Exquisitely and powerfully fragrant, essential oils are a true gift from nature. Take a leisurely walk through a park teeming with lavender or an orange field and then breathe deeply – you will experience the soothing and balancing power of essential oils.
But aromatherapy essential oils are more than beautiful scents, : they are powerful extracts that can empower you to repel harmful chemicals, avoid stress and negativity, boost your energy and reclaim your natural radiance.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a form of holistic therapy that uses natural oils to enhance the mind, body and spirit. Also known as essential oil therapy, people usually use ‘aromatherapy’ to refer to anything that smells nice, like potpourri, scented candles and perfumes. However, the term ‘aromatherapy’ isn’t only about bringing wellness through our sense of smell. It can also be massaged in the skin, or can sometimes, be taken internally.
What are Aromatherapy Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural substances found in roots, bark, stems, flowers, seeds and other parts of plants. Essential oils give plants their unique smell and they also serve as defence against disease and predators. If you have walked by a garden of lavender, a field of peppermint or a bouquet of roses, you have probably experienced the soul-soothing qualities of essential oils.
Essential oils are non-water-based plant chemicals made from volatile compounds. Though they are fat-soluble, they don’t contain the acids or lipids found in animal or vegetable oils. These oils are very clean and are quickly absorbed by the skin.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils throughout History
The use of essential oil started as early as 6000 years ago. The ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians used them in medicines, cosmetics and perfumes. They were commonly used for hygienic, therapeutic, spiritual and ritualistic purposes.
Today, many candles, skincare products, perfumes and beauty products are labelled as ‘aromatherapy’. But many of these products only use synthetic scents that don’t have the therapeutic properties of essential oils.
What Aromatherapy Essential Oils Can Do for You
Throughout history, aromatherapy essential oils have been credited not only for their nice scent, but also for helping to treat bodily problems and supporting emotional balance.
Below are some of the physical and emotional benefits of aromatherapy essential oils.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils Benefit #1: Promotes Stress Relief
The brain does a vital role in the body’s response to stress. One part of the brain called the ‘amygdala’, a part of the limbic system, play a critical role in processing emotions. When feelings of fear, stress or anxiety sets it, the amygdala responds by modulating our stress response mechanisms. Essential oils can influence the limbic system and as such, can be used for emotional support and for stress relief.
On one hand, the scents from essential oils can affect the biochemistry of your nervous system. This means that certain oils can stimulate the flight-or-fight response of the body while others can be calming. For instance, fennel, grapefruit and black pepper oil can cause an increase in the sympathetic nervous system, causing an increase the blood pressure while rose oil may cause your adrenaline to drop by 30%. Lavender and rosemary has been shown to lower stress hormones by reducing cortisol levels (through inhalation).
Aromatherapy Essential Oils Benefit #2: Strengthens the Immune System
There are many essentials oils that exhibit a noted ability to increase the rate of healing and support the immune system. Most aromatherapy essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties to varying degrees – that can keep most infections at bay.
One way to strengthen your immune system is through a lymphatic massage using essential oil. Lymph nodes can be found in the groin, breasts, throat and armpits, and serve as filtering stations for cleaning the blood. Rosemary, grapefruit, lavender, myrrh, tea tree, thyme and lemon oil are very good for supporting the cleansing action. You can practise lymphatic massage on your own. Simply rub the oil from your arms to the lymph nodes in your armpits. Massage your legs by starting from your feet towards your groin.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils Benefit #3: Helps Relieve Digestive Complaints
Are you experiencing distension, abdominal fullness or just bad gas? There are lots of essential oil blends that can ease flatulence. Flatulence is a very common complaint for people with digestive issues. Nausea, bloating and abdominal pain may be experienced along with gas.
Peppermint and ginger essential oils are known to be useful for nausea, gas and bloating. Simply apply the oil to the feet or stomach or use them with a compress on the abdomen.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils Benefit #4: For Detox
There are lots of oils that are excellent for detoxifying the body. For instance, rose geranium oil supports lymphatic system detox by eliminating fluids more efficiently, while lemon is proven beneficial for liver detox. Grapefruit oil supports the digestive system and supports detox from substance abuse.
