Unlocking the Health Benefits of Aromatherapy and Examples of Usage
What is aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment which has been practised for over a thousand years. Although it has been explored in a variety of forms throughout this time, aromatherapy is essentially the use of unique oils from plant materials in order to treat the mind, body and spirit. Aromatherapy is not as simple as collecting oils from plants, as it actually involves a number of scientific elements including carrier oils, herbal distillates, absolutes, vaporizer oils and phytoncides in order to create what is known as ‘synergy’. Synergy is the combining of one or more essential oils in order to increase the health benefits of the aromatherapy treatment. It’s important to note however that some essential oils can trigger negative side effects if mixed incorrectly. Therefore, it’s vital that you only purchase your essential oils from retailers selling therapeutic grade oils that have been checked and provided with the relevant certification. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Methods of use: Aromatherapy can also be used through many different methods and there’s a usage to suit just about every person. Some might enjoy burning the oils in a diffuser in order to fill their surroundings with a calming or uplifting scent. Others may prefer to use essential oils in a relaxing massage, allowing the carrier oil-mixed solution to slowly absorb into their skin. There are also plenty of other ways to enjoy aromatherapy and these have been discussed in further detail below. Vaporizing: The benefits of using a diffuser for aromatherapy are seemingly endless. Not only does it allow you to diffuse your favourite essential oils in your home, at the office, or on-the-go, but it also adds a continuous stream of scents to your surroundings. Diffusers will keep your scents spreading into your setting for a few days, but if you wish to change to a different scent, you can also easily do so. Simply remove the existing oil and use water to wash out the diffuser before adding your new essential oil. Massage: Massages are known to be extremely relaxing, but when used in conjunction with aromatherapy’s essential oils, they can instantly soothe tired muscles, calm the mind and assist with circulation. When the oils are applied to the skin, they absorb into it through the hair follicles before entering the bloodstream and being circulated throughout the body for additional health benefits. Bathing: Aromatherapy can also be applied to your bath through adding a few drops of dilated essential oils to the water. Remember, not all essential oils are appropriate for use in the bath, as some (particularly herbs and citrus based oils) may prove to be too potent for the skin’s nerve endings. Spritz: Direct inhalation of essential oils is best, as our nostrils are immediately stimulated by the molecules in these oils. This aroma is then sent directly to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain specifically affecting our emotions. When the limbic system is stimulated in this way, feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin are released. These chemicals instantly calm us and help us to totally de-stress. When selected essential oils are mixed with water, the solution can easily be stored in a handy spray bottle for spritzing. This can then be used to elevate one’s mood or even deodorize a room. Inhalation: Another way that essential oils can be inhaled directly is through adding the selected aromas to a bowl of steamy, hot water. When a towel is placed over the person’s head before they inhale the steam for around ten minutes, it allows the essential oils to be absorbed directly into the body via the respiratory system. Applied directly: There are some cases where essential oils can actually be applied directly to the skin in very small amounts. To do this, it is recommended that a cotton bud or cotton ball be used and that the essential oil has been dilated with a carrier substance such as water, vegetable oil or nut oil. An example of how this aromatherapy method might be used is when applying a compress to a wound. Hair rinse: Substituting chemical-laden shampoo and conditioner for a hair rinse containing your favourite essential oils can work wonders for your hair. Hair is rinsed of impurities and extra oils whilst maintaining shine and moisture. Essential oils also assist with removing dandruff, soothing an irritated scalp, promoting healthy hair growth, and strengthening the hair shaft. Essential oils including lavender, khus, rosemary, chamomile, and ylang ylang are particularly beneficial when applied to your hair in a rinse. Hot oil mask: Essential oils can also be mixed with hot oil (preferably jajoba) to create a hot oil mask perfect for coating your face or scalp in. When left on for 30 minutes, skin will feel softer and moisturised. Alternatively, the hair roots will look shinier, thicker, and conditioned. The health benefits of aromatherapy: It isn’t hard to see why aromatherapy remains a popular form of alternative medicine in today’s super-charged world. Not only does it help to calm the mind and relax muscle tension, but it also assists with a whole host of other ailments including low energy, headaches and migraines, depressive moods, anxiety, insomnia, digestion problems, and a low immune system. Stress and anxiety: This is one of the most common reasons why people turn to aromatherapy, as they look to the natural essential oils to help calm their mind and ease their jittery nerves. Studies have discovered that lemon oil in particular works well to improve mood and reduce angry outbursts. Other beneficial essential oils for aiding with stress and anxiety include: lavender, vetiver, bergamot, ylang ylang, and peppermint. Depressive moods: Aromatherapy is wonderful as a complementary treatment of depression, but only when used in conjunction with psychological help or counselling, particularly if the condition is long-term or tends to worsen over time. For those bouts of low moods which are associated with everyday life, however, aromatherapy can work wonders to lift the spirit. Beneficial essential oils include: chamomile, lavender, peppermint, and jasmine. Low energy: Aromatherapy can also assist with boosting energy levels as well as stimulating the body and mind. The best part is that essential oils don’t contain the damaging chemicals or ingredients which many other stimulants contain, such as coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, or energy drinks. Essential oils which are perfect for giving your energy levels a natural lift include: cardamom, cinnamon, angelica, black pepper, clove, tea tree, sage, and rosemary. Headaches and migraines: Headaches and migraines are increasingly becoming a common health complaint. If affected, try reaching for essential oils before opting for stronger medication such as pain killers. Headaches and migraines are often linked to stress and anxiety too, so aromatherapy not only fights the pain, but also works to treat the root of the problem. Oils containing beneficial elements include: eucalyptus, sandalwood, rosemary, and peppermint. Insomnia: We’ve all experienced the frustrating situation of not being able to fall asleep at night, however aromatherapy is the perfect solution to this problem. Certain essential oils have a calming and sedative effect and these include: benzoin, neroli, lavender, jasmine, chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood, and sweet marjoram. Low immune system: Did you know that essential oils also contain anti-microbial properties, as well as anti-fungal and antibacterial effects? These help to prevent infections and some illnesses which can cause harm to your immune system. The essential oils which are best for this include: frankincense, lemon, oregano, peppermint, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. Digestion problems: Some essential oils are even being used to treat common digestive problems such as bloating, indigestion, constipation, and low metabolism. The essential oils which are perfect for easing digestion-related issues include: ginger, dill, orange, lemon, chamomile, clary sage, fennel, and lavender. Not only is aromatherapy perfect for treating common health complaints, but it can also be applied through a number of different methods too, ensuring that there is a place for this holistic treatment in everyone’s life. It’s important to only acquire your essential oils and aromatherapy equipment from approved sources, ensuring that they have the relevant certification so you know you’re in safe hands.