Introduction to Top, Middle and Base Note Oils in Aromatherapy
When used in aromatherapy, essential oils are split into three groups. These are known as top notes, middle notes and base notes. When creating oil blends, mixing oils from each of these groups help to create a well-balanced scent. Blending oils in this way is also useful when you wish to address more than one issue or would like to work from more than one angle. Oils can help us emotionally and spiritually as well as with physical ailments.
When used in aromatherapy oils are split into three groups known as, top notes, middle notes and base notes. These groupings can help in choosing which oil will be most effective for your need as each have their own characteristics and benefits. Top notes are generally the scents that you notice first. Middle note oils are regarded as beneficial when treating non-physical causes of physical issues: for example stress related headaches. When used in oil blends these create a bridge between the top and base note aromas, helping to ensure well-balanced oil. As their name suggests base notes are grounding and stabilising. These are often used in easing the symptoms of deep rooted and chronic conditions.
When used individually the note of an essential oil can help in finding one that will suit you most. Some oils are considered to be calming or sedating and so can be useful in soothing conditions such as anxiety or easing feelings of anger or stress. These calming oils can also be used to create a tranquilly environment in general. In reverse more stimulating oils can be useful when we need a boost in life, perhaps to our energy levels or in getting going on a task we’d rather not do. They can also help us in feeling more alert and focused.
As well as being used individually essential oils can be combined to create oil blends. Often these are mixed with a specific need in mind such as focus and concentration, creating calm or for aiding sleep. Mixing oils from each of the three note groups (top, middle and base) can help you in creating a well-balanced and pleasing scent. Blending oils in this way is helpful when are multiple symptoms or issues to work with as it enables the beneficial qualities of several oils to be used at once.
The combination of oils you chose is based on how you intend to use the resulting blend. Examples of rations to use include:
- Stimulating Oil – 2-3 top notes, 1 middle note and 1 base note
- Sedative oil – 2-3 base notes, 1 middle note and 1 top note
Top Note Oils
Top note oils tend to be fast acting and are generally less expensive than other oils. Their aromas tend to be light with a fresh and uplifting nature and many also have anti-viral properties. Top notes are fasting acting so are ideal when you need fast relief or a boost to get you going or in completing a task. These oils are often sourced from flowers, leaves and flowering herbs. They are uplifting and stimulating in nature so can be beneficial in easing depression, lethargy, fatigue and during times you feel low and uninterested in activities or life. Top notes oils can be used anytime that you feel you need to lift your emotions or soothe a situation. They can also be used to stimulate awareness, focus and alertness so can be beneficial for studying or taking any form or exam or test. Examples of top note oils include:
- clary sage
- tea tree
Middle Note Oils
Middle note oils are very balancing and can be helpful in assisting overall health or in balancing the major systems of the body. These oils can also help to create balance between the mind and body. They are also thought of as having the ability to create a connection between the mental and physical states of well-ness and so benefit issues that are rooted in a non-physical cause. One example of this would be headaches or aches and pains that are caused by stress or physical symptoms of anxiety including headaches, stomach upset or sweating.
Middle note oils are commonly derived from spices and herbs and bring body and substance to a blend. These oils are slower acting that top notes but have a gentler warm and soft fragrance and action. Some examples of commonly available middle note oils include:
- ylang ylang
- black pepper
Base Note Oils
The base note essential oils have a solid fragrance that will remain for a long time. They help to slow down the evaporation of other oils in a blend and have a rich and relaxing scent. These are often more expensive than top and middle note oils. The qualities of base note oils include stability, grounding, supportive and release. They can be beneficial in working to change deep seated feelings of anger and frustration as well as calming nervousness and erratic or hyperactive behaviours. Base note oils are useful for use with chronic conditions as these are rooted deep within us and need gentle but prolonged aid in being released. They are also helpful in working to overcome traumatic mental, emotional or physical events, lifting these gently from the subconscious so that they can be healed. Oils regarded as base notes include:
How to use Essential Oils at Home
There are many ways that essential oils can be used on your body directly or around your home. Some require special items such as diffusers but in many cases you just need the essential oils themselves.
It is important to note that some oils are not safe in all circumstances. For example there are oils that should be avoided during pregnancy, for use with children or with certain medical conditions such as epilepsy
Diffusers are small electronic devices that heat essential oils gentle to disperse their scents around a room. Many people consider these to be safer than traditional oil burners are there is no naked flame used. Diffusing essential oils has many applications including creating a relaxing environment, during meditation, helping to reducing stress and tension or to improve concentration. This is also a good method to use if you wish to cleanse or purify the air for example in reducing bacteria, removing unpleasant odours or in reducing fungus and mould.
Traditional oil burners use candles to heat essential oils. Water and a few drops of your chosen oil are placed in the bowl and then a tea light candle is lit and placed underneath the bowl. This type of burner is available in many designs and can be a cheap and practical option. However there is some thought that these can in fact be damaging to oils due to the direct intense heat provided by the candle. Care must also be taken when using these if you have children or pets as both the naked candle flame and oils are accessible.
To use essential oils in massage simply mix 3-4 drops of your chosen oil or oil blend into ½ tsp of a suitable massage oil base.
This method is best used with individual oils or premixed blends as only a few drops are used at once. Place several drops of oil on to a hanky or tissue and inhale as needed. Oils can also be dropped on to clothing or bedding but it is worth testing this on a hidden area first in case of stains or damage. The essential oils can also be dropped onto a hanky or tissue and placed close by a person. This can be a useful method when using aromatherapy with young children or pets. Direct inhalation is a fast acting method that generally produces quick results as the oils are quickly absorbed into your body.
In your Bath or Shower
Add 1-3 drops of essential oil to an unscented shower gel or bubble bath and mix well to ensure that is spread evenly through. This can then be used as normal. Essential oils can also be added to other products such as shampoo or used when making homemade bath and body items including shampoo, bubble bath, salves and creams.
Essential oils can be used around the home in many ways and those that have anti-bacterial properties can be especially beneficial. Examples of how they can used in cleaning include adding a few drops to:
- laundry detergents
- water used in mopping or cleaning surfaces
- air freshening spritzers
- unscented cleaning products
- homemade cleaning products
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Claire