- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Well-Being
There is an art to living well. We use our senses to help us make our journey more enjoyable and pleasurable. Aromatherapy is not only an art, but also a science of using specific essential oils, the extracts from plants and flowers, to enhance our health and well-being. Nature has provided for us in yet another wonderful manner to be well in our stressed world. Have you ever taken a walk or spent time in your backyard to capture the scent of a blooming flower and it immediately lifted your mood or caused a smile? Flower power in full bloom, magically infusing our world with beauty and scent, mystery and exotic, sensual pleasures.
Along the back of my yard is a fence with both jasmine and the passion flower. I cannot tell you how many times it has felt like heaven is in my backyard. It is a glorious scent and jasmine is known as the 'perfume of love'. It's scent is known to promote a sense of optimism and well-being. After a crazy day out in the work world, jasmine can help to soothe away the tension and stress in our minds. The very exotic passion flower has a rather elegant scientific name; passiflora incarnata. This beautiful flower's essence is used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Scientists believe that it works by increasing levels of a the chemical, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GBA) in the brain, which helps to promote relaxation by lowering the brain activity of some cells. For myself, it helps to promote peace and serenity.
"The body cannot be cured without regard for the soul". Socrates
"Earth laughs in flowers". Ralph Waldo Emerson
"If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature's way". Aristotle
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy uses the extracts from the plants and flowers as essential oils, which have unique chemical compositions consisting of hormones, botanical vitamins and antibiotics. These oils are found in the flowers, leaves, resins, seeds, roots and grasses. Some plants produce more than one oil, but in many plants, it requires a great amount of raw material to produce even a small amount of essential oil. To produce one ounce of rose oil, it requires sixty thousand rose petals! (An Introduction to Aromatherapy; Susan Blake)
These oils work in a holistic manner, helping us not only physically, but mentally as well. Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways and are pleasant to use, no terrible side effects as is common with certain medications. They can be used directly on the skin, with massages, baths, foot baths, hot and cold compresses, perfumes. They can also be used in a diffuser and atomizer. Also they are great for facial steaming and inhalation. The key is learning which oils promote the benefits you desire. Below I will cover some of the essential oils used specifically for well-being.
The practice of the art of aromatherapy was elevated to a way of life in ancient Egypt. They used it for not only physical well-being, but also spiritually in their practice of embalming with resins from myrrh, clove and cinammon. Even thousands of years later, traces of these resins have been found!
The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, recommended daily aromatic bathes and massages to enhance health and feelings of happiness. Are you ready to book that massage? Let's see which essential oils we need for our daily 'happiness' rituals.
Flower Power for Well-Being
We live in a stressful world. All of us can benefit from more stress and tension relieving methods. Let's bring on the flowers! The most effective methods to promote well-being come with touch and heat, such as a bath or a massage. Those nice purse size atomizers are nice also for a quick spritz during the day. Essential oils can be directly added to bathwater or you can dilute a few drops with a bath oil base. Baths are great with the combined benefits of hot water and steam, in which the oils can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled at the same time. Massages feel amazing and are a great way to apply the oils directly onto the skin. Here are some of the relaxing oils.
- lavender- headaches and migraines respond well to its soothing effect on the nervous system. blends well with eucalyptus, geranium, jasmine, ylang ylang, lemon, tangerine.
- basil- a balancing oil which helps to relax and stimulate the nervous system helping to reduce stress and anxiety. blends well with bergamot, chamomile, lavender, lemongrass.
- bergamot- a balancing oil which soothes and invigorates the nervous system, helps to relieve depression and anxiety. blends well with all citrus oils, frankincense, lavender.
- cedarwood- helps to uplift, soothe, boost confidence, calm the nervous system. blends well with cypress, juniper berry, rose, patchouli, jasmine, sandalwood.
- chamomile- a gentle herb safe enough for children to help reduce over activity, tantrums. helps calm the nervous system, insomnia. blends well with patchouli, lavender, jasmine, geranium, rose, lemon.
- marjoram- very effective for soothing massages or for relief of muscle aches and pains. acts as a natural sedative, helpful with insomnia. blends well with bergamot, cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary.
- neroli- a very precious oil, more expensive. deeply relaxing and uplifting and treats trauma and hysteria. blends well with frankincense, patchouli, rose, lemon, orange.
- petitgrain- promotes relaxation, calm, relieves anxiety, stress reliever. blends well with orange, lemon, bergamot, mandarin, rose, clary sage, ylang ylang, chamomile.
- rose- the 'queen of flowers', encourages tender feelings, contentment, helps relieve PMS, menopausal problems, depression, irritability, sadness. blends well with frankincense, geranium, jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood, ylang, ylang.
Aromatherapy can be very therapeutic and relaxing. It can help to enhance our lives and bring about well- being in the comfort of our own home. As with anything that can alter a mood or come into contact with our skin, it is best to use trial and error and contact a physician if there are any questions or concerns. It is always best to consult with a physician if there is recurring stress in your life. I hope this article has helped you understand which essential oils can help to bring calm and serenity to your life. Wishing you the very best on your journey.