The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy declares: “Using natural aromatic essences extracted from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit, is a real and proper science.” In other words, the use of essential oils from plants in aromatherapy, has the purpose of curing. Essential oils can be extracted from a variety of elements, whether it’s flowers, seeds, bark, herbs, or roots.
From the scientific data there has not yet been found a correlation between the prevention and treatment of diseases with aromatherapy, while another variety of studies has found it to be an effective alternative method for the treatment of infections, stress and many other health problems.
The history of aromatherapy
Dating back almost 6,000 years ago, the essential oils have been used as a means of healing from many cultures. From their use in cosmetics, perfumes and medicines, the ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also used them for spiritual reasons, therapeutic, hygienic, and also to celebrate the rituals.
One of the most important stories related to the healing powers of aromatherapy is that of the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé. The scholar was cured after he burned his hand in an explosion in his laboratory. The researcher was cured with lavender oil that provided him with healing properties on his hand. This led the chemist to find out how the chemical properties of the essential oils were able to work for the treatment of skin burns and infections, such as gangrene, and wounds of the First World War soldiers. Gattefossé founded the science of aromatherapy and 1950s, a variety of health care providers took advantage of this alternative care, from massage therapists to nurses, physiotherapists and doctors.
How does aromatherapy work?
Experts believe that, just as certain smells can trigger the release of neurochemicals in the brain such as serotonin, aromatherapy stimulates the smell receptors in the nose, which then connect with the parts of the brain known as the amygdale and the hippocampus. The latter brings emotions and memories. Breathing molecules of an essential oil, is believed to stimulate parts of the brain, the physical, emotional and mental state.
Recent research argues that the scent of citrus fruits could decrease the dose of antidepressant needed to treat depression. “Treatment with citrus scent normalizes neuroendocrine hormone levels of immune function and appears to be a little more effective than antidepressants.” Another study found that cancer patients experienced a positive change in blood pressure, pulse, pain, anxiety, depression and their overall health due to aromatherapy treatment with essential oil of lavender.
How to use aromatherapy?
When essential oils are inhaled through the nose or mouth, many systems and routes can be affected. For example, when the oil is inhaled through the nose, the molecules are dispersed in the air in contact with the olfactory organs and the brain. When inhaled through the mouth, these molecules make their way into the lungs where they met with the airway. A study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that: inhaling the vapors of lavender essential oil for an hour every day prevents cerebral oxidative stress. There are many ways to inhale the essential oils, including steam inhalation, a flavored lamp, or an environment spray.
2.) Application to the skin
To obtain the benefits of the active substances present in the essential oils, they may be applied locally on the skin, where they are then absorbed. Massaging the skin upon application is recommended as a way to increase circulation in the particular area where the essence is applied. The heat that is produced helps in the absorption. The most common areas for the application are those with the larger amounts of sweat glands. The lavender oil or peppermint oil, applied and massaged on the back of the neck, the temples, and the sides of the face, is often used in the treatment of headaches.