Aromatherapy is the use of oils from plants to aid in staying healthy. The scents of aromatherapy oils have also been used for centuries as a cure for many ailments. Most times the oils are simply inhaled, but they can also be applied to the skin.
In addition to scents, these oils can also be used in massages to help with pain in various areas of the body. Let’s look at the benefits and techniques of aromatherapy.
What is the purpose of aromatherapy?
The purpose of aromatherapy is to promote health and well being. This holistic treatment uses natural sources such as plant extracts. It is thought of as holistic because it is said to improve the health of mind and body as well as lifting spirits via the pleasant odors.
You may hear the term essential oils when talking about aromatherapy. When used in this way, the oils are simply used topically directly on the skin. The skin can actually absorb the oils into the body and promote healing.
How does aromatherapy work in the body?
Proponents of aromatherapy claim it works by stimulating receptors in the nose. These receptors are tied to nerves and, when stimulated, send electrical signals to the brain. The specific area of the brain thought to be stimulated by aromatherapy is called the limbic system.
The limbic system controls behavioral and emotional responses. It is actually quite important as it controls areas required for survival, such as:
- Fight or flight responses
Calming the fight-or-flight response is often thought to be how aromatherapy provides its benefit.
What is the process of aromatherapy?
The process involves using oils as an inhalation process or applies directly on the skin. When used, nasally diffusers are used to get the oil to evaporate in the air you breathe in. Topical use simply involves rubbing the oils into the skin.
What scents are used in aromatherapy?
Many different types of scents can be used. Normally people will have a preference of the types of scents they enjoy and use those more frequently. That is why it is great; there are so many different options.
The list below is not all-inclusive of every type of essential oil used in aromatherapy. However, these are the most commonly used according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.
What are the benefits of aromatherapy?
Aside from smelling good, this holistic practice is thought to have other medicinal benefits. Due to the ability to trigger calm via, the limbic system is often used as a calming agent. This means many people will try aromatherapy for anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
The table below lists other benefits that have been claimed by aromatherapy enthusiasts.
|Reduce stress||Reduce anxiety||Boosts energy||Improves focus|
|Reduce pain||Improve sleep||Help with digestion||Immune support|
Keep in mind that double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are not easy to find to support these claims. Those are the hallmark for proving cause and effect in medicine. However, the good thing about aromatherapy is even if it doesn’t help your medical problem, it should still smell nice.
What aromatherapy is good for stress?
Lavender oil has been studied and shown to be beneficial for stress. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published this research. Smelling lavender prior to a stressor helped that group perform better than a placebo group who did not inhale lavender.
Several different techniques can be used with aromatherapy essential oils.
- Diffusing or dispersing the oil into the air, so the aroma fills the room with the fragrance. This is normally done using a diffuser.
- Burning the oil like incense.
- Spraying the oil to make a mist in the air.
Take care not to sniff essential oils directly. They are not all safe when directly sniffed. A better idea is to rub the oil on the palm of your hand and then smell your hands.
Aromatherapy can be a great way to boost your mood by taking over your sense of smell. Pleasant smells are also thought to be healing in ways we have discussed. If nothing else, coming up with a fragrance routine may be an easy way to spread great smells with your family and friends.