Aromatherapy is the topical application or inhalation of aromatic compounds for holistic medicinal or therapeutic treatment, according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. These aromatic substances tend to be essential oils derived from plants, which are diluted and inhaled or applied topically. This brief overview of aromatherapy info provides the background necessary to experiment with this practice or consult with an aromatherapist.
Basic Aromatherapy Info
Aromatherapy is an art and science with a 6,000-year history. Ancient civilizations in China, Egypt and India used aromatic plants to produce balms, oils and resins for medicinal and religious purposes. Essential oils began being distilled in 10th-century Persia. The term aromatherapy was coined by the French chemist and perfumer René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1937.
Advancements in medical science led to aromatherapy being relegated to an alternative treatment. In recent years, a growing number of scientists and medical professionals have recognized the potential value of this and other holistic healing treatments. Aromatherapy may be helpful for conditions such as asthma, arthritis, depression, fatigue, inflammation, insomnia, menstrual issues, menopause or peripheral neuropathy.
Aromatherapy has not been proven to treat any health condition, but this practice can manage symptoms. For example, essential oils do not cure cancer, but aromatherapy treatments may be helpful for alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy. It is important to use safe methods and the right essential oils to get the benefits of aromatherapy without negative side effects.
Therapeutic Essential Oils
Many essential oils have therapeutic properties. These properties tend to be associated with the plant from which an oil is derived. Here are some of the essential oils that are used most frequently in aromatherapy:
- Clary Sage
- Tea Tree
When smelled, aromatic concentrates from these plants activate receptors that send messages from the nervous system to the brain. Topical application of essential oils diluted in carrier oils or other products may increase absorption and boost circulation.
Selecting a fragrance is easier after reviewing aromatherapy info about the properties of plants. If you have known allergies, you may want to consult with an aromatherapy specialist and do a spot test for essential oils. Dilute any essential oil in at least two times the concentration of carrier oil and rub it into an area the size of a quarter on the inside of your forearm. If no allergic response occurs within 24 to 48 hours, an essential oil mixture can be considered safe to use.
How To Do Aromatherapy
There are many approaches to aromatherapy. One of the safest involves the use of an essential oil diffuser. It is also possible to experience benefits from synthetic fragrances that are rated by the International Fragrance Association as being safe to use through this method. A Whole Home Scenting diffuser system with fragrance bottles makes it easy to experiment with aromatherapy in your home or workplace. For more localized applications, try a freestanding diffuser or other scent dispersion methods.
Personal aromatherapy treatments include inhaling a spray or dispersing a scent during a steam bath or massage with a mixture of essential and carrier oils. Aromatherapy accessories such as keychains, bracelets or necklaces make it possible to carry treatments with you wherever you go.
Another popular personal treatment method involves using an aroma stick or essential oil inhaler. Essential oils are applied to an absorbent wick inside of a portable plastic stick that is covered between uses. Applying or inhaling essential oils directly may have more immediate effects than fragrance diffusion but can also increase the risk of allergic reaction and other side effects.
The Effects of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy can manage the symptoms of a wide range of conditions. Soothing scents such as chamomile and lavender can promote relaxation and make it possible to treat the symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders. Pleasing scents can also have positive effects on mood that may be helpful for managing the symptoms of depression.
People who suffer from chronic conditions may find aromatherapy a helpful addition to medical treatment. While essential oils are not proven to cure any conditions, aromatherapy treatments may be helpful for managing the symptoms of asthma, cancer treatments, hormonal issues, inflammation, peripheral neuropathy and other conditions. Check out aromatherapy info for particular conditions and consult with an aromatherapist and medical professionals to come up with a safe treatment regimen.
Studies show that scents can have a noticeable effect on individuals who do not suffer from any medical conditions and positive effects on mood independent of health. The Takasago Corporation in Japan did a study on the accuracy of typists that indicated that 54% of workers made fewer errors when they could smell lemon, while 20% of typists made fewer errors with lavender. This study, along with many others, suggests that different scents can have noticeable stimulating or relaxing effects.
Aromatherapy Info for Safety
It is important to note that aromatherapy is not risk-free. As a matter of fact, natural fragrances are much more likely to result in allergic reactions than artificial fragrances. Essential oils are highly concentrated. Up to 250 pounds of lavender flowers are used to make just one pound of lavender essential oil. For this reason, it is important to dilute essential oils prior to topical application and to exercise caution with regard to allergy testing.
One of the most important pieces of aromatherapy info regarding allergies is that personal tolerance can change over time. For instance, you might use oils derived from bergamot, chamomile, cinnamon bark, jasmine, lemongrass, jasmine or ylang-ylang without reaction but develop an allergic response over time. Spot testing prior to aromatherapy treatments can reduce the likelihood of experiencing negative side effects.
This aromatherapy info can help you decide whether to try this holistic healing method. Whether you want to address the symptoms of a chronic condition or simply experiment with scents to improve your mood, aromatherapy can be a helpful addition to your self-care routine. A Whole Home Scenting diffuser and fragrance bottles are safe ways to experience the benefits of aromatherapy.