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Aromatherapy

by Jessie Diane Wyatt


Considering the many uncertainties surrounding traditional medicine and the growing awareness of harmful chemicals found in household and self-care products, it is no surprise that many people are seeking alternative ways to care for their health. One increasingly popular option is aromatherapy, which offers a natural and gentle alternative to conventional drugs and everyday beauty and home-cleaning products.

Used correctly, aromatherapy can be a powerful tool for healing, for feeling better, and for taking care of your families, homes and even your pets. Within its holistic framework, aromatherapy helps you take responsibility for your health care by promoting beneficial lifestyle choices and complementing appropriate medical care.

Aromatherapy is considered both a science and an art. Early civilizations such as the Egyptians used essential oils as one of their primary sources for healing. They discovered that the volatile plant materials — the tiny droplets contained in glands, sacs or veins of leaves, stems, bark, flowers, roots, and fruits — contain the pure "essence" and healing properties of a plant. There are about 400 essential oils, but only about 40 are commonly used in aromatherapy.

Steam distilling and cold pressing are methods used to extract oils from plants and flowers, and both processes produce highly concentrated oils that only require a small amount to be effective. When purchasing, choose high-grade, genuine oils and avoid synthetic ones (which are usually labeled as "perfume" or "fragrance" oils).

Most commonly, essential oils enter the body through inhalation or topical application to the skin, and as they enter your system their healing properties can affect and improve your physical health and emotional well being.

When an essential oil is inhaled into the lungs, it works on two different levels. First, as it enters through the nose, the molecules of the oil interact with the olfactory organs (your sense of smell), which are directly linked to the limbic lobe of the brain (your emotional control center). Almost immediately, the brain is stimulated and an emotional reaction is triggered. Specific oils (i.e.: lavender), can be used to quiet anxiety and to induce feelings of calmness while others (i.e., lemon) uplift, revitalize, and cause feelings of alertness.

The second level that essentials oils work on is physical. When the inhaled molecules enter the lungs, they interact with the respiratory system, where they can have a number of effects. For example, eucalyptus oil is known to ease chest congestion in addition to containing antibacterial and antiviral properties. And, tea tree oil, with its powerful immune stimulating properties, can help prevent colds from developing (and if they do develop, it aids in recovery).

Essential oils also deliver their healing properties through the skin. When combined with carrier oils (also called base oils) and massaged into the skin, essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream via the vascular system. At the same time, they provide moisture, healing and nourishment to the dermal layers of the skin.

If you prefer the inhalation method, a few drops of the oil can be placed on a tissue or cotton ball and simply inhaled. If applied directly to the skin, essential oils, which are fat soluble, not water soluble, should be combined with carrier or base oils, such as vegetable, sweet almond or jojoba. (Even though essential oils are light, clear, and non-greasy, they will not dissolve well in water).

Many essential oils contain marvelous healing properties, and the beauty of aromatherapy is that it gives you some control over how you care for yourself. But it’s always best to seek out a trained Aromatherapist who can show you how to use the oils safely. For example, oils should never be taken internally, and since they’re so concentrated, most oils should not be applied directly to the skin (two exceptions are lavender and tea tree oil). Essential oils should not be used by pregnant women or by people dealing with certain health issues, such as cancer and kidney diseases without first checking with your doctor.

Listed below are a few of the more popular essential oils easily found in your local health food store, along with several suggestions on how to incorporate them into your daily life.

Lavender - Soothing, calming, and relaxing. This is the most versatile oil, and it blends well with other essential oils by boosting their properties. Suggestions: Inhale a few drops sprinkled on a tissue when suffering from irritability, tension, or anxiety. A drop or two on a tissue next to your pillow combats insomnia. Mature and dry skin benefits from an application of lavender mixed with almond oil. A drop of lavender on a bug bite or bee sting can provide relief.

Eucalyptus - An expectorant, decongestant, and antiviral. Suggestions: Put a few drops on a tissue and inhale throughout the day when experiencing a cold, sinus problems, or a sore throat. It can also be used through steam inhalation. Some benefits include an increase in alertness and focus, and the enhancement of mood.

Peppermint – Stimulating to the mind. Suggestions: Offers relief from headaches and subdues appetite by affecting the section of the brain which governs our feelings of fullness. It’s also useful as an insect repellent (combine a few drops with vegetable oil and spray your skin or clothes), and is especially effective for warding off ants.

Neroli – Considered the best choice for anxiety. It calms nerves before major events, and helps with feelings of loss due to grief. Suggestions: Place a few drops on a tissue and inhale before entering a job interview, giving a presentation or confronting a stressful situation. It has a wonderful effect on your emotional well-being.

Jessie Diane Wyatt, B.S. Holistic Health Holistic Wellness Coach and Certified EFT Practitioner. She teaches workshops and works individually with clients. Her sincere hope is to help others on their path to healing. jessiewyatt@ msn.com http://www.holisticallyyours.org


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