Nowadays, the use of alternative therapies with mainstream medicine has sparked interest among many. Aromatherapy is one of the complementary therapies which uses essential oils as therapeutic agents for the treatment of several diseases. The essential oils are extracted from several sources including flowers, stems, leaves, roots and even fruits. Various extraction methods are used for the same.
Aromatherapy came into being when scientists deciphered the antiseptic nature and the overall skin permeability properties within several essential oils. Now the practice has grown tremendously and one can use essential oils for treatment through inhalation, local application and even by taking baths. The crux of the matter is to penetrate the human skin surface. Once the oils are absorbed into the system, they work naturally on the area of malfunction. The therapy makes use of multiple permutations and combinations for working on different problems including indigestion, headache, muscular pain, skin ailments, swollen joints, and the like. The essential oils are said to be more impactful if dietary needs are given due consideration too.
A Brief History of Essential Oils in Aromatherapy
The earliest evidence of healing properties of plants was found in Lascaux, in France. Cave paintings suggested use of medicinal plants, carbon dated back in 18,000 B.C.E. Recorded history have both shows that Egyptians made use of aromatic oils in 4500 B.C.E and were quite well versed with cosmetology, ointments and essential oils. “Kyphi” is one of the most popular mixtures that made use of nearly 16 ingredients and was used widely as perfume or medicine in those times. Oils from plants were transformed into different types of pills, powders, and ointments too. Use of Essential oils was first recorded in China in the years between 2697-2597 B.C.E especially during the reign of Huang Ti, who was named the Yellow Emperor. He wrote a famous book “The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine” which contains details of several essential oils and is still considered a classic by several practitioners today.
“Ayur Veda” also has a 3000-year history of using essential oils for healing maladies. Vedic literature has listed nearly 700 substances including the benefits of ginger, myrrh and sandalwood as great healing oils.
Many other ancient cultures recognized the benefits of scented oils. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, had stated that the key to good health depends on a routine aromatic bath and scented massage. Discorides wrote about the oils in his treatise Materia Medica especially about the importance of cardamon, cinnamon, basil, frankincense, pine, rose, and thyme. Bay laurel for instance is known to create a trance-like state; rose and coriander were known to be aphrodisiacs, while myrrh and marjoram could be used as sedatives.
From years, an integral part of ayurvedic medicine is aromatic oil massages. Jasmine has been used time and again as a general tonic for the body. Rose was used as antidepressant while Chamomile treated headaches, dizziness and the like.
Some of the most important essential oils that are used today include:
- Aloe Oil
- Amyris Oil
- Anise Oil
- Arnica Oil
- Bay Oil
- Burdock Oil
- Cardamom Seed Oil
- Carrot Seed Oil
- Citronella Oil
- Clary Sage Oil
- Corn Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Frangipani Oil
- German Chamomile Oil
- Grapefruit Oil
How aromatherapy works?
Essential oils have always made their importance felt as fragrance with curative potential on body, mind and spirit. These aroma molecules are extremely potent and make the environment free from disease, virus and fungus. The versatile nature of the oils along with their immune booster properties that affect hormonal, glandular, and circulatory systems positively is documented by different scientists. These oils are also known for longevity as their potency does not reduce with time and age.
The penetration potential of the oils and enter the subcutaneous tissues is what makes them so effective. Aroma therapies involves integration of the essential oils to work as biological signals of receptor cells when inhaled that are transmitted to the brain via olfactory bulb. Neuro messengers are released as a result including serotonin, endorphin that assure a desired change to the body and also relief.
Essential oils are often extracted by distillation, and by using steam. Some also use other processes including expression method, solvent extraction method, regular absolute oil extraction method, resin tapping, and even the process of cold pressing. The oils are routinely used in perfumes, cosmetics and soaps and also form an important part of drinks, incenses and household cleaning products.
Here are some of the types of aromatherapy that are in vogue:
- Cosmetic aromatherapy – Utilizes essential oils for skin, body, face and hair with various effects including cleansing, moisturizing and toning. A full-body or foot bath can relax the senses while a few drops of the right oil can rejuvenate and revitalize you too.
- Massage aromatherapy – Use almond or jojoba oil with vegetable oil for massage for quick healing
- Medical aromatherapy – the essential oils are used for massaging patients during surgery, for promoting and treating many clinically diagnosed medical ailments.
- Olfactory aromatherapy – Inhalation of essential oils for enhanced emotional wellness, calmness or rejuvenation. Pleasurable scents unlock odour memories and releases stress
- Psycho-aromatherapy – Certain oils can deliver the pleasure of relaxation or a pleasant memory and is direct though infusion. The discipline studiesthe effects of aroma is limited with study of natural essential oils.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is based on treatments with different aromas. A natural way of healing a person, here is an alternative therapy that has its origins thousands of years back. One can do away from complications and conditions, with Aromatherapy owing to its widespread use, and is recognized as aroma science therapy too. The discipline includes several therapeutic, cosmetic and spiritual uses and the oils are concentrated substances extracted from several sources as mentioned above. They include saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, aldehydes, esters, ketones, oxides and the like which emit several characteristic odours. Most of them have pleasant smells while they also boast of high refractive index. They are potent and concentrated and can work effectively on various body points to heal them.
These oils are rarely taken internally as inhalation and the application are the very basics of aromatherapy. Some of the salient benefits of these essential oils include:
- They can relieve stress, rejuvenate and regenerate, working on the olfactory nerves effectively.
- They possess antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiviral properties
- Helpful to treat Alzheimer, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer
- Their organic character provides a feeling of well-being
Aromatherapy can function as a strong alternative medicine approach for many and are known to be very effective in many cases. The choice of essential oils can be ascertained by aroma-therapists who have keen insights about the disciplines and their effectiveness in different medical scenarios.