Read an Excerpt
Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child
More than 300 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Essential Oil Blends
By Valerie Ann Worwood
New World LibraryCopyright © 2000 Valerie Ann Worwood
All rights reserved.
"The Essentials" offers you some of the principles to using home-help aromatherapy for children successfully and safely. In chapter 4, "The A–Z of Conditions," there are particular instructions to follow when using essential oils specific to a condition. When using aromatherapy for children more generally, however, there are basic directions and important facts you need to know. This information is outlined below.
Essential oils are pure plant essences. They are distilled from flowers, leaves, seeds, fruit, roots, resin and wood. See Essential Oils — Nature's Healing Tools.
Only some essential oils are suitable for children. See pages 5–8 for a chart showing which oils you can use as a child increases in age.
Essential oils used correctly do not conflict with medically prescribed drugs. They can be used alongside other treatments. Integrative medicine is the way of the future.
Essential oils are used externally — on the outside of the body. Use them in body oils, lotions, creams, gels, baths, showers, foot baths, compresses, dressings, and in the sponging down method. You can diffuse them in the atmosphere, spray them in the air, and inhale them from a tissue. See pages 15–22 for how to use the different methods.
Essential oils are diluted in different strengths. Depending on what condition your child has, and their age, you might need to dilute just one single drop in 1 ounce of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon, 1 dessertspoon, 1 teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, ¼ teaspoon, or 1 drop of vegetable oil. There is a huge variation in the degree of dilution, depending on the effect that's required.
Blend two or more essential oils together before diluting. When using two or more essential oils, mix them all together in the empty bottle so they can amalgamate, then add the diluting carrier oil. When using a single oil, it doesn't matter if you put them in the bottle first, then add the carrier oil, or put the carrier oil in the bottle first, and add the essential oil after.
Sometimes just one or two drops of a complex mix of essential oils are used. Blends of many oils are often more potent than single oils. In those blends, some essential oils might contribute 1 or 2 drops, while others are needed in larger amounts, say 5 or 6 drops. A mix is thus made up of both different essential oils, and different amounts of essential oil. When the mix is complete, we can take from it how much we need. It could be just one drop, but it will be a complex drop, combining many properties.
We often prepare more diluted oil than we intend to use. For example, in the case of baby's colic, only 1 drop of colic mix is needed in ½ a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Of this, only a very small amount will be used. The rest will go to waste. However, there's no other way to do it. You can't measure less than one drop of essential oil, so to get the right proportions of essential oil-to-vegetable oil, we have to make more than we need.
Essential oils and diluted blends are delicate. Keep all pure essential oils and all diluted oils in a cool, dry, dark place — away from sunlight.
Essentials Oils — Nature's Healing Tools
Essential oils are distilled from certain healing plants, usually by steam distillation. Depending on the plant, the essential oil is produced in the petals, roots, leaves, seeds, fruit rind, bark, wood, or resin. Essential oils are produced all around the world for use in medicines, foods, drinks, perfumery and, of course, aromatherapy.
Almost all essential oils are antiseptic, and individual oils have their own particular healing characteristics. Some have strong antibacterial properties, others are antiviral, antifungal, antiinflammatory, or antispasmodic. Some are calming, others are stimulating. Each essential oil has a healing profile, comprised of several characteristics, that is unique to itself.
When using essential oils on children, it's important to recognize that some essential oils are not suitable for them. This might be because the essential oil has hormonal properties, or it may be too powerful for the weaker constitution of children. If using an essential oil for a particular condition, only use the oils recommended in that section of "The A–Z of Conditions." For more general purposes, use the essential oils recommended for your child's age-group, which can be found in the following chart.
What's in a Name?
The name of essential oils is very important. There are many different types of eucalyptus or camomile, for example, each with its own particular healing properties. When I recommend "camomile roman," don't confuse it with "camomile german," or ormenis flower, which some people call "camomile maroc." Please take care to use the correct essential oil for the job. This is particularly important in the case of children. "Thyme" oil is not generally recommended for children because it is so strong, but there's an alternative in the related "thyme linalol," which is excellent for use on children.
