First Aid: Aromatherapy

eJournal > First Aid: Aromatherapy

by Laraine Kyle, RN, MSN, CS, CMT, Co-Director

Self-sufficiency will be the hallmark of the Year 2000 (Y2K for short), in most aspects of our lives, but especially healthcare. Beginning on January 1st, access to healthcare facilities and practitioners may be interrupted. This will be due to likely disruptions in the conventional healthcare system, or low-probability infrastructure failures – transportation or communications – restricting access to all healthcare practitioners, supplies and services.

First Aid in any situation is often critical to the recovery of anyone suffering from a cut to a more serious condition. Fortunately, First Aid procedures and methods are straight-forward and not difficult to learn. The Red Cross as well as many schools, non-profits and agencies teach basic First Aid for shock, broken limbs, drowning, and many other conditions.

Complementary First Aid goes beyond basic First Aid to include remedies such as Acupressure (see the last issue), Aromatherapy, Bodywork, Herbology, Homeopathy and Reflexology. This issue features Aromatherapy – an exceptional healing system that goes well beyond pleasant smells. –KJ

Aromatherapy is a gentle, non-toxic, pleasant, yet powerful tool for healing. It is based on the topical application of botanical oils – essential oils – extracted from flowers, grass, barks and herbs. Aromatherapy essential oils were first used in medicinal healing work. These oils can be applied to the Reflexology points on the bottom of the feet or directly on the skin to the area of need.

Essential oils contain oxygenating molecules which transport nutrients to the cells of the body. The highly-fragrant oils affect the neurotransmitters in the brain through one’s sense of smell. These neurotransmitters initiate physical and psychological reactions that can enhance physical healing and emotional balance. When combined with Bodywork modalities, Aromatherapy oils accelerates the therapeutic value of both.

The following list is representative of the many conditions that Aromatherapy effects and the many essential oils that can be very effective. Some notes are in order to set the stage properly.

Aromatherapy Notes (please read first)

  • The top five essential oils for your first aid kit are:
    Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Roman Chamomile, and Eucalyptus.
  • The next five essential oils for your first aid kit are:
    Geranium, Rosemary, Thyme, Clary Sage, and Lemon Grass.
  • Essential oils can each be effective individually.
  • For any emotional conditions listed, a weaker concentration is preferable.
  • Use essential oils on Reflexology points as is possible.
  • In buying essential oils, look for the botanical name and country of origin on the bottle. The label should say “100% pure essential oil” as opposed to “fragranced oil.” True essential oils are bottled in amber bottles and will vary in price.
  • Blending essential oils for synergism is most effective. (However, any of the single oils in the combinations listed are also effective.) For example in arthritis, use an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and analgesic essential oil for a well balanced blend. For menstrual cramping, choose an analgesic, anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory, and include those that are hormone related, such as Clary Sage and Fennel.

The format for this listing follows:

Condition – Remedy (Essential Oil unless otherwise indicated)

Application, comments and cautions

Abrasions – Lavender

Clean area with 5 drops of Lavender oil diluted in bowl of warm water. Use sparingly for acute situations.

Abscess – Lavender, Tea Tree, Chamomile

Put two drops of Lavender, Tea Tree and Chamomile oils in 15 ml vegetable oil; add to a compress; apply to the area of swelling twice a day.

Arthritis ache – Juniper, Lavender, Rosemary; in St John’s wort with Arnica

Add 20 total drops of oils to one ounce St John’s wort with Arnica; massage on painful areas several times a day. Blend 2 drops JuniperLavender, and Rosemary oils together; add the total to a full bath if the entire body is aching. Or add the total to warm water, to soak a wash cloth and apply as a compress to small areas. Or can add the oils and 1/2 cup Epsom Salts for a bathing soak.
Rosemary is useful for aches, pains, sprains, muscle fatigue.

Backache, low – Chamomile, Rosemary, Peppermint

Add 2 drops ChamomileRosemary and Peppermint oils to 2 cups of water; add to a compress; apply to lower back; hold in place with plastic wrap.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic oils can be used with a compress or as a massage oil.

Bite, insect – Lavender, Tea Tree; in Witch Hazel

Applied Lavender and/or Tea Tree oils full-strength or with Witch Hazel as a carrier.

