Beginners Guide To Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is not a new subject. If we go back to the roots, we find that Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said,
"The key to good health rests on having a daily aromatic bath and scented massage."
So, even though the concept of essential oils is itself ancient, it has certainly gained huge popularity recently. Every day many of us lean towards aromatherapy. We use essential oils to make our homes fragrant, improve physical health, and increase focus and mindfulness.
If you are interested to know more about aromatherapy, keep reading!
What is Aromatherapy?
So, what is Aromatherapy? If we break the word down, we get "aroma" and "therapy", which makes the meaning quite clear. It is a therapy where practitioners use "aroma" for medicinal purposes.
In short, aromatherapy uses various scents and smells often derived from plant extracts (primarily essential oils) to provide a holistic treatment for both body and mind.
The practice is quite old. In Egyptian history, we can find references where priests and doctors used essential oils, herbs, balms, and resins for medicinal and religious purposes.
Essential oils have another and more scientific term for them - volatile oil. Now, this term makes the meaning relatively more transparent. Volatile oil (or essential oil) is a plant substance that quickly merges with thin air from the plant.
In fact, these oils are why you can smell a jasmine when you come closer to the flower. Hence, the oil is "essential" to the plant as well as "volatile."
In that way, while some plants have a higher density of these oils, others do not. And the oils can be found in stems, roots, leaves, and flowers, varying from plant to plant. Interestingly, the parts do not always have to be "essential" to the plant.
But, in the end, we know that essential oils have a broad therapeutic value practiced throughout ages. So, let's move forward to know a brief history of aromatherapy.
History of Aromatherapy
The history of aromatherapy would take you back to the ancient days of Egypt, India, and China. In all these countries, we can see that using essential oils were very prevalent for various purposes. For example, in Egypt, doctors used them for medicinal purposes.
Discorides's famous book, De Materia Medica, written between 50-70 AD, includes records of many essential oils and herbs, such as myrrh, basil, cinnamon, cardamom, rose, pine, etc. that we still use today.
People used essential oils for various purposes back then as well. For example, Bay Laurel or Bay leaf was used to create a trance-like state. Coriander, myrtle were valued for their aphrodisiac effects, whereas myrrh served as a sedative.
Even today, we can see Jasmine oil as a general tonic for our entire body. Chamomile is extensively valued for treating colds, dizziness, headaches, whereas rose works as an antidepressant tonic.
So, even though the use of essential oils is not very new, the term "aromatherapy" is. The famous French chemist named Rene Maurice Gattefosse first coined the term "aromatherapy" in 1937. The story says that he used lavender oil on his badly burned arm and the oil miraculously cured it.
A long way further, Dr Jean Valnet, a French army surgeon, decided to investigate the medicinal properties of essential oils. He applied those on wounds of soldiers of World War II. Their contribution to the therapeutic practice of essential oils has brought the topic into the limelight.
At present, the global market size for aromatherapy using essential oils is enormous and expected to be worth 16.0 billion USD by 2026.
The market has grown extensively due to essential oils' antioxidant and anti-infective properties used to improve human health and the home environment.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
The application of aromatherapy is either through smell or skin absorption. For the oil to work, it has to get into your system. When it is through smell, we call it inhalation. Inhalation is faster because the molecules directly pass into your breathing tube.
When you breathe in a smell, it gets absorbed by the olfactory nerves in your nose. Then the smell gets carried to your brain's limbic system, where it impacts the amygdala or the emotional centre of your brain.
Thus, it triggers various emotions and actions in our brain, such as memory, sex drive, appetite, breathing, etc. Inhaling essential oil also has multiple bodily benefits. For example, it affects blood pressure, increases heart rate, provides more energy, etc.
When absorbed through the skin, the process is slow. However, balms oils are massaged on our skin to relieve pain and other stimulants. One fine example would be Vicks' VapoRub. This ointment is applied to the skin to relieve cold and cough.
It contains essential eucalyptus oil, cedar leaf, and nutmeg, along with some other ingredients. While you inhale the smell of the ointment, this also slips through your skin, providing you temporary relief.
Similarly, tea tree oil is helpful to treat various skin conditions, like acne and pimples. It is derived from the melaleuca tree and works as an antiseptic that fights bacteria and inflammation. Lavender, Cinnamon, Lemon and various other essential oils have distinct functions. But, all are either applied on the skin or inhaled in aromatherapy.