Buying and Storing
If you are planning to use essential oils with children, it is crucial to find a good supplier of pure, organic if possible, essential oils. Many essential oils sold today are not what they seem. They could be chemical copies made to mimic the aroma of a particular essential oil. Or, they could be industrial quality essential oils that are too old to have any therapeutic qualities left. They might be pure oils, but already diluted in a vegetable oil — and not suitable for the purposes outlined in this book. Some are sold as "fragrant oils" or even "aromatherapy oils," and are intended for use as sweet-smelling body oils or room fragrances. These sweet-smelling oils are totally different from the healing tools of essential oils.
Due to the growth of aromatherapy in recent years, there are now many good suppliers of pure essential oil who can supply you with the essential oil you need, and often by mail order. Most health stores will sell 100 percent pure essential oil, and if you have any difficulty, look at small ads in health magazines where mail-order suppliers are likely to be found.
Essential oils should be supplied and kept in dark glass bottles that have a dropper-stopper. Always read the label carefully, checking that it says "100 percent pure essential oil." Ideally, the Latin name should be printed on the label, along with a "sell-by" date — which might be two years hence. Don't buy essential oils that are displayed on shelves that catch the sun. Essential oils need to be stored in a cool, dark place, and if the management of a store aren't aware of that elementary rule, they're unlikely to have taken the trouble to source a quality supplier.
Keep your essential oils and blends somewhere dark and cool, out of a humid atmosphere. Bathrooms are often full of damp steam and are not a good place to keep them. You have to think about the children too, and put the essential oils somewhere where they can't be reached. Wooden storage boxes especially made for essential oils are available and are the most convenient way to store them. Put the box, or other container, on a high shelf out of reach of inquisitive little minds and hands.CHAPTER 2
Using Essential Oils
Hydrolats, Essential Oil Waters, and Infused Oils
Throughout this book I refer to "hydrolats," essential oil "waters," and "infused" oils. They are all products which include some elements of the healing properties of the essential oils found in plants. Hydrolats can't be made at home, but can be purchased from specialist suppliers. Essential oil waters are made with essential oils and they can be used, in some cases, in place of hydrolats.
A great deal of water is used in the process of essential oil distillation, and it's often sold as a by-product of the manufacturing process — a hydrolat. Rose water and orange-flower water, which are used in beauty preparations and cooking, are diluted hydrolats. Herbal medicine uses these and other hydrolats, such as lavender, tea tree, and camomile.
It's only the water-soluble components in plants that become imbued in the water used in the distillation process. Consequently, hydrolats should not be thought of as watered down essential oils, because they don't contain all the components that essential oils do. Hydolats very often smell quite different from the plant or the essential oil.
Hydrolats have antiseptic properties, and have their own unique uses. They can be used to spray rooms, put on bed clothing, as well as on compresses. They often have a delicious fragrance. Hydrolats have to be bought like an essential oil. If your supplier doesn't sell them you may be able to get them through an herbalist.
Essential Oil Waters
The water-infusion method creates an essential oil water, which could be used if a hydrolat is unavailable. Pour ½ pint of boiling water into a heat-proof bowl. Then add 6–10 drops of your chosen essential oil. Cover the bowl completely, so the cooled, condensed water falls back into the bowl. Then pour the mixture through an unbleached, paper coffee filter, to take out the globules of essential oil. Leave it to cool, then bottle.
Infused oils can be made at home and there are two ways to make them. The first way is to use a jelly jar or other container that can be kept tightly sealed, and fill it with whatever plant material you want to use, such as lavender, camomile, marigold, or calendula. Use the part of the plant that contains the essential oils. (For complete details on essential oils profiles see Essential Aromatherapy: A Pocket Guide to Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Susan Worwood.) Pack in as much as you can, then fill the jar with a good, organic vegetable oil, such as sunflower, grapeseed, or almond oil. Put the lid on tightly, and put the jar somewhere in the sun, like a window sill. Shake the bottle every day. After at least 48 hours, strain the oil again. To really get all the bits out, strain the oil through an unbleached paper coffee filter. It's thick, so this will take some time. To make the oil stronger, use the same oil and add more fresh plant material, and repeat the process. Carry on until you get the aroma as strong as you want it.
The second method involves putting the flower heads or other plant material in a jar with the oil, as above and, after sealing the jar, gently heating the oil and the plant together. This is done by putting the jar into a few inches of water in a pot, on the stove. Use low heat — there should be no bubbling or boiling. Strain as usual.
Other ingredients and equipment used will be discussed throughout this book; below is further information about them:
Alcohol: Use only pure, organic, food-quality alcohol, or vodka.
