Essential oils have become more and more popular in recent years, as their wide variety of truly therapeutic uses have been recognized. To gain the benefits of essential oils, therapists and practitioners typically use one of three modalities: topical application, ingestion and inhalation. Amazingly, inhaling essential oils can have profound effects on the mind and body, beyond the simply enjoyment of a pleasing aroma. And to take advantage of these potential therapeutic effects, an aromatherapy diffuser is used — yet there are several styles of diffusers available, each with particular benefits. Here’s a look at the diffusers you’ll find, and some help choosing the best one for your needs.
The Data Is In: Science Is Concluding Essential Oils Have Many Health Benefits
Those interested in supporting their family’s health through natural means are being drawn toward using essential oils. People are learning that aromatherapy isn’t just about aroma, its about real medicine that works. Even the simple applications are wonderful: diffusing oils in your home can calm the young and the old, and act as natural antidepressants (both scientifically validated actions). The research abstracts available on PubMed.Gov (and elsewhere around the Internet) also note that essential oils can boost the activity of our immune system. Eucalyptus has been shown to actually make our white blood cells more effective and doing their job. Further, many oils have both indirect and direct antiviral effects — they prevent infection of individual cells the oils have come in contact with, and can inactivate the actual viruses as well. (Their anti-bacterial actions are just as impressive). And diffusing essential oils into your environment can help you and your family enjoy all these benefits.
Choosing A Diffuser For Aromatic Applications
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.
Each type of diffuser will cover a different number of square feet — and generally the less expensive models are for the smaller spaces. A “plug-in” diffuser plugs straight into a wall socket, and evaporates oil from a cotton through warmth. Easy to use, silent, great for one small-to-moderate size room. Very inexpensive. Next, the fan diffusers blow air over an oil-saturated pad. They might make a little “white noise” sound from the fan, but are generally very tolerable. The smaller units are inexpensive and for small spaces like the plug-in unit. Larger ones might cover areas up to four hundred square feet. Like the plug in, you’ll need to replace the pad every once in a while. Then there’s “ultrasonics”, which are small ultrasonic humidification units made to diffuse essential oils along with the mist of water vapor they emit (sometimes called “ultrasonic nebulizers”). Also very quiet, and nice if you’re in a dry environment. The cover about the same space as the larger fan units. The most powerful diffusers are simply called “nebulizers”, as they nebulize the essential oils to evaporate them. This means they make the oil into very tiny particles which you can see as pure essential oil vapor (without water). These are nearly silent, and can diffuse into areas larger than eight hundred square feet.
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.
It is the nebulizing diffusers that allow complete flexibility in terms of essential oil output, and maximizing the concentration of essential oils in your environment. If this is what you are seeking, make sure you find a cold-air nebulizing diffuser, one that uses air rather than water to make the evaporating mist of essential oils. The fancier of these units will have an output control, enabling you to diffuse just a little at a time at the lowest setting, to really creating a visible vapor of essential oil within the nebulizing chamber.
Conserving Your Oils While Gaining The Most Benefit
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.