Beginners Guide for Aromatherapy: Tips and Types

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Introduction

For centuries, humans have been utilizing the power of Aromatherapy. People incorporated aromatic plant elements into their daily lives in ancient civilizations such as China, India, Egypt, and various other regions. 

These natural substances, found in resins, balms, and oils, served medicinal and spiritual purposes. It was widely recognized that they offered physical healing and psychological well-being. 

Aromatherapy, therefore, involves the utilization of essential oils for therapeutic advantages. By inhaling these oils, the scent molecules are transmitted directly from the olfactory nerves to the brain, specifically impacting the amygdala, which is the brain’s emotional centre.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is commonly utilized either by inhaling the oils or applying them topically. 

Inhalation: Inhalation involves the oils evaporating into the air through a spray, diffuser container, or oil droplets, which can then be breathed in, such as in a steam bath. Aside from a pleasant scent, aromatherapy oils can offer respiratory disinfection, decongestant, and psychological benefits. 

Essential oils, when inhaled, activate the olfactory system, which consists of the nose and the brain, connected to the sense of smell. The oil molecules enter the nose or mouth and travel to the lungs, eventually reaching other body parts. Once these molecules reach the brain, they impact the limbic system, associated with emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance. In this manner, essential oils can subtly yet comprehensively affect the body. 
 
Topical application: On the other hand, topical applications involve the absorption of massage oils, bath products, and skin care products through the skin. Massaging the area with the oil can enhance circulation and increase absorption. The palm and head are two areas with high sweat glands, meaning they may absorb the oil more effectively.

Aromatherapy has the potential to treat many conditions, including:

  • depression
  • asthma
  • fatigue
  • inflammation
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • arthritis
  • menstrual issues
  • insomnia
  • erectile dysfunction
  • alopecia
  • cancer
  • menopause

A peek at essential oils 

Essential oils are extracts derived from plants. They are obtained by pressing or steaming different plant parts, like flowers, bark, leaves, or fruit, to capture the aromatic compounds. A single vial of essential oil almost always requires several pounds of plant material. Apart from their fragrance, essential oils also serve various functions within plants.

  • cypress
  • eucalyptus
  • fennel
  • helichrysum
  • geranium
  • clary sage
  • lemongrass
  • rosemary
  • ginger
  • lavender
  • lemon
  • mandarin
  • patchouli
  • peppermint
  • roman chamomile
  • rose
  • ylang ylang
  • tea tree
  • neroli
  • vetiver

Types of Aromatherapy

1. Cosmetic Aromatherapy involves using specific essential oils in cosmetic products for the skin, body, face, and hair. These products are chosen for their various effects, such as cleansing, moisturizing, drying, and toning. By incorporating essential oils into facial products, one can achieve healthy skin. Just a few drops of the appropriate oil can provide a revitalizing experience. 

2. Massage aromatherapy utilizes grape seed, almond, or jojoba oil mixed with pure vegetable oil during massages, resulting in beautiful effects. This technique is often referred to as the healing touch of massage therapy. 

Medical aromatherapy, pioneered by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, the founder of modern aromatherapy, involves using essential oils to massage patients during surgery. This practice utilizes the knowledge of the effects of essential oils on promoting and treating clinically diagnosed medical conditions. 

3. Olfactory Aromatherapy focuses on inhaling essential oils, which have been found to enhance emotional well-being and induce calmness, relaxation, and body rejuvenation. Pleasurable scents are linked to stress release and can unlock pleasant odour memories. It is important to note that essential oils should complement medical treatment and not be used as a replacement for it. 

4. Psycho-aromatherapy allows for attaining specific moods and emotions through essential oils, providing relaxation, invigoration, or triggering pleasant memories. This therapy involves directly inhaling or infusing the oils into the patient’s surroundings. Psycho-aromatherapy and pharmacology study the effects of natural or synthetic aromas, but psycho-aromatherapy specifically focuses on natural essential oils.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy offers a wide range of advantages, like:

  1. Effectively handle pain. 
  2. Enhance the quality of sleep. 
  3. Decrease stress, restlessness, and anxiety. 
  4. Provide relief for achy joints. 
  5. Address headaches and migraines. 
  6. Alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. 
  7. Ease the discomforts experienced during labour. 
  8. Combat bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 
  9. Improve digestion
  10. Enhance hospice and palliative care. 
  11. Strengthen the immune system.

Tips to keep in mind while opting for Aromatherapy

  • It is important that essential oils should never be directly applied to the skin. They must always be used with a carrier oil. The recommended concentration is usually a few drops of essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil. Sweet almond oil or olive oil are commonly used as carrier oils. 
  • To perform an allergy test, dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil at double the intended concentration. Carefully massage the blend onto a quarter-sized area on the inner forearm. It can be deemed safe for use if there are no allergic reactions within 24 to 48 hours. It has been reported that some individuals may develop allergies to essential oils after repeated use. If a new allergic response appears, it is crucial to stop using the oil and avoid its smell immediately. 
  • When seeking aromatherapy treatment, it is essential for the aromatherapist to gather a thorough medical history and information about the individual’s lifestyle, diet, and current health. 
  • Aromatherapy takes a holistic approach, aiming to treat the whole person. Therefore, treatments will be tailored to address both physical and mental requirements. The aromatherapist may recommend a single oil or blend based on these. 
  • It is essential to understand that an aromatherapist differs from a massage therapist. However, a massage therapist may incorporate aromatherapy oils in their practice.

Risks of Aromatherapy

It is essential to consult with a trained professional, such as an aromatherapist, nurse, doctor, physical therapist, massage therapist, or pharmacist, before using any essential oil for therapeutic purposes. 

Each essential oil has its unique chemical composition and specific uses, making professional guidance essential. These experts can provide recommendations and instructions on adequately using and diluting each product. Determining whether a product is pure or contains contaminants or synthetic ingredients can be challenging. Some beauty and household items, like lotions, makeup, and candles, may claim to contain essential oils but contain synthetic fragrances. 

Similar to medications, essential oils should be handled with care and respect. Seeking professional advice and diligently following instructions is crucial for safe and effective use.

Conclusion

A mere inhalation of the fragrance emitted by essential oils can uplift your spirits and induce a sense of well-being. These oils may even provide relief from certain ailments for specific individuals. It is advisable to seek guidance from a certified aromatherapist to gain further insights on integrating them into a wholesome way of living.

FAQs

1. What is aromatherapy used for?

Aromatherapy is used in various places like health spas and hospitals to cure different conditions. Overall, it helps relieve pain, enhance relaxation, and improve moods.

2. What are the types of Aromatherapy?

– Massage aromatherapy
– Olfactory Aromatherapy
– Cosmetic Aromatherapy
– Psycho-aromatherapy
– Medical Aromatherapy

3. What do Aroma therapists do?

Aroma therapists treat conditions from physical illness to psychological disorders with essential oils. These aromatic oils distract from trees, fruits, flowers, herbs and spices.

4. What are essential oils?

Essential oils are from plants by extracting them. The different parts of plants, like the bark, leaves, and fruit, are either steamed or pressed to produce fragrance. Several kilos of plants may be required to produce a single vial of oil.


DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG/WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE

The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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