When you hear the word aromatherapy, what comes to mind?Perhaps you imagine heavily scented candles or flowery perfumes. Scents can trigger strong emotional responses or memories which may be pleasant or unpleasant. The word aromatherapy comes from two Greek words. “Aroma” means pleasant smell or fragrance, and “therapeia” which means healing. Think of how the smell of chalk or pencil shavings can bring back memories of school, or how the smell of freshly cut grass might remind us of a childhood summer. Smell is the first of our senses to develop as babies, and as adults we can distinguish between 4,000 to 10,000 smells.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils as a form of alternative or complementary medicine to aid healing.The oils are a concentrated liquid made from plants such as flowers, leaves, seeds, barks and fruit through a steam distillation process. They are mixed with vegetable, soy or almond based “carrier” oil due to its concentration, and diluted with alcohol or water.The scented oils are inhaled through the nose or rubbed onto the body.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommends particular oils for specific benefits. Peppermint is often used for headaches and indigestion, while eucalyptus, rosemary and tea tree oils are used to stimulate the immune system.Lavender is believed to induce calm and relaxation, and soothe headaches.There is a medical consensus for aromatherapy having favorable effects on mood and relaxation, but there aren’t enough scientific studies or proof for claims beyond these benefits.
Decide for yourself the benefits aromatherapy has to offer by trying aromatherapy at home. Essential oils can be found in health and specialty foods stores.Prices will vary according to the origin, rarity, type of extraction method and demand for particular oil.Organic and wild harvested oils tend to be more costly, including oils extracted from endangered plants.Look for oils labeled as pure, and avoid oils labeled as blends or massage oil.Seek organic oils that are made without chemicals, and complete a 24-hour skin patch test. Discontinue if any rash, redness or soreness occurs. Aromatherapy shouldn’t be used on pregnant women or children and should never be consumed or tasted.
The scents can be subtle yet have powerful effects on feelings. Pure essential oils are essential for aromatherapy, with a variety of methods to send the senses on a journey. Be mindful of the preceding cautions when trying aromatherapy at home. Try adding five to ten drops of an essential oil to the tub, or a few drops on an oil burner or diffuser. Or add ten to 12 drops to a water sprayer and use as a room mister. Sprinkle a few drops of oil onto a tissue or handkerchief to breathe into throughout the day. Or really splurge on a massage with an aromatherapy practitioner to experience the full range of benefits aromatherapy has to offer.