Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy, uses aromatic essences extracted naturally from plants to promote harmony and balance in your mind and body. Essential oils can be used to treat certain conditions or as part of a relaxing and healthy spa experience.
Why Is Aromatherapy Used?
Like other fragrances and scents, essential oils smell good. Aromatherapy, though, aims to use essential oils for therapeutic applications, such as helping you relax, increasing your energy or enhancing your body’s natural ability to heal.
Aromatherapy practitioners believe that the scent of the essential oil stimulates the smell receptors in the nose, which in turn activates certain areas of the brain involved in emotion and memory. Different scents may have a stimulating or calming effect on your mind.
How Are Essential Oils Used?
Essential oils are made from naturally occurring scented oils found in a plant’s flowers, stalks, leaves, bark or roots. In their natural form, the plants’ oils are very strong so they must be mixed with alcohol, lotion or another oil.
The diluted essential oils can be applied to the skin, sprayed in the air or inhaled. They can also be placed in bath water or massaged into the skin. A variety of diffusers are available to fill the air at your house, workplace or car with wonderful scents.
Are Essential Oils Safe?
Even when diluted, essential oils can be very strong. Avoid using them near your mouth or eyes because the skin and membranes can become irritated. Certain essential oils can also be dangerous if swallowed.
Some people are more sensitive to essential oils, and may be burned when the oil is applied directly to the skin. Other people may develop a headache from the smell of certain oils. To be safe, test a small amount of the oil first. Children under the age of five may be even more sensitive to essential oils, so they should not use aromatherapy.
If you would like to use aromatherapy to help relieve the symptoms of a chronic illness or condition, it is important to talk to your medical doctor first to make sure it will be safe. Aromatherapy may not be appropriate for people with certain conditions, such as:
- Lung conditions including asthma, chronic lung disease or respiratory allergies. Essential oils may aggravate your airways.
- Skin allergies. Essential oils can irritate the skin and membranes, especially around the mouth, nose and eyes.
- Pregnancy. Certain essential oils may lead to contractions of the uterus. These include juniper, rosemary and sage.
Benefits of Common Essential Oils
Each essential oil has its own therapeutic uses and benefits. Oils can be used alone or in combination. For the best results, talk to an experienced aromatherapist first.
- Bergamot. A citrus-scented oil that is used to treat anxiety, depression, stress and certain skin infections.
- Cedarwood. This woody-scented essential oil relieves anxiety and stress. It may also help with certain respiratory problems and skin issues.
- Chamomile. A flowery oil that has powerful calming abilities and is also used as an antiseptic, antibiotic and mood booster.
- Eucalyptus. This powerfully scented oil is used to treat respiratory issues, migraines and fevers.
- Jasmine. A sweet-smelling oil that relieves depression and enhances sex drive.
- Lavender. A flowery oil that is often used for its stress-relieving properties.
- Lemon. This citrus-scented oil boosts the immune system and is used to relieve skin irritation and circulation problems.
- Marjoram. This oil is often used to relieve anxiety and calm hyperactivity.
- Patchouli. Often associated with hippies, this oil is used as a powerful skin care agent.
- Peppermint. This cooling, refreshing oil can provide a little mental boost.
- Rose. A flowery oil that is used for anxiety, depression and digestion issues.
- Rosemary. An herbal oil that acts as a great mental stimulant and for improving focus.
- Sandalwood. This woody-scented oil helps relieve congestion of the mucous membranes in the chest and urinary tract.
- Tea Tree. A strong essential oil that is used for treating infections.
- Ylang-ylang. A strong-scented oil that is used to soothe headaches and nausea and stimulate hair growth.
To take full advantage of the relaxing and stimulating powers of essential oils, book your next aromatherapy spa day.