What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a practice that involves the use of essential oils extracted from roots, barks, stems, leaves, flowers or other plant parts to enhance physical and psychological well-being. This therapy is used because it is believed that inhaling these natural oils get the brain function stimulated. Even though these essential oils have been used widely topically where they travel through the skin into the bloodstream and promote whole-body healing. Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that s fast gaining momentum. It is popularly used to relieve pain, enhance moods and boost cognitive function.
How Are These Essential Oils Gotten?
Certain chemicals are contained in plants which are used to keep themselves protected against insect/rodent attack and microbial infection. Using distillation, these chemicals are extracted from the plants along with the oils, they are then mixed with alcohol to keep their strength preserved. At the end, what you get is a concentrated oily formula that could be mixed with other substances. As a result of how strong they are, essential oils are not used alone in aromatherapy, they are mixed with a carrier oil like jojoba oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
Interesting Facts About Aromatherapy
• Aromatherapy essential oils have been used for ages as cleansers, perfumes and medicinal purposes.
• Records reveal that the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians were the first people to adopt aromatherapy.
• Close to 3,000 years ago, the Father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, recommended aromatic baths for overall health and wellbeing.
• Aromatherapy oils were used by the Ancient Egyptian Priests for religious ceremonies and cleaning purposes.
• In the 1800s, Medical professors in France and Germany began to make use of aromatherapy in combating infecting wounds and diseases like tuberculosis.
• Essential oils began to be used in the nineteenth century in Western medicine.
• French soldiers coming home from the first world war used aromatherapy oils to reduce depression, heal wounds and treat anxiety.
Examples of essential oils include:
• Basil essential oils
• Bergamot essential oil
• Black pepper essential oil
• Rosemary essential oil
• Ginger essential oil
• Chamomile essential oil
• Citronella essential oil
• Clove essential oil
• Eucalyptus essential oil
• Geranium essential oil
• Jasmine essential oil
• Lavender essential oil
• Lemon essential oil
• Sandalwood essential oil
• Tea tree essential oil
• Thyme essential oil
• Yarrow essential oil
• Frankincense essential oil
• Myrrh essential oil
• Oregano essential oil
• Peppermint essential oil
• Orange essential oil
• Clary sage essential oil
• Juniper berry essential oil
• Helichrysum essential oil
Proven Benefits of Aromatherapy
According to studies, certain essential oils used in aromatherapy including chamomile and lavender has the potential to relieve stress and anxiety. Lavender, especially, has a divine scent that produces a calming effect that lowers sympathetic nervous system activity (system responsible for the fight or flight response). Results from a study found that patients who received aromatherapy had improved moods and less anxiety levels.
If you would like to try this out, then get a relaxing essential oil preferably lavender and add a few drops into your bath water. You could add Epsom salt to improve its effectiveness.
Helps You Sleep Better
Because aromatherapy oils naturally produce a calming effect, they are useful in getting you to feel sleepy easily. This is ideal for people suffering from insomnia, anxiety and other anxiety related problems as it helps induce sleep. You could use lavender, rose or chamomile essential oil. If you would like to sleep better, diffuse essential oils in your bedroom an hour before bed- you could use an electronic diffuser, oil burner or an aromatherapy candle. This means dropping tiny oil particles around your room so that you inhale them. When inhaled, the aroma travels through your nostrils to your brain and cross the blood-brain barrier. Five to ten drops in your bedroom creates a calm environment that inn turn induces a calming effect in your brain that could help you sleep better.
Treats Respiratory Problems
Some aromatherapy oils possess antiseptic properties that are able to rid the air of mold, bacteria and fungus responsible for respiratory issues like sneezing, congestion or coughing.
Using citrus oils in aromatherapy practices boost immune function and lower fatigue associated with depression.
Aromatic citrus oils have been found to help restore immunosuppression induced by stress and regulate homeostatic balance. They’re also beneficial in the improvement of mental health by stimulating the olfactory system responsible for the sense of smell.
A research was carried out with twelve patients who were depressed. After administering aromatherapy, their neuroendocrine hormone levels and immune system were improved same way an antidepressant works.
You could use the oils by inhaling directly from the bottle or apply some on your neck or chest so you breath in the particles. You could use these oils for allergies, flu, colds, fatigue and coughs. Examples of the oils you could use include oregano, peppermint, eucalyptus, frankincense, rosemary, tea tree, myrrh and lemon.
Improves Skin Health
The essential oils are beneficial in treating issues like acne, cellulite, dandruff, inflammation, rashes, wounds, toe fungus and itching. A popular oil used to treat issues like this is the tea tree oil – it possesses antifungal, antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
You could also use oils like orange, lemon, lavender, clary sage, juniper berry, frankincense and helichrysum.
Could Help Manage Cancer Effects
Cancer patients often undergo aromatherapy as a supportive care during management. It is used to reduce stress, pain and general health. They often use this for massage therapies, acupuncture and meditation.
Certain aromatherapy oils can reduce cancer symptoms like depression, aches, nausea, insomnia and fatigue. These oils include frankincense, lavender, rose, clary sage, geranium, neroli. A study found that aromatherapy helps decrease pain, depression and anxiety in hospice patients while improving sense of well-being.
Soothes Inflammation and Pain
A combination of different aromatherapy oils can be used to soothe tight muscles, achy joints, headaches and inflamed tissue injuries. You could either inhale it or simply apply it to the affected area. Arthritis for example could be treated aromatherapy oils like myrrh, ginger, orange and turmeric. For headaches, you could use oils like spearmint, rosemary, frankincense and peppermint.
Helps Raise Alertness
A study carried out on forty patients with depression and mental fatigue found that they had improved levels of alertness and increased mental competence with aromatherapy. Lavender and rosemary essential oils are useful for this purpose. All you have to do is inhale from a bottle or apply onto your body so you can inhale.
Aromatherapy has long been used to improve libido. It does this by raising energy through increased flow of blood. As a result, it is able to handle sexual dysfunctions. Popular aromatherapy used to improve hormonal balance and sexual health include sandalwood, geranium, neroli, rose mary and clary sage.
How Is Aromatherapy Performed?
• Inhaling oils directly through the nostrils from a bottle or cloth.
• Receiving a massage therapy with the oil
• Diffusing essential oils into the air
• Soaking in a bath in which oil has been infused
• Rubbing directly on the skin