Curious About Aromatherapy? Read to Know About its Benefits
Our sense of smell is a powerful healing tool. If we're not aware of that, it's certain that ancient societies were and used different aromas to heal people holistically. With the use of aromatherapy, almost immediately, you can notice your mood becoming better or a headache improves because of a certain scent. But how does that work exactly?
The olfactory system
Aromatherapy does have an effect on the brain from the different molecules in the specific scents. When you inhale, the molecules travel into your olfactory epithelium, which is a small patch of tissue within each nostril that perceives scents. Each olfactory epithelium contains 40 million sensory neurons. These neurons are what grabbed onto a scent or odor. Molecules travel to and stimulate the limbic system which is linked to several things, such as emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, memory, breathing, stress, and hormone balance. After that, the final step of this journey is in the brain in the hypothalamus, which is the part that is responsible for storage.
The olfactory epithelium gets saturated quite quickly, which is why scents affect the mood almost instantly. Basically, a scent you love will automatically make you feel good and uplifted, having a positive effect on your mood.
Different ways to use
Diffusion is used often, but if there are multiple people within an area where the scent is being diffused, that might not be the best way since different people might have allergic reactions to certain scents. For instance, children under 30 months old don't take too kindly to the scent of peppermint. That's why absorbent sticks can be handy to use at your own discrepancy and easy to move around with.
The idea behind aromatherapy is to treat uncomfortable symptoms of certain medical conditions; you cannot substitute it for a medicine you might be taking for any condition you may have. But you can reap the benefits of aromatherapy to help you in dealing with symptoms such as fatigue, asthma, insomnia, depression, menopause, arthritis, and digestive issues, among others. It can help you relax, de-stress, maintain healthy joints and muscles, stimulate, refresh and re-energize you. Different oils work on different symptoms, so you'll want to know more about essential oils and how they differ from each other.
Essential oils and Carrier oils
The list of essential oils are long. Essential oils are plant extracts derived from tree bark, roots, petals, and other parts of a plant. They're highly concentrated, which is why they're usually diluted with carrier oils. Carrier oils are fatty oils taken from the seeds, kernels or nuts of a plant.
Usually, a few drops of essential oil are added to an ounce of carrier oil. Don't worry, because diluting the essential oil doesn't take away the effect of it. Common carrier oils are olive oil and sweet almond oil, among others.
Lemon oil has antidepressant properties and is gaining wide popularity. It boosts moods and one study found the anti-stress hormone norepinephrine can be measured in the blood of participants of the study after having used lemon oil in aromatherapy.
Throughout history, cinnamon oil derived from the bark of the cinnamon verum tree, has been used and still used to clear up chest colds.
This oil also has healing powers for helping to treat depression as it helps to regulate hormones. For postmenopausal women in their 50s, it can improve thyroid hormone levels.
One of the most used essential oils, lavender has a calming and sedative effect which is why it's often recommended to achieve better sleep. There are actually 39 different species of lavender, and you'll want to know which ones help with which conditions. It's usually Lavandula angustifolia which is the one most times being referred to.
Another popular essential oil, peppermint is often used to treat headaches and migraines.
Eucalyptus oil is present in many over the counter lotions and rubs, so you probably smelled it before in various products such as heating rubs. It has a minty smell to it and can help clear airways during a cold. When you diffuse it, it makes an entire house smell fresh and clean.
Almost all oils are safe to use, but you always want to buy from a reputable source to gain their full benefits and also because essential oils aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The benefits are many, so it's always worthwhile to try it. Just improving your mood or relieving an ache or pain is a strong enough reason to explore aromatherapy. It can help you physically, mentally, and spiritually for better well-being.