The benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils
What is Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural aromatic substances like essential oils for their therapeutic benefits. Essential oils, which are defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO) as “product[s] obtained from vegetable raw material, either by distillation with water or steam, or from the epicarp of citrus fruits by a mechanical process, or by dry distillation.”
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The therapeutic method was first coined aromatherapy by the French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, in 1937 when he accidentally discovered the benefits of lavender on skin burns. Since then, they’ve been extensively researched for their wide range of therapeutic benefits, such as:
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Relieve aches and pains in muscles and joints
- Some oils are analgesic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used for over 6000 years. There are references to oils even in the bible. Remember, one of the kings brought Frankincense as a gift? benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils
Essential oils are easy to use. You use them one of 2 ways. They are used by either applying them directly to the skin or through smelling them (inhalation).
Essential Oils Applied Topically
When you put essential oils on your skin, you don’t want to use them without diluting them. Since they are essentially a very concentrated essence of a plant, you need to make sure to use it correctly. It’s very important to add any type of carrier oil to your choice of essential oil to dilute its concentrative power. This makes it less harsh on the skin while further enhancing its benefits. aromatherapy and essential oils
There are many different kinds of carrier oils. Olive oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed, kukui and jojoba are among the most popular oils. You can find lots of different oils at your local health food store or online.
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Bear in mind that there’s a small chance you can develop a reaction, even after the oils have been diluted. So prior to using any type of oil, do an allergy test first. Simply add 3 – 6 drops of essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil. This will give you a 1% concentration level. Next, rub a small amount about the size of a quarter onto your forearm and wait 48 hours.
For topical use, essential oils can be found in massage oils, skin and bath care products. You can use essential oils as a daily skin moisturizer once it’s been diluted properly. When massaging skin with essential oil infused products, this helps enhance saturation of the oils by the skin and boosts circulation. You don’t even need a specialized massage therapist; you can try self-massage which also provides you with an abundance of physical and mental benefits.
My favorite place to put essential oils is on the bottom of my feet. The big toe is a great spot!
Essential Oils Inhaled
When breathed in, essential oils provide more than just a nice smell, they can offer relief from congestion, cough, headaches and even psychological benefits. The science behind it is that when inhaled, the oils stimulate the olfactory system which connects the nose and brain. Once this system is stimulated, molecules move to the limbic system which is a main influencer of the nervous system. The limbic system is also responsible for blood pressure, heart rate, emotions, cognitive abilities, stress, and hormone balance. That’s why inhaling essential oils can have such a holistic effect on the body.
You can choose from electric diffusers, aromatic spritzers or oil burners to heat the oil and diffuse its aroma throughout the room. A great trick to try is to put a couple of drops onto a tissue and place it in your pocket or bag or a quick pick-me-up. There are even necklaces with a cotton pad that you can put your essential oil on and have your own jewelry be your personal diffuser.
And, of course, there’s the steam option which clears away congestion, sinuses, coughs, and colds. Try them in the bath by dropping a few drops (no more than 5 – 10) into your bath water, or in the shower by rubbing it on your body as you shower to enjoy their smells and reap their benefits. Keep in mind, there are certain oils you don’t want to use in a bath, so be sure to read about your selected oil. For example, you don’t want to put peppermint in a bath!
Most Popular Essential Oils and Their Benefits
Even though there are many types of essential oils with numerous benefits, here are the 5 most widely-used oils you can start using today. Consider this your mini essential oils guide for the first oils I recommend you start with. aromatherapy and essential oils
Ask any mother and she’ll tell you lavender is a miracle worker when it comes to soothing and sedating babies. This is because lavender has a relaxing, sweet floral scent which acts as a stress reliever and helps induce sleep
It’s also a great muscle relaxant, an antiseptic for minor wounds and burns, and alleviates headache tension when rubbed onto your temples.
It also has beauty benefits like rejuvenating the skin, reduces blemishes, fine lines and wrinkles and helps diminish signs of skin scarring. It also reduces hair fall and boosts the immune system.
Lavender oil is one of those oils where I would suggest you smell it. Yes, they can smell differently. For example, lavender mailette (lavandula angustifolia mailette) smells differently than lavender (lavandula angustifolia). So, if you can, smell your oils before you purchase them to see which your nose likes best!
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The first thing that comes to mind when reading about peppermint oil is it’s minty and fresh all thanks to its main component, menthol. Peppermint oil can be added to your toothpaste or mouthwash to give you fresh breath.
But what you may not know is that peppermint oil can be massaged into your neck and shoulders to keep your energy levels up all day, because it reduces fatigue, stress, and depression. aromatherapy and essential oils
Peppermint oil soothes achy joints and muscles and reduces headaches because of its analgesic and antispasmodic properties. Peppermint oil is also known to soothe digestive problems, bloating, nausea and menstrual cramps by massaging a few drops onto your stomach area.
I have found these little peppermint dots, which you can take internally. I’ve used them for digestive issues, fresh breath, nasal drip and alertness.
There are a couple of different versions of eucalyptus used for aromatherapy. Most commonly used are eucalyptus globulus and eucalyptus radiata. Do not confuse eucalyptus citriodora with this group though. It’s more widely used for insect repellant.
Eucalyptus can be found in commercial products like Tiger Balm ointment and vapor rub. It works as a great decongestant of nasal passageways and relieves respiratory problems, such as cough and asthma.
It’s also anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, mucolytic (breaks down mucus), and antifungal; basically, it’s anti-everything which is good news for us.
Lemons botanical name is citrus limon.
Just thinking about the scent of lemon oil can lift up your spirits. It’s also known for its toxin-cleansing properties, which is why it’s in a lot of cleaning products. Lemon oil can boost mental awareness, focus, and energy levels. It can also help speed up the healing of minor scrapes and burns.
Lemon oil has also beauty benefits. For example, if you add several drops to your shampoo, it can give your hair a natural shine; if you add it to your moisturizer, your skin will be brighter and healthier-looking. Another great benefit of lemon oil is that it curbs sugar cravings.
Lemon oil is phototoxic so make sure you do not put it on your skin if you plan to be in the sun. aromatherapy and essential oils.
Another powerful essential oil, tea tree can fight off all types of bacteria, virus, fungi – you name it. I’ve heard it called a “medicine chest in a bottle.” You can apply it to minor cuts and bruises, or you can inhale it to treat a cough or cold. It can be found in many beauty products for its astringent properties. It’s also anti-inflammatory and antiviral. Tea Trees botanical name is melaleuca alternifolia.
I have personally used it successfully for foot fungus, skin breakouts, yeast infections, and sore throat. My son uses it in college to keep his water bottle from getting moldy. I’ve tried different brands of oils and this tea tree oil is the only one I will buy because it works! Good quality oils are worth every penny and will last you if you use and dilute them properly.
When you’re buying essential oils, make sure they are 100% pure. If you have any concerns about their use or side effects, talk to your doctor or consult an aromatherapy expert. I love Youngevity essential oils. They have the best lavender and tea tree oil around! Speaking of lavender and tea tree, these are my top 2 oils I use. aromatherapy and essential oils
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I have also bought some great oils and carrier oils from Mountain Rose Herbs online.
Also, I do not recommend taking ANY essential oils internally unless you are under the care of a licensed aromatherapist. The peppermint dots I mention above are a food-grade oil and thus are safe to take. Please, do not take oils advice about using oils internally other than from someone who is licensed.
Remember, aromatherapy and essential oils usage is an accompanying therapy and not to be used as a replacement for any doctor-prescribed medical plan.
This article is for informational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.