Aromatherapy is a method of natural healing that takes advantage of plant oils to boost health and wellness. In simple terms, aromatherapy is the practice of inhaling the scents of essential oils to enhance your well-being. The practice has been around for centuries.
Although it is not clear where aromatherapy itself originated, it is believed that the Egyptians were among the first to extract oils, which they used to embalm their dead.
In today’s world, aromatherapy is mostly commonly practiced by either topical skin application or inhalation. It is available through a variety of forms, including candles, oils, lotions, and bath salts.
Inhalation of Essential Oils
The traditional method of engaging in aromatherapy is to inhale the essential oils is. You can inhale essential oils through either your nose or mouth. The practice can assist you in treating a variety of symptoms or conditions. Inhalation helps to carry the oil’s molecules straight into your lungs, your brain, and the rest of your body. As the molecules travel throughout the body, they impact your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
Topical Skin Application of Essential Oils
The use of essential oils by applying it to the skin is commonly done during massage. Our skin is permeable and thus readily absorbs oils. Skin application of essential oils can generate some of the same positive results as inhalation.
Can I Ingest Essential Oils?
Experts advise against drinking essential oils or adding them to food. Ingestion of essential oils can increase the risk of toxic side effects that harm your internal organs –specifically, your liver and kidneys.
What Are the Benefits of Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy has many physical, mental, and emotional benefits, which are outlined below.
Improves Sleep Quality
Studies (Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients; Karadag, et al) demonstrate that aromatherapy can help solve people’s sleep problems. This works both in the comfort of one’s home and in a hospital. Some of the best essential oils to help with poor sleep patterns are lavender, clary sage, and bergamot.
Helps with Fatigue
Studies (The Effect of Aromatherapy Treatment on Fatigue and Relaxation for Mothers during the Early Puerperal Period in Japan: A Pilot Study; Asazawa, et al) show that aromatherapy can enhance your ability to relax and can decrease fatigue. Some essential oils have properties that can boost your energy. With just a few drops, you can experience a sense of revitalization and reinvigoration. What are the best oils for fatigue?
Eucalyptus, rosemary, pine, and cedarwood are excellent oils for combatting fatigue.
Promotes Respiratory Health
Essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint have been shown to be effective at relieving respiratory issues like congestion or sinus problems. Of course, be careful not to overdo this treatment, since these oils can also irritate the respiratory tract when used in excess.
Studies show that in addition to respiratory relief, eucalyptus and peppermint oils can also help to boost your level of focus and can help the muscles throughout your body (not only your respiratory muscles) to function well.
Essential oils can be a useful component of your stress management regimen. Lavender, rosemary, and chamomile oils can reduce stress, relax the mind, and support restful sleep.
Proceed with Caution
As beneficial as aromatherapy oils are, you should beware that there are risks of side effects—whether due to improper use or natural reactions, such as skin or allergic reactions.
Essential oils used in aromatherapy are safe when you use them as directed (i.e., by diluting them properly, not applying them directly to your skin, etc.) and can yield positive results for you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Steer clear of eating or drinking fluids that contain essential oils as they can be toxic to your body or interfere with your medications.
Aromatherapy: Essential Oil Scents For Depression
The olfactory system consists of specialized tissues, olfactory bulbs, mucosa, and the nose, and nasal passages. The olfactory system, which facilitates the sense of smell, shares an almost immediate connection with certain parts of the brain. One of the most powerful connections ties the sense of smell to the limbic system where memory and emotion reside.
This region of the brain also influences heart rate, the balance of hormones, blood pressure, stress levels, and breathing. The broad influence of the limbic system and its strong connection to the sense of smell makes aromatherapy an effective treatment for balancing emotional and mental well-being.
Aromatherapy and Depression
The causes of depression vary. Depression may arise due to a chemical or hormonal imbalance in the body, which can cause a mental state described as depression. It may also manifest following significant and difficult personal experiences characterized by loss or stress.
According to WebMD, depression occurs when sadness deepens into more extreme feelings like apathy, a loss of self-worth, feelings of disempowerment and lack of hope. Clinical depression occurs when these feelings last for prolonged periods of time.
A depressed state is often accompanied by physical distress and other emotional stressors in the form of:
• Low energy up to and including fatigue
• Inability to concentrate
• Insomnia or excessive sleeping
• Weight loss or weight gain
• Loss of interest and enjoyment in daily activities
• (especially previous favorites)
• Spending most of the day in a depressed mood, especially in the morning
• Feelings of stagnation
• Impaired judgement and indecisiveness
• Physical aches and pains
Aromatherapy supports other therapies to alleviate the mental and physical symptoms of depression. The close relationship between the sense of smell and the areas of the brain, which control memory, breathing, and blood pressure, make it a fast acting method for combating depressive symptoms.
Please note that aromatherapy is not a cure for depression and that you should always follow your doctor’s advice as to the best treatment options for you. However, aromatherapy is a great complimentary and all natural remedy that can uplift your mood anytime you use it.
As with many alternative therapies, aromatherapy works best with consistent and appropriate application.
Essential Oils to Treat Depression
When treating depression, essential oils may be used alone to address individual symptoms or as part of a synergistic blend to affect several symptoms at the same time. The essential oils selected to treat depression need to meet four criteria.
Selected oils should:
1. Elevate mood
2. Improve energy levels
3. Calm and soothe the nervous system
4. Improve mental clarity
Essential oils recommended to alleviate depression include:
• Basil–improves mental focus and relieves physical aches
• Bergamot–alleviates depression, anxiety and stress
• Citrus oils (orange, lemon or grapefruit)–uplifting and energizing
• Clary sage–relieves fatigue and stress
• Frankincense–improves concentration and mental clarity
• Geranium–calming and uplifting
• Lavender–balancing, calming and may help relieve insomnia
• Neroli–improves mood; alleviates insomnia and stress
• Peppermint–mental clarity
• Petitgrain–energizing and uplifting
• Rose–alleviates depression and stress
• Sandalwood–calming; relieves stress and depression
• Vetiver–has a grounding, calming and stabilizing effect on the psyche
• Ylang-ylang–relieves anxiety, depression and stress
A variety of recipes incorporating these oils may be discovered by consulting with an aromatherapist or searching online and in reference books on the topics of essential oils and aromatherapy. As you seek out blends or create your own, keep the properties of the desired oils as well as their scents in mind. The ratio of oils blended together as well as the dominance of their scent will determine the smell of the final product. Try to blend complementary oils together in complementary ratios. For example, rose, sandalwood, and vetiver would blend.
There are many methods available for the use of essential oils. You may purchase pre-blended massage oils, creams, and lotions. You may also create your own blends for use in a diffuser or to add directly to a bath. Never use essential oils directly on the skin. Always mix them with a carrier oil or shake well when suspended in water. You may also choose to burn incense or place a few drops of essential oil in a pot of warm water; the oil will evaporate permeating the air with its scent as the water cools.
Always treat essential oils with care. Be cognizant of any allergies or potential drug interactions. As with all therapies to treat medical conditions, seek the input of a doctor or aromatherapist to gain the maximum benefits of this form of treatment.
How Aromatherapy Enhances Meditation And Yoga
Meditation and yoga are powerful tools to achieving whole body health. Yoga is an ancient physical and mental practice. Many varieties of yoga can be found at your local studio or gym, and some popular types including Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga, and more.
Most yoga studios will conclude a class with Shavasana. Shavasana is the time you are encouraged to quiet your mind, connect with your body, and focus on meditation.
Combining the practices of yoga and meditation allows you to holistically better your mind and body health. Meditation calms the mind, relives anxiety, and is good for heart health, cognition, focus, and memory. Yoga has more than fifty different benefits for physical, emotional, and mental health.
The benefits of yoga and meditation are well known, but to name a few major advantages of yoga include: lower blood pressure; healthy immune system, emotional stability, and sharpened focus just to name a few. Never underestimate the powers of meditation and yoga.
Taking Your Practice To Another Level
To achieve even greater results from your practice, you will need to take your yoga and meditation to another level. Adding aromatherapy can help you in achieving a much higher level of discipline. The greater your discipline, the better your results.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to promote a positive mind and body health. Essentials oils are derived from various plants, flowers, fruits, roots, stems, bark, and other botanicals.
These organic materials are greatly concentrated in essential oils, giving us a strong olfactory experience. Oils stimulate the all-important sense of smell and olfactory glands, and then communicate with the brain’s memories and emotions, or limbic system.
This kind of therapy is believed to combat pain, insomnia, depression, other mental conditions, and more. Essential oils have very similar purposes as yoga and meditation, so they make perfect sense as an addition to your practice.
Selecting Your Essential Oils
When selecting your essential oils it is important to consider your goals in aromatherapy. Different oils have various purposes, functions, and effects, and each are suitable for its own particular and specific situation.
The treatment for one concern will fluctuate from that of another, just as an antibiotic would be used to treat an infection, but a steroid could be used to treat inflammation.
For instance, a person suffering from insomnia may use oils like lavender, vetiver, or chamomile, which are calming and elicit the relaxation response in the body. Conversely, a person who struggles with lethargy would use oils like basil, eucalyptus, lemongrass, orange, or peppermint to induce energy.
By researching essential oils and their benefits, you can discover the appropriate options for you.
Methods To Implement Aromatherapy
Once you have explored your essential oils options and selected the right oils for you, you are ready for essential oil use and application. There are a few different ways you can add aromatherapy into your daily routine. Here are some great options so you can determine the best implementation method in your personalized practice.
• Anointing: Essential oils are deeply massaged onto skin during stretching or rest time. This can allow for increased visualization and focus. Never apply essential oil directly to the skin; it must be blended with a carrier oil, like jojoba, canola, or olive oil.
• Diffusing: Using an aromatherapy diffuser, essential oils are dispersed throughout the air of your yoga space. This creates a certain mood or atmosphere for enhanced practice. Candle lamps are another way you can diffuse oils. They smell magnificent, creating an attractive yoga and meditation space.
• Purifying: Essential oils are used as an astringent cleaning method. This deodorizes and cleanses the workspace. Add your oils to a spray bottle with water to begin using. Spray to cleanse and purify your areas.
With the regular practice of meditation and yoga, you will only continue to enrich your physical and mental health. Adding aromatherapy to this routine will help you in exceeding your goals.
Test the different methods of implementing aromatherapy and explore your the essential oil options. Sample different products until you find the right formula for your practice. Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a novice student, aromatherapy will only encourage the success and rewards of your discipline.
Aromatherapy Can Help You Quit Smoking
When you explain to a smoker how bad smoking is for their health it is not likely to have the impact you might hope for. Most smokers are well-informed and completely aware that it is a bad habit, due to the wide range of ways that smoking impacts their health negatively. But smoking is an addiction and addictions are extremely difficult to shake, due to power that a neurotransmitter known as dopamine has on our minds.
Despite the power of addiction, every smoker contemplates quitting at one time or another. Everyone is different, and therefore, everyone’s reason and inspiration for finally putting down their cigarettes will be different. According to the American Lung Association, the most common reasons people give for quitting include the following:
• Impact of second-hand smoke on family and friends
• Quality of life
How to Quit Smoking
There are numerous places you can turn for support in order to quit smoking. Of course, your family and friends can be very important. Experts can help by imparting their wisdom and giving you tools that can help you attain success. Medications, such as nicotine patches and gum, can be particularly useful at the beginning of your smoking cessation journey.
Did you know there is one alternative health remedy that can also guide you along the way to being smoke-free? Aromatherapy may be your secret weapon for coping with cravings and knarly withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy entails the use of scents or aromas (that are the byproduct of plant oils) to improve your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional well-being. People use aromatherapy for a variety of conditions including the following:
• Chronic pain
• Digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
Aromatherapy and Smoking: How it Works
Aromatherapy is a way of dispersing essential oils, either through topical application or inhalation, to gain the health benefit of the oil. Aromatherapy has many advantages including the following:
Emotional Wellness Support
Smoking cessation can be an emotional experience. If you don’t learn new ways to cope with stress, it can put your ability to remain smoke-free to the test. You need to learn how to relax and navigate challenging situations without a cigarette.
Aromatherapy can help you in your quest to establish a sense of balance. It can improve the way you interact with others during this time by helping you to regulate some of the difficult emotions you will undoubtedly experience. The best oils for emotional wellness include the following:
• Bergamot oil
• Patchouli oil
• Lemon oil
• Frankincense oil
• Rose oil
Deliver Mental Clarity and Focus
Aromatherapy can help you to gain focus and mental clarity during the early phases of withdrawal from an addiction such as smoking. The best oils for focus and concentration include the following:
• Frankincense oil
• Sandalwood oil
• Patchouli oil
• Clary sage oil
• Ylang Ylang oil
Management of the Physical Side Effects of Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms can disrupt your sense of physical well being. Inexplicable aches and pains such as joint pain, backaches and headaches can erupt, putting your body through the wringer.
Aromatherapy massages can deliver a sense of relief. The best oils for muscle relief and massages include the following:
• Eucalyptus oil
• Rosemary oil
• German and Roman chamomile oil
• Evening primrose oil
• Lavender oil
• Clary sage
In summary, aromatherapy can help you stop smoking. The essential oils used for aromatherapy contain properties that help you mitigate the physical and emotional side effects that can otherwise trigger a relapse. Aromatherapy is not a magical cure for smoking cessation, but it can be a fantastic, holistic approach to overcoming cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Aromatherapy For Emotional Well-Being
Our emotions play a significant role in our lives. They often dictate the quality of the life we live. They can positively or negatively impact the relationships that we have. Although most of us are relatively good at managing positive emotions, we struggle to regulate the negative ones. The failure to regain control of negative thoughts and feelings can bring about a downward spiral.
