Aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils to improve well being. Natural plant oils are often placed in diffusers and allowed to permeate the air and have been used for centuries to address mostly psychological issues. Aromatherapy as a practice is thousands of years old. Ancient Egyptians employed the use of essential oils and other plant substances for massages, bathing, and healing. One of the major uses of aromatherapy in the US is for stress management.
How Aromatherapy Works
Some of the methods of aromatherapy include aerial diffusion (typically with an oil burner), topical application, and inhalation. It’s even occasionally administered vaginally, rectally, and orally for things like infection and congestion. Many practitioners use only natural essential oils since synthetics don’t provide the same benefit as the natural compounds. Synthetic fragrance oils may also contain chemical additives that can irritate the skin if applied topically.
Aromatherapy is very popular today for stress relief.  It offers a natural, organic alternative to pharmaceutical substances and works to enhance lifestyle modifications that further reduce stress. These natural lifestyle modifications are of course exercise, diet, meditation, and proper sunlight exposure. One primary application method for essential oils is indirect and direct inhalation. Through inhaling the oils (from a safe distance, of course), the brain reacts by slowing down. This elicits a deep level of relaxation.
Massage is another stress-relieving technique that commonly employs essential oils, incorporating touch and the physical manipulation of joints and muscles to relieve tension and stress. Many essential oils used during massage are often diluted.
Aromatherapy has seen a great deal of scientific scrutiny, and research continues to report the amazing benefits of these natural concentrated plant oils. The scientific research being done so far reports positive results. In France, it’s already part of their mainstream medicine, which is appropriate considering that France is credited with being the birthplace of “aromatherapy.”
The Stress of Daily Life
Stress is an aspect of life; however, there are different types of stress that must be addressed. ‘Good’ stress, or eustress, can actually motivate you to accomplish goals and keep you safe from adverse situations. Negative stress, on the other hand, usually stems from some prolonged negative thought about the past or the future. The negative stress is what should be dealt with in order to support good health.
While you may not be able to always eliminate a negative situation, there are many things you can do to reduce stress which will hopefully eliminate health problems related to that stress. Aromatherapy is one effective way to combat the emotional upheaval that accompanies stressful events. Stress can hinder digestion, immune function, and increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.    Simply by reducing your negative emotions that surround a certain situation, you begin to change the way you think and act, thereby minimizing the situation.
The Dangers of Unmanaged Stress
It’s not worth ignoring stress or accepting it; you have power over the stress you experience. You can attenuate the effects of stress in your life by practicing meditation, deep breathing, exercising, socializing, or simply taking a hot shower. Of course, using essential oils in your daily routine will also support a positive mood no matter what the situation. If you choose to ignore stress, your body becomes worn down in multiple ways. Not only do you become tired and lose motivation, your immune system, cells, and brain weakens.
Consider the following:
- Stress can affect your blood sugar levels, leading to hunger and, eventually, insulin insensitivity.
- Many people who do not properly manage their stress experience weight gain.
- Premature aging is another possible danger of not properly managing your stress levels.
- General pain throughout the body can be a side effect of unmanaged stress.
Some of the most popular essential oils with stress-relieving properties include geranium, peppermint, lavender, jasmine, chamomile, and lemongrass. Add aromatherapy to your arsenal as you fight against stress. The benefits can be quite effective, and the ease of use makes it a great choice.
How to Use Essential Oils
Be sure to read your labels to make certain that your oil contains organic, all-natural essential oils. Never apply essential oils to the skin without proper diluting it in a carrier agent. Proper carrier oils include jojoba, olive, and coconut oil. Because oils are concentrated, they can irritate the skin without a natural and benign carrier oil accompanying its application. One method of using aromatherapy is simply applying oils to your hands and breathing in the oil deeply. You can apply the oils to clothes, handkerchiefs, pillows, and just about anything. When you go for a massage, ask your masseuse if they can use essential oils geared toward soothing, relaxing, and de-stressing. You may be able to bring your own oil to the session.
How do you use essential oils? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!
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- Shiloah E, Witz S, Abramovitch Y, et al. Effect of acute psychotic stress in nondiabetic subjects on beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity. Diabetes Care. 2003 May;26(5): 1462-7.
We recommend ‘Best Blends’ Set of 6 (Organic) 100% Pure, Best Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil – Which consists of various oil blends oncluding Lavender, Peppermint, Bergamot, Patchouli, Ylang-Ylang, Orange, Tea Tree, Lemon and Four Others.