A breath of fresh air is so rejuvenating. Smoke inhalation asphyxiates and kills. This is how powerful and effective this therapy is. It is also one of the most natural and simple mediums of healing.
Perfumes, the aroma of food and wines, make the body and mind react. Without the capacity to smell, an onion will taste no different from a carrot. Food, which provides the nutrients to keep us alive and active, means so much more by smelling right. How would the tastiest food be, if it smelled of excreta? Would anyone be able to eat it? But, when the aroma of a meal being cooked or when we pass by a cake shop the wonderful flavours wafts our breath, the mouth waters and the stomach churns and the gastric juices are secreted. This is how powerful the flavours and aromas mean and do to us.
Just as refreshingly lovely fragrances make us happy and attract our senses, the putrid, dirty smells repel. Our lives are so full of aromas. It means so much to us. Through the medium of breath and our reactions to smells, we heal the body.
The olfactory system is a part of the respiratory system. Simply put, when the aroma touches the cilia (the hair like structure in the epithelial cells) in the nose, it sends signals to the limbic system of the brain. Here, it touches the memory and emotions. Both control emotional, hormonal and metabolic / stress responses which are influenced by smell.
Pleasant smells soothe and the wrong smells can produce headaches and migraines. Pollution can even choke up our breathing passage and the sinuses begin to irritate and result in painful stuffy nose and headache.
Migraines and headaches are caused by the blood vessels getting excessively dilated or contracted. In this way, the body tells us that there is something offensive to it. It can be the hot sun (in case of classic migraine) or a particular perfume. By using a passage that is irritating the system, we involve the same nerves and body parts that are troubled. Aromatherapy follows the same route and reverses the process.
Aroma oils are light and can easily evaporate. They are extracts of plants and flowers, some very commonly known e.g. Eucalyptus oil, Rose Flower oil, Peppermint, etc. These are extracted from petals, roots, barks or any part of the flower or plant / tree. These oils are not directly applied to the skin or body as they are in various degrees of concentration. A simple example would be of the Rose Petal oil. Practically 1 ton of petals are required to make 300 gms. of the oil. Direct extracts are called Essential Oils. These are applied to the skin with mild soothing carrier oils like Olive oil. But in this case, massage is not recommended, so we shall not discuss this part. However, for other ailments the massage is a very effective means of treating the body.
Skin is very sensitive to emotions. This is why Bio-Feedback machines and Lie Detectors are connected to the skin. The skin also reacts to mental stress and many skin diseases are caused due to stress. Essential oils help heal through the skin. The fact that Rene treated his burn with Lavender accidentally brought about the modern study of Aromatherapy. All over the world, perfumes are used directly on the skin too and if we want to experiment with how the skin is connected to the physical body, if we rub garlic oil on the soles of our feet, within minutes our breath will smell of it too.
Migraines, headaches and Sinusitis are best treated by using drops of oils in hot water and inhaling the steam for 15 minutes.
Also, drops of oils when poured in a diffuser vaporize, the room fills with the aroma and this clears the head. A diffuser is a cup like top in which the oil is poured. A candle kept at the bottom of the diffuser heats the cup and, thus heats the oil. The oil diffuses and the room gets filled with the aroma.
Similarly drops of the oils can be put in a pot of hot steaming water and the vapours inhaled. This is very helpful for Sinusitis.
These oils are combined to produce an aroma which can relax and pleasantly soothe the nerves and bring about the desired results. It always has to be pleasant to the person suffering. Simple though it may seem, it has been researched on for years and today there is an Essential oil for most ailments.
Typically, the Aromatherapy is for problems which require soothing the nerves and clearing the blocked passages that cause discomfort and pain. It helps in falling asleep, headaches, body pain, tiredness, depressions, stress and tension and such problems. It is getting more and more popular and many practitioners are using it in conjunction with their main stream therapies, meditations and healing modalities, especially Homoeopaths, Ayurvedic Practitioners, Alternate Medicine Doctors, Massage Therapists, etc.
