Alternative treatments, such as aromatherapy, are now offered in therapeutic practices, including massage centers, yoga studios and spas. So what is aromatherapy, exactly?
Aromatherapy essential oils are made using dozens of different medicinal plants, flowers, herbs, roots and trees grown all over the world — which have proven, powerful effects on improving physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
For over 5,000 years, aromatherapy has been a trusted practice among cultures spanning the globe. The practice involves using essential (aromatic) oils, derived typically from steam distillation of plants, through application to the skin as a component of therapeutic massage or inhalation with vaporizers, inhalers, or hot water baths. Natural healers turn to aromatherapy for the many antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of aromatic essential oils.
Aromatherapy – What is?
Some of the most common reasons that people use it nowadays include managing pain, improving sleep quality, reducing stress, overcoming symptoms of depression, soothing sore joints and even battling the effects of cancer treatment.
Today, you’re likely to find hundreds of different brands and over than 40 therapeutic-grade aromatherapy oils in health food stores and online.
What Is Aromatherapy and it works?
Aromatherapy is a type of alternative medicine practice utilizing fragrant/aromatic essential oils that are derived from a wide variety of healing plants. When inhaled or applied to the skin, therapeutic-grade essential oils (also sometimes called volatile oils) have been shown to help people overcome various health problems without the need for medications.
Aromatherapy can be performed in several different ways:
- Diffusing a combination of essential oils into the air (or just one single oil)
- Inhaling oils through the nostrils directly off of a cloth or from the bottle
- Receiving massage therapy utilizing oils (you will need a carrier oil, such as almond, coconut, etc)
- Soaking in an oil-infused bath
- Rubbing oils directly onto the skin
What types of plants produce popular essential oils used in aromatherapy?
- Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano or peppermint
- Leaves from eucalyptus plants
- Grasses, such as lemongrass
- Fennel seeds
- Zest from fruits such as oranges, grapefruit or lemon
- Flowers, including rose or geranium
- Wood or bark from trees including cedar or pine
- Roots from ginger
- Resin from frankincense trees
- And others
Who Benefits from Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy has been studied in connection with improving both short-term health problems, along with more serious disorders. Research shows that anyone with the following health conditions can likely benefit from aromatherapy: Chronic stress or anxiety, Depression, Insomnia and trouble sleeping, Muscle or joint pain, Digestive upset, PMS or menopause symptoms, Skin disorders, as rashes, bruising, cellulite or acne and Fatigue.
The key to achieving results from aromatherapy is to use pure, therapeutic-grade oils rather than those with synthetic ingredients or fragrances. The effectiveness of aromatherapy practices always depends on the quality of the oils used, plus the dosage.
How to Find Quality Essential Oils and Qualified Aromatherapist??
This is where you want to get it right…quality! read the rationale here. In my personal experience as Massage Therapist and frequent user of essential oils in my routines (hygiene, house cleaning, etc) i have a few personal favourites but I am not sponsored by any brand so what i can advise is make ORGANIC be your main criteria, but also important to look out for additives, fillers, and carrier oils, which compromise the purity. Then is up to your wallet and preference. See this link for a good-quality list of essential oils.
Qualified Aromatherapist: You can find through the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy or in the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists websites qualified therapists. My advice is always confirm education and license. Any question you can direct to the regulatory bodies or even qualified Aromatherapy teaching schools.
Precautions Regarding Aromatherapy
Depending on a person’s specific medical history, allergies or level of sensitivity, certain types of aromatherapy oils are not recommended. Most essential oils should be kept away from infants and children, unless otherwise noted. If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, always make sure that any essential oil you use for aromatherapy is safe and won’t pose any risk (many do).
Although essential oils have generally shown minimal adverse effects, potential risks include:
- ingesting large amounts/intentional misuse, which can cause toxicity
- skin irritation, especially when used in large amounts
- allergic contact dermatitis
- photosensitivity to sunlight
In general, only use oils internally when you know for sure they’re completely pure and you have no medical condition requiring that you take medications that can interact with oils. Using aromatherapy oils internally can sometimes be toxic and very harmful, so do your research and ask a professional for an opinion if you ever have any concerns or questions. Always start with the lowest dose possible.
If you have sensitive skin and want to use aromatherapy oils topically, make sure to always dilute oils with a carrier before applying them to your skin, looking out for symptoms, such as a rash, redness or swelling (especially when in the sun).