How Does It Work?
Aromatherapy is a therapeutic natural practice that can be used to promote health, beauty and a sense of well being. It involves using pure Essential Oils by a variety of methods, including inhalation, bathing and massage.
When you use essential oils in the bath or massage, the healing properties absorb right through the skin.
As you inhale an aroma, odor molecules enter your nostrils and drift up toward your olfactory receptors. Once the receptors identify an odor, nerve cells relay this information directly to the limbic system. The olfactory nerve cells are the only sensory pathways that open directly into the brain.
The limbic system is a group of deep brain structures that are involved in the sense of smell. Here odors can trigger memories and influence emotions and behavior. The brain registers aroma twice as fast as it does pain. This is why the inhalation of aromas can so powerfully transform the emotions. The limbic system works with the nervous system, respiratory, circulatory and immune systems of our bodies.
When you inhale essential oils, they enter into your respiratory system as well as your brain. In your lungs, molecules of essential oils attach themselves to oxygen molecules and are carried into your blood stream and circulated to every cell in your body. Within the cells, essential oils can activate the body’s ability to heal itself and improve health.
International scientific research suggests that aromatherapy can increase productivity levels, information retention and relaxation.
Implementing aromatherapy into your life is easy and feels so good. It not only strengthens your connection with Mother Nature, it helps you to take the time to relax and enjoy life.
How Essential Oils Interact With The Body
In Aromatherapy, essential oils have four modes of action in interacting with the human body.
Pharmacological: is the effects of chemical changes which take place when an essential oil enters the bloodstream and reacts with hormones, enzymes, etc.;
Physiological : is the way an essential oil affects the systems of the body, whether they are sedated or stimulated, etc.;
Psychological: is the individual response to the inhaled aroma of an essential oil.
Holistic: is the human body’s total response to an essential oil, including but not limited to, the responses listed above.
Aromatherapy and essential oils have been around for thousands of years. And now scientific research has proven that these wonderful smelling substances are complex and powerful with remarkable medicinal properties.
Four Methods of Aromatherapy
It’s been said that drinking tea is soothing to the soul. All tea is beneficial to the body whether it is herbal, black or green. Tea contains trace minerals and nutrients that are beneficial to the different systems of the body. Green, oolong and black tea provide fluoride and contain polyphenols. Research indicates tea may actually help prevent different types of cancer including breast, colon, lung and skin cancer. Herbal tea varies quite a lot. Some aid the digestive system, some calm the nervous system, while others help ease depression and even breathing difficulties.
Directions for making tea: Bring water to a full rolling boil before pouring over tea. Let tea steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength you desire.
Remember, never boil herbs because they lose much of their valuable healing qualities.
Bathing with herbs is like slipping into a hot cup of tea. Instead of drinking the tea, your body absorbs the healing qualities directly through the skin. A bath should last about 20 minutes to allow for total saturation of the skin. A nice thing about herbs in the bath is that you also inhale the steam and the healing properties go directly into your lungs.
Choose herbs that stimulate a sluggish body, like mints or rosemary. These herbs also help cool you down on a hot summer day. Or choose herbs like chamomile or hops to help you wind down after a busy day. If your muscles are tired and aching, add rosemary or mugwort to your herbal bath. Mugwort is a great herb to use if you meditate or just like to soul search in the tub.
Directions for bathing with herbs: Use a muslin bag or a 3 inch mesh bath ball to hold the herbs. Fill with 1/4 cup or more of dried herbs. Hang under your faucet to allow the hot water to flow through the herbs. When the bath is drawn, place bag or ball in the water to steep.
For a stronger effect, make an infusion by steeping 1/4 cup herbs for 15 to 20 minutes in a quart of water that has just been boiled. Then pour infusion into the bath water.
Either way, this is a splendid way to use herbs and receive their healing benefits.
Inhalation is hard for some to understand as a way of healing. When you study how the systems of the body work in detail, it is easy to see exactly how this form of natural healing works. The nose is not a subject most have studied and it’s not the most popular of our senses. The sense of smell is mostly subtle. Unless an odor is offensive or overpowering, you usually don’t give it a second thought. When you take the time to experience your sense of smell, you start to find out how fun and exciting this sense can be. You smell things from long ago and you begin to look forward to all the unexpected memories those scents bring.
There are many ways to inhale herbs. Simmering pots are very popular. Have you ever thought to put your orange peel in a simmering pot? With recycling being more and more important, it is nice to find natural ways to use things more than once. Cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger are wonderful additions to orange peels in your simmering pot. Or throw some herbs in a saucepan of water and simmer on the stove (or wood stove). This is a great way to infuse your surroundings with the aromatic herbs of whatever season it happens to be.
A lot of herbs and essential oils have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Using essential oils in a spritzer is a terrific way to kill airborne bacteria, freshen the air and lift your spirits. Studies show it even increases your alertness and productivity.
Diffusers have become very popular and for good reasons. The diffusers allow the molecules to be released into the atmosphere where they are inhaled and disperse throughout the body.
Massage has been one of the most popular and accepted forms of herbal healing for a long time. It is an easy, pleasant way to receive the healing benefits of essential oils. However, essential oils are very concentrated and should always be diluted with a Carrier Oil such as almond, sunflower, even olive oil will do. Each oil has unique qualities of its own. When you add a few drops of a particular essential oil or a blend of oils, you can provide relief and healing for a variety of ailments from eczema, cuts and wounds to arthritis, depression and insomnia.
As you begin to use each one of these methods, you will see how easy it is to implement aromatherapy into your life. You will also notice random moments of joy throughout your daily life as you become more and more aware of the scents in your environment and the pleasure they can bring.