Aromatherapy is the use of scents that come from plant materials and fragrant plant oils, especially essential oils, to improve psychological and or physical well-being.
It is widely believed that inhaling the aroma of essential oils stimulates brain functions and has an effect on your feelings and moods. Additionally, the skin can absorb essential oils and they travel through the bloodstream to promote the healing of the entire body.
This form of therapy is gaining momentum as a way of alternative medicine. Some of its applications include pain relief, increased cognitive function and mood enhancement.
Aromatherapy can be done as a complementary therapy, which is offered alongside standard treatment or as a form of alternative medicine, which is offered instead of conventional treatments.
Aromatherapists, who specialize in aromatherapy and its practice, use mixtures of therapeutic essential oils that can be delivered through massage, inhalation topical application, or water immersion in order to elicit a desired response.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
It is the treatment or prevention of diseases and controlling mood by using essential oils. You can reduce pain and anxiety, enhance your energy and short-term memory, relax, stimulate your mind, uplift your mood and so much more.
How does it actually work though? Well, the answer is two-fold. Aromas have a great influence on the brain, especially on the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotions, by way of the olfactory system. It is thought that Aromatherapy works by stimulating odor receptors in the nose, which then send messages to the limbic system through the nervous system.
The other is the pharmacological benefits that essential oils have directly on the body. By this we mean the killing of bacteria, reduction of inflammation, opening of the respiratory system, etc.
The History of Aromatherapy
Ancient civilizations, like the Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans used essential oils for ritualistic, therapeutic, spiritual and hygienic reasons. They used them as cosmetics, perfumes and drugs.
The Ancient Egyptians used plant oils for embalming, but they also used them for incense and perfume. Dioscorides, who wrote his De Materia Medica in the first century, wrote about essential oils and their healing properties. Distilled essential oils, as such, have been in use since the 11th century when distillation was invented.
Aromatherapy, as a concept, was first proposed in 1907 by some doctors and scientists in Europe. René-Maurice Gattefossé, a chemist, wrote about aromatherapy in 1937 and with the advent of World War II, the use of essential oils became more pronounced and widespread.
Modes of Use
There are various ways in which one can partake in aromatherapy. These include:
- Diffusing it in the air: You can diffuse essential oil in the air in order to give the environment an aroma, calm or uplift your mood, and disinfect the air.
- Inhale the essential oil directly: You can simply open up a bottle of your preferred oil and take a whiff in order to use it as a for respiratory disinfectant, decongestant, expectorant or for psychological effects, such as relaxation or stimulation.
- Use the topically: You can use the oils alone, in combination with other oils or with creams, lotions or even water to experience its effects during a massage, bath, compress, or skin care.
- Oil Diffuser: A device, which can be electric or candle-fueled, that volatilizes essential oils, which are normally mixed with water. There are many types available on the market, including ones with lighting, beautiful decorative pieces, and even some that have been made for your car.
- Essential oils: The aromatic oils extracted from the parts of plants through distillation or mechanical expression. Oils such as lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, and orange are extremely popular for use in aromatherapy.
- Vaporizers: Plant based materials from plants that have a very high oil content. These materials are dried, crushed, and heated so that you can directly inhale vapors from them.
Purchasing Aromatherapy Oils
It’s important to choose high grade essential oils for use. Unfortunately, there are many out there that are not up to standard, Oils with standardized content of components require them to have a specified amount of specific aroma chemicals that occur normally in the oil.
Mass spectrometry (MS) and gas liquid chromatography (GLC) are used to analyze the oils and to establish the quality of essential oils. With these methods they are capable of measuring the quantities of components in a very accurate way
Aromatherapy has been around for a long time and it’s an effective way to take care of your body without dangerous chemicals and harmful side effects. Its popularity is ever-increasing and its likely to keep doing so as it is studied more.