What is Amber?
Before discussing its role in essential oils and aromatherapy, it is worth looking at amber in general. Amber is basically the fossilized resin, contrary to popular belief, not the sap, of very old trees. Some of these trees can be hundreds of millions of years old.
Who knew that the $4 fragrance that Kristen Bell was wearing at the Emmy’s is a fossilized Amber that has been used around the world for centuries in jewelry and adorning ornaments because of its attractive color and appearance? Amber resin is formed through a very lengthy process when tree resin gets subjected to constant heat and pressure from sedimentary layers.
The chemical composition of amber depends on which type of tree it was formed by, its age and certain geological factors but it is essentially composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. As a solid resin, amber has no aroma.
Pure Fossilized Amber Oil
Amber Oil and Amber Essential Oil
Most Amber oil is not an essential oil as such; products labeled as amber essential oil are actually a combination of amber resin, carrier oils and other essential oils. Typically, Amber is blended with oils such as frankincense, sandalwood and cedarwood. Amber can also be purchased as a resin and dissolved in alcohol. “Amber” is also often mixed with Labdanum essential oil for fragrances.
Although typically the essential oil is not entirely composed of amber resin, it does not mean that the blend is ineffective and amber essential oil blends are said to have a calming effect on the mind as well as other healing properties. Amber offers a delightful aromatic addition to the essential oil blend; its delightful scent can uplift the mind and spirits and is even said to promote libido.
Amber Oil Scent
The scent is the primary reason people are interested in Amber Oil. It has a smoky, woody and leather-like scent. When Amber is crushed or powdered it gives off a mild, pleasant, warming aroma. When it is burned, amber creates a very characteristic fragrance much like pinewood which can help to distinguish authentic amber from fake varieties.
There is some controversy over the exact composition of amber essential oil and there are no known studies regarding its therapeutic abilities. However, amber essential oil is said to have several therapeutic properties such as analgesic and antispasmodic compounds.
According to many aromatherapy experts, there are a number of purported health benefits to essential oils marketed as amber which include the following.
1. To Calm the Mind
During my life, I have suffered from crippling anxiety attacks and long periods of time where getting to sleep proved almost impossible. Because of this, I have long been interested in natural remedies that could calm the mind and relieve the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
Like many essential oils, amber can be used for its calming effects and its ability to combat stress and anxiety. The aroma of amber essential oil is mellow and long lasting and can be used to promote a good night’s sleep.
There are a number of ways that you can use amber essential oil to help your mental wellbeing. It can be diffused alone or in combination with other essential oils known to have a calming effect such as lavender, bergamot, frankincense or Ylang Ylang.
- If you add a few drops to your bathtub, you are guaranteed to feel its calming benefits, just relax and let it do its work.
- Dilute amber essential oil with a suitable carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil to make a luxurious massage oil that will help ease your anxiety.
2. For Skin and Hair
Amber essential oil is believed to have a number of skin benefits; it can be used to cleanse the pores and rejuvenate the skin by promoting the growth of new cells and adding elasticity to tired skin. It is also said to be beneficial in treating a variety of skin complaints such as acne and eczema.
- Simply add a few drops of amber essential oil to your skin creams or make a facial steam bath by adding a few drops to a sink full of hot water.
- Amber essential oil can also be massaged into the scalp to help rejuvenate and strengthen weakened hair follicles.
3. For the Heart
While there is no evidence for its efficacy in regard to the heart, amber essential oil is used to energize the heart and to relieve palpitations.
Like so many essential oils, amber oil is said to have aphrodisiac qualities which can help spice up your tired love life. Whether or not it works is very much open to question and you certainly will not find any scientific evidence that supports the claim.
On the other hand, certain aromas can prove very effective in the bedroom and what proves effective for one person might not work for another.
- When diffused or massaged, amber essential oil gives off a delightful aroma and its long history as an ingredient in perfumery suggests that it might prove alluring.
5. To Kill Pain
Amber essential oil is said to have analgesic properties which mean that it can be used in several ways to kill or at least alleviate pain. You can apply it topically to relieve local pain or you can dilute it with a carrier oil to make a soothing massage blend.
