photo of essential oil use
Neal's Yard Remedies runs lots of superb courses to help you learn how to use essential oils in your everyday life. [Photo: Neal's Yard Remedies]

Celebrate Aromatherapy Awareness Week with us

10 June, 2015

This week is Aromatherapy Awareness Week – a good time to extol the virtues of this wonderful, gentle, effective therapy.

Aromatherapy uses the concentrated essences of certain plants which produce essential oils, mainly as part of their own defence mechanism against disease or predations, or in order to attract pollinators – so we could say they produce mood and behaviour altering chemistry as part of a natural function.

These highly concentrated essential oils can be used in many different therapeutic ways, but one of the real advantages of what is called ‘English Aromatherapy’ is the combination of feel-good touch therapy – a gentle, respectful, listening massage as opposed to sometimes painful manipulations – with the power of specific essential oils, which all have their own therapeutic actions and properties.

Many essential oils smell utterly heavenly (as well as perhaps being strongly antimicrobial, without smelling medicinal) and even those which might not be what you would want to wear as a perfume, can be blended to be appreciated. So a big plus with those oils is that we can use them therapeutically, whilst also finding pleasure in them.

Everyday healing

Essential oils can also be used in daily life by ordinary people, to alleviate common symptoms, day to day ailments, and improve well-being.

Of course, it is important to be aware that some of the oils do have safety cautions, and that safe protocols for using all the oils should be observed. Whilst nothing is going to replace a session with a thoroughly trained practitioner, who can take a proper medical case history, deliver a fabulous hands-on treatment, advise about the lifestyle and home use of oils in order to maximise the well-being and vitality of a client coming for treatment, sometimes aromatic self-help can be all we need ‘just what the doctor ordered’ – with us being able to ‘doctor’ ourselves.

Simple home treatments

Just as we wouldn’t need to visit the doctor for every cough, cold, sniffle, outbreak of spots, headache, cut fingers and the like, but would use over-the-counter remedies bought from the supermarket or the pharmacy, essential oils may be able to replace those remedies in our ‘medicine chest’. It is empowering and often far kinder, to ourselves, and to the planet, to be able to use some simple natural remedies, for common symptoms and conditions.

Take the most well-known essential oil of all – true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), for example. Isn’t it amazing that a couple of drops of this on a pillow, or 4-6 drops diluted in a spoonful of milk and stirred into a warm bedtime bath, can help achieve a good night’s sleep.

Even more amazing is that the same oil can be applied undiluted on small burns, to help soothe and heal the skin, can be used in a rollerball on the temples and back of the neck to relieve headaches, and that a couple of drops of lavender can even be used, in warm water, as a gargle for sore throats! And this has just scratched the surface of this generous plant.

There is a fascinating, joyous and rewarding world to discover in learning how to safely and effectively utilise the gifts of these plants.


  • Victoria Plum, MIFPA; RCST; is an aromatherapist and Principal Tutor for Neal’s Yard Remedies’ aromatherapy courses