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If you have ever been interested in an alternative form of medicine, which is rooted on a more traditional and complementary basis, aromatherapy might be just the right thing for you.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using naturally extracted oils from a plant as a whole or from parts of it (like for example flowers, bark, the stem, or roots) in order to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing.
Aromatherapy – Fragrances with a Longstanding Tradition
The scientific use of aromas started 6000 years ago in the old temples of Egypt. Scents and fragrances were of highly spiritual value for the Egyptian people. They were regarded as signs for divine forces, purity, strength, and power. The knowledge of aromas in form of skin care, beauty treatment, and as a complementary element of massage practices spread from there on out into the world.
Wellbeing with Essential Oils
The effect essential oils have on humans is first and foremost a very subtle and ethereal one. But although subtle, it is of great impact. Whatever you’re aiming at by using an essential oil, you’ll always not only impact the body, but also your mood and a variety of unconscious processes.
Aromatherapy is becoming more and more popular. A major influence on its popularity is the effect of its relaxing impact on our nervous system, especially when it’s stressed out. Many oils stimulate either our sympathetic, or our parasympathetic nervous system, or both at the same time. By doing that, different fragrances enable us to reach a deep feeling of relaxation and harmony. They guide us towards reaching a state of union between body, mind, and soul.
Aromatherapy also greatly promotes our abilities of self-healing. The oils can promote relaxation, balance, motivation, and also work anticonvulsant, soothing, and anti-inflammatory. Some essential oils like e.g. Lavender or Sage even support the reproduction of body cells. They activate our body’s own endorphins and therefore enhance a self-regulated, and autonomous healing towards better health on all levels.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
- reducing nausea
- relieving pain and body aches
- easing anxiety, stress, and agitation
- reducing fatigue and insomnia
- helps to get rid of headaches
- relieves muscular aches
- eases menstrual problems
- improves sleep
- promotes relaxation
How do essential oils get to unfold their healing powers?
There are two ways essential oils can enter our body. On the one hand, absorbing the oils through our skin can have meaningful impacts on our bodily ecosystem. And the other method of practicing aromatherapy is the inhalation of the scented oils.
Our skin has the ability to absorb the essential oils and transport the respective ingredients through our nervous system into our inner organs. So, even though it might sound strange that a belly massage, in connection with the application of an oil, can actually influence our intestinal flora, our skin makes it possible.
By inhaling the aromas, which is probably the most widespread association with aromatherapy, our nose and olfactory sense quickly transport the scent into our limbic system the moment we smell it. Our limbic system plays a huge role in regulating our emotions and moods. Meaning, our sense of smell is in direct contact with our emotional state of being, our imagination, and our mind. This explains why scents and smells have an immediate effect on our feelings and thoughts. They open up the gates to our unconsciousness.
! Please, never ever take essential oils directly through your digestive tract. Never swallow or drink them. Since the substances are highly concentrated, they can cause serious damage to your digestive system !
5 Incredibly Useful Methods of Using Essential Oils
Aromatherapy in the Living Space
To fill your living space, office, or kitchen with fragrances, you first of all need an oil burner. You can easily get one on Amazon. They come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, and can be wooden, ceramic, or out of glass, whichever you prefer. Then you need a tea candle, and the oil you want to use.
Then, you fill some water into the little plate on the top of the oil burner and trickle a couple of drops of oil into the water. I’d say a good measure would be somewhere between 3 and 15 drops, depending on how big your oil burner is and how strong you want the scent to be.
After that, you light the candle below. The heat will now vaporize the water and by doing so develop the full aroma of the oil. The quality of air in the room increases enormously. The effect of the oil burner is very soft and subtle and can last up to a couple of hours.
Oil burners are also not only helpful companions for applying aromatherapy at home. They are also very helpful in schools, hospitals, or retirement homes by promoting relaxation or concentration with the respective essential oil.
Inhaling essential oils is an old and traditional method to counter any form of respiratory problems. The easiest way to inhale the essences is to trickle 3 to 5 drops of the oil on a scarf or handkerchief and then breathe in deeply.
You could also do a steam bath for your face. You will need hot water, a bowl, and a towel. Fill the hot water into the bowl and put, I’d say, 3 to 6 drops of oil into the water. If you have a strongly smelling essence like peppermint or cinnamon, you might want to put in less. Then lean over the bowl and put the towel over your head. Close your eyes and take deep breaths for a couple of minutes.
(However, be very careful if you suffer from asthma. I’d recommend consulting a doctor before you inhale through a steam bath because the high concentration of the steam might trigger an asthma attack.)
Taking a nice hot bath with scented oils enables you to absorb the fragrance through the nose and the skin together. The effect of the essential oil is even higher because of the warm water.
You should fill the tub with water first before you add the oil, so the oil can’t vaporize before you even climbed in. I would recommend 5 to 10 drops of essential oil for a full bath tub. Except if you use for example citrus oil, which supports stimulation of the blood flow. Then 1 to 3 drops might be enough.
Because essential oils can sometimes be highly skin-irritating, and don’t dissolve in water, they should always be diluted in a carrier solution if they are used as a bath supplement. Just dilute the oil in a bit of cream, honey, or natural soap. This way the essences can enter through the skin more easily and spread quicker through the whole body.