There are those who use similar methods but use far too strong a drug and it is called anesthetics. This, like chloroform, is to be used under medical advice and administered by trained doctors. Though this uses the passage of breath, it does not fall under Aromatherapy. It comes under medicine and requires a Anesthetist to administer it.
Aromatherapy possibly originated in China where incense were used. Later history shows how Egyptians used it to embalm the dead. The Greeks learnt from Egyptians and thus, its use spread.
By the 13th century, the pharmaceutical industry had begun. Distillation of essential oils was done to prepare medicine. Gradually, the use of natural oils and medicine became more and more popular. The perfume became a part of day to day use.
Later, a French chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse gave the therapy its name and form for what it is known today.
Rene accidentally came to know the healing powers of Lavender. While working he burnt his hand and dipped it in the first container of liquid near him, which was Lavender. Surprisingly, his hand not only healed of the burn but also it left no scars. It was from here that he began his research on the power of plants and flowers and his book on the subject was published “GATTEFOSSE’S AROMATHERAPY” in 1928 after which Aromatherapy came to be known for what it is today.
APPLICATION OF ESSENTIAL OILS:
MIGRAINES and HEADACHES are caused by excessive contraction or dilation of the brain’s blood vessels. Its symptoms are severe throbbing, pain in the temples or behind one ear. Migraines can be triggered by allergies, stress, lack or excess of sleep or emotional and hormonal changes.
Essential oils suggested: Chamomile, Lavender and Marjoram
Add a few drops of essential oil to a compress and place on the head and / or add 10 drops of essential oil to the bath and soak for fifteen minutes.
Massage during a migraine can be more uncomfortable than soothing for the sufferer and is generally not recommended.
SINUSITIS: The better solution to naturally clearing congested sinuses is through fragrant steam inhalation. Steam used with essential oils works wonders for colds and sinus headaches. This oil acts as an analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, etc. Eucalyptus oil is toxic to bacteria that cause colds and sinus conditions.
Peppermint too is a very good analgesic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and, therefore, may be used.
There are a few things to know and remember for safety and effectiveness. It is not necessary to steam longer than 15 minutes because, it will not be as effective. If too many drops of oil are used, it will not be effective either. People with congestive heart failure or pregnant women should not opt for steam inhalation. People with epilepsy or infants and small children should not inhale steam either. Essential oils should not be taken internally or directly onto the skin.
ACIDITY (HEART BURN): Acids present in the stomach help in breaking down of the food during digestion. But when there is excess production of acid by the gastric glands of the stomach, it results in a condition known as acidity. Acidity leads to the sour or burning sensation in the chest. Its common symptoms are dyspepsia, heartburn and formation of the ulcers.
Essential oils suggested: Black Pepper, Peppermint, Sandalwood
These should be used to inhale or as compress.
PSORIASIS: Psoriasis is a skin condition that presents itself with red areas or scales on the elbows, knees, arms, scalp, ears, legs and back. It is a result of many factors including stress, illness, sunburn, overuse of drugs or alcohol, cuts and viral or bacterial infection.
Essential oils suggested: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Geranium
These should be used as gel or lotion by combining a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil and massaging into the skin. Alternately, they may also be used by adding essential oil and carrier oil mix to the bath and soaking for fifteen minutes.
ARTHRITIS: Arthritis is an acute disorder of the joints. It is characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints.
Essential Oils suggested: Roman Chamomile, Juniper, Camphor, Caraway, Lemon, Sage, Thyme
These should be used as gel or lotion by combining a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil and massaging into the skin. Gently massage into arthritic joints using a small amount of oil, unless advised not to massage by the medical practitioner.
Carrier Oils suggested: Carrier oils that possess anti-inflammatory properties include Hemp Seed, Jojoba and Pomegranate Seed Oils. Although not a vegetable oil, emu oil possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as a carrier oil.