Aloe Vera: The aloe vera plant has renowned healing properties. It has long, hard, thick, spiky leaves. In the center of each leaf is a sticky gel-like substance, that can be taken out as required. The plant grows easily on sunny window ledges, requires little maintenance, and propagates itself — producing more baby plants which can be repotted. The plant provides an easily accessible, fresh source of aloe vera, which is the best form to use. However, aloe vera can also be purchased in water or gel form. Aloe vera is an antiinflammatory, and can soothe the skin and help heal cuts, grazes, and burns, as well as ease insect bites.
Baking Soda: Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), known to most people as baking soda, is a sodium salt which softens water. It relieves itching and is soothing to the skin when used in the bath.
Bicarbonate of Soda: Sodium carbonate, also known as "washing soda" (Na2CO3).
Beeswax: Always use the pure, unbleached variety of beeswax. This is obtainable from health stores, specialist stores, beekeepers, and from some good quality drugstores and pharmacies.
Calamine Lotion: A pink or white pharmaceutical preparation for soothing and calming the skin. It can be found in drugstores and pharmacies.
Cider Vinegar: This must be organic if used to soothe and soften the skin. It can help restore the acid mantle of the skin and soothes irritation and stings.
Colloidal Silver: This is a specialized product, with strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is available from some health stores, and through certain network marketing companies.
Epsom Salts: This is used to help ease sore muscles and stiffness. It is not a water softener. It is available from most drug stores, pharmacies, and health stores.
Glucose Powder: A powdered form of glucose, found in most food outlets and drugstores.
Green Clay: This has long been used in European health and beauty preparations. The clay, taken directly from the ground, has healing properties. It is deodorizing, and can help in the healing of cuts and other skin problems.
Honey: Only use the very best you can find — a pure organic flower honey. Manuka honey is healing and highly recommended for the purposes outlined in this book.
Iodine: Easily found in drugstores and pharmacies.
Menthol Crystals: This is crystallized menthol, extracted from the mint plant family. It is available from drugstores and pharmacies.
Myrrh Tincture: Myrrh tincture is an alcoholic solution of myrrh. It's found in drugstores and pharmacies.
Oats/Oatmeal: Only use raw, organic oats or oatmeal, found in organic food stores and some supermarkets.
Rose Water: Produced in the distillation of rose oil. The most concentrated form is a hydrolat. When it is rediluted, it is called rose water. It's used in cooking and skin care for its skin softening and healing properties.
Salt: Salt is healing and cleansing. The salt referred to in this book is either sea salt or rock salt. The salt should contain as little chemical or additional substances as possible.
Vegetable-based Ointment: Usually available from health stores or organic food stores, but may be found in some drugstores.
Water: When water is mentioned as an ingredient — other than for baths and compresses — it means spring or distilled water.
Witch Hazel: Witch hazel is made from a bush, and comes in distilled, or infused form. It's a mild astringent with soothing and sting-relieving properties. It can be found in most drug stores, pharmacies, and supermarkets.
Zinc Oxide Cream: A cream that contains zinc, which is widely used as a skin healing medium. Easily available from drugstores and pharmacies.
Bottles: Always keep essential oils and blends in dark bottles — either brown, green, or blue.
Hot Water Bottle: This refers to a large flat rubber bottle which you fill with warm water. It is preferable to use one with a cover made of soft material.
Muslin: Muslin is a very fine cheese cloth type of material. Try to find a pure cotton unbleached muslin, available from specialist material stores and some craft stores.
Paper Coffee Filters: This refers to the cone-shaped papers used to filter coffee. Use the unbleached paper variety.
Warm Bags: Warm bags contain wheat, corn, buckwheat, and other natural materials. This is covered in a material that can be heated in the microwave, or put in the refrigerator or freezer. They can be found in many department stores and health stores.
There are two ways to use aromatherapy on children. You can use essential oils to get a child well — which is a home-help form of clinical aromatherapy and is the main subject of this book. And aromatherapy can be used simply to give a general sense of well-being — which is never far from our minds, and more elaborated upon in this chapter under Caring Touch Massage (see pages 30–32).
All essential oils should be sold with a dropper-hole insert already in place, which makes measuring easy. Essential oils differ in terms of their density and viscosity. The watery-type, like lavender, come out of the dropper-hole easily, while you have to be patient with the thicker type of essential oils, like sandalwood.
Excerpted from Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood. Copyright © 2000 Valerie Ann Worwood. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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