Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health.
Aromatherapy is thought of as both an art and a science. Recently, aromatherapy has gained more recognition in the fields of science and medicine.
How long has aromatherapy been around?
Humans have used aromatherapy for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in China, India, Egypt, and elsewhere incorporated aromatic plant components in resins, balms, and oils. These natural substances were used for medical and religious purposes. They were known to have both physical and psychological benefits.
Essential oils distillation is attributed to the Persians in the 10th century, though the practice may have been in use for a long time prior to this. Information about essential oil distillation was published in the 16th century in Germany. French physicians in the 19th century recognized the potential of essential oils in treating disease.
Medical doctors became more established in the 19th century and focused on using chemical drugs. However, the French and German doctors still recognized the role of natural botanicals in treating illness.
How does aromatherapy treatment work?
Aromatherapy works through the sense of smell and skin absorption using products such as these:
body oils, creams, or lotions for massage or topical application
hot and cold compresses
You can use these alone or in any combination.
There are nearly one hundred types of essential oils available. Generally, people use the most popular oils.
Essential oils are available online, in health food stores, and in some regular supermarkets. It’s important to buy from a reputable source since the oils aren’t regulated by the FDA. This ensures you’re buying a quality product that is 100 percent natural. It shouldn’t contain any additives or synthetic ingredients.
Each essential oil has an array of unique healing properties, uses, and effects. Combining essential oils to create a synergistic blend creates even more benefits.
Aromatherapy has an array of benefits. It’s said to:
improve sleep quality
reduce stress, agitation, and anxiety
soothe sore joints
treat headaches and migraines
alleviate side effects of chemotherapy
ease discomforts of labor
fight bacteria, virus, or fungus
improve hospice and palliative care
Unproven claims Scientific evidence for aromatherapy is considered to be limited in some areas. Research to support the use of aromatherapy in treating Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease is lacking.
Conditions it may treat Aromatherapy has the potential to treat many conditions, including:
Most popular aromatherapy oils
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, the most popular essential oils are:
You can use essential oils in any number of ways. For example, add them to body lotions or carrier oils, and then apply them topically. Try enhancing a facial toner, shampoo, or conditioner with essential oils. Or incorporate them into liquid soap, toothpaste, or mouthwash. You can also diffuse or spritz the oils throughout a room or pour them into a bath.
Most essential oils are safe to use. But there are some precautions you should take when using them, as well as side effects you should be aware of, especially if you take any prescription medications.
Don’t apply essential oils directly to your skin. Always use a carrier oil to dilute the oils. Remember to do a skin patch test before using essential oils. Since citrus essential oils may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, these oils should be avoided if you’ll be exposed to sunlight.
Children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should use essential oils with caution and under the supervision of a doctor. You should avoid some oils and never swallow essential oils.
Side effects of using essential oils include:
Use essential oils with caution if you have:
high blood pressure
The bottom line!
As you explore the uses of essential oils, pay attention to how the different oils and methods of use affect you.
Always talk to your doctor before starting any aromatherapy treatment. Remember that aromatherapy is meant to be a complementary therapy. It’s not meant to replace any doctor-approved treatment plan.