Using aromatherapy essential oils is just one of a long line of methods that have been developed over the years to help with your relaxation, and in these days of growing stress and anxiety we need all of the help we can get.

In this article we're going to have a look at what aromatherapy essential oils actually are, what they can do for us, and where the best places are to find them – without adding any additional stress to your day.

Just what do we mean by aromatherapy essential oils?

These are oils that have been specially designed to help us relax when we inhale the scent that they give off. Scanned waters (possibly a forerunner) have been documented as being in use as far back as the middle ages.

There are three main ways that the oils are extracted from the plant.

First there is Expression. This is where they are cold pressed (expressed mechanically) until the oils start to come out of them. This technique is a fairly cheap method and is therefore used for doing bulk extracts of oils from cheaper sources, for example the peels of citrus fruits.

The next method is Distillation. Most of the more common aromatherapy essential oils eg eucalyptus and lavender, will have been extracted through distillation.

To distill the oils the raw material (flowers, leaves, roots etc) will be placed in an alembic which is made up of two vessels joined by a coil. This is placed over a container of boiling water. The steam passes through the raw materials, vaporizes the volatile compounds and the vapor then passes through the coil. The vapor then becomes liquid again in the adjoining vessel.

The final method is solvent extraction. There are a number of plants that we want to extract the oils from that do not have enough volatility to be able to be distilled; for those plants solvents such as supercritical carbon dioxide or hexane have to be used.

Oils extracted by the solvent method contain a mixture of substances. Due to the process being used they will often contain waxes or oils and are, attractively, known as concretes.

Is there any reason to think that aromatherapy essential oils can do us any good?

It is widely believed that scents can make people feel and react in different ways. One example of this is using Lavender to aid in sleeping and the relief of anxiety.

There may be something to the claims because most of the plants that are having their oils extracted have been used for other 'medical' purposes over the years. Lavender was used during the First World War as a disinfectant, and was used even earlier as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.

It would seem possible that if they have worked in these other forms in the past, then the concentrated version that you get in the oils should have as positive an output, if not even better.

Aromatherapy essential oils are normally used in one of three ways. Often they're inhaled as a fragrance (via aerial diffusion), applied directly (baths, and massaging, etc.) or directly inhaled (for colds, and decongestion, etc.)
Where can we get these pleasantly photographed stress relievers?

Not so long ago you've had to have gone to a specialist health store to find them, but, with more people needing relaxation, and generally feeling the stress of life, a lot of the pharmacies have started to stock them as well.

If you can not get a hold of them locally then you can always do a quick search, using your favorite search engine, and quickly find a number of places online that will be able to supply it for you. They may even be able to give you handy hints and tips on the best ways to use it.

So there we have it. Aromatherapy essential oils are the extracts of plants that have, for the most part, been used in the past to cure all kinds of stress and illness, with the earlier scented waters having been around since the Middle Ages; and you should be able to find them locally, or at least online.

Is today your day to get stress free with aromatherapy essential oils?