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What is Aromatherapy?

Updated: May 7

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing practice that uses natural aromatic substances, typically essential oils extracted from plants, to promote overall well-being and enhance physical and mental health.

This therapeutic approach harnesses the aromatic properties of these oils, which are inhaled or applied to the skin, to stimulate the senses and influence the body's physiological and psychological responses.

Aromatherapy is a complementary or alternative therapy to alleviate stress, improve mood, alleviate certain ailments, and enhance relaxation.

How does aromatherapy work?

Aromatherapy works through the interaction between the aromatic compounds in essential oils and the body's physiological and psychological systems. Here's a more detailed explanation:

1. Inhalation: When you inhale the aroma of essential oils, olfactory receptors in your nose detect the scent molecules. These receptors send signals to the olfactory bulb, which is connected to the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system involves emotions, memories, and certain physiological functions. The scent molecules can trigger responses in the limbic system, influencing emotions, stress levels, and overall mood.

2. Olfactory System and Memory: The olfactory system is closely linked to the brain's memory and emotional centres. Certain scents can evoke memories or emotions due to this connection. Aromatherapy leverages this by using specific scents to create desired emotional or mental states.

3. Absorption through the Skin: When essential oils are applied to the skin, they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The skin, being permeable, allows the oils to enter the body, where they can exert localized effects. This is why essential oils are diluted in carrier oils for massage or applied to specific areas for targeted benefits.

4. Physiological Effects: Essential oils contain various chemical compounds that may have physiological effects. For example, some oils have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, or analgesic properties. These properties can contribute to the therapeutic impact of aromatherapy, providing relief from certain physical ailments.

5. Psychological Effects: The psychological impact of aromatherapy is significant. Scents can trigger emotional responses and influence cognitive functions. For example, lavender is often used for its calming properties, while citrus scents like bergamot are uplifting. The psychological effects are intertwined with the physiological effects, creating a holistic approach to well-being.

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