Many essential oils have the potential to “balance” the body. Ancient practices which are still used today – including those of reflexology, Ayuverdic medicine, chakra balancing, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – address perceived imbalances in the body and attempt to bring the body back into harmony in various ways. The same is true of essential oils; they have the potential to address problems – or imbalances – within the body and return it to a state of equilibrium.
Why Many Essential Oils are Balancing
Essential oils are adaptogenic; this means that a single essential oil can be both sedative and stimulating, but at different times. Consider the fact that essential oils are made up of lots of different chemical components, and then consider how each chemical component acts with each other in a specific essential oil. Combine that essential oil with another essential oil of differing chemical components and you find that the overall chemical composition of an aromatherapy blend can be changed; one chemical component may now influence another more, an effect known as synergy.
Add in the complex notion that essential oils may influence the mind, body, and spirit of a person – each with our own individual quirks and reactions to things – and you will find that although essential oils can be predicted to act a certain way, there is no accounting for individual responses.
Balancing Essential Oils in Aromatherapy Practice
Examples of essential oils that maybe stimulating or relaxing, depending on the amount used, the other essential oils it is combined with, and the chemical components involved in the synergy effect include:
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – often considered a “calming” essential oil, in the right combination and amount used, lavender may actually stimulate the body
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – rosemary is considered a “stimulating” essential oil and is usually contra-indicated in cases of high blood pressure for this reason. However, in lower amounts, rosemary essential oil may actually have the opposite effect
- Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) – geranium essential oil is considered a “balancing” essential oil for women's problems. It is also believed to stimulate the adrenal cortex
- Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) – calming or stimulating, depending on use, quantity used, and combination of the blend.
Understanding if an Essential Oil is Calming or Stimulating
Due to the complex make-up of an essential oil, it is important to learn everything you can not only about an essential oil, but how it can be used in an aromatherapy blend. An experienced and trained aromatherapist will have had years of practice and training in order to be able to mix an aromatherapy blend effectively for the purpose it is intended for.
Ultimately, aromatherapy is not a “one-size-fits-all” practice! There are many factors, and components, that go into perfecting a specific aromatherapy blend.
- Caddy, Rosemary, 1997, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Colour, UK: Amberwood Publishing Ltd.
- Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2012, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone
- A decade of the international training and experience of a certified aromatherapist.