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Aromatherapy, or essential oil therapy, refers to a range of traditional, alternative or complementary therapies that use essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds.
But did you know that essential oils have been used for nearly 6,000 years, with the aim of improving a person’s health or mood? Egyptians are commonly given credit as the first culture to use aromatic extracts for beauty care, culinary uses, spiritual and physical wellbeing. But it is believed that essential oil-like extracts were also being used in China and India at nearly the same time. Depending on who is citing historical evidence, you can also find references to Ayurvedic uses of essential oils in India much earlier.
A range of essential oils have been found to have various degrees of antimicrobial activity and are believed to have antiviral, nematicidal, antifungal, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties. Aromatherapy applications include massage, topical applications, and inhalation.
When essential oils are inhaled, the oils are evaporated into the air using a diffuser container, spray, or oil droplets, or breathed in, for example, in a steam bath.
Apart from providing a pleasant smell, aromatherapy oils can provide respiratory disinfection, decongestant, and psychological benefits.
Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain connected to smell. Molecules that enter the nose or mouth pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body.
As the molecules reach the brain, they affect the limbic system, which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance. In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the body.
When used as topical applications, massage oils, and bath and skin care products are absorbed through the skin. Massaging the area where the oil is to be applied can boost circulation and increase absorption. Some argue that areas that are richer in sweat glands and hair follicles, such as the head or the palms of the hand, may absorb the oils more effectively.
Generally, essential oils are never applied directly to the skin. Oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil. Usually, a few drops of essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil is the desired concentration. Examples of carrier oils are jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil or olive oil. Fractionated coconut oil can also be used as a carrier, but is expensive and less common.
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. It does not provide a cure for diseases, rashes or illnesses, but it can support conventional treatment of various conditions. Some examples of uses of Essential Oils are:
The Emporium of the Enchanted Forest has a full range of 100% pure essential oils available for you.
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