Aromatherapy: The Art and Science of Healing Through Fragrance

Aromatherapy is a branch of holistic medicine that makes use of volatile plant oils, including essential oils from various herbs; creating a fragrant environment that is helpful in the healing process of human body and mind. Some therapists use the oil for massage or as an oral intake besides the inhalation process.

Aromatherapy is taking its own strong foothold in the field of alternative medicine, because it is known to be effective in treating infections, anxiety, depression, and many other health problems. More research is being conducted to collect evidence and prove the substantiality of its claim. Besides the essential oils, clay, mud, salt, sugar, milk, milk powders, jojoba, and various herbs are also used.

Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy

aromatherapy-massage

Though established only in 1928 as a branch of holistic medicine by Gattefosse, Aromatherapy has been in use in ancient world for ages. Indians, Chinese, Egyptians and Greeks have made effective use of essential oils for therapeutic, spiritual, ritualistic and hygienic purposes for more than 5000 years.

Besides the soothing and healing properties, essential oils emanate enthralling aroma, which has seen its extensive use in cosmetic industry for production of soaps, perfumes, powders, creams and many other products.

Essential oils are extracted from medicinal herbs, which contain most of the active ingredients of the plant in concentrated form, which are used according to their healing properties.

Some of the popular essential oils used are:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Orange Blossom
  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Chamomile
  • Tea tree
  • Sandalwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Geranium
  • Ylang ylang
  • Rosemary

How Does Aromatherapy Heal the Body?

There is no scientific explanation as to exactly how aromatherapy with certain essential oils heals the body, though evidence of its effectiveness is growing day by day. The products used in aromatherapy are distilled using a special technique that preserves the lighter phytomolecules, giving it an all together different composition.

The amygdale and hippocampus parts of the brain have olfactory receptors; hence they are affected by the environmental aroma which in turn affects the emotions and memories stored in the brain. The molecules emanated during the therapy are known to stimulate the brain, and release certain chemicals that positively influence the emotional, physical and mental health of a person.

The massage of the body with essential oils allows the skin to absorb them for healing process, while the massage itself provides great relaxation to the body. Some of the ailments healed by aromatherapy include:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Anxiety, stress and depression
  • Pain in muscles, nerves and joints
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Respiratory problems
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Varicose veins
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual problems
  • Eczema

Different Uses of Essential Oils

The four different methods of Aromatherapy are Aerial Diffusion, Inhalation, Massage, and Topical application. For treating stress and anxiety, essential oils like lavender, rose, lemon and sandalwood are used as they are known to relax the mind and body to great extent.

Peppermint oil is known to reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women when they are in labor. Lavender is known to heal headaches and induce sleep as good as any known sedative.

More than as an independent treatment, aromatherapy can benefit a person more when used as adjuvant and supplement to other therapies in treating illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart problems.