Aromatherapy - Using Essential Oils for Good Health

By: John Morris


Even before the term alternative medicine was formally used, aromatherapy was already being practiced 5000 years ago by Egyptians. At that time, oil was extracted from aromatic plants through infusion and used for embalming, cosmetics and medicinal purposes. This knowledge was passed on to the Greeks and served as the basis for more discoveries, including the relaxing and stimulating effects of the fragrance of some flowers. Going back further, ancient man's dependence on the environment for all his basic needs and survival led him to discover natural ways of food preservation and the treatment of various conditions using herbs and aromatics.

1. Eastern Roots

The use of aromatics is also reflected in a Chinese herbal book by Shen Nung dated 2700 BC, showing specific details on more than 300 plants and their various applications. Ancient Chinese also burned incense and wood as part of religious practices that a good number of their modern counterparts still observe today. Aromatics was also a part of acupressure, massage and other therapies identified with the Chinese.

2. Modern Health Treatment

Today, many individuals place a high premium on health and well-being. The cost of traditional or conventional medicine such as surgery and medicare, however, has made a high number of people turn to aromatherapy, or essential oils therapy, and other forms of alternative medicine.

3. Basics

- Facilitates an equilibrium of physical, mental and spiritual health through natural means
- In some cases, these alternative treatments are now considered as strong and effective complements to regular medicine
- The main component of aromatherapy is essential oils
- Essential Oils are highly concentrated essences known for their healing effects

4. Essential Oils

These aroma-producing oils come from the flower, as in the case of a rose; leaves (basil is an example); twig; bark; fruit rind and other plant parts. Experts say that the extraction process can be time-consuming, complex and require much patience. Recognition and acceptance of these factors is important: getting about 5 teaspoonsful of oil could entail the use more than 220 pounds of rose petals. This process is what makes pure essential oils costly, although their effectiveness is not compromised because a treatment can entail the use of only a few drops to generate the target effect. An option is the less-expensive synthetic oils, although they do not offer the healing properties of their natural counterparts.

5. How It Works

Essential oils work by stimulating the olfactory system and later the brain or limbic system. The fragrance, other properties and effects of the oil determine how these body systems and their parts are stimulated. During a massage, these oils are inhaled and absorbed by the body at the same time, penetrating the skin and eventually reaching the organs and body systems. The absorption can be as short as 20 minutes and possibly extend to 2 hours or more, making some experts advise to avoid a shower or bathing immediately after the massage to maximize the desired effect.

6. Effects Last Days, Not Hours

The longevity of a fragrance also varies from 3-24 hours to 2-3 days and even longer to about a week. Eucalyptus, peppermint
thyme, and bergamot are among oils with a short-lived scent, while the scent of hyssop, lavender, balm, and other oils last between 2-3 days. Jasmine, sandalwood, ginger and cedarwood are among the oils that take as long as one week before completely evaporating.

7. Achieve A Sense Of Calm

The desired health balance of an individual also requires the creation of a balanced perfume, or a combination of the three types of oils based on longevity. These various combinations or aromatherapy blends can be mixed into a warm bath to relax and calm an individual, eliminate stress and depression, energize and sooth the body or aching part. The healing or calming effect of a massage can be enhanced by applying essential oils. However, this would require the use of carrier oils to prevent irritation or any other negative skin reaction. Some of these carrier oils, which help dilute essential oils, include avocado oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, wheatgerm oil, almond oil, soya oil and hazelnut oil.

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