How to Use Aromatherapy to Heal Body, Mind and Soul.
Aromatherapy has its roots in ancient history dating back to at least 400 BC. Ancient Egyptians use plants oils for cosmetic and spiritual relaxations as well as to embalm the dead. The Greeks too used herbs and scented plants for many medicinal and cosmetic purposes. In fact, Hypocrites (circa 400 BC0, also lovingly known as the “father of medicine,” studied hundreds of scented plants and herbs and believed that aromatic baths and oil massages can promote good health. In the Bible, use of oils (combination of olive, myrrh and frankincense) was mentioned for the anointing of Kings and herbs had religious significance. For instance, branches of hyssops(signifies purification) were dipped in blood and used to brush the doorposts of Israelites to mark them for protection when the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt.
But who is the genius that came up with the name, “aromatherapy” that is now synonymous to holistic healing of body, mind and soul? The credit goes to French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse, who accidentally discovered the therapeutic use of lavender to induce sleep and relieve pain. He coined the word “aromatherapy” a compound Greek word, meaning fragrance (aroma) and treatment (therapy).
According to the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, aromatherapy encompasses over 9000 years of history that supports and exemplifies and solidifies the therapeutic properties of essential oils. Then why are there doctors that still doubt its efficacy? For skeptics and doubters, here are some solid scientific evidences but there are so many of them, I can only offer a few, so nobody falls asleep reading this:
Aromatherapy Can Alter Behavior
In animal studies, mice were given high doses of caffeine, to make them hyperactive (imagine a cage full of them). When the cage is sprayed with the scent of lavender, sandalwood and other soothing oils, they calmed down. Conversely, when orange terpines and thymol were sprayed, they became irritable. Researchers found oils in their bloodstream after about an hour which explained the outcome of their behavior.
Aromatherapy for Sleep
Cranky old ladies who had difficulty sleeping ( had to use sleeping medication) slept like babies when lavender scent was used in their bedrooms at night---according to a study in the British Medical Journal Lancet.
Aromatherapy for Colds
The age-cold use of chicken soup to heal cold is not without basis. However, it is not the nutrients or the steaming effect of a hot bowl of chicken soup (although these qualities help) but the aroma of chicken soup that is the overriding factor in inducing healing, according to various studies.
Aromatherapy for Stress
In a study conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York, nervous patients about to undergo the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) reported 63 percent less claustrophobic stress when they given vanilla aromatherapy before the procedure. Why? Researchers explained that the vanilla scent reduced anxiety either by evoking pleasant memories or triggering some calming physiological response.
Another study revealed that when 122 patients were given oil of lavender in the intensive unit, these patients reported feeling much better than other forms of calm inducing strategies such as massage or undisturbed rest.
This one, I throw in more good measure:
Japanese bosses reported less mistakes made by keypunch operators when workers are exposed to fragrance. Hmm... bosses---it pays to have nice-smelling working environment.
Aromatherapy and Male Sexual Response
Studies show that male sexual organ improved substantially when treated with aromatherapy involving licorice or lavender or pumpkin pie. Also, men who are the most sexually active responded well to vanilla, cola and oriental spice. For older men, vanilla is preferred. These findings reveal a comforting fact for those with impotence: aromatherapy is an effective therapy for impotence arising from a blood vessel disorder or from psychogenic factors.
No more doubts? If you are still skeptical, let me summarize the benefits of aromatherapy to heal the body, mind and soul:
Psychological and Physical Benefits
Inhaling essential oils (volatile parts of aromatic plants extracted by steam distillation or expression) can provide both psychological and physical benefits. It can stimulate the brain to trigger a certain reaction, or what we call mood. By altering the psychological aspects of our bodies, essential oils can enhance our general well-being.
The blending of various essential oils can create different aromas for therapeutic purposes. This process is referred to as essential oil synergy and the total effects are more powerful than a single essential oils working independently. The healing effects include: reduce stress, relief from headache, sleep improvement, hormones regulation, boost immune system, promote blood circulation and heal skin diseases.
