What Exactly Is Meant by Aromatherapy?

April 19, 2017

Anjaca Lifescent Lavender Essential Oil and lit candle with bowl and lavender scented lit candle

Even if you’ve heard of aromatherapy before, there’s a good chance you don’t know exactly what it means. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place!

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy involves using plant oils, such as essential oils, for the purposes of physical and psychological well-being. When used correctly, essential oils prove to be particularly beneficial. The term “essential” stems from the fact that these oils are the purest essence of the plant they are made from. Essential oils have different methods of distillery than other materials and solutions used in aromatherapy; however, the term “essential oils” is sometimes used as a blanket term for any oils used in the practice.

Aromatherapy also incorporates other ingredients from the natural world. These can include clays and muds, cold-pressed vegetable oils (AKA carrier oils), herbs, sea salts, and much more. There are many different practices out there, but you’d be hard-pressed to find synthetic ingredients being used in holistic aromatherapy. “Perfume oils” are not the same as essential oils, as they contain synthetic chemicals, and therefore do not result in the same benefits.

Essential Oils & Their Uses

There are many benefits to using essential oils that are both physical and psychological. One way to receive such benefits is through inhaling them. When inhaled, the aroma of an essential oil triggers a reaction in the brain, and the benefit is carried through the body when inhaled through the lungs. This is because the oils’ natural chemicals carry various therapeutic benefits, and each have their own uses. For example, the essential oil of eucalyptus can be diffused and inhaled for congestion relief. Of course, it is very important to use essential oils correctly for your own safety.

Aromatherapy and using essential oils can also refer to topical applications. When applied to the skin, essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream, which allows their constituents (natural chemicals) to aid in hygiene, health and beauty. Of course, essential oils are too powerful to be applied to the skin in an undiluted form, so if you do use them in a topical application, they will need to be diluted. Carrier oils, like grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil, are typically used for diluting essential oils.

Massaging a partner (or receiving a massage) is an excellent, therapeutic way to utilize diluted essential oils. You can also add a few drops of an essential oil to your running bathwater to make for a particularly relaxing bath.

Household Uses of Essential Oils

Though the main use of essential oils is through aromatherapy for wellness purposes, they have many other uses as well. They are often used in natural cleaners for household and laundry purposes, for example. Many would argue that it’s much better for your home and the environment to use these natural cleaning aides rather than products loaded with synthetic chemicals.

Have you used scented candles during the summer to naturally repel insects? That is also due to an essential oil, one from citronella. You can thank the citronella in those scented candles for keeping the mosquitoes away! Many people also use essential oils in homemade beauty products, soaps, and lotions. Adding a few drops of essential oil to your trash can or sink drain can also help to generally freshen up your home.

Blending Essential Oils

In order to create complex and even more appealing aromas, essential oils may be blended together. Specific blends are used for certain therapeutic purposes; these blends are referred to as an essential oil synergy. These blends are thought to be able to accomplish more than a single essential oil working on its own. Do some research before deciding on an essential oil blend recipe for your diffuser, so that it can best aid whatever it is you need it to do.

A Note on Aromatherapy Products

It’s important to note that there are many products out there with an “aromatherapy” label that are not entirely natural or pure. Natural products are, of course, much more beneficial in a therapeutic sense, so be sure to do your research on an essential oil before deciding to buy.

One way to avoid running into issues with an essential oil is to purchase an oil that originates from the plant’s indigenous area. If you are unsure about a product, it’s best to consult a naturopath or other aromatherapy practitioner. Do extra research about essential oils if you have any allergies, and be sure to check with a practitioner before using one if you are pregnant. Aromatherapy can be highly beneficial if essential oils are used correctly, so it deserves your time and attention.

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