Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. The aroma from “essential” oils is believed to stimulate brain function. These oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. Aromatherapy is gaining momentum as a form of alternative medicine. It is used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement, and increased cognitive function.
There are many essential oils, each with its own healing properties. It can support conventional treatment of various conditions.The active ingredients within the oils are taken directly from high yields of medicinal plants or herbs through a process known as distillation, then mixed with alcohol to preserve their strength. The finished result is a very concentrated oily formula that can be mixed with other substances.
Because they’re very strong, essential oils used in aromatherapy practices are usually combined with a carrier oil, before being applied directly to the skin.
Aromatherapy can be performed in several different ways:
- Diffusing a combination of essential oils into the air (or just one single oil)
- Inhaling oils through the nostrils directly off of a cloth or from the bottle
- Receiving massage therapy utilizing oils
- Soaking in an oil-infused bath
- Rubbing oils directly onto the skin
Research shows that when used at home, most people use aromatherapy oil candles, apply natural products containing oils to their skin or add oils directly to a soaking bath/warm shower.
The most popular essential oils are:
- Herbs like rosemary or peppermint
- Leaves from eucalyptus plants
- Grasses, such as lemongrass
- Zest from fruits such as oranges, grapefruit or lemon
- Flowers, including rose or geranium
- Wood or bark from trees including cinnamon or pine,
- Roots from ginger
- Resin from frankincense trees
- And many more
Aromatherapy has been used to treat short-term health problems, along with more serious disorders. Persons with the following health conditions can likely benefit from aromatherapy:
- Chronic stress or anxiety
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Respiratory infections
- Digestive upset
- PMS or menopause symptoms
- Skin problems or disorders, including bites, rashes, bruising, cellulite or acne
- Blood sugar fluctuations
A growing pool of both human and animal studies has shown that aromatherapy oils can have both sedative and stimulant effects, plus positive effects on the immune system and central nervous system. The key to achieving results from aromatherapy is to use pure, therapeutic-grade oils rather than those with synthetic ingredients or fragrances. The effectiveness of aromatherapy practices always depends on the quality of the oils used, plus the dosage.