If you make an appointment with a trained aromatherapist, you will find that he or she will take time to ask you in some detail about your lifestyle and your medical history. Diet and exercise, sleep patterns, stress levels, mood, bowel habits, menstrual cycle if you are a woman – all have some relevance as they will help the therapist to draw up as complete a picture as possible of you, the patient, rather than ‘it’, the problem for which you are seeking help. All the information will help in the selection of oils that are likely to be the most beneficial to you as an individual and as a whole.
You will notice, as you read the check some of the essential oils in the website, that several oils may share the same basic property; for example, quite a few have a relaxing effect, while others act as antidepressants. Within each group, there will be one or more that are particularly appropriate for individual cases, when other relevant factors are taken into consideration. Depression, for example, can manifest itself in different ways. A person who feels anxious, agitated and has trouble sleeping at night should be treated differently from one whose depression manifests itself in flatness of mood and lethargy.
Mixing for Both Fragrance and Effect
When the aromatherapist selects which oils to use, he or she will also be considering which ones work in harmony with each other, both for fragrance and for effect. A successful, harmonious blend of oils that work well in combination with one another is known as a synergistic blend. As many as seven oils may be used in combination, but the art of blending is one that takes quite a lot of practice. When preparing blends at home, it is generally better to keep it simple at first and work with no more than four essential oils at a time. If you work with simple blends initially, you will gradually build up a repertoire of blends that you enjoy using. Write everything down as you go along – mistakes should be remembered so that you do not repeat them – and then, gradually, you will find that you are able to add to and alter your recipes. Successful mixing takes a combination of time, patience, expertise and intuition. Remember, however, that it is not necessarily the case that complicated blends are more effective. Often, keeping it simple is better.
How to Mix Essential Oils with Base Oils
Mix your blends in small quantities. Once essential oils are mixed in base oils, they do not last as long. It is better to work with small quantities, making fresh blends each time, than to make up large amounts if you are not certain whether you are going to use a particular blend again in the immediate future. Blending small amounts also makes mistakes less costly.
In order to achieve a blend that is approximately a 2 per cent dilution, use six drops of essential oil to every tablespoon of base oil. For even smaller quantities, use two drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of base. Remember that some base oils have their own distinctive qualities; if you make a blend of essential oils in almond oil, for example, a light base oil that is virtually odorless and suitable for general use, it will not be the same if you use a different base the next time.
Guide for Blending
With time and practice, you will be able to build up your own ‘menu’ of favorite blends. The following may help you in your initial selection of essential oils in blends that you prepare. As a general rule, like blends well with like, so the spice oils can be blended with each other, the oils from the same plant family – for example Labiateae which includes basil, clary sage and hyssop – will work quite well together, the woody oils can be used in combination with each other, and so on. There are other broad guidelines that can be followed as well: citrus oils, for example, have an odor that is short-lived, but they blend well with the woody oils, whose fragrance is more lingering, so you can make blends that have a fragrance that changes in quality as time goes on.
Perfumers consider that a good perfume should have a top note, a middle note and a base note. The top note is the shortest-lived, but probably makes the first impression. The base note is the longest-lived, the last lingering element of the fragrant blend. The middle note is the basis around which the fragrance is built – the substance of the perfume. Thus, in an aromatherapy blend, each oil will have its own distinctive qualities but, put together with others, will form part of a dynamic fragrance, changing its impressions on the individual all the time.
Whilst this might sound a little complicated to the novice, it does serve to make the point that it is more than the instant first impression that counts when blending oils. If you are trying out a blend for the first time give it time. What is your first feeling about the blend? What comes through immediately after the first impression? What is it like after half an hour or an hour? How does it change?
Remember also that the therapeutic qualities of the oils that you choose should complement each other. Think of the outcome you are hoping to achieve.
Finally, if you are intending to give a massage to another person or are mixing a bath blend for the benefit of another individual, his or her likes and dislikes cannot be ignored. No matter how you might feel about the blend that you are making, it is the recipient who counts. In order for that person to get the maximum benefit from the oils, the blend should smell good to him or her.