What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy (also known as essential oil therapy) is a holistic treatment that uses plant materials & extracts to promote ones health. This healing treatment has been around for thousands of years, and can be traced back to ancient cultures in China, India and Egypt. These ancient cultures incorporated aromatic plant components into resins, balms and oils and used these for medical and religious purposes. Aromatherapy utilizes fragrant plant oils, including essential oils, as well as other aromatic compounds with claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. Aromatherapy has also been found to enhance both emotional and spiritual health.

What are the benefits?

Some health benefits of aromatherapy include:

  • Reduce anxiety & ease depression
  • Promote relaxation & relieve stress 
  • Boost energy levels 
  • Speed up healing process 
  • Eliminate headaches 
  • Boost cognitive performance 
  • Induce sleep 
  • Strengthen immune system 
  • Reduce pain & soothe sore joints
  • Improve digestion 
  • Increase circulation
How Aromatherapy works:

Aromatherapy works on three main levels: through sense of smell, through absorption and through absorption via skin:

The sense of smell is the most primitive of all our senses and it is linked to some of the oldest and deepest parts of the brain. As we breathe in the aromas of the essential oils, it can trigger emotional and even physical responses and allow vivid memory recall of people or places. The following are the best means of use of Aromatherapy through smell: 

  • diffusers
  • aromatic spritzers
  • inhalers

When we breathe in aromatic molecules, they travel to the top of the nose where the molecules come in contact with specialized nerve cells called olfactory cells. These cells have tiny hairs which recognize a specific aroma through the ‘lock and key’ process. This means each hair will only recognize a specific aroma. This process produces nerve impulses which travel to the limbic system, the part of the brain which is most concerned with survival, instincts and emotions.
It is thought by scientists that the activity of the nerve signal passing through this region causes mood change by altering brain chemistry.

Another effective way that aromatherapy works is through the inhalation of the essential oils which then travels internally and absorbed. This is especially effective within the respiratory system as their antibacterial and antiviral properties make them ideal for maintaining a healthy respiratory system. This includes the sinuses, throat and chest and also to help relieve symptoms of infections and allergies. 

Absorption through the skin
The molecules in the essential oils are small enough to allow them to penetrate through the skin. The molecules travel through the epidermis (the top layer of skin) reaching the dermis (a deeper layer of skin) and to the blood vessels allowing them to circulate through to all body areas. The most common ways of absorbtion include:

  • bathing salts
  • body oils, creams, or lotions for massage or topical application
  • facial steamers
  • hot and cold compresses
  • clay masks

Most essential oils have antibacterial properties; some are antiviral, anti-fungal and/or anti-inflammatory. Essential oils also contain antioxidants which help to prevent cell damage and protect against the build-up of toxic waste in skin cells, thereby helping reduce signs of aging.

Once the constituents of essential oils enter the bloodstream they can be carried to all areas of your body. They reach areas with a good network of blood vessels more quickly; for example, the liver, kidneys and some muscle groups.

The majority of essential oil constituents leave the body within hours, mainly through excretion via the kidneys, although their effects can last much longer within the tissues.

Popular Aromatherapy Oils include:

  • Clary Sage
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fennel
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Mandarin
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang