Aromatherapy 101

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY?olio-dots

Aroma means scent, and therapy means treatments. Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural essential oils for psychological and physical benefits. Essential oils can also be massaged into the skin and taken internally by the mouth. Aromatherapy is a new form of wellness practice for emotional and physical tensions as well as other well-being issues. There are a wide variety of essential oils, each with its own set of properties.

HISTORY OF AROMATHERAPYolio-dots

Though aromatherapy has become increasingly popular in recent years, it is actually part of a tradition that began over 6,000 years ago. In the history of mankind is seems that the Egyptians were the first people to make use of aromatherapy and aromatic herbs. At the same time the Chinese also made use of herbs and aromatic plants, and this was also taken up as an integral part of the Indian Ayurvedic rituals. Essential oils were also commonly used for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes.

The term aromatherapy as we know today first came from a French chemist and perfumer Rene Maurice Gattefosse. He was not a believer of the natural health movement but was interested in the properties that essential oils had. By the 1950s massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists and other others began using aromatherapy. Since the early 1980’s, the use of essential oils and aromatherapy has become a major part of the well-bring practices and habits of many people.

Clear bottles filled with essential oil with lavender flowers
Essential Oil bottle wrapped in orange peels

HOW DOES AROMATHERAPY WORK?olio-dots

Have you ever smelled a certain flower or cologne and suddenly experience Deja vu? Or maybe you caught a whiff of fir and you envisioned a Christmas tree in the middle of July. Scent can transport us back to previous experiences, even triggering long forgotten feelings associated with those memories.

It is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulates the part of the brain that is connected with smell. The smell receptors in your nose communicate with parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus) that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. When you breathe in essential oils, it stimulates these parts of your brain.

When essential oils are applied to the skin, their beneficial components are absorbed into the bloodstream. Some of the essential oils carried through the bloodstream can pass through the blood-brain barrier, where they can influence the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems.

Aromatherapy massage practice is a popular way of using essential oils because it works in many ways at the same time. Your skin absorbs the essential oils and you also breathe them in. Plus, you experience the physical therapy of the massage itself. It’s very therapeutic and relaxing.

WHAT DOES AROMATHERAPY DO FOR YOU?olio-dots

Aromatherapy may promote relaxation and help relieve stress. It is used in a variety of settings, from health spas to hospitals and even in your own home, to help deal with a variety of conditions. It helps to relieve aches, 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 anxious feelings and assist in mood management.

Several clinical studies suggest that when essential oils (particularly rose, lavender, and frankincense) were used by qualified midwives on pregnant women, they felt less anxiousness and fear and had a stronger sense of well-being. Peppermint was also one of the oils that many women used during labor, because it helped to relieve nausea.

Couple receiving massage with purple flowers and essential oil bottle in foreground

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