Use your sense of smell to enrich your life. Harnessing the power of aromatherapy is a convenient way to improve the health of you and your family.
At its core, aromatherapy involves stimulating your olfactory system to promote psychological and physiological wellness. Aromatherapy offers a simple way to remedy several of the ailments that have affected people since ancient times.
Essential oils are the foundational substance of aromatherapy. Put simply, they are oils that are extracted from a large variety of plants. Once extracted, you can utilize the unique characteristics of these essential oils in creative ways.
What makes essential oils so special?
Most plants derive their unique properties from molecules called terpenes. Whenever someone speaks of the citrusy smell of oranges, the spicy profile of pepper, or the floral aroma of lavender, they have essentially detected terpenes.
A growing catalog of scientific studies has shown that different terpenes can have medicinal effects on humans. What’s more, scientists learned that by extracting oils from plants, the oils also retain their unique terpene profiles.
Now it’s possible for anyone to purchase essential oils and use them in aromatherapy practices!
So what are the best ways to reap the benefits of essential oils and their associated terpenes?
Best ways to use essential oils.
Arguably the most popular aromatherapy tool, diffusers are small machines that break down essential oils and disperse them into the air through vapor. Water is mixed with a few drops of essential oil and then sprayed into the air until it fills the entire room.
Aromatic spritzers, or spray bottles, are a more focused and situational way to disperse essential oils. Spritzers are easily made by mixing oil and water in a spray bottle.
Inhalers are small tubes with holes at the tip for breathing essential oils directly into the nostril. Usually, they have pieces of cotton that have been lightly wetted with essential oils. The cotton is then placed near the tip of the tube where the breathing holes are. Aroma inhalers are great to take on the go.
Topicals are essential oil solutions that can be applied directly to the skin. Before being safe to rub on the skin, topicals are mixed with carrier oils — such as coconut oil — which dilute the essential oils to reduce their potency. Carrier oils also help to moisturize the skin.
Facial steamers are small devices that focus steam in a straight line. Holding your face in front of the steamer allows the steam to open your pores, allowing essential oils to absorb into the skin better.
Clay masks are another good way to absorb essential oils directly into the skin. Either purchase ready-made facial clay infused with essential oil, or mix the ingredients yourself!
Cold compresses are easy to make yourself and can be placed anywhere on the body. Simply mix your desired essential oil into a water solution, then dip an absorbent cloth into it.
What are some ways aromatherapy can benefit home and health?
Adding aromatherapy techniques to your daily routine comes with many benefits. Practically every facet of your daily life can incorporate it in some way, and the whole family can take advantage! From pain relief to digestion, below are some of the most well-studied ways aromatherapy can improve your life.
Pain and aches
It is well known that essential oils can relieve pain and aches in more than a few common scenarios. There are several essential oils that can act as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants, such as peppermint, clove oil, and many others.
Rubbing topical essential oils directly onto the body allows the mixture to absorb into the skin. Targetting specific areas on the body that are sources of pain can relieve symptoms within minutes.
For females, aromatherapy has also been shown to reduce pains associated with menstrual cramps. Not only should you seek out essential oils with muscle-relaxant properties, but oils like ylang-ylang, frankincense, or lemongrass help to reduce the overall stress during these times.
Sore muscles after a workout can also be relieved with essential oils. Using peppermint and ginger oils in combination is said to produce the same cooling and warming effects as IcyHot.
Furthermore, aromatherapy using rosemary, sage, or eucalyptus can relieve headaches and migraines.
Most people want nothing more than a relaxing evening after a hard day of work. Parents also know what it’s like to come home with children who seem all-too energetic despite a full day of school. Thankfully, aromatherapy offers a convenient way to wind the whole family down in preparation for a peaceful evening.
Lavender oil is easily the most popular choice when it comes to relaxation. Placing a few drops into a diffuser and filling the living room with this floral aroma is a great way to set a calming atmosphere.
Additionally, essential oils like ylang-ylang and jasmine work to relieve stress and promote happiness, respectively. Bath bombs, for example, infused with oils like these can help you to escape the chaos of the day and decompress in solitude.
When doing chores around the house, it’s a good idea to diffuse something uplifting like lemon or jasmine oils. Natural cleaning solutions sometimes have essential oils in them as well. This can make your day of cleaning much more enjoyable.
All of the relaxation and stress-reducing effects of certain essential oils can naturally lead to a good night’s sleep.
Again, lavender oil works best for this purpose. Some people like to use aromatic spritzers to sprinkle a few drops onto their pillow as they get into bed. Others enjoy starting up their diffuser and taking in the aroma as they read a book before bed.
Oregano, thyme, clove, lavender, and clary sage have all been scientifically shown to produce antibacterial and anti-fungal effects.
Houses with animals can benefit from these types of essential oils to stave off ailments associated with owning pets.
Certain essential oils like tea tree oil have been effective against E. coli and Staph infections. Others like cinnamon and oregano oil have bacterial resistance.
“Food Grade” essential oils are those that have been verified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe for consumption. With that in mind, there are a few essential oils that are common in helping with all things digestion.
Peppermint oil is a staple for this purpose. It can either be consumed or rubbed on the abdomen to help reduce nausea and upset stomachs. Likewise, oil extracted from ginger root provides the same benefits.
Fennel oil is known to act as a natural laxative; a great way to help with constipation.
Must-have essential oils for every home
Despite there being hundreds of essential oils — all offering unique health benefits — there is a handful that are must-haves due to their tried-and-true, multiuse potential.
Eucalyptus has benefits that help with respiratory issues. Not only can it clear your airways for better breathing, but it also helps with coughs and chest congestion. All of these characteristics are crucial during allergy season.
A cornerstone essential oil for all things related to relaxation and sleep. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties as an added bonus.
The citrusy profile of lemongrass makes this aroma nice for getting rid of stress and depression and promoting uplifting moods. Lemongrass acts as a great energy boost too. As a result, lemongrass is a natural way to become more productive around the house.
Frankincense is a great multiuse essential oil to add to your holistic wellness arsenal. Often considered the absolute best essential oil to have around, frankincense can be used for everything from mindfulness meditation to boosting immunity. Memory improvement, skin health, and stress-relief can all be added to its benefits as well. Some studies have even suggested its potential in helping to fight cancer!
As mentioned above, peppermint oil is one of the best food-grade essential oils to have around the house, but it also works well as a topical. Fighting nausea and helping with digestion are just a part of its usefulness. Applying peppermint oil to sore areas, particularly after intense workouts, can help soothe your pain.
The takeaway on aromatherapy
People tend to forget that their sense of smell can act as a vehicle for cultivating wellness. Through aromatherapy, we can take advantage of the unique and powerful terpene-driven characteristics of plants.
One of the best things about aromatherapy is that your spouse, children, and house guests can easily benefit from it too.
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to get started on your aromatherapy practice. Think about the most inhibiting ailments in your life and see if any of the above essential oils are a good fit for you!
Lynette Garet is a bilingual freelance writer, SEO practitioner, and web developer. A U.S. ex-pat living in Costa Rica, when not busy with online projects, she can be found hanging with her favorite “stinky boys” (the grand-littles), tending to her garden, cooking, reading, enjoying good wine, and dancing in the kitchen to music from a limitless list of genres.