PAINFUL MENSTRUAL PERIODS: A painful period can range from a dull ache to a violent cramp. When in a fragile emotional state, menstrual pain can be even more severe.
Herbs that relax the stomach muscles called antispasmodics contain phytochemicals that ease muscle spasms and help relax the uterus. Many of these same herbal allies have a gentle sedating effect and help in calming frayed nerves at the same time.
Essential Oils suggested: Cajuput, Sage, Aniseed, Roman Chamomile, Cypress, Juniper, Marjoram, Melissa, Peppermint, Rosemary
A soothing abdominal massage with these oils mixed with carrier oil used as gel or lotion can go a long way in releasing pain and tension from the lower belly. The same oils can be added to a warm, relaxing bath after mixing with a carrier oil.
ASTHMA: Asthma is a disorder of the bronchial passage and the lungs.
Essential Oils suggested: Basil, Cajuput, Lemon, Sage, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Aniseed, Cypress, Hyssop, Lavender, Marjoram, Melissa, Peppermint, Pine, Rosemary, Clove, Origanum, Geranium, German Chamomile, Frankincense
The safest time for aromatherapy treatments is in-between attacks. Use as gel / chest rub made from the essential oils like Peppermint and Ginger that have decongestive and antihistamine properties. These should be applied in upward strokes for 6 months. German Chamomile, which contains chamazulene, prevents the release of histamine. Frankincense, Marjoram, and Rose encourage deep breathing and allow lungs to expand. To reduce bronchial spasms, use the relaxants such as Chamomile, Lavender, Rose, Geranium, and Marjoram. A lavender steam can be used by some asthmatics even during an attack.
The steam opens airways, while the lavender quickly relaxes lung spasms. This may halt the attack right in its tracks or at least make it less severe. These should be applied in upward strokes for 6 months.
Additionally, Lavender also relaxes the mind and thus helps dissipate the panic you feel when you can’t catch your breath. If you find that steaming only makes it more difficult to breathe, use an aromatherapy diffuser or a humidifier instead. You may also rub feet with an aromatherapy massage oil.
Some asthmatics are sensitive to fragrance and find that it triggers their attacks. Eucalyptus should be strictly avoided during attacks.
COLITIS: Colitis / ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcer formation in the mucous membranes lining the colon and rectum. It is also known as chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Colitis results in bloody diarrhea, pain, gas, bloating and hard stools.
Essential Oils suggested: Cajuput, Lemon Grass, Tea Tree, Lavender, Rosemary, Patchouli, Peppermint
These essential oils should be used as compress, gel, lotion on stomach by mixing with carrier oil. Massages with essential oils such as Patchouli and Peppermint can offer relief from colitis.
PILES: Piles are abnormally enlarged and dilated blood vessels (mainly veins) around the back passage or anus. They are also known as haemorrhoids.
Essential Oils suggested: Cypress, Juniper, Frankincense, Myrrh
These should be used as gel or added to bath after mixing with a carrier oil. Blend four drops of Cypress to 5ml (a teaspoon) of Grapeseed base oil and add this to bath water.
LIVER PROBLEM (CIRRHOSIS): Cirrhosis is a disease that is characterized by a significant loss of cells, causing the liver to gradually decrease in size and become hard and leathery.
Essential Oils suggested: Lemon, Sage, Peppermint, Rosemary, Juniper
These should be used as gel or lotion by combining a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil.
KIDNEY STONES: Kidney stones are formed inside kidneys due to an excessive salt build up in the kidney walls.
Essential Oils suggested: Lemon, Fennel, Geranium, Juniper, Hyssop
These should be used as gel or lotion by combining a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil. Any selection of essential oils that is relaxing, analgesic and diuretic e.g. Juniper would be of use as a complimentary treatment for kidney stones. Ammi visnaga is a seed whose essential oil is considered lithontriptic (having the quality of dissolving or destroying stones in the bladder or kidneys). It can be inhaled or taken internally for a course of treatment. A side benefit is that this essential oil is also a powerful bronchodilator.
