WHAT IS IT?
Aromatherapy is the art of blending oils for massage and inhalation to promote healing, relaxation and improve general wellbeing.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
All essential oils have different chemical properties which, when absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, effect the body in different ways. Inhaling oils affects the limbic system, the most primal part of the brain, responsible for emotions.
Aromatic medicine, the ancient beginnings of the art of aromatherapy, was recorded in both Egypt and India more than 4,000 years ago. The Egyptians used aromatic plants to create massage oils, medicines, embalming preparations, skin care products, fragrant perfumes and cosmetics. Plant aromatics were also utilized in India as part of the ancient medical practice known as Ayurveda. Many of these practices are still in existence today.
At the beginning of this century, particularly in France and England, a movement by noted doctors and scholars in the naturopathic and medical communities prompted a reawakening to the benefits of natural medicine and aromatherapy. Today in England and the United States, aromatherapy is a commonly accepted alternative medicine. In France, it is common to find doctors who practice aromatherapy, pharmacies that sell essential oils and health insurance companies that reimburse for treatments using these approaches.
AROMATHERAPY & DEPRESSION
Aromatic oils have been used for literally thousands of years in healing; for instance, lavender oil was used in ancient Egypt for healing skin complaints and Eucalyptus oil has been used for centuries to help clear sinus congestion. However, recent research by Dr G Schwartz, professor of Psychology and psychiatry at Yale University, revealed that certain aromas can even lower blood pressure. Some oils have been shown in research to have analgesic (pain reducing) qualities whereas others have been shown to be antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Clinical trials have shown essential oils to be beneficial in alleviating labour pains, reducing emotional stress, improving circulation, and even in helping patients with mental disorders. (1)
The essential oils have a complex action on the body which is still not fully understood. This may be due to the fact that one oil can have hundreds of different compounds. Interestingly, your sense of smell is over 10,000 more sensitive than your sense of taste and researchers have shown how aromas cause a brain reaction, activating the hypothalamus gland, the pituitary gland and the body’s hormones as well as stimulating the limbic system (centre for emotion and memory) in the brain.
Work carried out by Dr. Gary Schwartz, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale University, found that the aromas of some essential oils by themselves affect the nervous system and even reduce blood pressure. The calming and relaxing effect of the essential oils and massage can help relieve accumulated tensions and anxieties.
The following essential oils are also beneficial in the treatment of depression as they have properties helping to balance and relax the nervous system.
Chamomile – relaxant and calmative
Clary Sage – antispasmodic
Cypress – anti-spasmodic
Lavender – relaxant and calmative
Marjoram – emotional balancer
Rose – anti depressant
Rosewood – calmative
Ylang Ylang – sedative and antidepressant
The therapeutic massage combined with selected essential oils makes aromatherapy an excellent aid in countering the effects of stress and inducing relaxation. Massage improves the blood circulation in several ways without putting additional strain on the heart. It helps the flow of blood through the veins and also stimulates the nerves which control the blood vessels. It has the added benefit of relaxing tense muscles and tight connective tissues which may have been constricting blood vessels and thus enabling blood to flow more freely. It is for this reason that soothing massage helps reduce emotional tension; it induces relaxation and calms stress-related cardio-vascular conditions.
In fact, massage treatment alone has been shown to be an effective treatment to help patients with depression. In one study conducted at the University of Miami, 52 teenagers hospitalised for depression were split into two groups. For 5 days, the first group were each given a 30 minute massage and the second group watched television. The massage group felt less anxious, more co-operative, had lowered pulse rates and lower levels of cortisol ( a chemical produced under stress) in their saliva.(3)
Guidelines for using aromatherapy essential oils: –
Essential oils can be used at home in one of the following ways:-
Massage – mix 5 -10 drops to 10 ml of a vegetable base oil.
Baths – add 5 -10 drops to a pre-run bath and swish.
Inhalation – add 2 – 3 drops to a bowl of steaming water, cover head with a towel.
Tissue – put one drop on a tissue and inhale when required.
Room – put between 1 – 10 drops in a humidifier filled with water or on a piece of cotton wool and place on a radiator.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not take any oils internally or use on babies under 18 months. Always consult a qualified Aromatherapist before using any essential oils to treat a health problem, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
(1) Massage Therapy, Adam J Jackson (Optima 1993)
(2) The Complete Book of Massage – Clare Maxwell Hudson Dorling Kindersley 1988 p.18
(3) Massage Therapy, Adam J Jackson (Optima 1993)
HOW WILL I FEEL AFTER A TREATMENT?
You will feel relaxed, sleepy and physically much looser in your muscles. You may not realise how tense you are until after your treatment when your muscles and joints have been fully relaxed.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER A TREATMENT?
Aromatherapy can be very detoxifying so drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and eat a simple supper. You may find you sleep very well following a treatment and occasionally clients feel under the weather the following day, this is due to the detoxifying effects and should pass within 24 hours. Please contact your practitioner if you are concerned.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS DO I NEED?
This depends on your reasons for having treatment. For acute symptoms, 1-2 weeks is advised, then once a month until you feel better. Most people find the benefit from a regular monthly visit a good preventative from their original symptoms.
WHAT CAN BE TREATED?
A wide range of symptoms including: stress ♦ fatigue ♦ headaches ♦ muscular aches and pains ♦ IBS ♦ depression ♦ anxiety ♦ women’s issues ♦ fertility.