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What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, is a form of alternative medicine that uses essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants for healing. It has also been defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit, thus enhancing the body’s ability to find a natural way to heal it’s self and improve immune response. It is based on the principle that natural fragrances, or essential oils, from certain plants or flowers can affect our moods, and consequently how we think or feel at any given time and that it has medicinal benefits including antidepressant and antibacterial properties.

Although the word “aroma” makes it sound as if the oils are inhaled, they can also be massaged into the skin, applied in other topical ways such as baths or steam and even taken by mouth. (You should never take essential oils by mouth without specific instruction from a trained and qualified specialist.) Whether inhaled or applied on the skin, essential oils are gaining new attention as an alternative treatment for infections, stress, and other health problems. In most cases scientific evidence is still lacking. However, some evidence exists that essential oils may have therapeutic potential. The results from the study on a large number of patients have shown that they respond positively to the transdermal absorption method of oil. The results indicate that the aromatherapy reduces anxiety levels and stress which can result in lowering blood pressure, increase quality of sleep, and reduce toxicity. Many patients see benefits and give willing testimonials to the results.

 

How does aromatherapy work?

Researchers are not entirely clear how aromatherapy may work. Two mechanisms are offered to explain the purported effects. One is the influence of aroma on the brain, especially the limbic system through the olfactory system.. The other is the direct pharmacological effects of the essential oils. The fragrances in the oils stimulate nerves in the nose and those “smell” receptors send impulses that communicate with parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus) that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories.. Depending on the type of oil, the result on the body may be calming or stimulating.

When you breathe in essential oil molecules, some researchers believe they stimulate these parts of your brain and influence physical, emotional, and mental health. For example, scientists believe lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells in the amygdala similar to the way some sedative medications work. Other researchers think that molecules from essential oils may interact in the blood with hormones or enzymes to cause changes in blood pressure, pulse, and other body functions. Another theory suggests that the fragrance of certain oils may stimulate the body to produce pain-fighting substances.

Aromatherapy massage is a popular way of using essential oils because it works in several ways at the same time. Your skin absorbs essential oils and you also breathe them in. Plus, you experience the physical therapy of the massage itself. The same is true for aromatherapy treatment in baths or steam bath applications which provide the breathing as well topical application with hyperthermia.

 

 

What are the effects/benefits of Aromatherapy?

 

  • Improves the quality of life
  • Helps eliminate toxins
  • Reduces stress, anxiety levels
  • Increases quality of sleep
  • Improves blood pressure
  • Reduces pain
  • Enhancement of energy
  • Improves short-term memory
  • Prevents hair loss
  • Reduces eczema-induced itching

 

Aromatherapy is used in a wide range of settings — from health spas to hospitals — to treat a variety of conditions. Human studies are lacking. However, in general, it seems to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of relaxation. In fact, several essential oils — including lavender, rose, orange, bergamot, lemon, sandalwood, and others — have been shown to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.

Several clinical studies suggest that when essential oils (particularly rose, lavender, and frankincense) were used by qualified midwives, pregnant women felt less anxiety and fear, had a stronger sense of well being, and had less need for pain medications during delivery. Many women also report that peppermint oil relieves nausea and vomiting during labor.

In one study, Neroli oil helped reduce blood pressure and pre-procedure anxiety among people undergoing a colonoscopy.
In test tubes, chemical compounds from some essential oils have shown antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Some evidence also suggests that citrus oils may strengthen the immune system and that peppermint oil may help with digestion. Fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary sage have estrogen like compounds, which may help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause.

  • Alopecia areata (hair loss)
  • Agitation, possibly including agitation related to dementia
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation (with abdominal massage using aromatherapy)
  • Insomnia
  • Pain: Studies have found that people with rheumatoid arthritis, cancer (using topical chamomile), and headaches (using topical peppermint) require fewer pain medications when they use aromatherapy
  • Itching, a common side effect for those receiving dialysis
  • Psoriasis

 

Which essential oils to use:

Agitation
Chamomile (Roman), Lavendar, Mandarin, Sandalwood

Anxiety/Fear
Bergamot, Chamomile (Roman), Cedarwood, Frankincense, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood

Aphrodisiac
Clary Sage, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang

Fatigue
Basil, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Ginger, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Patchouli, Peppermint,
Rosemary, Sandalwood

Isolation
Chamomile (Roman), Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Rose

Memory Boosters
Basil, Cypress, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary

Sadness/Grief
Bergamot, Chamomile (Roman), Clary Sage, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang

Self Esteem
Bergamot, Cypress, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Orange, Rosemary

Stress Relief
Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Patchouli, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang