As a complementary therapy, aromatherapy makes use of the essential oils derived from flowers and plants with the aim of helping the body’s own natural ability to heal itself, to rest and to recover from both illness and stress. As a treatment, aromatherapy has been in use for literally hundreds of years but, even so, research into its effectiveness and adaptability continues today. So, let’s have a look at the benefits of this complementary therapy and how it can help through the various ways it is used including aromatherapy jewelry.
What exactly is aromatherapy?
For thousands of years, various civilizations and cultures have understood the medicinal properties of essential oils and herbs. However, the concept of aromatherapy is believed to have been born in 1928 when René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, burnt his hand accidentally. To find immediate relief, the chemist immersed his hand in a tub of lavender oil that happened to be close by. To his amazement, the burn injury healed very quickly indeed and there was no scarring so he decided to investigate this phenomenon further.
Nowadays, aromatherapy is probably one of, if not the most, popular complementary therapy with essential oils being used to both prevent and treat illnesses and health problems in general as well to aid relaxation and rest. As such, it is particularly effective in the treatments of certain stress related issues such as anxiety, headaches and insomnia, all often the symptoms of living in the modern world.
To target the relief of either a health or stress issue, an aromatherapist will devise a plan for an individual which will involve a specific combination of essential oils depending on the desired outcome.
Aromatherapy can work in a variety of ways, for instance by the essential oils being absorbed through the skin or through the smelling of their aromas or by wearing aromatherapy jewelry. Let’s consider how each of these approaches work.
Firstly, since a lot of essential oils have an anti-inflammatory effect, when applied to the skin these can help to relieve pain or fight infection although clearly if a serious infection is suspected then a doctor should be consulted before the services of a professional aromatherapist are sought.
One of the more popular ways to enable the essential oils to be absorbed by the skin is to have an aromatherapy massage which generally lasts for one to one and a half hours. The aromatherapist will use oils that specifically address any issues an individual has and these will be added to a carrier oil in order to dilute them before being massaged into the skin.
The physical benefits of an aromatherapy massage include the boosting of circulation which means that the blood and oxygen that circulates within the body can promote healing. The massage can also help to encourage the lymphatic system to drain and thus reduce any build-up of toxins or fluids, stimulate the immune system to enable the body to protect itself from illness and help to ease any muscle tension by soothing and relaxing any tender or sore muscles.
Aside from the health and relaxation benefits, aromatherapy massages are also acknowledged to have certain psychological benefits too such as elevating one’s mood as a result of the physical touch boosting so-called happy hormones as well reducing stress, supporting relaxation and well-being and alleviating any nervous tension.
Apart from skin absorption, the essential oils used in aromatherapy can also be effective when inhaled or smelled since the sense of smell connects directly with the brain. This is why our reaction to each scent is different because, depending on the smell it receives, the brain will react differently. For example, the smell of food could cause a feeling of hunger while other smells may bring a feeling or relaxation and certain smells may be linked with a particular memory which is why come scents might make a person feel sad or happy depending on the thoughts evoked. For others, the scent of essential oils may prove useful as a sleeping aid and can thus be used to treat insomnia by either burning the oils to produce a relaxing scent or by adding them to a warm bath just before bedtime.
So, the essential oils used in aromatherapy clearly have many benefits but what if we are just too busy to find the time to enjoy a one hour massage or we’re away from home where a diffuser or burner could be used. Well now it’s possible to enjoy the benefits of this complementary therapy all the time by wearing aromatherapy jewelry such as a diffuser bracelet that features its very own charm into which your chosen essential oil can be dropped. The scent of the essential oils will be diffused over a few days at which point the charm can either by topped up or the oils can be changed to suit your mood.
Aromatherapy has now been acknowledged by the scientific world as an effective complementary therapy and as such professional aromatherapists now feature in the
NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners and are recognized as offering treatment that is effective for both palliative care and as an approach to be used together with more conventional treatment.
It is important to find a qualified professional aromatherapist to gain optimum benefits as they can ensure you use the properties of essential oils to the fullest and therefore enable you to gain the maximum benefits of this complementary therapy.