Aromatherapy holds the key to achieving emotional wellness and stability. The essential oils commonly used for aromatherapy contain properties that can ground you spiritually and mentally. Believe or not, just a few drops of oil into your diffuser can generate an endless flow of natural benefits, starting with a sense of calm, relief, and relaxation.
Essential oils are known to help in the following ways:
• Reduce stress
• Bring clarity
• Improve emotions
• Harness anxiety
• Create balance
These scents are more potent than most people realize because of the way they affect the central nervous system.
What Are the Best Oils for Emotional Well-Being?
The challenge to determining the best oils for emotional well-being is that the options are almost endless. Of the numerous essential oils, you can use to establish a sense of emotional stability, let’s take a look at five of the most common.
Frankincense or olibanum oil, is excellent for combating anxiety and feelings of negativity. Frankincense contains properties that help to decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. This helps to relax your mind and reduce the frequency of dark thoughts.
Bergamot oil can help you to re-establish peace in the face of physical distress. Feeling down in the dumps? Bergamot can help you find your center. Research shows that bergamot essential oil can help you to achieve the following:
• Reduce feelings of anxiety
• Manage symptoms of depression
• Manage fatigue
According to Dr. Axe, bergamot oil helps to generate new energy, feelings of cheerfulness, and a sense of being refreshed—all thanks to the oil’s ability to improve circulation.
Patchouli oil has received high marks in the skin and beauty world because of its ability to reduce inflammation and reverse signs of aging. Less known are the emotional benefits of this essential oil, which include the following:
• Reducing stress
• Alleviating anxiety
• Managing symptoms of depression
This oil provides a calming effect that is highly useful for meditation practices.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil is used therapeutically to manage insomnia. Its also commonly used to help with the following:
• Control anger
• Reduce symptoms of depression
• Mitigate mood swings
In one study, exposure to lemon oil helped to decrease the stress hormone levels in rats, thereby reducing their experience of stress. In another study, inhaling lemon essential oil improved people’s mood more effectively than lavender oil.
Clary sage is a great oil for dodging stress and anxiety. Clary sage bestows a sense of calm and relaxation because of its natural ability to lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
Clary sage is a natural antidepressant because it reduces cortisol levels flowing throughout your body, mimicking the anti-depressant effect.
Aromatherapy is healing for the spirit and helpful for emotional health. It’s not only about experiencing the joys of pleasant scents in your office, living area or bedroom. These oils affect us physically, mentally and emotionally.
It’s important to note that you should use a bit of caution when using essential oils. They can trigger an allergic reaction, or irritate the skin, if not diluted properly. Do some research before using any particular oils to make sure that you are not at risk for an adverse reaction.
Aromatherapy for Headaches
Headaches can knock you off your feet no matter their source. Different factors trigger different forms of headaches. For example, tension headaches may occur as a result of stress or muscle tightness in the neck and shoulder areas.
Sinus headaches may arise as a precursor of upper respiratory infections—these cause inflammation in the nasal passageways, which in turn creates pressure in your sinus cavities, including the places beneath your eyes and along your forehead.
Migraine headaches are particularly cumbersome. A myriad of things or events may trigger them including the following:
• Exhaustion or sleep deprivation
• Certain foods
• Hormonal swings
No matter the source of your headache, your instinct may be to reach for an over-the-counter treatment or a prescription for immediate relief. You should also know, however, that there are also a few actions you can take to relieve your headaches naturally:
• Deep breathing exercises
• Finding a quiet, dark space with low stimulation
• Relaxation techniques
• Removal of stressful triggers
Another natural approach for treating headaches is the use of essential oils and aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is a potent and natural method for delivering relief from headaches for those who wish to dodge the use of synthetic medicines.
Aromatherapy for Headaches
Multiple studies have shown that essential oils are a safe method for managing headaches. Unlike pain relievers, which can have unwanted side effects, diffusing essential oils into the air can help your body use its natural circulatory system to relax. Aromatherapy massages, where essential oils are applied to the facial area at the onset of a headache, can also help relieve pain naturally.
Best Oils for Headaches
What are the best essential oils for managing headaches? There are several oils that research has overwhelmingly indicated are useful in decreasing headache pain. Depending on the cause of your headache, the right essential oil can help you to manage more than one of the things that are upsetting your system.
Peppermint oil can help relieve your headaches. It contains properties that improve blood flow throughout the body. It can also help open up nasal passages for you if you’re suffering from a sinus headache. If stress is the culprit of your headache, peppermint also has a fantastic way of helping you to gain a sense of inner calm.
