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Have you noticed how pleasant aromas always trigger a sense of calm, happiness and wellbeing? That is because, our sense of smell plays major role in our physical and mental health. For more than 6000 years Egyptians, Greeks, Indians,Chinese and Romans have used oils extracted from plants. They have used them for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes. It was however, in1937, that the use of these essential oils was termed as “aromatherapie” by French perfumer and chemist, Rene- Maurice Gattefosse. It‘s literal meaning is therapeutic application of aromatic substances for medical healing. By 1950’s aromatherapy had gained a strong foothold among beauticians, massage therapists, physiotherapists, doctors, and other health care providers. Today, it has adopted a more holistic approach for physical, emotional, and mental health.
How does Aromatherapy work?
Essential oils used in Aromatherapy are extracted from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants. These oils can be used individually or blended together to treat numerous health related issues. An essential oil contains its own mix of active ingredients, which determines the medicinal use. These oils can be inhaled and massaged into the skin depending on the symptoms being treated. The essential oils are rarely taken orally, unless administered by a doctor. Aromatherapy works by stimulating the smell receptors in the nose, which in turn communicates with specific parts of the brain. These parts serve as storehouses for memories and emotions. When the molecules of essential oils are taken in by breathing or massaging on the skin, they stimulate these parts of the brain. This triggers the feeling of well being which leads to healing.
There are numerous essential oils used in Aromatherapy. Some the commonly used essential oils are of lavender, rosemary, rose, orange, peppermint, lemon, ylang ylang, chamomile, eucalyptus, sandalwood. In the articles to follow some these oils will be taken up individually for their benefits. Some of these oils promote physical healing by treating inflammation, burns and fungal infections. While some aid relaxation and a sense of calm. Aromatherapy is used in a wide range of settings; from hospitals to health spas because it is a natural and non-invasive therapy. Aromatherapy is used to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, skin diseases, hair related problems, indigestion and women related problems. When used in lotions, soaps, shampoos and conditioners they help in daily beauty regimens. Aromatherapy in forms of aerosols, incense sticks and cones, potpourri, diffusers, aroma lamps, candles has slowly and successfully become a part of our daily life to provide a relaxing environment. Many essential oils perform more than one function. When blended appropriately a single combination can treat physical as well as mental ailments.
In cases of seizures, pregnancy, severe asthma, allergies, hyper tension and cancer, aromatherapy should be used only under medical consultation and supervision. It should be noted that essential oils should never be used near an open flame. They are highly volatile and flammable.
The many therapeutic benefits of Aromatherapy make it a popular alternative healing practice even in the modern times.
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