Health and Beauty Aids
Want beautiful smooth skin? Healthy hair? Essential oils can do that. By picking the right one for your target goal, you can put aromatherapy to good use. Since essential oil is thick, carrier oils are often used to dilute it before application. Examples of carrier oils include sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and grapeseed oil.
Household Use (even though it doesn’t concern your body and soul, it concerns your bodily comforts)
Some essential oils are used in household and laundry cleaners. Some oils are great insect repellent and pesticide. Citronella probably comes to mind, especially if you have used one of the citronella candles to keep gnats and mosquitoes away during hot summer months.
Now, let’s put our knowledge to practical use—how you can effectively use essential oils to promote the health of your body and soul.
De-stress Your Body
Are you tired, irritable after a hard day’s work? Or stressed with the weight of the world on your shoulders? Enjoy a warm bath using essential oils. Add 3 to 6 oils of essential oil to 6 ml of bath foam or gel. Add mixture to bath and soak in it for 20 minutes to allow the constituents of essential oil to infiltrate your skin. Try rosemary or sage to invigorate or lavender or Melissa oil to calm and relax your body.
Don’t like long baths? Or you only have showers. Try essential oil message—relaxes tense muscles and it can also evoke moods.
Use 3 drops of essential oil, diluted with 6 ml of carrier oils. Gently massage your body or get your partner to do it for you. Ylang ylang and cedar oil can evoke sensuality. Lavender soothes and calms. If you’re looking for more practical use, chamomile exfoliates. Geranium is commonly used by massage therapists to promote blood circulation and self healing.
What makes hair sparse and spotty? Unhealthy hair follicles. To stimulate hair growth, nourish hair follicles with essential oils. To stop hair loss, try cedar wood, rosemary and laurel oil. Rosemary and cypress act as hair tonics. If dry and weathered hair mane is your bane—opt for Camomile or lavender oil. Other essential oils for healthy hair include geranium and mandarin oil. Again, the ratio is 3 drops of essential oil to 6 ml of carrier oils, rub gently into scalp and leave it on for half an hour. Shampoo off and dry. Essential oils can also be added to conditioner.
Perennial beautiful skin is desirable. Hands up if you’re nonchalant about this? What if beautiful skin is possible without breaking the bank (so to speak, cos some well-known skin care can chock up hundreds)? Certain essential oil can stimulate sebaceous glands to function properly, ensuring supple skin. Simply add 2 drops of essential oils to 6 ml of cleansing milk, tonic lotion or skin moisturizer and apply to face. Try combining essential oil with rose water to spritz on your face whenever it feels dry (especially on airplane as air can be extremely dry).
Try these powerful skin savers:
Calendula: stimulate collagen production
Carrot seed: its rich supply of beta carotene repairs damaged skin tissue while rebuilding collagen under skin
Geranium: ketones found in geranium promote skin regeneration and blood circulation.
Lemon: rich in vitamin C and antioxidants—encourage collagen production while exerting its antimicrobial properties.
Smell is powerful—the scent of a woman, the smell of cinnamon buns, the burst of zest of a lemon, a lime…the list goes on. Smell can create a mood, bring back pleasant memories (or not) and an aromatherapy practitioner will tell you this as well—aromas can heal. Some aromas are lethal to microbes, for instance Sage, Laurel and Eucalyptus. Some scent can free congestion of lungs—Eucalyptus is well known for that. To flush foul odor such as tobacco, consider lemon, mandarin, orange and pennyroyal essential oils.
To infuse a room with fragrance of your choice, add 4 to 8 drops of essential oil into the bowl of an aromatherapy oil burner. Fill it up with water and put it over a candle. Allow the aroma to permeate your room and enjoy the benefits.You can also use a diffuser.
© 2010 anglnwu