Uses of Essential oils in Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy uses essential oils, as the main therapeutic agents, which are secondary plant metabolites, aromatic in nature and give distinctive odour or flavour to plants. Chemically, they are complex mixtures comprised of a large number of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, alcohol, aldehydes, esters, ethers, ketones, oxides phenols and Terpenes, in variable ratios. These oils are so potent and concentrated that they work on pressure points and rejuvenate.
In aromatherapy, the first contact with an essential oil is olfactory thanks to their volatile nature. This characteristic and their disinfecting properties make them particularly valuable active ingredients for cleansing respiratory tracts.
Essential oils possess many medicinal properties that are used in aromatherapy. While their subtle and varied fragrances act, in olfacto -therapy, on the psycho-emotional sphere.
Cosmetics aromatherapy utilizes certain essential oils for skin, body, face and hair cosmetic products. These products are used for their various effects as cleansing, moisturizing, drying and toning.
A healthy skin can be obtained by use of essential oils in facial products. On a personal level, cosmetic aromatherapy of full-body or foot bath will be a simple and an effective way to have an experience. Similarly, few drops of appropriate oil give a rejuvenating and revitalizing experience. Likewise, massage therapy involving the use of grape seed, almond, or jojoba oil in pure vegetable oil during massage has been shown to have wonderful effects.
COMMON AROMATHERAPY ESSENTIAL OILS
Aromatherapy can be traced back centuries. It is believed the Chinese culture may have been the first to use the essence of aromatic plants to improve health and create life balance by burning the plants to release the oils. Egyptians followed up by creating a distillation machine to extract oils, with India later improving upon the technology. While the word ‘aromatherapy’ was not coined until the 20th century, there is evidence of essential oils usage for better health dating back thousands of years.
Today, the most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy treatment include:
Bergamot is an essential oil extracted from the Beragamia tree, a citrus tree native to Southeast Asia and found in Italy. The oil is extracted from the fruit’s rind. In aromatherapy, Bergamont is used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and stress. It has also been shown effective in healing infections of the skin, including eczema. Bergamont is also used to help stimulate the digestive system and provide a boost to those struggling with tiredness.
Chamomile is widely known for providing a calming effect within the body and mind, which is why chamomile tea is recommended before bedtime. The essential oil of chamomile is extracted from the plant’s leaf and, in addition to being used for soothing nerves in aromatherapy practices, chamomile is used as an antiseptic, a treatment for urinary tract issues, and to aid in eliminating acne.
Eucalyptus is a well-known essential oil, used most often for treating respiratory problems. The oil is extracted from the leaves of Eucalyptus trees using a steam distillation process. Through aromatherapy, eucalyptus has been shown effective as a decongestant, as a topical muscle relaxant, and as an antiseptic.
One of the most popular essential oils in today’s market, lavender has long been recognized for its effective treatment of stress-related issues. Lavender offers a wonderful scent. Its essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant and has also been used in aromatherapy as an anti-inflammatory agent, a deodorant, and a sedative.
Lemon essential oil comes from the lemon peel via the cold-press extraction technique. Lemon is used in aromatherapy for help in improving circulation, promoting better digestion, and relieving skin irritations. Lemon essential oil is also very popular in homemade house cleaning products thanks to its fresh scent and disinfectant properties.
PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL
Practically every nose can immediately recognize the smell of peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is extracted from the flowers of the plant and is often used in vaporizers and massage oils. As an inhaled oil, peppermint has been shown to increase focus and improve moods.
The essential oil of the Rosemary plant is known for its ability to boost memory capability and improve mood. Historically, Rosemary oil has been heralded as an all-powerful oil, used to increase the brain’s capability, relieve symptoms of depression, ease aching muscles, reduce migraine headaches, and treat a number of skin issues.
Tea tree oil is regarded as one of the most versatile essential oils available, especially in aromatherapy treatments. Tea tree oil is extracted from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree leaves and used as an inhalant or used in products applied directly to the body. Tea tree oil has been shown effective in boosting a body’s immunity. It can also treat burns, cuts, and cold sores. Tea tree oil has been used to combat the flu, treat athlete’s foot, and stop dandruff.
