What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that uses pure essential oils (fragrant plant extracts) to promote health and well-being usually through massage, inhalation, baths or compresses. As a holistic treatment, it can have a profound effect on the person’s physical and psychological well-being. It is believed that scent, being the most enduring of our senses, has the power to heal people’s bodies and transform emotions.
How is aromatherapy done?
Aromatherapy works through inhalation or skin absorption, or a combination of both. For inhalation, the essential oils are evaporated into the air using products such as diffuser, spray, or breathed in a steam bath. Apart from the aromatic smell, the oils can provide other benefits such as disinfection, nasal decongestant, and positive psychological effects.
For skin absorption, the essential oils are never used directly on the skin. They are diluted with a carrier. Then, it is used as massage oils, or as bath and skin care products. Massaging the area can improve circulation and increase absorption. It should be noted to perform an allergy test first before trying a new essential oil.
What essential oils are best for aromatherapy?
Essential oils are extracted from herbs and plants to treat a number of conditions which ranges from skin disorders and infections to immune deficiencies and stress. When the scent is detected in the nasal cavity, impressions and emotions are created. Combining this with the parts of the brain that control bodily functions like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, stress levels, memory, and hormone balance are also related to the nasal cavity, it is apparent that using essential oils can contribute to achieving various physiological or psychological effects.
Some common essential oils in aromatherapy and their uses include:
- Eucalyptus: for colds and nasal congestion
- Frankincense: for calming emotions and quelling nightmares
- Geranium:for menopausal problems and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Lemongrass: effective for soothing sore or injured muscles
- Lavender: for promoting relaxation
- Peppermint: for instant quick energy
- Rose: a uterine tonic and aids in contractions during childbirth
- Sandalwood: for promoting relaxation, aids in addressing digestive troubles (esp. due to tension), dry skin
- Tea Tree: a strong disinfectant, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal
Health benefits of aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has several health benefits, ranging from physical to the emotional. The benefits can be received from inhalation or by topical application. The following are some benefits that can gained from aromatherapy:
- manages pain
- improves sleep
- reduces stress, agitation, and anxiety
- soothes sore joints
- reduces headaches and migraines
- alleviates side effects of chemotherapy
- eases discomforts of labor
- fights bacteria, virus, or fungus
- improves digestion
- improves hospice and palliative care
- improves immunity