What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils, specifically essential oils to balance and harmonise body, mind, spirit and promote a sense of overall health and wellbeing.
Essential oils have been around from the beginning of early civilisation.
The Egyptians placed a great value on aromatic oils and 35 alabaster jars for oils were found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Greeks attributed the invention of perfumes to the gods and believed all aromatic plants to be of divine origin.
There are many references to aromatics, ointments and incenses (such as frankincense, myrrh, rosemary etc.) in the Bible and Torah as well.
It proves that aromatic plants have been used for their aromas and therapeutic benefits for over 6000 years and early civilisations were aware of the regenerating, protective and immune-strengthening properties of the oils as well as the effect the aromas and scents have.
What are essential oils?
Essential oil, are aromatic compounds extracted or distilled from flowers, leaves, stems, bark, roots, berries or other parts of plants. These highly concentrated and potent essences contain dozens, sometimes hundreds of different volatile aromatic compounds that all work synergistically in protecting the plant from outside threats such as predators and pathogens and also play a role in plant pollination.
Our body is made of intelligent cells, designed to continually restore health but it’s also affected by many different factors from our environment such as pesticides and fertilizers in the food we eat, pollution in the air we breathe, chemicals in the water we drink. They are the most essential to us as we all breathe, eat food and drink water every day to nourish and sustain our body, don’t we? Paradoxically, these three are the worst offenders and can put our body under a lot of strain.
When we add stress of a modern fast paced life to it, we can see how easily our body can get thrown out of its natural state of balance leading to various symptoms and health issues.
How do they work?
Science found that essential oils constituents are both small in molecular size and are also lipid soluble allowing many of them to easily and quickly penetrate the skin (Onocha et al., 2011; Kohlert et al., 2000)
The lipid solubility of essential oil constituents also allows constituents to penetrate cell membranes, even if these membranes have hardened because of an oxygen deficiency (Onocha et al., 2011). In fact, essential oil constituents have the potential to affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes and then be metabolised like other nutrients (Jager et al., 1992; Jager et al., 1996).
Simplified, it means essential oils work with the body to address the issues and root causes interacting with body cells and supporting the body on a cellular level because they have the ability to diffuse into the cell membrane and enter the cells. That makes them effective in fighting viruses for example as viruses reside inside the cells compared to antibiotics that are ineffective in treating viral infections.
In 22 seconds aromatic molecules reach the brain, within 2 mins they can be found in the blood stream and in 20 minutes these molecules will affect every cell in the body.
Our cells have a 24-36 hour life span. Scientists discovered that essential oils are selective and cause cell apoptosis or death of the cells damaged beyond repair. In doing that, essential oils enable our body to do its part of the job – the reproduction of healthy cells.
Healthy cells = healthy tissues and organs= healthy body
We experience the world around us through our senses. Sense of smell being the most powerful of them all.
Smell of freshly cut grass, roses or wild flowers, the ocean, or perhaps the smell of a freshly baked apple pie or bread can all strongly affect our emotions and help us recall memories, more or less pleasant.
It all happens thanks to our olfactory system that sends the signals to the limbic system, a part of the brain responsible for emotions and formation of memories.
How to use essential oils
1. Topical Application
Because essential oils are easily absorbed by the skin they can be safely applied topically on the skin, to the areas of concern, used in aromatherapy massage and reflexology.
The oils can be added to bathwater, personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners, natural body lotions and creams etc.
Always follow the guidelines for dosages and make sure you dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (almond, grape seed, fractionated coconut oil, jojoba etc.) according to an essential oils dilution chart.
You can download a dilution chart here: http://tisserandinstitute.org/essential-oil-dilution-chart/
2. Aromatic Inhalation
If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose then you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils!
Essential oils can be diffused in the air in popular aroma diffusers, inhaled from a bottle, cupped hands or a tissue and put in a bowl of hot water and inhaled.
A few drops of essential oil in an aroma diffuser also purifies the air, eliminates unwanted odours and some airborne pathogens.
When inhaled some oils can be stimulating and uplifting (such as peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary and citrus oils), while others can be calming and soothing (such as lavender, roman chamomile, frankincense, rose) affecting our emotions and moods.
Internal usage of essential oils is the most controversial topic amongst aromatherapy experts.
Even in France where aromatherapy is practiced more aggressively and essential oils are prescribed for internal use by qualified Aromatherapists, apparently more and more therapists are moving away from this method of use.
