Practical Aromatherapy: What's The Most Therapeutic Diffuser Style?
In the world of therapeutic aromatherapy, there are three modalities of using essential oils: Topical application, ingestion and inhalation. Sometimes inhalation gets dismissed as not real medicine, but this just isn't the case. Essential oils still get into your bloodstream if you inhale them (thereby helping oxygenate your blood, as many proponents will attest to) and providing a host of other therapeutic effects. But which diffuser is best? There are so many types available, in a wide range of prices. Which one is best really depends on your goal: to simply enjoy the aromatic pleasures of fine essential oils, or go all the way and get every last health-supportive effect you can from aromatherapy. We'll look at them all here: warming, fan, nebulizing, and ultrasonic nebulizing.
The Science-Proven Health Benefits of Essential Oils
Scientific investigation over the last several years has revealed a great many truly medicinal properties of essential oils. We're finding out its not just about great smells, but that these great smells can affect us profoundly. Diffusing essential oils has been scientifically proven to lower physiological markers of stress and lessen anxiety. Other research indicates essential oils can have a very positive impact on our immune system function. Oils stimulate the immune system into action, improve its function, and actually de-activate infectious viruses and bacterial. All these benefits can be gained by using the right aromatherapy diffuser.
Diffusers for "Aroma" Therapy: Using Oils for Emotional and Energetic Benefits
Just the scent of an essential oil alone can radically alter physiological processes -- the scent of Lavender is a well-known "anxiolytic", which is just a fancy name for stress reducer. When the aroma hits our smell scent, our brain signals our body to stop stressing out! Other scents have been shown to brighten our moods. Lavender has been shown to be as effective as Valium at reducing stress; it also lowers aggression, brings about a state of calm, and actually improves the quality of sleep. Bergamot essential oil was the subject of research where the subjects noted that they felt better when inhaling this sweet/tart scent. So which is the best diffuser for these uses? It turns out any of them will do, and your choice depends on the size of the environment you'll be diffusing the aromas into.
Here's a look at all the common diffuser styles, ranging from ones that will cover the smallest areas to the largest. First there's the warming plug in units. These evaporate the oils using moderate heat. They're very quiet, inexpensive, easy to use, and good for a couple-hundred square feet. The fan diffusers are next, ranging from personal desktop size, to ones that will cover several hundred square feet. They're fairly quiet, only slightly more complicated, and evaporate the oils using fan-blown air. "Ultrasonics" are next, which make a mist of oil and water together. They're great if you'd like a little moisture in the air as well. Finally, there's the cold-air nebulizing diffusers, which make a mist of pure essential oil. Some of these are rated for over 1000 sq. ft.
Any of these diffusers will allow you and your family to enjoy and benefit from the aromatic effects of essential oils. Generally the more costly units will cover more square footage, but will not provide more benefit in terms of aroma. If however you'd like to take full advantage of the medicinal aspects of essential oils, providing immune support (and data is now coming out that essential oils can even prevent cancer) you'll want to be a little more careful with your selection. For actions like disinfecting your living environment, boosting immune function, and perhaps using essential oils to support recovery from an illness, it can be important to put a higher concentration of essential oils in the air than you can do with a simple fan or warming unit.
When you really want complete control over the amount of essential oil in the air in your home or workplace, and to output enough essential oil in those times when you may really need to, a nebulizing diffuser is the only way to go. Note these are not the "ultrasonic nebulizers", as they do not mix oil and water -- they make a mist of pure essential oil that you can actually see. These units will tend to be the most expensive, but give you the widest variety of operating conditions: from simply outputting a very pleasant aroma in a small room, to outputting a significant amount of essential oil that can potentially disinfect your environment of microbes while supporting the function of your immune system.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Essential Oils
An important note when using any type of diffuser, your nose will become sensitized to any aroma very quickly. If you diffuse the same scent continually, you'll notice you smell it less and less within just a few minutes. This is because your nose only has so many receptors for each aroma, and once they're filled, they take a little time before they can signal the aroma's presence to your brain again. All "high end" diffusers will either have a timer control built in, or recommend the use of a programmable appliance timer to cycle the diffuser on and off. A typical cycle is only 5 minutes "on" every hour -- yes, only five minutes! If using the diffuser for immunity purposes, you might consider however running the unit continually on its lowest setting. In any case, know that no diffuser is more efficient than another -- the amount of oil in the air is always a direct result of how much you've put in the diffuser -- but a timer can help you smell a smaller amount of oil from any diffuser.