Feeling tired after a long day? Instead of reaching for that drink or chocolate cupcake what about indulging your sense of smell? Aromatherapy is a great way to unwind, heal and rejuvenate our bodies. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils that are extracted from bark, leaves, stems and other parts of plants for the purpose of healing.
Aromatherapy did not gain popularity in the United States until the 1980’s, essential oils were being used by the Ancient Chinese, Indians, Romans, Egyptians and Greeks for spiritual and ritualistic purposes for the past 6000 years. Many of these oils are found in our cosmetics, candles, perfumes and medications.
Although there is some debate on how exactly the use of aromatherapy works, the general theory is that inhaling essential oils stimulates parts of the brain that are related to smell, specifically your olfactory system. A message is then sent to the part of your brain that controls emotions and memories. This area of the brain is called the limbic system. Chemicals are then released that make us feel calm, relaxed, or even energized.
Using essential oils can help with anxiety, stress, insomnia, body aches, circulation, digestive and menstrual problems. It’s a good idea to have an aromatherapy “first aid” kit.
Something to note is not all essential oils are created the same. Many of the scents we get in candles and perfumes are synthetic. Though they can create a change in our mood, they are not the best choice when it comes to using oils for true healing purposes.
I recommend that you start with these five basic oils:
- Lavender. It is known for its calming properties as well as for its uses for treating wounds and burns. It can be inhaled or applied directly to your skin.
- Chamomile. It’s great for anxiety and insomnia. It is considered an anti-bacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
- Tea Tree. Tea Tree has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antiseptic properties. It is great to use for fungal infections. Tea Tree is known for having a pungent odor.
- Eucalyptus. This oil is great for its effectiveness against colds and coughs. It has a very distinct smell that is great for opening up congested nasal passages.
- Rose. This essential oil is great for women who are suffering from depression or menstrual problems. It has a positive effect on the emotional as well as the physical level. It has a very floral sweet smell.
All of these oils can be added to a nice hot tub, mixed with other oils or used for specific healing purposes. If you are really interested in using aromatherapy a must have book for your library is “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, a Safe Home Environment” by Valerie Ann Worwood.
So when life has you feeling a little out of sorts take some time to smell the roses and see how much better you can feel!