is Aroma Therapy?
The word "Aromatherapy
" conjures up images of people magically
alleviating their depression or insecurities with wonderful
scents. It is much more than that, it means "treatment using scents". Incorporating it
into your life enhances your overall health, beauty, and psychological
well being. It can reduce stress, enhance your complexion,
treat an annoying skin irritation, and eliminate a stomachache.
A healing art which uses the essential oils of aromatic plants,
trees and flowers to promote health of body and serenity of
mind or Holistic Healing to improve health and emotional well being and in restoring balance to the body. Essential oils are aromatic essences extracted from plants, flowers, trees, fruit, bark, grasses and seeds. There are more than 150 types of oils that can be extracted. These oils have distinctive therapeutic, psychological and physiological properties that improve health and prevent illness.
It's the essential oils within plants that give them their characteristic
smell and flavour. When we smell the delightful fragrance of
jasmine flowers in the early evening, open a cedarwood box and
inhale its woody smell or add the zest of a lemon to a drink,
it's the essential oil that we are enjoying. Some oils are anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, pain- relieving, anti-depressant, stimu¬lating, relaxing, expectorating, support digestion and have diuretic properties too. They
get absorbed into our body and exert an influence on it. The residue gets dispersed from the body naturally. They can also affect our mind and emotions. They enter the body in three ways: by inhalation, absorption and consumption.
As per chemistry , these oils are a mixture of organic compounds viz., ketones, terpenes, esters, alcohol, aldehyde and hundreds of other molecules which are extremely difficult to classify, as they are small and complex. These molecules are small. They penetrate human skin easily and enter the blood stream directly and finally get flushed out through our elementary system.
Essential oils may be found in different parts of the plant
in the petals (rose), leaves (eucalyptus), roots of grass (vetiver),
bark (cinnamon), heartwood (sandalwood), citrus rind (lemon),
seeds (caraway), bulbs (garlic), the avail or top parts of the
plant (marjoram) or resin (frankincense) and sometimes in the
more than one part of the plant for e.g. the orange tree produces
3 different smelling essences with different medicinal properties
- neroli from the flowers petitgrain from the leaves and orange
oil from the rind of the fruit.
History and Origin
The use of essential oils goes back to ancient civilization
almost 6000 years BC where they were used not only for their
wonderful aroma and beauty care, but also for their preservative
and healing properties and for their immediate connection
with higher spiritual beings, in prayer and as offerings to
god. The oldest use of aroma oils is known to be as old as 6000 years back when Egyptian physician, Imhotep, the then God of Medicine and Healing recommended fragrant oils for bathing and massaging. In 4,500 B.C. Egyptians used myrrh and cedar wood oils for embalming their dead and 6,500 years later the preserved mummies prove the fact discovered by the modern researchers that the cedar wood contains natural fixative and strong anti-bacterial and anti¬septic properties.
Hippocrates, the Greek father of Medicine, recommended regular aroma baths and scented
massages. This is what he effectively used to ward off plague from Athens.
Romans utilised essential oils for pleasure and to cure pain and also for their popular perfumed baths and massages. Emperor New being indulgent in orgies, feasts and fragrances employed rose frequently to cure his headaches, indigestion and to maintain his high spirits while enjoying amusements.
How does Aroma Oils Work ?
Our nose has the capacity to distinguish 1,00,000 different smells, (many of which) affect us without our knowing about the same.
The aroma enters our nose and connects with cilia, the fine hair inside the nose lining. The receptors in the cilia are linked to the olfactory bulb which is at the end of the smell tract. The end of the tract is in turn connected to the brain itself. Smells are converted by cilia into electrical
impulses that are transmitted to the brain through olfactory system. All the impulses reach the limbic system. Limbic system is that part of the brain which is associated with our moods, emotions, memory and learning. All the smell that reaches the limbic system has a direct chemical effect on our moods. Therefore its right to say that "SMELL ACTS DIRECTLY ON BRAIN". like smelling lavender increases alpha waves in the brain and it is this waves that helps us to relax. A whiff of jasmine increases beta waves in the brain and this wave is associated with an increased agile and alert state.
Aroma oils work like magic for stress-related problems, psychosomatic disorders, skin infections, hair loss, inflammations, pains arising from muscular or skeletal disorders to name some of the application. They are safe to use. The only caution being they should never be use & directly because some oils may irritate sensitive skin or cause photo-sensitivity. They should be blended in adequate proportion with the carrier oils. A patch test is necessary to rule out any reactions.
How to use Aroma oils ?
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways at home and place of work. Some of the common ways are:
Add 2-3 drops of essential oil depending on which oil you have selected to the hot boiling water and inhale the steam by covering your head with a towel to stop the steam from escaping. Steaming also helps open the pores of the skin and thus more oil is absorbed giving the additional benefit of a facial. The bowl which has the hot water and the aroma oil could be left under the bed so that the room is enveloped in aromatic fragrance. This could be done with
the same bowl of hot steaming water and essential oil which had been used earlier for inhalation. A drop or two sprinkled on a handkerchief can give a lasting benefit of the aroma oil. For a very peaceful and relaxed sleep one or two drops of essential oils on a tissue kept inside the pillow or cushion could be used.
Diffusers and Vapourisers:
Diffusers are generally made of ceramic or clay. The diffuser has a cave like opening to house small candles or earthen oil lamps and the top is shaped like a curved cup to hold a little water and few drops of aroma oil. Fill the top cup with water, add a few drops of essential oils depending on the oil chosen then light the candle or the lamp. For
the oil lamp to last for a long duration, add castor oil to the earthen lamp because castor oil burns for a very long time as compared to the other oils used to light a lamp. Once the water and oil heat up, evaporation takes place and the whole atmosphere is filled with the aromatic scent. The process of evaporation continues for nearly five to six hours. This is ideal for presenting a conducive ambience during a gathering or even in bedrooms, hotels, living-rooms, etc., and anywhere where scented air is required. One can get instant relief from pain, a relaxed and positive feeling prevails when the right oil is used. One needs to be careful in choosing the right essential oil.