Bruise – Peppermint Oil

Apply Peppermint oil immediately and continue every couple of hours the first day.

Burn, fire – Lavender, Calendula

Apply ice cold water for five minutes, then apply 2 drops full-strength Lavender oil; re-apply as needed. Can also make a compress with honey or Calendula oil as a carrier.
Calendula is Wild Marigold extracted into a carrier.

Burn: sun, wind – Lavender, Chamomile, Geranium, Aloe Vera Gel

Add 20 drops Lavender oil to distilled; spray affected areacombine 1 oz Aloe Vera Gel with 3 drops each Lavender, Chamomile and Geranium oils; apply as needed for comfort.
Aloe Vera Gel is safe to use undiluted.
See Preparations section for Sunburn Treatment Oil.

Chicken Pox – Soothing Bath

Apply Healing Spray to affected area, as needed, soak in Soothing Bath up to 30 minutes depending on comfort level.
See Preparations section for Soothing Bath blend.

Cold – Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Thyme, Clove

For steam inhalation, use 1 drop each Tea Tree, Thyme, Clove and Eucalyptus oils in hot water. Or in bath, use 2 drops Thyme and Tea Tree, 1 drop Eucalyptus.

Essential oils can each be effective individually.

Cut – Geranium, Cistus (Rock Rose)

For small cuts, apply few drops of Geranium or Rock Rose, apply pressure for one minute, apply bandaide.
Has good homeostatic properties.

Detoxification – Fennel, Grapefruit, Juniper Berry, Lemon, Cypress

Make a 3% blend for massage with 18 drops of any combination of the oils. Or use approximately 10 drops with a carrier such Epsom Salts or vegetable oil, in the bath.
Apple cider vinegar is also a good detoxifier.
Encourage toxin elimination; have cleansing properties.

Flu – Geranium, Tea Tree, Atlas Cedarwood

Mix 2 drops each Geranium and Tea Tree oils in 1/2 cup water; gargle; if mucus present, add 2 drops Atlas Cedarwood, oil.

Flu, prevention – Lemon, Tea Tree

1 drop each Lemon and Tea Tree oils in hot water; gargle.

Foot ache – Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint

Add approx 5 total drops of Rosemary, Peppermint or Sage oils in a footbath of tepid water.
Cooling, deodorizing and refreshing oils are pleasant to use as a foot bath.

Headache – Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Peppermint

Inhale Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile and Peppermint oils from bottle or tissue. Or add 12-15 drops each of the oils per 1 oz carrier oil,; massage gently over temples, behind ears, across the back of the neck. Or bathe with 3 drops each Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile and Lavender oils.

Heart, palpitations – Marjoram, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Angelica, Rose, Neroli

Put several drops of Lavender and Roman Chamomile oils on a tissue and inhale. Can also use Marjoram, Neroli or Lemon oils. Dilute 10 drops Lavender, 7 drops Chamomile and 3 drops Angelica or Rose in 1 ounce of vegetable oil; massage over the chest.
Relaxing, aromatic bath at bedtime.

Insect repellent, ants – Mint, any

Apply a few drops of a Mint oil of choice to a cotton ball; leave in areas where insects are residing and are unwanted.

Insect repellent, general – Citronella, Cedarwood, Geranium, Lemongrass

To 1 oz vegetable oil, add 3 drops each Citronella, Cedarwood and Geranium and 5 drops Lemongrass oils; apply to skin avoiding eyes; wash hands.
Citronella is a well known active ingredient in bug repellents though can be overpowering if used in strong concentration.

Insomnia – Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Relaxing Blend Preparation

Use Relaxing Blend as massage oil at bedtime. Or use 1/2 ounce with evening relaxing bath. Or inhale 3 drops Lavender and 2 drops Roman Chamomile oils from tissue. Or sprinkle few drops on sheets Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang and Clary Sage oils.
See Preparations section for Relaxing Blend.

Essential oils can each be effective individually.

