INTRO TO AROMATHERAPY
The use of essential oils has been gaining in popularity over the past few years. Whether in a massage oil, natural cosmetic product, or simply in diffusion, the plant essences have a therapeutic power. Hence the term “aromatherapy” (therapy with essential oils).
Aromatherapy is a gentle complementary medicine that uses essential oils (yes, I’m repeating myself!). In other words, “oily” essences derived from a wide variety of plants. Why “oily”? Because we can extract oils from plants to produce both (essential) oils and floral waters (hydrolate). Plants contain certain chemical molecules that serve to protect them against insects and/or rodents, as well as certain viruses and bacteria. “Pure” essential oils are very powerful; so much so that they must always be diluted in a fatty substance (such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, shea butter, etc.) before being applied to our skin. They can also be used in diffusion, inhalation and for massages. We can be very creative in the mixes/blends we make but we must be vigilant! In fact, poorly dosed essential oils used in the manufacture of cosmetics or applied directly to your body can cause adverse skin or allergic reactions. It’s important to be well informed before blending essential oils yourself. One alternative is to buy pre-made blends.
Source: Bed Bath and Beyond
- Essential oils have been used for over 5,000 years.
- 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates recommended aromatherapy baths for general health and wellbeing.
- 100 years A.D. (After the Death of Christ), doctor and philosoper Dioscorides made reference to essential oils (cardamom, cinnamon, basil, fennel, oliban, pine, rose, rosemary, and thyme) in his writings.
- Essential oils were used in Egypt by priests during religious ceremonies. They were also highly valued for their antiseptic properties.
- In the late 1800s, scientists began using botanical extracts in their studies, publishing their results in highly respected medical journals.
- French and German medical teachers introduced the use of aromatherapy to counter problems like tuberculosis and wound infections.
- In the early 19th century, traditional medicine began to include the use of essential oils.
- French soldiers returning from World War I were treated with aromatherapy products to help heal wounds and treat anxiety as well as depression.
- The sale of aromatherapy products has peaked in recent years.
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF AROMATHERAPHY
Relaxation: Lavender essential oil (lavandula angustifolia) has a calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system responsible for the fight and flight response. Lavender essential oil also reduces stress and improves sleep. Uses: Put a few drops on a facial tissue and place it under your pillow. You can also dilute 2 or 3 drops in a fatty substance (such as sweet almond oil) for self-massage. A few drops in a diffuser can help you feel less anxious!
Improving skin health: Tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil is one of the most popular for treating skin problems such as acne, nail fungus, redness and scars. Why? Because it has, among other things, antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties! Use: Dilute 3 or 4 drops in a fatty substance (such as sweet almond oil, jojoba or emu) and apply to affected nails. It can take anywhere between a few days to a few months to see improvement. Be patient!
Source of cover image: Unsplash
Sources consulted in the writing of this article:
Sensing an improvement: an experimental study to evaluate the use of aromatherapy, massage and periods of rest in an intensive care unit. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7897075
Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/
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