What is Aromatherapy?
As it becomes more and more popular, you may be wondering what exactly aromatherapy is. Generally speaking, aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils from plants for healing. A form of alternative medicine, it has been gaining more and more popularity in recent years and can be applied to many different fields like pain relief and emotional healing. In addition, it is known for its benefits to cognitive functions. The application includes inhalation of the oils, which is believed to stimulate brain function, they can also be absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream to heal the whole body. Another popular way to incorporate the essential oils is by massaging them into the skin, which is believed to release stress and evoke relaxation.
Essential oils are mostly extracted from flowers, leaves, stems, or roots and used to strengthen psychological and physical wellbeing. Each oil contains its own mix of components that are told to have different fields of application. Essential oils have been used for more than 6,000 years, as the Medical Center of the University of Maryland reports, "The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them in cosmetics, perfumes, and drugs. Essential oils were also commonly used for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes."2
The impact of essential oils on our body works is not entirely understood. Some experts believe that our sense of smell is the key to the positive effects of aromatherapy, as our nose is connected to parts of our brain that serve as a memory of emotions. When breathing in a certain smell, our brain responds with a set of emotions. Others believe that the oils stimulate your physical, emotional, and mental health when inhaling them. The oils are thought to interact with the body’s hormones to cause changes in the blood pressure.3
Another interesting fact is that studies have shown that aromatherapy takes away anxiety and fear in pregnant women. It increased the overall well being and there was less need for pain medications during delivery. However, pregnant women should only use essential oils under the guidance of a professional therapist as they may cause allergies, and consult a physician before trying any new pain management techniques.
Massage therapy is known for its benefits for people with depression. The scents used is assumed to evoke positive emotions in the brain. However, the physicality of the massage itself may also have a positive impact on the well-being.
The different essential oils are known to have certain kind of benefits. For example, eucalyptus oil is said to ease stress. Lavender oil is known to be sedative and very relaxing, it can even help promote sleep. In addition, it is great for treating minor cuts because of its anti-bacterial and calming attributes. Sandalwood has been used since the ancient times and is said to be calming and evokes some kind of inner peace.
Aromatherapy has many different kinds of benefits to our whole-body health. It is important to see a professional therapist to ensure a responsible use of essential oils and to make the most out of those oils as they can be very beneficial to a broad field of symptoms. By either massaging or inhaling the essential oils you can experience great benefits. This makes them a great option for alternative treatment of minor ailments. As always, it is best to consult a physician before beginning any new treatments.
- "What is Aromatherapy?" Aromatherapy.com. Aromatherapy.com, n.d. Web.
- Ehrlich, Steven D., NMD. "Aromatherapy." University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center, 9 Aug. 2011. Web.
- WebMD Staff. "Aromatherapy (Essential Oils Therapy)- Topic Overview." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web.