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The beginner’s guide to aromatherapy and essential oils

By Contributed content 4 October 2018
Are you intrigued by the practise of aromatherapy and the healing power of essential oils, but have no idea where to begin when it comes to adopting it yourself? Fear not, because certified aromatherapist, reiki practitioner, and mental health advocate Coco Chan is here to guide you through the process. Happy oiling!

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What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is an alternative healing method incorporating the usage of plant extractions which are made into essential oils that help create positive effects on the emotional, physical, and spiritual body. Each part of the plant, such as the flower, leaf, bark, roots, resin, and peel, has different functions and the essence of these parts can be distilled and made into a strong scent which stimulates and sedates the user. Essential oils have been used for more than 5,000 years for natural remedies for various conditions, and date all the way back to the Ancient civilization of Egypt.

There’s an oil for that!

Essential oils have proven to be a powerful alternative healing method for many ailments of the body and mind, due to their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral, and calming properties. Given the high cost of doctor's bills and the concerning side effects of many mainstream medications today, it's no surprise that essential oils are gaining increasing popularity as a natural, safe, and cost-effective therapy for many people the world over. Here are just a few of the health problems they can help you with:

Battling stress or anxiety

Busy work and social schedules can often leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed, but these essential oils work wonders to help keep us in balance:
  • Lavender – a mild calming oil to ease away your stress
  • Vetiver – known as a root oil that helps us ground and balance our energies, allowing us to reach a state of calm
  • Chamomile – eliminates our emotional anxieties and calms our nervous system, also great for a good night's sleep!
  • Bergamot – uplifting and refreshing, relieves stress and tension

Soothing muscle pains and aches

This one is particularly good for fitness fanatics who spend hours in the gym and doing sports:
  • Peppermint and/or Eucalyptus – Use this mix after bath/shower, dilute with carrier oil, and massage onto the desired areas. Let the cooling effect take place and ease the muscle pain. Remember not to rub your eyes after as these oils are a bit tingly.
  • Lemongrass – Dilute with carrier oil and massage onto desired areas for increasing blood circulation and ridding of water retention

Boosting your immunity

Flu season is slowly creeping upon us, so try these blends to boost your immunity and keep the germs at bay:
  • Cinnamon Bark – Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make this a great choice for boosting overall immunity and infections. This is a hot/spicy oil therefore MUST be diluted.
  • Oregano – Heavily known for its antibacterial properties, this is a great oil for immunity and respiratory systems. This is a hot/spicy oil therefore MUST be diluted.

Beating colds and flu

Check out these essential oil blends which can help ease you into the autumn and winter season:
  • Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint – Use as a blend in a steam, diffuser, or throughout the day with carrier oil dilution
  • Ravintsara and/or Eucalyptus – Dilute with carrier oil, apply onto chest, and inhale via the palm method to support the respiratory system.
  • Immunity Booster Blend: Use daily for immunity boosting purposes and overall wellbeing. Mix into a 15ml bottle and top off with carrier oil (20 drops Lemon, 15 drops Oregano, 20 drops Tea Tree, 10 drops Cinnamon Bark, 15 Peppermint, 15 Frankincense)

Clearing brain fog

Mental fatigue is a common reoccurrence in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, but these particular oils can help you find mental clarity and are great natural pick-me-ups:
  • Peppermint, Basil, Rosemary – Use individually or as a blend diluted with carrier oil, inhale deeply, and apply the rest onto the desired areas

Morning energy boost

  • Grapefruit, Lemon, Sweet Orange – Use individually or as a blend diluted with carrier oil, inhale deeply, and apply the rest onto the desired areas

How to use essential oils 

So now that you know what essential oils can be used for, here are some of the many different ways you can incorporate them into your daily routine:
  • Apply directly onto skin after diluting with a carrier oil, which is a base oil used to dilute essential oils before applying onto the skin. A few options include grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and coconut oil.
  • Inhalation – Apply a few drops in your palm, rub and inhale deeply. Best for respiratory, sinus problems, headaches and emotional uplifting.
  • Baths – Add a generally safe dose of 5 - 10 drops, mixed with ½ to 1 cup of salt. (Make sure not to use hot/spicy oils such as cinnamon bark, thyme, oregano as it will irritant skin)
  • Salt scrubs – mix in your choice of essential oil and mix into salt mixture.
  • Hot Compress – 5-10 drops oil in 4 oz hot water. Soak a cloth or towel and wrap around desired area until the cloth/towel cools down.
  • Steaming – 2-5 drops in hot water in a bowl, cover your head with a towel and inhale slowly and deeply until water cools down. Best for opening up sinuses and respiratory system.
  • Diffusers – the most common way to use essential oils. Add 5-10 drops of your desired oil or blend.

Do’s and don’ts

Before you begin your journey into aromatherapy, here are some important things you need to know to ensure that you use them safely and correctly:
  • Make sure to test oils on a patch of your skin before applying a larger portion onto your body
  • Do not use ‘hot oils’ on sensitive areas eg. Cinnamon bark, oregano, and more
  • Avoid the eyes as oils can sting when they come into contact with them
  • Be a smart consumer. Read your labels and make sure that you are purchasing quality products WITHOUT chemical ingredients. Don’t trust buzzword marketing – do your own research
  • Do not ingest essential oils
  • Do not use on damaged skin eg. injured or inflamed skin
  • Do not use on infants less than 6 months old unless you have consulted a professional
  • Store safely in a dark and cool space and keep out of reach from young children
  • Do not over use an oil (portion wise). Sometimes less is better
  • Do stop using the oil if there is a skin reaction and consult a professional
  • If pregnant, please consult a doctor and research which oils NOT to use

Where to buy essential oils in Hong Kong

Not all brands of essential oils on the mainstream market in Hong Kong can be trusted as they continue to use preservatives, chemicals, and fillers to prolong their shelf-life. These tried-and-tested ones, however, are definitely good options to try if you are a first time user and want to avoid the risk of having any nasty allergic reactions.

Eden's Garden

I absolutely love this US based brand. They offer single oils and synergy oils to bring an array of therapeutic benefits. Their ethos is to ditch the chemicals stockpiled by many brands and instead select fresh harvests that are safe or all the family to use. They even offer a range of oils made for children called OK For Kids, which are safe for infants as young as two years and up.

Perfect Potion

Established by qualified aromatherapist Salvatore Battaglia and his wife Carolyn Stubbin, this Australian based brand offers products that are all made with the best certified organic ingredients. Their oils aren't only COSMOS certified, but they are the first Australian company with certified natural status through the German standard, BDIH. They have a delicious range of 100 percent pure essential oils on offer at a very reasonable price.

Native Essential

Based in Hong Kong, and run by Italian born natural cosmetics and skincare enthusiast Daniela Pelonara, Native Essential combines Daniela's fascination with Asian and Pacific botanical wisdom and her long-term passion and knowledge of European herbalism and aromatherapy. The company sources premium organic ingredients ethically and manufactures beautifully aromatic sensory skincare with passion, love, and total respect for the environment.

Young Living

Established in 1994 by American doctor Gary Young and his wife Mary, Young Living has grown to become the world leader in essential oils and wellness solutions. The brand's 'Seed to Seal' promise ensures that only the best, most authentic and organic essential oils in the world reach your bottle. You can order their oils online or in their Causeway Bay shop.
Good luck and happy oiling!
Read more! Explore the rest of our Wellness section on Localiiz.

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