It's all about the base....
Updated: Mar 24
I am rather late writing my blog this week. My fault entirely as I've been putting together a comprehensive table of oils, including their botanical name, shelf life, chemistry, properties and therapeutic uses. It's always great to have that information all in one place (I'm amazed nobody has yet published it), as it saves you sooo much time when you need to reference anything specific, especially if it's an oil you don't use very much in every day blending!
Anyway, this week I also bought in a few new carrier oils. Carrier oils are the base oils used to "hold" the essential oils. It's what you dilute the essential oils into make sure that they don't irritate your skin and cause allergy problems. And you'd be amazed at how many there are. My favourite blend this week has been for a client with Multiple Sclerosis. It's a complex blend that includes a combination of four base oils, each chosen for their specific theraupeutic properties.
All base oils have certain properties that lend themselves well to specific conditions. If you're around my age, you'll probably know that Arnica is great for bruises. In the same way, if you have acne, the carrier oil of choice here is usually Hazelnut (unless you have a nut allergy and then your go-to will be something like Wheatgerm). Did you know, for example, that Echinacea is excellent for treating spider and snake bites as well as colds and viral infections? It comes from the daisy family, same as Chamomile. And I'm still using Rosehip oil on my scars from my recent operation!
Every oil also has a shelf life. There are very few that are stable enough to sit on the shelf indefinitely. If you have an oil, such as borage, you'll need to add some vitamin E oil to it to help preserve it if you're thinking about hanging on to it longer than about 6 months. This is why when you buy carrier oils, the size of the bottle depends on the shelf life of the oil. There's no point buying a litre of an oil that's going to go off in 6 months if you don't use it very often! And if you're wondering what I've bought borage oil for this week, well it's great for Menopausal issues, Diabetes, Arthritic conditions.. I could go on. Such a versatile little bottle of magic!
Oil quality is also something to consider. If you're using oils for Aromatherapy then you have to ensure that you buy the "right" oils that contain the correct therapeutic chemicals otherwise you can use as much as you want but they won't actually help. Some oils have to be harvested at a high altitude for example to be effective. And depending on which part of the plant you use, this determines which chemical composition they have and therefore, which ailments they are good for. The Echinacea and Chamomile oils I mentioned above are a perfect example of this! Echinacea is famous for it's ability to support viral infections and colds; Chamomile is all about inflammation and pain relief! They come from the same plant family but have completely different properties and therapeutic uses! It's a complicated business and what you pay your Aromatherapist for; their expertise and knowledge in knowing what to use, when and how to use it, together with why they use it (or why it should be avoided!)
Essential oils and carrier oils are expensive so storing your oils correctly is therefore really important. I would recommend that you always keep oils away from direct sunlight (this is why they come in dark bottles) and away from the heat. You need to make sure that you don't contaminate any oils with water. This will turn them cloudy and will spoil them. To prevent them oxidizing, they should be in an airtight container. The borage oil picture above may be very pretty but dark bottles are always to way to go!
And if you haven't already noticed by now, I'm on a mission to educate everyone about how wonderful essential oils are and how much they can bring back the balance to your life. It's as much as science as an art and definitely one you should always have knowledge of before trying anything yourself at home!