An Introduction to Aromatherapy

 In Unimenta Blog

A guest post for Aromatherapy Awareness Week.

I have always been interested in Aromatherapy but that interest was well and truly piqued at last year’s Neal’s Yard Annual Conference when I learnt that their trainers use essential oils during training sessions. When they have a lively group they will diffuse Frankincense oil to calm the atmosphere and with a very quiet group they use Ylang Ylang to energise and ease feelings of anxiety.

So what exactly is Aromatherapy?

Quite simply it is the use of essential oils to enhance physical health and emotional wellbeing.

The use of essential oils can be traced back through the centuries – the Egyptians used scented oils in burial rituals; the Greeks believed aromas connected them to the gods, while the Romans used scented oils for seduction.

How does it work?

Essential oils are highly concentrated essences derived from plants.  The oil is responsible for keeping the plant alive by attracting pollinators and warding off predators, fungus and bacteria.  Once extracted, the oil contains the essence of the plant plus these therapeutic benefits.

When we use essentials oils they enter the blood stream, where their healing properties take effect.  For example, when inhaling the aroma, the scent breaches the blood-brain barrier reaching the limbic system of the brain.  The limbic system is known as the emotional switchboard, it is responsible for emotions, memory, stress, nurturing, hunger and arousal.

What can it be used for?

Anxiety, stress, sleep disturbances, skin problems, respiratory issues, fatigue, focus, energy, digestive upset… the list is endless!

How to use essentials oils?


  • Diffusers are my favourite way to use essential oils. I use the Soto Diffuser – plug it into a power socket, so no naked flame, and it switches itself off when empty.  Simply add water, a few drops of oil and switch on and your room will be filled with the most wonderful aroma.
  • Tissue – simply put a few drops of oil on a tissue and smell as required. You can carry this around with you all day or put it inside your pillow case at night.  So simple, yet effective.  In winter, place your tissue on a radiator to achieve the same effect as a diffuser.
  • Steam inhalation – when you are congested with cold and flu, this will really help to open up your airways. Place some just-boiled water in a bowl, add a few drops of oil, lean over the bowl, covering it and your head with a small towel so you can inhale the steam.


  • In addition to the wellbeing benefits of the essential oil, massage has the added benefit of soothing touch. It is ideal for tired, achy muscles, fluid retention, digestive upsets, headaches or to promote a sense of calm and deep relaxation.  For a full body massage, place 2 tablespoons of base/carrier oil onto a saucer and add 4-6 drops of your desired essential oil.


  • A warm bath will relax and sooth muscles, and at the same time, open pores, allowing the essential oils to penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream more rapidly. It is best to mix the essential oil with a small amount of base/carrier oil to help the essential oil disperse in the water.

Any top tips?

  • Never ingest essential oils
  • Never use neat on the skin – always blend with a carrier oil or base cream
  • Use natural, not synthetic, oils from an ethical supplier
  • Organic essential oils will have a higher therapeutic value
  • Epilepsy, pregnancy and breastfeeding – there are certain oils to avoid. The same is true when using essential oils with young children or babies. If in doubt, please check with a registered clinical aromatherapist.

Some oils to get your started


Possibly the most known essential oil for its ability to bring about restful sleep, Lavender promotes a sense of calm and relaxation and can be used when feeling stressed or anxious.


Lemon is uplifting and invigorating and it is great for mental focus and positivity.  It is a must have oil if you suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Tea Tree

Tea tree is a power antiseptic and a great all-rounder to have in your first aid kit.  Think wound healing, skin infections and immunity.


Peppermint has stimulating and analgesic properties making it effective for muscle pains, digestive issues and headaches.  It can help clear the head and stimulate the mind.


Frankincense can lift the spirit and increase energy and focus.  It is ideal when feeling stressed, tired or overwhelmed and helps to promote calmness.


Guest blogger for Aromatherapy Awareness Week:
Chelsea Green, homeopath and independent Neal’s Yard consultant