Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils and other natural aromatic compounds from plants to affect one’s mental or physical health. Essential oils, are known as hydrophobic i.e. non-water mixing or volatile i.e. air mixing. Essential oils are sometimes referred to as an “oil of” a plant e.g. oil of lavender. Essential oils are referred to as “essential” because they are the perceived “essence” of a plant.
Essential oils and other elements used in aromatherapy are used for relieving a variety of discomfort from indigestion to headaches. Aromatherapy is used to alter mood, inspire confidence, ease depression, and increase energy. In many cultures essential oils are used for their antiseptic value to treat infection. In France, essential oils viewed and considered in a similar way prescription drugs are in the United States. Essential oil treatments can be delivered in many different ways- direct inhalation of vapors, inhalation of steam from a vaporizer, through massage, or through therapeutic baths. It is important to note, however, that essential oils are diluted in carrier oils (neutral, odorless oils) before being used on skin. Essential oils can be used singly or in combinations with other essential oils.
Other products used in Aromatherapy besides essential oils include absolutes, phytoncides, and infusions. Absolutes are essentially purer forms of essential oils that have had their lighter, less dense components extracted with ethanol. Phytoncides are natural antimicrobial liquids used by many plants to protect themselves from rotting or being eaten by insects and animals. Infusions are oils or other liquids that have been infused with herbs, flowers, or berries.
One of the more popular and widely used aromas is lavender. Lavender grows well in rocky environments that have good sunlight. Lavender has woody branches and green leaf-like shoots resembling rods. The grayish green leaves are oblong and in curled spiral patterns. Lavender oil is taken from the flowers of the plant with steam distillation.
Lavender oil blends well with many other essential oils including cedarwood, pine, clary sage, geranium, and nutmeg. The flowers of lavender are fragrant in nature and have been used for making potpourris.
Lavender’s Latin name Lavare, means “to wash”.
Lavender essential oil has a calming scent and helps in treating migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. Lavender aroma eases nervous exhaustion and restlessness and increases mental activity. Lavender essential oil induces sleep and is recommended for insomnia. Lavender essential oil helps ease pains caused by sore muscles, tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache and lumbago. Massage with lavender oil helps relieve pain in the joints. Lavender oil helps in restoring hormonal balance and reduces inflammation of the urinary bladder. Lavender oil is often helpful for respiratory problems including throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. The oil is either used in the form of vapor or applied on the skin of neck, chest and back. It is also added in many vaporizers and inhalers used for cold and coughs.
Lavender oil helps skin because of its antiseptic and antifungal properties. Lavender oil is used for various skin disorders e.g. acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburn.. Lavender oil is added to chamomile to treat eczema. Lavender essential oil is useful on lice and lice eggs or nits in hair. Lavender essential oil is also good for improving blood circulation by lowering blood pressure and hypertension. Lavender oil for digestion increases the mobility of the intestines increases production of gastric juices and bile and so eases indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhea. Lavender oil also helps improve the immune system. Lavender can be used as an insect repellent for mosquitoes and helps heal insect bites. As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breast feeding women, people with diabetic concerns or people with unusually sensitive skin should avoid using lavender essential oil.
The health benefits of aromatherapy has been underestimated. Aromatherapy has often been considered to be only a way to make “everything smell nice”. The health benefits of aromatherapy are much more powerful and effective than is commonly perceived or known by most people. Aromatherapy is a deeply beneficial natural healing modality for enhancing emotional balance and physical health.
Jennifer has more than twenty years experience with all natural health care.