You can apply this oil to the forehead (if mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil) or add this oil to your diffuser for inhalation.
Eucalyptus oil is an anti-inflammatory agent which can be extremely beneficial for relieving pain resulting from inflammation. It is also a decongestant that can help relieve the nasal congestion associated with sinus woes or a cold.
Inhaling lavender oil can help you safely manage or treat your next migraine headache, according to a study published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine. Thirty minutes of breathing the essential oil from a diffuser can be just as effective as taking Acetaminophen, better known as Tylenol.
Lavender oil has many other uses, such as aiding people in falling asleep at night, reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress, and promoting relaxation. It’s no wonder that this oil contains the necessary properties to alleviate pain from a headache.
In addition to adding a few drops of this oil to your diffuser or bath, you can apply a few drops of this oil (using a carrier oil like coconut oil) to the nape of your neck, forehead or temple.
Rosemary oil contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that act as a natural pain-killer. It’s also a natural stress reliever, which can be useful when your headache is the result of a stressful episode or event.
Rosemary oil contains properties that improve circulation and promote healing. You can apply this oil directly to the forehead or your temples to manage devastating migraines, or you can add it to your diffuser or bath for inhalation.
If you are prone to migraines or tension headaches, you might find bergamot oil to be especially effective in helping you to manage this pain. You can apply this oil topically behind your ears or on your forehead to aid in relieving your discomfort.
The best oil to meet your needs may vary based on the cause of your headache and general preference. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the different essential oils. You can reap the benefits of their power whether you blend the oils or use them independently.
Aromatherapy For Insomnia
Restless nights spent tossing and turning can wear on your body after a while. While the easy answer might be to turn to an over-the-counter remedy to hasten your trip to slumberland, there may be a natural option for you.
Aromatherapy can be extremely helpful in combatting insomnia. It can lessen your need to take pills that have lingering side effects. Before looking at how aromatherapy can help, let’s take a moment to review the meaning and effects of insomnia.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability of a person to fall asleep or remain asleep. Insomnia can last for as little as a few days or weeks or as long as several months, or even years. People with insomnia often report that they have a tough time concentrating and often experience feelings of depression and extreme fatigue.
Why Do I Have Insomnia?
There are multiple reasons someone may develop insomnia. According to the Mayo Clinic, common causes of insomnia include but are not limited to the following:
• Stress or anxiety
• Work schedule
• Bad sleep habits
• Eating late during evening hours
• Medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, and pain
Aromatherapy for Insomnia: How it Works
Studies (The Effect of Aromatherapy on Insomnia and Other Common Symptoms Among Patients With Acute Leukemia; Blackburn et al) show that aromatherapy is useful in helping you to manage your difficulty in achieving a healthy sleep experience. Aromatherapy has the power to help you manage a number of things that may contribute to your sleepless nights, such as depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils (via a topical application or inhalation) to manage physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms. Keep in mind that there is not one perfect way to use your essential oils to aid in your sleep. The most common methods include the following:
• Adding a few drops of oil to a diffuser
• Dashing a few drops onto a piece of fabric and inhaling
• Massaging a few drops onto your wrist or neck
• Adding a few drops to your bath water
To conquer this sleep disorder from a holistic approach, you must know which oils are most useful. Here are four essential oils that can assist you in improving your sleep pattern and quality.
Lavender oil is an excellent sleep-inducing agent. It can help to stabilize your mood and bring about a sense of calm and relaxation, all of which can help to improve your sleep experience. There are multiple ways to reap the benefits of lavender oil aromatherapy such as adding it to your bath, diffuser, and massage.
Ylang ylang is fantastic for sleep because it contains properties that reduce the heart rate and lower the blood pressure. When combined with other essential oils like lavender or bergamot, users report feelings of calm and decreased anxiety.
Sandalwood can be applied topically or inhaled. This oil is excellent for helping to reign in emotions and take control of your nervous system. Like Ylang ylang, sandalwood also lowers your heart rate, decreases your blood pressure, and helps to regulate your breathing.
Roman chamomile essential oil is a natural, mild analgesic that helps to relax your muscles and bring about a sense of inner peace. Chamomile is a mild tranquilizer or sleep-inducer. Research (Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future; Srivastava, et al) shows that individuals who consumed chamomile were likely to fall asleep within 90 minutes of consumption.
In summary, aromatherapy is a compelling alternative way to treat insomnia. A number of essential oils contain properties that research shows can effectively treat the problems that cause this sleep disorder. The oils help you to take control of a number of functions within your body so that you can naturally ease into sleep.