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Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using plant-based essential oils to improve overall health and wellbeing.

 

An Introduction to Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using plant-based essential oils to improve overall health and wellbeing. The oils can be applied to the body in several ways including inhaling, absorbing topically through massage or by adding to a diffuser.

Traditionally an ancient practice, Aromatherapy is gaining more popularity in western medicine, and many healthcare professionals are now adding Aromatherapy into their treatment plans.

 

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are the ‘essence’ of plants, herbs or flowers. They contain complex plant chemicals which hold antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can extract these properties by distilling or cold pressing the plant to produce highly concentrated oil.

The oils work by triggering signals in the brain which release chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins. These chemicals are what help us to feel calmer or energised. As you don’t usually ingest the oils, Aromatherapy is considered a safe alternative therapy to help regulate the body and calm the mind.

Examples of essential oils are lavender, tea tree, bergamot and eucalyptus oil – but there are hundreds available and each one contains unique properties which can target a wide range of ailments.

 

Where did Aromatherapy originate?

Humans have used Aromatherapy for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in China, India, Egypt, and elsewhere incorporated aromatic plant components in resins, balms, and oils. They used the natural substances for medical and religious purposes and were known to have both physical and psychological benefits.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

How can Aromatherapy benefit you?

Essential oils contain healing properties that can support physical, mental and spiritual health. The properties of individual oils vary, and the way they are applied or used can enhance their benefits.

Some of the reasons why people choose Aromatherapy include:

    • To improve mental wellbeing
    • To improve gut health
    • To support pregnancy
    • To support labour
    • To manage stress and anxiety
    • To find relaxation
    • To find balance, happiness and harmony
    • To increase energy and vitality

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Further reading / Aromatherapy studies

Whilst Aromatherapy is a widely used practice, scientific research into using oils for specific health concerns is limited. Below we’ve listed a few studies that have been made into using Aromatherapy as a complementary therapy.

 

Muscle tension and pain

Some oils when applied topically can ease muscle tension and sore joints. A systemic review of essential oils used for Aromatherapy lists clary sage, lavender, eucalyptus and roman chamomile as oils that have been shown to be effective at easing muscle tension, cramps and pain. Peppermint and eucalyptus oil can have a cooling effect on sore muscles, whilst oils like ginger, lavender and clary sage contain anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Nausea

A Cochrane review of studies into using oils as a complementary therapy for postoperative nausea and vomiting suggests Aromatherapy can help reduce the number of antiemetic medications a patient needs after operations. It also suggests Aromatherapy reduces the severity of nausea and improves patients’ level of satisfaction after treatments.

 

Depression

Citrus fragrances and aromas are thought to reduce depression in adults – A particular study found that citrus aromas comfort the sensory system used for smelling, and were more effective at normalizing hormone levels than antidepressants in patients. When essential oils are combined with massage, the effects are thought to be even more powerful for improving mood and mental wellbeing.

 

Sleep

Lavender oil can encourage better sleep by calming the body’s sensory nervous system. In a 2015 study, 60 patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) either inhaled lavender essential oil each day for two weeks before sleep or acted as a control group. They found the patients given lavender oil saw significant improvements in their quality of sleep and anxiety.

 

Inflammation

Whilst more research is needed in this area, chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and tea tree oil has been shown effective at reducing histamine-induced skin inflammation.

 

Headaches

Aromatherapy is commonly used to help manage headaches, however, concrete evidence is lacking. However, one particular study into the use of lavender oil as a treatment for migraine headaches found the oil to be effective and safe for acute management.

 

Common cold
While there isn’t much scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of essential oils against colds, they have been used for centuries as traditional remedies. Some studies show eucalyptus oil contains antimicrobial properties and may fight off bacteria that cause illnesses. Other studies have found inhaling steam with chamomile extract has been helpful in common cold symptoms.

Is Aromatherapy right for you?

Is Aromatherapy right for you?

Since Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy, you should talk to your doctor before starting your sessions. That way your essential oil therapy can be tailored to work together with any medical care or treatment you are receiving.

 

Are essential oils safe?

Most essential oils are safe to use but you should take some precautions when applying topically. Always follow the instructions on the bottle before applying directly to your skin and you should dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil first such as jojoba, argan or olive oil.

Always do a patch test before applying anything new to your skin and leave for 48 hours – never apply oil to an area of broken skin. If you are pregnant, there are some essential oils you should avoid. However, prenatal massages are generally safe and your aromatherapist will guide you on the best oils for you. When in doubt, always consult an expert and seek professional treatment.

The International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA) supplies a list of registered Aromatherapists in the UK.

What to expect in your first Aromatherapy session

What to expect in your first Aromatherapy session

Aromatherapists approach each new patient individually. This will mean that during a consultation, expect to answer questions about your lifestyle and habits so your therapist can produce a unique treatment plan specific to your needs.

Your aromatherapist will create a tailored treatment plan depending on your personal needs and goals. This may include Aromatherapy massages with your therapist and treatments you can perform yourself at home.

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Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

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