Essential Oils in the Bath

Storey's Country Wisdom Bulletin A-160


By Colleen K. Dodt

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 12, 1996. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Since 1973, Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletins have offered practical, hands-on instructions designed to help readers master dozens of country living skills quickly and easily. There are now more than 170 titles in this series, and their remarkable popularity reflects the common desire of country and city dwellers alike to cultivate personal independence in everyday life.


An Introduction to Essential Oils

There is very little language to describe scent. We understand scent more through associations and images than by analytical processes or data. Learned-odor responses — odors that have memories attached to them — arouse reactions to certain synthetic or natural scents, like the scent of a lover’s perfume or the smell of freshly mown grass. In the limbic portion of the brain, also called the rhinencephalon, emotions and odors are directly linked and have been found to produce some of the same electrical impulses. Certain learned-odor responses can lead us on intense olfactory emotional odysseys.

Our experience of a pure essential oil is different from a learned-odor response. When an essential oil is inhaled, various neurochemicals are released in the brain and the inhaler experiences a physiological change in body, mind, and spirit. When lavender is inhaled, for instance, serotonin is released from the raphe nucleus of the brain, producing a calming influence in the body. This effect is altered, however, if the inhaler has had a direct negative experience with lavender.

A learned-odor response can alter or interfere with the biochemical effects of essential oils. Emotions have their own chemical makeup and can be powerful enough to inhibit or enhance another neurochemical release or absorption. An intense emotional response to a certain odor may interfere with the odor-induced chemical release from the brain. For this reason, over-the-counter aromatherapy formulas are not effective for everyone, since people’s life experiences are so varied. For example, if a child had a caretaker in their life who wore a certain scent such as lavender, a known relaxant, and that caretaker had a direct negative association for this particular child, it could perhaps be difficult for this person to relax when exposed to lavender because of a learned-odor response. I am not acquainted with any direct research in overcoming or changing learned-odor responses with pure essential oils.

Chemical reproductions do not have the same biochemical effects as naturally occurring pure essential oils. They rely solely on learned-odor response, not neurochemical release, and are not effective in aromatherapy.

Buying Pure Essential Oils

The term “essential oil” is thrown about every day, with a wide range of meanings. There are no standardized regulations for use of the words “essential oil” or “essence,” so they are often used to describe any number of products that have little or nothing to do with the real thing or meaning.

When I refer to essential oils in this book I mean the pure plant distillates and extracts that are excellent allies in yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s world of home health care. They are naturally derived, and should be respected as powerful substances to be used with caution and education. Pure essential oils are extracted directly from different parts of plants, depending on the oil concerned. Some are extracted from flowers, others from leaves, stems, the rind of fruit, berries, resin, or roots using a variety of extraction methods. Extraction of pure essential oils usually requires laboratory equipment and a large amount of materials for a small yield of oil. I have seen directions for homemade stills, yet found them too much bother for such a small yield. Distilling in a small ready-made still from Europe has helped me appreciate why many oils are expensive and can be difficult to locate. I, for one, will leave the extraction to those who know their business and be glad that I do not have to acquire my own oils by extracting them myself.


On Sale
Jan 12, 1996
Page Count
32 pages

Colleen K. Dodt

Colleen K. Dodt

About the Author

An herbalist for over 15 years, Colleen K. Dodt is the author of The Essential Oils Book and Natural BabyCare, of which James A. Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, said: “I believe Colleen would do better at healing my children and grandchildren than most of my HMO physicians have done.” Dodt is the owner of Herbal Endeavors, Ltd., in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Her business and products have been featured in Herb Companion magazine, and she has written numerous articles on herbs and aromatherapy. She was the first American and the first woman to write for The International Journal of Aromatherapy (1988).

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