What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of fragrant, plant-derived essential oils to alter mood or achieve health benefits. The use of perfumed oils dates back to ancient India and China, but a French chemist named René Maurice Gattefossé is considered the father of modern aromatherapy. One day, after burning his hand in his lab, Gattefossé soothed the pain with lavender oil. He was so impressed with the results that he published a thesis on aromatherapy in 1928 and a book on the topic in 1937.
Today, health professionals including massage therapists, chiropractors and psychologists use aromatherapy in their practices as a complementary treatment for pain, nausea, stress and depression, as well as to improve quality of life for those with chronic health conditions. However, scientific evidence does not back up claims that essential oils have significant medical benefits, such as preventing cancer.
How does aromatherapy work?
Practitioners of aromatherapy generally
a.inhale essential oils or
b. dab them on the skin. When applied to the skin, the oils are sometimes mixed with a carrier substance, such as vegetable oil.
c.Essential oils can also be mixed with lotions
d.sprayed on a pillowcase.
Scientists think that receptors in the nose — upon detecting an essential oil — stimulate the brain’s limbic region through the olfactory nerve. The limbic region influences physical reactions related to stress, such as emotion, heart rate and sweating. For example, lavender (a “relaxing” essential oil) is thought to affect the amygdala in a similar manner to that of a sedative.
How to choose an essential oil
your choice of essential oil depends on your particular symptoms.
- For anxiety, consider lavender, chamomile, rose, vanilla or patchouli.
- Feeling fatigued? Go with lemon, peppermint or jasmine.
- If you have a headache, try basil, cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass or ylang ylang.
oils to ease physical symptoms:
- Congested? Try clove, juniper or tea tree.
- Orange, peppermint and lemon verbena are thought to help with indigestion.
- Treat sore muscles with eucalyptus, frankincense, lemongrass or sandalwood.
Although aromatherapy is generally considered safe, some people do experience severe allergic reaction as well as local skin irritation or allergic reactions to essential oils and even inhalations, especially if the oils aren’t diluted before application.
Some oils are toxic if taken internally, so be sure to keep them away from children.
consult your physician before adding any treatment to your medical routine.