In this article, a continuation of our essential oils series, we will look at the use of essential oils through diffusion and it’s impact upon health and wellness. So what is an aromatherapy diffuser, why is it used and what are the benefits of diffusion? To answer these questions we firstly need to look at the alternative and complementary application types.
Modes of application – What is an Aromatherapy Diffuser – Aromatherapy Essential Oils Guide
When using essential oils for health and well-being there are three main modes of application
Aerial diffusion: for environmental fragrancing or aerial disinfection *
Direct inhalation: for respiratory disinfection, decongestant, expectoration as well as psychological effects*
Topical applications: for general massage, baths, compresses, therapeutic skin care*
In this article we look at the first mode – Aerial Diffusion. Aerial Diffusion is commonly known as oil warming or oil burning and is the application of gentle heat to a “carrier” containing the essential oil which in turn causes evaporation and diffusion of the essential oil into the environment. This environmentalised oil aids health and well being through stimulating the senses and entering the body through airways.
Oils and Carriers – Aromatherapy Essential Oils Guide
To begin using essential oils for aromatherapy we need to be aware of some of the terminology used. Common terms of reference for Aromatherapy are:
- Essential oils: These are the most commonly used oils associated with Aromatherapy. Essential Oils are the fragrant oils extracted from plants through either steam distillation or expression. These oils are often used in reed diffusers and warm baths/burners.
- Absolutes: The Absolutes are also fragrant oils but are extracted from the flowers or some delicate plant tissues. The absolutes are extracted using solvent or supercritical fluid extraction.
- Carrier oils: If essential oils are to be used in massage or applied to the skin they are added to another oil called a carrier. This is usually an oily plant base triacylglycerides which dilutes the essential oil for skin usage e.g., wheat-germ or sweet almond oil.
- Herbal distillates or hydrosols: These are the watery by-products which remain after the essential oils are removed through the distillation process (e.g., rosewater). A lot of herbal distillates are used in culinary settings and also have medicinal and skin care uses.
- Infusions: Aqueous extracts of various plant material (e.g., infusion of chamomile).
- Vaporizer (Volatized) raw herbs: Typically higher oil content plant based materials dried, crushed, and heated to extract and inhale the aromatic oil vapors in a direct inhalation modality.
What is an Aromatherapy Diffuser and the reason for its use?
Diffusion is the process of dispersing essential oils so that their aroma fills a room or an area with the natural fragrance and Aromatherapy is the treatment or prevention of disease, or the enhancement of emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, by use of essential oils.
Aromatherapy is often used for holistic and complementary reasons alongside allopathic medical regimes. Common uses for Aromatherapy include:
- Relief of pain
- Stress, anxiety and depressive illness
- Enhancement of energy
- Short-term memory gain,
- Hair loss prevention,
- Reduction of skin irritation and eczema-induced itching.
- Treatment of fungal infection
- Anti inflammatory and anti bacterial applications
The reason we use an Aromatherapy diffuser is to enable the essential oils to enter the environment is a controlled fashion over a set period of time. The oils become a sensory experience and are inhaled and enter our body.
Diffusion of essential oils benefits us and offers remedy against illness in two main ways. The first being the influence of the aroma on the brain, particularly the limbic system through the olfactory system. The other is the direct pharmacological effects of the essential oils.
Types of Aromatherapy Diffusers – Aromatherapy Essential Oils Guide
There are four types of essential oil diffusers: ultrasonic, evaporative, nebulizing and heat.
- Ultrasonic diffusers create a fine mist and send tiny particles of the essential oil into the air. Usually oil is added to water as the carrier therefore the water and oils are distributed into the air. Because only a small amount of oil is added to water the ultrasonic diffusers are very economical to run.
- Nebulizing diffusers do not use added water. They diffuse the pure essential oil which is broken up into super tiny molecules. This is a much better method of diffusion if being used in a therapeutic setting as the tiny particles of oil are not weakened by a carrier and are far more effective when treating illness.
- Evaporative diffusers are probably the most common and mainly used as part of a relaxation regime or in holistic spa settings to create an environment of peace, calm and tranquility. Oil is added to water which is then heated gently from the bottom and slowly permeates the environment as the water evaporates.
- Heat diffusers are also common place in the home. They are usually metal or pottery items, such as a light-bulb ring, upon which pure essential oil is placed and heated without a carrier. This emits a stronger more concentrated fragrance.
I hope that this article has given some clarity around the use of essential oils as a diffusion aromatherapy method. The oil you use is totally your choice and can be determine from the specific health related benefits of the oil. To read my article on recommended essential oils that every home should have click here.
I would love to hear your views and any experiences you have had with essential oils, aromatherapy or the diffusion methods. Please do leave a comment or contact me directly by clicking here.
What Is An Aromatherapy Diffuser Aromatherapy Essential Oils Guide (part of the healthynatured.com Essential Oils series)