In aromatherapy, which is also known as essential oil treatment, there are a variety of traditional, alternative, and complementary therapies that make use of essential oils and other fragrant plant components.
Essential oils have been utilised to improve a person’s health and mood for approximately 6,000 years, with the goal of increasing a person’s overall well-being.
Aromatherapy, according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), is defined as “the therapeutic use or the medical use of aromatic compounds (essential oils) for the promotion of overall health and healing.”
According to the International Standards Organization (ISO), an essential oil is a “product obtained from vegetable raw material, either by distillation with water or steam, or from the epicarp of citrous fruits by a mechanical process, or by dry distillation,” according to the ISO definition from 1997.
The antimicrobial activity of essential oils has been demonstrated in a variety of studies. They are believed to have antiviral, nematicidal, antifungal, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties, among other characteristics. Massage, topical treatments, and inhalation are some of the aromatherapy techniques used today.
Users should be reminded, however, that “natural” products are also chemicals, and that they can be deadly if they are handled incorrectly or improperly. In order to get the most out of essential oils, it is critical to follow the recommendations of a skilled specialist.
How to use aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is typically utilised by inhalation or as a topically applied treatment to alleviate symptoms.
Inhalation: The oils can be inhaled by the use of a diffuser container, spray, or oil droplets, or they can be breathed in through the use of a steam bath, for example.
Aromatherapy oils, in addition to delivering a pleasant scent, can have a variety of health benefits, including respiratory disinfection, decongestant action, and psychological benefits.
Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, which is the part of the brain that is associated to smell and includes both the nose and the brain, as well as the respiratory system.
Molecules that enter the body through the nose or mouth travel to the lungs, where they might spread to other areas of the body.
In as far as these molecules reach the brain, they have an effect on the limbic system, which is linked to emotions as well as the heart rate and blood pressure as well as breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance. Essential oils can have a subtle, yet profound, effect on the body when used in this manner.
Topical applications: Massage oils, bath and skin care products, and other cosmetics are absorbed into the skin. Massage the region where the oil is to be administered can help to enhance circulation and absorption by increasing blood flow. Some believe that places with a greater concentration of sweat glands and hair follicles, such as the head or the palms of the hands, will be more successful at absorbing the oils.
It is never recommended to apply essential oils straight to the skin. They must always be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied. The concentration of essential oils is usually a few drops of essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil. Sweet almond oil and olive oil are the most commonly used carrier oils.
To do an allergy test, follow these steps:
- Prepare a carrier oil by diluting the essential oil in it twice as much as the concentration you intend to use
- On the inside of the foreear, apply a quarter-sized amount of the mixture by rubbing it in
If there is no allergic reaction within 24 to 48 hours, the product should be considered safe to consume.
Some people have reported developing allergies to essential oils after using them on a regular basis for a long period of time. If a new allergic reaction occurs, the user should discontinue use of the product immediately and avoid the fragrance.
If you want a 0.5 to 1 percent dilution of your essential oil, use 3 to 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier liquid. To make a 5 percent dilution, add 30 drops to one ounce of carrier oil and mix thoroughly.
Adults are generally considered to be safe with a maximum concentration of 5 percent.
It is not advisable to take essential oils internally or ingest them. When taken orally, the oils might cause harm to the liver and kidneys.
It is possible that they will cause interactions with other medications, and that they will undergo unanticipated alterations while in the gut.
Aromatherapy is a complimentary therapy that can be used in conjunction with other treatments. It does not give a cure for diseases, rashes, or illnesses, but it can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for a variety of problems to enhance results.
It has been found to reduce the following:
- Pain and body aches
- Anxiety, agitation, stress, and depression
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Muscular aches
- Circulatory problems
- Menstrual problems
- Menopausal problems
- Alopecia, or hair loss
Aromatherapy may be effective for some types of psoriasis; nevertheless, a healthcare practitioner should be consulted before using or applying the treatment.
Peppermint oil may be beneficial for people who have digestive difficulties, but it should not be taken internally.
Clove oil can be used to ease toothache and mouth sores, but it should only be used topically, not swallowed, as it is toxic if consumed.
Aromatherapy supporters believe that these and a wide range of additional complaints respond well to the treatment with the oil, however scientific data does not support all of the claims.
Different oils have a variety of applications and effects.
- Basil essential oil is being used to sharpen concentration and alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of headaches and migraines. It should be avoided if you are expecting a child.
- Bergamot essential oil is said to be beneficial for the urinary tract as well as the digestive system. When used in conjunction with eucalyptus oil, it may be effective in alleviating skin problems, such as those caused by stress and chicken pox.
- Black pepper essential oil is commonly used for stimulating the circulation, muscular aches and pains, and bruises. Combined with ginger essential oil, it is used to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility.
- Chamomile essential oil can treat eczema
- Citronella essential oil is a relative of lemongrass and acts as an insect repellent
- Clove essential oil is a topical analgesic, or painkiller, that is commonly used for toothache. It is also used as an antispasmodic antiemetic, for preventing vomiting and nausea, and as a carminative, preventing gas in the gut. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties.
- Eucalyptus essential oil can help relieve the airways during a cold or flu. It is often combined with peppermint. Many people are allergic to eucalyptus, so care should be taken.
