Aromatherapy is a method of holistic healing that uses natural aromatic plant extracts to foster wellness in the mind, body, and spirit. For thousands of years, cultures all over the world have used different forms of aromatherapy to strengthen health and well-being. The combined physical and psychological benefits of aromatherapy have established it as a vital complementary therapy in recent years.
The word 'aromatherapy' is composed of 'aroma,' which refers to a scent or essence, and 'therapy,' which implies a form of treatment. Please be aware that aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine and is not intended to replace conventional medical care. Read on to learn more about aromatherapy and how it can help improve your quality of life.
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What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy, also called essential oils therapy, is a holistic healing technique that utilizes natural essential oils for therapeutic purposes.
Aromatherapy is generally very safe for all ages but it may occasionally cause side effects like watery eyes, nose irritation, or skin rashes. Consider doing a skin patch test to check for any allergic reactions before using essential oils for the first time. It is also advisable to consult with an aromatherapist or your healthcare provider before trying aromatherapy if you have any long-term health conditions or continuing medications.
How Does Aromatherapy Treatment Work?
Aromatherapy works by introducing therapeutic compounds into the body through inhalation or skin absorption. Although scientific research on aromatherapy and its uses is lacking, there is strong anecdotal evidence supporting its distinctive healing effects.
The essential oils used in aromatherapy usually have a pleasant smell and stimulate the body's olfactory system. Natural molecules that enter the body through the nose or skin eventually enter the bloodstream and make their way to the brain. Experts believe that these molecules then activate the hypothalamus and limbic regions of the brain. Both of these regions are known to influence the production of natural painkillers, resulting in a calmer and happier state of mind. Aromatherapy can also have a subtle yet effective impact on breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, memory, stress, and hormonal balance.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are aromatic compounds that give the plant its scent or "essence." Essential oils can be extracted from a plant's leaves, roots, flowers, bark, stalks, or rind, depending on the species. They are extracted either by distillation or mechanical methods like cold pressing. Oils that are obtained from chemical methods or have been altered in some way are not considered true essential oils.
Nearly a hundred varieties of essential oils are available on the market today. Each has its own unique smell and health benefits. You can also combine two or more essential oils to create a synergistic blend that gives you even greater benefits.
What are Essential Oils Used For?
Essential oils can have diverse effects on health and well-being, from calming the mind and energizing the body to decongesting nasal passages and uplifting moods. Some of their most well-known benefits include:
- Managing pains and aches
- Improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia
- Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
- Easing labor or menstrual pain
- Lowering nausea
- Boosting immunity
- Improving circulation
Because of these holistic benefits, aromatherapy could also help manage conditions like asthma, insomnia, alopecia, and arthritis. Essential oils can also improve menopause symptoms by restoring hormone balance. Today, several labor wards offer aromatherapy services to alleviate the pain associated with labor and childbirth.
Examples of Aromatherapy Products
You can make use of essential oils for aromatherapy with any of the following methods:
- Aromatic spritzers
- Bathing salts
- Facial steamers
- Body oils, creams, or lotions
- Face masks
Note that it is not advisable to swallow or ingest essential oils in any form. The bioactive compounds present in the oils can damage the liver or kidneys if taken orally. In case you prefer to use essential oils at lower concentrations, an essential oil diffuser is a particularly effective way to integrate aromatherapy into your daily routine.
Some of the most popular essential oils come from lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, basil, bergamot, eucalyptus, and chamomile plants. Your choice of essential oils should be based on the fragrances you prefer and the symptoms you're looking to ease. To get the most out of your aromatherapy, consider integrating multiple essential oils and methods with your day-to-day activities.
How to Find Quality Essential Oils
As the market for essential oils continues to grow, there are hundreds of companies offering products that seem very similar. Unfortunately, a lot of these products use incorrect harvesting techniques and may have chemical additives in them. Here are the fundamentals of shopping for pure essential oils:
- Read the label: The label should provide information about the source plant, including its Latin name and region of harvest. Read the list of ingredients carefully to learn about the carrier oils and colorants that may have been added.
- Steer clear of "fragrance oils:" In general, fragrance oils are composed mostly or entirely of artificial chemicals. This is done to enhance or add scent and color to the oils. Fragrance oils might use small quantities of plant extracts in the manufacturing process, but they are not true essential oils.
- Evaluate the manufacturer: Purchase products from established aromatherapy companies that have been manufacturing products for several years. Select essential oils sold in dark-colored (brown or blue) glass containers to ensure quality and purity.
- Compare prices: Essential oils can vary widely in prices depending on their type, purity, and production methods. For example, sandalwood and rose absolute oils are usually at the more expensive end of the spectrum while sweet orange oil is much cheaper.
Sofia Health offers a simple and efficient platform to connect with a certified aromatherapist for all your wellness concerns.
You can choose from an extensive range of professional services that fit your specific needs and objectives. You have the unique opportunity to learn how to create personalized body butter, bath salts, body sprays, and much more. You can also take advantage of customized services and classes to make your own essential oil blend that is tailored to your healing goals. Consult one of our expert practitioners today and begin your journey towards self-healing with aromatherapy.