We have all heard of aromatherapy, and how it does everything from alleviating stress to boosting energy. But what is it? Where does it come from? How does it work? And, what are the benefits? Here are the answers to these questions.
Aromatherapy is the holistic medicinal use of naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants, to promote physical, psychological and spiritual health and wellbeing. It is a therapy that uses aromatic essential oils in a non-invasive way, to prevent and treat disease, instability and irregularities within the body as a whole. The aromatic essential oils are also used to create a harmonious and balanced mind and spirit, reducing stress and increasing energy.
In addition to being non-invasive, aromatherapy is often considered a natural way to treat physical and psychological health conditions or alleviate the discomforts associated with these. Some of the more common benefits of aromatherapy include reduced stress and exhaustion, enhanced moods, strengthened immune systems, and healthier respiratory and circulatory systems. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are also known to have a positive impact on hormones, infections, inflammations, sleep problems, headaches, digestion, and skin tones. One of the most overarching aromatherapy benefits is its treatment of a person as a whole – where mind, body and spirit all work together to heal and be healthy.
History of Aromatherapy
It is believed that the use of aromatic plants goes thousands of years back in time, to the very earliest human societies and cultures. From China to India to Egypt, aromatic essential oils were used to do everything from treating infection to embalm the dead. The term aromatherapy was not used until the 20th century though, when French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé found that inhaled fragrance oils could positively affect a person’s physical or emotional condition. Modern science’s synthetic chemicals and drugs had up until then overshadowed the use of aromatic oils. But, from late 20th century until today, aromatherapy has increasingly become popular.
How does Aromatherapy Work?
Aromatherapy is used to help our health and wellbeing through two primary channels – our sense of smell and the surface of our skin. By breathing in certain aromas, we transfer these to the part of our brain that controls mood and emotion. By applying aromatic oils to our skin, these can alleviate skin conditions such as dryness, itching and redness. Whether you should inhale or apply aromatic oils depends on what you are hoping to achieve. Always follow instructions on products that you use.
Effects of Aromatherapy/Medical Benefits of Aromatherapy
Beyond promoting a greater sense of wellbeing, aromatherapy can also have additional effects on health. Because the approach of aromatherapy is to treat body, mind and spirit together when treating a physical or psychological condition, it often comes with added benefits. For example, a body scrub infused with aromatic oils that makes us feel relaxed and calm can also have a positive, reducing effect on our blood pressure. A soap that energizes our mood and stimulates our mind may also improve blood circulation throughout our body. Aromatherapy is one of the most popular ways to heal and promote health today. As a caring, gentle approach to assisting our bodies and minds find balance and strength, it is likely to become more and more appreciated with time.