The roots of Aromatherapy can be traced back more than 3,500 years before the birth of Christ, to a time when the use of aromatics was first recorded in human history. In reality, the history of aromatherapy is inexorably linked to the development of aromatic medicine, which in the early days was itself combined with religion, mysticism and magic.
The Chinese may have been one of the first cultures to use aromatic plants for well-being. Their practices involved burning incense to help create harmony and balance. Anthropologists speculate that primitive perfumery began with the burning of gums and resins for incense, and smudging with aromatic plant material. From the history of the Egyptian culture, we have learned how the resins, balms, and fragrant oils were used by the priests, who were also the spiritual doctors, for magical and religious ceremonies, for embalming, and as an offering to their gods. They believed that as the smoke rose up to the heavens, it would carry their prayers and wishes directly to the deities. Eventually, the development of aromatics as medicines would create the foundations that aromatherapy was built upon.
Aromatherapy is based on general principle. Aromatherapy uses oils extracted from flowers, seeds, leaves, roots, fruit and twigs for special effect. These essential oils are formulated to work in harmony with the body and have an ability to affect a person’s well-being.
Health Benefits of Aromatherapy
Slowly inhale the air around you. What scents do you smell? Are you instantly shifted into a good mood when you smell of aroma of fresh cut flowers? Do you suddenly find yourself craving fresh baked pie with the smell of baked apples and cinnamon wafting through the halls? How many times have you felt sick to your stomach after being blasted with exhaust from the city bus?
It’s easy to see how our sense of smell impacts our feelings. The sense of smell is incredibly powerful. Your body can distinguish about 10,000 different scents. But, aromatherapy isn’t just about appealing smells; it also offers many health benefits including the following:
- Relaxation and stress relief
- Mood enhancement, balance and well being
- Relief of minor discomforts
- Boosting the immune, respiratory and circulatory systems
- Relaxation and improve the quality of sleep.
- Relieve muscle and joint aches, stiffness, and tension.
- Support respiratory functioning.
- Deodorize and refresh.
- Natural home and garden maintenance.
- Promote and support healthy skin and address common skin conditions such as dryness, oiliness, acne, wrinkles, and others.
Aromatherapy can be a great, natural, complementary health treatment in a variety of situations. It’s certainly not a replacement for traditional medical treatments or prescription medications because it doesn’t cure major illnesses, but it is effective at alleviating many of the discomforts associated with them. There has been countless nights when I couldn’t sleep and the moment I spritzed my freshly washed pillow cases and sheets with some lavender vanilla pillow mist I was in a deep restful slumber.
The Absorption and Effects of Essential Oils
Essential oils probably exert their most powerful and direct pharmacological effects systemically via the blood supply to the brain. They also have an indirect effect via the olfactory nerve pathways into the brain. Essential oil fragrances are absorbed through blood circulation and nerve pathways from the sinuses into the central glands of the brain, which control emotional, neurological, and immunological functions.
Essential oils are absorbed in minute quantities through the skin, depending on the oil, dilution, and application (carrier oil, compress, etc). Many of the indications for specific oils include various skin conditions.
Essential oils are inhaled during treatment, which have a direct effect on the sinuses, throat, and lungs. Many essential oils are specific medicines for respiratory conditions.
Many essential oils have beneficial effects on circulatory problems, both through dermal and respiratory absorption. These oils enhance the circulation stimulating effects of massage.
Blending Essential Oils
Different oils can be blended together to achieve a synergy. This means that the respective powers of the oils change to enhance their energy. When a level of power has been reached, you achieve a synergy. Recipes for blending need to be followed exactly and the oils should be left to age for at least a week before adding them to carrier oils.
Generally, aromatherapy is used to improve mood, promote relaxation and relieve pain. In several recent studies, participants who used aromatherapy had reduced stress levels during stressful situations. Relaxing and anxiety-reducing scents include lavender, vanilla, chamomile, frankincense and patchouli. Vibrant citrus aromas such as orange, lime and lemon have uplifting tendencies and are good choices to reduce depression. For muscle aches and headaches, chamomile, eucalyptus, ginger and lemon grass can all be used interchangeably.
