Just like massage, aromatherapy can improve your health by reducing stress and improving your sleep. This time though, it’s about the fragrances you breathe in.
If you’re trapped in a malodorous location when the foul odor seems almost solid around you, it’s like hell on earth. Conversely, it’s a heavenly feeling to bask in the most pleasant aromas. This is the fundamental principle of aromatherapy, except that you don’t break in your favorite perfumes. Instead, you use aromatherapy oils.
Use of Essential Oils
There are cells in plants that are responsible for its fragrance. These cells are referred to as the plant’s essence. Oils can then be extracted from parts of trees, herbs, and flowers, such as the petals, peels, bark, and root. The oils can then contain the essence, and they’re called essential oils (PDQ).
The most common plants used as sources of these essential oils include lavender, chamomile, peppermint, sandalwood, and lemongrass. Bergamot and cedarwood are also popular.
It’s only possible to extract a minuscule amount of essential oil from each plant. In fact, a single pound of lavender essential oils requires a source amount of 200 lavender flowers.
Once the oils have been extracted, they must then be processed without changing the chemistry of the plant oil. These oils cannot be mixed with other fragrances or chemicals to be true essential oils.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
According to scientists, the oils (through a diffuser) stimulate the smell receptors in your nose, causing them to send messages to certain areas of the brain (nervous system); thus improving your health conditions. Your hypothalamus may then be affected and respond by releasing serotonin and other “feel good” chemicals. The limbic system may also be targeted, as this area of the brain affects your emotions.
Some experts believe that aromatherapy can also cause your skin and joints to respond when you massage these essential oils lotion to your skin. The topical application will be absorbed through your skin.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Here are some health benefits and healing properties reported on the use of aromatherapy:
- Your quality of sleep improves
- You feel more relaxed
- It reduces anxiety, stress relief, and even depression
- It helps with some types of pain, such as osteoarthritis of the knee and kidney stones
- It can ease the pain and nausea that may be side effects of cancer treatment
- It has antibacterial qualities when you rub the oil on your skin
Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Safety Issues?
In general, aromatherapy is considered safe. However, aromatherapy products are not regulated by the FDA (U.S. Food And Drug Administration), so you should only buy from reputable brands. Fake essential oils may not just be useless but may cause harm.
Even real essential oils may cause side effects, however. This is especially true if you’re allergic to the source plants (like tea tree), though the allergic reactions are typically mild. Some oils can also irritate your mucous membrane in your nose, or your skin or eyes.
It’s best that you refrain from drinking any of these oils. This is just too risky, and before you do this you should obtain the explicit approval of your doctor. In fact, work with a doctor or an aromatherapist if you’re new to the practice. Some proper guidance always helps. Also, check that National Cancer Institute for other health conditions you may be a concern with.
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