First of all, just what is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy has become a popular, and well researched, alternative health technique. It uses various aromas to encourage the body to boost mood, relieve stress and encourage better health naturally. Various fragrances, extracted from natural sources, are used during aromatherapy sessions. Each fragrance, or aroma, hence the name, produces a different result. For example, the scents of peppermint and eucalyptus commonly are used to help stimulate the body.
On the other hand, lavender, and chamomile, can help a person relax, while the scents of lemon and rosemary have been found to be effective at revitalizing a tired body.
Smells can have a powerful effect on both the body and the mind.
It is well published, if not well known, fact that the human nose contains over 10 million specialized cells capable of distinguishing approximately 10,000 different and specific scents!
As we inhale air which contains particles which carry an aroma, these particles travel across the olfactory nerves located inside the nose. These nerves transmit this information to the part of the brain that controls moods, memories and even the ability to learn.
This part of the brain, which is not one unique structure but a collection of parts of the brain, is the Limbic System and , when stimulated, is capable of causing the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters and other mood and energy enhancing chemicals into the body.
In addition to the actual therapeutic value of the aromas themselves, it has been determined that aromatherapy also works through absorption of specific "essential oils", which have been extracted from plants, fruits, herbs and flowers, into the blood stream. This method is considered to be perfectly safe and, if you've ever rubbed a fragrant lotion, cream or ointment into your skin or received a massage, you've already experienced at least one contact with the benefits of at least one form of aromatherapy.
There many fragrances used in aromatherapy (I saw one list which contained over 120 different ones) and, in addition to just providing aromas on their own, they are common ingredients in lotions, inhalants, gels, bath salts, vaporizers, candles, perfumes and room sprays.
The essential oils used in aromatherapy are extracted from natural, botanical materials. Unlike synthetic fragrances and perfumes which can cause allergies and irritation, essential oils are much safer to use, although there may be the occasional allergy or a reaction if one is used too strongly.
The practice of applying essential oils is not some "new world" practice, but has a long history not only in time, but across cultures, and evidence of its use has been found as far back as the ancient Egyptian civilization and even beyond.
Common benefits of aromatherapy
- It's something anyone can learn to do at home
Every day, people seek out help from a professional massage therapist or pay for visits to expensive spas for their aromatherapy sessions. This is obviously a great way to indulge yourself if you can afford it, but it's easy for anybody to learn how to do aromatherapy right in the comfort of your own home.
It is NOT complicated!
All you need to get started are some basic supplies such as candles, a few essential oils or even bath oils, and maybe a burner or diffuser. To get the maximum benefits from your home aromatherapy session, you should treat it like meditation or massage. This means you will want to create your personal aromatherapy experience in a quiet and comfortable environment.
- It's a natural method for improving health.
Many feel that a wonderful thing about aromatherapy is that it is a natural alternative to other, more invasive, treatment options such as prescription medications and caffeine. When aromatherapy is used properly, people experience few, if any, side effects. The side effects that do occur can be blamed primarily on a particular individual's sensitivity to certain ingredients. Most people are aware of which substances will trigger allergic responses for them. Obviously, in such cases, use of products containing those ingredients should be avoided.
- Aromatherapy alleviates many minor discomforts
Very few people dare to claim that aromatherapy will cure major illnesses. However, it is usually effective at alleviating minor aches and pains in joints, improving the immune system, relieving symptoms of menstrual cramps, improving skin tone and complexion, relaxing muscles, lowering blood pressure, reducing congestion, improving circulation to the scalp (helps reduce dandruff and promote healthy hair growth), relieving tension that causes headaches and other aches and pains, improving sleep and much, much more!