Essential oils have become quite a trend in recent years. People have started to use essential oils to add their loved scents into their homes or business establishments. Scents have a way of adding a touch of comfort into the surroundings. It also is slowly becoming an adjunct form of therapy that is said to help in alleviating discomfort in certain types of illnesses. It is probably for this reason why aromatherapy and the use of essential oils have slowly become a popular practice these days.
One recommended way of introducing essential oils into a given place is by adding a few drops into diffusers or humidifiers. Humidifiers and diffusers are basically machines that are able to convert water into vapors. Humidifiers are meant to increase levels of humidity in dry areas, whereas diffusers are meant to spread scents throughout a given area through vapor that it emits.
Humidifiers are of two types: cool-mist humidifiers and warm-mist humidifiers.
Cool-mist humidifiers are filled with water which is then converted into cool water vapor by the machine. Warm-mist humidifiers, on the other hand, heat water to the boiling point order to produce steam.
Diffusers may come in three different types: nebulizing diffusers, ultrasonic diffusers and cool-mist diffusers
Nebulizing diffusers operate using a cold-air pump which sprays the scented oil into the air. Ultrasonic diffusers make use of an electronic disc which creates electric impulses that help spread scented oil mixtures into the air. Cool-mist diffusers are quite similar to cool-mist humidifiers since they spray scented cool mist into the room.
Whether it’s a humidifier or a diffuser though, is it really safe practice to add essential oils into them?
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are oils derived from different parts of a plant such as the roots, seeds, flowers and barks. The strong chemical compounds in these different plant parts are distilled resulting in concentrates which can emit fragrances that can stir the senses when added to solutions or even water.
What are the probable benefits and harmful effects that may result from the use of essential oils?
Essential oils have become popular in recent years due to the said health benefits that one can get from the use of essential oils.
- Helps alleviate stress and anxiety
Certain studies have shown that the use of essential oils can serve as an adjunct from of therapy along with conventional treatments when dealing with different forms of psychological stress and anxiety. Since there are a number of scents that can be used for aromatherapy, there has been some difficulty in performing blind studies though so studies are still said to be inconclusive.
The use of scented oils is commonly used during massage therapy and it is said to help during the whole duration of the therapy.
- Relief of headaches and migraines
During the 90s, studies have been conducted regarding the effect of a mix of peppermint oil and ethanol when dabbed on the forehead and temple during episodes of migraines and headaches. These studies have shown that this mix can indeed provide some relief for migraines and headaches. Other combinations that can be used are a mixture of peppermint and lavender oil as well as chamomile and sesame oil. In fact, a mixture of chamomile and sesame oil is based on an old Persian tradition which has been used for the treatment of migraines and headaches.
- Sleep and insomnia
For individuals who have problems getting a good night’s rest, lavender is said to provide a relaxing effect that can result in improved sleep. It is said to be most helpful for women who have just given birth or for patients with heart disease.
- Reducing inflammation
In vitro studies have shown that certain essential oils may help reduce swelling under certain conditions. Mouse studies have shown that ingestion of essential oils from thyme and oregano may reduce inflammation in the intestines. The same can be seen in a mix of essential oils from caraway and oregano. There yet has to be published studies on the effect of these essential oils on humans though.
- Antibiotic and antimicrobial effects
Health experts are continuously looking for alternatives to antibiotics due to a rise in antibiotic resistance in recent years. Essential oils from peppermint and tea-tree oil have been observed to have antimicrobial effects in vitro, although the actual effect on humans is yet to be studied.
What to take note of when using essential oils in humidifiers?
As a general recommendation, diffusers are better used in small spaces while humidifiers are better for larger spaces. Humidifiers are also better in homes which have pets and children since humidifiers lessen chances of allergies in children.
Not all humidifiers, however, can accommodate essential oils since oils used in regular humidifiers may damage some of their parts. There are special types of humidifiers that can accommodate essential oils, enough to turn them into mist. An aroma humidifier, for example, has a special compartment where the essential oil is placed so that it doesn’t come in contact with other parts of the humidifier.
Any kind of essential oil can be used with a humidifier. However, water-based oils where glycerin is replaced by alcohol, is much better to use with a humidifier.
Essential oils are safe to use with humidifiers provided that precautions are followed:
- Never use more than the recommended amount. You may think that using more than what is recommended adds to the strength of the scent that is being diffused by the humidifier. The amount though doesn’t really matter since essential oils are concentrated enough to deliver enough scent in the area where the humidifier is placed.
- Never leave the humidifier with the scented oil on for a long time. Intermittent use is the best way to use these diffusers and humidifiers since the scent can stay in a room for a long time, even with the humidifier switched off.
- Always read the packaging when you purchase scented oil. The packaging will give you an idea of the what the oil is for. It will also give you an idea of what the oil contains. Some oils may cause allergies so it will be best for you to be informed about the oil you plan to purchase.
- The use of scented oils on humidifiers is not recommended for individuals who have bronchial disease and thyroid disease. Caution should be taken with its use in pregnant and nursing women.
The use of essential oils has its advantages as an adjunct form of therapy for those suffering from mental stress. In today’s busy world, it helps in keeping anxieties at bay since it does give that feeling of calm. As long as proper precautions are taken, the use of essential oils can help in maintaining your healthy lifestyle.