One experience many people enjoy is aromatherapy. We can enjoy incense, oils, potpourri or even newly pressed garden herbs or flowers as aromatherapy. One can easily attain states of deep relaxation after only ten or fifteen-minutes of sitting a quiet room while focussing on a fragrant atmosphere.

Using essential oils for therapeutic, spiritual and ritualistic purposes goes back hundreds of years civilisations such as Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used oils and flower fragrance for cosmetics, perfumes and drugs. Oils can often be discovered in the beauty industry: this aspect has become a billion-dollar business: who does not know the brand Chanel No5? Centuries ago oils and spices were accepted as a luxury and rare product and were often used for bartering.

Essential oils are described by Dioscorides regarding their healing properties, in his De Materia Medica, written in the first century. Distilled essential oils have been used in medicines from the eleventh century, Avicenna isolated essential oils using steam distillation. A French surgeon (Jean Valnet) pioneered the medicinal uses of essential oils in WW2, as antiseptics while treating wounded soldiers. However, today, most health professionals do not offer aromatherapy as an alternative in the Western World.

Where Do We Begin?

Anyone new to essential oils should only buy two or three oils for their first purchase. A suggested trio is – Basil – Lavender – Sandalwood:

Let’s consider their uses:


Basil is said to improve one’s mood, help digestion, increase alertness, and soothe muscle pain. Basil essential oil is also sometimes used as an insect repellent. Suggested uses include acne anxiety -.bronchitis – colds – coughs – depression – fatigue – gout.


Lavender essential oil is a popular and versatile essential oil. Often used by aromatherapists. The oil promotes relaxation and believed to treat anxiety, fungal infections, allergies, depression, insomnia, eczema, nausea, and menstrual cramps.


Sandalwood oil is often used by aromatherapy practitioners. And by producers of soaps and cosmetics. It is used in alternative medicine for the treatment of both bodily and mental disorders, including common colds, bronchitis, fever, urinary tract infections, and inflammation. In some cases, positive outcomes of relieving anxiety with Sandalwood have been recognised.

Ideas for Using Oils:

In use, the oils can be used diluted in a carrier oils such as almond oil and then massaged into the skin. Try three or four drops of the essential oil in the almond oil carrier and then massage this mixture into the area between the index finger and thumb. It is surprising how effective the blend can be for relaxation: rub the mix into the skin and smell the aroma.

Another way of releasing the aroma of the oil by using an oil burner, remember to fill the dish on the burner with water and then add a few drops of the oil before lighting the candle. As the water heats up: the fragrance of the oils will be released.

Some people find adding a few drops of essential oil to a clean handkerchief is an effective way of utilising essential oils (a tissue can also be used) keep it in your pocket and when a moment of relaxation is needed: use the handkerchief for breathing in the fragrance of the oil.

Many people put a few drops of essential oil into the bath as it is being filled. It is surprising how this method of deep relaxation can help with sleeping disorders. If the oils are combined with either deep mined or Dead Sea salts, the relaxation attained can be remarkable.


There are thousands of different incense products available. The recommendation is to purchase only quality sticks from well known or long-established manufacturers. The difference between a good quality stick and one which seems of wood is usually a pound! Like most items we buy, you get what you pay for: and while a quality Japanese or Indian fragrance can be used for meditation. The inferior incense will have the reverse effect! One overlooked factor of incense burning is known as ‘room note’: this is how the room smells an hour or so after the incense has burned out. The best sticks or cones (cones are pressed incense without a stick running through the centre) leave the room smelling pleasant and welcoming.

When buying incense for the first time: Buy no more the three fragrances. And when one discovers a suitable brand keep the box for future reference. It is inevitable you’ll buy brands and fragrances which do not work for you: Do not throw them away, save them for the summer and burn them while you are sitting outside on a warm evening. The fragrance will take on a different identity in the outdoors, and the smoke can be useful as an insect deterrent.

The ancient methods of burning incense are well documented. Whether used for meditation, a part of a ritual or to enhance the atmosphere of a room, aromatherapy is something worth exploring. I have only touched upon the basic principals of essential oils and burning incense in this short article. It is surprising how many still associate aromatherapy with pseudo ideas: I would offer the suggestion that over thousands of years, millions of people have used and enjoyed fragrance as beneficial to their wellbeing. From the wealthy lady who wears thousand-dollar an ounce perfume: to the smelling a crushed lavender seed in a garden: the certainty is, the fragrance has an incredible effect on one’s body, mind and spirit.

Linda Knight

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