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Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Whether you choose to breathe them in, rub them on, or gargle with them, essential oils have been used to treat a host of physical and emotional ailments for at least 6,000 years. From Egyptian to Roman to Native American societies, there is a host of recorded data that documents how ancient societies utilized the powerful healing processes found naturally in essential oils. This practice is known today as aromatherapy.

The method of extracting essential oils from various plants, flowers, and seeds comprises a unique sect of herbal medicine that is recognized for its incredible healing properties. From skin diseases to respiratory infections to gastrointestinal health, aromatherapy is a versatile form of treatment since it can be used for a variety of conditions. The secret to its effectiveness lies in the powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties found naturally in almost all essential oils.

Most essential oils contain the germ-fighting agents necessary to knock out bacteria, fungi, yeast, parasites, and viruses. And unlike pharmaceutical drugs, essential oils interact with multiple body systems at once, making aromatherapy a broad-spectrum form of treatment. The reason behind this rapid absorption of essential oils in our bodies is due to the fact that our bodies and essential oils contain many of the same naturally occurring chemicals. Because of this similar composition, our systems very easily absorb and employ the complex chemical treatments found in essential oils.

How To Use

The best way to determine how to use aromatherapy is to consider the ailment you are treating. Almost every essential oil can be inhaled, making inhalation through various methods a popular form of treatment. This method is best used when treating respiratory conditions, colds, flu, and addressing emotional and mental disturbances. For a skin condition, wound, or burn, a topical application would be the most effective. Ingestion is a popular method throughout the world, but few essential oils can be consumed. Before taking any essential oils by mouth, it is imperative to consult with your physician as certain essential oils pose a toxic threat when ingested. There are several different ways to unlock the antiseptic properties present in essential oils.

Inhalation

The first and fastest form of treatment is inhalation. Inhalation is an ideal aromatherapy technique as it safe on the system and employs our sense of smell, the most powerful of senses. Through sense of smell, the healing properties of essential oil rapidly interact with body systems connected to emotion, nervous system, body temperature, and appetite.

Steam Tent

Creating a steam tent is most beneficial when treating cold and flu symptoms. To do so, simply boil a pot of water, remove from heat, and add in about three drops of your essential oil of choice. Create a tent around your face by standing a few inches over the pot, covering your head with a towel, and trapping the steam around you. You will want to inhale the steam deeply for a few minutes, or until your nasal passages clear and your cough subsides. Be sure to stay far enough from the pot to avoid burning your face.

Diffusion

Another inhalation method is with the use of an essential oil diffuser. As with a steam tent, you will want to add three drops of essential oil to the water-filled diffuser. Diffusers come in different forms; some are candle-lit and others are electric. As the diffuser is activated and heats up, the water will steam and release the essential oil into the air. You will want to breath deeply and slowly to take in the essential oil molecules that are released through the diffuser.

External Application

Another common method is through external application.  Utilizing essential oils in a bath is the preferred method of treatment as the warm water assists in the absorption of essential oils into the skin. As Hippocrates taught, “a perfumed bath and a scented massage everyday is the way to good health.” A recommended dosage for a full bath is 3-15 drops per tub. This form of application is effective as it is one of the few therapies that can rapidly penetrate body tissues.

Massage

An essential oil massage is an excellent form of therapy that will also alleviate the pain and itching associated with viral and fungal skin infections. To create aromatherapy massage oil, combine 10 drops essential oil for every ounce of vegetable oil or lotion. To treat physical injuries using aromatherapy, a compress soaked in essential oils will provide a soothing effect and reduce swelling of the injured area. To create the compress, utilize 5 drops of your chosen essential oil in 1 cup of water and soak the compress in the solution.

Spray

In some cases of illness, a throat spray or gargle made of essential oils may be the most effective form of treatment. This can be easily created by combining two drops of essential oil into a teaspoon of honey and taking by mouth, or by adding 1-2 drops of essential oil to 1/4 cup of water and using as a gargle to treat throat infections. It is common practice in European countries such as France to ingest essential oils to treat certain forms of organ dysfunction. However, it is vital to consult a physician before taking any oils internally, especially if you are pregnant as a few varieties of essential oils can cause a toxic reaction when ingested.

Types of Essential Oils and Their Uses

There are over fifty kinds of essential oil that are used therapeutically. Here is a complete list of those most commonly used. As always, be sure to consult your physician before use.

Precautions

It is vital to be aware of the potentially toxic effect of some essential oils, especially for children and pregnant women. A few essential oils that are potentially toxic when ingested include bitter almond, hyssop, mugwart, oregano, pennyroyal, sassafras, savory, and thuja. Additionally, essential oils in their natural state are extremely concentrated and have the potential to burn or irritate skin and other sensitive tissues. It is important to dilute essential oils that pose a potential irritation to the skin with less irritating oils before topical application. The following essential oils should be diluted before use:

For elderly, allergenic individuals, or someone who has a serious health condition such as asthma, epilepsy, or heart disease, consult with your physician before the use of any essential oils. For continual use, be sure to vary the essential oils that you employ in your treatment, as overexposure of one kind of essential oil may be harmful to your liver and kidney functions over time.

Summary

From anise to cypress to lavender, there is a bounty of useful and medicinal essential oils that will banish viral, fungal, and bacterial infections all the while improving sleep, mood, and emotional health. From Egyptian civilization through today, aromatherapy has played a major role in addressing common illnesses and ailments.

By following sage medical advice and adherence to the recommendations provided here, you can employ and benefit from the antiviral and antibiotic properties drawn from the beautiful flowers, trees, and plants that surround us everyday.

As Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D and Director of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy in San Rafael, California, puts it, “for many common infectious diseases, aromatherapy offers more effective and more wholesome solutions than conventional medicine.”

 


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