If the tart smell of lemons tends to wake up your senses, lift your spirit and get you energized, you have personally experienced the revitalizing power of aromatherapy!
Essentially, aromatherapy is the practice of using oils that are naturally extracted from flowers, leaves, stems, bark, and other parts of a plant for therapeutic purposes. These “essential oils” have their own unique healing properties that are widely believed to stimulate brain function and impact well-being.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
Although researchers haven’t figured out exactly how aromatherapy works, two plausible theories have emerged. One suggests the essential oils interact with the hormones and/or enzymes in our blood. The other, more popular theory, asserts that the olfactory system may be responsible for the impact of aromatherapy on our mental, physical and emotional states, which actually makes a lot of sense.
Think about the last time you came upon a scent you haven’t smelled in a long time. It was probably accompanied by memories of the location where you first encountered it, what you were wearing, the people you were with and what they were wearing, as well as a lot of other details that may surprise you. That’s because when you breathe in essential oils, the olfactory receptors in the nose communicate with the parts of your brain (the hippocampus and the amygdala) that play important roles in processing and storing your memories as well as emotions.
According to Valerie Cooksley – a holistic nurse, health educator, author and clinical aromatherapist – skilled and controlled administration of essential oils doesn’t only provide effective supportive care for people undergoing medical treatment for specific conditions but is a primary tool for creating and keeping up the general well-being of an individual. It’s important to note, however, that misuse of essential oils, much like the misuse of any therapy or medication, can lead to allergic reactions, headaches, and other side effects.
How to Use Aromatherapy to Lift the Spirit
Typically, there are three main ways to use aromatherapy to lift the spirit, get energized, and elevate your mood: baths, aromatherapy massage, and vapor inhalation. If you choose to go with the first option, simply add a few drops of your preferred oil to the bath and stir before getting in. The smell will stimulate the olfactory sensors in your nose, while the water will relax your muscles, bringing balance to the body and calming the brain.
Opting for an aromatherapy massage is even better. Adding just a few drops of essential oil to carrier lotions can create different effects depending on the properties of the selected oil. The massage will help the oil penetrate into the skin and improve blood circulation, while the scent will vitalize the olfactory system. Try using peppermint for feeling energized and ready to seize the day. Alternatively, give chamomile a go for an evening of mellow relaxation and soothing sleep.
Finally, using vapor inhalation is a wonderful way to combat sinus and respiratory issues while stimulating brain function through the use of aromatherapy. As a rule of thumb, users should use approximately five drops of essential oil in a large pot of steaming water to create the desired effect. Utilizing a towel steam-tent helps hasten up the molecule absorption process, speeding up the healing properties of the selected oil.
What Are Some Popular Essential Oils?
Lemon is one of the more popular essential oils for a number of reasons. First, it has an obviously crisp smell, which serves as a wonderful mood enhancer. Then there’s the generally accepted belief that it helps improve concentration and digestion, boosts the immune system, relieves headaches, and lowers fevers. The scent of lemon can also improve memory, relieve symptoms of grief and depression, and facilitate feelings of joy and vitality.
Patchouli oil also has notable mood-lifting properties, as well as a number of other qualities. Using just a few drops of it in a bath or humidifier can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It also serves as a powerful skin care lotion when it’s diluted and applied directly to the skin. Cedarwood is similar in its anti-anxiety and calming properties. As a matter of fact, its benefits are so versatile, cedarwood is considered to be one of the oldest and most widely utilized oils in the world, dating back to the time of Ancient Egyptians.
Understanding the different properties of various essential oils can be empowering, allowing you to take control of the most important aspect of your life– your health! In Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate and Heal, Cooksley writes that, “Science is now confirming what has been known for centuries: essential oils have healing properties on both physical and emotional levels.”
Merkaela’s aromatherapy products featured in this month’s “Elevate” box include Patchouli, Lemongrass, Tangerine and Lemon essential oils, to help recharge and invigorate your mood.
Knowing what we do about the healing power of essential oils, it would be a regrettable mistake not to use aromatherapy to lift the spirit, get energized, and improve the quality of our lives.