Oils Aromatherapy

How scented aromatherapy oils can be helpful to your health

Aromatherapy brings together the medicinal properties that are known to exist in plants and a traditional healing massage with oil. Over the centuries, many cultures have used herbal oils to treat illness and encourage well-being and beauty. The first use was made by infusing herbs in olive or castor oil, but by A.D. 1000, a Persian philosopher and physician developed the process of distillation as we now know it.

Essential oils are extracted from the flowers, leaves, roots and stalks of plants and some trees. It is preferred that essential oils be derived from organically grown plants- those that have avoided the use of harmful chemicals.

Plant oils can be broken down into chemicals - for example, ketones, phenols and alcohols - which are believed to have healing properties. A key part of an aromatherapist's training will be to understand the effects of these elements, as they can be toxic if used incorrectly.

Essential oils are absorbed into the body either by inhalation through the nose or by absorption through the pores of the skin during massage, and molecules within the oils are thought to enter the bloodstream and nervous system to influence physical and emotional well-being. These oils are usually used diluted. A normal dilution is 10 drops of essential oil to 20 milliliters of carrier oil, though less essential oil would be used in cases of sensitive skin or pregnancy. Now, let us discover some essential oils and how they may be helpful to your health.

Lavender is an antidepressant, an antispasmodic, an antiseptic and a sedative. It is useful for nervous tension, digestive disorders and skin conditions.

Peppermint is a carminative, a decongestant and an antispasmodic. It is useful for respiratory infections and digestive disorders. Peppermint should always be used in a weak dilution and should not be used on children under 12 or together with homeopathic remedies.

Tea tree oil is an antibacterial, an antiseptic and an antifungal. It is useful for respiratory problems, skin conditions and gynecological problems.

German chamomile is a sedative, an anti-inflammatory, an anti-allergenic and an antispasmodic. It is useful in conditions associated with allergies, nervous tension, digestive disorders and skin conditions. It should be noted that this essential oil should not be used during pregnancy and, in some cases, may cause dermatitis.

Rosemary is a decongestant, an analgesic and a stimulant and is useful for respiratory and circulatory problems, digestive disorders and nervous tension. It should not be use if you are epileptic, are pregnant or suffer from high blood pressure.

Sandalwood is a decongestant, a sedative and an antiseptic and can be useful for nervous tension, respiratory problems, skin conditions and genitourinary conditions.

Clary sage is an analgesic, a sedative and an antispasmodic. It is useful for gynecological problems, digestive disorders and nervous tension. This essential oil should be avoided before and after drinking alcohol and should not be used at any stage of pregnancy except to encourage labor.

There is not extensive research into the claims for the effectiveness of aromatherapy, though the psychological effects of smell have had a great deal of investigation.

Researchers found that epileptics in a psychiatric hospital in Birmingham had fewer fits when they were relaxed from the use of essential oils. Trials in a London hospital also found that cardiac patients felt calmer when massaged with diluted neroli oil as opposed to vegetable oil alone. Other research on cardiac patients found that a particular type of lavender proved more effective than another, and patients in a London cancer hospital who participated in a study using nutmeg, valerian and neroli oils reported similar results.

These conclusions suggest that this calming effect cannot be attributed simply to massage alone.

By Rosemarie