This article, ‘Aromatherapy’, was originally published in the ‘Healthy Living’ column of enVoyage, The Inflight Magazine of Eva Air.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a type of alternative therapy that uses highly concentrated, aromatic plant essences, or ‘essential oils’ extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, seeds and other parts of plants.

The oils treat a wide range of physical and psychological health conditions, such as stress, insomnia, depression, headaches, respiratory conditions and muscular aches and pains.

The History of Aromatherapy

The use of essential oils dates back to ancient civilisations. Our ancestors found that smoke from burning leaves and twigs could cause effects such as drowsiness and euphoria, and used essential oils for healing, in religious rituals, embalming and perfumery.

The word “aromatherapy” was first used in the 1920s by the French chemist, René Gattefossé, who discovered that lavender essential oil helped heal his burned hand after a laboratory accident.

Knowledge of how different plant oils can help heal various ailments has been passed down through the generations, and nowadays many people choose aromatherapy as an alternative treatment to conventional medicine.

How do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils enter the body by inhalation into the lungs and absorption through the skin. Particles of essential oils circulate in the blood and exert their therapeutic effects within the body and mind.

Each essential oil has its own unique fragrance, characteristics and healing properties. For example:

  • Jasmine essential oil has a sweet, floral fragrance that helps increase confidence and alleviate depression.
  • Pine has a fresh, woody aroma that relieves fatigue and clears the mind.
  • Marjoram essential oil has a spicy, warm scent that helps soothe migraines and headaches.

Aromatherapy Massage

There are different ways of using essential oils, but a full body massage given by a qualified aromatherapist is by far the most effective form of aromatherapy treatment.

Aromatherapy massage helps improve circulation, relieves muscle and joint pain, reduces stress and anxiety and helps you feel calm and relaxed. Massage also helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Essential oils good for lowering blood pressure include ylang ylang, lavender and marjoram. Create your own aromatherapy massage oil by blending five drops of essential oils with 10ml of sweet almond oil, jojoba oil or grapeseed oil.

Bathing With Essential Oils

Bathing with essential oils is useful for relaxation and reducing stress. Fill the bath and disperse 4 to 8 drops of essential oil in your bathwater before getting in.

Relaxing essential oils ideal for bathing include geranium, neroli, lavender and chamomile.

Vaporising Essential Oils

You can also use an essential oil burner, electric diffuser or light-bulb ring to vaporise essential oils in the room.

Try frankincense and sandalwood to create a relaxing atmosphere, or rosemary and eucalyptus to help prevent the spread of infection during the cold and flu season.

Professional Aromatherapists

You can practice aromatherapy massage techniques at home, but you will get better results if you visit a professional aromatherapist.

After taking a detailed case history, the therapist will choose a blend of essential oils specifically tailored to your individual needs before offering you a long, relaxing massage.

Where to Find a Professional Aromatherapist

Find a qualified aromatherapist at The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists.

Kirby, S. (2012). Aromatherapy. enVoyage The Inflight Magazine of Eva Air.

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