What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is an ancient healthcare practice based on the traditional and scientific use of distilled aromatic herbs: essential oils. These highly concentrated aromatic oils are extracted from a huge variety of flowers, plants and trees. They have the ability to support your bodily systems, immune system and emotional/mental state. They support our natural healing energy and are of particular benefit to many chronic ailments, stress-related conditions & emotional difficulties.
They have been recognised since antiquity to possess biological activities, including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antioxidants, antiparasitic and insecticidal properties and a large numbers of essential oils and their constituents have been investigated for their therapeutic/medicinal properties.
Aromatic oils can be applied through different mediums. Massage enhances the therapeutic benefits of essential oils and is a great way to destress, relax & restore your energy & wellbeing.
Aromatherapy blends and preparations are even more powerful when tailored for specific individual needs. When we are in a state of balance and serenity within us, when our emotions are in a harmonious correspondence with our body and our life is in an harmonious correspondence with our desire then we are mostly likely to be and maintain a good balanced health. Aromatherapy focuses on finding and understanding the causes of dis-harmony, looking at the person holistically.
Stress, what is it?
Stress seems to be the dis-ease of the 20th century, 70% of all illness is now attributed to stress. In our modern society we live under constant pressure and the possibility of becoming harmfully stressed is ever present.
The dictionary defines stress as ‘a constraining or impelling force, effort or demand upon physical or mental energy’. A ‘stressor’ is a person or situation that makes you become stressed.
The important points are: How do we cope with stress and do we allow a person and a situation to cause us stress and why?
Is stress harmful?
Some people handle stress very well while others are more negatively influenced by it. It is the effect of sustained, long-term stress that can be positively harmful for our bodies. As well as increasing the heart rate and the blood pressure, the body also diverts vital resources from the immune system.
When do stress levels become harmful?
It comes down to the fact that it’s not the situation but our reaction to it that creates stress in our lives. Struggle is in our everyday lives but we must not forget that it is through adversity that we learn positive lessons without which we would not grow. It is therefore our attitude to situations or problems that can bring about negative emotion. Problems could be seen as learning opportunities in which finding a positive solution is the challenge for growing. Negative emotions and long term stress may ultimately lead to illness.
When somebody is subjected to stress, input from the five senses travels through the nervous system and trigger the hypothalamus in the brain to send out signals. These signals reach the pituitary gland, which is the master gland of the endocrine system. A hormonal response sent from the pituitary gland triggers the adrenal glands to release adrenaline into the blood stream to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’.
The normal functioning of the body is disrupted, the adrenaline coursing through the bloodstream causes blood pressure to rise and muscles to tense. Breathing becomes shallow and rapid, sexual desire and hunger are suppressed and digestion stops. The skin becomes poor and sensitive and the blood vessels constrict. The brain becomes hyper-alert.
If handled inappropriately, stress can be devastating. Stress lowers your resistance and makes you more vulnerable to illness and disease. It can be mentally and physically debilitating.
How can aromatherapy help in the management of stress?
Controlling stress is crucial in your overall health and well being. Aromatherapy can be of significant help in stress relief.
Aromatherapy works on our emotions through the olfactory system which is in direct contact with our brain. When we smell something, the olfactory receptors send a message to the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is related to instincts, moods and emotions. This is one reason why aromatherapy is particularly good in relieving stress, harmonize and balance emotions and the mental state, enhance mood and therefore encourage better health.
The inebriating smell of a beautiful flower can stimulate a particular feeling and encourage relaxation. The simple act of pausing for a moment to appreciate this gift of nature and be still while this inebriating smell reaches your brain, brings about a feeling of inner peace. Relaxation enhances our personal well-being, complements the anti-aging cycle by eliminating stress out of our body.
One of the most common symptoms manifested by stress would be physical pain. Some may experience persisting headaches while others undergo tension and soreness in shoulders, back or even the whole body. Usually, these aches would last for a few days, depending on the level of stress built up.
Aromatherapy combined with massage provides deep relaxation and comfort. Massaging particular areas of the body especially neck and shoulders, where stress affects major muscle groups, can bring immediate relief. Tensions are eased and fibrous knots and nodules melt away. The efficiency of the circulatory and lymphatic systems improves, toxins are dispersed from tense muscles and flexibility and fluidity of movements is restored.
With the massage the client relaxes, the breathing becomes deeper and more and more oxygen is supplied to the body. The brain needs plenty of oxygenated blood! Energy level is improved.
Described below are some stress manifestations on a mental level with appropriate recommended essential oils to help you DE-STRESS.
SUGGESTED ESSENTIAL OILS FOR NERVOUS TENSION & AGITATION
These oils are calming in nature and relax the nervous system.
CHAMOMIL ~ SWEET ORANGE ~ BERGAMOT ~ LAVENDER ~ NEROLI ~ MELISSA ~ JASMINE ~ YLANG YLANG~ ROSE ~ PALMAROSA ~ FRANKINCENSE ~ MARJORAM ~ GERANIUM ~ CLARY SAGE ~ CYPRESS ~ SPIKENARD.
Lavender is what we call in aromatherapy “the rescue remedy”. It can help with feelings of panic, nervous tension, agitation, insomnia, restlessness. Indicated for the overemotional and highly sensitive type of person and for those who find it difficult to confront stressful situations.
Indicated for agitation, overthinking, worry, excessive mental strain (such as resulting from exams). It can ease the mind when troubled by thoughts of regret and worries and soothe the overemotional person who can feel mentally overwhelmed. Frankincense can soothe nerves and help to instil tranquillity. It is reputed to be calming on both physical and spiritual level.
SUGGESTED ESSENTIAL OILS FOR OVERTHINKING & WORRY
These oils can help to settle the mind
BENZOIN ~ VETIVER ~ SANDALWOOD ~ FRANKINCENSE ~ MYRRH ~ CHAMOMILE ~ MARJORAM ~ CLARY SAGE ~ FENNEL ~ PATCHOULI ~ GERANIUM
SUGGESTED ESSENTIAL OILS FOR ANXIETY
Long term emotional pressures can result in chronic anxiety
GERANIUM ~ VETIVER ~ ROSE ~ PALMAROSA ~ MELISSA ~ JASMINE ~ YLANG YLAG ~ LAVENDER ~ NEROLI ~ CYPRESS ~ SPIKENARD
SUGGESTED ESSENTIAL OILS FOR DEPRESSION & NEGATIVITY
When you lack inspiration, enthusiasm and interest, loss of ‘joy of life’
JASMINE ~ YLANG YLANG ~ ROSE ~ ROSEMARY ~ MELISSA ~ PATCHOULI ~ CORIANDER ~ GINGER ~ NEROLI ~ PINE
How to use the essential oils:
Inhalers, bath, massage, burner/nebulizer, application of custom made aromatic creams, oil blends or perfumes, to the wrists, neck, temples or on specific acupressure points.
Visit a professional aromatherapist for advise and guidance or for a full aromatic healing experience.
Bibliography: Gabriel Mojey, Aromatherapy for healing the spirit, 1996
Veronica Massa is a passionate aromatherapist, bringing a clinical, subtle and energetic approach to the use of essential oils. In years of experience she records many successful stories of people who overcame or significantly improved emotional imbalances and depression, debilitating muscle and joint pain, chronic cough and sinusitis, skin problems and scarring, as well as minimising the signs of aging.