Aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine, has a variety of uses including pain relief, mood enhancement, and increased cognitive function.
The natural oils extracted from parts of a plant like flowers, leaves, roots, bark, stems of certain plants are used to formulate the essential oils used in Aromatherapy.
Inhaling the aroma from these “essential” oils is believed to stimulate brain function.
Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing.
The Greeks, Romans, Indians, and ancient Egyptians all have used aromatherapy oils.
Aromatherapy has been used as a form of healing for at least 6,000 years old.
A few of the popular aromatic plant oils and their uses for the following symptoms include:
peppermint – digestive disorders
rosemary – muscular pains, mental stimulant
sandalwood – depression, anxiety, and nervous tension
sweet orange – depression, and anxiety
tea tree – respiratory problems, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral
lavender – headaches, insomnia, burns, aches, and pains.
A more comprehensive list of Essential Oils is listed at the NAHA website
Aromatherapy works through the sense of smell and skin absorption using products like:
body oils, creams, or lotions for massage or topical application
hot and cold compresses
You can use these alone or in any combination.
What are the benefits of aromatherapy?
Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic
Research on the effectiveness of aromatherapy — the therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from plants — is limited.
However, some studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including:
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Improved quality of life, particularly for people with chronic health conditions
- Improved sleep
Smaller studies suggest that aromatherapy with lavender oil may help:
- Reduce pain for people with osteoarthritis of the knee
- Improve quality of life for people with dementia
- Reduce pain for people with kidney stones
Essential oils used in aromatherapy are typically extracted from various parts of plants and then distilled. The highly concentrated oils may be inhaled directly or indirectly or applied to the skin through massage, lotions or bath salts. Some essential oil manufacturers have oils that can be taken internally, but research on the safety and efficacy of this method is extremely limited.
Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.
Many essential oils have been shown to be safe when used as directed. However, essential oils used in aromatherapy aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
When oils are applied to the skin, side effects may include allergic reactions, skin irritation, and sun sensitivity. In addition, further research is needed to determine how essential oils might affect children and how the oils might affect women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as how the oils might interact with medications and other treatments.
If you’re considering aromatherapy, consult your doctor and a trained aromatherapist about the possible risks and benefits.
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