You can use aromatherapy in the following ways:
- Inhalation through incense
- Body oils and creams
However, it is wise to dilute the oil before direct application. Dilution is important. Most of these essential oils are highly concentrated. So, a direct application might cause a skin rash.
This is why most essential oils come with carrier oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, etc.
Essential Oils Used for Aromatherapy
"The Leaves of the Trees are for the Healing of the Nations." -(Revelation 22:2)
Whenever we talk about aromatherapy, this line from the Book of Revelation hits the mind the most. Mother nature indeed carries all the remedies within herself. Trees and plants play an essential role in that.
After much discussion on the topic, we know that the practice of aromatherapy is ancient. However, the relevance and the benefits remain the same. From ancient Egypt to modern America, people use essential oils to uplift the quality of their lives. And in this journey, various essential oils have different benefits to offer.
The best aromatherapy products should always provide you with the benefits directly. So, here is a list of essential oils and their uses:
Use: Fights stress, pain and improves sleep quality
If you feel stressed at times, lavender oil would be the best pick for you. It soothes our nervous system and reduces stress by lowering blood pressure. Thus, lavender oil also improves sleep quality and reduces pain.
Use: Fight inflammation, improve mood, sleep quality, and treat asthma conditions.
The existence of frankincense oil is quite ancient. It is also known as the 'king of oils.' Frankincense has anti-inflammatory properties that provide various health benefits. It improves mood and sleep quality. Frankincense has also shown improvement in treating asthma conditions.
Tea Tree Oil
Use: Fights skin conditions like acne
If you have been suffering from skin problems, tea tree oil, may come in handy. Tea tree oil works as a fantastic antiseptic, antimicrobial and antifungal, ideal for treating skin problems like acne.
Use: Reduces anxiety, depression, pain. It boosts your energy and lifts your mood.
The citrusy scent of lemon oil helps boost your mood and energy. Lemon oil is also helpful in treating anxiety and depression-like symptoms. If you are feeling low, consider using lemon oil as aromatherapy.
Use: fights Cold, cough, and acts as anti-inflammation.
It is always wise to keep eucalyptus oil nearby before the cold. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities that soothe cold symptoms, like a runny nose. Always dilute eucalyptus oil before using. You can both inhale the scent or apply it to the skin for better results.
Use: Lowers your blood pressure, improves mood quality.
Bergamot has a fruity smell that works great as a mood lifter. You can use this in aromatherapy or when you have guests at home. Bergamot also helps reduce stress by lowering your blood pressure.
Use: Gets rid of Headache, pain, boosts your mood, enhances your memory.
Do you get frequent headaches or feel low? Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that can provide relief from both headaches and cold while boosting your mood. It also helps with memory function.
Use: Improves your brain function, relieves pain, stress, joint inflammation, and increases hair growth.
Rosemary is a popular choice for many food lovers. Even when rosemary adds extra flavor to your food, it also helps build better memory and improves brain function. Rosemary oil is an excellent tonic to reduce joint inflammation. It also enhances your mood and increases your hair growth.
Aromatherapy Advantages - The Benefits Of Aromatherapy
First, we need to understand the simplest difference between fragrance oils and essential oils. Although fragrance oils may have a beautiful smell, they do not provide therapeutic values. You cannot attain the same benefits from them as you would from essential oils.
Now, imagine this: after a hectic day at work, after all the challenges and stress, you reach home to a pleasant, mild jasmine fragrance lingering around the corners of your home. At this point, you know that you are for yourself, and no one expects anything more!
These realizations are essential, right? We fight every day to maintain ourselves in this modern world. And in this process, we encounter various physical and mental obstacles, such as stress, insomnia, anxiety, low immunity, digestion problems, etc.
It is where essential oils come in. As told earlier, doctors used essential oils for medicinal purposes in ancient Egypt. Even today, hospitals use essential oils to calm the atmosphere.
A study suggests that the use of the essential oil- Lavandin (Lavender) in pre-operative patients helps reduce surgery-related anxiety as compared to control groups. So, here are some of the most prominent advantages of aromatherapy in our daily lives.
