What is Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy, is also referred to as Essential Oil Therapy.
Aromatherapy is a type of alternative medicine that uses essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds which are aimed at improving a person’s health or mood. Scientific studies have evidence that aromatherapy makes you feel good. The essential oils used in Aromatherapy have a different composition compared to other herbal products because the distillations used in aromatherapy recovers the lighter phytomolecules.
The theory behind aromatherapy is that it is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulates the part of the brain connected to smell, the olfactory system; a signal is sent to the limbic system of the brain that controls emotions and retrieves learned memories. This causes chemicals to be released which make the person feel relaxed, calm, or even stimulated.
Essential oils and other natural volatile organic compounds (VOCs) work differently. When targeting our sense of smell they activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied topically (onto the skin) they activate the thermal receptors and destroy microbes and fungi. Never apply an essential oil directly on the skin, unless it is diluted in a carrier oil or base oil. Internal application may stimulate the immune system (generally in prescribed form).
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Aromatherapy is usually applied as follows:
Aerial diffusion (steam and vaporization/diffusing): The oils evaporate into the air. The aim is to give the air a specific fragrance or to disinfect it.
Direct inhalation: The person breathes the evaporating oils straight in. This is commonly used for respiratory disinfection, decongestion, as well as for psychological benefits.
Topical applications: Applied onto the skin. Commonly used for massage, baths (Foot/Hand/body), compresses and therapeutic skin care. (Please remember to always read the labels and never apply any essential oil directly onto the skin without mixing it to a carrier oil).
Aromatherapy can be used for (but not limited to):
Anxiety, Stress, Insomnia, Muscular aches, Body aches, Headaches, Circulatory problems, Menstrual problems, Menopausal problems (Hormonal Imbalance), Depression, Insect bites, Sore throat, Jet Lag, sea and travel sickness
In addition to the therapeutic benefit at the emotional and physical level, essential oils are helpful in other applications. Essential oils can be used in household and laundry cleaners. Some oils act as a natural insect repellent and pesticide. You may recall using citronella candles during the summer to keep mosquitos away. Citronella essential oil is the ingredient in the candles that is responsible for repelling mosquitos. Below is a list of some of the most popular oils that I like to use.
Popular Aromatherapy Products:
Lavender– analgesic, antidepressant, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, bactericide, decongestant, deodorant, diuretic, fungicide, sedative. Soothes the spirit, relieves anger, valuable in manic-depressive cases. Has a sedative action on the heart, assists in bringing down high blood pressure, relieves insomnia and muscular spasms and rheumatic pains. This is the first essential oil one should reach for in the case of minor burns and sunburn (keep a bottle in the kitchen away from open flame). Useful with menstrual problems, bronchitis and headaches. Useful in a diffuser in a room to calm and relax everyone in the room. May be useful with nausea, vomiting and colic. Keeps insects away and if you happen to have an insect bite, just rub on top of bite and the itching and swelling will go away.
Eucalyptus– Often used for relief of the airways for people who have a cold or the flu. It loosens phlegm and is one of the most valuable oils for treating the respiratory system. Could be combined with peppermint. Eucalyptus cools emotions, aids concentration and lowers body temperature.
Melaleuca– (Ti-Tree)- This is a must have essential oil. It is antibiotic, antiseptic, antiviral, bactericide, cicatrizer, expectorant and fungicide.
Lemongrass– anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. Stimulates the mind, lifts the spirit, and clears the head. Stimulates appetite, helpful with colic and indigestion. May prevent the spreading of contagious diseases. Great for aching muscles, relieves tired legs. Relieves fatigue, assists with jet-lag.
Lemon– Antacid, anti-neuralgic, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, bactericide, cicatrizing, diuretic, emollient, insecticide, and laxative. Helps to clear your thoughts, helps with concentration, and lifts the spirits. It is used to bring down high blood pressure. Eases painful cold sores and herpes. May be helpful with constipation and cellulite. Has a tonic effect on the circulatory system.
Orange– antidepressant and calming, refreshes the air and dissipates cooking odors. It is also a good grease cutter and is very useful in removing gooey residue such as labels.
Basil– antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, antibacterial. It works as a brain and memory stimulant and soothes stress, mental fatigue, depression, and rheumatoid arthritis. Good for tired, overworked muscles.
Clary Sage– This is a relaxing, warming oil which eases nervous tensions. Known as a hormone balancer, it may regulate scanty periods. It is well known for its euphoric action and is an extremely valuable oil for treating nervousness, fear, paranoia and depression.
Peppermint– Cooling, analgesic, antispasmodic, anesthetic, decongestant, expectorant, insecticide and stimulant. Should be kept away from eyes, likely to irritate skin and mucous membranes. Best avoided by pregnant women and nursing mothers as it could discourage flow of milk. Helpful for people who are unable to concentrate or who have mental fatigue. Said to relieve states of anger, hysteria, and nervous trembling. As a remedy for colds, it halts mucous and fevers and encourages perspiration. Good for travel sickness, vomiting, constipation, colic, nausea and to keep drivers alert while on the road. It is cooling and pain relieving action seems to ease headaches, migraines, and toothaches. Used in liniments for the relief of muscle pain, lumbago, bruises, joint pain and insect bites. Can be used to relieve any kind of skin irritation or itching but should be used in a dilution of 1% (carrier oil) or less or the irritation could be made worse. Great for getting rid of ants and rodents.
Ginger– It is antiseptic, analgesic, expectorant, laxative, and aphrodisiac. Aids memory, cheers one up. Eases sore throats. Settles the digestive system, effective against nausea, hangovers, jet lag, and sea and travel sickness. Relieves cramps, rheumatic pains and muscle spasms.
Ylang-Ylang– Do not use if you have low blood pressure. Both relaxes and arouses; in Europe, therapists use this oil for sexual dysfunction. Eases frigidity and impotence. It is antidepressant, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, and sedative. Excessive use may lead to headaches and nausea. Could possibly irritate sensitive skin and is indicated against use on inflammatory skin conditions and dermatitis. Could well ease feelings of anger, anxiety, shock, panic and fear. Useful with rapid breathing and heartbeat; its sedative properties could help bring down high blood pressure. Has a tonic and stimulating effect on the scalp promoting a more luxurious hair growth.
Patchouli– May cause loss of appetite. Its odor may be a little too persistent for some people. Due to its strong astringent and cicatrizing properties, may be helpful for loose skin, especially after dieting, and is used in many anti-wrinkle products. Its diuretic properties are useful in cases of fluid retention and cellulite. Well known to increase libido, considered and aphrodisiac. Relieves effects from insect bites, protects clothes from moths. It is known a tissue regenerator which helps stimulate regrowth of skin cells and the forming of scar tissue. Heals rough, cracked skin. Useful for treating acne, eczema, fungal infections and scalp disorders including dandruff.
It is important to follow the product instructions carefully. Concentrated products may be poisonous before dilution and should be handled with care. If you have any of the following conditions, you should be extra careful/cautious about aromatherapy. Always consult your physician before you start any type of regimen.
If you have an allergy or allergies
If you suffer from hay fever (a type of allergy)
If you suffer from asthma
If you have a skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis
If you suffer from epilepsy (be extremely cautious)
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