We have all heard the saying “Stop and smell the roses.” This saying may come from early practitioners of aromatherapy. Or how many of us have spread Vicks Vapor Rub on hoping to get some relief from a cold? Again this is aromatherapy. Are you a practitioner without even realizing it?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for psychological and physical well being. Essential oils are liquids that are obtained by distilling leaves, stems, flowers, bark or roots of plants.
Of your five senses smell is the most rapid. Scents and odors can influence your mood, emotions, stress levels, and appetite. Every time I smell a freshly cut lawn it transports me to my childhood, where I spent long happy summers outside. And how many of us get particularly hungry when we smell an old favorite meal our mother’s making in the kitchen?
Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York exposed its’ MRI patients to the aroma of vanilla. The patients reported feeling less claustrophobic while undergoing their MRI.
Actual studies of brain waves show that scents like lavender increase alpha brain waves associated with relaxation. Scents like jasmine boost beta waves linked to alertness.
Aromatherapy can not cure cancer but it can help during chemotherapy to calm a patient and ease nausea. It can also alleviate or lighten stress, prevent panic attacks, reduce anxiety, affect your mood, promote relaxation, help keep you alert, increase energy and aid in restful sleep.
There are two ways to use essential oils you may inhale or dilute and rub on your skin. You may inhale by putting oils on a tissue and breathing in or boiling a few drops of oil in water and letting the steam dissipate in the room. If you decide to place directly on the skin you must dilute the oil in carrier oil. Once diluted you may place on the skin or pour into bath water. Watch for an allergic reaction when placing directly on the skin, never ingest and keep out of the reach of children.
Keep your essential oils fresh. Store in a cool dry place and keep out of sunlight. Old oils lose their therapeutic properties and their aroma diminishes, similar to old kitchen spices.
Here are a few scents and how they help:
Lemon – uplifting, aids in memory and concentration
Lavender — sleep, calms the heart, balances nerves
Bergamot — relieves anxiety
Jasmine — take when depressed, soothing, keeps you alert
Rosemary — enhances memory, easing aching muscles, and arthritis
Peppermint — energizes
Sandalwood — helps relaxation and sleep
Ylang Ylang — eases stress
Ginger — sharpens the senses
Frankincense — lessens anxiety, helps relieve asthma and coughing
Aromatherapy has been around for over 6000 years. It was used by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. So if you were thinking it is a new and crazy idea, you may need to reconsider and do a little experimenting on your own to find what scents affect you and how you can use them to your advantage.