The bath should not take longer than 15 to 20 minutes. It is important to indulge in a little bit of a rest period after. Wrap yourself in a nice big towel or bathrobe and relax for about 30 minutes to enjoy the whole experience on all levels of your being.
For a facial compress trickle round about 5 drops of essential oil into a bowl filled with warm water. Soak a clean cloth in the scented water, wring it out, and put the cloth on your skin after. Relaxing essences like lavender or rose are especially suitable for compresses.
The most relaxing, and probably most sensual, method of aromatherapy is most likely the aroma massage. The essential oils enter the body through our skin after 30 to 60 minutes, and eventually reach the limbic system, our blood, and lastly our organs. A massage is a way of applying the oil where it is most needed. By kneading it into the skin, the oil can be applied topical or channeled through the nervous system and/or meridians.
But careful: essential oils are highly concentrated. They can not be applied onto the skin directly. It is of utmost important to dilute them with a carrier oil!
To create a scented body or massage oil you can use 100 ml coconut oil (coconut oil might be kind of buttery at first, but once it gets warm, body heat is already enough, it will get liquid) and add 15 to 20 drops of essential oil (it will create a mixture of 0.7 %, which is the standard guideline for essential oils in beauty products, I believe).
In aromatherapy carrier oils are almost as equally important as essential oils. You need them every time you plan to apply essential oils directly onto the skin. Be it as skin care, hair care, or bath supplement. Never apply the essential oils without diluting them first in a carrier solution! This can cause serious skin irritation.
As carrier oils you should always use extra-virgin, and cold-pressed oils because they still contain all the valuable ingredients that promote healthy skin. You can use almond oil (which is a classic oil used for massages), macadamia oil, avocado oil, wheatgerm oil, or jojoba oil.
What you should be aware of:
Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils is not always a hundred percent harmless. Essential oils are highly concentrated substances, which also carry side effects.
Please be careful while using essential oils if you
- have a tendency towards epilepsy
- suffer from high blood pressure
- are currently undergoing homeopathic treatment
- are pregnant
- have kids (keep the dosages really small)
- encounter toxic reactions to certain essential oils
- use skin irritating essences
- know that you will be in the sun for a long time after applying it through massage or bath on your skin (some oils can cause hypersensitivity reactions)
My Top 10 Essential Oils:
Peppermint oil has always been a great home remedy to prevent fainting, nausea, and shock. It can also reduce pain in the head and neck area. It works anticonvulsant and relieves pain. That’s why it is of specific good use (in combination with a carrier oil) if you have sore muscles, or bruises.
Peppermint is highly effective to counter mental fatigue. It increases concentration and strengthens the mind.
Lemon helps with indigestion and overacidification of the body. It also cleanses the blood. By stimulating the white blood cells in your body, you can prevent infections and reduce fever. You can also use lemon oil to rinse the mouth.
The smell of lemon oil awakens the mind and supports the increase of your concentration. It promotes the ability to remember things. Lemon has a very refreshing and stimulating energy.
So, if you ever need to focus a lot on something, at work or while studying, use some peppermint or lemon oil to boost your brain work. I like to do a mix of 2 drops of peppermint and 3 drops of lemon oil to get a fresh and pleasant scent in the room. 🙂
Lavender is very versatile. It has a very small level of toxicity and can be used to treat a variety of complaints. Lavender acts anti-inflammatory, supports regeneration, and reduces scar formation. Therefore, this oil is highly effective to treat skin issues like e.g. acne, abscesses, eczema, and other skin irritations. Lavender can ease migraine and headaches, too.
I like it because you can also treat insect bites with it, as well as sinusitis and other symptoms of a cold. And since I especially suffer from sinusitis almost every single time I catch a cold, I find it more than useful. 🙂
Generally, you could say Lavender has a relaxing impact on our nervous system. Hence, it makes also sense to apply it when you have trouble falling asleep, have anxiety attacks, are stressed, or suffer from exhaustion.
As a side note: Children benefit especially well from a bit of lavender oil. It helps them fall asleep faster and is said to prevent nightmares.
What I love to do is trickle a couple of drops on my pillow before I go to sleep. I fall asleep so fast, have the best sleep during the night, wake up refreshed and relaxed, and can start my day on a good note.
Eucalyptus is probably one of the most popular healing oils used across all areas of medicine. It has a highly antiseptic effect. Moreover, it supports your breathing by cleaning your airways, which is why it is often used to treat coughing, sore throat, and colds. Since eucalyptus has an antiseptic impact, it is helpful to cleanse the air of contagious bacteria, like the ones causing the flu.
In addition to all of that, eucalyptus has a vitalizing effect on body, mind, and soul. If you’re feeling lethargic, use a couple of those drops in an oil burner, and see what it does to your wellbeing. It can work wonders on getting yourself out of a funk.
Chamomile is a classic. It has anti-inflammatory features as well as a relaxing and calming impact, especially on children. It helps to heal wounds faster and eases the pain of sunburn. Chamomile reduces almost any form of nervous behavior.
On an emotional level, it helps you to let go of repetitive thought patterns and moral values that are too hard on ourselves.
Alright, that is it so far. I am very into aromatherapy and essential oils, so if you want to know more, let me know. Anyway, I hope that with this beginner’s guide to aromatherapy I could inspire you to maybe try a new way of self-care or at least to just indulge a little in the small pleasures of life. 🙂