Aromatherapy in the Classroom

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What is Aromatherapy?

The definition of aromatherapy refers to the clinical use of essential oils combined with physical therapy - usually in the form of massage or inhalation. The definition of aroma-psychology refers to the use of essential oils to positively affect the mind - such as memory enhancement, mood uplifting, and confidence boosting. These definitions come from Valerie Ann Worwood's book, The Fragrant Mind, which I would highly recommend (see Related Literature).

Caution: The term "aromatherapy" is greatly used and abused in marketing and by manufacturers who create so called "aromatherapy" products. Research into true aromatherapy and essential oils has shown that the aroma of essential oils have therapeutic mental and physical health benefits. Most commercial products may smell like an essential oil (lavender, for instance) but are actually man made synthetic odorants which have not a single drop of natural essential oil in the product. When you purchase and use an aromatherapy product for home, school, or personal use, choose natural, organic, and high quality products as much as possible.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are aromatic plant essences that are extracted from the berry, seed, leave, flower, root, resin, bark, wood, or peel of a plant. Various extraction methods are used to obtain an essential oil such as distillation, expression, and solvent extraction.

Ways to Use Aromatherapy Essential Oils in the Classroom

For general and personal use, essential oils can be used topically (diluted or "neat"/undiluted), diffused into the air, or sometimes even taken internally (under supervision of a professional). For classroom use, I suggest using these methods of diffusing essential oils:

  • Air Diffusion: A diffuser is a device that is used to atomize essential oil molecules into the air for inhalation. There are many different kinds of diffusers. Some diffusers are passive and attach to an already established heat source (like a lightbulb), some diffusers are heated by a flame, and some are electric devices that plug into a power source. To use a diffuser, one usually places a few drops of essential oil to the device and heat is applied.
  • Room Spray: Essential oils can be diluted into a bottle of distilled water and sprayed throughout a room to replace chemical air fresheners and antiseptics. Plastic bottles should be avoided and replaced with glass or metal.
  • Water Bowl: Add a few drops of essential oils to a bowl of warm water and let sit until cool. This will diffuse essential oils, but will not make a very powerful scent.
  • Radiator: If you have a radiator in your room, simply place a few drops of essential oil on a napkin or diffuser pad and place near the heat source. The heat of the radiator will assist in diffusion.
  • Silk/Paper Flowers: A few drops of essential oils on some silk or paper flowers placed around the room will add a light aroma to the atmosphere.
  • Jewelry: Diffuser necklaces are a great way to diffuse essential oils throughout the room. Diffuser necklaces are usually small decorative locket chambers that a small diffuser pad can fit inside. A few drops of oil are placed on the pad and the pad is inserted into the chamber. The locket chamber has some small holes that allow the aroma to escape

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