Aromatherapy may be most associated with essential oils used during massages or for other relaxation purposes.
The actual definition of aromatherapy is the art and science of using aromatic essences from plants to promote health within the body. The science explores the body’s reaction to stimulation of a variety of aromatic extracts. It can be used as a preventative form of medicine, or as a treatment for a variety of illnesses and disease.
Aromatherapy is a non-invasive health treatment, used to treat the entire body, not just a particular area or symptom.
The overall purpose of aromatherapy is to enhance the body’s natural ability to regulate a healthy balance.
When the body is in a state of healthy balance, many health professionals believe that the body can then prevent illnesses from developing and can actually heal itself.
Aromatic extracts are used to create essential oils. These extracts are taken from a variety of plant materials, including leaves, needles, twigs, fruit peels, flowers, wood and even roots.
The essential oils are made by a process of distillation, which utilizes steam or water to process the natural materials. After the distillation process has been completed, the essential oil can then be physically separated from the remaining water.
Essential oils are used to promote a healthy spiritual balance within the body, to improve and regulate emotional states, to enhance physical health and to support mental health. Essential oils have been used for over 9,000 years in countries spanning the entire globe.
Understanding the Olfaction Process
Before we delve into how essential oils and aromatherapy can actually benefit the body, it is important to take a closer look into how the oils actually impact the body.
Scent is one of the body’s most powerful senses. A scent can enter the body within less than a second, effectively impacting the brain almost instantaneously.
Scents can relax or stimulate various parts of the body. The message created by a scent when it enters the body will cause the body to respond in a particular fashion. Scents even dictate how things taste to us. Because scents have an immediate impact on the brain, they can product powerful health benefits when utilized correctly.
The Most Common Essential Oils
While there is a virtually endless list of scents that can be created for aromatherapy, there are several common scents to initially become familiar with.
Peppermint has shown medicinal benefit for treating headaches, digestive disorders, indigestion, flatulence and muscle aches when used in aromatherapy.
This aromatherapy scent has been effective in treating respiratory problems including coughs, asthma and the common cold. Eucalyptus has also been shown effective in relieving muscle pain and boosting the immune system overall.
This scent produces relaxation and the relief of muscle tension.
This essential oil works to promote hormonal balance within women. And, many have found the scent to be uplifting, improving moods overall. Some have even used this essential oil as a natural antidepressant.
Lavendar is a favorite scent for many individuals. It produces a complete relaxation feeling. And, in terms of medicinal purposes, lavender has been effective in treating wounds, skin issues and burns. Lavender has also been helpful in the balancing of women’s hormones.
Most people love the smell of lemon. When used in aromatherapy, lemon can be very uplifting. For medicinal purposes, lemon has been shown effective in the treatment of wounds and infections.
This essential oil has been shown to naturally reduce pain. So, it is effective in the treatment of aches, pains and sore muscles. The scent is also relaxing, helping many individuals suffering from insomnia to get a good night’s sleep.
Tea Tree Oil
This essential oil is great for treating a variety of fungal infections. The most common fungal infections to receive treatment with tea tree oil include jock itch, athletes foot, ringworm and yeast infections. Tea tree oil has also shown benefit overall for the body’s immune system.
Rosemary is most well known for its use in cooking food. But, as an essential oil, it has a variety of medicinal benefits. It is most noted for its ability to address anxiety and sleeplessness. Other individuals have found benefits for wound treatment, reduction in infection, as well as reducing tension or helping with muscle aches.
Any beneficial essential oils can be used directly on the skin or through a variety of techniques designed for the individual to breathe the scents directly into their body through their noses.
Essential oils can be used individually, or they can be blended together to create an individual scent for a specific medicinal purpose.
When buying or using aromatherapy essential oils, it is important to use true essential oils. There are not currently restrictions on the usage of the term aromatherapy within many Western cultures. So, to ensure that you are gaining the true medicinal value from the scents that you select, be sure that the oils are true essential oils.