Aromatherapy is the use of scent to affect therapeutic change on the body: physiologically, psychologically, or otherwise. Researchers find that these effects are measurable and can be quite significant. First all, a few tips about aromatherapy:
Essential oils are the compounds found in medicinal plants that give the plant its smell and taste. These oils are very valuable medicinally and therapeutically. The volitile oils in aromatic plants often provide much of the the medicinal action of the herb. For example, carminative herbs, such as aromatic seeds (coriander, cumin, anise, fennel, carraway and dill seeds) act on the digestive system to expell gas and to ease digestion. It is the volitile oil of the seed that does this work! Aromatherapy uses the essential oils of these plants therapeutically to impact a person’s well-being via smell, and can be a great adjunct therapy.
Essential oils are very potent, and usually only a few drops is all you need (indeed all you can tolerate) and should not be taken internally as a general rule. The essential oils are extracted during steam distillation of the whole plant, which results in the botanical hydrosol (or distillate) and the pure essential oil. Because of their strength, they should always be diluted in a carrier oil, such as sunflower seed or jojoba oil, depending on your goals for treatment. Finally, fragrance oils are synthetic copies of pure essential oils and are NO SUBSTITUTE. Always buy the pure essential oil and not its cheap imitations, as the copies do not have any therapeutic benefit whatsoever.
Top 10 Aromatherapy Oils
1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Relaxation, Mood-elevator
2. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Mood-elevator (better to stick your nose in the plant, as the pure essential oil is quite expensive!)
3. Orange (citrus sinensis): Anti-depressant, stimulating
4. Peppermint (mentha x piperita): Stimulating, awakening, enhances awareness
5. Rosemary (rosmarinus officialis): Improves memory and cognitive functioning; energizing
6. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata): deep relaxation, aphrodesiac, creates euphoric feelings
7. Rose (Rosa spp.): Instills love & compassion; relaxing
8. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Calming, anti-depressent, mood-elevator, anti-inflammatory
9. Cedar (Cedrus spp.): Emotional fortitude; enhances clarity (Himalayan cedarwood is my favorite!)
10. Basil (Ocimum basilicum): overcomes grief & melancholy, moves stagnant depression
Note: Sandalwood (Santalum album) is noticeably missing but it has become so incredibly expensive that most people are unable to utilize its benefits.
What essential oils are your favorites? I’ll be sure to write future posts about further DIY uses for essential oils and how to apply aromatherapy to your regular life, and of course I’d love to hear your favorite uses here too! Here are some posts you may find interesting:
* Photo copyright by Monica Wiesblott @ My Little Eye : http://www.etsy.com/shop/Mylittleeye