PRE-MENSTRUAL SYNDROME: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms that typically occur about 5 to 11 days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle. The symptoms usually stop when menstruation begins, or shortly thereafter.
Essential Oils suggested: Clary Sage, Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Melissa, Rose, Neroli
A soothing abdominal massage with these oils mixed with carrier oil used as gel or lotion is very helpful. The same oils can be added to a warm, relaxing bath after mixing with a carrier oil.
DEPRESSION / ANXIETY / PANIC ATTACK / NERVOUS TENSION: Chemical / hormonal imbalances and situational triggers are two major causes for depression. Situational triggers that can cause depression can be divorce, health issues, abuse, loss of a loved one, loneliness, job related or financial problems, etc.
Essential Oils suggested: Basil, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Thyme, Roman Chamomile, Camphor, Geranium, Lavender, Frankincense, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Neroli, Sandalwood
These can be added to the bath after mixing with a carrier oil or used as gel or lotion or even inhaled.
Precautions: It is important to note that all these fragrances, though very pleasant, when distilled into what is called essential oils in aromatherapy are not to be taken neat. Always dilute them with vegetable oils or carrier oils and never put a drop of neat essential oil on the tongue or eyes. Always read the instructions before using or selecting these oils. Some can be exciting and others sedative. Wrong selection / use of essential oils may lead to some complications. Certain kinds of oils are prohibited during pregnancy and other health conditions like epilepsy.
Always check before using them. Some can also cause problems when exposed to sunlight and also irritate the skin if the dosage is incorrect. Some oils evaporate quickly and some need to be stored in amber coloured or dark coloured bottles as they lose their properties when exposed to direct light. Never store them in plastic bottles as they may react with the oils. Aluminum or glass bottles with special droppers are better. Essential oils are highly inflammable. So do not use them near fire. Never add these oils to burning candles. They can be very costly. So use them judiciously and always start with small dosage.
Essential Oils to be avoided under certain conditions:
Homoeopathy:- Camphor, Eucalyptus, Black Pepper
Pregnancy:- Cypress, Cinnamon, Basil, Citronella,
Clove, Hyssop, Juniper, Marjoram, Myrrh,
Rosemary, Sage, Thyme.
Epilepsy:- Sage, Clay Sage, Hyssop, Fennel, Rosemary
Low Blood Pressure:- Eucalyptus, Clay Sage, Sandalwood
High Blood Pressure:- Rosemary, Hyssop, Sage, Cypress, Thyme,
Liver Disease:- Eucalyptus
Examples of Carrier Oils:
- GRAPESEED OIL is very versatile and easily absorbed carrier oil. It is useful in most skin types. Avoid using on sensitive skin, eczema and psoriasis.
- SWEET ALMOND OIL is useful in nourishing, softening and revitalizing all types. It helps relieve itching, soreness, dryness, inflammation and wrinkled, dry hands. This is the best oil to use on children and babies.
- Coconut Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Olive Oil
- Walnut Oil
- Wheat Germ Oil
- Hazelnut Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Carrot Oil
- Corn Oil
- Castor Oil
MIXING ESSENTIAL OILS WITH CARRIER OILS:
60years+ 1-6 drops of essential oil in 10ml (2 teaspoons) carrier oil
12 to 60 years Adult dose as follows:
|PURPOSE OF BLEND||NO. OF DROPS ESSENTIAL OIL||QUANTITY OF CARRIER|
|Localised areas||max. 20||10ml
|Baths/footbaths||max. 10||bowl or
6 to 12 years Use half adult dose and increase range of oils used
4 to 6 years 1-6 drops of essential oil in 10ml (2 teaspoons) carrier oil
1 to 4 years 1-3 drops of essential oil in 10ml (2 teaspoons) carrier oil
Under 1 year 1 drop of essential oil in 10ml (2 teaspoons) almond oil
For a pregnant lady 1-3 drops of essential oil in 10ml carrier oil