Aromatherapy: The Hidden Gem of Health Care?

Rose Essential Oil

Essential oils seem to be all the rage these days due to the belief that they can enhance physical and/or psychological well-being. Often used in holistic health environments, essential oils have now made their mark in the medical model of the healthcare industry as well. Do not be surprised if you are offered essential oil options at your next health care visit.

Generally regarded as safe, the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic benefits that have been noted in studies have some people replacing pharmaceutical treatments with these oils to combat various health conditions. Essential oils can be used on their own or as a complement to treat conditions like allergies, asthma, strains and sprains, headaches, depression, and anxiety among many others. In addition, they can even be used to create a more natural household environment by means of homemade cleaners, lotions, and shampoos.

An essential oil is a volatile liquid substance extracted from a plant, the very substance that was used as man’s first medicine. The chemical transition that the plant undergoes has been shown to positively impact the emotional centers of the brain. This transformation leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin that may enhance mood, memory, sleep, and sexual desires.

The benefits of aromatherapy can be obtained by various methods of application. The application method chosen should be what will have the greatest benefit for the individual. The most common and most recognized essential oil application is either applied by inhalation or topically.

  • Inhaled essential oils provide the fastest delivery to the system. Methods of application include placing 1-5 drops of oil onto a tissue or cotton ball and taking deep breaths to inhale the mixture. Drops of oil may also be placed into a hot water sink or bath and inhaled for 10-15 minutes or placed into an essential oil diffuser which delivers the oil into the air over a set delivery timeframe.
  • Topical application of essential oils involves placing the oil directly onto the skin in the area of concern. This method requires the user to be familiar with the different types of oils as not all oils are safe for direct application. Dabbing oil directly onto the skin underneath the nose or behind the ears is one avenue of topical administration while adding a few drops of oil to a hot bath or to an Epsom salt bath is another way to come in contact with healing oils.
  • Massage is another form of direct contact with oils and some studies have shown this method has the highest benefit, particularly for depression.

The choices of essential oils are abundant but lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils are extremely common. Lavender oil is the first-line treatment for many ailments as it has sedative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant benefits helping with conditions like anxiety, sleep issues, migraines, and other pains. Some studies have even shown the impact of lavender oil on reducing hot flashes during menopause. Peppermint oil is an anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic and can suppress nausea or congestion, fight a fever, and help with motion sickness, and migraines. Eucalyptus oil is an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and stimulant aiding with asthma, wounds and general aches and pains.

The steady traction of aromatherapy in society today has led to the use of aromatherapy in some hospitals and clinics. As research continues to develop, studies have shown the benefits of aromatherapy in reducing anxiety during labor and prior to an operative procedure. Some hospital units and clinic settings, including emergency departments, now also use essential oils to reduce the anxiety that comes with waiting for test results, a potential surgery, or other appropriate means.

Before you run out and invest in these products, take the time to do a little research. There are hundreds of brands and types of oils on the market so look for the fit that is best for you. Typically, products that list both the common and brand name of the oil are good indicators of a quality product. Just a dab here and whiff there is the first step toward healthy living and connecting with your mind, body, and spirit.