The best essential oils for aromatherapy – by quality and price point – are readily available, if you know what you’re looking for. These bottles of concentrated plants and flowers offer delight and comfort. All you need to do is breathe (and read this blog)! ?
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential oils are the volatile compounds produced by aromatic plants. They are the most basic and authentic expression of the plant.?
Imagine the plant’s complete life experience – the sunshine, rain, wind, soil and environment – all infused into the oils. Each blue glass bottle holds a highly concentrated essence — and therefore the associated health benefits — of both flower and herb.
HOW ARE ESSENTIAL OILS EXTRACTED FROM THE PLANT?
Ideally, growers harvest their aromatic plants when the essential oil is at peak concentration. This occurs in the flower, leaves, root, or peel — depending on where the plant stores its oil. The extraction process goes something like this:
- After cleaning and sorting, the aromatic plant material is loaded into a still for the steam distillation process.
- Water heats, rises through the plant material, and evaporates the essential oils (as they are extracted with the steam).
- Later, when the steam condenses, the oil and water naturally separate. Typically, the oil floats and can then be skimmed off the water’s surface.
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY?
Scent therapy works by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system – the part of the brain responsible for emotions.
Research on the effectiveness of aromatherapy – the therapeutic use of essential oils – is limited. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that aromatherapy does indeed have health benefits, including:
- temporary relief from anxiety and depression
- better quality of life, especially for people with chronic health conditions
- improved sleep
Add to this the immense scientific support for mindfulness practices – rituals to evoke present moment awareness. Paying special attention to your five senses anchors you in the here and now. When paired with focused (and scented!) breathing, anxiety lessens. Your jitters give way to feelings of grounding and calm.
CHOOSING YOUR FAVORITE SCENTS
First off, start with exploring not buying.
Go to Whole Foods, or any place where testers are available for your smelling pleasure. Take little breaks between sniffing. Consider bringing a few coffee beans in a Ziplock bag and inhale their fragrance between testings (thus cleansing your palette).
Once you’ve settled on two or three favorites, put the bottles back and return home. You won’t want to buy these, because …
I am going to introduce you to the absolute best essential oils ever! ???
PICKING THE BEST QUALITY OILS
Imani essential oils.
This small, family owned and operated company has the highest of standards. They offer such amazing synergies that I can’t recommend anyone else.
The Truth About Purity
There’s a myth that if an essential oil is 100% pure, it’s suitable for aromatherapy standards. In truth, purity is a relatively easy standard to meet.
The Measure of Quality
The quality of pure essential oils on the market varies widely. When measuring excellence, the following factors face examination:
- soil (organic, pH level),
- growth (natural protection from weeds and pests),
- harvest (not only season, but time of day),
- preparation, and
- distillation (naturally sourced water, temperature considerations).
For more about Imani’s harvest and distillation processes, click the link.
MAKING YOUR PURCHASE
After getting an idea of what you like (from the health store apothecary), you are now ready to shop Imani’s website.
You can choose between two categories of fragrance:
- synergies (two or more essences blended), or
- single notes (one oil, straight up)
Several scents will undoubtedly jump out at you. And, although your tastes and needs will be different from mine, I can’t resist sharing the ones I love so much:
Imani also sells sample sizes. If a fragrance interests you but you don’t want to commit, a trial size might be more practical.
MEANS OF USE: ROLLERBALL BOTTLES, NEBULIZERS, AND DIFFUSERS
The Rollerball Bottle
Start small. Buy trial sizes, or email Brian at Imani to see if the oil you’re after comes in a rollerball bottle. These are sized for your purse (or backpack), so you can bring the scent wherever you go.
A 1/3 ounce dropper bottle can sometimes be purchased as two 1/6 oz rollerball bottles, but you will need to inquire as to availability.
Ali’s Rollerball Picks
I use Lavender in a rollerball, and my Holy Yoga students love its fragrance during final relaxation.
The synergies Peace and Pneuma are also delightful to have on-the-go, in little rollerball bottles. I use them for application to my wrists and temples.
Imani’s Peace synergy is tranquil, circulating throughout your bedroom an hour before sleep.? For this you can use a nebulizer – my preference over water diffusers.
Nebulizers add no extra humidity, no water dilution, and the scent maintains its intensity. However, using the aroma at full strength means you’ll deplete your oil supply more quickly.
You’ll want to consider this cost when choosing your method of air distribution. Evidence suggests that aromatherapy is most effective when used frequently, but for shorter periods of time (an hour or less). A nebulizer is perfect for this, as it provides a stronger burst of pure fragrance, but you don’t need to keep it on for longer than an hour.
For more information on nebulizers, I recommend visiting Aromis on Amazon. This small Colorado-based company crafts beautiful, highly effective fragrance nebulizers. I purchased one from them two years ago and it’s still going strong (see image above).
If you prefer a lighter concentration of scent (thereby making your oils last longer) I recommend starting with a diffuser.
Diffusers combine a few drops of oil with a greater volume of water. You can leave the machine running for long periods of time without going through bottles of plant essence.
COMING BACK TO THE BREATH
In the end, whatever essential oils you choose, it’s all about the breath — exhale and inhale.
Create space in your day – to breathe, to receive, and to experience these delicately balanced aromas, freshly squeezed from nature.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments below. — Ali ?