What is Aromatherapy?

What is Aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is the controlled use and application of natural plant essences called essential oils. These oils are extracted from different parts of the plant, for example, Geranium uses the flowers, Frankincense – the resin, Mandarin – the peel. The oils are absorbed into our blood stream through the skin or by inhalation. The plants and their oils have complex chemical structures, sometimes thought of as the *life force*, which interacts with the chemistry of the human body: pharmacologically, physiologically, and psychologically. We don’t know exactly how this chemistry works fully but we know the oils have therapeutic properties and can produce a healing effect. For example, Lemon (Citrus limon) contains limonene which is antiviral and bactericidal, cleansing and stimulating the immune system, lowering blood pressure and reducing pain and inflammation.

Bergamot and balance

This week I’m recommending Bergamot (Citrus bergamia). This oil has a mildly spicy, fresh citrus aroma and is found in Earl Grey tea. It is a wonderful balancing oil, helping reduce feelings of anger, frustration and agitation, calming the nervous system and balancing our emotions. Due to presence of alcohol naturally occurring within the fruit, it has anti-fungal and antiviral properties which will help combat symptoms of colds and flu. Use it neat on a cold sore by adding one drop on a cotton but making sure you put it directly onto the affected area. To help relax and create a feeling of calm, you can also add Bergamot to a warm bath, combined with Lavender and Chamomile (2 drops of each). Bergamot is phototoxic therefore avoid sun for at least 24 hours after use. It is not recommended for people with fair skin or lots of large moles.

Mental Health Awareness

It is Mental Health Awareness week and there are many oils which can help lift our emotions, and alleviate anxiety and stress. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a beautiful oil with a fresh, sweet, mildly camphoraceous aroma. It is easily available online or from most pharmacies and health food shops, and can be used in a variety of ways to help relieve tension and soothe the nervous system. You can add 6-8 drops into an evening bath, or put 1-2 drops in a oil burner with with teaspoon of water (or 6 drops into a diffuser), or just add a drop to your pillow at night. Any of these methods will help you relax, and promote deep, restful sleep.