Aromatherapy, the use of essential oils from plants for treating medical conditions is one of the most soothing, relaxing and beneficial forms of alternative therapy. Whether inhaled or applied through a massage, these oils are an alternative therapy for curing infections, stress, and medical conditions.
Essential Oils: Know More
These are concentrated extracts taken from seeds, leaves or blossoms of the plant. Each uses its special mix of ingredients that are active and the mix is the determining factor regarding the use of the oil. Certain oils promote physical healing. Others have an emotional value.
History of Aromatherapy
Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for close to six thousand years. Ancient people such as the Greeks, Indians, Chinese, Egyptians, and Romans have used them for cosmetics, drugs, and perfumes. Essential oils have been used for rituals, spiritual purpose and therapies too. As early as 2,500 years back, Hippocrates recommended baths using scented essential oils for health disease prevention and overall well-being. In 100 AD, well-known philosopher Dioscorides indicated the importance of aromatic oils in many writings.
He mentioned essential oils of herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian also used aromatherapy oils for embalming and as antiseptic agents. Commencing in the late 1800s, botanical extracts have been used in studies publishing the report in medical journals. Aromatherapy was also used by French and German medical professors to fight diseases like TB and infected wounds. Essential oils have also been used in western medicine. Active ingredients in plants have been used to make prescription medications.
French soldiers from WW1 were treated with essential oils for curing wounds, combating anxiety and depression. This form of made its way to the west in the eighties. Sale of aromatherapy lotions, candles, oils, and fragrances are higher than before.
René-Maurice Gattefossé was a French chemistry expert who discovered the fascinating healing powers of lavender oil and in doing so, founded the therapeutic technique in the 1920s. Towards the 1950s, therapists, massage experts, nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and other healthcare providers progressed with aromatherapy. It did not gain popularity till the 1980s. Many lotions, candles and beauty products are currently sold as aromatherapy.
How It Works
There is not enough clarity abut how this form of therapy will work. Some hold that the sense of smell is the key factor. Smell receptors in the nose communicate with the brain serving as a storehouse for emotions and memories. While essential oil molecules are breathed in, researchers believe parts of the brain influence mental, physical and emotional welfare.Scientists also believe that lavender stimulates brain cell activities in the region of the brain known as the amygdala. This is how molecules from essential oils interact with enzymes or hormones in the blood. Aromatherapy massage is a useful way of opting for essential oils as it works in different ways simultaneously. Not only does the skin absorb essential oils, these are also breathed in. The experience of the massage itself amounts to physiotherapy.
Professional nurses, aromatherapists, nurses, physical therapists and massage therapists can provide topically or internally applicable aromatherapy treatment. Specially trained professionals can provide internal essential oil treatment as well. Aromatherapy is used across different settings from spas to hospitals to treat numerous conditions. Relieving pain, improving the mood and healing the mind, aromatherapy has a multitude of applications which reduce depression, anxiety, stress and other negative mood states.
Clinical studies indicate that when herbs were used for their therapeutic properties by midwives, deliveries are smoother. Massage therapy with essential oils benefits those with depression. Scents stimulate positive emotions in the brain area needed for memories and emotions. Benefits seem to be induced by relaxation as a result of the scents and massage. Studies have found aromatherapy to be of great benefit while combating a vast array of diseases from hypertension to blood pressure. Chemical compounds from some essential oils also combat bacteria and fungal infections. Citrus oil is essential for strengthening the immune system. Fennel, aniseed, clary sage and sage contain compounds mimicking estrogen that help relieve symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome.
There are a huge array of conditions for which aromatherapy is vastly beneficial, The includes alopecia aerata, agitation, constipation, anxiety, and insomnia. Other research found that pain can be warded off whether associated with rheumatoid arthritis or headaches using aromatherapy. Itching, psoriasis and other conditions can also be cured using aromatherapy.
Benefits of This Therapy
The health benefits of aromatherapy include the ability to reduce depression and anxiety, boost energy levels and speed up the healing process, eliminating headaches and boosting cognitive performance. This induces better sleep too and strengthens the immune system, lowering pain and aiding in digestion by boosting circulation.
It can improve the mood, change cognitive states and be utilized as a supplemental medication. Steam distillation has made it possible to properly remove the essential oils from plant-based materials. Cultures around the world have utilized aromatherapy for numerous functions. However, aromatherapy is not limited to eastern nations such as India and China. France, England and the US are some of the western nations also practicing aromatherapy. A critical element of aromatherapy is synergy whereby numerous essential oils can create a powerful impact than oils on their own. Consulting a trained aromatherapist has its benefits. The effects are less potent otherwise. Numerous combinations have been tested and used around the world and several of these serve as a therapeutic solution for medical conditions.
#1 Relief From Stress
The most important and widespread use of aromatherapy is for releasing stress. The aromatic compounds from different essential oils are relaxing and can soothe the mind, eliminating anxiety. Most people who perform aromatherapy at home use it for mixtures and its use is well known and widely studied. Some of the top essential oils for stress relief include lemon oil, lavender, peppermint, ylang ylang, and vetiver. Lemon oil can also improve and reduce angry outbursts.
#2 Ward Off Depression
In addition to stress relief, aromatherapy is used to abate feelings of depression and help in counseling if depression continues or intensifies. The best essential oils for reducing depression include lavender, jasmine, and chamomile.
