AROMATHERAPY 101

 
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“Aromatherapy has its basis in the plant organism and its constituent molecules, which possess a chemical intelligence that speaks directly to the human organism. Aromatherapy provides an entirely different outlook on treating disease than the conventional system. Whereas current medicine is highly alienating, fear-based, and believes in the separation of body and soul, aromatherapy seeks to unite body and soul, healing our whole being.”

-Kurt Schnaubelt

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to enhance physiology, psychology, and spirit to promote a healing process. Aromatherapy uses plants, flowers, or the extracted oils to positively affect your physiological or physical state.  In short, certain compounds stimulate different areas of the brain or the production of mood-affecting neurotransmitters. It all started with the French perfumer and chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse who coined the term ‘aromatherapie’ in 1937 following publication of his book, Gattefosse’s Aromatherapie. He set out to distinguish the medicinal application of essential oils as separate to their perfumery applications. This championed the therapeutic application of essential oils for holistic healing - mind, body, and spirit.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The best way for your body to absorb the therapeutic components of essential oils is a combination of inhalation through the nose and absorption through the skin. When essential oils are inhaled odor molecules travel through your nose and send direct messages to your brain. Unlike all of our other senses, the link to your brain is direct and immediate, making smell our most powerful sense. The best way to inhale essential oils is using a diffuser, which warms the oils in water and gently disperses them into the air.

When essential oils are applied to the skin they’re absorbed into your bloodstream and dispersed through your body. Pulse points, where blood vessels are closest to the skin’s surface, are the best place to apply oils because they allow for quicker absorption. When using essential oils on the skin make sure they’re diluted in a base oil or cream, as they’re too strong to use directly.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Congestion, sore throat, sinus infection

Stress, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, headaches

Low blood pressure, high blood pressure, poor circulation

Weak immunity, low energy

Aches & pains, muscle tension

Skin conditions & infections, stiff joints inflammation

Poor digestion, nausea

WHICH OILS TO USE?

Each essential oil has specific therapeutic properties so understanding which oils to use and when is key. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious oils like lavender, chamomile, and geranium will help to calm the nervous system and take you out of ‘fight or flight’. Earthy woody oils such as vetiver and patchouli, often associated with the root chakra, are especially good for introducing a grounding energy. If you’re feeling tired and uninspired try oils with bright fresh notes from the citrus and herbaceous family such as bergamot mint and blood orange. And if you have a spiritual practice the mystical oils of frankincense, sandalwood and myrrh can transport you with their historical ritualistic scents.

 
Susan Zaring