Aromatherapy or essential oils are extracted from plants and have a powerful aroma. Smell has a powerful effect on the emotions – think of a cake baking in the oven or the scent of a flower – how does that make you feel? In addition to the affect on the emotions essential oil molecules enter the blood stream via the lungs when inhaled or the skin when applied via massage.
How to use essential oils
There are several ways to use essential oils such as:
- By massage to the skin as in an aromatherapy massage
- Evaporating the oils and inhaling the aroma (e.g. in an oil burner or putting a few drops in hot water and allowing them to evaporate)
- Adding a few drops to the bath
One of the most popular oils, lavender is inexpensive and smells delicious. Research has demonstrated that it helps reduce anxiety, for example in one study people receiving massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than people receiving massage alone.
My personal favourite oil, frankincense has a wonderfully sweet, fresh aroma. Frankincense is used as incense in churches due to it’s ability to promote a feeling of mental peace. Some African cultures believe that burning frankincense daily in the home brings good health. If you are feeling stressed put this oil in a burner and breathe deeply to restore calm.
Bergamot oil is extracted from the bergamot orange. It’s used to give Earl Grey tea it’s unusual flavour and aroma so if you like Earl Grey tea you will love Bergamot oil.
I find Bergamot oil to be wonderful to use before a stressful situation where you still need to remain alert or in the daytime as it reduces anxiety without making you feel sleepy. A 2009 study showed that inhaling bergamot oil can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Don’t ever apply aromatherapy oils to the skin without diluting first! Always read the instructions before using any essential oil and if you have any health issues or are pregnant or breastfeeding check with a suitably qualified person to ensure the oil is safe for you.
The best way to experience aromatherapy oils is via an aromatherapy massage with a qualified aromatherapist who can select the best oils based on your state of health and what your treatment goals are. Please feel free to contact me if you would like information on how aromatherapy might help you.
Lee IS, Lee GJ. [Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students] Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006;36(1):136-43.
Peng SM, Koo M, Yu ZR. “Effects of music and essential oil inhalation on cardiac autonomic balance in healthy individuals.” J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jan;15(1):53-7.