Aromatherapy

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds, with claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. 

What are the benefits?

Some of the health benefits of aromatherapy include its ability to:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Ease depression 
  • Boost energy levels 
  • Speed up the healing process 
  • Eliminate headaches 
  • Boost cognitive performance 
  • Induce sleep 
  • Strengthen the immune system 
  • Reduce pain 
  • Improve digestion 
  • Increase circulation

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

Smell
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.

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.

Absorption
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.

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.