Aromatherapy – How Does It Work?

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Aromatherapy is the use of the chemical components of essential oils extracted from plants to treat physical, mental, and emotional concerns. Most prescribed medications (which are synthetic) have their origin from plants, so why is it difficult for us to accept the idea that using the raw plant materials can be as effective? This article looks into this question further, and discusses methods of using aromatherapy.

Why Do Essential Oils Work
Essential oils are frequently referred to as the “blood stream” of a plant. They are typically extracted at the location where the plant is protected. For example, the citrus essential oils, such as orange, lemon, grapefruit, and so forth are extracted from the peel, as it is the peel that protects the plant. When people think about essential oils, they think they come from the flower of the plant. While this is true for some essential oils, such as Lavender and Chamomile, the essential oil can be extracted from many parts of the plant, for example, from the berries of the Juniper plant, or from the bark of the Cedar tree.

When we extract these essential oils from the various parts of the plants, we are taking the essence of the plant, including its nutrients and chemicals; thus the name essential oils. These essential oils contain chemical compounds that are valuable in healing. So why do pharmaceutical companies make synthetics instead of the natural plant extracts? We will have to ask them that question.

Once you understand that synthetic prescription drugs have a chemical composition similar to essential oils, you will be more willing to use essential oils with the confidence of knowing that they will work as successfully, in most cases, as the synthetic medications but without many of the side effects.

How Can Essential Oils Be More Effective?
There is a great deal of research today that points to the usefulness of essential oils. There are even some claims that essential oils are more effective than synthetic drugs. This research suggests that both essential oils and conventional medications work because they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Most oral medications, however, have to go through the digestive system and may lose some of their strength as the enzymes in the digestive process attack the drug.

Since essential oils are typically either applied directly to the skin, or inhaled through the mucous membranes, they do not have to suffer a loss of potency by going through the digestive system. Thus, the essential oils may prove to be more helpful. How do the essential oils get into the bloodstream if they are not ingested (like a pill)? Your skin is your largest cell that has direct access to the bloodstream, so when you apply essential oils to the skin (via a carrier), you are making them directly available to the bloodstream where they are going to be most useful.

Methods of Use
Now that you know how essential oils work, let’s look at some ways of using them effectively.

Lotion or Oil-Based
Because essential oils are so concentrated, I always recommend that you dilute them in a “carrier.” The role of the carrier is to simply carry the essential oils into the body in a diluted format to be safer. The carrier may be a lotion, cream, oil, or even water. By simply putting a few drops of Lavender, Geranium, and Tea Tree into a lotion you have an antiseptic, antibacterial solution that will also soothe and rejuvenate your skin. Use this when you get sunburn, insect bites, cuts, scrapes, poison ivy, or other skin ailments.

Imagine that your body is aching after a day working in the garden, chasing the children around the park, or playing an extra round of golf. By putting a few drops of Lavender, Helichrysum, and Ylang Ylang into a warm bath, you will get the same relief as if you took an anti-inflammatory, sedative, and analgesic. These are just the right chemicals you need to relieve sore muscles, tension, and stress.

Make it Simple
Once you start using essential oils, you will want to replace all of your everyday health, beauty, and home cleaning products with aromatherapy. That’s great! But make it easy on yourself. Start by adding some essential oils to your shampoo, mouthwash, dish detergent, bath and shower gel, laundry detergent, room sprays, and other products that you use on a regular basis. As you become more proficient with essential oils and making blends, you will actually replace these everyday products with pure essential oil products, that not only cost less, but work just as well. Wishing you seasons of good health!

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