Aromatherapy is one of those alternative medicine terms that many people have heard, but that few understand completely. Simply put, aromatherapy is the name given to using volatile plant oils, including essential oils, to boost a person’s physical, psychological and spiritual well being.
The term essential oil is encountered often in discussion of aromatherapy, so it is important to understand just what an essential oil really is. Essential oils are the pure essence of the plant, and these oils have been determined to have benefits on both the psychological and the physical well being of patients who have tried them.
Fragrance Oils vs Essential Oils
It is also important to state that perfume oils, or fragrance oils, are not the same thing as essential oils. Perfume oils and fragrance oils often contain synthetic chemicals, and they do not provide the same benefits as pure essential oils. Unfortunately, many manufacturers and retailers use the word aromatherapy when marketing products that contain chemicals and perfume oils, so it is important to read the list of ingredients when shopping for aromatherapy products.
Inhaling essential oils in the lungs is believed to provide both physical and psychological benefits. The aroma of the natural essential oils stimulates the brain, and the naturally occurring chemicals of the essential oil can provide a physical benefit as they are inhaled into the lungs. It is important, however, to use essential oils properly and safely, as improper use can have very serious consequences.
Application on Skin
In addition to inhalation, essential oils can also be directly applied to the skin to provide physical benefits. As these essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream, their components are thought to provide help for a variety of beauty, hygiene and health issues. Since essential oils are so concentrated and pure, they should never be applied to the skin undiluted. In order to apply essential oils to the skin, they should be mixed with carrier oils, which are essentially pure forms of vegetable oil used to dilute essential oils. Some oils commonly used as carrier oils include jojoba oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, apricot kernel oil and sweet almond oil.
More on Essential Oils
Essential oils can have other types of benefits in addition to those listed above. For example, some essential oils provide natural protections against insects and other pests. One example of an essential oil with this characteristic is citronella. Citronella essential oil is used in a variety of natural pest control products, and citronella candles are often burned at backyard get-togethers to keep mosquitoes and other flying pests at bay.
In addition to using essential oils on their own, different types of essential oils can be blended together to provide a particularly pleasant aroma and trigger a positive reaction in the body and the mind. There are a number of recipes available for such essential oil blends, and a number of ready made essential oil blends are available from speciality stores.
When shopping for aromatherapy products, it is important to remember that not all products with the aromatherapy label are pure and beneficial. It is important to read the list of ingredients carefully to ensure that no synthetic chemicals or fillers have been used, and that what you are buying are pure, unadulterated essential oils. It is also important to read the instructions for use carefully, and to use all aromatherapy products safely and in accordance with the directions of the manufacturer.
You can learn more about the benefits of essential oils in – 6 All-Natural Essential Oils with Surprising Health Benefits.