To use aromatherapy essential oils for detox, apply them to acupressure points close to the lymph nodes and start massaging. It is best to drink plenty of water after you massage to help flush wastes from the body.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils Benefit #5: Balances Emotions and Mood
While aromatherapy isn’t considered the best remedy for serious emotional issues, the use of essential oils can help maintain emotional balance. Using essential oils properly can help improve emotional outlook and keep emotional balance stable throughout the day.
Inhaling natural oils can trigger the emotional centre of the brain. The first step towards emotional balance is fighting the effects of stress. Once you have managed stress, you will experience a better sense of relaxation and peace.
Examples of aromatherapy essential oils that have balancing effects include citrus oils (e.g. lemon, tangerine, orange and grapefruit), which are known to provide energy, promote happiness and have an uplifting effect, chamomile which helps in bringing balance and joy and rose essential oil.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils Benefit #6: For Minor Pain Relief
Of the many uses of essential oils, pain relief is one of the best. Certain essential oils provide muscle-relaxing effects, which can help bring relief to minor aches, muscle spasms and body pains due to physical activities. Essential oils are best used in combination with massage to support blood and lymph circulation, flushing lactic acid from your muscles to reduce pain and increase flexibility and strength to make you less prone to injuries.
Note: Occasional muscle pain is expected, but for severe or chronic body issues, it may be an indication of a more serious health problem. Consult a health care professional.
Examples of essential oils that are used as natural muscle relaxers include chamomile, basil and peppermint.
How to Use Aromatherapy Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used for a broad range of physical and emotional wellness applications. They can be sold as a single oil or a combination of two or more depending on the person’s desired effect. Essential oils can be administered in three different ways: applied topically, diffused aromatically or taken internally.
For Aromatic Uses:
Our sense of smell affects different bodily processes such as stimulation of hormones, digestion and other metabolic processes. Essential oils are very popular in aromatherapy applications. When diffused in the air, certain essential oils can be highly stimulating whiles other provide a soothing and relaxing fee to the surrounding. Besides its emotional effects, essential oils can also purify the air and destroy airborne pathogens, when being diffused.
Make sure you use a low-heat or even, no-heat aromatherapy essential oil diffusers to preserve chemical structure of the oil. Essential oils can also be used as a purifying or cleansing additive to surface cleaners and laundry throughout your home.
For Internal Uses:
Certain essential oils are used as dietary supplements to support a wide range of health conditions. Although many essential oils are generally labelled safe for dietary use, some oils must not be taken internally. Some essential oils can strengthen the immune system and boost healthy inflammatory response, while others have potent antioxidant properties. But still, be sure to consult your doctor or healthcare provider before taking essential oils internally.
For Topical Uses:
Because of their natural molecular structure, essential oils can easily penetrate into the skin. Essential oils are safe to apply topically and can have immediate, localized benefit on the specific area. Certain essential oils provide restorative benefits and can be used with beauty therapy and massage. They’re also natural disinfectants because of their anti-microbial properties.
How to Use Aromatherapy Essential Oils Safely
Aromatherapy essential oils can be used safely for a wide range of wellness applications. But there are a number of safety guidelines that you need to follow when using essential oil products.
Essential oils must not be used inside the ear canal, the eyes or in open wounds.Do not take it internally unless it is labeled with supplement facts literature with specific dietary supplement use directions and warning. If irritation or redness occurs, apply olive oil or coconut oil on the affected area. Discontinue use if you experience respiratory or stomach discomfort and/or severe skin irritation.
Make sure the product is 100% pure essential oil that has passed stringent inspection. Follow all the instructions and warnings in the label.Always consult your healthcare provider before trying out any essential oils, especially for pregnant women or those under the care of a physician or even those with concerns regarding safety use of essential oils.