- Geranium essential oil can be used for skin problems, to reduce stress, and as a mosquito repellant.
- Jasmine essential oil has been described as an aphrodisiac. While scientific evidence is lacking, research has shown that the odor of jasmine increases beta waves, which are linked to alertness. As a stimulant, it might increase penile blood flow.
- Lavender essential oil is used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns and to enhance relaxation and sleep. It is said to relieve headache and migraine symptoms.
- Lemon essential oil is said to improve mood, and to help relieve the symptoms of stress and depression.
- Rosemary essential oil may promote hair growth, boost memory, prevent muscle spasms, and support the circulatory and nervous systems.
- Sandalwood essential oil is believed by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.
- Tea tree essential oil is said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities. It is commonly used in shampoos and skin care products, to treat acne, burns, and bites. It features in mouth rinses but it should never be swallowed, as it is toxic.
- Thyme essential oil is said to help reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.
- Yarrow essential oil is used to treat symptoms of cold and flu, and to help reduce joint inflammation.
It is customary to combine massage oil in with a carrier oil, which dilutes the oil and provides lubrication for the massage recipient.
Paying a visit to an aromatherapist
The aromatherapist should obtain a complete medical history, as well as information about the client’s lifestyle, nutrition, and current health status.
Aromatherapy takes a holistic approach, which means that it seeks to treat the full person when practising it. Treatments will be tailored to meet the physical and mental requirements of the individual. The aromatherapist may propose a single oil or a blend based on the client’s requirements.
In accordance with the patient’s requirements and preferences, the practitioner may suggest a single oil or a blend.
If there is no claim that the product treats a specific ailment, aromatherapy products do not require FDA approval, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Although a massage therapist may utilise aromatherapy oils, an aromatherapist is not the same as a massage therapist in terms of training and experience.
For healing purposes, it is crucial to consult with a certified aromatherapist, registered nurse, doctor, physical therapist, massage therapist or pharmacist before applying or utilising an essential oil.
The usage of each product can be recommended and taught by a skilled professional, who can also provide suitable application or dilution instructions.
In addition, consumers should be aware that the United States Food and Drug Administration does not regulate aromatherapy goods, making it impossible to determine whether a product is pure or polluted or manufactured.
The ingredients in some cosmetic and home items, such as lotions, make-up, and candles, are falsely labelled as essential oils when in fact they are synthetic fragrances.
It is important to handle essential oils with the same attention as pharmaceuticals. In order to achieve success, it is critical to obtain competent counsel and to carefully follow instructions.
Due to the fact that essential oils trigger reactions in the body, not all essential oils are beneficial to everyone. When essential oils are mixed with pharmaceuticals, the chemical components in the oils can have negative side effects. They have the potential to impair the effectiveness of traditional medications, as well as exacerbate existing health concerns in the individual.
People with high blood pressure, for example, should avoid stimulants like rosemary, which are known to raise blood pressure. Several herbs and spices, such as fennel, anise, and sage, have estrogen-like properties, and so should be avoided by anyone who has an estrogen-dependent breast or ovarian tumour.
Concentrated products may be dangerous even before they have been diluted, thus they should be handled with caution. It is recommended to use a maximum concentration of 5 percent.
Some oils produce toxins that can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system, especially if they are consumed in large quantities or ingested. The ingestion of essential oils can be dangerous, and in some circumstances, lethal in some cases.
Individuals suffering from any of the following conditions should exercise special caution when utilising aromatherapy:
- An allergy, or allergies
- Hay fever, a type of allergy
- Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
Individuals suffering from the following conditions must use considerable caution:
If the oil is to be combined with a carrier oil, the individual should inform the aromatherapist or massage therapist if he or she has nut allergies, as carrier oils are frequently derived from nuts and seeds and should be avoided.
However, the adverse effects of aromatherapy are usually minimal and do not last for long periods of time.
They are as follows:
- Some allergic reactions
The use of aromatherapy by pregnant or nursing moms has not been demonstrated to be safe by scientific evidence, and hence is not encouraged.
Aromatherapy may be harmful to a developing foetus during the first trimester of pregnancy, according to some research. Women who are breastfeeding should avoid using peppermint essential oil because it has been shown to be excreted in breast milk by the body.
Citrus essential oils may cause the skin to become more sensitive to ultraviolet light, increasing the likelihood of being sunburnt in the sun.
Some oils may interfere with the function of conventional pharmaceuticals, thus persons who are taking medications of any kind should consult with a certified pharmacist or doctor before using any oils at all.
In conclusion, when keeping essential oils, it’s crucial to keep in mind that exposure to light, heat, and air can compromise their quality and integrity. To be certain of the quality of the products, they should come from a reputable and trustworthy supplier. The risk of compromising the user’s health is reduced if the directions are strictly followed.
Aromatherapy is being used in mainstream medicine in parts of Western Europe as an antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial therapy. It is also being used in alternative medicine. However, this is less true in the United States and Canada. Several essential oils are controlled as prescription pharmaceuticals in France; hence, they can only be administered or recommended by a medical professional.
Aromatherapy can be beneficial in the treatment of certain illnesses, but it must be administered properly and under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. The NAHA can provide recommendations for aromatherapists in your region, and some are members of a professional group, but there are no licencing bodies for aromatherapists in the United States at this time.