Essential oils can sometimes seem to be contradictory in nature – after all, how can one essential oil be both calming in one application and stimulating in another? Although essential oils fall into several categories – and some essential oils are known for their sedative qualities more than others – many are actually balancing, and can perform “double duty.” Here’s a quick look at how essential oils can be balancing.
Chemical Components of Essential Oils
Essential oils are made up of more than one chemical component. Even if one chemical component is more dominant in presence than others, the lesser dominant components may still have an effect on the therapeutic properties of the essential oil. In addition, when you combine one essential oil with another (known as synergy) you change the overall chemical composition of the essential oils combined – leading to greater or lesser influence of chemical component/s. It comes down to – what’s in your essential oil (blend) and how much?
The Adaptogenic Effect of Essential Oils
According to Price and Price in Aromatherapy for Health Professionals (4th Edition), the adaptogenic effect can be described as a single essential oil which can be either sedative or stimulating on different occasions. Furthermore, an essential oil such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) which is often contra-indicated in cases of high blood pressure can, in fact, have the opposite effect in low doses (ie lower blood pressure). Note: contra-indicators are usually given for high use of essential oil dosage. In addition, the more reactive chemical components of some essential oils can be quenched when combined with other essential oils – leading to a potentially less harmful effect.
Aromatherapy is a complex practice, using complex tools (essential oils); the mind, body and spirit in each individual may react differently to the expected (normal) physical outcome of essential oil – an important factor to consider when advising on an essential oil or blend.
Examples of Balancing Essential Oils
Balancing essential oils can be used singly or in a combination of blends; they may balance various aspects/systems within the body, depending on usage and combinations. Examples of balancing essential oils include:
lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
Study Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
An aromatherapist is trained in how to blend essential oils together in order to achieve the best outcome for a particular problem/person. The blanket statement “one size (oil) fits all” doesn’t always apply – which is why it is important to understand the exact make-up and nature of an essential oil before using it.
Note: This post is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a definitive study on essential oils and their behavior. Consult a qualified health professional and further aromatherapy texts for specific advice pertaining to individual circumstances.
Price, Shirley, Price, Len, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals (4th Edition) 2012, UK: Churchill Livingstone
Author is a certified aromatherapist