A whiff of cinnamon from your kitchen may connect you to a memory, making you nostalgic while working wonders on your emotional wellbeing. These ‘wonders’ to your emotional wellbeing is the essence of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy, a term coined by a French perfumer and chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé for his book on the topic, which was published in 1937, refers to healing through the sense of smell.
The ‘aroma’ in aromatherapy refers to that of essential oils, working through diffusers, bathing salts, body oils, creams or massage lotions or topical application. The most popular essential oils include lavender, lemon grass, neroli, patchouli, tea tree, rosemary, chamomile and cinnamon. Experts believe every essential oil has unique healing properties.
For instance, lavender oil can help calm the mind and body almost instantly, while helping in reducing inflammation. Clove essential oil is said to help in wheezing and breathing difficulties. Basil, on the other hand, is considered helpful for dealing with mental and physical fatigue. Neem oil, a good insecticide, is also said to help relieve flatulence, while neroli’s aroma, which is a wonderful blend of floral with citrus, is said to help calm anxiety and relieve depression. Additionally, the essential oil of oranges is said to be an anti-depressant, with a cheery and uplifting quality for overall ambience.
Three ways to wellbeing
Dr Blossom Kochhar, Chairperson, Blossom Kochhar Group of Companies, further explains that aromatherapy uses essential oils derived from plants’ leaves, flowers, stalks, bark, rind or roots, containing the prana (life force) of the plant to benefit our body and mind.
According to Dr Kochchar, essential oils, which have the capacity to alter moods with their aromas, work on our emotions, memories and hormones, are used to promote beauty, health and well-being of a person in three ways:
Mind: The oils deal with memory and psychological issues related to our mind, such as depression and anxiety, and deal with high blood pressure, while improving memory and hypertension.
Cosmetic use: The oils are used cosmetically in a lot of spas and beauty salons to treat dark circles, falling hair, wrinkles, acne, alopecia, skin and pigmentation issues, etc.
Stress-related ailments: The third and the most important use of essential oils is for treating stress related ailments such as diabetes, arthritis, hormonal disorder, and aches and pains, when they’re used as a complimentary form of care.
Benefits of aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has a range of benefits, including the following:
· Pain management
· Improving sleep quality
· Reducing stress
· Fatigue and anxiety
· Boosting immunity
· Helping in coping with depression
· To a pot of potpourri and add 2 drops of neroli oil. This will cheer you up and relieve you of stress.
· Few drops of lemon essential oil in a diffuser help in dealing with the flu.
· Basil is an energy booster, and its aroma invigorates the mind, promotes concentration and stimulates clear thinking.
· For dry skin, create a moisturiser with 3 drops of sandalwood oil, 1 drop of geranium, 1 tablespoon of almond oil and 1 teaspoon of castor oil. Apply this on your face and massage well.
· If you’re tired of dealing with oily hair, mix 1 tablespoon of water with 10 drops of patchouli oil. Apply this all over your scalp and hair with your fingertips and shampoo your hair, as usual.
Safety measures with aromatherapy / essential oils
· Before using essential oils, pay attention to how the different oils and methods of use affect you.
· Essential oils are very potent so never use them directly on your skin or near your eyes, ears, mouth or any orifice; it could cause skin and membrane irritation. Always dilute the oils in vegetable oil or water (2 drops of essential oil in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or water).
· Pregnant women or people with conditions such as high blood pressure and epilepsy should consult their doctors before using any essential oils.
· Never ingest the essential oils; they’re for external use only.
· Don’t use these oils beyond their prescribed dosage, no matter how much you love the smell.
· Always talk to your doctor before starting any aromatherapy treatment. Remember: aromatherapy is meant to be a complementary therapy and not meant to replace any doctor-approved treatment plan.
— The author is a lifestyle, travel and food writer
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