Treating Insomnia with Aromatherapy
The use of Aromatherapy can be traced through all of the major civilizations and even the Bible refers to the use of plants and their oils to treat illness. However the term “Aromatherapie” was first coined by Rene Maurice Gattefosse in 1928 to convey the therapeutic action of plant essences. His interest in the subject arose from an accidental use of lavender oil to soothe his burnt hand, when the burn healed without leaving any scars he wanted to know more.
Aromatherapy is the healing of the body or spirit by the action of essential oils obtained from the flowers, fruit, roots or bark of plants. The delivery of the beneficial power of the plant is achieved through the senses of smell and touch. Chemically the essential oils obtained from the plants are complex and some oils contain up to 100 components. The way in which the oils exercise their benefits is equally complex. As we inhale the essences they enter our body via the cells which line our nasal passages and these send messages straight to the brain. Lavender for example increases the alpha waves in the back of our brain while jasmine increases the beta waves in the front of our brains.
Essential oils are lighter than water and very flammable so are very far removed from the heavy cooking oils that we use. They are highly concentrated so very small amounts of the oil are needed and their use is measured in drops. Due to the fact that they evaporate very quickly essential oils are usually mixed with other carrier oils to preserve their effectiveness. Essential oils do not have an unlimited shelf life but with proper care they can last for up to seven years. The oils should not be exposed to sunlight or air and should be stored in a cool dry place.
Aromatherapy has been used to treat insomnia for thousands of years but we have only recently discovered how the oils work. They decrease the transmission of nerve impulses in our brain, spine and certain organs making us feel calmer and less anxious so that we find it easier to fall to sleep and stay asleep. Some of the more common essential oils used to treat insomnia are lavender, rose, chamomile,geranium and sandalwood. There have been limited scientific studies on the effects of aromatherapy on the treatment of insomnia and these have concentrated mainly on the use of lavender oil. There were four studies in the 1990s which found some benefits of the oil when used to treat sleep problems of patients suffering from dementia.
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways to treat insomnia. The most common methods are inhalation, rubbing on your skin or by adding to your bath water To inhale the oil you could place a few drops of oil on a clean handkerchief to inhale or you could make your own room spray to use by putting ten to twelve drops of oil in seven tablespoons of water. To rub the oil into your skin you need to make your own massage oil by adding 10 drops of the essential oil to 25 millilitres of carrier oil such as almond oil. If you add 4 or 5 of oil to a warm bath you get the added benefit of the relaxing effects of the warm water as well as being able to inhale the oil’s beneficial aromas’
My Favorite Aromatherapy Concoction to Alleviate Insomnia
2 drops Jasmine essential oil
3 drops Chamomile essential oil
4 drops Lavender essential oil
6 drops Rose essential oil
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