Synergy Blends and their wonderful uses
Essential oil effects are complex. A particular essential oil can have multiple properties and build a reputation as being helpful for a diverse range of conditions. For example, Lavender oil is known for its incredible effects on the mind, helping individuals feel more calm, balanced, uplifted, and relaxed. At the same time, it is a popular household cleaning ingredient due to its pleasant, deodorizing aroma and antibacterial properties. Many people also rely on Lavender oil to remedy a variety of skin and hair conditions. How can a single essential oil hold so many benefits?
The answer lies within the somewhat mysterious world of the chemistry of essential oils. Essential oils themselves are powerful, volatile compounds that play a critical supporting role for the plants they originate from. These oils can vary widely in their chemical compositions, and in fact are made up of an impressive assortment of organic components that are typically categorized into overarching chemical families such as terpenes, alcohols, aldehydes, esters, and phenols. The chemical specification of each essential oil influences the various effects and benefits that are eventually observed.
The terms ‘synergy’ and ‘synergistic blending’ refer to one of the most fascinating concepts within aromatherapy – one that underscores the complex relationship between the chemical composition of essential oils and the wide-ranging effects they produce. In fact, some believe that it is synergy that exists within the constituents of individual oils as well, which is why oils – such as Lavender – possess multiple properties and can be useful in many different situations.
In this post, we will explore the concept of synergy, and how it is applied in the manufacturing of bottled synergy blends. We will cover examples of synergy blends and how they are theorized to work. Finally, we will share some tips and guidelines to understand what makes a superior blend and how they can be used in a way that maximizes their benefits.
THE CONCEPT OF 'SYNERGY' IN AROMATHERAPY
The word ‘synergy’ originates from the Greek phrase ‘sunergos’, which translates to ‘working together’. The process of synergy is where multiple components of a system come together to produce an overarching effect that cannot be reduced to the simple adding up of each individual effect. In other words, synergy is present when something is created that is greater than simply the sum of its parts.
Synergy can seem like a supernatural event at first glance, but it is abundant in nature and natural biology. Nature itself is a wonderful synergy of complex components – whether it is atoms, organs, beings, or entire ecosystems – interacting together to give rise to what we call the natural world. Synergistic effects are thought to be evolutionarily advantageous as they enable an organism to be equipped with diverse functions and abilities rather than simple, limited ones. In short, synergy can often be beneficial in multiple contexts because they produce outcomes that, given a constant set of inputs, would not have been possible before.
When different essential oils are blended or mixed together, the interaction between its various constituents can also give rise to these incredible synergistic effects. For example, it has been shown that the antifungal properties of Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) are potentiated when mixed together. The resulting power is not just additive – it supersedes that to reach synergy.
Just like how single essential oil effects can be complex, so can these multiple interaction effects. When two specific oils are blended together, they may not necessarily produce a synergy, and can in fact impede on each other’s effects instead (a related concept known as ‘antagonism’). The ratios at which they are blended can also make a difference; one ratio can produce a synergistic effect while another can produce an antagonistic effect even though the same essential oils are used! This is why the choice of essential oils, along with their proportions, can make or break the positive properties of any particular blend.
Synergy blends are carefully concocted mixtures that are designed to optimize the synergistic effects of complementary essential oils. They typically serve a very specific purpose, such as supporting immunity, promoting mental clarity, soothing pain, encouraging relaxation, or reducing the appearance of cellulite. Some aromatherapists may also choose to apply synergy blends in a more holistic way, taking into account the individual’s entire physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
In an optimal synergy blend, a number of essential oils have been carefully mixed to generate synergy and maximize their value. A good example is NDA’s Tranquil Synergy Blend. Each of the oils incorporated are reputed to possess properties that relax and uplift the senses: this includes the base notes Frankincense and Ylang Ylang, the middle notes Geranium, Marjoram Sweet, and Lavender, and the top note Mandarin. The proportions used are intended to create a soothing and calming synergy that is also wonderfully scented.
