Most of you probably heard of the word “aromatherapy” in context of a massage. Aromatherapy massages have been quite popular lately. But what is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a healing method using oils. It is the use of therapeutic oils, which are oils extracted from trees, flowers, plants and bushes. The use of these oils is as old as the origins of man. In ancient Babylon, Greece and Rome, and in India, China, Egypt and since 12th century in Europe, aromatherapy has been used as an aid in healing. After the invention of the printing press, this healing information became known widespread around the world. In the last 40 years aromatherapy is being widely used as one of the most popular complementary therapies and with increasing interest.
There are many ancient myths about these oils and the plants that they are extracted from, as well as real historical stories. For example, it is told that Cleopatra used the power of rose oil to blind Mark Antony with her charms. Yet, also it had been documented that during the Great Plague in Britain in 1665, people in London burned lavender, cedar wood and cypress. These three plants are known for their disinfectant, antiviral and insect repelling effects.
How does aromatherapy work?
In aromatherapy as I mentioned before oils are used. Some of the commonly used ones are lavender, bergamot, rose, jasmine, lemon, orange, ylang-ylang, cypress, cedar wood, eucalyptus, and tea tree. These oils are usually called “essential oils.” There are many more oils used; and each kind of oil has different properties and is used for different ailments.
The oils enter the body in different ways. First of all, if they are applied by some form of massage, they are absorbed by the skin and pass onto our circulatory system. And through our blood stream, the oil molecules reach the various parts of the body.
Second, the oils are inhaled and they pass to the bloodstream through our lungs, or causing signals, they affect our nervous system and our brain. The limbic system of the brain is affected. Through the sense of smell, the limbic system registers the existence of a specific oil molecule and communicates with the nervous system to relax or stimulate it. Through the chemical effect of the oils, the physical body is affected. This is one of the reasons why essential oils are used in pain relief and relaxation.
Let’s get to know the properties and benefits of some of the essential oils:
Some of its properties are being analgesic, antidepressant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, painkilling and sedative. It promotes cell growth, accelerates the healing of domestic burns and sunburn. It is known to help clear acne, athlete’s foot, and eczema. It also soothes the spirit, relieves anger and balances the nervous system and helps with depression.
It is used to lower blood pressure, to alleviate fluid retention and can be helpful for nausea and vomiting. If you have low blood pressure, lavender may make you drowsy.
Lemon oil can be helpful in treatment of infectious diseases, especially in colds and fevers. It is good for relieving the pressure of varicose veins. It boosts the immune system and stimulates the production of white and red blood cells. It is known to improve digestion and help with constipation. It is also a good insect repellent.
The oil clears the mind and is refreshing. It is known to be good for premenstrual syndrome and stress.
This oil is known to provide pain relief during childbirth. It strengthens uterine contractions. It can help relieve menstrual pain and with vaginal infections. It is a good hormone balancer for postnatal depression. However, for the same reasons, it should not be used in pregnancy until labor is well advanced.
It has confidence giving properties and is known to help with problems of impotence and frigidity. It regulates the respiration and gives relief to coughs and voice loss as well.
The oil is used for psychological and emotional issues and is very effective for depression. It gives confidence, optimism, energy and vitality and also calms the nerves.
How are the essential oils applied?
In a massage therapy, essential oils are mixed into the massage oils. The main oil used in massage, which is usually called the carrier oil, may be olive oil, peach/apricot oil, sweet almond oil, soya oil, or some other vegetable oil. Usually only a few drops of the essential oil is sufficient to be added to the carrier oil to be able to benefit from the healing properties of the essential oil. Essential oils are very concentrated and should never be used directly on skin since they may cause irritation. Also, even after the essential oil is mixed with a massage oil, it is always a good idea to test a few drops of the mixture on the crease of your elbow or on the back of your wrist to see if you are allergic to the mixture or not. If there is any redness or itching, please do not use that mixture.
Essential oils can also be used in a reflexology treatment as well. Reflexology is a foot massage where the nerve endings at the bottom of our feet are stimulated to initiate healing. The use of specific oils may help increase the effect of the treatment.
In the home, the essential oils may be used in a burner. In such a burner, there is a small container at the top where water is put and a few drops of the essential oil are added to the water. Then the water is heated from the bottom by candle light. As the water evaporates, the oils are distributed into the air we breathe. Please be careful not to leave burning candles unattended.
Of course, in any health problem, you should always consult with your doctor first. And also, please make sure that the essential oils you choose do not counteract with any medication you are using. All complementary therapies should always be used in conjunction with modern medicine.
Wish you health and love,
Affirmation of the Week:
“The universe really does want me to win. The plan is for me to be very happy indeed.”
From Discover Your Destiny with the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Quote of the Week:
“The World is a great book, of which they who never stir home read only a page.”
There are many books on aromatherapy in English and also you may find material on the internet on the subject in English and Turkish as well.
For a reference book on essential oils:
“The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils” By Julia Lawless.