Understand How Oils Work
If essential oils are only absorbed in trace amounts can they really be said to work? The answer can only be found in the results.
Skin Factors – Certain factors influence the rate and quantity at which essential oils generate the skin. The condition of the surface layer, stratum corneum, is foremost. Skin that has been thickened, through conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, will be harder to penetrate, while certain diseases, such as diabetes, also affect the permeability of epidermal membranes and capillaries. Well hydrated skin has a much faster absorption rate than dehydrated skin and water, from a bath or shower, will enhance your skin’s ability to absorb oils. The warmth of a bath or shower also increases blood flow around the dermis, stimulating the absorption of oils. Covering the skin immediately after application of an aromatherapy oil blend has been shown to increase absorption rates; essential oils are volatile and will evaporate into the air unless the skin is covered by a bandage, towel or clothing to facilitate absorption. Therapists cover clients with towels to aid oil absorption.
Oil Factors – Carrier oils, and essential oils, vary in their viscosity, that is, their thickness and fluidity. For example, sweet almond oil is more viscous than grapeseed oil and so the former takes longer to be absorbed. The viscosity of any carrier oil lessens with rises in temperature; therefore, the oils should be warmed or rubbed between the hands before application to speed up absorption. Certain constituents in essential oils are more readily absorbed than others. A study showed d-limonene, found in citrus oils, only had an absorption rate of two per cent, while the constituents of lavender oil had a higher rater of 10 per cent. You can test absorption rates for yourself simply by using lavender oil. Using a finger, apply one neat drop of lavender oil to the hollow of your cheek, just below the cheekbone. Depending on individual factors, such as skin condition and gender, within one to five minutes you should “taste” the oil in your mouth, proving it has absorbed through the skin. Test the absorption of lavender oil for yourself.
Inhalation – There are three main routes of essential oils not the body when inhalation is used. The odour molecules pass down the trachea into the bronchi of the lungs and into the bronchioles and then the alveoli, where they may pass through the semi – permeable membranes via diffusion into the surrounding blood capillaries. Or odour molecules pass into the nose and are absorbed by the nasal mucosa into the blood stream. Or the particles bind to olfactory cilia (tiny hairs in the olfactory system) and cause an olfactory (scent-related) reaction. Essential oils are lipophilic, which means they have an affinity for lipid (fat) rich substances through which they can dissolve and easily pass. Once in the blood stream, lipid rich tissues like those of the central nervous system or blood brain barrier are easily penetrated. studies have shown that essential oils are soluble in blood. Oils may enter the blood stream through inhalation.
Lab Tests – Aromatherapists know the effectiveness of essential oils, they see it in the positive changes effected long term in their clients through regular treatments. But aromatherapy has also been tested on subjects in laboratory conditions. Using EEG recordings, the effects of ylang ylang and rosemary oils were tested by analysing the alpha waves of the brain. In aromatherapy, rosemary is used as a stimulant and ylang ylang to soothe and calm. The test showed rosemary depressed alpha-activity (stimulating the brain) and ylang ylang enhanced alpha activity (relaxing the brain). The experiment concluded that the aromatherapy uses of rosemary and ylang ylang had a measurable effect on the brain. Essential oils can brainwaves when tested.