The Aromatherapy guide

What is aromatherapy?

Sure, maybe you have heard of aromatherapy before and are, at least, marginally familiar with the term and the basics of what it means. Aromatherapy has something to do with scents and smells treating illnesses and conditions, right? Now, that does sound a bit unbelievable! How can it possibly do that, simply through the smell of something?

Don’t worry, you are not alone in your cynicism. Others have often questioned the viability of this treatment method. How is it really supposed to work anyway? In order to better understand aromatherapy and how it works – if, in fact, it does work at all – we need to get a better understanding of what aromatherapy truly is. Aromatherapy is actually a generic term that refers to many different types of traditions that make use of plant matter and essential oils to create a more positive atmosphere in conjunction with benefiting someone’s quality of life. All current treatments throughout the Western civilized world that use essential oils and plant matter are
considered aromatherapy, rather than “actual” medical treatments.

Does aromatherapy really work?

This is a very frequent question among most people when they think about aromatherapy. Does aromatherapy really work or is it all just a big sham? It is a common misperception that aromatherapy is new. Aromatherapy has been in existence and recognized as such for at least 80 years. However, the essential nature of aromatherapy has existed for thousands of years. To start with, do not get fooled by companies who will try to sell their
pleasant smelling products as aromatherapy products. Some companies will hype up unfounded claims to be aromatherapy in order to make more sales. In countries such as the United States, aromatherapy is treated like other chemicals and the FCC requires appropriate identification of all ingredients. Make sure that what you were looking at contains all-natural ingredients, not synthetic ones.

So what about major illnesses? Can aromatherapy really help with illnesses or psychological problems? The truth of the matter is that aromatherapy cannot cure stress or cure an illness. Anyone who goes into the use of aromatherapy in order to cure something is going to be disappointed. This simply isn’t how aromatherapy works.

How to determine what essential oils are best?

Many essential oils can be used in aromatherapy. There are at least 90 different essential oils and absolutes and at least 15 carrier oils commonly used in aromatherapy. With so many different oils to choose from, it is no wonder that most people have difficulty understanding what oils may be best for their specific desired affect. It is very important to study the different types of oils to determine which one will be the best one for you to use, should you decide to use aromatherapy.

The major essential oils
There are many different types of essential oils and all of them have specific properties. You may not even realize it, but many of these oils are used in their other forms while cooking! For example, some of the following essential oils are ones you would find in everyday household cooking in a different format (such as leaves or ground powder):

Basil
Basil is often used in cooking for various purposes because of its unique flavor. Its aromatic properties are sweet, herbaceous, and licorice like. While Basil is most often used in cooking, it can be used to help treat bronchitis, colds, coughs, exhaustion, flatulence, flu, gout, insect bites, insect repellent, muscle aches, rheumatism, and sinusitis. However, it is suggested that Basil only be used sparingly and with caution. Too much Basil may be carcinogenic because it contains methyl chavicol. It is suggested that you do not use basil if you have liver problems and you should not use basil during pregnancy.

Ginger
Ginger, also often used in cooking, is another aromatherapy essential oil. It has a warm, spicy, earthy, and woodsy smell. Ginger is best used to treat aching muscles, arthritis, nausea, and poor circulation. However, you should not use this if you will be exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time as it can create sun poisoning.

Lemon
Lemon is a very common fruit that most people are familiar with. Its aroma is very similar to the scent of lemon rinds except richer and more concentrated. It can be used to treat athlete’s foot, chilblains, colds, corns, dull skin, flu, oily skin, spots, varicose veins, and warts. Similar to Ginger, it is suggested that lemon not be used if you are going to be exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time.

Parsley
Parsley is also often used in cooking. It has a very woodsy aroma that can be quite appealing. It is often used to treat amenorrhea, arthritis, cellulites, cystitis, frigidity, griping pains, indigestion, rheumatism, and toxic build-up. However, this particular essential oil can sometimes be dangerous. It tends to be toxic to the liver and can induce abortions. It should be used in each with extreme caution particularly around pregnant women.

Peppermint
Peppermint is an extremely common smell that you are probably very familiar with. It is minty and is very reminiscent of spearmint only more concentrated and fragrant. This scent will often remind people of the Christmas holiday. It is an excellent treatment for asthma, colic, exhaustion, fever, flatulence, headache, nausea, scabies, sinusitis, and vertigo. It can be somewhat toxic to the nerves and should be avoided in the case of someone afflicted with epilepsy or fever. Peppermint may be taken orally but only under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner.

Thyme
Thyme is frequently used in cooking. It has a fresh but medicinal type smell. Thyme is often used to treat arthritis, colds, cuts, dermatitis, flu, insect bites, laryngitis, lice, muscle aches, oily skin, poor circulation, scabies, and sore throats. People with hypertension should not use thyme. It can also cause dermal irritation or can be a strong mucous membrane irritant.

Rose
Particularly interesting is the use of Rose in aromatherapy. All of us are accustomed to roses being used as a gift. However, roses are also used for aromatherapy. They have a floral and sweet sense. Rose, in its essential oil form, is often used to treat depression, eczema, frigidity, mature skin, menopause, and stress. When you think of giving roses to someone you care about, remember that just the scent of roses can help to alleviate depression and stress. No wonder women like them so much.

Nutmeg
Most everyone is very familiar with nutmeg. It has a wonderful smell that is rich, spicy, sweet, and woodsy. The essential oil is very similar to that of the cooking spice, only richer and more fragrant. It is commonly used to treat arthritis, constipation, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, neuralgia, poor circulation, rheumatism, and slow digestion.

Marjoram
Marjoram is also a cooking spice, only one that is not used as frequently as others mentioned here. In its aromatherapy version, it’s sweet and woodsy smell can be very appealing. It has the capacity to deal with a wide number of potential problems while still smelling nice.  It is used to treat aching muscles, amenorrhea, bronchitis, chilblains, colic, coughing, excessive sex drive, flatulence, hypertension, muscle cramps, neuralgia, rheumatism, sprains, strains, stress, and ticks. However, pregnant women should avoid using it, although there are no other precautions necessary.

Lavender
Earlier, in the history of the use of aromatherapy, it was mentioned that the French chemist Gattefosse discovered aromatherapy through an accidental dosage of Lavender oil. What does Lavender really treat? It’s fresh, sweet, floral, and slightly fruity scent is much enjoyed. It’s possible uses are many and include acne, allergies, anxiety, asthma, athlete’s foot, bruises, burns, chicken pox, colic, cuts, cystitis, depression, dermatitis, dysmenorrheal, earache, flatulence, headache, hypertension, insect bites, insect repellant, itching, labor pains, migraine, oily skin, rheumatism, scabies, scars, sores, sprains, strains, stress, stretch marks, vertigo, and whooping cough. Even with all its many treatments, there is no need for special precautions with this essential oil.

In conclusion

Aromatherapy has become a very popular treatment method in the world of alternative medicine. It has become particularly popular and effective in areas where there are problems relating to the emotions – such as stress and depression. It is my hope, that armed with this information, you will now be able to enjoy the benefits that aromatherapy can bring to your life.

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