What is Aromatherapy?
Are you stressed out? Are you the victim of Anxiety or fear? Are feeling low in your self esteem? Are you caught up in sorrow or grief? Are you tired and feeling fatigued? Are you agitated for any reason or something is bugging you? Are you feeling isolated or are you feeling lonely? Are you looking to boost your memory? Are you looking for some aphrodisiac that raises your inner feelings? Or simply are you looking for something magnificent yet simple for your psychological and physiological goodness. You do not really want to go and see your physician with these abstract feelings because you might end up with medications for long term use. You are advised several alternative medicinal routes and you ended up confused. But you are sure that you are looking for something that will alleviate your condition immediately and stimulate your senses such that it will give you long lasting effect. Then certainly you should head towards aromatherapy for a wonderful experience that will take you altogether to a new world. In the first place let us learn about aromatherapy.
What is aromatherapy?
The word aroma tells us the means that would be used to treat the condition. The method of using essential aromatic oils for treating the physical as well as mental well being is called aromatherapy. The aromatic oils are essentially the natural oils sourced from flowers, stems, tree barks, leaves and even roots. In the aromatherapy, the aromas from these essential oils arouse your brain about something that you will feel good. Besides, the aroma oils are used for body application and massage. These essential aroma oils gets absorbed into the skin and the stimulating micronutrients further move through the tissue into blood stream to help wholesome wellness. By virtue of its wholesome experience to the mind, body and soul, aromatherapy is slowly taking up special place in the alternative medicinal forms. The uses are taking shape beyond simple rejuvenation to relief from chronic pains, mood changers and to supplement cognitive behavior therapy
The Greeks may be credited with the discovery of Aromatherapy as reference to fragrances and perfumes can be found in Greek Mythology. Hippocrates was said to be using Aromatherapy for healing purposes. While the recorded history of aromatherapy dates back to first century which started with beliefs that some oils have healing and curative properties as described by Discorides in his book namely “De Materia Medica”. After the invention of distillation process, distilled aromatic oils have been in use for medicinal purposes since 11th century. The modern concept of aromatherapy can be attributed to a small group of doctors and scientists from Europe at the beginning of nineteenth century. The printed reference to the word Aromatherapy can be found in “Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales” written by French chemist named Rene Maurice Gattefosse. Jean Valnet, a surgeon of French Origin used curative properties of essential oils used in aromatherapy for curing wounds of soldiers in World War Two.
The production of essential aromatic oils used in aromatherapy
Since aromatherapy involves the usage of aromatic essential oils, let us learn about how these oils are produced. These oils are naturally sourced from flowers, tree barks, roots and leaves and should not be mistaken with perfumes, fragrances, deodorants and other synthetic derivatives. They are generally produced using steam distillation process or simply using mechanical expelling. In steam distillation the source matter is subjected to steaming until the raw material breaks down to give away the essential oil along with water which is later recovered using separation techniques. In mechanical expelling the source matter is directly pressed in either batch mechanical press or continuous screw extractor. There are large numbers of essential oils used in aromatherapy and the most popular ones are derived from tea tree, rosemary, lavender, jasmine, patchouli among others.
Important aromatherapy oils for home use
Lavender oil: Lavender oil is a distilled extract of either lavender flowers or from “Levndula latifolia” herb. The oil has very good aroma and known for its versatile uses. Medicinally, the lavender oil is known to create calmness in anxiety conditions. It is a good antiseptic and reliever of pains in burns, insect bites, and joint cramps.
Peppermint oil: Peppermint oil is an extract from the hybrid of spearmint and watermint. The minty aroma of peppermint oil has very stimulating effect on relieving the symptoms of throat and chest congestion migraine headaches and indigestion. It also acts as pain reliever of muscles. It’s mentholated aroma raises your mental state relieving from dull and abstract feelings.
Eucalyptus oil: It is an extract eucalyptus tree leaves. It is very popular and natural anti active compound in the cases of bacterial, fungal, microbial, viral and inflammatory conditions. The relief act from cold and cough, asthma attacks are very well know over centuries. A drop of eucalyptus oil in warm water bathing refreshes you nicely.
Lemon oil: Lemon oil extracted from the peels of the lemon fruit by directly through mechanical extraction. The lemon aroma relieves you from bad feelings, raises concentration levels and mental alertness. It’s antifungal and antibacterial properties acts as curative in cases of cuts, wounds and other scrapes.
Tea Tree oil: The tea tree oil is the extract of tea leaves and is very popular with alternative medicinal applications and beauty products. The acerbic properties make it a good choice for skin related medicinal formulations. It also finds uses in treatment of minor cuts and wounds to alleviate irritation. It has good effect on scalp treatment as part of shampoos.
Method of application of essential oils in aromatherapy
Since aromatherapy is all about the use of essential oils, their specific method of application has bearing on its healing capabilities. Since the base oils are concentrated they are rarely used directly on the skin. Always a carrier in the form of water or other lotions is used to mix the essential oil. There are different application methods in aromatherapy and let us learn about them.
Bath: Drop few drops aromatherapy oil in the warm water and soak yourself to awaken your senses. This will soothe you from fatigue and enhances your physical well being.
Massage: Possibly the best and the most widely used method of application of essential oil is in massage. Few drops of essential oil are mixed with carrier oil such as shea butter or almond oil and body massage is given. The combination of massage and the essential oils will take you to an elevated level of relaxation. The fragrance of essential oil soothes your feelings while massage will relieve your pain. The sinking property of essential oil makes it to join the blood stream taking the healing effects to greater level.
Inhalation through vapour: Another most common method of use of essential oil in aromatherapy is the steam inhalation. Add few drops of selected essential to boiling water and inhale the vapour under a blanket cover. Majority of the respiratory ailments such as sinus also would get cured besides enhancing your physical well being.
Direct application: Mix your favorite essential oil with a cream or carrier oil and directly apply on the skin to arouse its curative properties.
Hot compression technique: Especially used for pain relieving or cramps relaxation, the hot compression technique involves dipping a towel or cloth in hot water mixed with few drops of essential oil and pressed in the pain region for calming down. Menstrual cramps can be treated with hot compression technique effectively.
Specific conditions, moods and related aromatherapy essential oils
Relief from grief or sorrow: When you are in grief or sadness use orange, sandalwood, chamomile, rose, jasmine, frankincense, Ylang Ylang
Cure for stress: Use any of the lavender oil, bergamot, vanilla, orange, patchouli, chamomile or Ylang Ylang.
Handling anxiety disorders: Use cedar wood, jasmine, sandalwood, jasmine, rose, bergamot, neroli oils for treating anxiety related problems.
Respite from fatigue: Use rosemary, peppermint, bergamot, patchouli, basil, lemon sandalwood oils to get relaxed.
Feeling low and inferior: Use cypress, Jasmine, rosmary, bergamot, grapefruit or orange oils for self rejuvenation.
Boosting memory power: To enhance memory power use peppermint, basil, cypress, rosemary or lemon oils.
Agitation and isolation conditions: Chamomile, frankincense, rose, bergamot, lavender, clary sage, mandarin to treat agitation or isolation feelings.
You should follow instructions carefully and use recommended quantities only. Always keep your eyes away. Keep the essential oils out of reach of children. Dilution is must. Do not consume internally.
Notwithstanding the hype around aromatherapy, it is only an alternative but not a curative in serious cases. You should consult your physician. While the lipid profile of the oils does speak about the special composition, the science behind its curative processes is yet to be established.