By Kristi Seibold
Aromatherapy is the holistic approach of using plant extracts — called essential oils — to harmonize, balance, and promote health. Holistically, plants have been proven to have healing benefits as we support our health with the food we eat, teas we drink, and herbs we use. Using essential oils is just another form of introducing the healing benefits of plants into our bodies.
Some of these proven health benefits include increased circulation, improved digestion, strengthening of the immune system, quicker healing, balanced hormones, relieving muscle soreness, healing skin ailments, easing depression, stress management, and many others. All of these are benefits that are available without negative side effects.
Aromatherapy is both an art and a science. The art of aromatherapy is using the proper combination of essential oils to induce a specific benefit or outcome you are seeking. The science of aromatherapy is the process of extracting the aromatic oils from flower blooms and petals, plant leaves or stems, bark or roots. These oils contain volatile aromatic molecules that have an effect on our brain, our nervous system and on other systems in the body.
Aromatherapy works in several ways. One way is through our sense of smell, or through the olfactory receptors. Every smell produces a feeling, a thought or a memory before we are even conscious of it, and often without us even being aware of it. The chemical components of an essential oil activate messengers — as I like to refer to them — that travel through the nasal cavity to the brain and register a response. As an example, let’s say you had a grandmother whose house was often filled with the scent of fresh roses she had grown. You have memories of that. If you walk into a room and smell a bouquet of roses, your memories may immediately be triggered to think of your grandmother and her house. That is your sense of smell at work.
There are several ways of using essential oils. One way is by topical application of the essential oils to the skin. The active chemicals in the essential oils are absorbed into the skin. They enter the bloodstream and make their way to register various parts of the brain, which then affects an emotional state or physical response. A common and enjoyable method of topical application is through a professional massage with a therapist trained in the uses and properties of each essential oil.
Another approach in using aromatherapy and essential oils through your sense of smell is through a diffuser. A diffuser disperses the oils into the air so the smell fills the room. You can choose oils to create the effect you are seeking such as promoting a good night of sleep, for congestion if you are suffering from a cold, or to create a calm and pleasant atmosphere in an office space.
Essential oils can also be ingested though a hydrosol. Hydrosols are simply the condensed water vapors of the distillation process, a byproduct created when making the essential oil. The hydrosol contains the complete molecular structure and properties of the plant. It is a wonderful way to use the healing benefits of plants if you need to maintain a scent free environment. You can add some of the hydrosol to your drinking water and be creating additional health benefits for yourself as you hydrate throughout the day.
Aromatherapy is not new. It has been used for thousands of years as a source of medicine in China, Europe and Egypt. Its history is extensive, yet since the advance of modern medicine in the early 20th century, it began to take a back seat. However, in the past 50 years, as people have wanted to adopt a more natural lifestyle, with less of the side effects of medications, interest for aromatherapy has increased. In fact, in European countries such as the UK and France, essential oils are highly regarded in hospitals as antibacterial agents, and are used to facilitate healing among patients.
We are surrounded by many toxins and pesticides in our environment, in the foods we eat, and in the cleaning products, detergents and body products we use. These toxins deplete the immune system and often cause havoc to our health. You can replace many everyday products with essential oils as a chemically free and healthy substitute. This can be a big step towards physical and emotional well-being for many of us, and a step towards improving our environment.
Here are some helpful links for more information on this subject. The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy https://naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy — https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10884.php — https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/divisions-diagnostics-and-procedures/medicine/aromatherapy — https://roberttisserand.com/
Kristi Seibold is an aromatherapist, the owner of SERES essential oil and CBD products for the past 15 years. She has been a massage therapist for 30 years, and massage and aromatherapy instructor for 20 years. She lives and works in Kalaheo. Visit www.seresproducts.com or call (505) 204-0320 for more