What Is Aromatherapy? Why Use Essential Oils?
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using botanical essential oils to create and maintain physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. It is also the use of pure, natural essential oils (all of which have scents) in health and beauty treatments. Aromatherapy is holistic and enjoyable. Real aromatherapy uses only the highest quality essential oils, and it works not only from the scent but also from applying the oils through massage, bathing and skin care products. Artificial oils, poorly distilled oils, or oils that have had other ingredients added to them are not healthful.
Professional aromatherapists, massage therapists, estheticians and physicians who have been trained in aromatherapy know the biochemical effect of each oil. Aromatherapy is used in hospitals, clinics and home care to augment the treatment of a wide range of illnesses. At home, aromatherapy can prevent the spread of flu and other infections; create a peaceful or festive atmosphere; enhance romance; repel mosquitoes and lice; perform first-aid for cuts, burns and bruises; and much more.
How does aromatherapy work?
The sense of smell and inhalation
Smell is the only sense where receptor nerve endings are in direct contact with the outside world. When we inhale, the neural impulses go directly to the limbic system. The limbic system connects to all other parts of the brain and in particular to the thalamus and hypothalamus, from where our whole endocrine system is controlled. Smells can affect memory, emotions and self-expression. They also affect our entire internal environment, especially the adrenal and sexual systems. This is why a scent can stimulate clear thinking or be euphoric or aphrodisiac. In addition, inhaling essential oils can have a direct impact on the health of the respiratory organs, especially during the cold season.
Essential oils are often used in massage and skin care. There is evidence that oils applied to the skin enter the bloodstream. Whether the effect will be calming and cooling, warming and invigorating, toning to the uterus or tonic to the liver depends upon the chemistry of each oil. The synergy of chemical constituents that nature provides in true essential oils is a grace and a blessing that the modern science of medicine, with its emphasis on reproducing single chemicals, has not been able to duplicate.