Aromatherapy is a natural form of medicine that uses essential oils to improve health and well-being. It can be helpful in a variety of ways, including reducing pain, nausea, stress, and anxiety.
It can also help reduce the side effects of cancer treatment, including fatigue and pain. But before using aromatherapy, you should talk to your health care provider.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated extracts from a variety of fragrant plants, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. They are extracted using methods like mechanical pressing or distillation (Farrar, 2020).
In aromatherapy, essential oils are inhaled through a variety of different techniques. This may be through inhalation in a steam bath, breathing into a diffuser, or simply by applying them to the skin.
Chemical compounds in essential oils can have a range of effects on the body, including antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. They have also been shown to reduce pain and ease stress.
However, since each essential oil has its own chemical makeup and reason for use, it is important to speak with a trained aromatherapist, nurse, doctor, physical therapist, or massage therapist before starting an aromatherapy regimen. This can help ensure that you are using the right oils for your needs, and can also teach you about the proper application or dilution of each oil.
How to Use Essential Oils
Aromatherapy can be an effective way to relieve a variety of symptoms. It uses essential oils that are diluted and inhaled, or applied topically with a carrier oil.
To make aromatherapy work, you need to choose the right oils. Look for a trusted producer who produces pure essential oils without any other ingredients added to them.
Then, follow the directions on your diffuser for a proper oil-to-water ratio. Using the wrong ratio may cause irritation or an allergic reaction.
A few drops of essential oils are enough to diffuse the fragrance in your home. But if you want to really benefit from your essential oils, you can also use a vaporizer, which disperses them into the air.
A growing body of research suggests that inhaling certain essential oils may help treat a wide range of physical and psychological ailments. Some of these include headaches, pain and stress, depression, sleep disorders, and even memory loss.
Choosing the Right Essential Oils
Choosing the right essential oils for aromatherapy is a critical step toward achieving your wellness goals. You’ll want to find an oil that’s suited for your specific needs, like calming essential oils for stress relief or stimulating ones for increased energy.
While the quality of essential oils varies widely, it’s important to buy pure, organic ones to achieve the health benefits you’re looking for. “The key is to make sure you get the purest, highest quality essential oils that are certified organic,” says New York-based aromatherapist Andrea Scalisi.
It’s also important to read the label and understand the product you’re buying. Some essential oils are classified as therapeutic grade, which means they’re a higher-quality blend than others.
Essential Oil Safety
When using essential oils in aromatherapy, it’s important to use them safely. There are many things to consider, such as storage and dilution, but with practice and attention, most essential oils can be used safely at home for yourself and your family.
When applying essential oils to the skin, it’s best to dilute them with a carrier oil like sweet almond or olive oil. This will prevent short-term and long-term negative dermal reactions and ensure that the oil is effective in providing its therapeutic benefits.
However, there are some essential oils that can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes when they’re used undiluted. These include aldehydes and phenols.
They can cause skin rashes, burns or even an allergic reaction in susceptible people. Because of the potential for these reactions, it’s best to use these oils under the supervision of a qualified medical professional or aromatherapist trained in dilution and safe application.