Scent has a tendency to bring us back to certain memories. Freshly cut grass reminds us of the long summer days when we were kids, the salt air invokes memories of lazy days at the beach and a gardenia’s strong floral scent reminds us of our grandparents who would give them to us on special occasions. But scent can also alter your mood, lift your spirits and even relax you. We are here to give you the down low on what aromatherapy is and why it is such an amazing way to help you relax or lift your mood.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is using a plant’s aroma-producing oils (essential oils) to treat disease. Essential oils are taken from a plant’s flowers, leaves, stalks, bark, rind, or roots. The oils are mixed with another substance (such as oil, alcohol, or lotion) and then put on the skin, sprayed in the air, or inhaled. You can also massage the oils into the skin or pour them into bath water. True essential oils aren’t blended with other chemicals or fragrances. They’re made using a specific process that doesn’t change the chemistry of the plant.
The actual term “aromatherapy” was invented by the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1935 after a burn incident, he claimed he treated it effectively with lavender essential oil.
What is Aromatherapy used for?
Essential oils—the most natural way to capture Earth’s essences—have long been used to alter mood, generate energy, lift spirits and help people stay on task. Now that we know the power of scent, we can use it to our advantage. We can change or create our mood or story. We can boost our energy and become more alert, or we can reduce stress and sleep better. We can diffuse anger and frustration or heighten confidence to get through a presentation. The naturally occurring chemical constituents within essential oils are what make them so powerful. It’s also what lends these oils their medicinal properties.
How do essential oils work?
Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that fragrances in the oils stimulate nerves in the nose. Those nerves send impulses to the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion. Depending on the type of oil, the result on the body may be calming or stimulating. When essential oils are applied to the skin they are absorbed and travel around the body via the bloodstream. In this way they are able to deliver a range of benefits to the body’s systems and organs. Absorption is increased by massage, as this increases the circulation in that area of the body.
Is aromatherapy safe?
Aromatherapy is generally safe. Essential oils can cause side effects, though. Some can irritate your eyes, skin, or mucous membranes in your nose. They can also cause mild allergic reactions. Essential oils capture the very essence of the plant, so they’re incredibly concentrated and powerful. But don’t be intimidated! Just follow the label warnings and precautions, and take note of these basic usage guidelines and safety tips. You’ll soon be ready for the next chapter.
Health and safety guidelines:
- Essential oils are flammable. Keep away from open flame and high-heat sources.
- Keep oils tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets.
- Never ingest essential oils.
- Always dilute essential oils with a vegetable oil like jojoba oil or sweet almond oil if you use them on your skin.
- The following oils should only be used in a diffuser or other non-skin application since they have more potential to irritate the skin: Cinnamon, Basil, Clove Bud, Lemongrass, Nutmeg, Wintergreen and Sage.*
- If you’d like to use an oil on your skin, do a skin test by diluting a small amount and applying it to your inner arm.
- If redness, burning, itching or irritation occurs during the test or at any time, stop using the oil immediately. Wash with soap and water for ten minutes. You may also anoint the area with any vegetable-based oil, and wipe with a clean cloth or cotton ball to remove residual essential oil.
- Strong citrus oils applied topically can make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light. If oil is used on the skin, protect exposed areas from the sun during use and up to 12 hours afterwards.
- Keep oils away from eyes and mucous membranes.
- Always use the recommended amounts.
- Avoid Sage, Wintergreen, Rosemary, Sweet Fennel and Eucalyptus if you have epilepsy.
- If you have a medical condition or are taking prescription drugs, consult with your healthcare professional.
- If you are pregnant or nursing, please avoid the following essential oils: Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Sage, Sweet Basil, Sweet Fennel, Wintergreen, Clary Sage, Nutmeg or Peppermint.*
- If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor before using the following oils in aromatherapy: Black Pepper (Morning Chai Blend), Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage or Thyme.*
- If you have any concerns about using oils, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor.
*NOTE: Oils listed include only those we carry and may not be a complete list of all essential oils.
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