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aromatherapy 101

Aromatherapy Benefits – Mind, Body & Spirit

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Aromatherapy is an exploration of creativity as well as technical knowledge. Creative expression comes from knowing the characteristics of oils and envisioning new combinations of scents. The scientific aspect of aromatherapy comes from knowing the subtle differences in essential oils that are attributable to thousands of aroma chemicals, and how these chemical constituents affect the human body.

The aromatic properties of natural essential oils are a catalyst for change in the human mind and body.

The Mind

Essential oil aromas stimulate the part of the brain that affects emotion. The shape of an essential oil molecule is like a key that opens lock-like structure in the olfactory nerve receptors in our nostrils. The impression of the aroma is sent directly and immediately to the limbic system where memories are stored and pleasure and emotions are perceived. When stimulated, the limbic system releases chemicals that affect the central nervous system. Serotonin counteracts anxiety; endorphins reduce pain and affect sexual response.

Inhaling essential oils can help us attain a pleasurable emotional balance. A balanced emotional state in turn can have a therapeutic effect on physical problems.

Enhance your mental and physical well-being with essential oils using direct inhalation or diffusion. Direct inhalation is great when immediate relief is needed. For instance, to relax, drip 2-5 drops of chamomile onto a handkerchief, hold it under your nose and breathe deeply. Because of their volatile nature, essential oils will readily diffuse into the air. An aromatherapy lamp a ceramic vessel equipped with a small basin to hold a mixture of water and essential oil is a good way to diffuse scent. The basin is warmed from underneath by a candle or light bulb. Diffusing relaxing oils like chamomile, rose or sandalwood can help patients feel more at ease in a doctor's waiting room. Or, to counteract after-lunch sleepiness diffuse energizing uplifting oils like peppermint, lemon or basil in the office.

The Body

Essential oils are quickly absorbed through the skin, traveling around individual cells and into hair follicles, where the oils enter the sebaceous glands and mingle with the skin's natural emollients. The chemical properties of the oils can be cleansing, deodorizing, toning, or balancing.

Essential oils add an aesthetic dimension to the healing effects of massage therapy, compresses, facial steams and body and foot baths. Because they're so concentrated, essential oils must be diluted so they compose 2%-3% of the blend either in a carrier vegetable oil, such as sweet almond and jojoba, bath water or body care product. Add a few drops of grapefruit to a warm bath and agitate the water, then soak away a stressful day. Certain oils are especially suited to benefit the skin. The largest organ of the body, the skin, reflects our inner state of well being while protecting us from a daily barrage of pollutants. Lavender oil, the supreme skin oil, is cleansing, deodorizing, toning and balancing. It is also relatively safe in higher dilutions up to 20%. It combats oily skin while soothing and replenishing dry skin.

The Spirit

A diffused aroma creates a mysterious presence in a room, then wafts away like a wish or prayer. The essential oils can be thought of as the quintessential spirit of plants, captured in a jar. Frankincense oil has been used as an adjunct to meditation and prayer for centuries. Its rich, balsamic aroma penetrates deeply into the lungs, inspiring slow, regular breathing. Try diffusing frankincense to help carry you along on your next spiritual journey.

Essential oils have positive effects on every level of being. Their unique properties enhance the mind, body and spirit. Aromatherapy is the creative and scientific application of essential oils to create beneficial changes in our lives on aesthetic, therapeutic and mystical levels.

 

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