1. Reduces Stress
Essential Oils to Try: Lavender, Jasmine, Chamomile, Lemongrass, etc.
Modern-day lifestyle is kind of synonymous with stress. To be honest, age really does not matter nowadays. You get stressed from work pressure, education, family issues, financial problems, and whatnot! But did you know that you can naturally lower your stress levels?
No! We are not talking about taking medicine or exercising. Although yoga and working out are great natural stress-relievers, essential oil, such as Lavender, helps a lot in this case. Lavender has properties that calm your nervous system.
It maintains a healthy heartbeat and lowers your blood pressure. Thus, Lavender is used to reduce stress. In fact, scientific studies have also found strong evidence of the same. Apart from Lavender, jasmine, lemongrass, chamomile are all excellent options in aromatherapy for stress relief.
2. Boosts Your Energy
Essential Oils to Try: Lemon, Lemongrass, Peppermint, etc.
Do you often feel low even though you really didn't do much during the day? Well, it happens. We often feel down due to a lot of stuff. In most cases, inactivity takes away a lot of energy, turning them into lethargy. It affects medical health as well.
Whatever the reason for your lack of energy is, you can treat it quickly with essential oils, such as lemon, lemongrass, etc. All citrus fragrances have antioxidant terpenes that boost our system with renewed energy.
Peppermint also helps the exact cause. If you are working out, you can use peppermint to boost your performance. It increases oxygen concentration in our brain and decreases exhaustion.
3. Improves Focus
Essential Oils to Use: Basil, Sage, Rosemary, etc.
Study or work, we all need to focus on whatever we want to do. However, we all struggle to concentrate on priority work at some point. However, exams and your boss won't listen to you, will they? So, when it comes to improving focus, essential oils can do wonders.
Essential oils like rosemary and basil improve concentration and cognitive function, leading to better focus and memory power. In fact, people with mental illness, dementia or Alzheimers can greatly benefit from inhaling essential oils.
4. Reduces Anxiety
Essential Oils to Try: Lavender, Rose, Bergamot, Frankincense, Chamomile, etc.
Nowadays, we get introduced to a lot of mental health issues that weren't probably so prevalent before. Anxiety and depression are two of such problems, primarily prevalent in youngsters, teenagers, and mid-aged people.
Lavender, bergamot, and frankincense are essential oils that can help with pain caused by anxiety. Regular massage with these oils has benefited a lot of people. If you find yourself in some hard, painful situation, you can always use some help from these natural remedies.
Many psychiatrists use essential oils in their chambers to calm the atmosphere. However, in case of anxiety and depression, we will always ask you to seek professional help.
5. Fights Insomnia
Essential Oils to Try: Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile
Do you often find yourself struggling for a good night’s sleep before heading into another rough day? Have you been diagnosed with insomnia and are trying to find some natural remedies? People with sleep problems can always benefit from using essential oils.
In fact, lavender is scientifically proven to promote relaxing sleep. It calms your brain, lowers blood pressure, maintains heart rate, and contributes to better good night sleep. Apart from lavender oil, you can also use bergamot chamomile oil to promote better sleep and enhance sleep quality.
6. Boosts Your Immune System
Essential Oils to Try: Ginger, Eucalyptus, Myrrh, etc.
The pandemic has significantly impacted the global health scenario. Repetitive government and non-government campaigns have made us more health-conscious. This is a reason why we’ve observed a positive impact on the essential oil market overall.
Essential oils, such as ginger, have anti-inflammatory properties. These are good to fight infection. For example, eucalyptus helps fight the cold, cough, and common flu. Apart from ginger and eucalyptus oil, myrrh oil also has similar properties which boost your immune system.
Go Show Off Your Newly Gained Knowledge To Your Friends And Family!
Aromatherapy has tons of benefits to name. From enhancing your beauty to improving mental and physical health- essential oils possess all types of qualities. But, as a beginner, it might be difficult for you to figure it out all at once.
We hope this guide was able to provide you with the knowledge needed about the best essential oils for beginners and the benefits. We hope that most of your doubts regarding essential oils are over by now. So, what are you waiting for? Hop on the train for an ecstatic journey in the world of essences!
Take a look at our backflow waterfall incense burner and take the first step into the world of aroma and essence.