant so people are out and about and more physically active. But, fall in the DC area is also a time when the summer greenery fades, leaves dry up and fall from the trees and most herbaceous plants die back. Daylight hours diminish as well. In general, fall is a time when nature draws inward and people feel less grounded.
In the fall, people return to their routines: school, work and other duties. Whereas summer is whimsical and playful, fall is structured and productive. For some, fall is a time to get motivated, focus, concentrate and start new projects. For others, fall is unsettling and can make them melancholy, gloomy, anxious or even depressed.
Fall brings with it some physical issues as well. Many people suffer from allergies and the associated symptoms such as nasal congestion, headaches, sneezing and itchy eyes and throat. Colds and flus become more prevalent. Eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions can flair up with drier air, lower temperatures and less exposure to sunlight.
Some Good Essential Oils for the Fall
- Dry skin, eczema and psoriasis – benzoin (Styrax benzoin), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), helichyrsum (Helichyrsum italicum), patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), rose (Rosa damascena) and sandalwood (Santalum album). The choice of carriers is important, especially with skin conditions. Rosehip and tamanu for eczema
- Nasal congestion and sinus inflammation – cypress, pepprmint eucalyptus (Eucalyptus dives), hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), helichrysum B. (Helichrysum bracteiferum), pinon pine (Pinus edilus), ravintsava (Cinnamomum camphora), rosemary (Rosemarius officinales var camphor) and Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris).
- Anti-Oxidants – cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), clove (Eugenia caryophyllus), narrow-leaft eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata), lemon (Citrus limon) and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium).
- Relief from cold and flu symptoms – palo santo (Bulnesia sarmientoi), peppermint eucalyptus (eucalyptus dives), scotch pine (Pinus Sylvestrus), Siberian fir (Abies sibirica) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis).
- Focus and concentration – Basil (Ocimum basilicum), black pepper (Piper nigrum), peppermint (Mentha piperita) and rosemary.
- Grounding – Cedar (Cedrus altanica), imalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodora), Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium), Vetiver (Vetiver zizanoides)
- Antidepressants – Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), clary sage (Salvia sclarea), lemon (Citrus limon), myrtle (Myrtus communis), orange (Citrus sinensis) and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata).
- Support during transitions – Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodora), myrtle (Myrtus communis), tangerine (Citrus reticulata blanco) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
NOTE: It’s important to know the specific plant species from which a particular essential oil was derived (e.g. Lavandula angustifolia and not just any lavender plant) in order to ensure that the essential oil you use has the healing properties you seek. That’s one reason why the botanical names have been included in parentheses above. Some essential oils are counter-indicated for people with certain medical conditions. Consult a professional aromatherapist to determine the appropriate blend of essential oils for you and your specific condition or intention.
Aromatherapy Applications for the Fall
Essential oils are the primary aromatherapy ingredient, but carriers and the type of application are critical considerations as well. In fact, in situations such as when the skin is very sensitive or inflamed, an aromatherapist may recommend only a simple blend of soothing carriers. Some applications are better suited for certain conditions: the skin tends to absorb lotions rapidly for quick delivery of their nourishing attributes (e.g., moisturizing) while balms and ointments persist on the surface of the skin and offer more extended healing to the skin’s surface (e.g., wound and acne treatment).
In choosing essential oils for the fall, select one to four essential oils the create an integrated, complementary and mutually reinforcing blend. Resist the temptation to use every essential oil that has an appealing attribute given your condition or intention.
Personal inhalers can offer a convenient, portable personal treatment for an individual. An inhaler can be filled with an essential oil blend to clear the sinuses, increase focus and concentration, ground or uplift the spirits. Blends can be tailored to an individual’s unique autumn experience and intensions. (See our blog on personal inhalers and Starchaser personal inhalers.)
Diffusers scent an entire space effecting everyone present or moving through the space. They can be used as an alternative or a complement to personal inhalers. Depending on the blend of essential oils used, diffusers can address sinuses congestion and moodiness, instill mental clarity and focus or provide an immune boost. Where spaces are shared, diffuser oil blends tend to designed for more general purpose use. (Starchaser diffuser oils.)
Lotions, creams and butters – are excellent applications for dry skin, eczema and psoriasis and other skin conditions prevalent in the fall. The healing properties of carriers make important contributions to these products. Many oils and butters, rich in beneficial fatty acids, moisturize the skin: avocado (Persea americana), jojoba (Simmondisia californica) and shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii) are three commonly recognized examples. Tamanu (Calcophyllum inophyllum), evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) and calendula (Calendula officinales) cold pressed or infused oils address both eczema and psoriasis. Carrot seed oil (Daucus carota ) calms the itchiness that often associated with these conditions.
Bath oils – are a wonderful way to get a little “me time,” and to modify moods. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of carrier oil to soften and sooth the skin. You can use more oil, but the more you use, the oilier the bath and your skin will feel. You can also add essential oils that support your personal intentions. Use only essential oils that are considered nonirritating to skin, and be aware that warm water can increase the potential for irritation. Also, make sure to dilute the essential oils in an emulsifying carrier (e.g., vegetable oil, vegetable glycerin and even milk) before adding them to the bath to assure that they disperse and are, therefore, less concentrated. You don’t want little essential oil bubbles floating on the surface and making direct contact with your warm skin.
Appropriate Essential Oil Dilutions
NOTE: Essential oils are extremely concentrated and can cause irritations when used improperly.
As general rule, use these dilutions of essential oils for specific applications:
- 3% for products applied to specific limited areas of the body
- 1-2% for body oils and other applications that are applied to large portions of the body (e.g. massage oil, lotion, cream, body butter)
- 4-8 drops per bath: the essential oils should be added to the bath with a dispersant such as vegetable oil, milk, vegetable glycerin or salt (those with sensitive skin should use fewer drops)
- 100% essential oil or essential oil blend for inhalers
- 2-6 drops (100% essential oils or essential oil blend) for a diffuser (for a 12 ft x 12 ft room). Much less for energetic blends.
- 1% dilution for children, the elderly and those with sensitive skin or compromised systems.
FINAL NOTE: The best way to benefit from the wonderfully healing properties of aromatherapy is to consult a professional aromatherapist who will conduct a consultation, including a thorough holistic health assessment, in order to determine the appropriate blend of essential oils for you and your specific condition or intention.
For more information contact us.