Aromatherapy is the use of the sense of smell, usually via essential oils, to produce effects. These may be relaxing, invigorating or antibacterial. The use of the sense of smell is profound as it is the fastest way for a stimulus to reach the brain through the nose.
Clinical Aromatherapy is performed by a trained practitioner. The Clinical Aromatherapist learns more about the holistic care of a client and about pathological conditions. They also learn about how to blend effectively and can prescribe blends for the client’s home use – something that Massage Therapists cannot do.
Essential oils or essences are highly concentrated substances extracted from various parts of aromatic plants and trees (roots, skins, petals etc.). They then go through various processes before they can be called an essential oil. Because of the complicated nature of the processes and the expense involved essential oils tend to be pricey. In fact if therapists came across a cheap essential oil, then it probably diluted.
Oils can smell very differently alone and in a blenddue to the chemical interactions of the different oils, this is what Clinical Aromatherapists learn about.
Some of the uses and effects
- certain oils are used for particular problems e.g. peppermint for digestive problems; geranium to balance, fennel for cleansing, lavender as anti-inflammatory, rosemary to soothe aching muscles
- these oils can be blended for use by the client in aftershaves, creams lotions etc
- can be used to enhance relaxation at a massage
- can be used to continue treatment afterwards at home
Someone may not want massage or be able to be massaged – then a blend to suit that person can be used to help instigate the healing process
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils to help deal with everyday stresses and emotional well-being. Essential oils, extracted from plants, are thought to possess distinctive properties, which may be used to improve overall emotional and spiritual health imbuing the user with a sense of relaxation and calmness.
In a typical aromatherapy session, the aromatherapist will ask questions about previous medical history, general health, wellbeing and lifestyle. This helps the therapist to choose and blend the safest and most appropriate essential oils for the individual. The oils may be applied in combination with massage or the aromatherapist may suggest other methods.
Aromatherapy may be found to be helpful to those wanting to reduce everyday stress and so help with the ability to cope, relax and sleep. As well as being used in individual therapy sessions and at home, it is also used in a variety of settings, including hospitals and hospices.
Aromatherapy has been used for over 3,000 years for its healing, rejuvenating, relaxing and invigorating benefits on the mind, body and spirit. The sense of smell is the fastest route to the brain to create effects; aromas we like lift our mood and promote a sense of well-being.
Essential oils are often referred to as the life-force of a plant and contain the chemicals the plant needs to help it survive - to repel insects that may be harmful, attract those it needs, and so on. It is these substances that can be used in their whole state to help us heal ourselves. Many drugs originate in plants. Using essential oils is more like using the whole plant in its natural state - complete with those substances that quench any possible side effects. They come from flowers, herbs, resins and spices. As they are very concentrated that must be used with care and respect.
ESSENTIAL OILS CAN BE USED IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS:
- for BABIES & CHILDREN (be careful some oils are not advised)
- in the BATH (be careful some oils are irritants)
- in the CAR
- on a COMPRESS
- as a GARGLE
- for INHALATION
- on a LIGHT BULB RING
- for MASSAGE/SELF APPLICATION
- as PERFUME
- as a ROOM SPRAY
- for VAPOURISATION
COMMON ESSENTIAL OILS
- BASIL (Ocimum basilicum) - has mind clearing, soothing, anti-depressant and uplifting effects. Great the morning after the night before, and for wind and other digestive problems. It has an aniseedy aroma.
- BERGAMOT (Citrus bergamia) - is cleansing, uplifting, and refreshing with a citrussy aroma. Great for cystitis, bronchitis, and as a room deodoriser.
- BLACK PEPPER (Piper nigrum) - is spicy oil with stimulating, tonifying and warming effects. Good for respiratory problems and aches and pains - use in massage oil.
- CAMOMILE (German, Roman, and Moroccan) - is a relaxing, soothing and anti-inflammatory oil that can be used diluted for babies and on sensitive skins. Good for insomnia and colic.
- EUCALYPTUS (Eucalyptus globulus) - is decongesting oil that is also antiseptic. It is also anti-spasmodic so good for aches and pains and for sports people.
- GERANIUM (Pelargonium graveolens) is balancing and anti-depressant that is great for hormonal problems such as PMT and stress. Use in a burner for moodwsings.
- LAVENDER (Lavendula augustifolia) is the best known and most widely used oil - it is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, calming. And thus a very healing oil. A drop can be used neat on minor burns and insect bites and on the temple in cases of headache. It is a great painkiller and anti-inflammatory to boot!
- LEMON (Citrus Limon) is refreshing and invigorating. Lemon is a good painkiller and great for digestive and circulatory problems.
- PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita) is refreshing and cooling to mind body and sprit. Great for indigestion, eating problems - put in a burner at mealtimes. It also aids concentration but be careful as it may irritate skin.
- ROSEMARY (Rosemarinus officinalis) - reviving and stimulating. Excellent for refreshing tired muscles, feet and joints. Also useful for clearing the head and aiding concentration. Piercing, fresh, minty-herb aroma.
- SANDALWOOD (Santalum album) - relaxing and sedative. Used mainly in skin care to balance oily or dry skin and an ingredient in many expensive perfumes and aftershaves. Smooth, woody aroma.
- TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia) - antifungal, antibiotic, antiviral. Widely used in aromatherapy. Tea Tree has proven antiseptic and immuno-stimulant properties, and is also very effective in the treatment of fungal infection. Medicinal, camphorous aroma.