What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of volatile liquid plant materials, known as essential oils (EOs), and other aromatic compounds from plants to affect someone’s mood or health, hence aroma therapy. The word aromatherapy was coined in the 1920s by French chemist René Maurice Gattefosse, who devoted his life to researching the healing properties of essential oils after a lucky accident in his perfume laboratory. (In the accident, he lit his arm on fire and thrust it into the nearest cold liquid, which happened to be a vat of lavender oil. Much to his amazement, the burn quickly healed without a scar.)
The best way to use them is by getting an aromatherapy diffuser. This allows the essential oils to saturate the air and have a greater effect. When they reach your olfactory senses (nerves of the nose) they bypass the thinking brain and directly activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied to the skin (commonly in form of “massage oils” i.e. 1-10% solutions of EO in carrier oil) they activate thermal receptors, and kill microbes and fungi. Internal application of essential oil preparations may stimulate the immune system, urine secretion, may have antiseptic activity etc. One of my favorite ways to do this is in the shower. You can either spray the essential oil into a corner while you are showering or bathing or get a specialized aromatherapy shower diffuser, that does this for you automatically. You can find out about the different types by clicking: aromatherapy diffusers.
How to Use Aromatherapy
While the practice of aromatherapy is sometimes thought to be confined to inhalation, it may include various methods, including:
- Inhalation (directly or diffused into the air)
- Absorption through the skin (baths, massages, compresses)
- Absorption through the mucous membranes (oral rinses and gargles)
- Ingestion (occasionally prescribed, with caveats)
Aromatherapy is based mainly on the following therapeutic effects:
- Antiseptic effects: viricidial, bactericidal, fungicidal
- Anesthetic action (menthol, camphor)
- Central nervous system effects
- Metabolic / Endocrine effects
- Psychological effects
Aromatherapy Fragrances have a relaxing effect measured as an increase in alpha brain waves. One of the best known essential oils for aromatherapy is lavender, which is recommended by practitioners for treating wounds, to enhance memory, and to aid sleep by combating anxiety and insomnia. Other popular scents include eucalyptus, rose, jasmine and bergamot. You can use it to help you fall asleep fast and get a good night’s rest by using the sleep machine with aromatherapy diffuser.
Aromatherapy is among the fastest growing fields in alternative and holistic medicine. Aromatherapy is sometimes used in clinics and hospitals for treatment of pain relief, for labor pain, for relieving pain caused by the side effects of the chemotherapy, and for the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.
Here are a few of the most common aromatherapy oils for specific uses:
- Anger – Bergamot, Jasmine, Neroli, Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Ylang Ylang
- Anxiety – Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Orange, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Ylang Ylang
- Chronic Fatigue – Basil, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Clay Sage, Cypress, Ginger, Grapefurit, Jasmine, Lemon, Patchouli, Peppermint, Sandalwood
- Concentration – Basil, Black Pepper, Cypress, Lemon, Peppermint
- Confidence – Bay Laurel, Bergamot, Cypress, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Orange, Rosemary
- Depression – Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Orange, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Ylang Ylang,
- Fear – Bergamot, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Roman Chamomile, Sandlwood
- Feeling Alone – Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile, Rose
- Grief – Frankincense, Geranium, Rose, Sandalwood
- Positive Mood – Bergamot, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lemon, Orange, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang
- Stress Relief – Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense Geranium,Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Sandalwood
You can use them alone or in combination for a synergistic effect. You can find some individual aromatherapy oils as well as aromatherapy kits at a good price here: aromatherapy kits
Try to use less than three separate oils together until you are comfortable with the effect. If you are in a hurry you can also use ready made types of oils, especially Bach’s Flower Essences. The Bach Rescue Remedy works really good and fast when you just need to relax and give your adrenal system a break, as well as any type of hysteria.
I hope you find this guide to aromatherapy useful to get you started. Please do try it as it really works, sometimes when nothing else seems to do the trick.