Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils - precious, sweet smelling liquids extracted from many varieties of plants. In fact, essential oils are far more widely used than is generally known. They are found in many medications, in perfumes and beauty products, and in some commercially prepared food and drinks.
The unique flavor of Coca Cola, which was invented as a nerve tonic by pharmacist John Pemberton in 1886, was created by blending the essential oils of orange, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and neroli. There is one ingredient in the secret 7X formula, which remains a mystery.
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using natural, aromatic, essential oils. The ‘aroma’ in ‘aromatherapy’ refers to the fact that all essential oils have a characteristic smell, while the ‘therapy’ refers to healing.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
Essential oils can enter the body through the skin, partly because their molecules are extremely small. The evidence for this is found in the scientific analysis of the perspiration, urine and breath of someone who has recently been massaged with essential oils.
Warm skin absorbs more of the essential oils used for a massage, and covering each area of skin after massaging it aids take-up too. However, whether essential oils are used in a massage oil or in a bath, aromatic molecules waft into the air and enter the nostrils.
When these molecules hit the nerve receptors there, they set off a reaction which results in brain activity. This phenomenon has been observed through brain scans and other imaging techniques.
What Are Essential Oils Made From?
Depending on the species of plant, essential oils are extracted from petals, leaves, roots, buds, twigs, rhizomes, wood, bark, resin or fruit. In few cases every part of the plant growing above the ground is used.
There are several ways of obtaining the oil, the most common being steam distillation. This involves putting the plant material in a large, closed container, known as a vat, and forcing steam through it. The heat and pressure release the tiny droplets of essential oil from the plant, which then rise, with the steam, out through a spiral tube. This cools the steam, turning it to liquid.
Benefits Of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has several therapeutic benefits:
General well being
Treatments have also gained in popularity as an effective, natural method of stress relief. Aromatherapy can help anyone with a busy, pressurized lifestyle, and certain essential oils, either applied in a massage, in the bath, or used in a burner, can help make people feel more relaxed and confident.
Meanwhile, many people report that using essential oils to fight flu, for example, can help them become well and energized too. Essential oils add to the quality of life, as no other substance appears to do. And scientific experimentation shows that aromas can influence the brain, with brain scan images showing either relaxing or stimulating powers at work.
The Healing Power Of Plants
Historic research shows that people have used essential oils, or their forerunners, ‘unguents’, as medicines, for as long as we know. Indeed, without natural plant products in ancient times, there would have been very little medicine at all. Plants today, as long as they have not been damaged by chemical pollutants, can be just as good for us as they ever have been. They haven’t suddenly stopped being helpful just because chemical replacements have been invented!
Most of the research into essential oils concentrates on their medicinal qualities. It is these that particularly interest doctors and the medical profession who, in growing numbers, include aromatherapists in their working teams. In Britain, essential oils are being used in many hospital contexts, from labor rooms in maternity wards to intensive care units, and aromatherapy is increasingly available through the public health care system.
The Way Essential Oils Help
Aromatherapy also includes the use of essential oils for beauty and body care treatments. Oils used in a massage can sometimes decrease cellulite, although whether it’s the oils or the massage that help isn’t clear. Some oils quicken the production of body cells and are used in beauty care revitalization and rejuvenation treatments.
Essential oils vary in therapeutic qualities. Most are antiseptic, some are effective at fighting viral and fungal infections, some are anti-inflammatory or analgesic (pain killing) and some affect the hormonal system.
Increased circulation and oxygenation of the blood can be brought about by certain essential oils, and this in turn assists with cell regeneration. Some essential oils are relaxing while others are stimulating. In general, aromatherapy makes us feel good, and when we’re feeling well, the immune system is likely to be at its most effective, making it less probable we’ll become ill.
Aromatherapy For You!
One of the most cherished and appreciated aspects of using essential oils at home is the fact that aromatherapy gives you more control over your life. Health is, of course, one of the greatest gifts, and essential oils are primarily about maintaining health and well being. Imagine how marvelous it is to be able to do something positive and effective when you’re feeling tense, are lacking in energy, or are struck down with flu, a cold or cough, another infection, or by a sprain or muscular aches and tension.
Most of us go through much of our day completely devoid of the natural goodness provided by nature. Yet we yearn for it, and we need it, as a flower needs the sun. When you use essential oils, however, this yearning can be satisfied. Nature can be brought indoors, where we live and breathe, in the pure concentrated form of essential oils, and made a daily part of our lives. Using essential oils at home is easy, beneficial and delightful pampering!
It’s not just for beauty. Using aromatherapy every day could seriously improve all areas of your life.
Beauty - Mix your own lotions, splashes and creams to clear acne, banish cellulite and wrinkles, rejuvenate your skin and more.
Relaxation - Use the oils to soak up stress, relieve tension, soothe your mind, blitz fatigue and lull fretful babies to sleep.
Healing - Blend gentle and effective remedies for everything from colds to headaches, period pain and arthritis.
Massage - Create blends to relax, energize or revitalize your love life.