#3 Memory Problems
A most frightening and widespread disease helping people is memory loss and the
incapacity to form STM. Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease, but the way out is to slow down the progression of the condition. Aromatherapy is an alternative or supplemental treatment for neurodegenerative conditions. Boost memory using aromatherapy. This burst for the brain can be useful in all walks of life. Sage oil is commonly recommended for memory enhancing effects.
#4 Stimulate Energy Levels
Boost your energy levels using daily pep from aromatherapy sessions. Essential oils improve circulation, raising energy levels and stimulating the body and mind. Best essential oils for giving an energy boost include clove, jasmine, tea tree, sage, and rosemary.
#5 Healing and Recovery
Many essential oils improve the rate at which healing takes place throughout the body. This is because of oxygenation and improvement of the blood flow as well as advanced healing processes. Anti-microbial properties of essential oils also keep the body protected during the stages of healing which are crucial.
This therapy soothes the mind and heals tensions. Best essential oils associated with the reduction of headaches and migraines are sandalwood, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils. These oils can be mixed in the carrier oil and spread onto the skin, scalp, temples and neck. Best oils for warding off a headache involve aromatherapy.
A huge range of medical conditions can result from lack of sleep. This therapy provides more balanced sleep and realigns the circadian rhythms. This ensures that the body gets tired and opts for sleep at an appropriate time, energized to face the day. Best essential oils for soothing sleep include lavender, chamomile, and benzoin.
#7 Immune System
Most medical professionals indicate aromatherapy can boost the immune system if properly used. Anti-microbial effects and anti fungal, as well as antibacterial qualities, serve to enhance the strength of the immune system. This is an area of aromatherapy widely studied. Use of aromatherapy for enhancing sleep includes cinnamon, peppermint, and lemon.
Though not the most widely researched aromatherapy area, digestive issues can also be treated through aromatherapy. It eases constipation, indigestion and can speed up metabolism so food is digested faster. Citrus essential oils are the best for treating digestive conditions such as GI disturbances and IBS. This includes lemon and orange. You need to consult the doctor before using a different source. Mixing and using oils also requires knowledge.
#9 A Relaxation Technique
This therapeutic method can be used to improve health or gain a new way to relax. There is science backing it up. Lavender scents have been shown to lower stress. Participants who use aromatherapy feel less pain and experience reduced stress levels on account of a difficult situation. This is as against those not using aromatherapy. Stress levels diminish rapidly in patients and normal population that has undergone treatment.
#10 Hypertension Reduction
Aromatherapy also lowers blood pressure in patients suffering from hypertension. If there is high BP, aromatherapy can serve as the perfect relaxant to get your pulse normal and blood pressure levels closest to the healthy range.
#11 Better Sleep
As aromatherapy oils enable people to feel less stressed, they can make you feel sleepy and have a good quality of rest. Insomnia, anxiety. Restless leg syndrome and hot flashes are only some of the sleep disturbances that aromatherapy can soothe away.
#12 Respiratory System
Certain aromatherapy oils have properties that are antiseptic cleansing the air of bacteria, fungus and mold contributing to difficulty in breathing. This can include congestion, sneezing or coughing.Using citrus oils in aromatherapy improves immune functioning. Citrus oils in aromatherapy practice can reduce fatigue and restore the homeostasis. Citrus oils show normalized neuro-endocrine hormone levels and improved immunity. This is akin to antidepressants.
Other than the diffusion of oils in the home, aromatic oils can be directly rubbed on the chest or neck so particles can be breathed in. Great essential oils for allergies such as a sore throat and respiratory problems can create a major hassle.
#13 Improve Skin Health
Diluted essential oils can be sprayed onto the skin or scalp for reduction of acne, toe fungus, dandruff, inflammation from bites, rashes or wound healing. Tea tree oil or Melaleuca alternifolia is a popular oil for treating skin related problems. Other aromatherapy oils for skins (including essential acne oils) include lavender, clary sage, juniper berry, orange, lemon, and frankincense. To create homemade aromatherapy oil spritzer, spray this on the troubled area of the skin and add 10-20 drops of oil containing 4 ounces of water.
Using sprays at a single time on the skin, the same oils can be used on the skin or scalp directly.
#14 Can Help Manage Cancer Side Effects
Aromatherapy is used by those with cancer as supportive care for treatment. It is perfect for stress reduction or pain management and general welfare. Including meditation, acupuncture or massage therapy. Numerous essential oils were used for lowering symptoms linked to cancer or hospice care. This includes nausea, fatigue, pains and aches, depression and insomnia. Numerous aromatherapy oils can also ward off cancer treatment side effects.
A study published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care found this therapy helped to decrease pain, anxiety, and depression. This can promote an enhanced sense of well-being. Based on aromatherapy sessions, there is a positive change in BP and pulse.This follows reduced symptoms of emotional upset and pain.
#15 Soothe Pain and Inflammation
Soothe tense or tight muscles, aching joints, inflamed tissue injuries or headache pain using different aromatherapy oils for application to the concerned area. Popular essential oils for arthritis pain include turmeric, orange, myrrh, and ginger. Aromatherapy oils can be used for headaches.
#16 Help Raise Alertness and Lower Fatigue
A global study found that patients with depressed moods and psychological fatigue positively recovered following the use of aromatherapy. Surveys regarding the mood prior to and following the therapy found a noticeable difference. Those exposed to lavender aromatherapy showed increased beta activity and decreased in depression, inducing feelings of relaxation. Increased alertness and lower state anxiety scores were the twin benefits of aromatherapy.
With so many benefits, it is not surprising that aromatherapy is considered a potent and beneficial therapy. It can impact the process of recovery and hasten the healing in a wide variety of medical conditions.