Using the science of smell for healing has been around literally for thousands of years, with the ancient Egyptians and even the Chinese being known to use aromatic plants for well being.
For such healing and therapeutic uses such as for aromatherapy, essential oils are used.
Essential oils are in effect the ‘essence’ of a particular plant and may be distilled from the flowers, stem, leaves, roots, bark or other part of a plant. They are not necessarily ‘oil’ in the sense that it may not be a viscous or unctuous fluid in some cases.
Since essential oils in their pure forms are very concentrated, they are usually used in conjunction with a base or what is known as ‘carrier oil’ to dilute them which is usually almond, grape seed or apricot oil.
When used in the prescribed manner by diluting using base oil, essential oils are known to address a number of minor ailments:
- One of the best known uses of essential oils is relieving of stress, anxiety and depression by inhalation. Also known to alleviate fatigue, they can be invigorating and energizing. Bergamot for instance is known to help in relieving anger, anxiety, frustration, and sadness.
- Massage using essential oils can relieve muscular pain, which can manifest itself in stiffness and aching of the limbs and back area. They are also used for pain caused by rheumatism
- They form a natural antiseptic and can be applied to the affected area to treat insect bites as well as minor cuts and abrasions. Certain fungal infections are also known to benefit from the applications of suitable essential oils.
- Essential oils when used in the prescribed manner can aid and improve blood circulation.
- They are also known to combat hair loss and improve hair growth on the head.
- Inhalation of essential oils is known to ease the nausea including that which is associated with morning sickness and can also ease other problematic digestive symptoms such as flatulence and indigestion.
- Certain aromas are known aphrodisiacs, and similarly certain essential oils also claim to combat frigidity and impotence.
- Essential oils are known to be used to cure sleeplessness and insomnia. For instance pregnant women are often advised to bathe with water infused with essential lavender oil, for alleviating symptoms like irregular sleep, restless legs syndrome etc.
Essential oils should however be used under direction and pregnant women in particular should seek direction on their use. When used according to indication, essential oils can be highly beneficial.