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The Secret of Scent: The Wonderful Health Benefits of Aromatherapy

29 February 2012 No Comment

Aromatherapy treats mind and body together. The scent of the essential oils used can have a powerful effect on the emotions while the oils’ chemistry affects the body.

Aromatherapy refers to the use of essential oils extracted from herbs, trees and plantsaromatherapy for therapeutic purposes. The oils are obtained by steam distillation, expression (squeezing the oil from peel), maceration (immersing the plant in hot oil to release the essence) or effleurage (pressing flowers between oiled glass plates).Today, most practitioners of aromatherapy use about 40 different scents, either on their own or in various combinations, to relieve stress, invigorate the body and promote well-being. Generally, the scent is mixed with a neutral oil (like vegetable oil) and spread over the body in a massage, added to bathwater or inhaled.

Types of Aromatherapy:

  • Cosmetic Aromatherapy Cosmetic aromatherapy uses essential oils in facial, skin, body and hair care products. Essential oils can be toning, cleansing, drying or moisturizing. Certain oils are appropriate for various skin and hair types. An aromatherapy facial demonstrates the versatility of essential oils in promoting healthy skin. A full-body or footbath is a simple way to experience cosmetic aromatherapy on a personal level. A few drops of the appropriate oil in a warm bath will create a rejuvenating, revitalizing experience. The Ancient Egyptians are believed to have been the first to employ essential oils for beautifying purposes, thereby becoming the first aroma therapists some 5,000 years ago.
  • Psycho-Aromatherapy Psycho-Aromatherapy is the influence of scents on moods and emotions. The Psycho-Therapeutic Aromatherapy and Perfumery is the use of essential oils in perfumery and for the psycho-therapeutic effect. In this form, the oils are usually inhaled directly, or sometimes indirectly by infusing into a room. Psycho-aromatherapy shares similarities with aromachology, the perfume industry’s study of the effects of both natural and artificial aromas. Psycho-aromatherapy sets itself apart, however, by dealing solely with natural essential oils.
  • Aromatherapy Massage Aromatherapy massage is the most common methodaromatherapy utilized by aromatherapists. Aromatherapy Massage is the use of essential oils though their healing properties for massage in alternative health care. Essential oils are applied directly to the skin. The aim in combining aromatherapy with massage is relaxation. A practitioner of this particular specialization must be well versed in massage and understand the varied properties of oils. For this reason, extensive training is necessary.
  • Medical Aromatherapy Medical Aromatherapy is the constant use of essential oils in medicine for the treatment of clinically diagnosed illnesses. This kind of aromatherapy is practiced only by trained specialists or clinical therapists, who were trained in the sphere at least four years. An example of medical aromatherapy in action would be the use of essential oils to massage patients during surgery. This area of aromatherapy was the specialty of Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, the founder of modern aromatherapy.
  • AROMATHERAPY FOR HOME USE Aromatherapy for home use includes a great variety of spheres such as vaporization, bathes with essential oils, local massage, cosmetic creams, and steam inhalation, in the cure of common illnesses and disorders. Aromatherapy for home use is also called Simple Aromatherapy, because it can be easily used by housewives at home as home remedies or household secrets, which are known for centuries. They are used by nurses and physicians for medical treatment. Such kind of aromatherapy is used to prevent illnesses, especially infectious ones; it is also very helpful for obtaining physical and psychical health.

Occasional side-effects of Aromatherapy: essential oils are very concentrated and some cause irritation if applied directly to the skin. They should always be diluted in a vegetable carrier oil before being applied to the skin. Contact with the eyes should also be avoided to prevent irritation. Some citrus oils can increase the skin’s sensitivity to light, making it more prone to pigmentation.

Medical researches:

  • Research on different oils has identified their individual constituents and different effects from stimulant to sedative.
  • Clinical trials have confirmed that aromatherapy can aid relaxation and help relieve anxiety.A randomized, controlled trial of 288 cancer patients, in four UK cancer centre and a hospice, showed that aromatherapy helped to provide short-term relief of anxiety and depression in those patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • However, in the long-term, only a decrease in self-reported anxiety was evident and the study did not distinguish between the effects of different oils, the massage and interaction with a sympathetic therapist.
  • Other studies have suggested that aromatherapy may be helpful for conditions such as bronchitis, alopecia and agitation associated with dementia. However, some of the studies have flaws or have not had their results repeated, so more research is needed to establish the effectiveness of different oils.

study source: http://www.psychologytoday.com