In today’s toolbox I’m going to talk a little more about one of the biggest weapons in my spoonie arsenal – aromatherapy.
A word of caution – the views expressed here are not intended to be taken as any kind of medical advice. This is just what works for me, in my home, and it may not work for you. Please be sure to consult a licensed aromatherapist or medical practitioner before beginning any new health program.
I have been an aromatherapy and essential oil user since the 1980’s. Yes, they had them back then, along with dirt. The term “aromatherapy” actually originated back in the 1930’s but the use of plant essences as medicine goes back much, much farther. Depending on who you cite as reference as much as 5,000 years farther back. So that’s a good long time for the practice of using plant essences to promote good health but what about today?
Honestly, as a spoonie, a caregiver, and a woman, I use my essential oils and aromatherapy techniques on a daily basis. Essential oils don’t just add aroma to a room, they also provide numerous health benefits for the household.
Using a room diffuser is probably the easiest way to dispense these benefits into the air to improve your health, boost your energy and promote good sleep, to name a few. Diffusers provide a natural and safer alternative to air fresheners, especially if you want to take a more active role in your own health. They can fill a room with the natural fragrance from oils that freshens up your home while promoting overall wellness.
So today I’m going to give you a brief rundown on the various types of room diffusers, some pros and cons and personal experience.
Yet another brief word of caution. If you suffer from lung disease or any type of autoimmune issues please proceed with caution and the advice of trusted medical professionals. Although diffusers disburse essential oils in tiny amounts, allergies can and do still occur! For example, I do not use chamomile in any form. Not in a massage oil, not in a lotion, not in a diffuser, not in a tea. Why? I’m allergic to ragweed and chamomile is in the same plant family. I have asthma and allergies and I have reacted to it, so I substitute, usually lavender or bergamot in any recipes that call for chamomile.
Anyway back to the diffusers. First off there is the heat diffuser, i.e. candle diffusers (those little pots with a candle under them), lamp rings (self explanatory) and steam diffusers (think vaporizers). The heat causes the essential oils to evaporate into the atmosphere. This type of diffuser is generally cost effective and does give off a stronger scent. Unfortunately, it is less effective for the health benefits of aromatherapy as heat tends to alter the chemical compounds in essential oils, reducing the therapeutic affect.
Evaporative diffusers i.e. reed diffusers, terra cotta discs, fan/pad combos, aromatherapy jewelry, all expose essential oils into the air, causing them to evaporate and disperse naturally. It works by placing a drop on items like a tissue, cotton ball or other porous materials which will diffuse the oil into the air as the molecules evaporate from their surfaces. It is a great alternative to chemical air fresheners in relatively small areas but is not as effective in larger rooms. I use a small evaporative diffuser in the bedroom close to my bed at night. It consists of a tiny terra cotta saucer with a cotton disk (cosmetic pad) in it. I place a couple drops of my preferred bedtime mix and breathe in the goodness overnight. It does dry out fairly quickly and you need to change the pad pretty much daily (which is fine because they’re like cheap).
Ultrasonic diffuser, my personal preference, uses water and ultrasonic vibrations to disperse molecules of the essential oil into the air through a fine mist that can be inhaled. It can function as a humidifier as well, allowing you to get double benefits. However, because the device uses water for the solution, the concentration may not be as strong or potent for air freshners. Please consult your user manual as some say not to use citrus oil and other resinous oils in them. I’ve not had any problems using basic citrus or frankenscense in small (2-3 drop) amounts but I empty and clean my diffuser daily.
Nebulizer Diffuser, this diffuser works by using an atomizer to create fine and absorbent airborne particles of essential oils and disperse them into the air. It is sometimes regarded as the most effective device for aromatherapy since it provides you with a high concentration of essential oil. The downside to this diffuser is that it is quite costly and difficult to clean. Moreover, since the concentration of the oil is quite strong and potent, the oil runs out faster, and there is, in my opinion, a greater chance of reaction.
There you have the run down. Next week I’ll talk more about the uses of aromatherapy in our spoonie household.
Til next time ~May the spoons be ever in your favor ~JPP