Aromatherapy is a popular way of naturally treating various ailments, illnesses and mental health concerns. If you are unfamiliar with the use of oils, it can be an intimidating subject. This is a brief primer on what aromatherapy is and why people use it, as well as where to find quality oils to get started.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine and also is called essential oil therapy. It uses essential oil plant extract to heal people, physical and mentally. Depending upon the plant, it may take a few ounces or many pounds of plant material to make one ounce of essential oil. For example, in order to make one ounce of rose oil, over 300 pounds of rose petals are needed.
The essential oils are used in different ways but typically are inhaled or mixed with a carrier oil to be applied topically. (For example, 20 drops of an essential oil are added to one ounce of carrier oil. Olive, sweet almond, and grape seed oils are all popular carrier oils. ) Some are even ingested.
While many in the medical establishment don’t exactly believe in aromatherapy, there are a lot of people who find relief and healing using it. When essential oils are used properly they are not harmful to health, and there are even studies that back the use of some oils, such as lavender as a sleep aid.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
The benefits of aromatherapy vary depending on the specific essential oil being used. But generally the following benefits can be attained from different oils:
- Increased muscle relaxation when used in massage
- Overall physical and mental relaxation through inhalation
- Balanced hormones
- Reduction in chronic and acute pain
- Improved sleep in adults and children
- Improved blood circulation
- Immune system boost
Not all essential oils deliver the same benefits, so it is important to research oils carefully to ensure they will address your specific ailment or health concern. You should consult a doctor before using essential oils.
Popular Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
If you haven’t yet looked into buying essential oils (EOs), then you may be shocked at the hundreds of different types available. If you don’t really have a specific ailment you want to treat with essential oils but want to build a collection of oils for a variety of uses, here are some of the most popular according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA):
- Lavender: Perhaps one of the most popular EOs, lavender is renowned for its calming and relaxing properties. It also has healing capabilities and is especially useful for treating abrasions, itchiness and bug bites.
- Frankincense: This ancient herb is an immune system booster and helps inflammation issues. It is also popular for those who use oils for spiritual reasons.
- Eucalyptus: Excellent for colds and flus as it is a natural expectorant and reduces congestion.
- Patchouli: This wonderful oil is used to treat depression, inflammation and aids proper nervous system functions.
- Peppermint: Peppermint is useful for nausea, muscle aches and pain, and headaches. It also is a very energizing scent.
- Neroli: Anxiety and depression are both treated by this oil, as well as helping PMS symptoms.
- Lemongrass: This scent isn’t just refreshing but also is cleansing thanks to its anti-viral and antimicrobial benefits. This oil also works as a natural insect repellent.
Visit the NAHA website or another trusted, non-bias authority website to find what oils would be best for your specific concerns.
Where to Find Quality Oils
After you understand which oils would be ideal for your aromatherapy needs, you will need high quality oils to use. Not all essential oils are created equal and since there aren’t any FDA or other types of standards, many companies make false claims to market their oils.
When searching for essential oils, ensure that the oils are 100 percent essential oils, not blends or fragrance oils. The oils should be in dark glass containers without rubber droppers. The best companies will use responsibly sourced plants and are eco-conscious.
Typically, essential oils sold at Walmart or local drugstores should be avoided unless it is a reputable company. You may already be aware of essential oil MLM (multi-level marketing) companies like Young Living. While some MLM companies may produce some good oils, they are often overpriced.
Some good brands to look into include:
- Mountain Rose Herbs
- NOW Foods
- Plant Therapy
- Aura Casia
Always check the labels of the essential oils you are interested in buying. Some varieties of oils may include fragrance oils or are already blended with a carrier, so do your homework before purchasing.
Do you use aromatherapy in your daily life? Please share your tips, experiences or your favorite oil in the comment section below.