Used for thousands of years, aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of pure essential oils derived from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is used preventively as well as proactively during acute and/or chronic stages of illness or disease.
The essential oils stimulate our powerful sense of smell and can therefore have a significant impact on how we feel. Uncertainty, difficult situations and today’s fast paced lifestyle no doubt can lead to added stress and anxiety. Be it in the work place, in our relationships, in the classroom, or just life in general, stress is ever present. More than 23 million Americans experience some form of stress and anxiety, one of the most common mental illnesses in the country. Anxiety disorders involve excessive levels of negative emotions, such as fear, worry, nervousness and tension. Clinical studies have shown aromatherapy to be particularly effective for stress and anxiety.
Essential oils can be administered in many ways, such as applied directly to the skin through massage oils or lotions, dispersed in bath water, diffused into the atmosphere of a room or inhaled. Just a whiff of the right oil can clear your mind, adjust your attitude, ease your anxiety or alleviate pain. A blending of oils can have a synergistic effect to enhance any single essential oil’s benefits to create harmony and balance of your emotional well-being.
Lavender is probably the most useful for relaxation. Lavender, combined with ylang ylang, clary sage, vetiver, bergamot, geranium and marjoram, makes for a tranquil aromatic recipe to de-stress from life in the fast lane. Scents of vanilla, orange blossom, rose and chamomile also have a noticeable calming effect on the way you feel. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy the top 10 essential oils are:
Peppermint, Mentha piperita: Useful in treating headaches, muscle aches, digestive disorders such as slow digestion, indigestion and flatulence.
Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus or Eucalyptus radiata: Helpful in treating respiratory problems, such as coughs, colds and asthma. Also helps to boost the immune system and relieve muscle tension.
Ylang Ylang, Cananga odorata: Helps one to relax and can reduce muscle tension. Good antidepressant.
Geranium Pelargonium graveolens: Helps to balance hormones in women, good for balancing the skin. Can be both relaxing and uplifting, as well as antidepressant.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Relaxing, and also useful in treating wounds, burns, and skin care.
Lavender (Lavandula vera): Helps to balance hormones in women, good for balancing the skin. Can be both relaxing and uplifting, as well as antidepressant.
Lemon, Citrus limon: Very uplifting, yet relaxing. Helpful in treating wounds, infections, and house cleaning and deodorizing.
Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea: Natural pain killer, helpful in treating muscular aches and pains. Very relaxing, and can help with insomnia. Also very helpful in balancing hormones.
Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia: A natural anti-fungal oil, good for treating all sorts of fungal infections including vaginal yeast infections, jock itch, athletes foot and ringworm. Also helps to boost the immune system.
Roman Chamomile, Anthemus nobilis: Very relaxing, and can help with sleeplessness and anxiety. Also good for muscle aches and tension. Useful in treating wounds and infection.
Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis: Very stimulating and uplifting, good to help mental stimulation as well as to stimulate the immune system. Very good for muscle aches and tension. Stimulating to the digestive system.
So when life is coming at you full speed and you feel overwhelmed, spritz a little lavender in the air, breathe deep and begin a scent-sational journey to a place of calm and relaxation.
An extensive selection of essential oils can be purchased in North Memorial’s Health and Care Shop.