Ways to use aromatherapy
When essential oils are inhaled through the nose, aromatic molecules are carried through the lining of the nasal cavity via tiny olfactory nerves, located in the roof of the inner nose, to the part of the brain called the limbic system…Inhalation can be the most direct method of delivery for the healing components in essential oils.
Through the nasal cavity, the chemical messengers have direct access to the brain and can go straight to work on the systems that moderate the entire body.
Essential oils can be used in a bath both for therapy and pleasure! Be careful not to use an oil that is sensitising or irritating on the skin. Add the essential oil added directly to the bath, or – better – it can be diluted in a tablespoon of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of honey, or half a cup of milk. (Honey and milk are excellent emulsifiers and will help the aromatherapy essential oil to disperse in the water). The safest oils for everyone to use in the bath are Lavender and Camomile because of their gentle non-irritant qualities. If you want to experiment with others, watch out for oils that may be photosensitising when in direct contact with the skin. Remember that the oil is not dispersed and diluted in the water; it is at full strength, so go carefully, one drop at a time. Use up to eight drops of your chosen essential oil or blend. Run the bath as usual, and add the essential oil (or mixture) to the water. Keep the bathroom door closed to ensure that the aroma does not disperse. Swish the water around vigorously before getting in. If you are using Oshadhi Bath Oils, add a couple of capfuls to the running water shortly before the bath has filled.
There are many essential oils which have a clearing effect and are recommended to support the respiratory system. Among these are Eucalyptus, Fir, Rosemary, and Spike Lavender. Prepare a blend of 10-20 drops of essential oil in 30ml of carrier oil and rub on the chest and upper back.
A compress is a clean, damp, folded cloth that has been infused with essential oils and is then applied to the problem area. A compress can be either cold or warm, depending on the purpose. Fill a small bowl with water, add 2-5 drops of essential oil. Stir briskly, soak the cloth, wring, and apply. Repeat this procedure as needed.
One or two drops of an aromatherapy oil on a pillow case or on a tissue inside the pillow case is a wonderful way to enjoy the soothing and therapeutic effect of the essential oils. Take care not to get the oil in your eyes!
Simple kitchen sink scrub
Combine 5 drops Bergamot, 5 drops Lime, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide in a small bowl and stir. Apply the mixture to the inside of the sink and scrub. Rinse with warm water.
Add 5-10 drops Grapefruit, Lavender or Simply Citrus to a small, slightly damp washcloth; place it in the dryer while drying towels, sheets and clothes for a clean, fresh aroma.
Trash can deodorizer
Add 1-3 drops Stress Relief or Sweet Ambiance onto a cotton ball and place it on the bottom of the trash can to help eliminate odors and germs.
Remove cigarette smell
Combine 4 drops Rosemary, 4 drops Tea Tree, 4 drops Eucalyptus and 8 drops Lemon with 1 oz water in a spray bottle. Spray liberally around the affected area. Shake well before each use.
Eliminate shower curtain scum:
Using a 16-ounce spray bottle, use four drops of eucalyptus essential oil and four drops of tea tree oil (melaleuca) with warm water; spray onto your shower for natural mold killing action.
Clean burnt pans:
Use a few drops of lemon oil and some boiling water to help remove burnt food from pots and pans.
Wonderful smelling home:
Diffuse clove, rosemary and orange essential oils when guests come over, and they will talk about how amazing your house smells.
Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with Borax for homemade carpet powder.
Spray orange essential oil and clove oil to kill pests on contact.
In addition to essential oils, aromatherapy encourages the use of other complementary natural ingredients including cold pressed vegetable oils, jojoba (a liquid wax), hydrosols, herbs, milk powders, sea salts, sugars (an exfoliant), clays and muds. While most essential oils are safe and free of adverse side effects when used properly, it is important for you to pay attention to dosage, purity, administration, and possible interactions with other medications you might be taking. You should also look for quality products, as there can be big differences between what a professional aromatherapist would use and what is sold in retail stores