Amber essential oil is also said to have antispasmodic properties which can help ease muscle pains and spasms.
- Try massaging the oil into your body to ease any muscular aches and pains. As with most essential oils, it is important to dilute amber essential oil sufficiently before you apply it to the skin.
6. For the respiratory system
Another purported benefit for amber essential oil is its ability to treat a number of respiratory issues such as asthma or cold symptoms. You can massage a few drops into your chest for relief but the best way to get the most from your amber oil is to inhale its soothing vapors.
- After diluting it, massage a few drops into your chest.
- Fill your sink with hot water, add a few drops of amber oil, cover your head and upper torso with a towel and lean over the bowl and inhale the vapors deeply. Try to inhale for 5 minutes or so or for as long as you can tolerate the heat.
Amber is often described as a scent or “note” in many perfumes. The “amber note” is most likely a mix of many oils with the fossilized resin being only part of the scent. Vanilla, benzoin, and labdanum are typically all part of the amber scent blend.
Historically there is another Amber scent that was used in perfumes and that comes from Ambergris. Ambergris is not from a tree resin or any plant. Ambergris is a waxy substance that comes from the digestive tracts of Sperm whales. Fresh ambergris smells terrible, but over time it develops an organic earthy, sweet scent. It is the processed and diluted ambergris that is also known as the “amber” scent.
8. Other Amber Oil Benefits
The information here is based largely on anecdotal evidence as there is no scientific research to go by but amber essential oil might have a number of other health benefits. Some suggest that it can help to boost the immune system and stave away common complaints like the cold.
Many experts suggest that it can be used to regulate hormone production by stimulating the thyroid and that it has an anti-inflammatory potential to help with a number of inflammatory conditions like rheumatism and skin inflammation.
There is even a lot of anecdotal evidence that amber essential oilcan be used as an effective hangover cure which is good news for those of us who overindulge from time to time.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is Amber Essential Oil?
There is a great deal of confusion when it comes to the term ‘amber essential oil’. It is often said that amber oil is not a true essential oil at all and many companies make their own blends which they label ‘amber essential oil’. However, the real amber essential oil is derived from the resin of a Baltic pine tree – Pinus Succinfera. The resin is heated to a temperature above 200 C and then becomes liquid.
2) What Unique Chemical Properties Does It Have?
The chemical properties found in your amber oil depends on what the on its source. Both ambergris and Baltic amber oil contain succinic acid. This is a short chain fatty acid which can help regulate enzymes and improve cellular function.
3) What are its Health Benefits?
Amber essential oil is typically used to improve various skin issues. It can help reduce inflammation and help the cells regenerate. It is also commonly used to promote relaxation and improve sleep.
4) Does it Have a Fragrance?
The hardened resin has very little scent but when heated and burned it gives off a warm and rich, pine wood scent. Some people describe it as musky and earthy.
5) What Does Amber Oil Blend With?
Amber essential oil blends with a wide variety of other oils including citrus oils like orange, lemon, and lime. It also blends well with vanilla, frankincense, and myrrh.
How to Use It
If you have decided to purchase yourself some amber essential oil, there are a number of ways to put it to good use.
- You can diffuse it with your diffuser machine. The aroma is very pleasant and non-sensitizing and it lingers for a long time. Try diffusing it in your bedroom to promote a good night’s sleep or to ease any nighttime anxieties.
- Add a few drops to a sink full of hot water and create a steam bath for your facial skin or inhale its rich vapors for any respiratory complaints.
- Add a few drops to your warm bath to help soothe any muscular pains or aches.
- Make an amber oil massage blend by diluting it with a suitable carrier oil for massage purposes. Jojoba, sweet almond and virgin coconut oil are often used but there are many other possible carrier oils.
Amber Oil Side Effects
Amber essential oil blends are generally considered to be safe and non-sensitizing but you should make sure that you are aware of the other ingredients in the oil. Different brands create their amber essential oil blends using a variety of other essential oils and carrier oils.
- Like all essential oils, it is never recommended that you take it internally.
- Pregnant women should seek the advice of their medical professional before using any essential oils.
- Make sure that you dilute amber essential oil with a carrier oil before applying it directly to the skin.