A look at the most popular essential oils and what they can do you for.

The Benefits of Aromatherapy

A form of alternative medicine, Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to increase psychological and physical well being, and treat or prevent disease. Essential or natural oils are extracted from plant materials such as flowers, leaves, stems, and tree bark.


The concept of Aromatherapy has gained in popularity since the early 20th century. Aromatherapy was pioneered by Jean Valnet, a French surgeon, who first used essential oils for medicinal purposes, as antiseptics in his treatment of wounded soldiers during World War II. In 1937, French author René-Maurice Gattefossé wrote a book on the subject, entitled Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales. Gattefossé told that he used lavender oil to effectively treat a badly burned hand.


Aromatherapy is used to help reduce or relieve pain and anxiety, enhance energy and mental function, such as memory and mood, and to relieve physical symptoms of skin diseases such as eczema. Aromatherapy is not used to cure conditions but as a way to help the body find a way to cure itself naturally. The practice works in two ways; the aroma of the oils, when inhaled, influences and stimulates brain function. Essential oils can also be used in whole-body healing by being absorbed through the skin (usually by massage), and travelling through the body in the bloodstream. It is important to remember not to apply essential oils directly to the skin, but to blend them with carrier oils or lotion. It is not recommended to use essential oils in pregnancy or on children.


Certain oils are used to treat different symptoms through different applications, and some trigger physical or emotional effects on their own. Below are some tips on how you can use the most popular essential oils to help improve your own psychological and physical well being.


Lavender

Lavender oil is probably the most commonly known essential oil, and is used as a calming agent. Used for the relief of anxiety and stress, lavender also contains an antidepressant and can help relax and lift your mood. Lavender is also good for aches and pains and the relief of muscle and joint stiffness.


Adding 6-8 drops of Lavender oil to a bath, mixing it with a little milk and stirring the water vigorously will create a lavender bath which is excellent for the relief of aching muscles and relax the mind.


A lavender compress placed gently on your forehead will help relieve a stress headache. Drop 6-8 drops of oil into a bowl of warm water and stir. Soak a cloth in the mixture, squeeze it out and then apply to your forehead. Lie back, relax and let it work its magic.


Peppermint

Peppermint oil has several properties that are useful in aromatherapy. It is a natural energy booster and its cooling and refreshing effects are used to enhance mental alertness, boost the mood and sharpen focus. Peppermint is also extremely useful in the relief of indigestion.


Drinking peppermint tea is a well known antidote to an upset stomach. Another way to help relieve nausea is to massage a few drops onto your abdomen, mixed with a lotion or carrier oil. (Peppermint is a lot more concentrated than other essential oils and can cause irritation to the skin, so always be very careful when applying it.)


To keep up energy and concentration levels up, apply to the back of the neck and the shoulders, and rub a little under your nose. Inhaling the aroma before and after a workout will help fight fatigue.


Rose

Rose oil is particularly helpful in the relief of various female problems, such as menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms. Its properties include an antidepressant and anti-inflammatory, and can also be used an inhalant to treat asthma.


Rose is most commonly combined with a carrier oil such as sweet almond and massaged into the skin to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps and relax the muscles. It can also be added to a bath, or dissolved into a tissue or cloth and inhaled. Bathing in a rose bath will help soothe and heal skin conditions, as it contains a powerful antiseptic. It is also used in skin creams and lotions.


Tea Tree

Tea tree oil is contains numerous healing properties and helps boost the immune system and fight infection. The oil can be inhaled through a humidifier or steam inhalation or applied to the skin.


Tea tree is helpful in healing countless skin conditions, from cuts and burns, to muscle aches or even Athlete’s foot. Blend the oil with a lotion or cream and massage into the skin, or add a few drops into your bathwater. Tea tree is often already found in bath products such as shampoo, body wash and body lotions.


It is important to remember to use all essential oils with caution, making yourself aware of any risks or potentially harmful properties. If you would like any further advice, or any symptoms persist, please consult a medical professional.

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