We didn’t leave the farm overnight very often when I was growing up, but when we did it was a pretty big deal and we almost always stayed somewhere with a swimming pool. We would swim until the pool closed and get up early to swim again before we had to check out in the morning. To this day, I can’t walk into a motel without the smell of chlorine bringing those happy childhood memories to mind. Our sense of smell is one of the strongest triggers of memory, I’m sure that without too much effort you can think of an example- banana bread reminds you of Gramma or the smell of woodworking makes you think of your dad. It’s hard to not feel content and cozy with the smell of a fireplace or baking bread in your nostrils!
What is it?
With the happy thoughts of those familiar smells rolling around your brain, it’s easy to see how aromatherapy could be an effective modality for relaxation, stimulation or stress relief. According to Healthline, aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health by activating certain areas of your brain, like your limbic system, which plays a role in your emotions. It also has an impact on your hypothalamus, which may respond by creating feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin.
In addition to triggering memories, aromatherapy has an array of benefits. It’s said to:
- manage pain
- improve sleep quality
- reduce stress, agitation, and anxiety
- soothe sore joints
- treat headaches and migraines
- alleviate side effects of chemotherapy
- ease discomforts of labor
- fight bacteria, virus, or fungus
- improve digestion
- improve hospice and palliative care
- boost immunity
How to use it?
Since its not always practical to bake a loaf of bread or visit your local motel when you’re wanting to improve your mood, most aromatherapy is done with essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated natural extracts from the leaves, flowers, and stems of plants. The most common way to use essential oils is to inhale them, both for their amazing scent and their therapeutic properties. But they can also be used in diffusers and humidifiers, as well as diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin or bathwater.
Is it safe?
Aromatherapy and essential oils are considered to be a very safe modality, but as always there are some precautions to consider. Do not take essential oils internally. Older adults, children younger than 12 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t use essential oils without consulting their doctor. Talk to a doctor before using essential oils if you take any medications or have any health concerns, including high blood pressure, low immunity, or epilepsy.Also make sure to consider pets in the environment as some essential oils can be dangerous for pets.
Avoid any oils derived from tree nuts if you have any nut allergies. Essential oils have the potential to aggravate the skin. Avoid using essential oils near sensitive areas such as the eyes, ears, and mouth. Do not apply them to broken, inflamed, or irritated skin. You can look out for potential skin allergies by doing a patch test before using any carrier or essential oil. To do a patch test, place a small amount of the diluted oil on your inner wrist or below your ear. Wait 24 hours to see if any irritation occurs. Certain citrus oils can cause photosensitivity when skin is exposed to sunlight after use. Avoid using on any areas of skin that will be exposed to the sun within 12 hours.
Where can I find resources to start using essential oils?
If you are interested in more information about aromatherapy and the use of essential oils, you can visit www.moutainroseherbs.com or if you know someone who sells essential oils, please consider supporting their small business!!
I have links to two great aromatherapy handouts below. The first is a chart of essential oils for specific benefits (i.e. what scents are best for calming, alerting, etc). The second is a super handy list of household uses for essential oils by Dr. Axe of Food is Medicine.