Nowadays people tend to be more health conscious than they used to be, and yet at the same time there are appear to be more illnesses around and therefore more medication being used. Perhaps that is why alternative therapies and remedies are increasing in popularity.
Among these are magnotherapy, crystal therapy, herb treatment and aromatherapy. This is an article about aromatherapy, its history and uses.
Aromatherapy is when oil is extracted from a plant, (in some cases this is done chemically, so check before you buy), and used for well being. The resulting oil is called essential oil, as it is the essence of that plant.
In many cases the oil promotes a “better state of mind”, be this relieving stress, calming, or having less pain, but there are also many essential oils that do cure physical symptoms. A couple of examples of this are peppermint for indigestion, clove oil rubbed on a sore tooth will ease the pain, (but not if the cause is an abscess), and lavender for burns.
It has been said many times that “essential oils improve mental, physical, and emotional well-being”, yet they are still not as widely used as other cures.
Aromatherapy can help our immune system, combat disease and infection, aid digestion, respiratory problems, muscle ache, circulation, stress and anxiety, insomnia and headaches – amongst other problems.
It is believed the effect is two-fold. One is the effect the aroma has on our brain and the other is the actual effect on the body. Aromatherapy does not really cure, but rather it helps our bodies to cure themselves.
Aromas have played an important part in our history since records began. Trading began, all those years ago, thanks to the huge demand for sandalwood and other spices.
It was the search for plants that inspired the Egyptians to travel into central Africa, the Greeks to journey to remote islands and the Chinese to leave the mainland.
Aromatic plants were often the basis for ancient medicine. At first the items prescribed were aromatic plants that really worked, but these were soon mixed with “magic” ingredients. Whether this came about to add a “shock factor” and become more noticeable, or because the “doctors” really believed these odd ingredients really added value is something no one seems to know.
They were used in religious ceremonies and in some cases, still are.
Hippocrates recommended essential oils, and as he was ahead of his time, he suggested they be used as preventative medicine.
Modern Versus Old Medicine
Modern medicine has overpowered the old methods and doctors are, on the whole, reluctant to admit that a natural cure can be just as effective as a scientific one. Perhaps there is a need to justify the enormous amounts of money spent on research – the results of which are often a synthetic or chemical cure that replicates an older natural one.
Scientific medicine may heal as well as a natural cure – but it has “bad” side effects, something which is not generally present in a natural cure. There are, obviously, cases where nature falls short and scientific cures make people well or save lives where the alternative natural cure would neither have cured or saved a life. In cases such as these it is great to have chemical medicine, but why are man made cures offered before natural ones when they both offer the same curative powers?
It is also important to note that not everything that is natural is good for you. Arsenic and belladonna, (deadly nightshade), are natural, so is digitalis. Digitalis comes from the plant Foxglove and can help heart problems, but if taken by a person who does not have heart trouble it can cause serious problems and may even lead to death.
How to use Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is basically using essential oils, in some way or form, to cure or to compliment scientific treatment.
There are many varying ways to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy:
This may be a personal way, such as;
• putting an oil into your bath
• having a massage
• rubbing oil onto your pulse points to have a continual smell
• making up a “water mist spray” by diluting the aroma in water and spraying yourself with the mist
• adding to body creams
• steam inhalation
It may be in he home;
• air fresheners – add a few drops of oil to a spray bottle of water, shake and spray (most bought air fresheners contain harmful chemicals)
• room fragrances – scrub old peach kernels, place in a dish and drop some oil on top. You can also coat half the kernel with silicone and place around the room to create a total fragrance. (The silicone stops the oil staining carpet, shelves and so on.)
• oil burners – add a few drops of oil to water and light
• reed diffusers – mix some oil and water in an old reed diffuser bottle for a therapeutic fragrance
• added to potpourri (make your own with pine cones and flower petals and buds)
• candles – melt old odour free candles and add drops of essential oil. Either add a wick or place in a dish with a candle below
• eliminate odours – for smoke a mix of rosemary essential oil, tea tree oil, (anti-microbia), and eucalyptus oil should do the trick, while cooking smells need peppermint essential oil and lavender oil
What each type of Oil Does
This has a woody odour and is good as an aftershave. Inhaled it helps relieve catarrh and as a room fragrance it is calming.
This has a fresh citrus, pine type aroma and is a natural antiseptic, anti-bacterial and decongestant, (when used as a steam inhalant). It also lessens the pain of headaches.
This warm, spicy aroma works as a tonic for the mind.
An anti-bacterial, antiseptic, pain reliever, this cleanses the body and mind, giving energy and promoting circulation.
One of the most expensive essential oils, this rich, woody aroma helps reduce high blood pressure and as a room fragrance gives a sense of well being.
A calming, soothing, aphrodisiac with a strong floral scent, Ylang Ylang is great in a bath or as a room fragrance.
With an earthy smell, this helps chapped skin and is an anti-fungal.
Peppermint is good for the digestion, (and is available in drops for ingestion), helps headaches and bad breath.
Negative Effects of Aromatherapy
Each substance is different and will have a differing reaction for each person. While there are relatively few adverse effects, it is important to find out what an essential oil does before buying it, and not buy something just because it has a nice smell.
Most of the side effects come from rubbing the oils onto your skin or ingesting them, so using them as room fragrances is generally safe. The best advice is to ask your health care professional if you wish to rub or take an essential oil.
Using aromatherapy in your home is about as safe as it gets, so like many alternative medicines you have nothing to loose and everything to gain. The fragrances given off by these oils are more pleasant than most air fresheners and will give your home a boost if nothing else.
I use essential oils in every room in the house, mostly on peach kernels or reed diffusers. I also put a few drops of Ylang Ylang into my bath. The bottle says 5-10 drops, but I dropped the bottle into the water. Believing it would be all right and that not much oil would have come out of the tiny hole in the bottle, I got into the bath and stayed there feeling great for about 30 minutes. When I decided it was time to get out I found I was so week I could not get up. I had to call my partner and get him to let the water out and lift me onto the bed. After about an hour I was fine again and still felt great, but it had relaxed me so much I could not move, so – Yes, it does work, and Yes, it was silly to get into the water – but hindsight is a great thing.