How exactly do synergy blends work? One way in which the effects can be explained is via the chemical interactions between the various essential oil constituents. The components of certain oils can be thought to potentiate – or strengthen – the effects of the others. As a result, the benefits of using a synergy blend exceed the benefits of using the individual oils by themselves.
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Essential Oil Constituents and Their Reputed Effects
It is important to note that the mapping between specific constituents and their effects is not always one-to-one; not all constituents will display the reputed effects for each of the chemical families listed above. Instead, these are overarching, generalized effects that tend to be observed in certain groups of constituents. In a synergy, it is believed that some of these effects ‘come together’ to enhance one another.
The synergistic effects of blends can go beyond chemistry, however. Every day, we experience synergy via our senses and our brain’s perceptual processes. When we taste a cake or listen to a song, we do not taste or hear the individual ingredients or notes, but perceive the experience as a whole: the creaminess of the cake, the flavor of the chocolate, the melody of the song. A similar process underpins our reaction to the blending of essential oils: the resulting aroma that is synthesized and ultimately perceived extends beyond each of the individual fragrances. It seems, then, that the benefits of synergy are intricately and intimately tied to our own conscious experiences as well.
Making an effective synergy blend is not an easy process. It requires a theoretical understanding of what synergy is and how it can be applied in a practical sense to provide therapeutic value. It also requires an in-depth knowledge of essential oils and their effects, an understanding of what the target condition is and the avenues through which it can be addressed via essential oils, solid experience in blending, and a lot of experimentation. Creating synergy blends is both a precise, data-driven, research-directed process, as well as a highly creative and artistic venture.
Aromatherapy practitioners, chemists, lab technicians, and other R&D professionals are well-equipped to make synergy blends. The first stage involves doing a comprehensive survey of the literature, along with a reflection of their own professional experience, to understand the target condition(s) and which essential oils may be the most relevant. The second – and most important – stage is to decide on exactly which oils should go into the synergy blend. This involves a careful consideration of the different properties of each essential oil and how they will behave together to ultimately bring about synergy. The greater the number of essential oils used, the more complicated it can get as the potential interactions and reactions can increase almost infinitely! The final stage is to select the optimal percentage of each oil that should be incorporated. Here, the therapist or chemist not only keeps in mind the therapeutic properties arising from different proportions, but also the final overall scent, which should be pleasant and appealing to the end user. Different batches may be created before deciding on the final formulation.
CREATING BLENDS AT HOME
Simple synergy blends can also be created at home. First, decide on which essential oils you would like to use (typical blends incorporate a top, middle, and base note). Most practical aromatherapy books will have helpful reference guidelines or a chart that will list out which oils work harmoniously with each other (and which ones don’t). There are a few oils that tend to blend well with most others: this includes Lavender, Bergamot, Rose, Frankincense, and Ylang-Ylang essential oils. Select just two or three oils to keep potential undesirable interactions to a minimum.
Next, figure out the optimal ratios of each oil. Using perfume tester strips, start by adding a drop of each oil on each strip. Fan the strips from a distance to ‘blend’ the scents and inhale the aroma. You can gradually experiment with different ratios by adding more drops and fanning to test the scent each time. If the scent is unpleasant or overwhelming, it means the formula must be changed. Once you are happy with the final aroma, you can mix and create your own synergy blend.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SYNERGY BLENDS?
There are many associated advantages of using synergy blends, whether it is for home use, professional use, or for the manufacturing of cosmetic and natural products. Here are a few of the main ones:
- They’re convenient – Simply put, many individuals purchase synergy blends because it is easy to do so. Rather than spend time purchasing different essential oils, doing your own research, and experimenting to get the perfect blend, buying a synergy blend bottle specific to your needs can be quicker and far more practical.
- They offer maximum benefits for the lowest risk – Unless you are proficient in blending essential oils yourself, and have the theoretical and experiential knowledge required to produce a good blend, a synergy blend made by a professional can be much more effective while reducing the risk of potential undesirable effects from bad blending. NDA’s synergy blends, for example, are formulated by our expert chemists.
