Aromatherapy: Balancing Body, Mind and Spirit
Ever since the use of essential oils is present across countries, it is difficult to say when and where the practice originated. Nevertheless, oils have been used by the Jews, Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans both as cosmetics, perfumes and for their medicinal purposes. Some cultures even used oils in spiritual rituals.
In 1928, French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé used lavender oil to heal accidental burn on his hand. He further analyzed the properties of lavender oil and how it could be used to treat other types of skin infections, wounds or burns.
Hence the science of aromatherapy was born. Gattefossé’s main aim was to help injured soldiers during WWI. Subsequently, the use of these oils began to spread especially with practitioners of alternative medicine, such as massage therapists and beauticians throughout Europe.
Aromatherapy did not become popular in the USA until the 1980s when essential oils began to be added to various lotions, candles or other fragrances.
Aromatherapists, physical therapists, massage therapists, nutritionists or even doctors of natural medicine are trained professionals who use aromatherapy in their practice.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are extracted directly from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of a plant or tree, and just one drop can have powerful health benefits. These are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma, typically created through the process of distillation, which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming.
Essential oils are composed of very tiny molecules that can penetrate cells, and some compounds in essential oils can even cross the blood-brain barrier. They differ from fatty oils (like those in vegetables or nuts) as they come from large molecules and cannot penetrate cells, so they are not therapeutic in the same manner.
Because they’re very strong, essential oils used in aromatherapy practices are usually combined with a carrier oil, such as almond, jojoba or coconut oil, before applying directly to the skin.
Essential oils can also have antibacterial or anti-fungal benefits used in medical settings. Many oils when massaged on the skin can heal or help treat skin conditions, such as burns or cuts and scrapes. Others may help boost the immune system, help with insomnia and aid with digestion.
Essential oils are even being used to help fight cancer; there is a plentiful amount of research on the correlation between frankincense oil and reduced brain tumors.
Topmost Essential Oils Health Benefits
Each and every essential oil contains compounds with unique healing and therapeutic benefits. Here are some of the most popular essential oils with their usage;
Clove: Is anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and provides antioxidant protection.
Cypress: Improves blood circulation, reduces varicose veins, lifts confidence and can help heal broken bones.
Eucalyptus: Improves respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies. Also invigorates and purifies the body.
Frankincense: Builds immunity, reduces inflammation, heals age spots, supports brain and may help fight cancer.
Ginger: Reduces inflammation, supports joints, improves digestion and relieves nausea.
Grapefruit: Supports metabolism and cellulite reduction. One can mix it with coconut oil and rub on areas of cellulite or take a few drops internally with water.
Lavender: Helps with relaxation, improves mood and heals burns and cuts.
Lemon: can be used in homemade cleaning products, improves lymph drainage and cleanses the body.
Myrrh: Is natural antiseptic and can prevent or reduce infections. Also, supports beautiful skin, reducing stretch marks and hormonal balance.
Oregano: Has powerful antimicrobial properties, can kill fungus and help heal a cold fast.
Peppermint: Supports digestion, improves focus, boosts energy, fever reducer, headache and muscle pain relief.
Rose: Incredible for reducing skin inflammation and great for creating glowing skin. One can add a few drops to the facial moisturizer. Also, one of the most valued essential oils in the world.
Rosemary: Naturally thickens hair and can be added to homemade shampoos. Also, it improves brain function and memory (great when working, reading or studying).
Tea tree oil: Is a natural antibacterial, antifungal, reduces bad odors and can help stimulate the immune system.
Sandalwood: Natural aphrodisiac that improves libido and can also improve energy.
Different oils can be blended together to enhance each oil’s energy or can be blended with a base oil to be used for massage, shower gels or body lotions.
A growing group of both human and animal studies shows that aromatherapy oils can have both sedative and stimulant effects, with positive effects on the immune system and central nervous system. Recently, studies conducted using functional imaging scans have showed that fragrant aromatherapy oils have positive effects on the primitive region in the brain called the limbic system, which helps control both emotional responses and behaviors.
The key to achieving results from aromatherapy is to use pure, therapeutic-grade oils rather than those with synthetic ingredients or fragrances. The effectiveness of aromatherapy practices always depends on the quality of the oils used, plus the dosage.
Essential Oil Contraindications
Because essential oils can act as a powerful form of natural medicine, in a few instances they are not recommended for usage:
Pregnancy – Basil, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, cypress, fennel, jasmine, juniper, marjoram, myrrh, rose, rosemary, sage and thyme.
In most cases, these oils are completely healthy but because they can effect hormones they are not recommended at this stage.
Heart medications (blood thinners) – Clary sage, cypress, eucalyptus, ginger, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Overall, aromatherapy is a great and inexpensive way to help promote healing, relaxation, and well-being without adverse side effects.