How Does Aromatherapy Work?

Aromatherapy is the safe use of essential oils for therapeutic benefits, enhancing well-being, restoring balance and revitalising the mind, body and spirit.

Since ancient times, plants have been used to heal, fight infection, aid digestion and promote a feeling of well-being. From prehistoric times, through the ancient Egyptians and the Arab world, knowledge of the healing properties of plants came to the West via the Crusaders.

Imagine the following smells – what / who / where do they make you think of ?

  • coffee

  • lemon

  • mint

  • fish and chips

  • sun cream

  • cut grass

Aromatherapy works by the absorption of the essential oils through the nose or through the skin. Our sense of smell is one of our oldest senses – a certain smell can promote instant memory recall of a person, place or time and  affect our emotions.

It’s also very important, as it gives taste to our food.

We may pour a few drops into an oil burner or into the bath or inhale the steam from a bowl of water.

Because essential oils are so powerful, it’s important to be aware of the contra-indications for each oil, particularly during pregnancy. They shouldn’t be used neat on the skin and obviously shouldn’t be swallowed.

When the oils are to be used for massage, they are first diluted in a base oil or cream.

Massage has been developed into an art form all over the world. Touch is very profound – stimulating or soothing, comforting, healing pain and expressing love. It communicates without the need for words.

Essential oils promote health, harmony and healing on all levels:  mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.

They can come from any part of the plant:

petals – rose, jasmine, neroli

root – ginger

leaves – tea tree and eucalyptus

rind – citrus fruits

tree resin – frankincense

tree wood – sandalwood

Some oils are uplifting, whilst others are sedative and make us feel sleepy.

Most are antiseptic, some are very effective at fighting viral or fungal infections and yet others can have an effect on the hormonal system. Many have the ability to affect the emotions, e.g. ginger is warming, clary sage lifts depression and sandalwood is said to be an aphrodisiac.

Aromatherapy and Insomnia

One of the best-known oils is lavender : it is calming and promotes sleep.

It can help to ease earache and toothache; it’s helpful for colds and flu, headaches and skin problems, especially burns.

Dr. John Valnet used lavender after the second World War to heal the gangrene in shrapnel wounds, as antibiotics weren’t working.

Do you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep?

Try using lavender essential oil.

Here are some different methods :

  • Place a drop between your palms, rub your hands together and inhale the aroma.
  • Place a few drops on a tissue or on your pillow.
  • Add a few drops to the water in a burner and light a tea-light below.
  • Add a few drops to a small amount of milk and pour into your bath. Lie back and relax …!

Meditation and Ritual

Essential oils and incense naturally help us to become calm by inhaling the aromas and slowing the breath.

Aromatics have been used in organised religion and for personal communication with gods and spirits throughout history in all cultures.

Frankincense oil is produced from the gum resin found beneath the bark of frankincense trees, which grow in semi-desert regions. It has been used for millennia, and is synonomous with ritual, prayer, healing and peace. Through its long association with religious ritual, its smoke has come to be considered a pathway for prayers in many faiths.

Frankincense was given to Jesus at his birth, as it symbolised divinity.

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