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Aromatherapy in a nutshell

04.11.20 3 min. read

Why does it smell so good in here?

Basil is by far my favourite herb, its versatility and aroma never cease to delight me and my senses. In its plant, seed, and powdered form, I use it in a lot of my favourite dishes for added flavour. To help relieve stress at the end of my day, I let the aromas of extracted basil oil and lavender essential oil work their magic on my mind and body. 

Diffusers for essential oils have surged in popularity with the rise in awareness on the benefits of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is also referred to as essential oil therapy, and the practice of using aromatic essential oils to treat and heal the human body has been popular for centuries (1) . 

The process of finding your favourite essential oils to use in aromatherapy is the embodiment of self care. By taking time out of your day to pause and reflect, aromatherapy offers a natural way to relieve stress and feel zen with your favourite aromas. 

The current obsession with essential oils, and why… 

Aromatherapy is said to benefit pain management, boost immunity, reduce stress and anxiety, improve quality of sleep, treat headaches, soothe sore joints, and improve digestion. [3] A branch of herbology, aromatherapy relies on essential oils derived from plants. Essential oils are mixtures of compounds that are extracted from the roots, seeds, blossoms, or leaves of plants. Aromatherapy has wide ranging healing properties, and has been shown to be effective in treating an array of conditions, such as anxiety, insomnia, stress management, asthma, inflammation, and arthritis. Aromatherapy may reduce the overuse of prescription drugs and reduce the risk of sleep disorders affecting the health of the body [4]. 

Too good to be true? How are essential oils so effective...

When we inhale essential oils, various chemicals within an aroma start to make their way into the olfactory pathway, and the bloodstream via your lungs. (2). The olfactory pathway not only conducts the sense of smell, but also regulates the memory, emotions, and advanced functions of the brain such as alertness and sleep. 

The central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) receives and processes sensory information and regulates bodily movements. The peripheral nervous system concerns muscular activities as well as glands and organs of the body, and functions to regulate internal involuntary responses that are associated with emotions [3]. These systems are responsible for changes such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, brain wave distribution, digestive processes, processes that are affected when the body experiences stress. 

Clinical studies have shown the aroma of essential oils to be beneficial by inhalation of vapor (diffuser) or by absorption of fragrance molecules through the skin. Essential oils can produce sedative effects on the body, by reducing heart rate, and reducing blood pressure. (4)

Most popular essential oils, what to do with them 

In addition to diffusers and topicals (body oils, creams, masks, lotions for massage), you can also experience the benefits of essential oils in aromatic spritzers, inhalers, in bathing salts, facial steamers, and using hot and cold compresses. Studies show that essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, sweet orange, valerian, lemon, rose, and cedar have sedative effects on the body, reducing heart rate and relieving stress. (4). 

Don’t go too wild! 

To avoid allergic reactions, skin irritation, rashes, or nausea, do not apply essential oils directly to your skin. Instead, always use a carrier oil to dilute the oils, and talk to an expert before trying to mix oils yourself. Aromatherapy is an incredible complementary therapy, but it shouldn’t replace any prior doctor-approved treatment plans if you’re trying to treat chronic sleep disorders such as insomnia, and depression and anxiety. 

https://journals.lww.com/hnpjournal/Abstract/2002/10000/Aromatherapy__Mythical,_Magical,_or _Medicinal_.5.aspx 

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00404-018-4700-1 

(1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26211735/ 

(2) https://journals.lww.com/hnpjournal/Abstract/2002/10000/Aromatherapy__Mythical,_Mag ical,_or_Medicinal_.5.aspx 

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5035835/ 

(4) https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-019-2732-0#: ~:text=Some%20studies%20have%20shown%20that,include%20linalool%20and%20linalyl%20 acetate.

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