Vaporisers are the insect repellents used normally in the form of mats or other types of vaporisers kept for repelling insects. One could reuse the used mats by adding 2-3 drops of essential oil of your own choice and keeping them lit (electrically). Slowly the smell will get released and the area would be filled with soothing aroma. Lemon or rosemary are beneficial for offices, lavender for bedroom, antiseptic tea-tree for disinfecting a sick room and citronella for repelling the insects.
The most common form of treatment is massage because the dual benefits of touch therapy and scent therapy are simultaneously enjoyed. Massage
improves the circulation of the blood, tones the muscles, detoxify toxins, releases trapped energy from tense muscles. The fragrance triggers a sense of pleasure and well being. The penetration of essential oil through the skin during massages is high. Generally carrier oils like sunflower, coconut, olive, sweet almond, sesame and vegetable oils are mixed with aroma oils. The aroma oils should not be used for massages directly without dilution. About 10 drops or 1 teaspoon of essential oil can be mixed to about 30 ml of carrier oil. This makes a very rejuvenating massage oil.
This is an easy way to relax using essential oils. Add the selected
oil to your bathtub, stir the water well and spend 20 minutes in the tub. The aroma oil enters the body through the skin to give lasting benefits. Just a few drops are required to be added to the bathtub. The essential oils can also be added to a bucket of water instead of a bathtub. Mix the oil in the water properly, as some of the aroma oils are insoluble in water.
You can immerse your feet in a bowl of luke warm water to which 2-3 drops of essential oil is added. This is a very refreshing experience after a hard days work and if you have sweaty and smelly feet then too this foot bath is very profitable.
Pot Pourri as the name suggests is a mixture of dried flowers, herbs, grass and seed pods. Few drops of essential oil added to the pot pourri and kept in a bowl would keep giving out aromatic fragrance for 4-6 weeks.Another more effective method would be to keep the pot pourri mixture after adding the essential oil in a closed container overnight so that the oil gets absorbed. The following morning the box can be kept open and the lingering aroma would fill the area.
Sprinkle 2-3 drops on the pillow cover or on a tissue that can be placed under the pillow or cushion cover and inhaled just before sleeping or while sleeping. This can be very useful in treating headaches, stress, tension and in boosting confidence. Some of the essential oils act as an aphrodisiac too.
Both cold and hot compresses are profitable. Add 2-3 drops of aroma oil to a bowl of hot (depending on how much of heat you can withstand) or warm water and dip a hand towel or piece of cotton to enifcble it to absorb the mixture then squeeze out the excess water and place the towel or cotton on the area to be treated. Leaving the compress on the area for 2 hours is quite beneficial. Oil like lavender is usually used. This provides relief when used over bruises, skin problems and pre menstrual syndromes. To make cold compress,
add 6 cubes of ice to a bowl with 2-3 drops of essential oil and dip a hand towel or a piece of cotton to absorb the mixture then squeeze out the excess water and place the towel or cotton on the area to be treated. Cold compress is highly helpful in treating burns, sore feet, hangover, sprains and headaches. After a facial the use of hot and cold compress alternately helps the skin.
It is an accepted practice abroad to take essential oil orally as it is safe. However, care should be taken to take it only under the supervision or guidance of an experienced aromatherapy practioner. Few oils can be taken internally in prescribed dosage for a particular problem like indigestion under the guidance of a qualified therapist only.
Aroma 0ils have been used as an application for the skin from times immemorial they are highly soothing in treaqng and enhancing the natural beauty of the skin they can be safetly incorporated in facials, massage manicures, pedicures, scalp treatment, hair wash, hair treatment along with other creams and oils. Rose, chamomile, lemon, lavender geranium, sandalwood are some good oils for facials irrespective of the fact that beauty treatmert is given to normal, mature, dry, sensitive or problem skin. Either one of these or a combination of two of them could be used. The carrier oils that are helpful in a beauty treatment are sweet almond, wheat germ, peach kernel, apricot kernel and sunflower. Steam facials with essential oils are also rejuvenating and help in improving the skin texture.
There is a call for protecting the environment and this is becoming a prime concern world¬wide. Aerosols are being discouraged due to their ozone depleting properties. Essential oils are natural and hence they could be used liberally to deodorise a room, freshen and scent your bathroom, living-room, bedroom, dining-room,
office cabin, etc. Merely add 10-12 drops of aroma oil to half a litre of water and spray the mixture with the help of a spray bottle. Oils like lavender, lemon, peppermint, pine and rosemary are best for this application. Cupboards, wardrobes can also be disinfected. If a room smells of dampness or there are moulds in the hotel rooms, houses, offices or factories and shops the essential oil along with water can be sprayed.
Essential oils are excellent fragrant dispenser and non toxic insecticides. Just 2-3 drops of essential oil can be used on pillow covers, mattresses or used mosquito mats (this can be electrically reused)
or applied to the exposed skin after blending with carrier oil before going to bed to repel insects. Lemongrass is best for flying insects, tea-tree for ants and fleas, thyme for crawling pests, camphor for moths and citronella for mosquitoes. Even delicate plants(both indoor and outdoor) can be protected from insects by spraying the above essential oils to the roots of the plant.
Other Uses: Aroma oil can be added to the water used for cleaning the house. It can be used to wipe the kitchen counter, platform, dining tables, babies7 nappies for disinfecting purpose and also to wash the baths anti toilets.