Essential oils are often Nature’s “adaptogens”. This is a wonderful word I learned while studying about homeopathic medicine, but it’s a word that applies to aromatherapy too.

It means that the use of the substance, in this case your lovely rose oil, or peppermint, or lavender, will cause you to return to homeostasis (another rather cumbersome word, meaning balance).

So for example, if you are feeling too “vibed up” a little dash of peppermint will calm you, yes that’s right I said it. Peppermint, with the reputation it has for exciting the psyche, when properly used can be calming too. Adaptogen!!

Many oils are like this.

Used in some ways they will exert a calming effect, while in others they will revive even the most faint heart. We’ve all heard of the relaxing quality of Lavender, and indeed it is one of the heroes of the essential oil world (albeit a slightly overworked hero); but not everyone likes the smell, and this can make a huge difference as to how well it works. Lavender oil under the pillow for example is a great way for some people to relax and go to sleep, but for me it acts as a stimulant. Since I don’t like the smell, it tends to keep me up.

Go figure.

What I am saying is that there are the broad strokes with essential oils that can be catalogued and understood and much of it is set in stone. Like the fact that tea tree is a marvelous anti-bacterial and anti-fungal oil; or that eucalyptus will clear your head, or pine will clear the air.

But there is an aspect of working with oils that is very personal and, to my mind, the coolest part.

An example of this might be the scent of Jasmine. Some people find it too sweet, others, myself included, find it exotic and evocative. But either way, Jasmine is a lovely massage oil and very relaxing to the muscles and warming to the psyche. Another great example of an oil that reacts differently under different conditions might be the citrusy oil that is used to create the British earl grey Tea, Bergamot. This lovely fresh oil is both uplifting to the spirit, yet relaxing. This is because the oil has a refreshing and uplifting top note, yet is not a stimulant, but rather has more of a soothing effect.