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Our nose may be the most under-appreciated sense organ, yet it is from the air and the breath that we receive the vitality of oxygen that keeps us alive! It is also where we can detect over 2,000 different types of smells!

Indeed scent is evocative in capturing a moment, such as being on holiday by the ocean and smelling the fresh, crisp, salty air, or being in a forest, when it has just rained and the air is filled with the rising earthy aroma from the bark and leaves of the trees. At the same time we may have felt present in the moment, perhaps inspired by the beauty of nature, which enhances wellbeing and feels so uplifting. Whenever we capture the same smell, our memory cells are stimulated and we are instantly transported back to that time, place and positive feeling. This is because our smell centre, The Olfactory Bulb sits right at the base of the brain and stimulates The Limbic system, which is responsible for memory, learning, hunger, thirst & emotions.

Aromatherapy is well known for relieving stress however, not only do many essential oils smell good, they also contain amazing healing properties. As we move into the colder months, now is a good time to think about boosting our immune system. Many essential oils have a prophylactic effect and have been found to support our vitality and can treat many different conditions. This is what makes Aromatherapy powerful and invaluable to our wellbeing.

What are Essential oils? Essential oils are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in all plants and have their own distinct therapeutic properties. Some contain anti-viral, antiseptic, anti-infectious, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, cicatrisant (repairing of the skin) properties to name a few. They are extracted from plant material through a process of distillation, enfleurage or expression and what we get is a highly concentrated organic volatile oil.

How do they work? They easily evaporate in the air, so when we inhale an essential oil the molecules stimulate receptors in the olfactory bulb that sends chemical messengers to the brain which has an effect on mood and emotion. Being of light molecular weight, they can penetrate and be absorbed by the epithelial lining of the mucous membranes and so be taken up by the lymphatic system. When rubbed into the skin they can penetrate the layers and also be absorbed through the blood and lymphatic systems.

Using essential oils such as, lavender, tea tree, geranium, lemon, frankincense, thyme, and peppermint can:-

- boost your immune system and help you deal with infections such as colds and flu

- Relieve sore muscles - Relax your body and mind to release stress - Improve digestion

- Balance hormones

- Heal skin conditions

For domestic use, they need to be diluted, just 9 drops in 15 ml of base oil rubbed into the skin, is enough to have a therapeutic effect. Because essential oils are purely organic material, when blended at the safe correct dilution, the body can absorb, use and then eliminate what it doesn't need without side effects and without detriment to the liver or the kidneys.

Practical ways to use essential oils

Steam inhalation This is a really good method of use if you start to feel under the weather or to help clear congestion or cold symptoms. Choose 2 oils from this selection: lavender, tea tree, thyme, Spanish sage, rosemary, peppermint. Use just 1 drop of each of the essential oils in the water, no more than 3 drops in total as they are highly concentrated. You could do this twice in one day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

- boil a kettle of water

- use a pot with a lid. When the kettle is just boiled, pour the water in the pot and immediately cover to contain the steam. Now get yourself ready with a towel to cover your head.

- Cover your head with the towel, now remove the lid. Under the towel, place 1 drop of each of your selected essential oils. Inhale through nose and mouth to absorb the essential oils. Stay for at least 3-5 minutes.

A "quickie" method of inhalation is to place 3 drops of essential oils on a tissue, cup hands over your nose and inhale a few times. Make sure to avoid direct contact with the skin.

Immune boosting oil blend Using a body oil is an efficient way of absorbing the therapeutic properties through the skin. A 2 % blend is enough to have a therapeutic affect. in 20 mls of base oil use a total of 8 drops out of 3 essential oils from the above list.

Rub the oil all over the body so the oils sinks in. Or for increased absorption, soak in a warm bath, which helps the pores of the skin to dilate. Stay and soak for at least 15 minutes.

To use as a prophylactic For a 2 %blend in 50mls of bottled base oil, use a total of 20 drops of a choice of 3 - 5 essential oils. Use everyday for 1 week to build up the therapeutic effect.

Using essential oils to make your own blends is a simple and enjoyable way of taking care of your wellbeing and improving your health.

Have fun discovering the joys of using essential oils!

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