Today essential oils are widely used in the food industry, meaning we ingest them every time we consume flavoured foods and drinks. These are ‘food grade essential oils’ that don’t have the benefits of the pure medicinal therapeutic grade essential oils used for healing but rather provide the desired aroma and flavour.
Only the highest quality, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils that are free from synthetic fillers and contaminants, fertilisers and pesticides, solvents (hexane) and are purchased from a trusted company/source, should be utilised this way and even then with a caution and under the guidance of a qualified professional.
Essential Oil quality
In reality the essential oil industry is hugely unregulated resulting in the market being saturated with synthetic fragranced oils, poor quality, diluted and adulterated oils labelled and marketed as pure essential oils.
Fragranced oils are highly toxic and harmful to our health and should not be used in any form.
However most aromatherapy candles, diffuser sticks, incense, air refreshers, to name the most popular, are nothing but synthetic fragrances that can cause headaches and nausea, respiratory issues, allergies, act as hormone disruptors and are even carcinogenic.
So bear in mind, not all oils are created equally!
The purity and potency of the oil is essential in providing desired results therefore it is advisable to buy your oils from a company/source you can trust.
If the oil is going to be of a high quality and potency it very much depends on the conditions the plants were grown in, such as the soil conditions and the plants natural habitat, when and how the plants were harvested and how the plant material was processed.
A little less than two years ago I was doing more research about essential oils and came across a company committed to deliver the highest quality oils they possibly can through ethical sourcing and multiple testing to ensure their purity and potency. That resonated with me on many levels and I’ve been using these oils with much success since.
I’m not saying there aren’t other good essential oils on the market but rather encouraging everyone to do their own research before purchasing.
So, what are the benefits of aromatherapy?*
Aromatherapy can help:
- reduce stress, relieve anxiety and ease depression
- support and strengthen the immune system
- reduce inflammation and pain
- boost energy levels
- improve focus and concentration
- ease digestive discomfort
Some of the ailments/symptoms/conditions that can be treated with aromatherapy are:
- headaches, migraines, insomnia
- colds and flu, viral and bacterial infections, fungal infections
- respiratory conditions such as sinus congestion, coughs, sore throat, earache
- digestive issues such as bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, cramps, colic, tummy bugs
- skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, cradle cap
- PMS symptoms, hormonal imbalances, thyroid issues
Widespread acceptance of essential oils, both within and outside of the scientific community has led many to choose this more natural approach to health and wellbeing.
Aromatherapy can be used at home safely, as long as the guidelines are followed. Essential oils can be easily incorporated into everyday life to address various minor symptoms and conditions. As a complementary therapy and under the guidance of a qualified Aromatherapist it can be used alongside conventional medicine to provide relief from the side effects of certain medication and treatments and increase the quality of a person’s life.
*The information in this section of the article is of an holistic nature and doesn’t serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. In cases of serious medical condition always seek advice from a medical professional.
About the Author
Article by Natasha Nesic-Raketic, Complementary Therapist
Natasha is passionate and committed to helping others expand their capacity to achieve a healthy and vibrant life. She promotes natural solutions for health and wellbeing through her talks, classes and workshops and offers personal consultations and treatments to her clients.
Having worked as an aerobic instructor and fitness trainer for 9 years in leading Fitness centres in her home country Croatia, Natasha became aware how balanced diet, appropriate physical activity and effective stress management can greatly improve health and wellbeing and increase the quality of a person’s life. It further led her to embarking on a spiritual journey with Reiki and Crystal healing.
As an holistic practitioner Natasha has an understanding of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual body connection and combines Nutrition, Aromatherapy, Reiki and Crystals in her Wellbeing Therapie practice. She creates personalised programs and offers treatments that in her opinion meet a person’s specific needs best.
Natasha gained her Reiki level II certificate in 1996.
From 2007-2010 she trained with the world’s renowned teacher Jhadten Jewall of Sacred Spaces in the Art of Crystal healing.
As a busy mum of two beautiful boys she studied online at Health Science Academy, UK and in 2015 gained UK level 5 professional diploma in Nutritional therapy.
In 2016 she gained qualification in Aromatherapy from Centre of Excellence.
For more info visit : https://www.facebook.com/WELL-BEING-Therapie-162116937696321/
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Contact Natasha on: +353 86 3365946, or send an email to : firstname.lastname@example.org