What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of aromatic plant extracts or essential oils. These oils and extracts have a wide variety of uses, such as in bath salts, massage oils and even fragrances, which can be therapeutic to your mind and body.
The pure essence of a plant, otherwise known as essential oils, provides physical and psychological benefits when used correctly and safely. These benefits can come from both inhalation and physical application.
There are a wide variety of aromatherapy products to choose from and each serves a different purpose. For example, lavender has a calming effect, while oils from the family of mint - such as peppermint and spearmint - offer a stimulating effect.
These oils can be found in numerous vehicles, such as soaps, air fresheners, candles, and massage oils.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
The benefits of the essential oil aromas can be noticed almost immediately. Inhaling the fragrance of essential oils stimulates the brain to trigger a chemical reaction, like releasing serotonin, due to the neurotransmitters firing at a certain level.
The lungs also get a much needed boost from the naturally occurring chemicals in the fragrances, offering a therapeutic benefit. For instance, the diffusion of eucalyptus oil can help break up congestion.
Essential oils that are applied topically can be absorbed into the blood stream and aid in health, beauty and certain hygiene conditions.
How to Use Aromatherapy
These oils should never be applied directly to the skin in an undiluted form. Carrier oils, such as cold pressed vegetable oils, are used to dilute the concentrated essential oils and add moisturizing ingredients to help with absorption.
Aromatherapy is a great alternative to some traditional medicines and treatments. By going the natural route, you avoid some of the negative side effects of pharmaceuticals, while at the same time providing additional benefits.
Many health food stores carry essential oils and have knowledgeable staff that is more than willing to explain different uses. Classes and seminars are also sometimes available in your local area. Search for them online or ask your local health food store.
Here are a few items you can use to get started on your path to effective aromatherapy:
1. Essential oils. These oils can be found at health food stores and online. Pick out your favorites or ones that are known to have the effect you're looking for.
Don't be afraid to combine two or more oils for a new scent and a dual effect.
2. Diffusers. There are numerous ways to allow essential oils to get into the air.
Cold air diffusers use the motion in the room to help diffuse the essential oil.
Hot air diffusion is usually done by steam or a gentle warming of the oils.
3. Misting bottle. Misting bottles are a great way to spread the essential oil without having to use a diffuser.
They fit conveniently into your purse or pocket and can provide a quick spritz of essential oils as needed.
Of course, there are many other items you can use for aromatherapy, but these three would be a great place to start if you're looking for some natural help to common issues or if you just like the way they smell.
Remember to use essential oils sparingly! They're concentrated and usually just a few drops will go a long way.
It's easy, therapeutic, and fun to use the effects of aromatherapy. Give it a try!
By the Urban Life Center Team