Aromatherapy derived its name from the word “aroma”, which means smell and “therapy”, which means treatment. So, how does aromatherapy play a role in a healthier lifestyle? Aromatherapy oils can have a positive effect on the immune system and central nervous system. It’s known as a holistic healing treatment used to promote health and well-being. Essential oils carry biologically active volatile compounds and can provide therapeutic benefits by using the power of plants for healing from within. Using aromatherapy for your health can help improve your quality of life.
Aromatherapy is Often Associated to Alternative Medicine
Aromatherapy works through the sense of smell, inhalation and absorption. Some studies have found essential oils have antibacterial effects when applied directly to the skin. Others have antiviral and anti fungal properties. While aromatherapy might not be able to cure illnesses, it can be offered as a form of alternative medicine, alongside standard treatments to improve psychological or physical well-being.
Research studies have determined that the human brain can easily identify subtle differences between thousands of odors, which proves that the sense of smell is one of the most remarkable assests of the human body. The smell receptors in your nose send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions. When you breathe in the essential oils, they can stimulate these parts of your brain and influence emotional, physical and mental health.
One of the most common essential oils used in Aromatherapy is Lavender. Scientists believe that Lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells similar to the way some sedative medications work. Aromatherapy massage is widely used by spas and hospitals by using the essential oils in several ways, which includes the oils being absorbed into the skin as well as breathing them in. An important element of aromatherapy is synergy, which is why using a combination of oils often creates a much more powerful effect than by using just one particular oil.
Different Applications You Can Use
There are different applications you can use when using essential oils.
Inhalation – When we breathe in aromatic molecules, they travel to the top of the nose where the molecules come in contact with nerve cells, called Olfactory cells. The nerve impulses travel to the limbic system of the brain, which can cause mood change by altering brain chemistry.
For inhalation, you can simply place 3 to 5 drops of essential oil on your pillow or a cotton ball near your bed to get a mildly diffused inhalation effect throughout the night.
Diffusing oils in a diffuser is also a great way to administer your oils via inhalation. I use my diffuser every night for restful sleep and to combat allergies. You can see my review on the one I highly recommend. There is also the steam method which works well for colds and congestion. It only requires a bowl of hot water, adding the oils and breathing in the steam. Covering your head with a towel is recommended to contain the steam. Doing this up to 2 minutes at a time is like a steam sauna for your face.
Absorption through the skin – The molecules in essential oils are small enough to allow them to penetrate through the skin. Once they enter the bloodstream, the constituents of essential oils can be carried to all areas of your body.
Oils can be rubbed directly on the skin through a lotion, scrub or massage. Most oils require a dilution for mixing them with a carrier oil. Massaging the area where the oil is to be applied can boost circulation and increase absorption. It’s important to keep essential oils away from sensitive body parts, such as eyes, ears, nose and open wounds. One of the best places to apply an essential oil topically is to the bottom of the feet. There you have the largest pores and thicker skin, which will not be as sensitive. The essential oil can absorb and enter the bloodstream quickly.
You can also apply essential oils to the spine, neck, temples, pressure points, and locally to sore muscles and achy joints. I always recommend doing a patch test on your skin (such as your elbow) if you are using a new oil for the first time. It’s good to do this to make sure you don’t have any skin sensitivities or negative reactions if using medications. It is always recommended to consult with your helathcare practitioner before starting any new essential oil therapy.
Essential Oils Widely Used for Aromatherapy
Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy to treat a variety of conditions, which can assist with relieving pain, improving mood and promoting a sense of relaxation. The following essential oils have been shown to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.
Some evidence also suggests that citrus oils may strengthen the immune system and that peppermint oil may help with digestion. Other oils, such as clary sage, geranium and thyme help to balance out estrogen and progesterone levels in your body, which have been shown to improve conditions like infertility as well as PMS and menopause symptoms. In lab studies, Frankincense oil has shown to have immune enhancing abilities that includes helping to destroy bacteria, some viruses and even cancer.
Preventing and Reversing Health Conditions
Dementia – Lemon essential oil can help calm agitation in people suffering from dementia and may also improve their quality of life.
Cancer Treatments – The use of aromatherapy for patients going through cancer treatments has shown to reduce nausea and improve breathing and pulse rates.
Depression – Massage therapy combined with aromatherapy can help with depression.
Birthing – Lavender and Rose essential oil have been known to help calm women who are in labor and about to give birth.
Mood Modifiers – Lavender, Vetiver, Geranium, Rosemary, Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Rose and Bergamot can help lift your mood and calm your mind.
From using aromatherapy in spas, hospitals or at home, it can aid in improving mood, promoting relaxation, relieving pain, reducing anxiety, eliminating headaches, inducing sleep and boosting energy levels. Many products on the market today are made with synthetic scents and may smell nice but can be toxic, contain allergenic compounds and have no added health benefits.
Aromatherapy has significant psychological and physiological effects that anyone can access by aromatic massage, inhalation, or with the use of an essential oil diffuser. The balancing effects of aromatherapy on the mind and body make it a perfect addition to your daily wellness routine. Do you use essential oils for aromatherapy? What are your favorites? We would love to hear from you.