- They are powerful – Synergy blends are designed to potentiate certain essential oil effects. As a result, they can be very effective at targeting a specific ailment or condition using natural ingredients. With the enormous variety of blends that are available on the market, there is plenty of choice when it comes selecting the right blend for your situation.
- They make essential oils available at a more reasonable cost – Purchasing separate essential oils in the hope of making your own synergy blend can quickly get expensive. Bottled blends help individuals harness the benefits of varied essential oils without having to spend a lot on individual oils.
- They are flexible – Synergy blends can be added to lotions, serums, creams, base oils, roll-ons, or diffused. They can be incorporated into soaps, air fresheners, perfumes, candles, body butters, scrubs, and a wide range of other cosmetic and household products. The possibilities are endless.
Are there any downsides? Here are a few key things to keep in mind as well when using bottled synergy blends:
- Synergistic effects can depend on the context – Synergy blends are optimized to suit a wide range of individuals and palettes. However, there is always a chance that a blend may not work for a particular individual, due to the complexities of their internal biology and bodily environments, the specifics of their target condition, and their preferences.
- There can be a tendency to limit yourself – Because of the way synergy blends tend to be packaged and marketed, it can be easy to forget that essential oils have multiple properties that give rise to varied benefits. Users of synergy blends can benefit by considering uses beyond what is listed on the bottle. For instance, NDA’s Cellulite Synergy Blend contains oils that are reputed for their antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be useful for antiaging, anti-inflammation, and general skincare applications as well.
HOW TO CHOOSE - AND USE - YOUR SYNERGY BLENDS
Maximizing the benefits offered by synergy blends relies on making sure they are selected and used safely and properly. Here are some helpful tips and guidelines on how to choose and enjoy your blends:
- Don’t compromise on quality – Obtain your blends from a trustworthy company or supplier. Check whether they offer 100% pure, natural, and unadulterated synergy blends that have been developed by experts and subjected to strict quality control protocols and procedures. Make sure Material Safety Data Sheets and Certificates of Analysis are accessible on the company website as well.
- Remember that synergy blends are concentrated – They should always be diluted appropriately before use or diffused. NDA recommends a 3 to 5% dilution for topical applications of our synergy blends, and a skin patch test must be conducted prior to use.
- Follow the instructions on the bottle – Always read labels to ensure you are following safety cautions and recommended usage guidelines. Some synergy blends incorporate light-sensitive oils so are best suited for night use.
- Don’t try to change the formula – Remember that synergistic effects can be unpredictable if different ratios are used or additional oils are added. Unless you are comfortable experimenting with blending and monitoring the effects, it may be best to avoid altering the formulation.
The concept of synergy in aromatherapy refers to the mutually strengthening effects of certain essential oils when they are mixed together at correct ratios. Synergy blends apply this concept skillfully to create mixtures that have more potent effects than if one were to use each essential oil individually. They are typically crafted by aromatherapists, chemists, lab technicians, and other R&D professionals as both expertise and creativity is required for a synergy blend to be both effective and pleasing to the senses.
Synergy blends are popular owing to the convenience they provide. They allow the benefits of different essential oils to be enjoyed more economically as well. However, it is important to choose high-quality synergy blends from a reputed company for optimal results, and follow essential oil safety practices in order to use them safely and responsibly.
USING ESSENTIAL OILS SAFELY
It is important to enjoy the benefits of these essential oils while using them safely and responsibly. This includes never using them undiluted, performing a skin patch test prior to use, being knowledgeable about the sun’s effects after use, and sourcing them from an ethical brand known for quality and purity.
External use only
As with all other Earth's Oils products, Synergy Blend essential oils are for external use only. Essential oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes.
Pregnancy and other health conditions
Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use essential oils without the medical advice of a physician.
Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to consult the advice of a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy.
Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.
Children and safety
These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of seven.
How to conduct a skin patch test
Prior to using any essential oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of non-sensitive skin.
Essential oil side effects
Potential side effects of essential oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy by Kurt Schnaubelt
Aromatherapeutic Blending: Essential Oils in Synergy by Jennifer Peace Rhind