Aromatherapy for Emotional Wellness:
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using plant oils (aka essential oils) to enhance or support psychological and/or physical well-being. It’s not a cure all treatment for serious conditions but it is a 5000 year old tradition with increasing amounts of current research to support the claim of therapeutic benefits. Consider it another layer in your self-care practice.
The term “aromatherapy” is a buzzword in the world of product marketing. Fragrance oils or synthetic scent creations do not constitute aromatherapy and in many cases have been connected to respiratory and other health problems. Essential oils are literally the essence of the plant. Perfume or fragrance oils are not the same and do not yield the benefits of essential oils.
How does it work?
Smell was the first of the 6 senses to develop and there is a strong association between memory and scent. Think apple pie made by your grandma or other smells that conjure up memories. The olfactory nerve transports the smell directly to the limbic (or emotional) part of the brain.
Where do I start?
Depending on what your goal is, three commonly used essential oils are lavender, peppermint and orange.
- Lavender is often used for easing anxiety and as an overall aid for relaxation. It takes the edge off irritability and can help create a peaceful sleep environment.
- Peppermint is the go to oil for improving memory and concentration as well as fighting off fatigue. Try it in the car or when you need extra focus to complete a project.
- Orange oil promotes peace, happiness and confidence. It can also help with toning down angry or depressed states.
How to use
- Don’t apply oils directly to your skin. Essential oils should not be ingested. If you have allergies or other skin sensitivities proceed with caution.
- Less is more. A drop or two on a cotton ball is all that it takes to experience the effects of essential oil. Another easy way to use essential oils is adding 20-40 drops of oil to a 4 oz. spray bottle filled with an equal mixture of distilled water and high proof alcohol.