What Is Aromatherapy?
By: Niwrka P. - Skincare Professional & Makeup Artist.-
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I am sure you have heard of aromatherapy at one time or the other and wondered what exactly is it. Well, here I have the information you need from what it is, where it started, and how to practice it.
Aromatherapy is a therapeutic practice that uses plant extracts to heal the body, mind, and soul. It is also known as essential oil therapy. Now the name makes it sound like you put oil drops in your nose, but actually, it has to do with the aromas that these oils give off.
Ever noticed how a strong scent can change the way you feel? The smell is powerful because it triggers your limbic system, the part of your brain that deals with emotions.
Our emotions have a proven physical effect on our body, like when you get nervous, and its causes "butterflies in your tummy." In the same way, the aromas from essential oils can affect our emotions and, in turn, our well-being.
History Of Aromatherapy
Historical records show that essential oils have been around since 3500 BC. Ancient civilizations, from the Egyptians to the Chinese, blended these scented oils into perfumes, balms, resins, and medicines and used them for every occasion.
Aromatherapy, as we know it today, was developed by a French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. In 1919, after an explosion in his lab, he was left with significant burns that he treated with lavender essential oil. He noticed that the oil helped reduce the pain and quickened the healing.
This miracle cure was the talk of the town. It led Gattefosse to create the French Society of Aromatic Products, where he published over twenty papers about the healing properties of essential oils. It was here in 1935 that he coined the term aromatherapy.
Scientists continue to study the properties of essential oils and test their health benefits. It has become a branch of medicine now, with over 17,000 scientific papers published, so you know it's not just a fad.
How To Do It
Two modes work here: absorbing the essence through the skin (always use a carrier oil) or inhaling the aroma. There are several ways to do this; the most common are:
● Using a Diffuser: These devices break down the essential oils into tiny molecules and disperse them into the air.
● Using an Aromatic Spritzer: This is a mister which dilutes the essential oil with water.
Tip: 4 ounces of distilled water with 30 drops of essential oil will create a room spray and voila!
● Aromatherapy Inhaler: These lightweight, compact sticks are perfect when you are on the go. Just place the inhaler under the nose and deeply inhale.
● In the Bath: Add a few drops of any essential oil to a warm bath and breathe in the aroma as you soak.
● Topically: You can massage a few drops of essential oil onto any part of your body. Remember that these are potent oils, so there is always a chance of a skin reaction. To be safe, dilute it in a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil.
7 Popular Essential Oils
Essential oils come from either distilling the liquids inside the stem of a plant or by cold pressing parts of the plant (like the peel of citrus fruit). Here is a list of some of the most popular essential oils and their benefits.
1. Lavender Oil
This oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and is a known treatment for many skin conditions. It can be dotted onto the templates and massaged in circular motions to reduce headaches. Diffusing lavender oil can help decrease stress and promote sleep, while steam inhalation relieves coughing and ease other breathing conditions.
2. Tea Tree Oil
With its antiseptic properties, tea tree oil is commonly used in skin care products to reduce acne and in hair products to fight dandruff. It can also be dotted and massaged into the wrist to help cleanse and refresh the senses.
Note: tea tree oil can be neurotoxic for small children and pets, so avoid diffusing tea tree oil with
3. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil contains menthol, a substance with a minty, cooling odor. Diffusing or steam inhaling it can clear the sinus, reduce headaches, help to breathe, and improve your mood and memory. Usually, it is advised not to use peppermint oil directly on the skin because the cooling sensation can feel like burning, which is uncomfortable and defeats the purpose.
4. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil, like peppermint oil, has a cooling scent that can help decongest nasal passages and protect against allergies. Diffusing it or applying eucalyptus oil to the skin reduces muscle aches.
5. Frankincense Oil
Traditionally used in Asian cultures, this woody, spicy scented oil has anti-inflammatory properties. That help improves asthma, prevents gum disease, lifts the mood, and promotes sleep. This oil is potent, so don't massage it directly into the skin. Always dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil.
6. Ylang Ylang Oil
This oil is made from the flowers of a Southeast Asian tree by the same name. It can be used topical or diffused. It is known to be a potent aphrodisiac and relieve stress, anxiety, and depression by reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
7. Lemon Oil
This oil comes from cold pressing lemon peels, and its fresh aroma can instantly lift the spirits and soothe anxiety. Rich with citric acid, lemon oil is antiseptic and antifungal, making it a popular choice to fight infection, reduce nausea and relieve cold symptoms.
It is safe to apply topically, but due to its acidic nature, it needs to dilute with a carrier oil like coconut oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil. Also, important to note is that lemon oil can make your skin sensitive to sunlight so avoid sun exposure sun after applying topically.
Essential oils are safe, but educating yourself on possible side effects is smart. Also, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting any new treatment, especially if you take prescription medication or have allergies. Possible side effects include:
Read more about essential oils in the Cleveland Clinic Post!
Aromatherapy is a gentle, non-invasive approach to making you feel lighter and calmer. According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences "Aromatherapy triggers the relaxation response, necessary for self-care. The relaxation response can be triggered by doing something you like, such as deep breathing, walking, and self-massage. Triggering the relaxation response has many health benefits, including healthy cortisol levels and decreased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, improved digestion, and normalized blood sugar levels."
It's not the same as a doctor-approved treatment plan, but it is a complementary therapy with numerous verified benefits.
Tip: Epsom Salt mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil is fantastic for a relaxing bath. Read more about Self-Care here!
And hey, even if you think it is one of those pseudoscience ideas, that's ok; I still say give it a go. At least your house will smell amazing, enough to put anyone in a good mood.
Until Next Time!
Peace, Love & Light!
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Author: Niwrka P.
Is a Beauty Content Creator | Skincare Professional | Licensed Esthetician & Makeup Artist
With over a decade of experience in the beauty industry.-
Passionate about Esthetics and sharing knowledge!