Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses the essence of plants in the form of essential oils. These concentrated oils are extracted, usually through steam distillation, from the leaves, seeds, fruit, flowers, or other parts of plants.
The essential oils are highly aromatic, and often aromatherapy uses the simple action of smelling, or inhaling the essential oil. Our sense of smell is very strong and connects directly to the limbic portion of the brain. In fact, according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, it takes less than one second for an aroma to enter the body and begin to effect the hormonal system and glands in the body.
Aromatherapy is probably best known for diffusing relaxing scents into a room to calm nervous emotions, or as an addition to massage oil for increased tension relief. Aromatherapy, however, can be much more powerful than simply relieving simple anxiety.
Essential oils are concentrated, and each has a specific effect on the body. Aromatherapists study how essential oils can effect the body and the many benefits they can offer to those seeking a way to increase health and wellness naturally.
Aromatherapy essential oils are typically used through massage, diffusion, bathing, or in rare occasions, internal use. While self-care with essential oils is certainly possible, there are some basic safety guidelines to keep in mind.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, and very powerful. Unless you have studied aromatherapy, you should never apply essential oils directly to the skin. Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil if using on the skin. Sometimes aromatherapy is one of those times when “less is more”.
Get high quality essential oils. Many fragrance oils available at an inexpensive price are adulterated or polluted. When using essential oils as part of a home wellness routine, you want to be sure you have the highest, therapeutic-grade oils you can get.
Ultimately, aromatherapy is considered the science (or art) of using essential oils to balance the body – physically, mentally and emotionally.