Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils in various modalities. Aromatherapy has been practiced my many cultures for thousands of years for both physical and psychological benefits. The sense of smell is our most powerful sense and it possesses a direct pathway to the brain. Aromatherapy stimulates the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls memories, emotions, feelings and impulses. In addition to our sense of smell the essential oil molecules can be absorbed through our skin, providing key benefits directly to the body physically. One example of how powerful aromatherapy can be is the use of herbs such as eucalyptus, spearmint and tea tree to relieve sinus congestion.
Many of us have experienced walking past someone who is wearing a particularly nice perfume or cologne and having a moment of pause. This happens for a number of reasons, perhaps we are attracted to that person, or perhaps they are wearing a scent that is familiar that reminds us of someone. Whatever the reason, that moment of smelling that scent and recalling memory or feeling a certain emotion is a form of aromatherapy. We do this just about every day without even realizing it.
Many holistic medical practitioners use aromatherapy extensively in their work. Massage therapists in particular put it to good use. Many mix their own blends of essential oils and use a variety of modalities to administer them. The exact same essential oils can be burned in an oil burner to scent the room, and be mixed with what is called a carrier oil to be applied to the body where the oils can be absorbed through the skin for their therapeutic benefits. One powerful example of this would be the use of essential oils in giving birth. Oils like clary sage, lavender, rose, neroli, and peppermint can all play a vital role in relieving pain and anxiety during the birthing process. Many midwives and doulas use these techniques to assist in the natural birth process.
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