Aromatherapy is a form of holistic healing that transcends time and cultures. Though not officially termed aromatherapy until the 20th century, aromatic plants and essential oils have been used as a form of healing for mind, body, and spirit possibly beginning with the Chinese. French perfumer and chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé who coined the term in 1937.
The distillation of herbs dates back to almost 4000 years ago.
Aromatherapy is starting to gain ground and rapport in the field of medicine. It is now commonly used as a complement to many modern Western medical treatments, especially sleep disorders. A few benefits aromatherapy enthusiasts claim to have experienced include pain management, stress reduction, headache treatment, sleep improvement, immune boosting, better digestion, and curbing chemotherapy side effects.
Studies have shown depression and anxiety can be effectively treated through the use of aromatherapy. These major studies also showed improvement in sleep and increased quality of life for those suffering with chronic health conditions. Small studies show lavender can help with pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee, reduced pain from kidney stones, and better quality of life for dementia patients.
This form of holistic therapy works primarily through inhaling the diffused oil or absorption through the skin. This takes place through diffusers, bathing salts, body oil, clay masks, aromatic spritzers, inhalers, facial steamers, and hot and cold compresses. These oils can be purchased online or in health food stores along with most retail shops. However, purchasing pure oils is important to ensure the most benefits. Some of the most popular oils include eucalyptus, cypress, fennel, ginger, geranium, and lavender.
When the oils are inhaled and reach the brain their molecules impact the limbic system that is connected to heart rate, emotions, blood pressure, memory, breathing, stress, and hormone balance. When applying the oil to the skin it is best absorbed when the area is massaged. Areas of the body where the most sweat glands and hair follicles are located absorb more effectively and therefore provide the most benefit. These areas are primarily the head and palms of the hands.