What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy. Many people may be familiar with the term, but don’t necessarily know how to apply it. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as the inhalation or bodily application of fragrant essential oils for therapeutic purposes.
Ultimately aromatherapy is the scientific method of extracting aromatic compounds or the essence from plants to enhance the physical and psychological well-being of an individual. Each plant has a unique compound that defines its scent and medicinal properties. Depending on the plant, the essential oil is derived from the flowers, fruit, leaves, stem, bark, or roots of a plant.
In order to capture the essence of a plant, it requires a lot of plant matter. For instance, it takes over 200 pounds of lavender flowers to create 1 pound of oil. It takes 2,000 pounds of rose petals to get 1 pound of oil. This makes the oils incredibly concentrated and valuable.
The oils are used as alternative medicine to assist in healing ailments within the body. Using aromatic essential oils can be a holistic method of keeping a mind, body, and spirit high with positive energy.
The History of Essential Oils
The use of bottling the essence of plants goes back thousands of years. Across the globe throughout various archeological sites, essential oils were used to treat various parts of human lifestyle.
Ancient Chinese are one of the oldest cultures to show the use of aromatic plants. This included burning incense to feel calm and balanced. Egyptians created a method to extract cedarwood, clove, myrrh, cinnamon, and other plants that were used throughout various parts of life. The use of oils extended from medicinal, to spiritual, and aesthetics. It’s believed the word perfume was first used by Egyptians. The Egyptian use of oils became noticeable and desired by many civilizations of the time. The Greeks, in particular, continued working on the benefits of plants from the knowledge they
stole gathered. Megallus, a Greek perfumer even created a perfume called Megaleion. It was used for the scent, anti-inflammatory effects, and ability to heal wounds when applied on the skin.
Eventually, essential oils were used across the globe in various forms. The methods of distillation and separation of essential oils became highly used and lead the way for various modern medical discoveries. French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered that certain oils when inhaled, could affect a person’s condition and began using the term aromatherapy. As more people began to study the application of essential oils, it evolved into a deep science that is still used today.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is used as a natural way to treat physical and mental issues in people. Many apply these essential oils directly on the affected area for relief. Sometimes the oils can be ingested for even greater nutrient intake. The desired effect can be achieved by using the corresponding oil over time. Benefits of use include soothing irritations, enhanced moods, reduced stress, stronger immune systems, and more alert circulatory systems. Other benefits of aromatherapy positively impact the user’s skin, hair, hormone level, digestion, and sleep.
Aromatherapy has multiple uses that when applied can affect the mind and body in different ways. For instance, an essential oil can help give you an energy boost while improving blood circulation. Another essential oil could taste well, but kill bacteria on your skin.
Aromatherapy is a method of alternative medicine. It isn’t a replacement to medical treatment. The list below are some of the common uses that aromatherapy provides:
- Reduce anxiety, stress, and depression levels
- Aid the sleep cycle
- Ease certain types of pain such as arthritis, headaches, kidney stones, and menstruation
- Stimulate energy to feel awake
- Fight bacteria and other foreign agents
How is Aromatherapy used?
Aromatherapy is used primarily through our sense of smell and touch. Some essential oils can be ingested to receive the nutritional benefits. Research or consult a physician to find out which are safe for consumption.
Inhalation of aromatic oils helps reduce the effects of psychological problems. Diffusers, oils sticks, spray, and steam are great ways to inhale the essential oils. When inhaled, molecules enter the nasal cavity, go to the brain, and stimulate the limbic and nervous system. The limbic system of the brain is a region that is influential in emotion and behavior. The nervous system manages the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and the ability to handle stress.
Topically applying oils is another effective method. Soaking in baths, using massage oils, shampoo, and other skin care items allow users to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. Absorbing the oils through the skin will also affect the limbic and nervous system, as well as the targeted area. Concentrations for the body are normally 1-5 percent and less than 1 percent for the face.
Safety Precautions to Consider
Overexposure to essential oils can cause headaches and nausea.
Many essential oils can be toxic if ingested. Essential oils shouldn’t be used at full-strength on your skin. Due to the oil being absorbed on the skin, an excessive amount can create dangerous levels in the blood. There should be a carrier oil to dilute if you are going to apply some of it.
Some people may experience irritation or inflammation when applying certain essential oils to the skin. If you are someone that has sensitive skin, consider a skin patch test to make sure it’s okay to use.
Keep away from animals and children because they get things EVERYWHERE. 🙂 Avoid getting oils into your eyes, nose, ears, and genitals. If you do, it’s best to thoroughly rinse the area with warm water. Consult a doctor if the situation gets worse.
Be mindful of citrus essential oils if you’re going to be in the sun. These increase your sensitivity to the UV sunlight.
Aromatherapy provides alternative methods of dealing with mental, physical, and spiritual ailments. Those who utilize it claim it helps provide relief or achieve the desired effect. Some may argue that aromatherapy isn’t real or doesn’t work. But if a scent helps release anxiety, smell away! If a bath soothes aching joints, soak until you’re a prune! At Zambo Aroma, we cherish the skin, mind, and core of a problem to help cleanse it. Find a way to treat yourself to something that leaves you relaxed, feeling good, and ready to take on the day.