The amazing world of aromatherapy, essential oils, and alternative medicines

Treat problems with the body, mind, and spirit with aromatherapy, essential oils, and alternative medicines.

Aromatherapy is a term first used by French chemist RM Gattefosse in 1937. It is the art and science of using scents and aromas, especially essential oils, to treat health problems and emotional distress. Aromatherapy is often used as a companion to herbal medicine and together they can help heal everything from headaches to toenail fungus. Other healing arts that help the body and mind include crystal therapy, light therapy, sound therapy, flower remedies, homeopathy, massage, and reflexology.

Aromatherapy and essential oils are often used in herbal medicine.
Photo of essential oils -- courtesy of Pexels.com

Aromatherapy and essential oils are very useful in herbal medicine.

Aromatherapy is a good way to use the healing arts on a daily basis.

Aromatherapy is especially effective In times of stress. Schedule a massage and aromatherapy session with a professional aromatherapist whenever you feel overwhelmed. A healing touch and the right aroma can make any situation better. You can also use aromatherapy at home to treat most health problems.

Does aromatherapy really help? Try an experiment sometime and see for yourself if scents can affect your mood. Stop by a bakery and inhale the aroma of fresh baking bread. Pull over to the side of the road and breathe in the scent of freshly mowed grass. Visit an apple orchard during harvest season, close your eyes, and imagine apple pies baking in the oven. As they say, “Take time to smell the roses.” Aromatherapy with essential oils works under the same principle. Don’t you feel better already?

Keep essential oils in every medicine cabinet.

Essential oils are extracted from herbs, flowers, resins, wood fibers, and plant roots. Various techniques are used in the process. In ancient Egypt, essential oils were extracted by steeping plant material in oil and then straining through linen. Today most essential oils are extracted by steam distillation. One of the most useful is lavender essential oil. Lavender essential oil should be in every first aid kit and medicine cabinet. It can be used to treat everything from bug bites to headache. Also use essential oils in the bath, in beauty products, and in household products.

How to make an aromatherapy blend using essential oils

The English Aromatherapist gives us simple instructions in the following video:

Essential oils are distilled condensations.

Essential oils are not really oils. They are distilled condensations formed by passing steam through plant material. These "essential oils" rise with the steam and are collected. The resulting fluid is a volatile essence with molecules so small they can penetrate layers of skin. Essential oils are massaged into the skin, inhaled, or placed in baths.

Always chose a good cold-pressed carrier oil.

Carrier oils are used in aromatherapy to dilute the essential oils which may otherwise cause irritation. Good carrier oils include olive oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, almond oil, walnut oil, safflower oil, and coconut oil. The best carrier oils are cold pressed (cold pressed oils are extracted by running the vegetable material through a press). The resulting carrier oils are free of additives and chemicals. Cold pressed oils have not been heated and have many healing properties of their own. Purchase high quality cold-pressed oils at Oliver Farms.

Essential oils are potent substances.

Essential oils are a hundred times more concentrated than dried herbs. During the life of a plant, the essential oils deliver messages to regulate its functions, to protect from environmental stress, and to attract insects for pollination. These plant essences act much like hormones do in humans.

How can essential oils help heal the body? Consider the sense of smell. Smell is the most direct of all our senses. The olfactory cells in the nose are the only place in the human body where the brain is directly in contact with the external world. Smell doesn’t have to travel across millions of nerve cells to reach the brain. Scents go directly to the brain via the hypothalamus. (Thus the name AROMATHERAPY.)

Scent affects our memories, emotions, moods, and hormones.

Scent influences the endocrine system responsible for hormone levels, metabolism, insulin production, stress levels, sex drive, body temperature, and appetite. Scents and their effect on the human body are the main focus of aromatherapy.

Alternative medicine is becoming more mainstream.

There are many alternative medicines that deliver excellent results especially when used along with herbal medicine. Western medicine saves many lives every day but in some situations alternative medicines and therapies work just as good -- or better. There are many natural treatments available and herbalists often combine herbal medicine with other healing arts. Crystal therapy, color therapy, light therapy, sound therapy, flower remedies, homeopathy, massage, and reflexology are just a few that come to mind.

Crystal therapy is considered an alternative medicine.
Photo of polished and unpolished crystals used in crystal therapy -- courtesy of Pexels.com

Different crystals have different healing properties.

Crystal Therapy is a popular alternative medicine.

Crystal therapy is an accepted practice in many cultures. Placing crystals and other gems around your home is said to improve the atmosphere. The potency of essential oils is also increased when placed near a crystal.

Amethyst is good for any sick room. It has the ability to absorb huge amounts of negative energy. Quartz is also a good choice. Scientists have proved that crystals can receive, store, amplify, and transmit energy. Unpolished stones absorb more negativity than polished stones. All crystals must be cleaned regularly. Wash crystals in cold water and soak them in sea-salt water for a couple of hours. Let crystals dry in sunlight where they can absorb solar energy before using them for healing.

Light therapy to treat depression

Light therapy can cure the winter blues and depression. Different colored lights are used to treat different problems. Color therapy is closely related to light therapy. Pink light has a calming effect. Red can speed circulation and raise blood pressure. Blue lowers blood pressure.

Use sound therapy for insomnia.

Sound therapy uses specifically directed sounds to treat a variety of problems such as insomnia and stress. Even just thinking about a sound can bring relief. The sound of ocean waves curling over the sand, the whisper of wind in the treetops, and the crackling of a camp fire can help relax the whole body.

Flower remedies for emotional problems

Flower remedies are a lot like essential oils. Essential oils contain the physical healing properties of plants, while flower essences contain part of the plant's spirit. To make a flower essence, place a perfect flower in a small glass bowl filled with spring water. Then set the bowl on the ground in early morning sunlight near the mother plant. After a few hours remove the flower (with a twig) and add the water to a small bottle half filled with vodka.

When treating emotional problems, place a few drops on the tongue, add to the bath, rub on the neck, or spray on like perfume. Use clematis for drowsiness, crabapple for self loathing or lack of confidence, and wild rose for bringing gusto back to your life. To learn more about flower remedies, visit the Bach Centre website.

Flower essences are often used with aromatherapy. They do not carry a fragrance but do contain properties that can be scientifically measured.

Homeopathy - like cures like

According to the National Center for Homeopathy, " Homeopathic medicines – known as remedies – are made from natural sources and are environmentally friendly and cruelty free." Homeopathy is based on the premise that like cures like. Homeopathy pills and drops are taken by mouth. They are considered safe for everyone including children, the elderly, and pets. I use homeopathy drops to cure poison oak rash and they work better than anything else I have tried.

Reflexology is more than massage.

Reflexology is based on the belief that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and head that are connected to every part of the body. For example, the big toe is manipulated to treat headache, neck problems, brain injury, and the pituitary gland. Detailed charts that show where to focus for best results are available at Acupressure Wellness.

* Dilute essential oils before use. Do not use in the early stages of pregnancy or on babies. Use only a few drops of essential oils at a time. Blend only two or three different oils together at one time. Do not take essential oils internally unless you know what you are doing. Never use essential oils near the eyes. Do not use near open flames -- some essential oils may have flammable properties. Use in moderation and always monitor results closely. Before using essential oils, always consult with a healthcare professional especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The best way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell different herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." Janice Boling -- herbalist, web designer, artist, and writer

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** Most of the articles in this online herbal encyclopedia were first published by the North Georgia News in a weekly column titled Every Green Herb (by Janice Boling).

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