Lice, head – Eucalyptus, Lavender, Geranium, Rosemary

Add 2 drops Eucalyptus and 1 drop each Geranium, Lavender and Rosemary oils to 1 tsp (5 ml.) carrier oil; massage into the scalp, leave for 30 min; comb hair with fine tooth comb; shampoo hair, combine 2 drops each Eucalyptus, Lavender and Geranium oils, 1/2 oz vinegar, and 8 oz water; rinse and do not wash out; repeat daily until lice and eggs have disappeared.
Essential oils are useful as an insect repellent when used in an environmental mist, or topical application.

Menstrual headaches – Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Lavender

Inhale Sweet Marjoram oil from bottle or tissue. Or add 12-15 drops of Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile and Lavender oil per 1 oz carrier oilmassage gently over temples, behind ears, across the back of the neck; bathe with 3 drops each Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile and Lavender oils.

Migraine – True Melissa, Rosemary, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Lavender

Inhale True Melissa and Rosemary oils from bottle or tissue. Or add 12-15 drops each of the oils per 1 oz carrier oilmassage gently over temples, behind ears, across the back of the neck. Or bathe with 3 drops each Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile and Lavender oils.

Muscle, skeletal pain – Birch, Black Pepper, Chamomile, Clove, Helichrysum, Peppermint

Make a blend for massage with a total of 20 drops in one ounce of carrier. Use a total of 10 drops in half a cup of Epsom Salts in a relaxing bath.
Can use fewer drops of spice oils and oils with a strong odor intensity (Birch, Black Pepper, and Clove).

Nervous upset, panic, anxiety – Neroli, Rose, Clary Sage, Lavender, Marjoram, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, Jasmine, Valerian, Spikenard, Orange Blossom

Use as blend for diffusing, spritzing, or personal fragrance. Creating personal rituals with baths, massage, inhalations, and spritzing can assist with emotional trauma. Carrying a 1-2 oz bottle of distilled water with 20 drops total of Rose, Orange Blossom or Lavender oils can be a wonderful way to take stress breaks during the day.
The euphoric essential oils – Neroli, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Clary Sage and Rose – have the potential to produce opiate-like chemicals that enhance our feelings of well-being. The sedative oils – Clary Sage, Marjoram, Valerian, and Spikenard – can support calm in the midst of high stress situations.

Sinus congestion – Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender

Inhale Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Lavender oils from bottle or tissue. Or add 15-20 total drops of the above oils per 1 oz carrier oil; massage gently over temples, over the sinuses and around the ears.
Be careful not to get into eyes.

Sinusitis – Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Thyme

Inhale Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Thyme from bottle or tissue. Or add 12-15 drops per 1 oz carrier oil each of oils; massage gently over temples, behind and in front of the ears, over the nose and cheek bone.

Toothache – Clove, Chamomile, Lavender

Put 1 drop of Clove oil on a Q-tip and apply it to the gum around the tooth. Massage the jaw bone and cheek area with 1 tsp vegetable oil with 1 drop CloveChamomile andLavender oils.
Analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of Clove, Chamomile and Lavender are useful for first aid care of toothache.

Trauma, soft tissue, e.g., sprained ankle, with local swelling. – Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Peppermint, Helichrysum, Birch; in infused oils of St John’s wort and Calendula

Apply German or Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Peppermint and Helichrysum oils as a compress or massage oils in a carrier, approximately 30 drops per ounce (5%). Birch oil will aid comfort from pain.
Decreases swelling. See blending in Notes above.

Essential oils can each be effective individually.


Laraine Kyle is the Co-Director of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy, which offers practical, proven methods to safely and skillfully incorporate Aromatherapy, Herbology Healing and Bio-Energetics into a professional practice as well as self care. Laraine teaches specialty Aromatherapy workshops for integrative healing and palliative care for the clinical setting. Laraine also maintains a private practice in Aromatherapy Massage and Skin Care. She is internationally certified in Aromatherapy with an extensive background in body work, guided imagery, meditation, and Applied Kinesiology. Laraine is a founding member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, and is a member of the American Holistic Nurses’ Association, National Association for Nurse Massage Therapy, and the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. Contact: Laraine Kyle, RN, MSN, CS, CMT, Co-Director, Institute for Integrative Aromatherapy, 3072 Edison Court, Boulder CO 80302, (303)545-2002 / (888)282-2002.