Aromatherapy is an alternate medical treatment which utilises essential oils - liquids which are distilled from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark or roots of a plant - and aromatic plant compounds; it is hoped these will improve the patient’s general health, well-being or general disposition. Medical doctors view this time of medical practice with skepticism, but studies have reported that aromatherapy can have some sort of a positive effect of an individual. This piece aims to resolve any questions you may have about aromatherapy.
The essential extracts of a plant are believed to provide psychological and physical benefits. There are over one hundred common essential oils and some you might recognise are lemon, lime, basil, carrot seed, oregano, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, sage, ginger, thyme, dill and peppermint. Aromatherapy also promotes the use of other natural ingredients such as vegetable oils, herbs, sea salts, sugars, hydrosols and milk powders. Products that have artificial ingredients are not entertained in aromatherapy treatments.
How does it all work?
The premise of aromatherapy is that these essential oils are supposed to stimulate the part of the brain which controls smell. A signal is then sent to the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls emotions – which is the catalyst for the release of certain chemicals which make the person feel relaxed, composed and calm.
Aromatherapists stipulate these aromatic oils have a direct influence on the body, but there isn’t any scientific or biological proof to back up these claims. The practice is especially popular in Western Europe – and France specifically – where it had been integrated into mainstream medicine as an antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial treatment. Some of the essential oils are actually regulated in France and can only be prescribed by a doctor.
Essential oils can also be applied topically – and absorbed into your bloodstream through your skin - but they should not be taken undiluted; their strength and concentration will overwhelm your senses. Instead they should be applied with a “carrier” solution, such as vegetable or grape-seed oil. The components of the oils are beneficial in aiding your beauty and hygienic conditioning.
Not all “labeled” aromatherapy products are as pure and natural as they advertise. Many of them contain synthetic or artificial ingredients and do not provide the same benefits as pure aromatic solutions. If you are thinking of trying aromatherapy for the first time, study the label to see if it contains any fragrance oils or perfumes.