USE OF ESSENTIAL OILS IN AROMATHERAPY TECHNIQUES
There are various methods by which they are administered in small quantity like inhalation, massage or simple applications on the skin surface and rarely, they are taken internally.
Inhalation and the external application of these oils for the treatment of mental and physical balance are the very basics of aromatherapy. The therapy of these oils is known to relieve the stress, rejuvenate and regenerate the individual for a next day’s work. These aroma molecules are very potent organic plant chemicals with a curative potential on the body, mind and spirit. Their versatile character of antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory nature along with immune booster body with hormonal, glandular, emotional, circulatory, calming effect, memory and alertness enhancer is well documented by many scientists.
The stimulation properties of these oils lay in their structure which closely resembles with actual hormones. The penetration potential of these oils to reach the subcutaneous tissues is one of the important characters of this therapy. Their effects are complex and subtle due to their complex structure and chemical properties. The mechanism of their action involves integration of essential oils into a biological signal of the receptor cells in the nose when inhaled. The signal is transmitted to limbic and hypothalamus parts of the brain via olfactory bulb. These signals cause brain to release neuro messengers like serotonin, endorphin, etc., to link our nervous and other body systems assuring a desired change and to provide a feeling of relief. Serotonin, endorphin and noradrenalin are released from calming oil, euphoric, and stimulating oil respectively to give expected effect on mind and body.
There are several ways to use essential oils in aromatherapy treatments. These techniques include:
There are diffusion devices which can continually provide the smell of the essential oils throughout a home. Diffusers range in size and prices but can be an effective way to remain exposed to the benefits of essential oils. Diffusers are often used during massage treatments and during meditations. More people are using diffusers around their homes on an everyday basis to freshen their space and improve their overall feeling of well-being.
A few drops of a favorite essential oil can be added to a tissue or a handkerchief. The cloth can then be placed near the nose and the scent of the oil inhaled. There is also a steam inhalation process, where a few drops of the essential oils are added to boiling water. It is the steam from the water which is inhaled for aromatherapy effects. Steam inhalation is often used to treat stuffed up noses and other cold symptoms but can be used for a quick boost of energy or as a relaxing technique.
Many people have begun keeping bottles of essential oils in the pantry to use as a room freshener and cleaning agent. The smells resulting from the oil use in the home can also be effective at boosting moods and other healing benefits relative to the oil being used.
Professional spas offer aromatherapy massage services where essential oils are added to the massage oil. At home, massages can be ramped up by adding a few drops of essential oils to a carrier oil, such as almond or coconut oil. The oil can then be massaged into the skin to promote muscle relaxation, as well as the inhaled benefits of the oil’s scent. Essential oils can also be added to a warm bath for the same effect.
MISCELLANEOUS USE IDEAS
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ordinary natural products to make them extraordinary. Products like shampoos, shower gels, lotions, and other health and beauty items get an additional boost with the addition of essential oils.
• Add lavender to lotions or shampoos to help reduce stress
• Diffuse frankincense during meditation to increase focus
• Add a drop or tow of peppermint essential oil to a hot tea
• Add a few drops of lemon oil to a fresh glass of drinking water then add a few more drops of the oil to the dishwasher for a spot-free cleaning
• A few drops of eucalyptus oil to a warm foot bath relaxes tired feet.
OTHER WAYS TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS INCLUDE:
Home refreshner – add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil to a load of laundry or 5 drops of oil onto the vacuum cleaner bag.
Shower cleaner – remove scum and kill mold from bathroom doors and walls using 4 drops of tea tree oil and 4 drops of eucalyptus oil added to a spray bottle of warm water.
Insect repellent – soak cotton balls in a drop or two of lavender, peppermint, or citronella oil and place them around windows and doors to naturally repel pesky insects.
Clean produce – add a few drops of lemon oil to a bowl of fresh water to clean fruits and vegetables.
Detox paint – to get rid of harmful paint fumes, add a few drops each of peppermint and eucalyptus oil to a gallon of paint before use.