The benefits of aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the art of using naturally-extracted plant oils to boost your health, mood and energy. The french term “aromatherapie” was first coined by the perfumer and chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1937. His intention was to distinguish between the aesthetic application of perfume, and a more intentional practice of using specific oils to enhance wellbeing.
As a complementary therapy, aromatherapy has a wide number of health benefits. These may include:
- Relieving stress: lavender, lemon oil, peppermint, bergamot and ylang ylang all calm the central nervous system to help you relax.
- Boosting memory: sage oil can help to increase alertness and improve memory recall.
- Managing depression: Camomile, peppermint, lavender and jasmine reduce some of the side effects of antidepressants.
- Speeding up healing: Essential oils can act as stimulants and have mild anti-bacterial properties. Try rosehip, calendula, everlasting and buckthorn.
- Increasing energy: Black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove all increase circulation to put a pep in your step.
- Strengthening the immune system: The antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial effects of essential oil can protect you against colds and illnesses. Try oregano, frankincense and eucalyptus oils.
- Improving digestion: Citrus oils like lemon and orange can ease constipation and boost your metabolism.
- Reducing headaches: Often caused by held tension, the same oils as suggested for reducing stress may have an effect, but also try sandalwood and eucalyptus dabbed in a carrier oil on your temples for migraines.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils can be used either in their pure form (mixed with an oil base if being applied to the skin) or in a blend, which is known as a “synergy”. Part of the study of aromatherapy involves developing a deep understanding of oils that enhance and complement one another.
To have any effect, oils need to be of an extremely high quality. Either get them blended directly by an aromatherapist, or purchase them from a reputable supplier. When you choose your oils, take note if they’re all being listed at the same place, as this is generally a sign that the quality is low.
How to use essential oils
One of the most effective ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils is as part of a Relaxing or Energising massage. In either case, your massage therapist will choose an appropriate blend to help either calm or invigorate you, leaving you feeling refreshed.
If you’ve purchased oil or an oil blend and want to incorporate the benefits into your daily life, you should think about trying the following:
- Apply some to a cotton ball and place it in your car’s air conditioning vents
- Mix with water in a spray bottle and mist over your furniture and linens
- Put a few drops on a dryer sheet while doing your washing
- Add a few drops to a warm bath
- Mix a small amount into your regular body moisturiser
Undiluted oils should never touch the skin directly, and be careful to avoid the eyes, inner ears and any broken or injured areas.
Learn more about the benefits of different scents here.
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