Using therapeutic essential oil for aromatherapy, massage therapy, or freshening up your spirit and your mood can have tremendously beneficial effects. There are many ways to incorporate essential oil into your life.
Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
At home, burning aromatherapy candles containing essential oils is an excellent way to control the environment. Similarly, using sachets or potpourri filled with, for example, scented lavender is an inexpensive and easy way to achieve harmonic balance in the home and wardrobe.
Away from home, many individuals find that the refreshing use of an essential oil body spray can provide a quick pick-me-up when they are feeling hot, flushed, exhausted, or stressed out.
Quasi Medical Oils
Birch essential oil has historically been used for medicinal purposes, primarily to ease muscular and joint pain. Native Americans in North America used birch extracts as a tonic, an anti-inflammatory, and a beverage that induces sweating.
It is no wonder that birch essential oil is so effective for this purpose; it contains the same active ingredient, methyl salicylate, found in aspirin. Any one with aspirin sensitivities should therefore avoid using birch essential oil.
Birch essential oil is extracted from the pulverized bark of the birch tree by using steam distillation methods. Cold pressed methods are preferred to steam distillation methods of extraction because the heat in the seam can change the properties of the extracted oil; however, birch essential oil is extremely potent, even in its heat extracted form.
Potent Birch Essential Oil
Birch essential oil is used in small quantities in men’s colognes and commercial fragrances. In larger, undiluted quantities, the oil can have potentially toxic effects. It should always be used in its diluted form. Even diluted, it should be avoided by patients who have liver disease, blood thinning medications, the elderly, the fragile, and the very young, pregnant or nursing mothers.
Birch oil is so potent that it is considered an environmental and marine pollutant and contaminant. Always use all your birch oil completely up; if you have some leftover birch oil, dispose of it through a toxic disposal vendor and do not simply pour it down the drain or flush it down the toilet.
As with any essential oil, a skin patch test should be performed before the oil is used in great quantities, to assess any allergic reaction that may occur. Furthermore, birch essential oils should not be applied directly to any open wounds or irritated skin. And of course, oils should always be kept away from the reach of children.
Lin Steven is a contributing Editor for skin care.